Top 10 Greatest WWE Rivalries of All Time
The rivalry between the two wrestlers is the foundation of any great storyline in WWE or any other type of professional wrestling.
In the world of professional wrestling, rivalries are the lifeblood of entertainment. These fierce, long-standing feuds capture the imagination of fans, create unforgettable moments, and define eras within the WWE. From the rebellious Stone Cold Steve Austin clashing with the tyrannical Vince McMahon to the supernatural battles between The Undertaker and Kane, these rivalries have left an indelible mark on the world of sports entertainment. Join us as we delve into the top 10 WWE rivalries that have not only shaped wrestling history but also electrified audiences around the globe.
10. Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs. Dudley Boyz
The three teams competed in some of the most amazing, awe-inspiring matches in WWE history, all in an effort to enhance their own stars. From tag team ladder and tables matches to the revolutionary Tables, Ladders, and Chairs bouts, they established an extremely high standard for their contemporaries to try to match.
The three teams were able to steal events and establish themselves as key components of the company’s presentation at a time when Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H were smashing attendance and pay-per-view buyrate records.
All three teams emerged from the undercard, gained increasing exposure on shows, and eventually established themselves as true stars. Their innovation improved the product, spawned new gimmick fights, and upped the bar for an entire generation of competitors.
Three of the six wrestlers would go on to become world champions, owing primarily to their achievements during the famed tag rivalry.
Other notable rivalries that did not make the list will likely surprise you, but when you consider how the three teams changed the industry and introduced a new style of athleticism and risk-taking to the product, it is nearly impossible to leave them off the list.
9. Brock Lesner vs Roman Reigns
The positioning of Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar on our list may appear to be a case of newness magnifying old, but one look at the rivalry and all that it entailed reveals it more than earned its position on this list.
The conflict has not only lasted six years, but it has also produced three WrestleMania main events, one of which is this year’s Showcase of the Immortals, a significant championship unification match. The fact that Reigns and Lesnar are arguably the biggest names in WWE today just heightens the stakes.
Also Read: What is the Difference Between WWE and WWF?
8. John Cena vs Edge
Edge’s feud with John Cena began when the latter successfully cashed in Money in the Bank to win his first WWE Championship. From there, things progressed, becoming increasingly intimate with each match.
Edge defeated Cena in his hometown of Boston, and the volatile babyface returned the favour in Toronto the following month. They competed in singles matches, TLC matches, and Last Man Standing matches, all while attempting to establish themselves as WWE’s future.
As it turned out, the fiercely competitive feud elevated both men to stardom. It gave Cena much-needed legitimacy at a time when fans were beginning to dismiss him as the star of the future. It was the nudge Edge needed to get into the main event scene.
His performances in Cena matches and promos helped to silence critics and position him as WWE’s top heel for three years.
Edge’s rivalry with Cena sealed his place as a Hall of Famer, a distinction bestowed to him in 2012.
7. Hulk Hogan vs ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
Before Mega Powers and WrestleMania big events, “Macho Man” Randy Savage exploded into the WWE scene by targeting world champion Hulk Hogan, hellbent on becoming the promotion’s top star at the expense of the promotion’s top dog.
Before splitting up, the two worked the house show circuit, including a confrontation in New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden. By 1988, Hogan had become a pop culture sensation, and Savage was a formidable opponent in his own right. They would team together to form the Mega Powers, a unified front fighting the corruption and evil of “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant.
Then ego and Hogan’s apparent “lust” for Miss Elizabeth got in the way, and WWE’s most dominant team crumbled. The Hulkster and Macho Man brought a yearlong feud to a head at WrestleMania V, with the former dropping the leg and regaining a WWE title that had escaped him for almost a year.
The two biggest performers in WWE would compete numerous times in the year that followed, including a major encounter on televised Main Event, which included heavyweight boxing champion Buster Douglas as a guest referee.
The two would continue their rivalry into WCW, but for an entire generation of wrestling fans, Hogan vs. Savage remained the preeminent one.
6. John Cena vs CM Punk
John Cena was WWE’s white knight, representing all that is good and honest. CM Punk was an anarchist bent on disturbing the status quo in the sake of progress. They launched a rivalry in 2011 that would burn brightly for a short time but quickly cement their place in WWE history.
Punk promised at Money in the Bank in July that he would end his contract with the company by stealing its world title. To do so, he’d have to overcome Cena, the ultimate big-match competitor. He did, but he quickly re-signed with the corporation, implying that the two would continue to compete for the industry’s top prize.
Every bout with Cena felt like a prizefight, with two top performers competing for championship glory or the chance to compete in a title match. The high quality of the fights, the stakes, and the genuine tension between the polar opposites spurred interest and resulted in some of the hottest matches, moments, and promos in recent WWE history.
The only drawback? Punk’s departure in 2014 marked the conclusion of a battle with lots of great television left in it.
