Rivalries dominant the world of professional sports - from one-on-one competition to team play; every sport has its share of great rivals. This adds a certain flare to a game/match/contest that we would not necessarily get to feel on any given day.
When the Dallas Cowboys suit up to play the Washington Redskins, the feeling is there. That age-old sense of unspoken hatred that fuels both sides to rise above all expectations and take that gridiron glory away from their opponent.
When the Montreal Canadiens takes to the ice against the Boston Bruins, all cards are placed on the table. The hits seem harder, the shoots seems quicker, and the thirst for blood seems unquenchable.
When the San Francisco Giants take to the field to play a ballgame against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the tension in the air can be sliced with a knife and served to the spectators who came to view the California teams as they do battle on a field of honour.
Rivalries make professional sports that much better. It all comes back to that feeling. That sense of knowing that you are watching something special - something that will live forever in the history books.
Professional wrestling - while predetermined - has also compiled a long list of rivalries. The difference between professional wrestling and any other sport is crystal clear but the luster remains the same. The hope of that big, bright, shining moment.
The following article will take a look back at some of these squared-circle-brutes as they face-off against their greatest foes in the land of violent-make-believe. The feuds that have stood the test of time.
These are the top 20 greatest professional wrestling rivalries of all time:
**Note the exclusion of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon as this list will focus on actual wrestlers and not rivalries with authority figures**
20 Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant
Twenty years ago, this rivalry would have found a much higher spot on this list. However, we must still recognize the rivalry between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant due to its epic implication.
19 Cactus Jack and Vader
Cactus Jack vs. Vader has a certain sound to it; an indefinably ring that may attract psychopaths and the unstable masses - and really, how else can we have a Cactus Jack and Vader feud.
18 Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka
One of the more forgotten professional wrestling rivalries comes from Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka - two men who often placed themselves and each other in harm's way during their matches.
17 Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A.
Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A. took part in a very memorable and bloody rivalry while working for the NWA back in the '80s; proving to be two of the promotion's breakout stars.
16 Rey Mysterio and Psicosis
This may not be the most high-profile of rivalries on our list but it is certainly one of the most exciting, as Rey Mysterio and Psicosis go back a long time and have never failed to entertain.
15 Taz and Sabu
The build towards Taz and Sabu in ECW was great as it showcased how to keep fans invested in an angle. Taz had called out Sabu at every given opportunity for a year, with no response from Sabu.
14 Lita and Trish Stratus
Lita and Trish Straus are often paired together in circumstances such as this and with just reason. Lita and Trish changed the way the world saw women inside of the wrestling ring; the perception had altered.
13 Raven and The Sandman
One of the more twisted rivalries on our list comes in the form of Raven and The Sandman - two men with battle scars from the original ECW and who helped add the edgy element to the product.
12 Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper
Here we have a rivalry that dates date to the origins of WrestleMania where Hulk Hogan and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper competed in the first ever main event; helping launch the WWE into the stratosphere.
11 The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, and Edge and Christian
The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, and Edge and Christian all qualify as some of the greatest tag teams in the history of professional wrestling. However, they also qualify cohesively on this list.
10 The Undertaker and Mankind
The Undertaker had long dominated the WWE prior to the arrival of Mankind who managed to take The Deadman to places where he had never been. Perhaps in an effort to prove that the dead can die again.
9 The Rock 'N' Roll Express and The Midnight Express
The rivalry between The Rock 'N' Roll Express and The Midnight Express cracks the top 10 due to the standard it helped set as it pertains to long-standing tag team feuds and storylines.
8 Triple H and Shawn Michaels
Triple H takes a lot of internet heat for his position within WWE but there is no denying his dedication to the craft. Triple H knows how to work the canvas when stepping through those ropes.
7 The Fabulous Freebirds and The Von Erichs
World Class Championship Wrestling was a territorial wrestling promotion based out of Dallas, Texas where a number of future legends once performed back before WWE controlled the wrestling Universe.
6 Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers
This rivalry takes us back to the old school days of professional wrestling and two men who helped make wrestling what it is today, Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers; the early years of wrestling politicians.
5 Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes
Ric Flair would capture his first ever NWA World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Dusty Rhodes on September 17, 1981 - the first of many World Championships to come for The Nature Boy.
4 Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko
Younger wrestling fans may not know the names Bruno Sammartino or Larry Zbyszko but these two men took part in a seminal professional wrestling rivalry that raised the bar for future feuds and angles.
3 Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart
Real life situations are often used as part of wrestling storylines. However, nothing felt more real than the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. The two biggest names in the post-steroid scandal WWE.
2 Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock
The two biggest names to emerge from the Attitude Era were undeniably Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Therefore, it is only fitting that the breakout stars would compete in one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
1 Ric Flair and Sting
The first ever Clash of Champions would see Sting challenge Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship - a match that became an instant classic when the bout ended in a forty-five minute draw.
The stage was set for the greatest professional wrestling rivalry to take place as Flair and Sting would, moving forward, take each other to the limit both physically and mentally for years to come.
The first and last episodes of Monday Nitro were headlined by Ric Flair vs. Sting.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!