WWE Rivalries: The 10 Most Influential Feuds in the Last 25 Years
Don't worry, Vince McMahon vs. Donald Trump did not quite make this list.
Spoiler alert, however, as one of these men did end up on the list .
I won't ruin the surprise any more. You will have to read through to find out which one reappears.
It is nearly impossible to just select the 10 best rivalries in the WWF/WWE over the past 25 years, but I feel I did my best.
When taking these rivalries into consideration, they had to have meaning. Not just to the two competitors involved, but to the fans. They had to have meaning to the ratings.
Finally, they had to have meaning for the industry.
I'm sure I will leave a few off of my list that many of you would have included on a list of your own. Therefore, I encourage you to leave a comment on who else should be in the top 10 and why.
But for now, take a look at the 10 most influential rivalries in the company over the past 25 years.
10. Undertaker Vs. Kane
Both men were cheered at different points in the careers. Both were also booed. Yet every time they faced each other over the past 14 years, the Undertaker was always the fan favorite against his 'brother,' Kane.
When Kane was introduced, it gave the Undertaker a new opponent. He was still battling with Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart at the time, yet when it was revealed by Paul Bearer that Kane did not perish in the fire that was set by the 'Taker, things heated up in the WWE and have yet to simmer down.
These two have fought countless times each other in numerous stipulation matches. They have fought together as a tag team and won championships.
As far as the fans are concerned, as long as they are in the ring together, it doesn't matter if they are opponents of tag team partners.
The Rock Vs. Triple H
At the time this rivalry began, both were still battling for the Intercontinental championship. They had not reached the elite status of competing for the WWE championship.
The Rock was leading the Nation of Domination, while Triple H was the new leader of Degeneration X after back injuries forced Shawn Michael to take four years off from action.
It was a rivalry that helped launch both superstars into two of the greatest of all time, and with the return of both recently, it would be great for the business to see them in the ring one more time.
8. Road Warriors (L.O.D.) Vs. Demolition
Unfortunately, at the time the Road Warriors entered the WWE, Demolition was at the end of their career. Hawk and Animal had become the greatest tag team in the former NWA before jumping to join the WWE.
Ax and Smash were one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history, but they were getting older. So much in fact, that they had to add a third member to spell one or the other on any given night. Crush, also known a Bryan Adams, was introduced.
These two teams did have a handful of matches, but it was too late to have the significance that it could have earlier. Still, it pitted two of the all time greats from both companies in the ring at the same time.
If only it had taken place years earlier.
7. Randy "Macho Man" Savage Vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
This could have been even bigger.
Savage had more or less taken time off to become an announcer. Going through a 'reconnection' with his wife, Miss Elizabeth, Savage and Liz tied the knot again.
They would have an uninvited guest at the reception.
At this time, Jake Roberts had turned back into a heel following a successful run as a babyface. He had epic battles with "Ravishing" Rick Rude, The Honky Tonk Man, Ted Dibiase, Rick Martel and Andre the Giant.
But while working with the Ultimate Warrior, Roberts turned bad when he double crossed the Warrior, who was preparing for a showdown with the Undertaker, who was one of the biggest heels at the time.
I say this could have been bigger because Roberts was supposed to finally capture the WWE championship by defeating the Warrior. That never happened, as the Warrior had contract and intelligence problems that scrapped the whole concept.
Roberts could have been the champ at the time when Savage was making his big comeback.
6. Bret "Hitman" Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels had a great tag team career along with Marty Jannetty of The Rockers.
Then he threw him through a plate glass window.
That pretty much ended that relationship.
Michaels became better known as The Heartbreak Kid and went on to a singles career as a heel. He was managed by Sensational Sherri, then went on to employ Diesel as his bodyguard.
Although he was a great Intercontinental champion, once he earned the respect and the cheers from the fans, HBK took off in a big way.
His ultimate test would come at Wrestlemania 12, when Michaels took on another fan favorite in Hart. After a 60 minute Iron Man match went into overtime, it was Michaels who delivered sweet chin music to capture his first WWE championship.
It put him over the top.
5. Randy "Macho Man" Savage Vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
It was not only one of the greatest rivalries, but these two men had one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history.
