Feud: A bitter, often prolonged quarrel or state of enmity, especially such a state of hostilities between two families or clans.
That is how the dictionary defines feud and that is exactly what we’re looking at here. Two people or sometimes groups of people that have a common interest but absolutely cannot stand each other as they both go for the same goals, dreams and desires. This series will be looking at the 10 best portrayed versions of that definition by professional wrestling so join me as we look deep into wrestling’s history looking for the feuds that have left an indelible mark on the wrestling world.
10. The WWF from March, 1996 through November, 1997- Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels:
Bret Hart was the World Wrestling Federation Champion and the company’s top draw but Shawn Michaels had a wave of popularity that rivaled the Hitman’s and rode it to his second straight Royal Rumble win in 1996. Everybody knew that these two had to meet being the most popular men in the WWF and the two best wrestlers at that time. Hart who had been the long time fan favorite and proven champion currently in his third reign vs. the upstart, former intercontinental champion who was chasing his first WWF Title. Both men claimed to be the best wrestler and maybe more importantly the best conditioned man in wrestling and with that in mind interim president “Rowdy” Roddy Piper announced that at on March 30th, 1996 at WrestleManiaXII these two would go at it in the first ever 60 minute Ironman Match for the WWF Championship. This match had to happen because the fans wanted to know who truly was the best. Was it the cagey veteran who had been on top before or was it time for the young gun to dethrone the king and take over the kingdom? After 60 minutes there was no answer but then in the second minute of the sudden death overtime, Shawn Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music and covered the Hitman to accomplish his dream and win his first WWF Championship.
The loss for Bret Hart was so devastating that he left wrestling for eight months to find out who he really was in the business and as a man. Shawn Michaels would spend those eight months as the undisputed most popular wrestler in the WWF and as champion, celebrating one of the longest reigns of the 1990’s. At the 1996 Survivor Series Bret Hart made his return against Stone Cold Steve Austin while Shawn Michaels title reign had came to an end at the hands of Sid.
Fast forward to 1997. Bret Hart had had it with American Wrestling fans and started the famous Border War between the US and Canada which today to me is still on of the greatest storylines ever while Shawn Michaels who had quote, “Lost his smile” was recovering from a knee injury but was still tooth and nail with Hart. It was at the 1997 SummerSlam where this feud really took a head. The Hitman was challenging the Undertaker for the WWF Championship in which Bret Hart was looking to become only the second man ever to be a five-time champion but if he lost he would not wrestle in the United States again, meanwhile, Shawn Michaels in spite of Hart got himself appointed as the guest referee and if he didn’t call the match down the middle then he would be fired. After 35 minutes Bret Hart tried bringing a chair into the ring in which Michaels took away but then the Hitman spit on the face of the Heartbreak Kid and Michaels in retaliation swung the chair but the Hitman ducked and he nailed the Undertaker. Unfortunately for Michaels the Hitman made the cover and he had no choice but to count the 1-2-3 and proclaim Bret Hart as champion.
Nobody knew though that the shot that Michaels said was an accident would also turn him into a bad guy and here is where this feud starts to get involved with the backstage. Bret Hart was the top bad guy but all of sudden Michaels became the top bad guy and these two were still feuding. The fans were more irate with Michaels then Hart and the fans made Hart a tweener. This made the Hitman very frustrated backstage as these two genuinely did not like each other in fact their real life dislike for each other actually helped out in the feud as both men gave the other permission to take real life shots at each other in interviews. This of course made for great TV and helped make the feud that much more entertaining. As everybody knows at the 1997 Survivor Series Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart in the famous “Screw-job!” to win his third WWF Title and Bret Hart ended up leaving for WCW directly after the match.
This feud comes in at number ten because it only had two actual one on one matches but the first is arguably the greatest match in WrestleMania history and the second is of course the match surrounded by the most controversy. This feud makes the list because it was a real life dislike for each other that was brought up in at as Bret Hart coined Degeneration X as that was how he genuinely felt about Shawn Michaels. This is the feud that gets the most talk because of what happened behind the story and that the incidents surrounding these two are still talked about today and it is forever part of their legacy. You ask anybody about Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and the screw-job is the first thing brought up. The facts that these two men to this day still do not like each other add to the greatness of this feud in my opinion. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels will forever be remembered as the most real life feud in wrestling history and for that it comes in number ten.
9. The WWF from November, 1993 through August, 1994-Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart:
Knowing that Owen being upset was tearing the family apart Bret had a sit down with his brother and hashed things out. The brothers reconciled their differences and challenged the Quebecers for the tag team titles at the 1994 Royal Rumble. Bret’s knee was injured in the match and could not make a tag and the referee stopped the match due to injury and thus gave the win to the champions. Owen felt that Bret could of made the tag and was just trying to hold him down so Owen kicked his brother in the bad knee after the match. If that was not enough fuel for Owen well later in the night Bret returned to the ring injured and ended up being one of the co-winners of the Royal Rumble and earned his shot at Yokozuna for the WWF Title at WrestleManiaX. The problem was that Lex Luger also won the Rumble and since the triple threat match was not introduced into wrestling yet combined with Bret and Owen having a problem as well as Lex Luger and Crush having issues, the WWF had a coin toss to determine who would get the shot at the championship at WrestleMania first. Luger won the toss and would be the first to get the shot at Yokozuna, which meant that Bret would have to face Owen and then he would get the winner of the Yokozuna/Luger match.
