The WWE doesn't really sell a tangible product. They don’t really care how many t-shirts people buy. They’re not extremely interested in the night's attendance. They couldn’t give two squats about their pay-per-view numbers. The WWE’s best and most valuable product that keeps them up at night? Drama. The WWE has spent decades perfecting how to manage, package, and produce the business of drama for its fans. And boy, has business been good.
In the years before the Kardashians were fighting over who had the worst taste in men on TV, professional wrestlers had given the world intense conflict. Every other reality show has tried to follow in its footsteps ever since. For generations, the WWE understood that the only thing that really “moves the needle” is good guys and bad guys fighting against each other. By throwing in money and men built like superheroes, the WWE stirred a pot in the souls of wrestling fans that has yet to overcook.
Without drama, wrestling could have packed up their bags, partnered with that other WWF (the one with the animals) and faded into the sunset. But with rivalries like these, surviving changes in technology and threats to their business for years, the WWE’s future looks bright. Check out the 15 greatest WWE rivalries of all time. When it’s over, feel free to call this “The People’s List,” just like The Rock would. Okay, he may never read this article, but just pretend he did.
15 Triple H vs. The Undertaker
“I will face you at WrestleMania under one condition… Hell... in a Cell!”
These two wrestlers were fighting for more than glory between the ropes. They were fighting for more than just to protect their legacies. They were fighting for more than a spot in line at the nacho cart after the match. They were fighting for who had the longest hair in the WWE… wait, that’s not right. They were fighting for (say it out loud) The Streak!
14 Edge vs. John Cena
"You've got to be one with nature, you tree-hugging son of a b***h!"
- John Cena, throwing Edge into a tree
Even the Air Canada Centre couldn’t hold in the anticipation of the match between John Cena and Edge. Cena, the face of the WWE, had some serious competition with Edge in previous matches and had some real hatred for him. Naturally, Edge couldn’t stand that the WWE was in the middle of a Cena-focused era and did everything he could to bring it down, going as far as attacking Cena's dad.
13 Mr T. vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
“...and I know who you are because your name’s written on the back of the chair and I’m assuming it’s there so you don’t get lost!”
- Rowdy Roddy Piper
Rowdy Roddy Piper was unquestionably skilled in the ring. But Piper’s best skill was antagonizing the crap out of everyone he came across. It’s the reason why he is one of the WWE’s top villains of all time. He had a bad habit of pissing off everyone, but one person whose skin he got under the most had to be Mr. T. Piper was furious that Mr. T. was hardly a “real” wrestler who came into the inaugural WrestleMania with Hulk Hogan to snatch victory away from him and Mr. Wonderful. It got so bad, even Muhammad Ali, who was refereeing the fight, took a swing at Piper for his antics.
12 Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage
“You made a lot of promises to The Macho Man, didn’t ya? Promises that you didn’t keep.”
-"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Macho Man and the Hulkster weren’t always rivals; in fact, they were best of friends. The Macho Man had no problem running into the ring with a steel chair to defend Hogan from his foes. Things were all good, but the tension between Hulk, Savage, and Miss Elizabeth was undeniable and sparked an unforgettable rivalry.
11 The Undertaker vs. Kane
“You are unworthy of being my brother.”
Only children, listen up. There are few people in the world who can be as annoying as a brother. Check that - there are few people in the world who probably deserve a beating like a brother. Wait, that’s inaccurate. There are few people in the world whose lives are spared only because spending a lifetime in prison seems terrible. Welcome to having a brother.
10 Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz
"To be perfectly honest, we can't stand either team."
-Edge and Christian
Picture a person one hundred years ago. They, like most people in their day, probably used tables, ladders, and chairs as they were meant. They ate or did projects on tables. They climbed on ladders. They sat on chairs. The thought of jumping off and/or slamming these things into people was an invention yet to be realized.
