10. Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (WWF: 3/96-11/97)
And now here we go with Part 4.
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.
Name the men who won their first WWF Title at a WrestleMania?
In Order: Randy Savage-WrestleManiaIV
Our Medium TimBoski’s: Adam Lamprecht, Sgt. Lou Agostini (Come back home safely man!), Andrew MacLean, Arvind Kaushik, Brendan Welsh, Brian Pavlick, Brock G, Chris Fothergill-Brown (Owner of www.shootingstarpress.com it is a great site, please check it out), Colin George, Daniel Courtney, Darren Moore, David Garnett, Dougie Nunny (Owner of www.thewrestlingvoice.com a revolutionary site as it is the first site strictly for columnists and is fantastic), Gavin Langdon, Julio Morgan, Lino Casas, LMart, Marcos Cruz, Matt H, Matt Milligan, Nick Sleiman, NinjaTurtle, Paul Reaney, Richard Godin, Rob McGrath, David Romero, Russell, Sam Hamblin, Scott Lowe, Zack Edwards, Stew Akers, StylingGentleman, Dave Fisher, Dave the Admiral, W.K., WKohn Congratulations to all of you!!!
Ok here is this week’s question. Remember if you think you know the answer send it with your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and good luck.
The Honkey-Tonk Man has the record for the longest Intercontinental Title reign ever at 14 months. Who did he beat to become champion?
Well that just about does it for this week’s show. It was an honor, a privilege and an absolute blast bringing you this series of The 10 Greatest Feuds Ever. I hope you had just as much fun reading it as I did writing it and hopefully this will not be the reference point when you and your friends argue over feuds. I am going to be posting the entire list in a few days so look out for that. Remember to please send your feedback and trivia answers to email@example.com and until next time LATER!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
If you are interested in becoming a columnist or simply love reading wrestling columns and would like to interact with the Column Staff here at WrestleZone please check out the Columns Lounge. Simply click HERE and you can take part in the fun today
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?