At WrestleManiaX in the opening match Owen Hart shocked the world in one of the greatest matches ever when he countered a victory roll and pinned his older brother to leap out of the shadow of the Hitman. Owen was the happiest man on Earth as he finally got out of the shadow but as he was leaping out of his brother’s shadow, his brother leaped back into the spotlight as in the last match of WrestleManiaX, Bret defeated Yokozuna to become the World Wrestling Federation Champion. Owen was furious as he felt that he was the uncrowned champion after beating his brother fair and square at WrestleMania. Owen came to the 1994 King of the Ring tournament in June confident and angry. He would last defeat Razor Ramon to win the King of the Ring and then proclaimed himself the King of Harts as he felt since he was not champion that he deserved a title.
With the help of Bret’s former tag team partner, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Owen got Bret disqualified in his title for title match with Intercontinental Champion Diesel which meant that the Hitman retained the title and Owen could get another shot at it. The Anvil turning his back on Bret and interfering with Bret’s matches helped set up a steel cage match for the WWF Championship between Bret and Owen at that year’s SummerSlam. A thirty plus minute war that saw both men both brothers beat each other from pillar to post. To add to the suspense of the feud with the exception of Neidhart, every other member of the Hart family was behind Bret as nine of the twelve brothers and sisters including brother in law Davy Boy Smith (British Bulldog) was cheering for the Hitman and not the King of Harts. Bret would win the match and then would be locked in the cage by Owen and the Anvil as they laid a beating on the champion while the rest of the family was locked out of the cage.
You would of thought the feud would of continued and it did but not in the way that seemed to make sense. Enter into the picture Bob Backlund. Backlund a former two-time WWF Champion back in the 1970’s and 1980’s returned to wrestling in 1993. In October of 1994 on an episode of WWF Superstars, Bret defeated Backlund to retain the WWF Title in a very controversial finish. Backlund had a small package and appeared to score the three count but the referee said that the Hitman got the shoulder up and while Backlund was questioning the decision the Hitman hit his own small package and scored the three count. Backlund snapped and injured Bret Hart’s shoulder with the crossface-chicken wing. Backlund and Owen then formed a pack to get the WWF Title off of the Hitman and at the 1994 Survivor Series in a throw in the towel match Owen after knocking out Bret’s towel thrower, the British Bulldog he convinced his mother, Helen to throw in the towel giving the title to Backlund.
This feud comes in at number nine because the actual in ring feud between the brothers ended at SummerSlam and while Owen and Bret would have in ring confrontations, they never met one on one in the ring again. This was the first brother vs. brother feud and it captivated an entire world as it saw a vengeful younger brother try to use his big brother as a stepping-stone to greatness and in the end I think it is fair to say that it did happen. Owen was never looked at in the same light as his brother again as he was noticed as his own star until is shocking death. Unfortunately though the feud didn’t really have a true ending to it as it more or less was a lead in to a feud between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund but nether the less it was the feud that catapulted Owen Hart into superstardom and it was a feud that helped make the Hitman a true legend in the business if only it had a better ending to it then it would have been higher on the list but it is a memorable feud and is comes in at a respectable ninth.
8. The NWA from September, 1985 through July, 1987-The Four Horsemen vs. Dusty Rhodes:
At the 1986 Great American Bash Dusty Rhodes got what he wanted, a cage match one on one with Flair for the title. Rhodes would win the match and the championship that you can see in its entirety if you have the Bloodbath DVD. Flair invoked his rematch clause and one month later won the title back to make it his fourth reign as champion. The Horsemen were dominating the NWA so much that Ole retired from active competition and the Horsemen were just fine as they recruited a young stud in Lex Luger. Luger was winning television and US Titles while Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were the tag team champs and of course Flair was still the NWA Champion. Rhodes had his own game plan as he and got himself a tag team partner in Nikita Koloff. Yes the NWA portrayed what everybody wanted to see and that was an end to the cold war as Rhodes and Koloff declared themselves “The Super Powers!” add the Road Warriors (Legion of Doom) to the mix and you had yourself four on four warfare.
Enter the 1987 Great American Bash as the feud had gained so much steam that 40,000 fans came to Miami’s Orange Bowl to see a first ever match in wrestling as at the Great American Bash we bared witness to the match beyond known as “The War Games!” The Horsemen along with JJ Dillon vs. Rhodes, Koloff, the Road Warriors and their manager Paul Ellering in the double ring, double cage match that only would end after all ten men were in the ring and somebody would say “I Quit!” Rhodes’s team would win the match and even though Flair was still the champion they showed that the Horsemen were beatable.
This feud is number eight because it was the first feud ever involving a stable. It proved that a feud involving many people could work as this also really started making spin off feuds popular as the Road Warriors would continue feuding with the Horsemen over the tag team belts until Arn and Tully left for the WWF in 1988. This was such an important feud in wrestling as it showed that stables could draw big money and be very popular in wrestling. Its indelible mark is that stables are still around today and that the formula that the dominating stable vs. a big name still works. Unfortunately many fans forget that this was the first stable feud and while it has left its mark on the industry, fans need to look back and remember how important and how great this feud truly was.
7. The WWF from March, 1987 through August, 1988-Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant:
Enter into the picture Andre the Giant! Andre was wrestling’s most recognizable star before Hulk Hogan and was the only true national superstar during the territory days. The Giant and Hogan were great friends and often tag team partners when on an episode of Piper’s Pit, Jesse “The Body” Ventura announced to the world that Andre the Giant had something to say to champion, Hulk Hogan and the following week Hogan was in the pit as was Andre but he was accompanied by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Andre then announced that he only showed up to challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at WrestleManiaIII. Hogan was absolutely flabbergasted and shocked until Andre ripped the shirt and the crucifix right off the champion and then Hogan accepted the match.
