5 Great WWE Rivalries That Should Have Featured at WrestleMania
WWE WrestleMania has hosted rivalries that have defined generations over the years, but many thrilling sagas have failed to grace the event with their presence.
Historical feuds like Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels and The Rock vs. Stone Cold have featured at the "Showcase of the Immortals" in its 28-year history, and each feud was grandly elevated by its appearance at the event.
Sadly, several renowned battles in WWE history missed out on being showcased on the grandest stage of them all.
In this slideshow, I'll take a look at five memorable WWE tales that not only deserved billing at the "Show of Shows" but also contributed largely to the landscape of the company today.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H
In 1998, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Triple H initially clashed during Austin's pursuit of Shawn Michaels' WWE Championship, and it ended up setting the wheels in motion for one of the company's most bitter rivalries.
When Triple H transformed into "The Game" in 1999, his relentless pursuit of the WWE title saw him collide with the "Texas Rattlesnake" as both men competed for the gold.
Triple H never actually defeated Austin for the strap, but months of violent altercations occurred between the two before Austin was written out of WWE storylines to have surgery on a back injury. This transpired at Surivor Series when Austin was callously run over by a car in the parking lot of the event.
Upon his return in 2000, the "Bionic Redneck" eventually discovered that it was Triple H who orchestrated the attack, setting up a one-on-one match between the two.
At the same pay-per-view event the following year, Austin was out for revenge. After a brutal back-and-forth battle, Austin eventually procured a forklift to lift Triple H and drop him from 20 feet in the air.
As a maturing young man, my first instinct was naturally to call my local Bournville police force to send as many men out to America as possible to save "The Game."
Fortunately, Triple H was fine, and he returned with a vengeance soon after. The men cost each other WWE title matches before settling their score in a Three Stages of Hell match at No Way Out 2001 .On that night, Triple H prevailed in a Steel Cage by collapsing on Austin to conclude one of the feature rivalries of the Attitude Era.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage
When Jake "The Snake" Roberts turned heel in 1991, betraying the Ultimate Warrior to align with The Undertaker, he was placed into a feud with "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
At this point in his career, Roberts had already contributed to some outlandish WWE moments, including making George Wells vomit at WrestleMania II and stripping Rick Rude of his tights.
His most shocking moment was arguably still to come, though.
With his use of snakes a firm fixture in WWE, Roberts' journey with Savage began when the post-Summerslam wedding reception of "Macho Man" and Miss Elizabeth saw Roberts hide a live snake in a wedding present for the couple.
As Savage was retired by Warrior at WrestleMania VII, Roberts exploited his inactivity in a series of promos that eventually goaded his foe to the ring at WWE Superstars of Wrestling.
Following an assault, "The Snake" unleashed a devenomized king cobra on Savage, which bit his arm in an uncomfortably prolonged segment that elevated the feud to a sickening new level.
Roberts' dastardly deeds were far from over, though.
Once Savage was reinstated by WWE president Jack Tunney, he sought revenge on Roberts at the Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view. He won the match before Roberts eventually gained the upper hand in a post-match brawl. With Savage at his mercy, Roberts demanded that Elizabeth beg him to stop the assault on her husband, but, following her pleas, he slapped her as "Macho Man" watched helplessly.
The intense, emotional feud finally came to a head at Saturday Night's Main Event, with Savage getting the victory to conclude one of the most sensational sagas in WWE history.
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk remains a memorable feud in recent WWE history, with its relentless twists and turns producing a sublime rivalry that dominated SmackDown's summer of 2009.
While Hardy and Punk both featured in WrestleMania 23's Money in the Bank Ladder match, their fleeting interaction was minimal, and it wasn't until 2009 that any seeds of discontent were actually sown.
Granted, this was a fairly short rivalry, but the quality of the writing and the performances of Hardy and Punk made it feel more like an HBO mini-series than a pro wrestling rivalry.
It was also the feud that turned CM Punk into a star.
Following three years as an upper-mid card babyface, Punk's first foray into life on the dark side began with wonderful originality as he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Hardy at Extreme Rules.
Having just obtained the World Heavyweight title in a ladder match from Edge, the notion of his cash-in was viewed critically by the WWE Universe. Previously, a face had yet to cash in on another face.
From then on, the feud proved a delight to watch each week, with Hardy eventually recapturing the strap from Punk at Night of Champions before his fully fledged heel turn kicked into gear.
With Hardy's contract set to expire following the culmination of the feud, WWE added a lovely, nostalgic touch by finally resolving his issues with brother Matt, who he had spent most of the year feuding with.
The rivalry ended up producing one of the best matches of the year, as a sensational Tables, Ladders and Chairs battle at SummerSlam saw Punk reclaim the gold once again.
In their final bout, Punk sent Hardy packing from WWE inside a steel cage, concluding a superb rivalry that elevated men both to superstar status in the pro wrestling world.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind
The Undertaker's feud with Mankind spanned three years in the 1990s and featured some of the most violent matches in WWE history.
Few men have tested the "Dead Man" like Mick Foley's bizarre alter-ego, whose fondness for squealing during matches and living in boiler rooms quickly established Mankind as a man to be feared.
Sadly, Mankind never challenged Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania, and it appears time has all but run out for that encounter to take place.
Undertaker was Mankind's first feud in WWE, who debuted the night after WrestleMania XII to attack the "Phenom" during his match with Justin Hawk Bradshaw.
Following months of ambushes and brawls, their first clash of notoriety took place in a Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam 1996, where Undertaker's long-time manager Paul Bearer betrayed his associate in favour of Mankind.
This led to a Buried Alive match between the monsters at In Your House: Buried Alive, which Undertaker won, but interference from other superstars resulted subsequently in him being buried alive.
The culmination of their 1996 feud was held at Survivor Series. If Undertaker triumphed, he would be able to get his hands on Bearer. Once again, the "Dead Man" won on the night before directing his attention elsewhere.
Resurrecting their rivalry in 1998, the duo contested their infamous Hell in a Cell match, scooping the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year award in a highlight-reel melee of a battle.
Throughout the summer, the two would feud with respective partners Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kane for the WWE Tag Team titles before eventually going their separate ways, concluding one of the most gruelling rivalries in WWE history.
CM Punk vs. John Cena
The origins of bad blood between John Cena and CM Punk stem all the way back to 2010 when Punk led Nexus, and since then it has morphed into a timeless on-off rivalry between two WWE greats.
What has made this feud so compelling over the years is the polarizing differences between the duo.
Cena was plucked for superstardom soon after his WWE debut, while Punk reportedly had to hold the company to ransom in 2011 to gain the recognition he felt he deserved.
Until his Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year with Cena in 2011, Punk appeared to be heading out of the company with his contract set to expire in the summer.
What occurred was a remarkably truthful feud based around Punk's desire to walk away with the WWE Championship, with a maverick shoot promo turning the cogs for a rivalry that became renowned for breaking the fourth wall.
At Money in the Bank, Punk captured the gold from Cena in their first of many classic battles before a face turn at SummerSlam all but nixed their rivalry for the time being.
Their paths crossed again at WWE Raw 1000 in 2012, where Punk defended the WWE title against Cena via disqualification before the duo engaged in another stunning battle at Night of Champions.
An injury to Cena thwarted a potential Hell in a Cell match between the two, but fans were again treated to their thrilling chemistry on the February 25 edition of Raw this year, where Cena beat Punk cleanly.
Hopefully, WWE realises there is still some mileage left in this saga, and with Punk and Cena arguably the two biggest full-time draws on offer, we could yet see another chapter in 2013.
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