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 seven 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.
Who has won the Royal Rumble in this decade?
Our Medium TimBoski’s are: Lou Agostini (Hope you come home safely man), Phil, Romeo Pace, Joey Saliba, Lino Casas, Drew M., Mike Kelly, Matt Thom, Sandra Smith, Scott Lowe, Trent Williams and Styling Gentlemen. Congratulations to all of you!
Alright here we go with the first trivia question of 2005, remember if you think you know the answer please send it along with your feedback to email@example.com and good luck!
What made Ric Flair’s 1992 Royal Rumble win so significant?
Well that does it for part 1 of this four part series. Next time we will be looking at feuds 5, 6, and 7 so please send me your feedback and trivia answers to firstname.lastname@example.org 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?