On March 29th, 1987 at WrestleManiaIII, 93,173 fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome just outside Detroit, Michigan to see Hulk Hogan defend his title against the monster himself, Andre The Giant. It was on this night that the unthinkable happened when Hogan picked up Andre and bodyslammed him in the center of the ring and then hit his legdrop and pin the giant 1-2-3 for the whole world to see as Hulk Hogan became the true icon of professional wrestling and would be immortalized forever.
A lot of people thought the feud had ended right there but it did not. On November 26th, 1987 the World Wrestling Federation introduced to us the Survivor Series. A night where five on five teams would compete in elimination style matches to determine who was the ultimate survivor. In the main event it was Hulk Hogan’s team that included Ken Patera, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco and Bam-Bam Bigelow against Andre’s team who had Butch Reed, Rick Rude, One Man Gang and King Kong Bundy. Hogan would be eliminated fourth on his team by count out and that would leave the giant one on one with Bigelow. In the end Andre proved to be too powerful for the “Beast from the East” and would win the match and be the ultimate survivor.
The victory helped propel Andre right back into title contention but the story does not end there. Welcome “The Million Dollar Man,” Ted Debiase into the picture. Debiase was new into the WWF but wanted to make a sudden impact so he decided to flaunt his money around and try to buy the World Wrestling Federation Championship off of Hulk Hogan. When Hogan denied the buyout, the man of millions had a plan. He cohobated with Andre and came to an agreement in which Debiase would pay Andre the money he was going to give to Hogan if Andre could win the WWF Title and then give it to Debiase.
Andre accepted the deal and on February 5th, 1988 Andre would battle Hulk Hogan for the title knowing that if he were to win he would relinquish it to Ted Debiase. The match was back and forth until Hogan was finally able to get the upper hand, knock Andre down and then hit the legdrop but Virgil who was Debiase’s bodyguard distracted the referee and couldn’t make the count. With Hogan distracted this gave Andre the opportunity that he needed as he grabbed Hogan from behind and headbutt him three times. He would then turn Hogan around and hit a single underhook suplex and land on Hogan. Earl Hebner would begin to count but at one Hogan got his shoulder up. Hebner kept counting and got to three and awarded Andre the championship in which he quickly turned and gave the belt to Ted Debiase. It was then later revealed that the “Million Dollar Man” paid a man to have plastic surgery so that he would look like referee Earl Hebner. In light of this news WWF President, Jack Tunney declared the title vacant and at WrestleManiaIV there would be a fourteen man, single elimination tournament to crown a new champion.
At WrestleManiaIV Hogan and Andre who received first round buys would meet in the second round. It was a wild affair that saw Hogan suplex Virgil on the floor and put him in the hospital. Andre and Hogan both fought over a steel chair and then alternated shots and both of them ended up getting disqualified. After the match the battle continued until Hogan slammed Andre. After the match Andre told the world that it was part of a master plan to eliminate Hogan from the tournament and make Debiase’s road to the title easier. Debiase would make the finals and meet Randy Savage for the vacant WWF Championship.
Debiase came to the ring with Andre and the giant was quick to distract the “Macho Man.” This made Savage turn to Elizabeth and send her to the back in which she returned with Hulk Hogan. Hogan would nail Ted Debiase in the back with a chair and Savage would drill the flying elbow and win his first World Wrestling Federation Title.
This enraged not only Debiase and Andre but Bobby Heenan as well and on August 29th, 1988 the WWF brought us SummerSlam from Madison Square Garden and in the main event it was Hogan and Savage vs. Andre and Debiase with Jesse Ventura as the Guest Referee. After twenty minutes Hogan would pin Debiase despite Ventura not wanting to make the three count and would win the feud over Andre The Giant.
This feud comes in at number seven because it was the true passing of the torch as the old star in Andre gave the flame to the new icon in Hulk Hogan. A lot of people would think this feud would come in higher but believe it or not nobody really remembers that it was because of these two that the first Survivor Series and SummerSlam took place. Hogan and Andre are two of the greatest names in wrestling history and it was the feud that defined Hulkamania, the WWF and the second golden age of the 1980’s. It is because of the contributions of two of our biggest pay per views and arguably the most memorable moment in wrestling history that puts this feud on our prestigious list.
6. The NWA from January, 1989 through May, 1989-Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat:
These two then encountered into a feud about conflicting personalities and lifestyles. Steamboat almost the working class hero who would come to the ring with his wife and son by his side while Flair would always dress nice and be around many ladies. Flair said that he was going to live the life the way he felt a world champion should and that he had respect for Steamboat and his family but could not understand how “The Dragon” could be with the same woman every night.
Flair did this to get into the number one contenders head as he started bringing more and more women to him to the ring for interviews and even changed managers for this match. Instead of going with the Horsemen’s own James J. Dillon, Flair called an audible and brought in Hiro Natsutyah (Spelling could be off) from Japan who knew Steamboat. Steamboat though was undaunted by Flair’s mind games and even ripped Flair’s thousand dollar suit and coat off during an interview.
On February 20th the match was set for the ChiTown Rumble. Flair vs. Steamboat for the title but Flair decided to play with Steamboat’s head just a little more before the match as “The Dragon” was already in the ring a trumpet played about a dozen of Chicago’s most beautiful ladies to the ring and then Flair would walk out right in between them all and then threw some roses to the crowd as he kissed one of those ladies and then the match was on.
A hard fought pure wrestling classic was fought as both men for over twenty minutes did everything they could to defeat his opponent. In a back and forth match Steamboat was able to gain some momentum and went up for the flying crossbody and nailed it but knocked down referee Tommy Young in the process. While the ref was down Flair went for the third figure four of the match but was rolled up and then referee Teddy Long (Yes SmackDown general manager Theodore Long) would come into the ring and count the 1-2-3 and Ricky Steamboat would accomplish his dream and be the NWA Champion.
Flair could not believe he lost especially under such controversy so he enacted his rematch clause and in April at the sixth Clash of the Champions (A NWA/WCW televised supershow on TBS), Steamboat would defend the title against Flair in a best two out of three falls match. Flair would win the first fall with a small package but would submit to the double chicken wing in the second fall so here we go with the third and deciding fall of a sixty minute time limit, two out of three falls match. With five minutes left Steamboat went for the double chicken wing again but Flair countered and both men fell back with Steamboat still holding onto the hold and both men were on their back when the referee counted to three. Referee Tommy Young declared Steamboat the winner even though both men’s shoulders were down.
Flair brought his lawyer in to dispute the three count and was thus given another rematch. This time though it would be at Wrestle War89 with a one fall, one-hour time limit with a very special stipulation. If the match would go the hour with no winner, a panel of three judges would determine the winner. For over forty minutes these two men would put on one of the most exciting matches ever witnessed as they were alternating chop for chop, punch for punch, hold for hold and move for move until Steamboat fell off the top rope and landed on the floor hurting his knee. Flair would take advantage but the champion would continue to fight and bring back some momentum to his favor. Steamboat went for a body slam but his knee gave out as he took Flair over and Flair rolled him through and held on to win back the NWA Title. After the match Steamboat and Flair shook hands and gave each other gratitude for one of the greatest matches ever put on for the title.
This feud is on the list because it set the standard for what a series of matches is supposed to be. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat put on three of the most memorable matches in wrestling history and to this day they are still talked about and more importantly then that, every series of matches ever to take place since is compared to Flair vs. Steamboat. This feud comes in at number six because these matches still hold up today and would captivate audiences now as they did fifteen years ago. It was the feud that solidified both men’s spots as two of the very best ever and even though there was a story line to it and it brought the fans in, it was the wrestling that kept them in and kept them watching and that is why this feud comes in at number six.
5. The WWF from November, 1996 through July, 1997-Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin:
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin entered the World Wrestling Federation in 1996 under the name “The Ringmaster.” Austin ditched the gimmick and at the 1996 King of the Ring he would make the statement that would put the world on notice as it was on this night that he uttered the words: “Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!” After that Austin would go on to defeat Jake Roberts and win the King of the Ring and tell the world that he was on his way to the top by any means necessary.
Bret Hart was on an extended vacation or a short retirement depending how you look at it but was looking to make his return at the 1996 Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden. Austin saw this as his golden opportunity as he would provoke not just Bret Hart but also the WWF into giving him a one on one match so that he could use the “Hitman” as a stepping-stone. Well Bret Hart would be damned if any upstart was going to use him as a stepping stone and at the Survivor Series Hart would pin Austin and make a successful comeback. Austin those was not satisfied as he was pinned while he had the Million Dollar Dream on Bret Hart and Austin wanted revenge.
He would get it at the 1997 Royal Rumble, as he and Hart would be the last two men in the match. Hart was able to throw Austin over the top but the referees were distracted while trying to get the Nation of Domination and Ahmed Johnson to the back and didn’t see the elimination. Austin crawled into the ring and threw Hart out and would win the 1997 Royal Rumble and get his shot at the Champion at WrestleMania13. The champion however would not make it to WrestleMania as Shawn Michaels suffered a knee injury and relinquished the belt but this was good news for Austin as he would get his shot one month sooner in February but it would be at Final Four In Your House against Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Vader and the winner would be champion but then have to defend it the next night against former champion, Sid in a steel cage match.
Hart would last eliminate the Undertaker and win his fourth WWF Title so the stage was set for the next night on RAW as Hart would defend against Sid in a cage match but with very special stipulations. Austin was the Royal Rumble winner and still feuding with Bret Hart and was in line for the title shot at WrestleMania13 but the Undertaker since he finished second in the final four would get a shot at the title if Sid won the cage match. Both Austin and the taker interfered but in the end experience beats determination and hatred as Sid would beat Hart to become champion.
Hart felt screwed out of the title and was extremely frustrated with everybody and even shoved Vince McMahon. Austin laughed it up and called Hart a crybaby and whiner and told him to shut his trap before he shut it for him. Austin was gaining popularity that made Hart even angrier as he felt he was losing his legion of fans to this rouge, anti-hero who hated everything and everybody.
Austin was obviously furious but knew he had pushed Hart passed his limits and was already scheduled to meet the “Hitman” at WrestleMania regardless but he was confident and he told Hart that he could beat him in his type of match, a submission match. The WWF hired Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) SuperFight Champion, Ken Shamrock who happened to be a submissions expert as the referee and at WrestleMania13 Bret Hart and Steve Austin would have the match that would change the WWF forever. The least watched WrestleMania in history bared witness to one of the bloodiest, craziest one on one matches ever as these two fought each other up and down and all over Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon (Allstate Arena), hitting each other with everything they could fine including chairs, ring bells and using cable and anything possible. The fans were split during the match and Hart would eventually make the bloody Austin pass out to the Sharpshooter and win the match. Austin never gave up and the “Hitman” was not done beating on his hated rival. This infuriated the fans as Austin had gained everybody’s respect and Austin would wake up and limp off on his own to an “Austin-Austin-Austin” chant.
Bret Hart had had it with American wrestling fans because of this. Here was a guy that was the good guy and supported everything that was good against evil and fought for the people who felt the people had turned their backs on him for an evil, no good, bastard who was only there for himself and nobody else. Austin fed on this and severely injured Hart’s knee but oh no he was not done. After the injury Austin called out Hart on RAW with a wheelchair and told him that they could have a wheelchair match but then stood up and just told Hart to come out so he can kick his ass. Hart came out and Austin kicked his ass. The “Hitman” would be on the shelf for three months because of the injury but he was not done with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin yet. In May, Austin was awarded a shot at the Undertaker for the WWF Title at Cold Day in Hell In Your House. Hart along with his newly reunited Hart Foundation of Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman would prevent Austin from winning the title.
In the “Hitman’s” absence his foundation would continue his war for him, as Owen would win the Intercontinental Title while the Bulldog was still European Champion and of course Pillman was just wreaking havoc like he always did. Austin was outnumbered and needed help. He didn’t want but he needed it and he got it in Goldust, Ken Shamrock and the Legion Of Doom and there would be a ten-man tag match in July at Canadian Stampede In Your House. The odds were stacked against Austin and his unwanted team as they were going against a cohesive unit in their hometown of Calgary Alberta, Canada. It is called the greatest ten-man tag match of all time as for half an hour these teams battled it out for pride and to prove who was top dog in the World Wrestling Federation. On this night Owen Hart who returned to the ring after Austin injured his knee earlier, would roll up the “rattlesnake” and get the win for the Hart Foundation.
It was this feud that started the “Attitude Era” and it would be this feud that would be the catalyst for the WWF’s reemergence as the number one wrestling promotion in the world and its eventual take over of WCW. Hart vs. Austin comes in at number five because it signaled a changing of the guard in professional wrestling as no longer would the goody two shoes be the heroes, but the anti hero, the man that everyone in the world could identify with, the hard working, 9-5 just shows up and does his job man would emerge as the new hero. Gone were the cookie cutter storylines and gimmicks but an attitude that was going to kick ass and leave everyone behind in its dust would emerge and it was this feud that started that change and it was this feud that propelled Steve Austin into superstardom and it was this feud that told us that the World Wrestling Federation was changing forever.
4. ECW From April, 1995 Through June, 1997-Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven:
In January of 1995 Raven had left the WWF and his Johnny Polo gimmick forever and entered ECW as Raven. A disturbed, anti-social, sadistic, genius who had a high threshold for pain and quickly adapted to the hardcore style of wrestling that ECW was pioneering. During the same time period Tommy Dreamer had finally after a year of fighting had won over the fans and was accepted as a true hardcore wrestler so here we have a feud between the new upstart and the newly accepted fan favorite but oh boy was there ever a catch. It turned out that Raven and Tommy Dreamer grew up together and had known each other since they were twelve years old. Dreamer was the jock and “Big man on campus” while Raven was obviously the obscured loner who wanted revenge on Dreamer for their childhood days. Raven was not the only one as he had a lackey in a very young Stevie Richards and also a young and beautiful woman in Beulah McGillicutty who also grew up with Raven and Dreamer but she was an ugly girl who wanted Tommy but could not have Tommy and thus she wanted revenge on Dreamer. Unbeknownst to Tommy, Beulah had matured into one of the most gorgeous women ever to step foot into the wrestling business.
These two men battled over and over and over again with Dreamer always beating the crap out of his demented nemesis but every single time but in the end Raven would pin Dreamer. One of these battles included a Steel Cage Match in July of 1995 in which Tommy handcuffed Raven to the cage and hit him with the now famous, “Chair Shot Heard ‘Round the World!” somehow though Raven would still win the match. Raven usually won with interference and had many followers who then became known as “The Nest” (Later known as the Flock in WCW). Nest members included Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie, Beulah, Louis Spicolli, Kamona Wanalaiya, Big Dick Dudley, Dudley-Dudley, and Brian Lee for starters.
Dreamer though had some friends on his side including the Pitbulls, The Sandman, Terry Funk, The Public Enemy and even Luna Vachon. All of which had previous relations and or altercations with Raven. Luna feuded with Beulah while the “Mad-Dogs of War” were after the Dudley’s and Raven and Richards for the ECW Tag Team Titles. Raven though had some friends that were not in his nest including Shane Douglas, Francine and yes Cactus Jack.
This feud was absolutely amazing because of all of its twists and turns including Beulah announcing to the world that she was pregnant with Tommy’s baby in January of 1996 and also this feud saw the first ever lesbian angle in wrestling history when it was revealed in April that Beulah was not pregnant and was cheating on Tommy with Kamona! This got ECW kicked off the air on every channel that was syndicating their show.
In June of 1997 at Wrestlepalooza it would be Raven vs. Dreamer in Raven’s final match in ECW before going to WCW. On this night at the ECW Arena Tommy finally did it and pinned Raven for the 1-2-3 and just as he was going to DDT Raven onto a stop sign he screamed out “E-C-f***in’W!” Dreamer had finally got the victory on his arch nemesis and sent him packing as only the “Innovator of Violence” could do.
This feud comes in at number four for many reasons. This was the first true adult based feud in wrestling as it opened the door to everything we see in wrestling today. Most feuds in the 1990’s did not last longer then a couple months but this feud lasted over two years and even though many of the participants would change, the key element stayed the same and that was Dreamer never pinning Raven. For two years no matter what Tommy did Raven would win and it kept the feud interesting and really made Tommy a sentimental favorite. It was also one of the biggest providers of spin off feuds in wrestling as during this feud Dreamer feuded with Brian Lee in which they had a Scaffold Match where you had to knock your opponent off the platform through three tables below and also Raven would have his famous feud with the Sandman which featured his son and wife joining Raven, a Barbed Wire Match that gave Raven his first reign as ECW Champion and the crucifixion of the Sandman. As stated above the bWo was formed and Beulah and Francine would feud out of this as would Dreamer and Shane Douglas, and even Raven and Douglas.
This was the provider feud for everything that happened in ECW for three years. It was the pioneering feud that led to the Attitude Era and our feud at number three as if it was this feud that showed that pro wrestling could appeal to an adult audience and it was the gateway for ECW’s future mainstream success and for everything we have seen in professional wrestling since. This was the opening of the door to so much as it established Raven as one of the most complex stars ever, Dreamer as ECW’s Franchise Player, Paul Heyman as a true creative genius and most importantly it would officially establish ECW as the revolutionary force behind professional wrestling in the 1990’s and be the true catalyst of the third golden age of professional wrestling.
3. WCW From July, 1996 Through December, 1998-WCW vs. nWo:
The heel turn would lead to one of the biggest changes in pro wrestling as not only did the immortal Hulk Hogan turn evil but now WCW would be the top promotion in the world and Nitro would now out draw the WWF’s RAW for 84 straight weeks.
In the coming months the nWo as they called themselves started recruiting and literally stealing talent from WCW, including The Giant, Scott Norton, Ted Debiase who was recruited to be the manager, Buff Bagwell, Vincent (Formerly known as Virgil in the WWF), Syxx Pac (Better known as X-Pac), and the biggest coo of them all in Sting or at least what we thought was Sting. For months the world was wondering if the pride of WCW had really sold out and joined the enemy camp? At Fall Brawl-The War Games we got our answer. In the double ring, double caged, structure of death “Sting” came out fourth for the nWo but WCW had a fourth member and that was the real Sting! Sting was questioned by everyone in WCW and he revealed that he was faithful and cleaned house leaving Hogan, Hall, Nash and the fake Sting in a heap but then told Flair, Arn Anderson and Luger who made up Team WCW to stick it for not trusting him and left the match. This resulted in Sting going silent for fourteen months and it left WCW three on four with nWo and as a result would lose the match.
This was not the only blow WCW would face as Hogan was the WCW Champion and desecrated the belt by spray painting nWo on it, guys were jumping camp and WCW President Eric Bischoff joined the nWo. Things were looking bad for WCW and it appeared that it could not get better as the nWo was able to defeat the fabled 4 Horsemen and cause dissension in the ranks.
WCW kept fighting though as despite guys like Randy Savage, Scott Steiner, Konnan and Kurt Hennig jumping ship, The Giant would return home to WCW and hero would step out of the shadows and be the night in shining armor for WCW and more importantly be Hollywood Hogan’s and the nWo’s biggest nightmare as Sting had returned. Long black hair, white face paint, black ring attire, a black trench coat and a baseball bat in hand, Sting had came back and made claim to the WCW Title.
At Starrcade 1997 it was Hogan vs. Sting for the WCW Title and more importantly for WCW it was for the survival of their company as on the Nitro before Starrcade the nWo took over Nitro and proclaimed that it would be theirs after Hogan defeated Sting. The match was controversial as Hogan appeared to pin Sting after hitting the famed Legdrop but new WCW wrestler and referee for the night, Bret “Hitman” Hart accused Nick Patrick of a fast count and knocked him out then restarted the match. The result was Hogan tapping out to the Scorpion Death Lock and Sting would save WCW and be its new champion.
The nWo would never be the same as a rift would start to happen between Hogan and Nash and in the coming months Nash would split up the nWo and formed the vastly popular Wolfpac. Guys like Sting, Konnan, Luger and Randy Savage would join the Red and Black attack and now the two versions of the New World Order started feuding but yet each wanted to still take over WCW, they just wanted to do it their own way.
In July of 1998 Goldberg would defeat Hulk Hogan to become WCW Champion. Goldberg was unstoppable and undefeated and kept WCW right in the think of things as regards to their company war with the WWF who had recently retaken the top spot with Steve Austin and the Attitude Era when at the 1998 Starrcade the champion would face Wolfpac leader, Kevin Nash in the main event for the WCW Title. The match was back and forth and Goldberg was looking for the spear when Scott Hall of all people who had turned on Nash months back was dressed as a camera man and used a stun gun on Goldberg. This would result in Nash hitting his Jackknife Powerbomb and doing the unthinkable as he would pin Goldberg, end his undefeated streak of well over 100 matches and become WCW Champion.
It appeared that the Wolfpac was now in control but on the next night on Nitro it would all come crashing to a quick halt for everything that was in WCW as on this night the new champion was scheduled to face Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the title. Hogan and Nash would get face to face and then Hogan would poke Nash in the chest. It was the “Poke heard around the world” as Nash would “collapse” and let Hogan pin him and win the WCW Championship again. All of the nWo would reform under the Wolfpac name but the incident was so disheartening to the fans that they turned away from WCW and the entire feud would end almost completely unnoticed.
WCW never recovered and as a result the New World Order would be treated like the Four Horsemen as they would be reformed and brought back a few times to bring back interest but failed. This feud comes in at number three on the list because it was the only feud ever to save a company and then destroy a company. The WCW vs. The nWo changed wrestling forever as this was not evil stable vs. one man but evil stable against good stable in a battle for total control. Oh how true that would be as the backstage turmoil that revolved around everybody would lead to the eventual demise of World Championship Wrestling. It is the feud that saved Hulk Hogan’s career and helped define pro wrestling’s third golden age and for that this feud comes in at number three on the list of Wrestling’s 10 Greatest Feuds.
2. NWA/WCW From March, 1988 Through March, 2001-Ric Flair vs. Sting:
Back in late 1987 Ric Flair had successfully won back the NWA Title by defeating Ron Garvin at Starrcade, meanwhile a young up and comer named Sting was quickly becoming the most popular wrestler in the South. Sting was a big, muscular dude with beach blonde hair and an attitude that just attached to people so it just made sense that these two would go at it for the title. With that Sting battled his way up to become the number one contender and the match was set for March 27, 1988 but there was something extraordinary about the entire match and situation.
On March 27, 1988 the World Wrestling Federation presented WrestleManiaIV on pay per view. To counter, Jim Crockett Promotions along with Ted Turner scheduled Sting vs. Flair on the same night but they would put the match on television for free as they introduced to us the Clash Of The Champions. Yes on this night in 1988 the NWA and the WWF went head up against each other and put their best foot forward.
The match itself went a 45 minute time limit with Sting having the Scorpion Death Lock on Flair as time expired. The match had three judges to decide a winner and they ended up splitting and the match was called a draw and Flair would retain. This did not stop Sting though as he would continue to chase Flair and would come close numerous times but a little snag came into Sting’s chase in the middle of 1989.
In May at WrestleWar Flair had won back the NWA Title from Ricky Steamboat only to be attacked after the match by Terry Funk and was pile driven onto a table. At the Great American Bash Flair would defeat Funk but then was attacked by the Great Muta in which Sting of all people would come and make the save. The result would be Flair and Sting teaming up against Funk and Muta and ultimately Sting would become a member of the famed Four Horsemen. Sting’s stay in the Horsemen would be short lived as in early 1990 Sting would be kicked out and beaten up for not relinquishing a title match with the “Nature Boy” for February. Sting though would get his revenge as at the 1990 Great American Bash he would finally catch Flair and beat the “Nature Boy” and finally became NWA Champion. The title reign lasted four months as in September Flair would win back the NWA Title.
Ric Flair would leave the NWA/WCW (Jim Crockett Promotions was bought out by Ted Turner and he renamed the territory WCW) for the WWF in late 1991 and would be in the WWF until January of 1993. During that time since Flair took the NWA Title with him WCW came up with its own championship and Sting would win that title a couple of times feuding with Lex Luger and Vader. In August of 1992 the NWA Title would return but it would not be back in WCW until February of 1993 when Barry Windham would win it off the Great Muta. That is important because in July Flair would win back the NWA Title and become a 12 time champion but then things would change as in September of 1993 WCW completely withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance and thus World Championship Wrestling would be its own company with Vader as its champion. Flair’s NWA Title would be renamed the “WCW International Title” and Sting would end up with it while in December in his hometown of Charlotte at Starrcade; Flair would defeat Vader and win the WCW World’s Title.
Fast forward to June of 1994 and another edition of the Clash Of The Champions as the NWA and WCW came to an agreement that would allow the NWA its title back so on this night WCW Champion, Ric Flair and WCW International Champion (NWA Title), Sting would battle it out in a unification match. The winner would be WCW’s one and only world champion. Sensational Sherri was dressed in Sting’s face paint and was cheering on the Stinger all the way to the end only to reveal that she was with Flair the whole time as “Slick Ric” rolled up Sting and held him for the 1-2-3 and would be the one and only WCW Champion.
In 1996 the nWo had become the most dominating force in pro wrestling and were attempting to take over WCW and the X-Factor to everything was Sting. The New World Order had said that Sting had joined them and left World Championship Wrestling. Flair confronted Sting and Sting told Ric Flair that he would never turn his back on WCW and that Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were lying. At Fall Brawl-The War Games we would learn that it was an imposter Sting that was in the nWo and that Sting was telling the truth. Sting would clean house and then tell Flair and the rest of WCW to stick it and would go silent for the next 14 months.
In March of 2001 WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon and the WWF and WCW would have its final Nitro and on this night Ric Flair would come out to cut one of his legendary promos and to announce that he and Sting would go at it in the last match ever for World Championship Wrestling. Sting would make Flair tap out to the Scorpion Death Lock and WCW would shut its doors forever.
You know people talk about feuds that captivated a world and were awe-inspiring and if you own the Ric Flair DVD they called this feud “Defining an Era.” Well not only did it define an era but it defined a company. For 13 glorious years through the National Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling these two men captivated a world and kept a feud fresh and a match never dull. The philosophy for this feud was simple, you have your top bad guy and your top good guy go at it for the top title but who on earth thought that for so many years these two could pack arenas and keep a feud and a match fresh? I certainly didn’t and I am sure most haven’t. This feud showed the staying power of both men, especially Flair as he was in his 40’s for most of this feud and for Sting his legacy was built and is built around this feud right here and gave Sting the title of WCW’s Franchise. This feud comes in at number two because no feud has ever gone so long and defined a company. When you think WCW you think Ric Flair vs. Sting. That says it all right there. Never before and never since and probably never again will two men wrestle so many times on television and pay per view and keep it interesting and entertaining and that is why this feud comes in at number two on the list of the 10 Greatest Feuds Ever.
The Greatest Feud Of All Time!
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin had became a new phenomenon in the World Wrestling Federation in 1997 when he became the most unlikely of good guys after his feud with Bret Hart and at that year’s SummerSlam he broke his neck and became Intercontinental Champion. Because of the neck injury Austin was forced to relinquish the title. Austin was upset to say the least and went on Stone Cold Stunning everyone in sight including good friend Jim Ross but in October on RAW from Madison Square Garden he stunned the chairmen of the board and lead announcer at that time, Vince McMahon. If that wasn’t enough for McMahon to hate his employee how about him relinquishing the Intercontinental Title? Well that is what happened in December when Austin who had returned from injury a month earlier to win that belt back from Owen Hart literally gave it to The Rock! Austin wanted to become the WWF Champion and basically did not have time to defend one title while pursuing another. This infuriated the chairman of the board and put a bounty on Austin’s head for the 1998 Royal Rumble which of course did not work as Austin would last eliminate The Rock and win the match and get himself a WWF Championship match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleManiaXIV.
McMahon would announce that Mike Tyson would be the special guest enforcer for the main event and of course Austin could not let that sit so he shoved Mike Tyson. This infuriated McMahon and helped Tyson make the jump to D-Generation X. At WrestleManiaXIV Austin would pin Michaels and become champion as Tyson of all people counted the 1-2-3.
