Rivalries go hand and hand with the WWE. From Hogan and Andre, to Hart and Michaels, to Austin and McMahon, rivalries can define an era, make a career, and provide entertainment like the world has never seen. While most great feuds took place in the past, there are a few modern rivalries that will likely go down in WWE history.
Honorable Mention – The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
The rivalry between the A-lister and the Showoff in late 2016 was the peak of SmackdownLive’s “golden age.” Battle after battle was fought, and it elevated the Intercontinental Championship to a level it has not seen since. The mix between the Miz’s promo and heel work and Ziggler’s story and character meshed so perfectly. Unfortunately, it is likely to be forgotten as both the Miz and Ziggler have gone on to do less exciting things. Not to mention the two have feuded over the Intercontinental Title before, and that wasn’t as entertaining.
5. Ember Moon vs. Asuka
Perhaps another rivalry would be more fitting for this spot such as Styles vs. Cena or Ziggler vs. Miz, but when looking at the women of WWE only one rivalry makes sense at the moment. Bayley and Sasha Banks may give it a run for its money if their rivalry is reignited, but for now Asuka and Ember hold the crown. From the hype surrounding Ember Moon on her way in, to Asuka’s final match at TakeOver Brooklyn III, to Asuka handing Ember the NXT Women’s Championship, to their most recent encounter at the Royal Rumble. A friendly rivalry can be just as intriguing as a blood feud, and this should be a great example going forward.
4. The Usos vs. New Day
The feud between the Usos and New Day can be summed up with the fact that the two teams had to settle their differences inside Hell in a Cell. It is one of the few cell matches in recent memory that actually called for the stipulation. Even before that the two teams were putting on memorable bouts on otherwise disappointing cards. One of the genuine highlights for SmackdownLive coming out of WresleMania, the Usos have established themselves as one of, if not the best, tag team on the planet, and the New Day rejuvenated their gimmick the way only they can do. As of this writing, they look to do battle again at Fastlane, and write another chapter in what is certain to be a best seller.
3. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
While KO and Zayn have made amends while on their current Smackdown Live run, it is only a matter of time before they are at each other’s throats once again. The life long friends have put on fan favorite matches before, but it seems they have a little more they could pull out for a big time match. A championship match between them is almost destined to happen at some point, and a resilient Zayn capturing his first world title from his rival would be a fitting story. No matter what either man does in his career, he will always be tied to the other man, be it a positive or a negative.
2. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Braun is the perfect opponent for Reigns, or perhaps it’s vice versa. Either way, these two are destined to fight forever. Their most recent encounter saw the two battle inside the elimination chamber, and while Roman was able to get the victory there, Braun has come away the winner in a lot of contests between the two. Roman is more than likely going to capture the Universal Championship at WrestleMania, but his opponents going forward is anyone’s guess. A rekindling of his battle with Strowman could elevate the title in the eyes of the fans after the poorly received Lesnar reign. It could also provide Strowman with a well deserved world title run.
1. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
This is a bold prediction as the former DIY partners haven’t even had a match against each other since their break up. However, seeing as how Gargano’s story since NXT TakeOver Chicago has been trying to overcome the destruction of DIY, it seems likely the two will enter a war. A war that will be driven by story and elevated by the in ring work of two great performers. While Gargano’s NXT career is over at the moment, we’re sure to see him continue his feud with Ciampa in some way. Hopefully when the two make the leap to the main roster, they continue their rivalry. If the cards are dealt right, this could end up being the rivalry of a generation.
NXT Minus 6: NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool
NXT UK carries on the proud tradition of delivering a blazing hot Takeover.
6. Another Takeover opens with a match that could have been the main event. In hindsight it should have been. Mustache Mountain delivers a MOTY contender & Tyler Bate steals the show. That little dude is all kinds of special. What’s more impressive is how, in the course of the match, James Drake goes from “Why are you here?” to “Yes, you belong.” If you only watch one match from Takeover: Blackpool, it should be this one.
