Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Greatest Professional Wrestling Rivalries of All Time

Rivalries are some of the necessary features {of professional} wrestling. They’re the lifeblood of any promotion courting again to the ‘70s, presenting narrative storylines through which followers can develop into invested, giving them a motive to tune in each week.

Given how lengthy professional wrestling has been round, sure rivalries exist between wrestlers that proceed to face aside from most others.

Generally, these feuds will capitalize on these wrestlers’ simple in-ring chemistry, their abilities on the microphone, or the distinctive gimmicks {that a} wrestler bases his total onscreen character on. In some circumstances, these rivalries may even exist outdoors the ring, giving the wrestlers’ precise matches a definite air of authenticity and real-world drama.

Listed below are 15 of the best wrestling rivalries of all time, from traditional NWA feuds from the Eighties to newer feuds which have headlined WWE programming as we speak.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

Picture Credit score: World Wrestling Leisure.

Within the late 2000s and early 2010s, one of many longest-running rivalries was between John Cena and Randy Orton, the main hero and villain (identified within the enterprise as “heel” and “face,” respectively) of the WWE on the time.

In some ways, Orton and Cena had been the proper polar opposites of each other. Each got here up in WWE’s midcard circuit across the similar time and have become main stars for the promotion by the mid-2000s. Whereas Cena was all about “hustle, loyalty, and respect” — his trademark catchphrase — Orton primarily based his persona on cruel aggression, disrespecting quite a few veteran WWE legends and focusing on his opponents’ weaknesses (together with psychological and bodily) to win.

Whether or not it was their 2009 feud or their early 2010s rivalry that noticed Cena making an attempt to defeat the Authority-backed WWE champion Orton, there’s no denying the 2 had pure chemistry that harkened again to the in-ring relationship between the Rock and Steve Austin. It didn’t matter in the event that they confronted one another in a Hell in a Cell match, an Iron Man match, or a TLC match — the 2 males persistently wowed viewers time and time once more.

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Mankind vs. The Undertaker

Picture Credit score: World Wrestling Leisure.

Hardcore legend Mick Foley has had a lot of incredible rivalries in WWE’s Perspective Period. His prolonged feuds with The Rock or Triple H had been all the time enjoyable to observe, however far and away, essentially the most talked-about rivalry Foley was ever concerned in was his 1997 feud with The Undertaker beneath his Mankind moniker.

With WWE selling each males as otherworldly, demonic wrestlers who had been impervious to ache, Taker and Foley’s rivalry on the time was one of many premiere explanation why WWE gained a foothold over their ranking rival, WCW, throughout the Monday night time wars. Their matches had been brutal, hard-fought, and capitalized brilliantly on Foley’s penchant for taking ridiculously harmful bumps.

Their feud finally culminated on the 1997 King of the Ring. In what would develop into essentially the most (in)well-known Hell in a Cell match of all time, Foley got here shut to significantly injuring himself for all times, throwing himself from the highest of the Hell in a Cell cage onto a desk 15+ toes beneath and continuing to wrestle everything of the match after by some means attending to his toes. It’s top-of-the-line, most surprising matches in wrestling historical past and essentially the most iconic of Foley’s profession.

Related: Top 5 TV Show Cancellations That Still Frustrate Disappointed Fans

Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

Picture Credit score: WWE Armageddon.

Within the late Nineties, Shawn Michaels and Triple H perpetually modified the wrestling world with the creation of their traditional and controversial steady, D-Technology X. Presenting a extra comedic, albeit villainous faction that took the WWE by storm, DX pushed the envelope when it got here to issues you would say and do on primetime tv for the time, basically creating the shock-value format of the Perspective Period.

Sadly, the pairing of Michaels and Triple H got here to a untimely finish owing to a critical again harm Michaels suffered on the 1998 Royal Rumble, forcing him to briefly retire from in-ring motion for the following 4 years. By the point he had returned in 2002, Triple H had develop into one of many prime wrestlers working for WWE, prompting a feud between the 2 that may final almost 4 years.