5. Hulk Hogan vs Andre: The Giant
Jealousy is at the core of many a broken friendship, including that of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
An angry and bitter Andre went to the dark side after seeing his star overshadowed by the Hulkster and many of the honours he once enjoyed placed upon the world champion. Manipulated by Bobby Heenan, he stood up to face Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3 in a spectacular match that drew a then-record 93,173 fans to the historic Pontiac Silverdome.
It wouldn’t be the last time they fought. Over the next year, the industry titans would meet off in a historic network broadcast, followed by WrestleMania IV. They’d wrestle at home events, on megacards, and in blockbuster tag matches to settle their disputes and relive the romance of their first meeting.
The rivalry would define the wrestling fan base for an entire generation, much like Hogan vs. Savage the following year. The fact that WWE regularly promotes it in video packages for WrestleMania and other major events demonstrates how the rivalry is indelible in the minds of fans and company officials alike.
It was a bout between industry giants, similar to Reigns-Lesnar and Steve Austin-Rock before them, heightening its impact and ensuring it ranks higher on this countdown.
4. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs Shawn Michaels
Competition for WWE’s lone top place fostered the animosity between Bret “Hitman” Hart and Shawn Michaels in the 1990s. Both smaller opponents in the land of the giants, they overcome size disadvantages to win over spectators via exceptional in-ring ability. However, there was only one place for one guy to emerge as the company’s top dog, resulting in a cutthroat war in front of the cameras and a nasty one behind them.
Hart and Michaels wrestled in a gruelling 60-minute Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12, with the latter winning the world title and the former disappearing from WWE for six months.
When Hart returned, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the state of the corporation under its new champion, fueling a blazing fire between him and Michaels.
Personal comments on and off-screen heightened their tension, resulting in a real-life battle behind the scenes and a highly anticipated clash between the two in Montreal at Survivor Series in November 1997.
3. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs The Rock
The root of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock’s epic rivalry, like Hart and Michaels, can be traced back to the fact that there was only one individual who could be the unquestioned top star of WWE.
Arriving at WWE around the same time and overcoming their own unique obstacles on their way to stardom, they each became household names and big attractions for the company during a period of unprecedented success. Their undeniable synergy, both on the mic and in the ring, only added to the intrigue of their rivalry.
The narcissistic talker with a compelling presence and unparalleled electricity was Rock. Austin was the no-nonsense ass-kicker who drank beer, flipped middle fingers, and threw Stone Cold Stunners at his opponents. They couldn’t have been more unlike, and it was this polarity that drew spectators to their feud.
Over a five-year period, the two fighters met in three WrestleMania epics, sold out arenas, and captivated spectators, culminating in a legendary match in 2003 that doubled as Austin’s final bout for 19 years.
Today, Rock and Austin are among the most beloved wrestlers in history, thanks to the magic they created during the company’s enormously popular and influential Attitude Era.
2. Undertaker vs Kane
Kane’s debut in 1997 is still remembered for Vince McMahon‘s “That’s gotta be Kane!” call from the announce table. However, the Big Red Machine made an immediate impact by ripping the Hell in a Cell door from its hinges and attacked his on-screen brother, the Undertaker. For the first time, the Deadman appeared horrified at the sight of his presumed-dead sibling.
From then on, Taker refused to confront his brother until WrestleMania 14, when three Tombstone Piledrivers knocked Kane unconscious.
The war lasted over a decade, during which the brothers went from bitter foes to partners and back again. In the early 2000s, they formed the Brothers of Destruction, but Kane finally turned on his brother again. He thought he’d finally laid to rest the Undertaker, only for him to resurface to beat his brother one more time at WrestleMania XX.
1. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs Mr. McMahon
The greatest rivalry in WWE history is, was, and always will be that between Austin and the company’s villainous billionaire owner, Vince McMahon.
Austin was the rebellious person who wanted to do things his way while causing as much havoc as possible. McMahon was the crooked businessman, more concerned with exploiting talent for money and ensuring that everyone followed his vision than with anything else.
When Austin won the WWE Championship and didn’t fit McMahon’s star template, the two naturally clashed. The greatest successful feud in business history and the defining rivalry of the Attitude Era occurred.
The Texas Rattlesnake made his boss’s life a living misery, resulting in some of the most memorable and amusing moments in WWE television history. He inspired a generation of rebels while also sticking it to The Man, whether he was dousing McMahon in beer, riding a Zamboni to the ring ahead of an asskicking or filling a million-dollar Corvette with concrete.
The feud has lasted generations, and Austin still pops up from time to time to drop the Chairman of the Board with a Stone Cold Stunner at WrestleMania.
These legendary rivalries have not only entertained millions of fans but have also elevated WWE to unparalleled heights of success. From the attitude era’s rebellious spirit to the larger-than-life characters that captivated audiences, these feuds are a testament to the power of storytelling in professional wrestling. As we continue to witness new rivalries emerge and classic clashes live on in the annals of WWE history, one thing remains certain: the passion, drama, and intensity of these epic confrontations will forever be etched in the hearts of wrestling enthusiasts, ensuring that the legacy of these rivalries lives on for generations to come.