WrestleMania 30: Greatest Rivalries in History of Marquee PPV

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

WrestleMania 30: Greatest Rivalries in History of Marquee PPV

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania.

    The Showcase of the Immortals.

    The Grandaddy of Them All.

    The biggest event of the year.

    Throughout the three-decade history of the event, WrestleMania has played host to some of the most colorful characters, the biggest celebrities and the most memorable and influential matches professional wrestling has ever seen.

    It has also been home to some of the greatest rivalries in WWE history. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels and The Rock vs. John Cena are feuds that have culminated with marquee matches on the grandest stage in entertainment. They are rivalries and feuds that have helped to define WrestleMania and give it that sense of importance that other pay-per-view offerings simply do not carry.

    This year's event features a few feuds capable of one day joining this list. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar are the headlining stories leading into the April 6 event, and whether they live on in immortality the way those you are prepared to read about do remains to be seen.

    What is certain is that they will have to prove to be truly special if they want to overcome any of the following feuds and the industry giants that have competed in them. 

10. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

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    At first glance, one would not readily refer to Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle as one of the greatest WrestleMania feuds ever, but upon further evaluation, it becomes clear that the ring generals shared easily one of the most competitive rivalries in the 30-year history of the event.

    Angle entered WrestleMania 2000 in the middle of one of the greatest rookie years wrestling had ever seen. He had captured both the Intercontinental Championship and European Championship early in the year and, thanks to his mentor Bob Backlund, was put in a situation where both titles would be on the line in the first-ever Two-Fall Triple Threat match. His opponents for said match? Chris Jericho and the aforementioned Benoit.

    The match, one of the night's best, saw Angle drop both titles despite never being pinned. Benoit took the more prestigious Intercontinental title after delivering a devastating diving headbutt to Jericho, while Y2J scored the European title following a lionsault to Benoit.

    Angle would move on to bigger and better things in the second half of 2000, most notably the WWE Championship, while Jericho and Benoit feuded on and off for the rest of the year.

    As WrestleMania X-Seven approached, both Angle and Benoit found themselves without a match just days before the big event. Angle, always one to spout off about his greatness, referred to himself as the best technical wrestler in the business, thus drawing the interest and ire of Benoit.

    Benoit locked Angle in the Crippler Crossface and made the Olympic gold medalist tap out, a fact that Angle refused to admit. With no real backstory and nothing to gain outside of pride and respect, the two mat technicians met one-on-one at the pay-per-view many consider to be the greatest of all time.

    The Benoit-Angle match played a major role in that designation.

    Focusing heavily on mat work and throwing in high-impact strikes and suplexes to accent it, Angle and Benoit delivered a beautifully wrestled match that proved to be the best of the first half of the show. Both men locked in their trademark submission holds, but it would be a roll-up and a cheap hold of the tights that secured the win for Angle.

    Unlike the others on this list, the Benoit-Angle feud was not designed to be one necessarily; rather, it became one of the great rivalries in WrestleMania history based on the competition between the two and the determination to deliver great work from bell to bell.

    They never headlined the show against one another and didn't even have a real solid reason to be wrestling, but the work between the ropes more than made up for it.

9. John Cena vs. the Fans

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    Credit: WWE.com

    John Cena is unquestionably the most polarizing star in the long and illustrious history of World Wrestling Entertainment. Every arena he steps into is full of fans ready to both boo and cheer him.

    The diehard wrestling fans hate the manufactured feel of WWE's biggest star and his unorthodox offense. His ring work is not as polished or pretty as that of his peers, and for that, he has regularly been the recipient of "you can't wrestle" chants in venues across the globe.

    The young and casual fans appreciate Cena for what he stands for. They appreciate the fact that he works hard, preaches hustle, loyal and respect and constantly strives to improve and overcome the odds.

    While the backlash toward Cena began shortly after he captured the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21 in 2005, the fans in Chicago for WrestleMania 22 let their hatred of the West Newbury native be known, greeting him with vulgarity and a loud chorus of boos as he took to the ring for the main event WWE title bout against Triple H.

    While any lesser performer would have crumbled underneath the vitriol directed at him, Cena fought past it and defeated Triple H via submission with the STF. Exhausted, Cena raised the WWE Championship high overhead to close out the event, doing so to the dismay of the passionate WWE fanbase that had flocked to the Second City for the biggest show of the year.

    Since that night in Chicago, wrestling fans have flocked to some of the country's biggest cities in hopes of watching the face of WWE be defeated in the night's biggest match.

    Cena has encountered negative reactions in Detroit, Orlando, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami and East Rutherford over the last seven years, and when he rolls into New Orleans, he should expect the same.

    The leader of the Cenation has made a career out of inspiring his true fans by defeating some of the top stars in the industry and racking up an impressive 14 heavyweight championships. He has also faltered on the grandest stage in the sport, to the delight of the large portion of the audience that despises him and everything he stands for.

    It is a constant battle, one that will wage on for as long as Cena sprints down the aisle for WrestleMania main events.

8. The Undertaker vs. Kane

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One of the truly great stories that WWE produced during the dawn of the Attitude Era was that of the Undertaker and his wars with his long-lost brother, Kane.

    In the summer of 1997, Paul Bearer informed his former friend Undertaker that Kane was still alive and claimed that the Phenom was responsible for the fire that killed their parents. He vowed that Kane was coming to WWE and that he would punish Undertaker for his actions.

    At Badd Blood: In Your House, Kane debuted in WWE, interrupting the first Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels and costing his brother a victory in the process. For months, he would assault his brother while Paul Bearer attempted to goad the Phenom into accepting a match against the Big Red Monster. Thanks to an oath he made to his parents, however, Undertaker refused.

    That changed after Kane locked Undertaker in a casket at the 1998 Royal Rumble and set it ablaze. The Dead Man returned to WWE weeks later, vengeful and ready to do the one thing he vowed not to: face his brother in a fight.

    WrestleMania XIV on March 29 was the time and Boston was the place.

    In a clash between siblings, Kane presented a challenge to the Dead Man unlike any he had ever seen before. His raw power and fury nearly spelled the end for Undertaker's unblemished win-loss record at the show, but the older brother fought back and vanquished Kane following three Tombstone piledrivers.

    Over the course of the next six years, Undertaker and Kane would share the ring as rivals and as partners. No matter how close they appeared at times, there was always a sense that the underlying hatred between them could rear its ugly head and result in a series of battles at any time.

    That time came in 2003, when Kane aided Vince McMahon in defeating Undertaker in a Buried Alive match at Survivor Series. The Dead Man would disappear from WWE programming and undergo a character change that would see him leave the biker gimmick behind in favor of a return to the dark side.

    Guided by a returning Bearer, Undertaker entered the historic Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania XX for a battle with his brother, making Kane the first Superstar to ever challenge the streak on more than one occasion.

    Affected by the mind games that his older brother had played in the weeks leading up to the match, Kane was never really a threat to the Phenom and suffered defeat following a Tombstone.

    Fans were treated to two completely different stories in two hard-hitting matches between two of WWE's most enduring characters. The first battle saw an apprehensive Undertaker nearly slip up and lose his streak while the second saw a triumphant, resurrected Phenom defeat his evil, maniacal brother.

7. The Hardy Boyz vs. the Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Take six of the hungriest young talents in all of professional wrestling, throw them together in consecutive WrestleMania matches, introduce ladders, tables and chairs and watch as they steal the show and craft two of the greatest gimmick bouts in the event's long and illustrious history.

    There was a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian as they entered WrestleMania 2000, thanks in large part to a series of matches they had had against each other late in 1999, capped off by a career-making tag team Ladder match at No Mercy in October.

    Four young, good-looking kids with aspirations to make it in the industry, they gained a tremendous following and were well on their way to bigger and better things. The Hardys, thanks to their unique look and death-defying offense, garnered most of the attention, which created some hard feelings in Edge and Christian.

    The Dudley Boyz were fresh off defeating the New Age Outlaws to win the WWE Tag Team Championship at February's No Way Out pay-per-view but were still struggling to find that elusive connection with the audience. Their use of tables and Bubba Ray's knack for putting attractive females (and the double-tough Mae Young) through them provided that connection, and they entered the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim on April 2 with a great deal of confidence.

    Determined to steal the show and prove that tag team wrestling was not dead, all three teams threw caution to the win and delivered a triangle Ladder match that not only improved upon the Hardys and Edge and Christian's classic but also laid the groundwork for the bouts that would follow by introducing tables to the mix.

    The iconic image of Hardy climbing a 20-foot ladder and diving off with a Swanton Bomb on Bubba Ray Dudley—through a table in the entrance way, no less—proved the dedication with which the performers approached their craft.