Having tag groups dramatically cut up up is a staple of professional wrestling, however few wrestlers had as brutal and private battles because the Recreation and the Heartbreak Child. Whereas the 2 had been nonetheless the very best of pals off-screen, their steady matches had been the spine of WWE’s Ruthless Aggression Period all through the early to mid-2000s.

Hulk Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Picture Credit score: WrestleMania V.

Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan had been two of the most important names in wrestling on the tail finish of the Eighties. Proficient within the ring and their promo shoots, their larger-than-life personalities led to mass recognition amongst WWE followers, with each wrestlers thought-about the faces of the corporate on the time.

With how over they had been with followers, it was solely pure that WWE booked them right into a tag crew collectively. Dubbed The Mega Powers, they discovered a standard enemy within the type of the “Million Greenback Man” Ted DiBiase and his enforcer, André the Big. Joined by Savage’s spouse/supervisor, Miss Elizabeth, the 2 had been an unstoppable drive, usually combating Dibiase’s personal Mega Bucks faction all through the summer season of 1988.

Jealousies on Savage’s half ultimately led to the crew splitting, setting the stage for a climactic showdown at WrestleMania V. With how widespread they had been among the many WWE Universe, seeing the 2 go face to face was like watching Captain America face Iron Man, leading to a match of epic proportions. Whereas Hogan gained the match, the actual winners had been wrestling followers, even when private issues behind the scenes between the 2 soured their backstage relationship.

The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian

Edge and Christian vs. Hardy Boyz (2014)
Picture Credit score: WWE

No two tag groups in wrestling historical past have been as influential because the high-risk specialists, the Hardy Boyz, or their selfish counterparts, Edge & Christian. Making their appearances on WWE throughout a time when tag crew wrestling lacked the identical mass attraction as singles matches, the 2 groups perpetually modified the panorama of tag team-based wrestling, setting the stage for virtually each crew that’s adopted of their footsteps.

The Hardyz and Edge & Christian rose to prominence in WWE not lengthy after each other, with the Hardyz launched because the villainous successors to Edge & Christian’s faction, The Brood. Making names for themselves within the first-ever tag crew ladder match at 1999’s No Mercy, the 2 groups would usually feud over the WWE tag crew championships for the following two years.

For the way usually they wrestled one another, although, the feud by no means felt stale or drawn out, with their frequent rivals, the Dudley Boyz, additionally showing of their long-standing rivalry. Every time they wrestled, you simply knew these groups would go larger and take drastically harmful dangers. It was unpredictable, it was chaotic, and it was thrilling each time they confronted off.

Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Aptitude

Picture Credit score: TNA iMPACT! Wrestling.

Ric Aptitude and Hulk Hogan had been two of the principle faces of professional wrestling within the Eighties, with Aptitude having develop into the best athlete NWA had on their roster and Hogan rising to the highest of the WWE across the similar time. So when Aptitude discovered a contract ready for him with WWE in 1991, it was solely a matter of time earlier than the 2 famed wrestlers stepped into the squared circle collectively.

Like later WWE feuds corresponding to Orton and Cena, the genius behind Aptitude and Hogan’s working relationship was their vastly completely different wrestling kinds and personas. Hogan was referred to as the final word face of WWE for the time, portrayed extra as a superhero who advocated good sportsmanship and exhausting work when it got here to successful his matches. Aptitude, alternatively, did no matter it took to win, mendacity and dishonest his option to the highest, all of the whereas bragging about his many accomplishments.

Aptitude could have had higher matches with the likes of Randy Savage throughout his tenure in WWE, however most followers have a tendency to recollect his rivalry with Hulk Hogan finest about his first stint within the firm.

Sting vs. the nWo

MV5BMTU0MDUyMTY2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDIwMjY3Mg@@. V1 FMjpg UX375
Picture Credit score: World Wrestling Leisure.

One of many essential causes WCW triumphed over WWE by way of viewership numbers within the mid-Nineties was as a result of emergence of the New World Order. Cleverly turning the decades-long fan-favorite wrestler Hulk Hogan right into a heel, the group was offered as a band of villainous outsiders (predominantly ex-WWE wrestlers) searching for to take over WCW for themselves.

The second they first appeared on WCW programming, the nWo made an instantaneous impression, beating a few of the firm’s prime abilities and capturing the World Championship within the course of.

With all the firm’s finest wrestlers defeated, the one remaining wrestler who stood up in opposition to the nWo was Sting, who’d just lately remodeled himself from an ‘80s surfer to a black-and-white-clad avenging angel making an attempt to forestall WCW from falling into the nWo’s corrupt fingers. The matches between Sting and the nWo’s membership had been solely common at finest, however the presence Sting commanded each time he confronted the nWo from the WCW rafters was all the time a sight to behold.

Ric Aptitude vs. Dusty Rhodes

Picture Credit score: Starrcade ’85: The Gathering.

One of many greatest feuds Ric Aptitude loved throughout the apex years of his profession within the Eighties was in opposition to Dusty Rhodes. Like lots of Aptitude’s feuds through the years, Aptitude and Rhodes had been basically mirror opposites of each other. With Aptitude symbolizing the higher crust of society — utilizing quite a few unethical methods to cheat his option to victory after which flaunting about it — Rhodes was extra of a blue-collar, working-class wrestler making an attempt to rise to the highest of NWA.

In comparison with different wrestlers of his time, Rhodes didn’t look or sound like every other wrestler. He appeared extra like a median joe that occurred to get to the place he’s by way of exhausting work and perseverance alone. With naysayers like Aptitude wanting down on him, the “son of a plumber,” Rhodes offered the distinct potentialities of what one might accomplish in life by way of a never-say-attitude and stringent work ethic.

From singles matches to bigger eight-man tag crew matches between Aptitude’s 4 Horsemen steady and Rhodes’s ragtag group of the Highway Warriors and Nikita Koloff, their feud was one of many essential causes to tune into NWA programming as usually as attainable, serving to set up the corporate as an alternative choice to WWE.

Undertaker vs. Kane

The Undertaker
Picture Credit score: World Wrestling Leisure.

Few wrestling rivalries are as cinematic because the feud between Undertaker and his onscreen brother, Kane, two of essentially the most dominant, bodily imposing wrestlers of WWE’s Perspective Period. Initially billed because the Undertaker’s lengthy, misplaced brother, Kane made his debut at 1997’s Badd Blood: In Your Home, interrupting the primary Hell in a Cell match and costing the Phenom his victory over Shawn Michaels.

From there, the story between the 2 males would solely be explored additional on WWE tv, their story filled with Gothic twists and turns that forged them every because the villain and hero from month to month.

The matches themselves had been respectable at finest, however the chemistry the 2 shared supplied WWE with certainly one of its finest and most persistently eventful storylines. Not like different rivalries of its day, this feud wasn’t targeted on a championship, nor was both wrestler focused on proving their athletic superiority over the opposite. It was purely primarily based on revenge, with WWE presenting their feud extra as a nightmarish familial storyline straight out of a horror film than the rest.

John Cena vs. CM Punk

Picture Credit score: WWE Uncooked.

One of many extra thrilling and unique feuds of current reminiscence must be John Cena’s rivalry with CM Punk. Their feud started in 2011, with Punk delivering his influential “pipe bomb” section that blurred the traces between a scripted and improvised wrestling promo.

On account of his promo, Punk grew to become some of the talked-about wrestlers on the WWE roster. With the information that his contract could be expiring, Punk’s ascension as an anti-authoritarian man of the individuals was made all of the extra fascinating when he voiced his intent to seize the WWE Championship and exit the corporate with the title round his waist.

With Cena because the reluctant champion of Vince McMahon, the 2 had a barnstormer of a match collectively on the 2011 Cash within the Financial institution, with Punk rising because the victor. Whereas they’d go on to reignite their feud in 2013, their wholly unpredictable 2011 feud set the rivalry aside from every other in trendy WWE programming.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Big

hulkhogan WrestleMania III
Picture Credit score: WrestleMania III.

There isn’t a extra iconic wrestling match than the 1987 WrestleMania essential occasion between André the Big and Hulk Hogan. Initially established as shut pals, André’s sudden betrayal of then-champion Hulk Hogan led to a feud between the 2 that may develop into some of the celebrated in WWE’s lengthy historical past.

With the shady wrestling supervisor, Bobby Heenan, at his facet, André was billed as a drive to be reckoned with within the WWE — the literal greatest problem Hogan needed to overcome throughout his reign as champion.

Overcoming the chances, Hogan defied expectations and beat André at WrestleMania III, choosing André up off his toes and slamming him down on the canvas in what would develop into some of the defining moments in WWE. The victory helped cement Hogan’s place on the prime of WWE tv, resulting in his profitable tenure because the face of professional wrestling the world over.

Ric Aptitude vs. Ricky Steamboat

Picture Credit score: IMDb.

Lots of Ric Aptitude’s feuds within the Eighties benefited from labored promo shoots and personality-driven chemistry. Once you have a look at the precise high quality of the matches Aptitude shared with sure wrestlers, although, nobody comes remotely near Aptitude’s most athletic in-ring nemesis, Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat.

Whereas Aptitude’s work with Hulk Hogan or Dusty Rhodes could be higher from a story-based perspective, Aptitude’s matches with Steamboat stay the stuff of legend. Wrestling for literal hours on finish, Steamboat and Aptitude confirmed that wrestling wasn’t all about pretend punches and predetermined strikes however was rooted closely in pure athleticism, endurance, and physicality, as mirrored in every certainly one of their matches.

Regardless of how usually they met within the ring, Aptitude and Steamboat’s matches had been routinely seen as a few of the finest in Eighties wrestling, seeming like a precursor to the equally hard-hitting wrestling kinds of AEW and NJPW matches as we speak.

Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart

Picture Credit score: IMDb.

Probably the most fascinating factor about Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart’s well-known (and at instances, notorious) rivalry was how a lot they genuinely hated one another backstage. Although the 2 have since gotten over their points with each other, within the late Nineties, Hart and Michaels might barely stand to be in the identical room.

But with how private their animosity was for one another, the 2 males nonetheless delivered routinely superb matches reverse each other that totally hid their real-life ailing will for one another.

Michaels and Hart’s rivalry will perpetually stay eclipsed by the controversial Montreal screwjob on the 1997 Survivor Collection, however even earlier than then, you would virtually see the thinly-veiled hatred they’d for each other throughout their segments collectively, making their matches that rather more plausible and reasonable to see.

The Rock vs. “Stone Chilly” Steve Austin

stevevaustin therock
Picture Credit score: WrestleMania X-Seven

If Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage had been thought-about the faces of WWE within the late Eighties, The Rock and Stone Chilly Steve Austin had been the mainstay sights throughout the firm’s well-known Perspective Period.

Using a extra smashmouth promo model and brawler-heavy wrestling strikes, the 2 stars had much more similarities than variations between them, with such comparisons virtually all the time leading to incredible in-ring chemistry.

From the primary time they headlined a WrestleMania collectively in 1999 to their last showdown at 2003’s WrestleMania XIX, the 2 had been positive to lift the roof of any WWE occasion each time they shared the ring.

Vince McMahon vs. “Stone Chilly” Steve Austin

Picture Credit score: IMDb.

The feud that perpetually modified the wrestling world, WWE proprietor Vince McMahon struck gold when he started portraying himself because the tyrannical head villain of WWE programming in late 1997. Adopting the onscreen persona of Mr. McMahon, McMahon started utilizing his company energy for his personal ends and means, establishing himself because the definitive heel of the Perspective Period.

Whereas quite a few wrestlers would rise up in opposition to McMahon’s reign of terror, McMahon’s most persistent rival stays Stone Chilly Steve Austin. A brash, tough-talking, Texas redneck who loathed any type of authority determine and trusted nobody, he was a pure foil for McMahon’s extra bureaucratic rule of the WWE, standing for every part McMahon hated.

It didn’t matter that Vince McMahon solely personally wrestled sporadically, his rivalry with Austin helped WWE beat WCW within the rankings and remains to be broadly thought-about one of many objectively best feuds in professional wrestling to this point.

This text was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Richard Chachowski is a contract author primarily based in New Jersey. He loves studying, his canine Tootsie, and just about each film to ever exist (particularly Star Wars).

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