Savage and Steamboat battled it out for the Intercontinental championship that was held by Savage. Steamboat would get the better of the Macho Man at Wrestlemania 3, but the match lives on even today.
Steamboat was getting close to heading to the NWA/WCW, but he enjoyed one last run in the WWE. After this match, Savage would go on to capture the WWE title at the following Wrestlemania.
But aside from helping launch Savage to the next level, it also gave more credibility to the Intercontinental championship. It would be later held by The Honky Tonk Man, the Ultimate Warrior, "Ravishing" Rick Rude and many others who would use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
4. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart
The match that made Austin famous and Hart a heel.
The climax to this rivalry - or the start of it depending on your viewpoint - took place at Wrestlemania 13.
It was ushering in the Attitude are in the WWE, and although Austin was defiant and broke the rules, while Hart did and said all the right things, the fans didn't know who to cheer.
Ultimately, they turned on Hart and pulled for Austin. This was when rooting for the 'bad guy' became cool. Hart would turn to a heel, and that would begin the downward spiral of his career, and Austin became one of the greatest superstars in professional wrestling history.
3. Hulk Hogan Vs. Andre the Giant
This is guaranteed to set off quite the bit of controversy.
Many people feel as if Hogan vs. Andre was the greatest rivalry in company history. It is hard for me to argue against that, but I feel that there are a few reasons why it is only number three.
It had the two biggest names in the business. That much is true. But Andre had reached the twilight of his career, and could barely stand. He really could no longer wrestle.
And if we are honest with ourselves, Hogan could never wrestle.
But it was still huge. The Immortal Hulk Hogan vs. the Immovable Force in Andre the Giant. It was a classic rivalry, but wrestling was already 'over' with the fans (in this sense, the term over is a good thing).
It was a classic, but number three nonetheless.
2. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Vs. Vince McMahon
This was the true beginning of the Attitude Era in the WWE. Oddly enough, it was the owner of the company who made himself into the most influential heel at a crucial time.
The WWE was losing to WCW in the ratings for over a year and a half. It wasn't even close. WCW had brought in all of the former headliners of the WWE, and they were killing McMahon's business.
So Vince did what he thought was best. He knew that Austin was taking off with the fans, and could see the potential. He had fought Bret Hart. He would battle Shawn Michaels and countless others on his rise to the top.
But McMahon felt that only one person could play the heel role that would single handedly turn his company around.
Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE, went from a man who wore blazers more hideous than Craig Sager as a ringside reporter, to a commentator with Jerry "The King" Lawler and others to the ultimate heel both in and out of the ring.
1. Monday Night Wars Featuring WWE Vs. WCW
Amazingly enough, the greatest and most influential rivalry in the WWE was not between two superstars, nor was it a battle of tag teams. It was not even a war of some of the greatest factions and groups. It was between two rival companies that saw the WWE capture their greatest victory.
The Monday Night Wars went on for years, with WCW dominating for a long time. They had signed former WWE superstars such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair (who was in the old NWA/WCW for the majority of his career), Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and so many others.
It was so bad that the WWE and McMahon looked as though they were in serious jeopardy of closing doors.
But McMahon would not go down without a fight. He did not have the big names from the past. he was not about to pay them the astronomical amount of millions that Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff were willing to pay in WCW.
McMahon didn't need to, as he would simply create new stars.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Triple H. The Rock.
He had the bigger names. The world just didn't know them yet.
Ultimately, the WWE would crush the WCW so badly, that McMahon would buy out his greatest competition. He purchased them under the table from Bischoff, and took them over in name only.
After having the storyline continue for awhile, the WCW basically became part of the WWE in sales rights only.
McMahon had won the greatest battle in sports entertainment history.
Honorable Mention: The Next 10 That Just Missed the Cut
11. The Rock vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
12. Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude
13. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage
14. The Rock vs. Mankind (Mick Foley)
15. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Owen Hart
16. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
17. Hulk Hogan vs. Sargeant Slaughter
18. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. The Honky Tonk Man
19. Degeneration X vs. The Nation of Domination
20. "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart