Despite all the legendary WWE matches that have occurred that fans might have otherwise thought would never happen (The Rock and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania x8 comes to mind), there are still dozens of dream matches that have yet to happen and, for various reasons, likely won't happen. Some of the superstars involved in potential dream matches have either passed away or have been away from the ring for so long that a return, even for one match, could potentially ruin their reputation. But never say never; Shawn Michaels, for instance, is one of the few legends to hold on to his retirement promise for several years, but even he was lured back into the ring for the right price at Crown Jewel in [country name redacted]. Yet, it was for a Tag Team match with Triple H against The Brothers of Destruction. While it wasn't awful, it's far from a dream match against the likes of AJ Styles or Daniel Bryan that fans would have preferred.
Now, Vince McMahon is arguably one of the biggest roadblocks in giving fans what they want. The WWE boss has personally squashed more dream matches than we can count due to the nature of his back-and-forth decision-making process. However, Vince hasn't been the sole reason we missed out on dozens of potential dream matches. Whether it's not wanting to work with a particular wrestler, not wanting to put them over, or being unable to work for various reasons, there have been several Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers who have turned down dream match-worthy opponents over the years.
20 Stone Cold Steve Austin (Chyna)
We'll kick this off with the match that had the least likelihood of happening but was perhaps also the most intriguing. As we know, Chyna wrestled several men during her WWE run and was even the Intercontinental Champion. She was more than capable of holding her own against the company's top stars - she had a memorable feud with Chris Jericho - so it would have been interesting to see her in a program with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
In 1999, with Austin at the peak of his popularity, he apparently refused to lose the WWF Championship at SummerSlam to every male superstar suggested by Vince, who eventually proposed that Austin drop the title to Chyna. The Ninth Wonder of the World was even made the No. 1 contender, but the match was scrapped and Austin ended up in a triple threat match with Mankind and Triple H.
19 Abyss (The Undertaker)
Finding a suitable opponent for The Undertaker at WrestleMania has always been a challenge for WWE. The Deadman had the most noteworthy undefeated streak not only in professional wrestling/sports entertainment but perhaps all of the sporting world. In the late '90s and early 2000s, he secured WrestleMania wins over the likes of Kane, Big Bossman, and Big Show and A-Train in a handicap match.
Fans of TNA/Impact will liken Abyss to The Undertaker of that promotion in terms of his character and longevity, so it made perfect sense for the two to square off on the biggest stage of them all. This came close to happening at WrestleMania 22, but Abyss turned down a contract offer from WWE out of loyalty to TNA. He still has no regrets.
18 Brock Lesnar (Chris Jericho)
It might be difficult to tell, but Brock Lesnar is not only still signed to WWE but happens to be its Universal Champion. He won the title at Crown Jewel after it was vacated by Roman Reigns and really hasn't been seen since. So it's not at all surprising that he finds his way on this list for refusing a match.
According to Chris Jericho himself, he was supposed to win the Universal Championship from friend-turned-rival Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 33 and then defend it in a program against Lesnar. That didn't work for Lesnar or McMahon due in large part to Goldberg, who instead took the title from Owens and defended it against Lesnar.
17 Shawn Michaels (Seth Rollins)
For someone who has been so adamant about not returning to the ring, Shawn Michaels has sure made it a habit of picking battles with current WWE superstars. It's great that we get to see Michaels on TV well into his retirement, but it removes a bit of the effectiveness of his appearances when he isn't willing to step into the ring.
Back in 2015, Michaels interrupted a then-heel Rollins during a promo on Raw, but it never led anywhere. Rollins, who some see as the modern day HBK, has stated multiple times that his dream match is against Michaels, having recently done so this past November following Michaels' in-ring return at Crown Jewel. It's definitely not Rollins who is holding back the match.
16 Brock Lesnar (Shane McMahon)
Sure, Brock Lesnar and Shane McMahon might come in at No. 597 on a list of dream matches WWE fans would love to see in regard to star power, but the match itself would have provided plenty of insane spots given the history of both Lesnar and Shane O'Mac. Let's not forget some of Shane's memorable high spots over the years which, combined with Lesnar's aggressiveness, would have made for an entertaining match.
One might think Shane would have been hesitant to accept a match against The Beast, but it's the opposite. According to Dave Meltzer, Shane handpicked Lesnar as his opponent for WrestleMania 33, but Lesnar was able to get himself out of it, again thanks in part to Goldberg's return. Shane O'Mac ended up working AJ Styles, which is a more-than-acceptable consolation prize.
15 Hulk Hogan (John Cena)
The Hulk Hogan-Rock match at WrestleMania X8 was everything fans expected and then some. Neither are really recognized as the best in-ring technicians, but their presence and ability to draw fans in helped create one of the greatest WrestleMania spectacles of all-time. Something similar could have happened at WrestleMania XXV as original plans were for Hogan to square off with John Cena.
Hogan confirmed the match was supposed to take place during a Q&A session back in 2015, but noted that he didn't feel healthy enough to compete at the time. He said his back blew out, but other reports suggest he wasn't willing to job to Cena.
14 Razor Ramon (Goldust)
Again, this might fall short of other dream match pairings, but in saying that you'd be ignoring the rivalry built up between Razor Ramon and Goldust prior to WrestleMania XII. The two characters meshed brilliantly with Goldust as the over-the-top flamboyant and eccentric "weirdo" and Ramon as the man's man who oozed machismo.
The pair had a match at Royal Rumble '96 for the Intercontinental Championship, but that was really only the beginning of their feud. It was scheduled to culminate at WrestleMania XII, but Ramon backed out due to not wanting to work with Goldust again. The Hollywood Backlot Brawl against Rowdy Roddy Piper was entertaining, but a proper end to the Ramon feud would have been much better.
13 Stone Cold Steve Austin (Sting)
Save for maybe Goldberg, there were no wrestlers hotter than Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sting in their respective promotions during the mid-to-late 1990s. Both played up varying degrees of anti-authority and were incredibly over, which, of course, began rumors of a possible dream match between the two. With WCW being purchased by WWE, the only way it could have come to fruition would have been if Sting signed with the latter.
Instead, he waited a couple years before joining TNA. Yet, according to Sting himself, he was in negotiations with Vince McMahon to sign with WWE and confront Austin following his match with The Rock at WrestleMania XIX. Austin's reluctance to commit and continue his wrestling career stalled those plans.
12 Stone Cold Steve Austin (Brock Lesnar)
The Texas Rattlesnake appears on this list multiple times, most of which are for fair reasons, although even he admits he didn't handle the proposed Brock Lesnar match well. We may not have known it at the time, but a regular televised Raw match between him and Lesnar in 2002 would have certainly been a dream match. But it never happened.
Austin was scheduled to put Lesnar over clean in a nothing match and was so opposed to the idea that he walked out on the company and flew home. He has since admitted that he should have just refused the match without leaving, but let his emotions get the best of him.
11 Bret Hart (Kurt Angle)
A lot of wrestlers in the 1990s wanted to work with Bret Hart, given his reputation for being a safe worker and one of the best technical wrestlers of his era. By the early 2000s, he would have been idolized by many aspiring wrestlers who had been longtime die-hard fans. He was even thought of as a dream opponent by one man who didn't even start watching wrestling until 1998: Kurt Angle.
The Olympic Hero watched a lot of Hart tapes to get a sense of what to expect in the ring and, by 2003, was clamoring for a match with The Hitman. Of course, it didn't happen as Hart was dealing with deteriorating health and a negative relationship with WWE. Angle was so determined to have a match with The Hitman that he said it hurt his feelings when he returned to wrestle Vince McMahon a few years later.
10 Brock Lesnar (Finn Balor)
As already mentioned, it's not uncommon for Brock Lesnar to turn down opponents, especially in recent years. The Universal Champion might be bad for business given his infrequent appearances, but because he's such a credible threat with his size and real-life striking ability, it's hard to find someone who could conceivably give him a challenge in a WWE ring.
The obvious choice at Royal Rumble 2018 was Finn Balor, given he was the first-ever Universal Champion and never received the now-antiquated rematch that he was obliged at the time. The match was reportedly planned but scrapped months in advance because Lesnar - and Vince - didn't think it would be much of a draw. Instead, we got Lesnar in a Triple Threat match against Braun Strowman and Kane for some reason.
9 Chris Jericho (Finn Balor)
Looking back, it's quite a shame that Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens opened up SummerSlam 2016 in a match against Enzo Amore and Big Cass, especially considering the original plans were for Jericho to go one-on-one with Finn Balor. Those plans were scrapped by Vince McMahon, but it worked out better for Balor as he was booked to win the Universal Championship over Seth Rollins.
A little over a year later, Balor was booked to face Bray Wyatt at TLC, but Wyatt was one of several in the locker room forced to miss the event due to a viral outbreak. That led us to a memorable showdown between Balor and AJ Styles, despite the fact Jericho was McMahon's first choice for Wyatt's replacement. Unfortunately, Y2J didn't feel it made sense to return to WWE so soon after leaving.
8 Shawn Michaels (AJ Styles)
Perhaps even more so than Seth Rollins, it would be a huge WrestleMania-worthy main event if Shawn Michaels were to wrestle AJ Styles. Both are absolute legends in the industry who can sell just as well as they can perform offensive feats of athleticism. Because Michaels returned for one match at Crown Jewel, several publications have suggested a match between he and Styles could be in the cards for WrestleMania 35, but it's still highly unlikely.