    Edge and Christian escaped the match with the titles after shoving Matt Hardy off of a platform constructed with a table and two ladders and through a table set up inside the squared circle.

    In the weeks and months that followed, the new champions initiated a heel turn that made them the most hated tandem in the sport and also led to several bouts against their WrestleMania opponents, including the first-ever TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) match at August 2000's SummerSlam.

    By the time 2001 rolled around, all three were at their competitive peaks, and it showed as they traded the Tag titles back and forth, leading to the announcement of TLC II for WrestleMania X-Seven. For the second year in a row, the six stars would be thrown together and tasked with delivering a show-stealing performance in the most dangerous match in the sport.

    With the added elements of newcomers Rhyno and Spike Dudley, as well as the fiery redheaded Lita, the match promised to be the wildest one yet.

    The competitors delivered on that promise.

    With Jeff Hardy hanging by the championship belts some 25 feet in the air, Edge dove off of a giant-sized ladder and caught him with a spear, driving him all the way to the ground.

    In the end, Edge and Christian would once again leave WrestleMania with their arms raised in victory and the titles around their waists, definitively winning one of the greatest tag team rivalries the sport, and the Showcase of the Immortals, had ever and would ever see.

6. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Hulk Hogan was a busy man at WrestleMania IV. Not only did he write the latest chapter in his feud with Andre the Giant, but he laid the groundwork for a rivalry that would culminate a year later in the same arena and city.

    Hogan played a pivotal role in the main event of the evening, keeping Andre the Giant at bay during the WWE title tournament finals between Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase and blasting the Million Dollar Man with a steel chair to help seal the victory, and the title, for Savage.

    That night was the beginning of a friendship between Hogan and Savage that would lead to WWE's most popular stars being referred to as the Mega Powers. They would partner together to do battle with the likes of DiBiase and Andre and Big Boss Man and Akeem, proving to be a highly successful and effective tandem along the way.

    As is the case with most friendships, a girl got in the way and caused a schism that only tore the Mega Powers apart more and more over time.

    Savage became jealous of the attention Hogan was paying to Miss Elizabeth prior to the The Main Event on February 3, 1989. Then, when Elizabeth was injured and Hogan carried her to the backstage area, leaving Savage to suffer a two-on-one beatdown against Akeem and Big Boss Man, Savage became irate. After Hogan returned to the apron, Savage delivered a shocking slap to his partner and left him to battle the Twin Towers alone.

    Immediately following the bout, Hogan was assaulted by Savage in the trainer's room. The split set in motion the explosion of the Mega Powers and a huge main event for WrestleMania V.

    The friends-turned-enemies met for the WWE Championship in a match in which Miss Elizabeth proved to be impartial. Despite a very game Savage, Hogan fought from underneath, "hulked up" and delivered the big leg drop for the pinfall win and his second heavyweight title.

5. The Undertaker vs. Triple H

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Undertaker and Triple H are two of the most recognizable names in professional wrestling. Their stars have burned across generations, making them two of the most respected and enduring performers in sports entertainment history.

    Their WrestleMania rivalry is a major reason why.

    Truth be told, their association with one another came about because neither really had anything going on as WrestleMania X-Seven approached in 2001.

    Shawn Michaels was originally scheduled to be part of some sort of storyline involving Triple H, but when he showed up in no condition to participate on Monday Night Raw, the decision was made to scrap that idea and head in a different direction.

    Enter the Dead Man, whose proposed feud with Rikishi and Haku had been tabled as well.

    The creative team threw together a quick story for Triple H and Undertaker, and a match between the two was added to the already-packed WrestleMania card.

    In front of 60,000-plus hometown fans, Houston's own Undertaker delivered his finest performance since returning nearly a year earlier. Triple H, easily the best worker in the business at the time, helped craft a masterful match that relied heavily on brawling, referee bumps and false finishes to deliver drama and excitement.

    In the end, Undertaker would catch an unsuspecting Game with the Last Ride powerbomb and score the pinfall victory.

    Unlike some of the other rivalries on this list, those two Superstars would not cross paths the following year or even two years later. Fans would have to wait 10 years for the next chapter in the story.

    One year after Undertaker retired his best friend, Triple H returned from a year-long hiatus to try his hand at doing the impossible and ending the most storied streak in professional wrestling. Without a single word said, Triple H interrupted the return of the Dead Man on the February 21 episode of Raw and challenged him to a match at WrestleMania by simply staring at the giant sign hanging from the rafters.

    The Phenom accepted, and the contest immediately became the most anticipated match at that year's show.

    Taking a "hide the negatives, emphasize the positives" approach, Triple H and Undertaker opted to utilize high spots, trademark signature maneuvers and false finishes to pop the crowd and keep it guessing as to who would leave Atlanta with their arm raised in victory. Quite the feat, considering most already knew the answer.

    Undertaker locked in Hell's Gate and, despite all attempts by Triple H to utilize a sledgehammer to break the hold, the Game had no choice but to tap out. In an unexpected bit of storytelling, however, it would be the King of Kings who would walk out of the Georgia Dome while a battered, beaten and exhausted Undertaker was carted out, leaving many to wonder if The Game had taken everything out of his opponent.

    A year later, the two would meet again, this time inside Hell in a Cell.

    Dubbed "the End of an Era," and with Shawn Michaels as guest referee, the match would bring a definitive conclusion to the rivalry between the competitors.

    With the gimmick of the cell in place to help accentuate the emotion of the match, Undertaker and Triple H delivered a truly brutal, five-star classic that told an emotional story and kept the audience in Miami invested in every spot. The inclusion of Michaels as the official resulted in a side story in which the referee was torn between impartiality, respect for Undertaker and his friendship with Triple H.

    Despite Sweet Chin Music from Michaels and a Pedigree from Triple H, Undertaker managed to escape the bout with his streak intact following the Tombstone.

    The embrace between all three Superstars on top of the stage signified the end of an era unlike any fans would ever see again and the conclusion of one of the most physically demanding feuds in WrestleMania history between The Game and the Dead Man.

4. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The WrestleMania XXV match between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker exceeded lofty expectations and instantly became recognized as one of the best matches in the history of the sport.

    That match came about as a result of Michaels' victory over JBL at the No Way Out pay-per-view in February. The stipulation to that match was that the winner would have the opportunity to end the undefeated streak of WWE's greatest phenom.

    From there, Michaels taunted the Dead Man, trying to play mind games leading into their encounter by referencing light and dark and repeatedly frustrating him in the weeks predating the April 5 event.

    History tells us that Michaels' first attempt to end the vaunted undefeated streak failed.

    Late in the WrestleMania XXV war with Undertaker, Michaels climbed the ropes and attempted a moonsault. The Phenom caught him in midair and planted him with the Tombstone piledriver for the pinfall victory. The fans inside Houston's Reliant Stadium were in awe of the match they had just seen, and many wondered who could possibly step up to challenge the streak the following year that would produce the type of action, drama and emotion that the legendary stars before them just did.

    The answer would come in December at the Slammys when Michaels laid down the challenge for a rematch.

    Unfortunately, Undertaker repeatedly refused the request, driving Michaels to the brink of insanity. No matter what he accomplished in his career prior, he was absolutely obsessed with breaking the streak. After costing the Dead Man the World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber in February of 2010, the challenge was finally accepted...with one stipulation: Michaels put his career on the line.

    With outstanding build to the match, including an exceptional video package set to "Climbing Up That Hill" by Placebo, the contest went on last at WrestleMania XXVI (and rightfully so).

    The grizzled veterans wrestled a completely different match from their classic a year earlier, opting to tell more of a story.

    Late in the match, having thrown everything he had at the Dead Man, Michaels defiantly clawed his way to his feet and mocked Undertaker's throat-slashing gesture and insulted him with a slap to the face. Undertaker put Michaels out of his misery with a big Tombstone and secured the victory.

    A hug and a handshake after the bout seemed to have wrapped the feud up nicely, but old HBK was not quite finished with his immortal rival.

    Two years later at WrestleMania XXVIII, Michaels found himself in the middle of an intense rivalry between the man who retired him and his best friend, Triple H. With a Hell in a Cell match booked between the two of them for the Showcase of the Immortals and Michaels named as the guest referee, questions abounded as to whether HBK could remain impartial or not.

    Fans got their answer when he delivered Sweet Chin Music to the Dead Man, setting him up for a Pedigree by Triple H. That failed to keep the Undertaker's shoulders pinned to the mat for three, and minutes later, he finished The Game with Tombstone to run his streak to 20-0.

    The Michaels-Undertaker feud ended that night when they, along with Triple H, brought to an end an entire era. Three Superstars who had driven from city to city, embarked on all of the overseas tour and represented the company at a time when business was down and bright spots were few and far between embraced in one of the truly great, emotional moments in event history.

3. John Cena vs. The Rock

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Any great story has a definitive beginning, middle and end.

    From 2011 through 2013, WWE told its fans a story that reintroduced a star from the past, proved said star still had the goods to succeed against modern-day competition and then passed the proverbial torch from one generation to the next.

    There had long been great interest in a match between The Rock and John Cena dating back to Cena's comments about the Great One in radio interviews in 2007. Cena was highly critical of Rock leaving professional wrestling to go to Hollywood. It ate away at Cena that Rock continued to claim that he loved the sport but abandoned it in favor of the bright lights, glitz and glam that the movie world presented.

    Rock responded, taking pot shots at Cena's choice of t-shirts, as well as his kid-friendly character.

    When the People's Champ returned to WWE programming in 2011 and was announced as the guest host of WrestleMania XXVII, many wondered how long it would take him and Cena to cross paths.

    The answer? Not long.

    They traded insults, and on the final episode of Raw prior to the big show, Cena dropped Rock with an Attitude Adjustment to create questions regarding whether or not the Hollywood megastar would play a role in the main event WWE title match between Cena and The Miz.

    The answer? Yes.

    Rock planted Cena with the Rock Bottom, and Miz was able to retain his title in the biggest match of his life.

    The following night on Raw, WWE took an unprecedented approach to announcing its WrestleMania main event for the following year. Cena issued a challenge for the biggest match of this era, a battle between him and Rock for WrestleMania XXVIII in 2012. Rock accepted and history was made.

    For an entire year, Cena and Rock cut promos on one another and fans were forced to choose sides. Like teenage girls choosing between Team Edward or Team Jacob, wrestling fans threw their support behind either Cena or Rock. Social media exploded with tweets and Facebook posts about the match, and mainstream media got in on the action as box-office icon Rock competed in his first WrestleMania main event in eight years.

    With hype at a fever pitch, the two towering sports entertainment figures did battle in one of the most heated matches in event history.

    Cena brought his A-game, while Rock showed signs of fatigue throughout. Late in the match, Cena appeared to have the match won but let his ego get the best of him. He mocked Rock's People's Elbow. As he sprinted across the ring, Rock made it to his feet, caught Cena with a Rock Bottom and pinned this generation's top star for the three-count.

    It was a triumphant homecoming for Rock, who celebrated the victory in front of his Miami faithful.

    A year later, Rock would enter East Rutherford's MetLife Stadium as the WWE champion, having defeated CM Punk, for a second clash with John Cena.

    The hype was nowhere near the level of the original, and in fact, many fans questioned why the match was taking place when the previous year's showdown had been billed as a "once in a lifetime" encounter.

    Regardless of whether anticipation matched the original or not, Cena and Rock headlined their second consecutive WrestleMania with a match that was inferior to their first one but still full of entertaining reversals and near-falls. In the end, Cena defeated Rock to capture the WWE Championship and get his "passing of the torch" moment that many expected the year before.

    Whereas The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8 was built up over the course of a few weeks and finished on one night, The Rock vs. John Cena was three years in the making and featured one of the industry's giants returning to the company that made him a star and doing phenomenal business with the top attraction of today.

    Their match at WrestleMania XXVIII netted the biggest pay-per-view buyrate in the sport's history.

2. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The greatest main event in professional wrestling history occurred on March 29, 1987, when Hulk Hogan defended his WWE Championship against Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III.

    The two biggest stars of that era, Hogan vs. Andre was a dream match come true, a titanic clash over the top prize in the sport. The drama surrounding the match, including Andre's unforeseen heel turn and betrayal of his longtime friend, only helped add to the must-see nature of the contest.

    An unbelievable 93,173 fans packed inside the Pontiac Silverdome in suburban Detroit and watched the biggest match of all time unfold before their very eyes.

    The overwhelming hype and Andre's severe back injury could have been enough to make the match an unmitigated disaster, but both Hogan and the giant proved to be professionals in every sense of the word, overcoming the hurdles put in front of them and delivering a truly epic main event, which was won by Hogan.

    In February of 1988, controversy ran wild as Andre defeated Hogan for the title, thanks to shady refereeing, then sold the championship to "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. President Jack Tunney ruled the sale of the title invalid and vacated it, announcing instead that it would be up for grabs in a tournament to be held at WrestleMania IV.

    With the opportunity to sell a second straight WrestleMania on the Hogan-Andre rivalry, it was determined that they would meet in the first match of the quarterfinal round. With their faces on all of the promotional materials, the two stars were once again asked to carry an entire show.

    Their match at the 1988 show did not come close to the original and, in fact, was quite terrible. With that said, it is incredibly rare for a single match to be asked to sell two consecutive WrestleMania pay-per-view events. The story behind Hogan and Andre's program was so strong that it was able to do that, making it the first truly great rivalry in the history of the Showcase of the Immortals.

1. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin vs. the Rock

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Steve Austin vs. The Rock is not only the greatest feud in WrestleMania history, it is also arguably the greatest in WWE history.

    The Rock captured the WWE Championship for the first time at the 1998 Survivor Series when he conspired with Vince and Shane McMahon to defeat Mankind in the finals of a one-night tournament. The win solidified him as both a main event player in the industry and the ideal representative of McMahon's company. As the "corporate champion," Rock brashly and arrogantly insulted opponents with his humorous catchphrases and backed up his words with actions, thanks to a nearly unmatched athletic background.

    Austin, on the other hand, found himself screwed out of the championship by the McMahons at the same Survivor Series event and was forced to work his way back into contention by defeating Undertaker in a Buried Alive match at Rock Bottom: In Your House and by beating Vince in a steel cage match at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, despite interference from the debuting Paul Wight (Big Show).

    The main event of WrestleMania XV would see Rock defend his title against Austin in Philadelphia, the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

    The match was a wild and chaotic Attitude Era brawl that saw action spill out of the ring, up the aisle way and back down to ringside before settling inside the squared circle. An appearance by Mankind, who would officiate the remaining minutes of the match, ensured that Austin would not be screwed again. After delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to The Rock, the deranged Superstar slapped the mat three times and declared Austin the new WWE champion.

    In the two years that followed that match, Austin underwent neck surgery and returned to action while Rock capitalized on the Texas Rattlesnake's year-long absence to become a mainstream media star. He was slated to appear in The Mummy Returns and had filled the role of "most popular sports entertainer" that Austin had called his own.

    With Stone Cold back and ready to reclaim that throne, as well as the WWE title, there was only one match WWE could produce that would fill the historic AstroDome in Houston and headline an event of the magnitude of WrestleMania X-Seven.

    Austin entered the arena, square in the heart of his home state of Texas, to a deafening ovation, while The Rock's reception was nowhere near as warm as one may have expected.

    The two Superstars tore at one another in a violent, vicious, hard-fought No Disqualification match. Austin pulled out moves he had not utilized in years, including the Million Dollar Dream, while Rock showed tremendous guts and resiliency as he took every bit of offense Austin dished out and never quit.

    The interference from Mr. McMahon late in the match, as well as his shocking alliance with Austin, ultimately spelled the end of The Rock's WWE Championship reign, not to the mention the conclusion of the Attitude Era as fans had known it.

    In 2003, Rock returned to WWE following a successful stint in Hollywood and did so as a villain. The bright lights and celebrity had clearly gotten to him, and the man who once prided himself on being the "People's Champ" suddenly cared nothing about the people.

    Austin returned to the company after walking out on it eight months earlier and was ready to get back to work. With both men stepping back inside the squared circle around the same time, it was a natural fit to have the two biggest stars of all time meet for a third match at WrestleMania XIX.

    Few knew at the time, however, that it would be Austin's final match and the end of wrestling's most storied rivalry.

    Austin and Rock entertained the audience as only they can, stealing one another's finishing maneuvers and creating drama with near-falls and false finishes. In the end, Austin did the honors for Rock, as the Great One defeated Stone Cold for the first time at WrestleMania.

    The emotion of the match was excellently captured in the 2004 documentary The Mania of WrestleMania.

    Rarely does a Superstar come along that transcends the industry. Even rarer, nearly impossible is it, for a company to spin off two of those Superstars at once. It is so hard to capture magic in a bottle, and for WWE to be the lucky recipients of said magic twice, during the same era, was unheard of.

    Rock and Austin had such chemistry and produced such memorable matches with one another that it's no wonder why WWE continued to go to that well. By doing so, it created the greatest trilogy in wrestling history and provided its fans with memories that will last a lifetime thanks to the extraordinary talents of the men involved.