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Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

Part of the fun of The Road to Wrestlemania is getting caught up in the build up. The feuds, rivalries, and storylines heading into the biggest show of the year yields so many great o moments and memorable rivalries that its impossible not to get sucked into the magic that is Wrestlemania.

But which rivalries were the best? Which feuds were the ones that got me most excited to see Wrestlemania when that fateful Sunday rolled around? Well that is what I will be highlighting in this thread. I feel that the build up to a match or a show is a highly underrated part of setting up any wrestling event, so I am here to give what I felt were the 28 Best Examples of WWF/E's ability to tell great stories to lead into their biggest show of the year.

A Couple Notes: As I said before, this is a Best Feuds Thread, not Best Matches. This will be dedicated to storylines & build ups only. Matches like Bret Hart Vs. Roddy Piper at VIII are great all time in ring classics, but the build up itself wasn't overly spectacular. It wasn't bad, just ordinary. Same goes for a match like Undertaker Vs. Batista at 23. Great match, and one of Taker's best at Wrestlemania. The feud though was nothing to write home about since they never fully turned Batista heel, so it felt like they were just meandering around until Wrestlemania. Even matches as classic as Hulk Hogan Vs. The Rock at X8 weren't built up that well. That feud was really only one great segment and the novelty of having those two names on the marquee. That was about it.

No. These rivalries, some of which carry across more than one Wrestlemania, are those classic feuds that got me sucked into the excitement of watching Wrestlemania before the show even began. These are well written, well booked, exciting, and only rose in quality as we drew closer to Wrestlemania.

Another note, all feuds from Wrestlemania XXVIII are excluded because the build ups for those aren't finished yet. I'll be honest. I'm enjoying the build ups to Rock Vs. Cena, HHH Vs. Taker, & Punk Vs. Jericho quite a bit, but we've still got a few weeks until Wrestlemania, so its hard to fully judge them until its over.

So without any more delays, here is my list:

28) Battle of the Bods for Intercontinental Title Supremacy

The Ultimate Warrior Vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (Wrestlemania V)



Remember when Intercontinental Championship feuds mattered? Remember when they felt like main events onto themselves? Well this one was a glowing example of that as these two characters clashed for IC Gold at Wrestlemania V. The build up mostly involved showcasing how different both characters were. Rude was the cocky & arrogant pretty boy while Warrior was...well I don't really know. If you can find any adjectives to accurately describe what The Ultimate Warrior was exactly, please shoot them over to me. The one similarity they had was the physical shape they were in and how meticulous they were at maintaining their physiques. Other than that, you had a great & hate-able cowardsly heel that was going up against a colorful wild man that grew in popularity by the day. I felt like Rude & Warrior both brought out the best in each other, at least when it came to establishing their characters and playing off of each other.

27) The American Hero Challenges The American Turncoat

The Immortal Hulk Hogan Vs. Sgt. Slaughter (Wrestlemania VII)


Many have said this angle was in poor taste and that is an understandable complaint. You had Sgt. Slaughter, a character so synonymous with patriotism that he even became a part of the GI Joe franchise, had now decided to show his support for Saddam Hussein during The Gulf War in 90-91. Why he did this exactly was never explained in a satisfactory manner, but the story was still pretty intense. For decades, Anti-American characters have been used so frequently in wrestling that they have become cliche, but because America was at war while this angle was going on, it really struck a nerve. Things got even more heated when Slaughter won the WWF Title from The Ultimate Warrior and was set to face All American Hero, Hulk Hogan. Using current events for a wrestling storyline might be cheap, but it isn't completely unheard of, and to me, it was just good vs. evil with the good guy ultimately winning, so it didn't bother me that much. But then again, I was six years old at the time, so what did I know? What really sold me on it was just how nasty Sarge was as he took everything to the extreme. Burning Hulk Hogan merchandise become a normal visual with him and some of his beat downs on the good guys were pretty violent for their time.

26) The Largest Athlete in the World Vs. The Best Fighter in the World

The Big Show Vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather (Wrestlemania XXIV)


Mixing in celebrities and sports personalites into Wrestling can be tricky, but the original Wrestlemania was founded on the concept, so there must be some value to it. At Wrestlemania XXIV, the big outsider presence was boxing champion Floyd "Money" Mayweather who they brought in to have a match with a man that looked to be at least twice his size in The Big Show. What made this work for me was how realistic it felt. Mayweather is a professional fighter so him having an entourage around and him legitimately breaking Big Show's nose with one of his punches added a degree of excitement to everything. This wasn't an actor or a retired Football player. This guy is 100& legit as a fighter, and has a big mouth on him to boot, and that made him feel like more of a natural fit. And the visual of seeing Big Show just tower over him made for a cool Wrestlemania poster if nothing else. This had the air of a real sporting event, which is rarely captured in the WWE anymore, so to see something like this take place was pretty refreshing in many ways.

25) The Ultimate Battle of Skill

"Olympic Gold Medalist" Kurt Angle Vs. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania 21)


This was one of those Wrestling Dream Matches that people were just dying to see. The Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle Vs. Probably the most dynamic & exciting in ring performer of all time in Shawn Michaels. Just having the match in of itself was bound to yield a quality athletic display that would excite wrestling fans around the World. Their clashing styles of ground based technical wrestling display Vs. high flying acrobatics & daredevil antics was a natural fit and there was no way it wasn't going to work. But what about the build up to the match? Well in Kurt Angle's never ending quest to prove he's the all time greatest, it was only a matter of time before he crossed paths with HBK. So what they did was have Kurt Angle prove that anything Shawn Michaels could do, he could do better. This then turned into weeks of Angle referencing elements of Michaels' long & storied career and either making a mockery out of it or him flat out trying to destroy it. The most memorable was him singing his own version of Shawn Michaels' theme song (hilarious!) with Shawn's old valet Sensational Sherri...who he then put in the Ankle Lock when the song was over. Marty Jannetty & The Ladder Match were also brought out, all of which Angle threw to the wayside. All of it, funny or seriously, built into Angle's desire to prove that he was on Shawn Miohaels' level and it all contributed to making this match feel more special. It was definitely a success on WWE's part.

24) How Do You Spell Man?

Virgil Vs. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (Wrestlemania VII)


I bet you never thought a Virgil feud would get highlighted anywhere at any time. He has sort of become the butt of many jokes from wrestling fans due to his overall unimpressive career. But he has this storyline under his belt, and it worked out quite well. For years, Virgil had been bodyguard to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, one of the era's greatest villains. As time went on, the growing abuse & control over Virgil got worse to the point that he was cleaning dog droppings from DiBiase's shoes. I also shouldn't have to mention the unstated racial element that this situation had, do I? Fans started to wish for Virgil to fight back. Eventually, Virgil had one humiliation too many and he quit his position, but not before ramming DiBiase's own self made Million Dollar Championship belt in his face. Virgil was now a perfect sympathetic protagonist and that served him well. A great added element was Roddy Piper as Virgil's trainer. Not only did his presence give some credibility to Virgil, but his ability to bring passion & energy to anything he's a part of just elevated the feud that much more. So great was this storyline that it was allowed to continue past Wrestlemania and well into the summer where it had its climax at Summerslam. Due to Virgil not accomplishing much after this, one has to assume that maybe DiBiase was just that great. He was so easy to hate and such a great performer in every area that he could even make Virgil look like a million bucks, no pun tended.

23) Piper's Last Stand?

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis (Wrestlemania III)


Wrestlemania III if often remembered for the classic Ricky Steamboat Vs. Randy Savage match up and the legendary Hulk Hogan Vs. Andre the Giant main event. But what about what was originally built to be Roddy Piper's retirement match? OK, it was the first phony wrestling retirement at Wrestlemania, and there would be several more, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a great storyline that added a lot to the hype to arguably the biggest Wresting Event of all time.

After spending years as the top villain in Wrestling, it was hard to imagine the show without Roddy Piper. His interview segment, Piper's Pit, made him a trend setting personality that could get under the skin of any person he came across, ranging from Hulk Hogan, to even entertainment personalities like Cyndi Lauper. After a while, it became hard not to like Piper for being the biggest jerk in the world. So when he was challenged by cross dresser "Adorable" Adrian Adonis who tried to get Piper's Pit canceled in favor of his own interview segment The Flower Shop, it was pretty easy to cheer him on. I feel like this rivalry is not only a forgotten gem in Wrestlemania build ups, but of Piper's career in general. I'll never forget the classic moment where an injured Piper rampaged through The Flower Shop set and destroyed it all with a baseball bat. That was crazy Piper at his best. I also thought it was interesting that they put him up against a guy that wore a dress. For all the flack Piper caught for wearing a kilt, it almost feels like Adonis was like a mockery of Piper more than anything else.