5. Finn Balor versus Jordan Devlin was good. Given time and a proper build, these two could deliver something great. Because of their relationship, I kept flashing back to Jericho/Michaels at Wrestlemania 19. Balor seems a natural for NXT UK. He delivers name recognition, credibility and can instantly challenge Dunne for the title.
4. If you’re a fan of a good old fashioned slugfest, check out Eddie Dennis versus Bomber Dave Mastiff. Dennis is the most unassuming powerhouse I’ve ever seen. He’s built like a flagpole, so I have no idea where he got the strength to do what he did. Bomber Dave is England’s Bam Bam Bigelow, more agile than a man his size should be. Put them together and boom, ka-pow, smash, crush, good fun mayhem.
3. THIS is the performance I’ve been waiting to see from Toni Storm. Her previous matches didn’t dazzle me. Her match with Io Shirai didn’t impress me. Her Takeover debut was the first time I saw how good she can be. BTW, did she win the Mae Young Classic? The announcers never seem to mention it…500 times a match.
2. It makes me sad to type this, but Pete Dunne finally had a disappointing match. The action was clunky & chunky, like neither Pete nor Joe Coffey knew what to do next. Coffee’s two spills (HA) from the top rope looked horrible. Any American crowd would still be chanting “you f#$%ed up.” The match clocked in at around 33 minutes but felt twice that long. On the bright side, WALTER’s jacket might be the coolest ring gear since Flair’s robes.
- Overall, this was a rock solid show and a fantastic way to showcase NXT UK. As good as the in-ring action was, what really put it over the top was the audience. Those blokes know how to have a good time. Their energy took things to another level and made the night feel special. Well done, Blackpool, and well deserved.
That’s right…I said it.
The Streak Part 3: Ascending the Mountain – 1996-97
Tiffany MC takes a look at the most legendary ride in wrestling history, The Streak! The Undertaker dominated WrestleMania for three decades, and he may not be done.
The years 1996-97 were pivotal ones in many ways for the Undertaker. WWF was moving slowly into what would be called the Attitude Era and the Undertaker was beginning to change with it. His Goth and supernatural gimmick were a perfect fit for the edgier WWF. During these years, Taker would begin to face opponents that would become part of his legend, including Mankind, be betrayed by Paul Bearer, and find himself fighting for the WWF Championship on the Grandest Stage of All.
WrestleMania XII: Big Daddy Cool Meets His Match
This was one of the matches that should’ve been the launch of a longer feud, but Nash had already given his notice to go to WCW, so it wasn’t to be. It started when Diesel, enraged at being eliminated from the Royal Rumble by friend Shawn Michaels, confronted Taker before Taker’s WWF Championship Match against Bret Hart. Not satisfied with just running his mouth, Diesel cost Taker the match by attacking him and getting Hart disqualified.
Undertaker would get Diesel back by cost him a cage match against Hart at In Your House 6, then launching into his twisted mind games, which included a scarily lifelike Diesel double in a casket. Diesel, never one to let mind games get to him, didn’t show much fear, and even overturned the casket and attacked Taker again.
Diesel comes out first to a mixed to negative reactions but, typically, doesn’t seem that bothered by them. It’s amazing to think that Diesel was one of the most over faces at the last WrestleMania and is now so hated.
The lights go out and the Deadman Cometh. Taker and Bearer come out, as cheery as ever, and the crowd goes nuts. Diesel still doesn’t seem horribly bothered by the spectacle and this fight’s on.
If you’re looking for a technical masterpiece, you’re in the wrong place. This match was a fistfight from start to finish and these two went all over the ringside area with it. To Jack Doan’s credit, he gave Taker and Diesel a lot of leeway. Taker pulled out a crossbody on Diesel, which was actually really cool.
Kevin Nash isn’t included in a list of great in-ring performers, but he and Taker really had a great match here. You could almost believe these guys hated each other. It would be easy to say that Taker carried Diesel, but that would be untrue, they carried each other.
It honestly looked like we might get a double countout after Diesel and Taker hit each other with big boots, but both got to their feet. Diesel broke out the classic bearhug to try and get a submission win, but Taker battled back. Taker went for the Missile off the Top, but Diesel got up. Diesel hit the Jackknife Powerbomb and the crowd went nuts, but Diesel didn’t go for the cover, which is a huge mistake. However, even when Taker sat up, Diesel showed no fear or concern. It wasn’t until Taker fought back after a second Jackknife that Diesel seemed to get just who he was messing with, but Diesel was able to back suplex Taker, but Taker STILL sat up.
In the end it would take a chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver to put Diesel away but both men made a big statement about their abilities to the wrestling world.
Highlight: Undertaker hitting a crossbody.
Rating: 5/10. This was a really great match for two huge guys who aren’t known for being technicians, this could’ve been Match of the Night for WrestleMania if the Iron Man match hadn’t happened.
WrestleMania 13: The Phenom vs The Master and Ruler of the World
This match was odd because it wasn’t an actual feud or rivalry, plus the path to this match was pretty strange. Stone Cold won the 1997 Royal Rumble, however, because Austin had actually been eliminated by Bret Hart, his win was vacated. Michaels, who had recently won the title at Royal Rumble, had to vacate the title due to ongoing knee issues, so the Powers that Be made a Fatal Four Way Match to crown a new Champion to face Sid for Sid’s rematch. Hart won the championship, but then lost the title to Sid due to Austin’s interference. Since Taker had be the runner up in the Fatal Four Way match, he became the #1 Contender. When Hart got his rematch, Taker actually helped Sid win so he could beat Sid for the title.
Taker comes out first, and without Paul Bearer or the urn, due to Bearer betraying Taker to manage Mankind in the summer of 1996. Sid comes out next to a mixed reaction. He’s got a lot of fans, but so does Taker.
We have a big staredown, but are interrupted by Bret Hart, who is still mad that he’s not in the main event and gets in the ring. Bret trashes everyone, including Shawn Michaels, who was sitting on commentary, but Michaels ignores him, even pointing out that Bret’s just mad that someone else is getting the spotlight instead of him, which was pretty true, if a little ironic to hear from Michaels, who could be accused of the same thing, especially then.
Back to Bret, he berates Taker for helping Sid beat him for the title, saying that Taker had slammed the door on their friendship, proving that Bret never learned the difference between business and personal. After several minutes of this, Sid gets fed up with Hart’s complaining and powerbombs him, which gives the officials time to get Hart out of there.
With that out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Taker takes advantage of the Hart distraction to get the jump on Sid and we’re underway!
Of the four ‘Big Man’ matches Taker would have in the 90s, this one isn’t my favorite. Like Diesel, Sid wasn’t known for his technical prowess, but somehow, that was more glaringly obvious in this match than in the match with Diesel.
After Taker dominated the first few minutes of the match, Sid got the upperhand and went for the bearhug, but Taker got out of it. They brawled out on the floor, but because this match was No DQ, there was nothing for Hebner to do but wait, not that he didn’t try to get them to stick to the rules.
Sid dominated much of the match, but Taker kept battling back, but this was definitely a long match for both men and it was starting to show. Sid went to the middle rope one time too many, which gave Taker an opening, but Sid quickly reestablished his dominance for about two minutes, when Taker sat up and saved himself from whatever top rope move Sid was planning, going for the Top Rope Clothesline. Sid would go for his own Tombstone, but Taker, of course, kicked out.
The end would finally come when Bret Hart, furious about Sid powerbombing him, which he deserved, ran in and hit Sid with a chair. Not satisfied with his work Hart ran in again and distracted Sid just long enough for Taker to hit the Tombstone and we have a NEW WWF Champion. The crowd goes nuts that their darkside hero was FINALLY champion! Taker celebrates with the crowd and, in a rare moment of breaking kayfabe, signaled to the crowd that his win was for them, all the Creatures of the Night that had supported him.
Highlights: Bret Hart getting beat up by Sid. Earl Hebner rolling Sid out of the ring after his loss.
Rating: 4/10. This match wasn’t as good as the one with Diesel and the inclusion of Bret Hart really should’ve stopped after the first appearance.