In order for encounters inside the squared circle to be remembered fondly and also be able to leave a lasting impact on the industry at large, two things need to happen. First and foremost, the wrestlers involved need to be able to read the live audience and create a match that makes the crowd get off their feet and beg for more. The second, and more difficult of the two, involves creating a storyline that fans can get behind, one that carries a blend of realistic situations and entertaining moments.
Now feuds can succeed if they are lacking somewhat in one of these two categories, but the ones that truly excel blow these requirements out of the park. Over the years, those that are true masters of their craft often find themselves in rivalries such as these, and being the experienced performers they are create moments that will live in infamy. All good things do come to an end though and it’s at the end where the performers put all their eggs in a basket to make sure they deliver a satisfying conclusion. The matches showcased here do just that, so without further ado here are the top fifteen matches that were worthy of ending historic feuds.
15 AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns (Extreme Rules 2016)
14 Trish Stratus vs Lita (Unforgiven 2006)
When one thinks about the females who have defined women’s wrestling in WWE, the first two names that come to mind are Trish Stratus and Lita. Staples of the women’s division for several years, these women crossed paths a number of times, with each encounter against one another being even more and more memorable.
13 Edge vs Chris Benoit (Backlash 2005)
Following his monumental victory in the first Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21, it finally seemed as though Edge’s single career was about to take off. Already an established mid-carder, the win propelled Edge to the top of the RAW roster and the first opponent in his way was none other than Chris Benoit. Throughout 2004 these two men were no strangers to one another, winning the World Tag Team Championships together on two separate occasions. It was during their time as a tag team that Edge would turn heel, which allowed the stage to be set down the road for their eventual encounter.
12 Randy Orton vs Christian (SummerSlam 2011)
With the exception of John Cena versus CM Punk, there was no feud more highly praised than Randy Orton versus Christian in 2011. It all started the night after the 2011 instalment of Extreme Rules, when Christian made history and won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. On the very next episode of SmackDown, Christian put his newly won championship on the line against Orton. Sadly Christian would lose the championship during that encounter, but that didn’t stop him from trying again and again to win it back. As the losses against Orton continued to pile up one could see Christian get more and more angry and disappointed, but still he pleaded for “one more match.”
11 Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit (Judgement Day 2001)
10 The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar (Hell in a Cell 2015)
9 DX vs The McMahon’s & Big Show (Unforgiven 2006)
8 Mick Foley vs Randy Orton (Backlash 2004)
Back in 2004, Randy Orton was a solid two year member of the main roster and one fourth of the group known as Evolution. Taking in knowledge from his mentors Ric Flair and Triple H, Orton managed to find success in the group very quickly. Winning the Intercontinental Championship at Armageddon 2003 and holding it for seven months served as a means to intensify Orton’s ego, which in turn led to a feud with the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley. Despite the years of experience Foley possessed, he could never find a way to stand tall over the arrogant youngster.
7 Mr. McMahon vs Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania XIX)
6 Chris Jericho vs Shawn Michaels (No Mercy 2008)
Although most fans will agree that the greatest encounter between Michaels and Jericho occurred at WrestleMania XIX, it wouldn’t be until 2008 that we saw the magic that these two men could create together. It all started when Michaels entered into a feud with Batista after WrestleMania XXIV. After feigning an injury to his leg to win a match against Batista, Michaels began to face skepticism from Jericho and the tension between the two continued to rise until a Jericho heel turned really turned things up a notch. They would go on to trade victories against one another, with Jericho winning the first match at the Great American Bash and Michaels evening the score at Unforgiven. By the time No Mercy rolled around, Jericho was the current World Heavyweight Champion, and it was announced that the two men would compete in a ladder match for the title.
5 Stone Cold vs Triple H (No Way Out 2001)
Before they dominated the professional wrestling scene as the Two Man Power Trip, Austin and Triple H were embroiled in a hellacious rivalry. It all started when Austin returned from neck surgery in September of 2000. Conducting his own investigation as to who ran him over at Survivor Series 1999 and cost him nearly a year of his career, Austin was stunned when he learned the culprit was Triple H. Vowing to exact revenge, Austin made Triple H’s life a living hell, at one point even dropping him and his car off a fully extended forklift.
4 Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk (SummerSlam 2013)
Labelled as “The Beast versus The Best,” Lesnar and Punk’s clash at SummerSlam will always be remembered as a dream match that delivered on all fronts. The build-up to the match started before the 2013 instalment of Money in the Bank, when Lesnar showed up on RAW to F-5 fellow Paul Heyman guy, CM Punk. Confused as to why Lesnar chose to attack him, Punk went to Heyman to ask for answers, but the conniving Heyman claimed he had nothing to do with it. He would later reveal that he did formulate the attack, all because CM Punk had broken and thrown away their friendship. While the claim wasn’t accurate, Heyman had managed to get Lesnar to go after Punk and so Punk was in for the fight of his life.
3 John Cena vs CM Punk (RAW: February 25th, 2013)
Making headlines all around the world for his infamous “pipe bomb” promo in 2011, CM Punk used that time in the spotlight to secure a spot in the main event scene. Not long after he shocked the world, CM Punk won the WWE Championship not once but twice in 2011, but it was his second reign that became historic. For 434 days, CM Punk managed to hold on to the WWE Championship, somehow managing to survive every challenge that came his way. Losing the championship to The Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble did little damage to the ego of Punk, because he still felt confident he would main event WrestleMania XXIX.
2 The Rock vs Austin III (WrestleMania XIX)
By 2003, The Rock was ready to continue his transition from the world of professional wrestling to an acting career in Hollywood. After defeating Hulk Hogan at No Way Out, Rock claimed that there was only one thing he had left to accomplish in WWE. On two different occasions (WrestleMania XV & X-Seven), Rock had made his way down to the ring to confront his rival Steve Austin, but both times he was unsuccessful in winning. It was obvious that those losses had an effect on Rock’s ego, so when he came out on an episode of RAW to confront Austin, many knew what was coming.
1 The End of an Era (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Before he lost to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX, The Undertaker had a string of five-star matches on the grandest stage of them all. All of them stole the show, but there was one match in particular the stands tall above the rest. After retiring Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXVI, Undertaker found a new foe in the form of Triple H. the two men faced off at WrestleMania XXVII with The Undertaker barley pulling out the win, but in doing so was unable to leave the arena under his own power.
Because of this, The Undertaker claimed that his win over Triple H meant nothing, so in turn he challenged Triple H to another encounter. Once Triple H accepted the challenge, it was announced that Shawn Michaels was going to be the guest referee and the match itself would take place inside Hell in a Cell. For over twenty minutes, the three men told an incredible story in the ring and by the conclusion we truly felt as though we’d seen the end of an era. Emerging victorious yet again at WrestleMania, Undertaker would help Triple H up to his feet, before embracing both him and Michaels at the top of the ramp in a heartwarming moment.
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