Even more was placed upon the storyline when it was announced that Piper would be leaving the company, so win, lose, or draw at Wrestlemania, it would be the end of Roddy Piper. Of course as we all know, nobody ever truly stays gone in wrestling, but at the time, it was sad to see him go. They did a wonderful highlight reel of Piper set to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" that was one of the early examples of WWF/E's great production abilities and it really set the mood for the entire deal. So yes, Piper didn't stay gone, but for its time and for what it was, this feud was one of the major reasons Wrestlemania III was exciting.

22) Tag Team Excellence Reaches New Heights

Edge & Christian Vs. The Hardy Boys Vs. The Dudley Boys(Wrestlemanias 2000 & X-Seven)


Another question for the older fans out there, remember when Tag Team Wrestling was fun? Remember when the tag team division was so rich with talent that it probably could have been supported its own show? And also remember how exciting it was when three very special teams brought about a Tag Team Renaissance in the early 2000s?

It started in late 1999 when two young teams, Edge & Christian, & The Hardy Boys, had a tag team Ladder Match at No Mercy 1990. The match was a daredevil spectacle unlike anything that had come before it and was a big step in the evolution of how Ladder Matches are performed today. It was hard to believe that these two teams were not fighting for championship gold in that case, but it wasn't long before that would change. Soon it became a battle of trying to top what had come before it. The Dudley Boys, a more brawling & hardcore team, were added to the mix and had the first ever Tables Match with The Hardy Boys at the 2000 Royal Rumble, another wild affair that helped to change Tag Team Wrestling & make it more exciting.

The Dudleys soon became a feared & hated duo as they became obsessed with smashing people through tables, mostly woman. Once they won the Tag Team Championships, it was only natural to combine all three teams to see just how crazy these six could be in a Three Team Ladder Match for the gold and it didn't disappoint. It was so creative in what it did with Ladders & eventually throwing tables into the mix to add even more visual appeal to the carnage going on.

Edge & Christian would win their first tag titles in that match and become the glue that held the division together. Shedding their mysterious & dark personas, the two became a pair of surfer speech speaking divas that were funny as anyone can be, but also obnoxious to the point of being the perfect villains to drive the storylines. They also started using a double team chair shot called "The Con-Chair-To" to cause concussions to their rivals. The Dudleys had become very popular as faces, turning their table smashing venom towards those that the fans felt deserved it. Also, The Hardy's popularity sky rocketed, especially with the young & the female audiences, and adding the sexy tough gal Lita as their valet only added to their act. Now with all three teams even more interesting than before, and each one defined by a weapon (Dudleys = Tables, Hardys = Ladders, & E&C = Chairs), it was time to do the first ever TLC Match at Summerslam 2000 which elevated their status even further. With dozens of tables broken, even more Ladders to dive off of and all kinds of wild x-factors in play, it was an instant classic.

Edge & Christian once again won the titles, but everything works best in threes & there was plenty of room for one more classic match between these three teams, and the perfect setting for that is of course Wrestlemania X-Seven. TLC II was set and the added element was that each team now had a corner personal. Hardys had Lita, The Dudleys had their runt brother Spike, & Edge & Christian got them some muscle in the form of The Man Beast Rhino. Having them involved added even more flavor to the proceedings and once again created a very enjoyable spectacle that served as sort of the closure point for this brilliant three team rivalry. Edge & Christian were given the win once again, cementing them as the most dominate tag team of the era & closing the book on one of the greatest points the history of Tag Team Wrestling. All three teams were so unique, so different, & so exciting in their roles that it was just pure bliss to watch for almost two years. Ah, those were the days.

21) Three Men For One Title Where It All Begins Again

Triple H Vs. Shawn Michaels Vs. Chris Benoit (Wrestlemania XX)


NOTE: Chris Benoit Murdered his Wife and his young son Daniel and I have absolutely no respect for him as a human being and I believe there is a special place in hell for people that commit those kind of crimes. This portion of the write up is meant to commemorate an excellent part of his body of work as a performance artist and nothing more.

Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, lets talk Wrestlemania XX's main event of Triple H defending the World Championship against both his former friend Shawn Michaels & the 2004 Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit in a Triple Threat Match. What really made this angle so great is that you had three men with a legitimate claim for the Wrestlemania main event and three men with distinct motivations. For Benoit, he had won the 2004 Royal Rumble Match by repeating the accomplishment of Shawn Michaels by entering at Number 1 and going all the way to win. For him, it was a chance to validate himself among the elite & prove he belongs on the level of guys like Triple H & Shawn Michaels. For Shawn, it was a chance at revenge against a former friend that at one time tried to end his career, so it was more of a personal vendetta for him. For Triple H, he had been World Champion for all but three months of the previous year and a half and had dominated the main event scene. A win at Wrestlemania's main event against two talents the caliber of Michaels & Benoit was his toughest challenge and he knew it.

What really made this angle work for me was how they played with the rules. After the Raw/Smackdown brand split, it was assumed that if a talent from a particular brand won the Rumble, he would have to face the World Champion of his brand. Not the case, as Benoit found a loophole that allowed him to switch brands & face either of the two champions, and he decided on the Raw brand champion Triple H. However, Shawn & HHH's previous two title matches ended inconclusively so Shawn had every right to a have a rematch at Wrestlemania. It really did feel like a real controversy that needed to be settled, and settled as quickly and as fairly as possible. Major props to HHH for referencing history by mentioning that Yokozuna had to defend the World Title twice at Wrestlemania X & lost, so HHH had no desire to go that route. Normally creating controversies like this becomes convoluted and overly complicated, but here it made perfect sense and was a fun thread to follow from week to week. Of course, it all paid off with one of the greatest main events ever and a great moment as Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero closed out Wrestlemania by celebrating with their championships. (NOTE: Although its kind of haunting to watch it now).

20) The Degenerate Takes On The Mean Streets of Greenwich, CT

X-Pac Vs. Shane McMahon (Wrestlemania XV)


This is the only Wrestlemania European Championship feud that is even worthy of discussion for this kind of list. X-Pac Vs. Shane McMahon for the, now defunct, European Championship was one of the best character clashes ever presented at a Wrestlemania. On one end, you had X-Pac. He was a punk, a degenerate, and a rule breaker. He was a symbol of the rebellious & jaded youth of the time period. Shane McMahon was the privileged son of Vince McMahon, and born with a silver spoon in his mouth. All you had to do was put these two in front of each other, look at them, and without hearing anything else, you'd know exactly why they don't like each other.

What really made this work was Shane McMahon himself who worked exceptionally hard for someone that wasn't a fully trained wrestler. After stealing the Euro Title from X-Pac, we were given vignettes showing how Shane grew up on the "Mean streets of Greenwich" and how he was the toughest guy in his "rough" neighborhood. I mean come on! Just say that out loud: The Mean Streets of Greenwich Connecticut. That's hilarious! And of course all of his friends were a bunch of preppy rich white boys in polo shirts trying to act like they are a street gang. The Mean Street Posse, as they were called, was one of the best comedy gimmicks ever conceived. They make me laugh every time I think about it. All good humor aside, the arrogance & lack of ability of Shane made him a desirable target for a beating by the good guys, but he always had back up, so getting to him was hard. That made for a great dynamic as X-Pac would have to fight through several guys just to get to Shane. Like I said, I loved the difference in personalities between the two and that is what made their feud so great. Come Mania time, their match was actually one of the better parts of the show, so a great build up can go a long way.

19) The Original Road to Wrestlemania

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T Vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff (Wrestlemania 1)


Before there was the Royal Rumble to determine a number one contender, before there were the large venues, the glitz, & the glamor, and before there was even a "Road to Wrestlemania" there was just one simple idea: Combining Celebrities with Wrestling. That idea sparked the "Rock & Wrestling Connection" and saw various names in the entertainment world getting involved in the programming. The revolutionary concept would help to spark a major boom period for the WWF.