The next almost two years would be hell for both men as during Austin’s first title reign McMahon convinced Mick Foley to change persona’s to Dude Love to try and take the belt and even set up a match with himself as referee, Pat Patterson as time keeper and Jerry Briscoe as ring announcer. In the end McMahon would whacked by a chair and would be knocked out for Austin to use his limp hand to count the victory. Vince would get his revenge though as at the King of the Ring Kane would defeat Austin in a first blood match to become champion. The reign did not last long as the next night Austin would talk Kane into giving him a rematch in which the “Rattlesnake” would win and get his title back.
This would lead to McMahon setting up the Undertaker as the number one contender for SummerSlam and got the Undertaker and Kane to mend their differences for a common goal, the business of taking the WWF Title off of Steve Austin. Austin would prevail at SummerSlam but he would not at Break Down-In Your House the following month. McMahon set up a triple threat match with Austin, Kane and the Undertaker but the brothers could not pin themselves so instead they double choke slammed Austin and covered him at the same time and now Vince wins because Austin is not the champion.
Since the brothers both pinned Austin, McMahon declared the title vacant and in October they would go at it for the vacant title but McMahon made Austin the referee so that he would have to crown the new champ himself and if he didn’t Austin would be fired! Austin knocked out both men counted to three and proclaimed himself the winner and champion. McMahon had had it and fired Austin on the spot. Austin though had a plan as Shane McMahon who was having problems with his father signed Austin to a multi-year contract. Vince angry with this demoted his son to referee and would be a referee going into the 1998 Survivor Series.
The title was still vacant and a one night 16 man, single elimination tournament was signed to declare a new champion. Austin made it to the semi-finals against Mankind who appeared to be McMahon’s hand picked winner for the belt. During the match the referee got knocked out and Austin hit a stunner on Mankind. Shane McMahon came into make the count but then flicked Austin off and ran off, Mankind would then nail the double arm DDT and pin the “Rattlesnake” and make it to the finals. Austin was screwed out of the WWF Title again.
Fast forward to the 1999 Royal Rumble and now Austin was named number one for the match but commissioner Shawn Michaels announced that Vince McMahon would be number two. During the Rumble Austin would be attacked by many men and Vince would just relax outside the ring. Austin appeared to be out of the match but returned and it would be down to Austin and McMahon. Austin would beat the crap out of his boss but The Rock who just won the WWF Title earlier that night would come out and distract “Stone Cold” long enough for Vince McMahon to win the 1999 Royal Rumble.
Vince quickly relinquished his spot to be in the main event for WrestleManiaXV but that now meant that Austin who took second would now be the number one contender. The whole point of McMahon in the Rumble was to keep Austin from winning it so at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Austin would face McMahon in a Steel Cage Match and if McMahon won then Austin would not be in the main event to face The Rock for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania. Austin would beat the holy hell out of Vince McMahon even knocking him off the cage and through a table on the outside before the match officially started. McMahon was game though and kept fighting because he had a plan. That plan was Paul Wight. Formerly known as The Giant in WCW the Big Show had arrived in the WWF and threw Austin so hard into the cage that it became unlatched and Austin would drop to the floor and win the match and keep his title match for WrestleManiaXV.
At WrestleMania Austin would defeat The Rock to become champion and would step on Vince’s Chest and raise the belt high.
Fast forward to the master plan that happened in between May and July of 1999. The Undertaker would beat Austin in May for the title and announced that he had a “higher power” controlling him and his “Ministry of Darkness” and had him kidnap McMahon’s daughter Stephanie. Austin would rescue her and return her to Vince despite his hatred only to find out that McMahon himself was the higher power. This infuriated “Stone Cold” as at the Fully Loaded pay per view in July he would face the Undertaker for the title in a First Blood, End of an Era match in which win or lose the feud between Austin and McMahon would be over. Austin would win the match and be champion and while McMahon would make small attempts to make Austin’s life miserable he turned his attention to HHH and his feud with Austin would be emphatically over at the 1999 Survivor Series when Austin was ran over by a car and out of action for ten months.
These feuds defined the Attitude Era, had more memorable moments then are mentionable including the stunners, the time Austin came out as the corporate champion only to punch Vince in the nuts and take a snap shot of it and who could ever forget the beer truck incident. This feud captivated the entire world and changed wrestling forever as Austin became the anti-hero and was looked at as a hard working man who asked for no quarter and got no quarter. He showed up and did his job and only cared about himself. He personified the hard working American and became the biggest icon in wrestling. My father said it best when he said that Austin was living an American Dream as every hard working person in the entire world would love to beat up their boss and Austin got to do it weekly and get paid for it. This feud knocked WCW out of business and made the third golden age of wrestling a true golden age.
Austin vs. McMahon was the provider for all of the feuds that many of you wanted to make the list such as Rock vs. Austin, Rock vs. HHH, DX vs. The Corporation, Mankind vs. HHH and so much more because just like real life you were either with the boss or against the boss so it was relatively easy to have so much spin-off.
This feud was so big and so popular that a cable wrestling show forced Monday Night Football to move its games to eight pm instead of nine for an entire season. This feud is the feud that introduced many fans to pro wrestling and it is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest feud ever.
Quick Stats and Final Thoughts:
WWF had 5 Feuds with lowest being 10 and highest being 1.
Each Feud as mentioned had to leave an indelible mark on the business so here are at least in my opinion the marks they left.
10. Michaels/Hart: The Controversy
Well that about wraps it up for this special edition of the Big TimBoski Show! Remember to please send all of your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and until next time LATER!
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