Greatest Wrestling Rivalries of WWE History
7 WWE feuds that made history
Wrestling rivalries is undoubtedly the engine that powers professional wrestling across different promotional platforms. They keep the fans coming back for more action, drama, and breathtaking storylines. From the legendary feuds of Rick Flair and Ricky Steamboat in WCW, to Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada’s battle to the top in NJPW in Japan, feuds have shaped, revolutionized, and reinvented the faces of the professional wrestling scene and its governing companies.
While WCW, ECW, and other promotions have their own greatest feuds of all times, WWE, being the largest of the companies, holds some of the most entertaining, culture-shaping, and legendary wrestling rivalries ever witnessed. Below are seven that have somehow made an impact, not just inside the company, but ultimately, on the whole culture surrounding the industry:
- Triple H vs. Mick Foley
This feud is said to have paved the way for what the wrestling entertainment is today. From the presentation of their promos, to their in-ring performances, this rivalry truly was revolutionary. The two first clashed at the 1997 King of the Ring, when they battled head to head during its final moments. Their feud had elevated over the following years and earned them highly anticipated headliners on numerous events. They managed to capture the audience’s attention through their bloody brawls involving chairs, cages, and even thumbtacks. The brawls sometimes lasted for a quarter of an hour and even took one fight out to the streets.
- Lita vs. Trish Stratus
The Lita-Stratus rivalry lead to the very first match in the main event that featured women, in WWE’s flagship show, Raw. The rivalry changed the way women’s matches are viewed by their electrifying maneuvers that involved risky dives through the ropes and back–breaking, off-the-turnbuckle reflexes. Their feud lasted for years. It elevated the notoriety of women, which gave them more airtime to level with their male counterparts.
- Undertaker vs. Kane
A sibling rivalry is such an entertaining feat, even more fascinating when it involves the brothers of destruction, who at that time, dominated the league. Undertaker initially refused to fight his demonic half-brother, until Kane locked him in a casket and set it on fire. This outraged The Undertaker, which led to several encounters. He eventually defeated Kane in WrestleMania XIV with three Tombstone Piledrivers—Undertaker’s signature move.
- The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz
This three-way feud is by far the best wrestling rivalry in the tag-team division in WWE history. It was from this match-up that the TLC match originated—tables, ladders, and chairs. This rivalry created the most electrifying scenes the WWE community has ever seen—from-off-the-ladder acrobatics to the bone-breaking slams through the tables. The rivalry has truly redefined how WWE Universe viewed ladder matches in their era.
- Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
Nothing was more entertaining in wrestling history than the employee who stepped up to challenge his boss. The “Stone Cold vs. Mr. McMahon” match was nothing like the wrestling world has ever seen before. The whole world was left in shock when Steve Austin gave Vince McMahon a vicious Stone Cold Stunner in front of thousands of fans. That became a pivotal moment for the WWE industry. More fans then started tuning in to WWE’s Monday Night Raw, surpassing their competitor in weekly ratings.
- The Rock vs. Steve Austin
Many would consider this feud the greatest rivalry of WWE history. The rivalry credits its success not only to the men’s unmatched in-ring skills, but also to their storyline-selling prowess. The two then-emerging superstars always played their characters well, which created exciting build-ups and was greatly responsible for the success of Wrestlemania 17. It was during the time when WWE needed the right performers that these two men rose to prominence, and thus, they contributed hugely to the company. These two legends brought something to the arena that fans might never see again.
- Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
And finally, the feud between two wrestling legends that shaped professional wrestling. The Michaels-Hart rivalry is one feud that will always be remembered. These guys have fought over ladder matches and iron-man matches and was involved in the most controversial match in wrestling history—The Montreal Screwjob. Two guys with different fighting styles—one was textbook-technical and the other was unconventional-charismatic—were never a bore inside the ring. And their rivalry will be remembered as the best in WWE history.
Wrestling, as an industry, would not have been successful if not for the great wrestling rivalries of legendary talents. They have all the elements that heightens each fan’s wrestling experience. And aside from their soap opera-like impact on the crowd, each feud also elevates each one’s career, and to some extent, takes them to a whole new level. And few of them not only managed to change each other’s notoriety, but had also significantly altered the course of a company’s history.
I hope you enjoyed my top seven greatest rivalries of WWE history. I’d like to know some of the memorable feuds that you also enjoyed. Please do let me know in the comments section below. You might also like to check my book, Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw. It features the story of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. You can also reach me out on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Cartelli, Lance. 2017. “The 21 Most Legendary WWE Rivalries of All Time, Ranked.” GameSpot, February 22. Accessed May 24, 2018. https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/the-21-most-legendary-wwe-rivalries-of-all-time-ra/2900-1098/
Marshall Law. 2010. “The Great Feuds—Mick Foley vs. Triple H.” Last modified June 4. Accessed May 24, 2018. https://marshalllaw2.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/the-great-feuds-mick-foley-vs-triple-h/
The Top Tens. 2018. “Top Ten Best WWE Rivalries.” WWE. Accessed May 24, 2018. https://www.thetoptens.com/best-wwe-rivalries/