By incorporating celebrities into the mix, the WWF had gained media buzz & hype the likes of which wrestling had never seen before. The main event in particular was arguably the most star studded main event ever as not only were Hulk Hogan & Roddy Piper involved, but so were Mr. T as Hulk Hogan's Tag Team partner, Billy Martin to be the special guest ring announcer, all time boxing great Muhammad Ali as guest referee, & legendary performer Liberace as Guest Timekeeper. The celebrities interacting in this world would be the selling point and the positive effects from the original Wrestlemania spawned something much bigger & more successful that is still going strong to this day.

But you still have to build up your fights, and the main event had so many great elements. You had Hulk Hogan at the height of his popularity as the good guy, Roddy Piper as the great hated villain, & an unkwown element in Mr. T who would be wrestling for the first time in his life. "The War to Settle the Score" did a great job of setting the stage for this special match and establishing the strengths of all the characters involved. Come match time, it didn't disappoint as it was the entertaining spectacle people were hoping for and it led to Wrestlemania becoming the gigantic annual event that it is now.

18) The Blind Leading The Blind

Jake "The Snake" Roberts Vs. "The Model" Rick Martel (Wrestlemania VII)


Jake Roberts' reputation of being the master of in ring psychology was really put to the test in this rivalry. In many ways, his feud with Martel was a typical wrestling injury angle. Good guy gets injured by the bad guy, and then he comes back for revenge. The basic structure of the angle practically writes itself, but what made this one stand out was the body part that was injured. Normally a wrestling injury used for a storyline would be the knee or the arm, or in severe cases, the neck. Here, Roberts would lose his sight thanks to Martel spraying him in the face with his own personal brand of cologne, "Arrogance". On his first segment back, it was revealed that the damage to Jake's eye was so severe, that his left eye was left completely white. Now I am no medical genius or expert in Ophthalmology, so I have no idea of such a condition can occur when the eye is damaged by contact with a strong foreign chemical. Whatever the case though, it looked creepy to see Jake with one eye completely white.

For weeks Jake tried to get at Martel, but the blindness impeded him. As he slowly got his eyesight back, he became even more aggressive and Martel got even more cowardly as he continuously ran away. It was time for Jake to get his revenge, and in what was a very creative way to have a story compliment the gimmick, both men were put into a Blindfold Match. Most people hate this gimmick match because its just two guys fumbling around pretending to be blind, but I thought the match these two had was massively entertaining. It makes me wonder if Jake was the only guy who could pull something like this off. No doubt he was the backbone of the feud as him having to act blind & then put together a match where he has to feel his way through and ask the crowd for help for most of it speaks to his smarts & his ability as a performer.

17)- A Fan's Obsession Turns to Madness

Trish Stratus Vs. Mickie James (Wrestlemania 22)


Normally when you think of feuds between the Divas at Wrestlemania, you think of Playboy and them fighting over who gets to be in it. If the feud isn't about Playboy, then its usually so understated that you would be forgiven if you forgot what the two girls' beef with each other was to begin with. However, the one shining example of the ladies getting a fantastic storyline heading into Wrestlemania was in 2006.

Mickie James came in as a newcomer in late 2005 and her defining characteristic was that she was about as die hard a Trish Stratus fan as you could possibly be. Her joy of working with her idol made her stand out pretty quickly and she actually started off pretty funny. She was so peppy & perky that she was adorable, and came across innocently enough, even if she was a bit weird. As the months wore on, her character became more and more bizarre. First she started getting possessive of Trish and was hostile towards anyone else that was friends with her, which led to a feud between her & Ashley Massaro. Then it developed into her showing a Homosexual attraction to Trish and she even planted a lip lock on her underneath the mistletoe on a Christmas edition of Raw. While I'm sure most of the male audience found that to be quite erotic, her growing obsession with Trish was getting more and more disturbing. As she got weirder and weirder, it was obvious that Trish was torn between being polite to someone that idolizes her & telling her to hit the bricks. The fans all knew Mickie was going to snap, and it was just a matter of when it would happen.

Well soon, Mickie had developed such devotion to Trish that she decided she wanted to become Trish Stratus. When that time came, she turned on Trish, utilizing Trish's own trademark moves against her. In one of the creepiest segments the WWE has ever filmed, Mickie even kissed an unconscious Trish while her own mouth was bleeding. "The Blood Kiss", as I call it, was horror movie material right there, and to be honest, this whole feud felt like I was watching Misery acted out in a wrestling ring. Obviously Mickie is far more attractive than Kathy Bates, but to watch a fan take her devotion to such an insane level was really quite fascinating to watch in a Wrestling show. I was really proud of the WWE for displaying this level of care & devotion to any angle at all, but especially one given to the Divas. It breathed a breath of fresh air into Trish's career by giving her a unique and fresh opponent, while Mickie's sweet & silly turned psychotic stalker character was very well done & an instant hit. The great storyline bore fruit as the girls went out there and had one of the better matches at Wrestlemania 22, a show that I personally felt they had the best build up going in, by far.

16) The Snake Condemns the Vanity, Greed, & Avarice of The Million Dollar Man

Jake "The Snake" Roberts Vs. "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (Wrestlemanias V & VI)




Just listen to that promo, and you'll know exactly why this feud was so good. You had two of the best mic workers of all time going back and forth with each other for a year. It was glorious, and some of the best promo work I've ever heard in any feud. The feud actually began at Wrestlemania V when DiBiase interfered in Jake's match with Andre the Giant by trying to steal his snake Damien. Eventually, Roberts decided the right payback was stealing DiBiase's Million Dollar Championship belt, a championship DiBiase personalized & paid for as his own unique title belt.

So the feud was driven by the two most treasured possessions, and that served to highlight, once again, how different the characters were. Jake was dark, mysterious, & apparently a bit of a moral prophet as he preached against the materialism that Ted DiBiase valued. Again, it was the character clash of unique & colorful, yet differing personalities that made this such a wonderful feud, and it was the strength of the promos that kept it going. Seriously, that one promo I posted doesn't even do it justice as they were so good, I could have lived with those two feuding with each other for three years, maybe longer. Eventually, it was decided that Jake would put up the Million $ Belt that he stole from DiBiase at Wrestlemania VI with the winner of the match leaving the event with the unsanctioned title. It was the end of a very fun year of watching these two greats play off of each other. It was definitely one of the better matches from Wrestlemania VI, with DiBiase winning via Count Out and taking his belt back, but Jake getting the last word with a DDT and sharing some of DiBiase's wealth with the fans at ringside.

15) The Hitman's Fall from Grace & The Rattlesnake's Rise to Stardom

Bret "The Hitman" Hart Vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 13)


Very rarely in wrestling is a double turn role reversal (heel-face switch) ever even attempted, much less executed properly. However, the rivalry between Bret Hart & Steve Austin is by far the best example of a double turn to ever be done in Pro Wrestling. It started after Wrestlemania XII when Bret disappeared from television following his loss to Shawn Micheals. In his absence, "Stone Cold" stepped out into the spotlight and became one of the hot new stars in the company, taking his brash & disrespectful personality to new heights. In the fall of 1996, Austin wanted to make a name for himself by taunting Bret Hart, and that is the starting point of their animosity.

Bret & Austin's first match was at Survivor Series 1996 and it was a triumphant return for The Hitman. However, things slowly took a turn from there. Signs of bitterness began to show in Bret. He was upset over losing the title the way he did (being forced into a Sudden Death overtime), and he was clearly frustrated at not being able to get a title shot. Adding to his frustration was the growing popularity of Steve Austin whose rebellious attitude was slowly winning more and more fans over. After the Royal Rumble ended in a controversy that cost Bret the match and Bret's 4th title reign ended abruptly, he started to claim that the WWF higher ups were screwing him over. All the while, both Austin & Bret's hatred for each other grew as their attacks towards each other became increasingly intense, forcing there to be a Submission match made at Wrestlemania 13 to settle the score with both men essentially going in as tweeners.

With Bret's increasing frustrations towards the WWF, the fans started to turn on him and with Austin's growing popularity, it was only going to take one moment to put it over the top. Wrestlemania 13 was the setting for that moment as after one of the greatest matches ever, Austin had won the respect of the crowd. The visual of a bloodied Austin trying to fight out of the Sharpshooter ranks up there as one of the best visuals in wrestling's history which was then followed up with Bret beating down an injured Austin to a chorus of boos. What really made this storyline was how well the WWF accomplished their goal to turn Bret heel & Austin face. For a Wrestlemania where it seemed like they didn't have much of a plan, the slow build for Bret's turn and the slow rise of Austin came to a head at Mania and it was perfectly paid off in spades. It also helps that you had two of the all time greatest acting as if they really hated each other for six months.

OK, that'll be it for now. I'll post the rest later as entries 1 through 4 are pretty long.

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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 06:12 AM
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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

Heres some suggestions:-
Rock vs Hogan I.
Rock vs Hogan II
Undertaker vs Kane I
Shawn vs Nash
Rock vs Austin III
Rock vs Goldberg
Rock vs Cena
Flair vs Micheals
Flair vs Hogan (was that at wrestlemania? cant remember exactly).
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 09:09 AM
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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeebaK View Post
Heres some suggestions:-
Rock vs Hogan I.
Rock vs Hogan II
Undertaker vs Kane I
Shawn vs Nash
Rock vs Austin III
Rock vs Goldberg
Rock vs Cena
Flair vs Micheals
Flair vs Hogan (was that at wrestlemania? cant remember exactly).
Some of those weren't at Wrestlemania, and Rock/Cena shouldn't be top 14 material.

Goldberg/Lesnar has to be in there somewhere, horrible match or not.

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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-10-2012, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

I'll be honest. Goldberg Vs. Lesnar didn't make the cut. You are right. It was a great feud that was slowly built from Survivor Series all the way to about February...but then it sort of just tapered off.

Everything else was great. They interacted at Survivor Series while they were both champions. Lesnar cost Goldberg the Rumble to make sure he would never get his belt back and then Goldberg cost Lesnar at No Way Out in his match against Eddie. Everything was going really well. But then is sort of halted.

It felt like once the match was announced, that was kind of the end of the build up, and then the build up became Austin Vs. Lensar for some reason. True, Goldberg was taken off TV for something having to do with his contract (I don't remember what it was exactly) but by removing him from the story, I felt like it lost a lot of steam heading into Mania. I remember the last segment on the go home show was Austin getting at Lesnar when the entire SD Roster stepped aside and let him. I thought "Wow, this would be amazing if the match at Mania was Austin Vs. Lesnar".

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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

This is a brilliant post. Kudos!

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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

One of the best build ups to a Mania match was HHH Orton a few years ago. The rivalry was so intense it was epic, it got so personal and the weekly confrontations were brilliant. Totally forgotten about thanks to the awful match

is going to Wrestlemania!

Currently "marking" for

Sheamus, Orton, Barrett and Ziggler
Not Removing until

[ ] Wade Barrett wins a World Title
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[X] Dolph Ziggler gets a world title push
[X] A new title belt replaces the spinner belt
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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

Quote:
Originally Posted by WWEEsky View Post
One of the best build ups to a Mania match was HHH Orton a few years ago. The rivalry was so intense it was epic, it got so personal and the weekly confrontations were brilliant. Totally forgotten about thanks to the awful match
I thought the match was alright. It should've been no DQ and it would've been better than the rock and austin at X7. This Build Up was the Best WM Buil Up Ever.


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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

Part 2:

14) A Love Triangle with The Title Hanging in the Balance

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair Vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (Wrestlemania VIII)


For a rushed one month build up that was a Plan B for Wrestlemania, it actually turned out really well! It felt like the original plan was probably Hogan Vs. Flair for the title, with Savage Vs. Roberts & Sid Vs. Taker as the other big matches, but everyone got switched around. Ric Flair got placed defending the title against Randy Savage.

The angle they decided to go with was fairly elaborate. Ric Flair revealed that he had a relationship with Miss Elizabeth long before she married The Macho Man. There was a series of photos showing the two of them together, though those pictures turned out to be doctored and Flair revealed to be a liar. However, showing any interest in his woman was enough to drive Macho Man insane as he was chomping at the bits to tear Flair apart at Wrestlemania. To make Savage even angrier, Flair claimed to have nude photos of Elizabeth that he was going to unveil to the world at during the event!

Now this type of angle would be done several times after this, but never quite as well. Trying to break up a marriage to gain a psychological advantage in a Championship match can get rather silly if handled wrong, but Savage's anger and Flair's natural cockiness & , uh flare, made the angle a lot of fun and yielded a very personally charged Title match at Wrestlemania. One complaint I do have though...we never did see those nude photos of Elizabeth, did we?

13) Y2J Leaps Out of the Shadow of HBK

"The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels Vs. Chris Jericho (Wrestlemania XIX)


It was good to know that the WWE had a great plan in place for Shawn Michaels' return to Wrestlemania. After being out of it for over four years, HBK came back in 2002 and showed he was just as good as he ever was. It was only natural to put him up against Chris Jericho, a man who was compared to Shawn throughout his career and someone who admittedly admired Michaels in his youth.

It was New Age Vs. Old School. The current star vs. his former idol, and they got a lot of mileage out of that angle. It took on a similar shape to the one Angle & HBK would have two years later, but this one was more personal. Jericho wanted to prove he was better than the man he fashioned his career after. He wanted to end his career so that he was no longer in the shadow of Shawn Michaels. One moment that told that story perfectly was at the Royal Rumble 2002 where Shawn & Y2J were entrants 1 & 2 respectively. Jericho wanted to play the Iron Man, basically repeating Shawn's accomplishment from 1995, but a sneak attack from Y2J at the start led to Shawn being the first one eliminated, which was shocking. Michaels would get his revenge and later cost Y2J the Rumble. The months wore on as it then became a story about the differences between the two, namely HBK's honor & integrity against Jericho's arrogance & cowardice. Physically they were identical, but on personalities they couldn't be any more different.

In the end, the match complemented the storyline perfectly as Jericho tried to Out-HBK Shawn Michaels. It was exactly how the match needed to go and the feud was just great heading in. Jericho Vs. Michaels is a great match on its own, but bringing to light that Jericho idolized Shawn & eventually grew to desire to eclipse him gave the story a personal element we could all follow, & gave it a great direction that carried them all the way to Wrestlemania.

12) Orton's Foolish Hubris and Foley's Frightening Rebirth

"The Hardcore Legend" Mick Foley Vs. "The Legend Killer" Randy Orton (Wrestlemania XX)


Sometimes its just best to leave sleeping dogs alone and walk away. Orton would learn this lesson the hard way as his constant taunting of Mick Foley led to Foley's return as The Hardcore Legend.

While acting as Co-GM of Raw, Foley put himself in an Intercontinental Title match against Randy Orton, which would have been his first match in almost four years. Inexplicably, Foley walked away from the match which led to Orton spitting in his face. What happened next was months of The Legend Killer's mockery of Foley, even labeling him a coward. This led to Orton challenging Foley to appear at the Royal Rumble, which he did, and entered himself into the Rumble match just so he could beat the hell out of Orton. In the months the followed, Foley became darker & more deranged. Signs of the old Cactus Jack were coming out, something that Foley said he never wanted to do ever again. And I have to say that Foley's promos during this period were amazing, among the best & most intense of his career.

I'll be honest, this storyline would probably rank higher had it been building to Orton Vs. Foley at Wrestlemania. Instead, Foley had to get help against Evolution as a whole, so that led to the return of The Rock to reform The Rock & Sock Connection to battle them at Wrestlemania. That was fine and having Rock & Sock back was a fun attraction for Wrestlemania XX, but the Foley/Orton match would be saved for a month later with excellent results. In any case, this was a fantastic storyline that reminded us why Foley was so great and pushed Orton to the forefront as a break out star.

11) Who is the True Intercontinental Champion?

Razor Ramon Vs. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania X)


The Championship controversy over the IC Title was such a unique situation that it was bound to yield something great when it came time to settle it. Due to real life problems with the WWF, Shawn Michaels was suspended from the WWF & ultimately stripped of the Intercontinental Championship. Razor Ramon would win the vacant title in Shawn's absence. Soon, Shawn would return and bring with him the championship belt he didn't relinquish. Claiming that he was the true IC Champion since he was never defeated, Shawn made sure to stick it to Razor. Shawn's cockiness was so well pronounced at the time that it made him the perfect antagonist in all of this. The controversy would be settled at Wrestlemania. However, the added twist is that the winner would have to reach up and take down both IC Titles with a Ladder. That's right, the WWF's first ever Ladder Match on PPV was achieved out of this feud.