9 Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
"Shawn Michaels and I were never best friends. I used Shawn Michaels to get to the top, just like Shawn Michaels used me to stay at the top."
Friendships end a dozen different ways. One friend may throw up on another's bed. The other friend may eat the last slice of pizza. Maybe one friend does both in one night. Either way, those actions get people booted from the friend zone.
8 The Undertaker vs. Mankind
“That’s killed him. As God as my witness, he’s broken in half!”
-Announcer Jim Ross
7 John Cena vs. Randy Orton
“I’m going to force him to say the words, ‘I quit.’”
To understand the rivalry between Cena and Orton is to compare it to something else. Picture a basketball player whose grandad was Joe Bryant, his dad was Kobe Bryant, and his neighbor is Phil Jackson. Against anybody, that guy would have the genes, environment, and training to make him something special. This was Randy Orton. He comes from wrestling royalty with his dad and grandad being a part of wrestling lore.
For Cena, he’s the kid who shows up to the basketball court in jean shorts and work boots. He’s watched videos on how to play basketball, but he doesn’t ever go down to the park because one of the rims is missing and a family of racoons have made the other one a home. He’s just a natural talent who has made it big through grit and determination.
6 The Rock vs. Triple H
“Who is the Rock? Who is the Rock? The Rock is the guy who is going to tie his shoes, get in the ring, and whoop your ass!”
The biggest thing with this rivalry is that it could have gone on indefinitely, but died out when The Rock hit it big in Hollywood. On one hand, there was Triple H; one of the most legendary rock stars in wrestling history. On the other hand, there was The Rock. He was so good, fans could eventually smell what The Rock was cooking because he brought it big every time. Come to find out, he was cooking toast - The People’s Toast, probably.
5 Bret Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
“If you put S in front of Hitman, then you got my thoughts on Bret Hart.”
-"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
After having their knee surgically repaired, most people couldn’t find the courage to walk to the fridge for a slice of pie (mmmm, pie). Bret Hart knew this and took advantage of Stone Cold’s bum knee at WrestleMania 13 by pummeling it the entire match. The battle got even nastier when Hart made Stone Cold’s head bleed like a stuck pig and Hart walked away with the controversial win. Hart’s actions only sharpened the edge to this legendary rivalry. Talk about getting no respect.
4 Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
“Wrestlemania 3 is not signed in ink. It’s signed in blood!“
This is one of the earliest, and most tantalizing feuds in wrestling history. Like most rivalries, it started really small, but grew into something even bigger than Andre. Andre apparently was jealous of Hogan’s adulation (as was everybody) and felt that he was the biggest star, literally and figuratively, in the sport.
3 The Rock vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
“We’ve been standing this close together for five minutes and The Rock can say, for some particular reason, that your breath smells like s**t!”
Two of the WWE’s biggest legends didn’t exactly have the rosiest of friendships. Even though The Rock was destined for stardom, he never really could get out of Stone Cold’s shadow. Stone Cold’s obsessive fan base, no frills style, and bad attitude won him the love and respect of everyone. To knock him down a peg, The Rock stole Stone Cold’s Smoking Skull Belt and threw it and Stone Cold into the water.
2 Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
"You better consider yourself a real, real lucky man that you didn't face the sexiest man alive, Shawn Michaels."
1 "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
"McMahon 3:16 says, 'I just pissed my pants.""
-"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Everyone has that one horrible boss. They're slimy. They're selfish. They're mean. They're greedy. But only a lucky few get to hit their boss over the head with a bedpan. Even fewer get them to fear for their lives on national TV. Only the blessed get to put a Stone Cold Stunner on them. Steve Austin was clearly touched by an angel because he got to do all of these things, and more, on the super villain Vince McMahon.
There are far too many interactions between these two over the years to fit into one list. But wrestling fans only need to access their memories (or YouTube) to remember how sweet it was.
Sources: <span style="font-weight: 400;">bleacherreport.com, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">foxsports.com, </span>prowrestling.about.com
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