Yet, prior to Royal Rumble 2018, when AJ Styles was WWE Champion, he apparently inquired about a match with HBK, which led to Vince McMahon even personally asking Michaels to return for the first time in years. As we know, Michaels was still uncertain about a return at the time and rejected the match.
7 Stone Cold Steve Austin (CM Punk)
There was a void in WWE once Stone Cold Steve Austin retired in 2003. The company shifted to the Ruthless Aggression Era and lacked the unpredictability that made it so popular during the Attitude Era. One man who eventually helped change that was CM Punk, who became somewhat of a contrasting anti-hero to Austin - a straight-edge, anti-establishment star compared to Stone Cold's beer-guzzling persona.
Austin returned to Raw in 2011 to confront Punk and the two even had a sit-down interview with Jim Ross for a WWE 2K promotional video. Everything about their dealings with each other led most to believe at least some sort of match was in the works, but it never happened, which is too bad because the build-up was better than 99 percent of programs we've seen in recent years.
6 Mick Foley (Dean Ambrose)
Mick Foley and Dean Ambrose might not have been a technical showdown, but even in 2011 when it was rumored it could have made for a memorable hardcore bout with several high spots by both wrestlers and, in turn, helped Ambrose get over on his own without The Shield, which he debuted within WWE less than a year later.
At the time, Ambrose was working in FCW but was building an angle with Foley via social media by confronting him outside of WWE events and accusing him of influencing young wrestlers to hurt themselves in order to get over. Foley was a willing participant but was ultimately forced to turn down the proposed match as he was unable to receive medical clearance to wrestle.
5 The Undertaker (Sting)
The Undertaker has been involved in some legendary matches against legendary opponents, but there was no more of a fitting match for him in the early 2000s than Sting. The face of their respective promotions during the 1990s, both wrestlers played characters with supernatural elements and a future meeting seemed inevitable.
Instead, Sting went to TNA and never graced a WWE ring until 2015, when he was brought in to face Triple H and then Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. The obvious choice for his first match in the company would have been The Undertaker, but Sting believes The Deadman wasn't as interested. As recently as this past summer, he said he still believes he could put on a memorable match with The Undertaker.
4 Hulk Hogan (Bret Hart)
Most people come to the Montreal Screwjob when thinking of injustices suffered by Bret Hart during his time in WWE, but his final match with the company wasn't the only time he was involved in politics surrounding the WWE Championship.
The Hitman faced Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX and, at the last minute, was booked to drop the title, only to have Hogan avenge him following the match and win the title without a proper match. According to Hart, Hogan promised to return the favor down the line, but he recanted on that promise and instead dropped the title to Yokozuna, claiming Hart wasn't in his league. Hart faced - and teamed with - Hogan in WCW, but it was during the back-nine of their respective careers.
3 Shawn Michaels (Daniel Bryan)
Add Daniel Bryan to the list of potential dream match opponents for Shawn Michaels. The former leader of the YES movement was actually trained by Michaels and has shared a similar career arc given he missed extensive time due to injury and served as an authority figure.
As often is the case every couple of years with HBK, plans were in the works for a dream match between him and Bryan in 2013, but Michaels remained steadfast in his desire to stay retired. They did meet together in the ring for a segment on Raw in 2013, but a match never happened as Michaels felt the teacher-student angle was too played out.
2 Stone Cold Steve Austin (Goldberg)
Apart from sharing a similar haircut, or lack thereof, and being known primarily as brawlers, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Goldberg were quite different in their personalities and love of professional wrestling. Still, because they were the most popular wrestlers respectively in WWE and WCW during the late 1990s, it made sense for fans to wish for a dream match.
Goldberg waited until 2003 to sign with WWE and, by that time, Austin was nearing the end of his career. He could have conceivably continued on for one more program with Goldberg, but it was probably in his best interest to avoid further injury given Goldberg's reputation in the ring. The closest we came to an Austin-Goldberg dream match was at WrestleMania XX when The Rattlesnake was the special guest referee in Goldberg's match against Brock Lesnar.
1 The Rock (Shawn Michaels)
Shawn Michaels has refused to return for dream matches against several worthy opponents, but it's actually The Rock who refused to ever work with HBK. The tensions between the two began back in 1997 when Bret Hart apparently refused to go over in a match against The Rock at a live event. Michaels and Triple H, who ultimately ran the locker room at the time, were upset with Hart's decision as they felt Dwayne Johnson posed a threat to them both.
When he returned to WWE a new man in the early 2000s, Michaels was scheduled to go toe-to-toe with The Great One, but The Rock refused the match because of the way he was treated by Michaels when he was breaking into the company.