What I liked about this feud combines so many elements of feuds I've talked about on this list. It had a real sports element to it through the whole championship controversy. Shawn had a legitimate claim to the title since he was suspended and never actually defeated for the title. Brock Lesnar Vs. Shane Carwin Unification Bout for the UFC a couple years ago had a very similar set up actually. But Shawn was such a jerk that fans wanted to see him get shut up. Also, the feud perfectly set up the gimmick for the match. By making it a Ladder Match, which in 94 was something fans had never seen in the WWF, elevated the feud that much more. The gimmick of a Ladder fit since both men would have to struggle, crawl, & climb to prove who the true champion was. And they had fun with it as well as I'll always remember Shawn cutting a promo on top of a Ladder, and him teasing like he's going to walk under it, but then not (no bad luck you see). It was just perfect and it delivered one of the most revolutionary matches ever.

10) One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall

The Ultimate Warrior Vs "Macho King" Randy Savage (Wrestlemania VII)


Can you tell I liked Wrestlemania VII? I mean this is the fourth feud for that show that's made the list. Anyways, when you have two crazed personalities like The Ultimate Warrior & Randy Savage interacting, you know you are going to get some memorable material. It actually started out as a feud for the World Title, but elevated into something much greater.

While The Warrior was World Champion, Savage would sneak attack him & lay him out at every turn. The Macho Man's promos, which are so unique to him they can only be classified as Macho Promos, expressed his desire to become champion again and his want to face The Warrior. However, his unwillingness to face The Warrior in a fair setting or face to face to make the challenge put Warrior off. That led to a very memorable segment at the Royal Rumble where Savage's value Queen Sherri got on her knees (cue raise of the eyebrows) and begged the Warrior to give Savage a title match. Warrior, once again put off by Savage not asking him face to face, said no. Savage went...well savage and did everything in his power to make sure The Warrior lost the title to Sgt. Slaughter later that night.

Now instead of putting himself in the title picture, Savage become the target of probably the only man in the wrestling business crazier than him. However, Savage with Sherri at his side, seemed to be able to do something that almost nobody else could: Have a negative impact on The Warrior's career. He wasn't quite as dominant after losing the title, mostly thanks to Savage & Sherri being a thorn in his side. Eventually their hatred for each other led to their Wrestlemania match being made into a "Career Ending Match" with the loser being forced into Retirement.

Of course its Phony Wrestling Retirement Number 2 to make it onto this list, but that doesn't detract from the overall entertainment value of this feud. Like I said, Savage & Warrior were two of the more wild personalities in wrestling so to watch them play off against each other was pretty remarkable to witness. Also, by making it a Loser Leaves type of match, it elevated the feud into something much greater than a normal rivalry would be. At Wrestlemania, Warrior's ring gear had a picture of the World Title with "Means More Than This" underneath it, and that sums up the feud as a whole. It got to a point where it felt like the company wasn't big enough for such massive personalities and something had to give. The match reflected this perfectly with one of the most dramatic matches I've ever watched, and the idea of the career for one of these guys ending raised the stakes for the story in a big way. It is kind of strange though that Savage would lose this match and ultimately last longer in the WWF than The Warrior would.

9) A Battle Between Brothers

Bret "The Hitman" Hart Vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart (Wrestlemania X)


Another jealousy based feud, but this one centered around brothers. By 1994, Bret Hart had already been Tag Team, Intercontinental, & WWF World Champion, with a King of the Ring victory under his belt as well. Younger brother Owen had floundered from a couple of tag teams that didn't go anywhere (and we weren't even supposed to know he was The Blue Blazer). It is only natural for the younger brother to experience jealously.

Starting at Survivor Series 1993 in which he expressed anger towards Bret after being the only one eliminated on the team of Hart Brothers. It got taken to another level when Owen savagely attacked Bret after their tag team title match against The Quebeckers went awry. The attack on his leg almost cost Bret the Royal Rumble later that night, but he would tie that match with Lex Luger, earning him a shot at Yokozuna's title at Wrestlemania.

With Owen's jealousy & anger pushed even further, and Bret needing to wrestle a match before his Main Event title shot since the champ would be wrestling twice as well, it was only natural for them to have a match. This was another one of those feuds regarding family drama that actually felt kind of real. The motivations for Owen were understandable and he really stepped into his new spotlight very well. It also created a situation for Bret where he was torn between whether or not he should fight his brother in addition to having to worry about winning the World title in the main event. It pulled Bret in many different directions, and that made the title situation at Wrestlemania X more interesting as well. And I shouldn't even have to say that the Bret/Owen match was flawless and with Owen's victory & Bret's title win later in the night, it only gave them even more material to work with throughout 1994.

8) The Intercontinental Championship Reign of The Madness

Randy Savage's Intercontinental Title feuds with George Steele & Ricky Steamboat (Wrestlemania 2 & III)


I always hear that Honky Tonk Man is the greatest Intercontinental Champion in history because he held it the longest. Well that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me since him holding it is decided entirely by the bookers, but what about the body of work during that reign? Well one IC Title reign that gets highly overlooked is Randy Savage's. Sure he would go on to become a great main event star & yes, everyone knows about the IC Title match at Wrestlemania III, but much of what went into setting that match up and various other situations of Savage's Title reign has to make him one of the very best IC Champs. Savage played the part of abusive boyfriend as he was very possessive of his manager Miss Elizabeth and that was the driving force of getting him heat for his feuds.

Starting in 1986, Savage found himself defending his IC Title against George "The Animal" Steele at Wrestlemania 2. The angle leading into that was more comical in nature as the beastly Animal had fallen in love with Miss Elizabeth. It was goofier & silly than most of the storylines on this list, but it served to establish Savage as a strong villain as the fans felt sympathy for The Animal. In the end, Savage had gotten the best of Steele, and Elizabeth stayed by his side. Savage's reign really kicked into gear when he feud with Ricky Steamboat.

It was an injury angle done to perfection. Savage destroyed Ricky Steamboat by ramming a ring bell into his throat. They sold the injury like Steamboat's career was over and it was a long time before he made his return. That kind of dedication to telling the story of an injury is hardly ever seen today (unless the injury is real and they have to). By the time The Dragon did come back, the fans were fully ready to see him get his revenge and everything just fell into place perfectly. In a nice bit of continuity, Ricky even recruited George Steele to be his corner man, giving him an opportunity to get some measure of revenge against Savage too.

The reason the IC Title feuds at the earliest Wrestlemanias were a success was largely due to the strength of Randy Savage's character. It was a great & flashy presentation, his unique personality, & him being mistreating of his beautiful girlfriend all combined to make him a great centerpiece & holder for Intercontinental Championship. And of course, it all ended perfectly as both Steamboat & Steele got their revenge against Savage at Wrestlemania III. It also helps that it was one of the greatest & most influential matches of all time as well.

7) The Ultimate Challenge

Hulk Hogan Vs. The Ultimate Warrior (Wrestlemania VI)


Having two top tier babyfaces of near equal popularity is rare, but when you have that kind of situation, an epic showdown between the two is a fantastic idea. Before 1990, that had never really happened before. Not on any kind of large scale anyway. However, the WWF had Hulk Hogan, the biggest star in wrestling history up to that point, and the rising sensation The Ultimate Warrior. Both had huge fan bases and there was building anticipation a showdown between the two.

It finally happened at Royal Rumble 1990. The two biggest stars in wrestling were left alone to have a showdown and it was an epic moment. Their brief scuffle was enough to generate even more desire to see a full fledged match between the two. They were made tag team partners against Mr. Perfect & The Genius, but the post match saw Hogan & Warrior have a disagreement and almost come to blows. With two dominant champions wanting to test themselves against each other, it was only natural for the match to be signed.

In addition to their massive popularity, Hogan had been WWF Champion since Wrestlemania V & The Warrior had been Intercontinental Champion since Summerslam 89, with both of them also having very dominant win/loss records. Under those circumstances, we had a case where it was hard to see either guy losing. The match was made for Wrestlemania VI with BOTH Championships on the line. It was a first for Wrestlemania as one man would be walking out of the show with two championships, another great aspect to the match.

What made the whole thing work though was that nobody turned heel. Hogan & Warrior kept doing what they were doing and continued to appeal to the fans. They kept Mr. Perfect & Earthquake involved with them both to give them heel bumpers to play off of while they cut promos on each other. And the promos were outstanding in that they were completely insane. Warrior's most famous during this time was him talking about Hogan's plane going in a nosedive into Parts Unknown. It was crazy, but when you have two crazy characters like that, I expect to have The Warrior talk about the galaxies & stars aligning and Hogan talking about bodyslamming great white sharks. It'd was wild fun. The WWF did an excellent job of making this feud seem like a larger than life encounter, and it blew the door wide open to do Face Vs. Face matches in the future. For example, do you think Rock Vs. Austin at X-Seven would have ever happened if this hadn't been a success?

6) The Mega Powers Explode

"Macho Man" Randy Savage Vs. Hulk Hogan (Wrestlemanias IV & V)


Another angle of bitterness, jealousy, & betrayal. I guess those elements just combine to make the best wrestling feuds. But this one is certainly helped out by having Hulk Hogan & The Macho Man involved, the two most recognizable superstars of the time period. It also helps that they dedicated a lot of time to set up the relationship & eventual feud between the two.

It started just before Wrestlemania IV when The Mega Powers were formed. After years of being the abusive boyfriend to Elizabeth, it seemed as if teaming up with Hogan mellowed out Savage a bit and he became more of an honorable character. Hogan's involvement at Wrestlemania IV led to Savage ultimately winning the WWF Championship Tournament. The Mega Powers Tag Team, as the duo was called, was a dominant partnership that saw them rack up many wins. However, there were subtle signs that Savage was not happy about being a champion that had to play second fiddle to Hulk Hogan. For example, look at the look on Savage's face when they were victorious at Survivor Series 1988.

Things heated up even more when Hogan eliminated Savage from the 89 Royal Rumble match (back when the WWF Champion could enter the match). Overall, it just seemed like Hogan was still the bigger star, and it didn't help that Savage fell back into his old habits of being possessive of Miss Elizabeth. Feeling that Hogan was not only taking his spotlight, but also trying to steal his girl, it was an explosion waiting to happen. That moment came in a match between The Mega Powers & The Twin Towers where Elizabeth was injured during the match and Hogan rushed to her aid, leaving Savage by himself. Hogan returned only for Savage to slap him in the face, walk off, and then attack Hogan backstage after the match was over. Once the match for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania V was set, Elizabeth vowed to be in a neutral corner and support both men, which didn't sit well with the already crazed Savage.

Savage was right back to being the jerk he was back when he was IC Champion, only now he was the top title holder in the company, the main man. Everything with Macho Man is blown up to the nth degree anyway, but putting him in a main event scene just can't fail. The match itself was great, probably the best Mania main event up to that point. However, what really made it stand out was the quality of star power going into it. Savage's performance is what really carried the build up as he had all the development during that year long period they spent on this story, and Hogan being who he was only magnified the match & made Savage's drive more intense. It was an awesome build up between two iconic superstars.

5) The Biggest Rematch Ends in Controversy

The Championship Tournament (Wrestlemania IV)


I thought about adding this is as being part of the build for other entries on this list that it ties into, but its so crazy & unique among Mania builds that I have to give it its own spot. Playing off the events of Wrestlemania III, Andre returned after of a long absence stating that he actually defeated Hogan on the failed bodyslam attempt early in the match. He asks for a rematch and he attacked Hogan every chance he got until his demands were met.

What made this work so well though was new character, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. I've already talked about DiBiase on this list, and there isn't much else to add. He's a great performer, & was an awesome villain. He debuted in the WWF in late 87 and showed off what he could get people to do with his money, and the one thing he wanted to accomplish was to buy the WWF Championship. DiBiase thought he could do that by offering a huge bribe for Hogan to surrender the championship to him. When Hogan turned him down emphatically, DiBiase went to Plan B. He got Hogan's greatest rival, Andre the Giant, on his side. Once Andre defeated Hogan, he said he would surrender the championship to DiBiase.

The biggest rematch of all time was set and it seemed like Hogan was in even more trouble than last time now that DiBiase would be in Andre's corner. The ending to this match was one of the greatest angles the WWF has ever done. So DiBiase paid off Earl Hebner, twin brother to usual referee Dave Hebner, to pose as his brother & count Hogan's shoulders down when Andre got him on the mat no matter what. Hogan got his arm up, but Earl counted the 3 (almost a full decade before Montreal too!). Shockingly, Andre the Giant was now the WWF Champion. The four year reign of Hulk Hogan was over, and before anyone can even digest the magnitude of that, Andre turns right around and wraps the WWF Championship around Ted DiBiase's waist. It was one of the most powerful heel building moments ever. Without wrestling for it or earning his way into the title picture, the Million Dollar Man bought the WWF Championship & thought he beat the system. These kind of angles happen a lot nowadays, but back then, this was beyond anything that had ever happened before.

DiBiase was the key to making the whole angle work as he was the puppet master that put everything into place to get exactly what he wanted. They took a new character/gimmick and put him over like gangbusters until he is basically the focal point of setting up an entire Wrestlemania. As it turned out, Andre surrendering the title to DiBiase was not recognized. However, since the referee's decision was final, it was decided that Hogan was no longer the champion and since Andre relinquished that championship, then there was no WWF Champion. It was then decided that there would be a 14 Man Tournament to determine the new WWF Champion.

It was actually a pretty brilliant way to set up a reason for a tournament. It was such a huge controversy angle that it really felt like the perfect solution. DiBiase continued to play the lead villain really well, and eventually Randy Savage was added into the mix through his Mega Powers formation with Hogan. This eventually led to him, of course, being the one to win the vacant title in the tournaments conclusion. Having enough juice left in Hogan Vs. Andre really elevated the whole situation as well. While Wrestlemania IV isn't generally remembered as being that good of a show, I have to admit that the build up certainly had me hooked because of how crazy it was and all the great & diverse personalities that were showcased.

Entries 1-4 are a bit long, so I'll stop right there for now and post the rest later. I should be completely done by Monday.

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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

And this is the final part. Entries 4 through 1. The list is done!

4) Two All Time Greats, One Epic Trilogy (Wrestlemanias XV, X-Seven, XIX)



During the Attitude Era in the late 90s and early 00s, there was no two stars bigger than "Stone Cold" Steve Austin & The Rock. The immense popularity & notoriety of both men transcended the wrestling business and it was only fitting that they square off at the biggest show of the year. What started as displaying two of the biggest stars together turned into an epic trilogy of matches that would help define Wrestlemania for the modern era.

The first Wrestlemania encounter between these two happened in 1999 and was the culmination of Steve Austin's quest for the title. The real story was Austin trying to overcome the abuse of power of Vince McMahon who had taken every avenue to ensure that Austin lost the title & would never win it back. That rivalry of an employee rebelling against the system and then take down his evil boss was a revolutionary angle for Pro Wrestling at the time. The Rock's role in this match was as Vince McMahon's poster boy champion. Labeled "The Corporate Champion" The Rock became the top villain in wrestling and was the perfect final obstacle for Austin to overcome on his way to reclaming the championship. Austin's road to best Vince McMahon and overthrow The Rock as champion took him through the 1999 Royal Rumble where Vince McMahon entered himself into the match and put a $100,000 bounty on Austin to ensure he would lose. In the end, it was The Rock's interference that led to Austin's defeat & a shocking Royal Rumble victory for Vince McMahon. Austin would take his revenge on Vince the next month in a grueling cage match with the boss that also gave him the Championship match against The Rock. Meanwhile, The Rock survived his feud with Mankind who had challenged him for the WWF Title for months. In the end, his clashes with Mankind would cost him as Mankind would earn his way to being the Special Guest Referee of the main event at Wrestlemania.

It was during this feud that the characters of The Rock & Steve Austin were allowed to flourish on a main event level. True they had both feuded over the IC Title in 1997, but The Rock was still a work in progress at that point. Here we got to see just how opposite to each other they really were. Austin was rugged, rough, & violent, while Rock was more athletic, polished, & flashy. It was a perfect situation to showcase over the top characters that could appeal to the masses. After an exciting battle, Austin won back his championship after a six month journey, but this was not the end of Austin & Rock's rivalry.

Two years later, The Rock was no longer the Corporate Champion. He was now as big and as popular a babyface as Austin ever was. After Austin had neck surgery that kept him out of action for almost a year, Rock was able to step in and fill Austin's role on top seamlessly. By the time Austin returned, it just a matter of time before the two biggest babyfaces in the World would be put against each other. The Rock had spent most of 2000 in the World Title picture and would eventually defeat Kurt Angle to win the championship for a then record sixth time in February 2001. Austin on the other hand had taken vengeance on those responsible for his neck injury (in storyline of course) Rikishi & Triple H, whose partnership kept Austin busy for months. After that was over, it was time to have the showdown. Austin had won his record third Royal Rumble and was set to face The Rock when it was time to jump start the build to Wrestlemania.

They had done an unnecessary element to the story where Austin's wife, Debra McMichael, had been named The Rock's manager by Vince McMahon. Now lets be honest, how is that even possible? I thought managers were independent agents hired by the Wrestlers themselves? How can the owner of the company force a manager on somebody? Oh well, whatever. It didn't matter that much. The real strength in the build up came from the promos and the video packages. It was very similar to Hogan/Warrior, but much bigger. Whenever Austin would give the Stunner to The Rock and whenever The Rock would strike back, it only enhanced the gravity of what was happening. Yes they had already faced off at Wrestlemania before, but The Rock wasn't just McMahon's Champion this time around. He had a level of popularity that rivaled Austin's. It felt like it was brand new all over again and much grander than before. The final hook was on the last Smackdown prior to Wrestlemania where Austin & Rock wished each other luck, but tempers had reached such a high that it ended with a massive brawl between the two.

So the stage was set. Either Austin would finish his comeback with a WWF Title victory or The Rock would avenge his loss at Wrestlemania XV over his greatest rival. The match didn't disappoint as I would go as far to say that its probably one mistake away from being the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. It was pure energy & excitement from start to finish. In the end, McMahon helped Austin win the title, revealing a new partnership between the two and turning Austin heel. I have huge misgivings about the Austin heel turn, but a fantastic match is still a fantastic match and had The Rock/Austin Wrestlemania experience ended there, it would have been classic.

However, everything works in threes and there was room for one more classic showdown. Now we go to 2003. Austin had walked out of the WWE over personal disputes and it was thought he would never return. The Rock had become a big star in Hollywood and was taking on more and more movie roles, reducing his time spent wrestling. It seemed as though both careers were in the winding down phase. However, both of them returned in February of 2003, the stage was set for one more epic Wrestlemania match.

The Rock was now hated by the fans, mainly for putting his Hollywood career before Wrestling, a move that was perceived as egotistical & selfish. Well, that's what The Rock's character became and it was one of the best runs of his career. The "Hollywood" Rock as its been called by some fans was a Rock that was every bit as entertaining as he ever was, but with such a cocky & disrespecting demeanor that the fans hated his guts. Upon his return, The Rock stated that he would leave Wrestling but there was one more thing he needed to accomplish. The one thing he was never able to do was defeat Steve Austin at Wrestlemania, and once Austin returned, Rock had his chance at redemption.

He immediately challenged Austin and the match was set. A final confrontation between two of the biggest stars in wrestling history. One classic segment that i have to reference is "The Rock Concert" where Rock took over the show to put on a musical display, which involved him singing songs that insulted both the fans & Steve Austin. It was hilarious, and it ended with Austin smashing The Rock's personal guitar signed by Willie Nelson. By the time Wrestlemania rolled around, the story had basically been about whether or not The Rock could defeat Austin at Wrestlemania and that was a great play off of their histories.

For one final time, Austin & Rock collided on the grand stage of Wrestlemania and after another classic encounter, The Rock finally got the monkey off his back and defeated Austin following three Rock Bottoms, symbolizing the number of tries it took Rock to get that huge win. It was really the end of the great runs for both men. It would be The Rock's final one on one Wrestlemania match for nine years, and has only wrestled a handful of times since then. For Austin, it was his final match to date and the loss was the end of his career. In a way, it was fitting. The Attitude Era had come to an end and it felt appropriate to close it out with the two biggest icons that the era produced.

When you have two big stars like Rock & Austin, you can get a lot of mileage out of having them work with each other, and their three matches contributed a lot to Wrestlemania. Their ability to play off of each other and deliver epic promos really made their bouts feel larger than the show itself, & their natural chemistry always made for a great viewing experience. Every Wrestlemania feud was different, each situation was interesting, & all three matches definitely added to the majesty of Wrestlemania.


3) The Rattlesnake, The Showstopper, & The Baddest Man on the Planet (Wrestlemania XIV)



If there was a Wrestlemania feud that jump started the Attitude Era of the WWF/E, it was this one. The WWF had become an entirely different show with a new personality and it was reflected in their top stars and the caliber of their celebrity guest for Wrestlemania.

Steve Austin's rebellious spirit and lack of respect for authority had created a dynamic in wrestling that had hardly ever been seen before. He was a heel, a villain, but the fans loved him. Society was very different in the late 90s and the youth was more jaded & cynical, so it probably shouldn't have been a shock that they rejected the one dimensional smiling good guys and went for a guy that flipped off his boss, broke all the rules, and spat in the face of authority.

Austin's extreme personality not only won over the fans, but also seemed to rub off on the entire company. Undertaker went from being a zombie that hardly ever spoke to being a Hellish Warrior with a dark past. Rocky Maviia went from being a smiling doofus to being the cocky & arrogant jerk we would all come to know as The Rock. Not only did the wrestlers change, but so did the overall presentation of the show. WWF was edgier. It was harsher, more brash, and quite honestly, it was cooler.

Another one of the major aspects in shaping the Attitude Era came in the form of D-Generation X, a faction led by former fan favorite, Shawn Michaels. Also adopting the more rebellious spirit of the time, Shawn went from being a fan loving good guy that danced around to being a jerk that told fans to "suck it" and make phallic jokes every chance he got. In a sense, both he and Austin were two sides of the same coin as they both represented the spirit of the times, but the key difference is that while Austin exemplified honorable traits like courage & perseverance, Shawn was a back stabbing weasel that escaped every situation by the skin of his teeth.

Both paths to Wrestlemania XIV were distinct. After his gutsy performance against Bret Hart at 13 that put him on the map and coming back from a neck injury (a real one) at the hands of Owen Hart, Austin had won the respect of wrestling fans everywhere. It also helped that the authority he was rebelling against, WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, had become severely hated following The Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997. After Vince had stripped him of the IC Title, it seemed like Austin would have to win the WWF Title against the blessings of management. His chance came at the 1998 Royal Rumble Match in which Austin was a marked man thanks to his attacks on The Nation of Domination and various other entrants. Austin survived and earned himself a shot at the Championship at Wrestlemania.

While Austin overcame all the odds on his own, Shawn found other ways to succeed. As stated before, Michaels' weaselly nature had led to him walking out on top in some high pressure situations. It was only through Kane's interference that he was able to survive his grueling Hell in a Cell & Casket Matches with Undertaker & he was the beneficiary of The Montreal Screwjob as Shawn walked out with the championship. Both characters were cutting edge for the time, but they were using old school booking techniques to keep them on the right path and it worked rather well. Michaels always won in every cheap fashion imaginable, which built up his heat & credibility as long term champion while Austin, won victories & battles the hard way and earned his way to the title. It was about as flawless as it could be. It also helped that both characters were in of themselves wildly entertaining, so it made for great interactions when it came time to plan Wrestlemania.

However, there was a huge X-Factor in this storyline and it was none other than "Iron" Mike Tyson. The most controversial figure in sports at the time was a perfect fit for Attitude Era WWF. I would argue that his inclusion was the single greatest use of an outside personality in the history of wrestling. The segment where he was brought out on Raw only to have a massive & intense showdown with Steve Austin was simply perfect. This storyline found itself a huge selling point and combustible element. As the weeks rolled on it was announced that Mike Tyson would be the guest enforcer for the championship match at Wrestlemania. However, it was not long after that it was revealed that Mike Tyson had actually joined up with DX & aligned with Shawn Michaels. If the main event to Wrestlemania wasn't red hot before, it certainly was at this point because now it seemed Austin would have to contend with not only DX, but The Baddest Man on the Planet to win his first championship.

What happened at Wrestlemania XIV was just one of those perfect moments where the stars aligned, all the right elements fell into place, and everything was executed perfectly. You had a perfectly booked babyface & a perfectly booked heel that were cutting edge, interesting, and engaging. You had an additional element in Mike Tyson and all the media buzz he brought with him, and it all combined to make one of the biggest Wrestlemania main events of all time. The match itself delivered as Austin won & began "The Austin Era", cementing his spot as the biggest star in wrestling. Michaels, who suffered a severe back injury a couple months earlier, would take over four years off from the ring before his eventual return, but had this been the end of Michaels' career, it actually would have been at least an exciting way to end it. I also felt like this storyline brought the magic back to Wrestlemania as it had faded significantly throughout the 90s, and I would argue that the WWE is still running off the success from this show as everything only got bigger and better from there.

2) The Match of the Century (Wrestlemania III)



This was it. This was the rivalry that made Wrestlemania, the WWF/E, and Professional Wrestling in general larger than life. What they were able to accomplish with this storyline would serve as the blueprint for how to build main event match ups in the future. How do you do a best friends turned enemies storyline? Look to Hogan/Andre as they did it perfectly. How do you set up a match where a dominate champion is given the greatest challenge of his life? Look to Hogan Vs. Andre, because it was flawless. How do you make a main event feel likes it is can't miss & an event that is larger than life? Again, look to Hogan/Andre because there was none bigger or more important.

The real genesis for the Hogan Vs. Andre Wrestlemania III encounter began with Hogan's championship victory in 1983, three years before their classic battle. When Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik, Andre was among the first to congratulate him, and it was understood from then on that Hogan & Andre were best of friends. Whenever one of them needed help, they could always count on each other to fill in as tag team partner or back up when facing insurmountable odds.

Hogan held the championship for over three years and survived every opponent placed in front of him including Roddy Piper, King Kong Bundy, Randy Savage, Big John Studd, Paul Orndorff, & everyone in between. His popularity and fame helped take the WWF to heights and national fame it had never seen before. There was no question that Hulk Hogan was the poster boy for the company, but what about Andre? Andre had been dominate throughout his time in wrestling to the point that the WWF said that he had been unbeaten for 15 years (which apparently wasn't true, but whatever, people bought it). And Andre himself had been a star attraction for wrestling and had gained world wide fame & recognition before Hogan did. So why did he never get a title shot?

By the time 1987 rolled around, Andre's jealousy started to show in small ways. The story unfolded on segments of Piper's Pit as Hogan was awarded a trophy to commemorate his three years as champion. Later, Andre was awarded a trophy to commemorate his undefeated streak, but was visibly unhappy to share the spotlight with his friend Hulk Hogan. When he stormed off the set, it was obvious that there were problems between the two.

I should also note that using Roddy Piper's Piper's Pit as the site for this story was perfect. Piper had been a part of some of the most high profile moments during the "Rock & Wrestling" era, especially in building the first two Wrestlemanias. Having him involved just magnified the story that much more. Eventually, it came down to one fateful Piper's Pit where Hogan & Andre agreed to meet face to face only for Andre the come out with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan by his side. The villainous manager announced that he was now managing Andre's career and stated that Hogan used his power to hold Andre down and only kept Andre as a friend so that he would never have to face him. Andre's jealousy had spilled over and caused him to reject his image as a role model. Hogan's pleas that it was Andre who taught him how to be a good role model & representative for the fans fell on deaf ears as Andre demanded a championship match with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania. In probably the most iconic moment of the build up, Andre then tore the stunned Hogan's shirt & crucifix off and threw them on the ground. Hogan's chest had been scraped as blood dripped down his chest & tears came from his eyes. It was a powerful & symbolic moment that was just perfect on so many levels. But of course, Hogan agreed to the match and the biggest main event of all time was in place.

Like I said earlier, this storyline served as a blueprint for many build ups throughout the years, as there were a lot of firsts. I tried to find other examples, but Hogan Vs. Andre was the earliest example I could find of a contract signing in wrestling. Nowadays it happens so frequently that its pretty much a cliche, but here, it only added to the realism & gravity of what was being presented. It might not have been the first contract signing, but it was the one that made contract signings a stand by for TV segments in building feuds. You had a dominate champion that had held the title for over 3 years taking on a man much larger than him that was billed as having never been beaten. Gorilla Monsoon's comments of "The Irresistible Force Meeting the Immovable Object" was never more appropriate. It was even announced that a new Championship belt was being made to accommodate for Andre's size and it was interesting hear those kind of elements being brought & questions addressed. It demonstrated the confidence of Andre who was definitely planning on having that championship.

It is common now at Wrestlemania to take the two biggest stars that can be offered and putting them together in a match. WWE is doing it this year with Rock & Cena. Well, the first time that was done was here, Hogan Vs. Andre. They had two truly larger than life icons of Wrestling, the two biggest at that point in time, and it was the ultimate match that could be offered as it seemed impossible for either man to lose based on how they'd been presented. It was just the perfect combination of sports logic, great booking, & a personal animosity that made sense for it all to combine together to create a glorious situation. As the build up continued, the story became how could Hogan defeat someone as massive as Andre? Yes he had success against the likes of King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd, but neither man was as big as Andre. Could Hogan slam him? Could Hogan even move him? All these questions only served to make the match that much more interesting and come show time, it was worth every cent just to find out what was going to happen.

What did happen at Wrestlemania III was one of the most legendary matches of all time. What both men lacked in athletic gifts, they made up for in being able to capture atmosphere and big moments, particularly that now famous moment where Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant in front of a reported 93,000 fans in attendance. It was a moment that was arguably the greatest the art form of Wrestling has ever produced and it all made possible by a brilliantly told storyline. Some have said that was the day Hulkamania became Immortal, & I look at it as the greatest accomplishment for both Hogan & Andre. Wrestlemania may have been born in 1985, but it came to life in 1987, and we can thank this match and this storyline for it.

1) The Undertaker: Undefeated at Wrestlemania (Wrestlemanias VII, VIII, IX, XI, XII, 13, XIV, XV, X-Seven, X8, XIX, XX, 21, 22, 23, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII)



When The Undertaker, a relative newcomer, delivered the Tombstone to "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka at Wrestlemania VII, there was no way that those within the WWF/E or any wrestling fan could have predicted what The Undertaker's Career & Wrestlemania Legacy would become. Simply known as "The Streak", The Undertaker's unbeaten record at Wrestlemania has been a symbol of Undertaker's dominance and an expected grand attraction for Wrestlemania.

Even the years where the build up to a particular match was underwhelming, it was still a part of a much bigger picture. For over two decades, The Undertaker has gone into Wrestlemania and with every victory added to the record, it becomes a much grander and more powerful storyline. Interestingly, the Streak hadn't even become a story point until his 9th Wrestlemania match. It took nine entries before the WWF/E even realized that there in the midst of something special.

It becomes a bigger discussion every year. Will anyone ever end the Streak? Will Undertaker retired unbeaten at Wrestlemania? Should WWE ever consider ending it and trying to make a new star out of it? I've personally made the comment that defeating The Undertaker at Wrestlemania would mean more than winning a World Championship at this point. Now part of that is because of how devalued Championships have become in recent years, but the other part of that is that you have two decades of build up & credibility put into The Streak and to transfer that over to the superstar that gets that huge win would be an instant star maker (or at least should be).

Through 19 Wrestlemania matches, The Undertaker has had some great personal rivalries that, had I given them separate entries, would have been more than worthy of a place in this list. To highlight those specific examples, my personal favorite was his feud with Kane heading into Wrestlemania XIV. It had the personal brother vs. brother element akin to Bret Vs. Owen, but elevated and more other worldly given the nature of the characters involved. For the first time since the creation of The Undertaker character, we actually got some background information about him. His parents were killed in a fire that may or may not have been Undertaker's own fault. His long lost brother Kane had been raised in an asylum and spent 20 years living with the scars of being in the fire and a deep loathing of his brother. It was a crazy storyline, but one that was deeply personal & well handled.

Everything kick started when Kane eventually arrived after months of hype. In one of the most memorable debuts ever, Kane interfered in the first Hell in a Cell Match and ripped the door off its hinges to attack Undertaker and cost him the match. The Kane character in its early stages had a presentation that was comparable to Jason Voorhees and it was a very unique & well handled character. He was silent, nobody could hurt him, he had a cool looking mask, he was huge, and he was like a force of nature that could destroy anything in his path. It was one of the few times in his whole career that it felt like The Undertaker had no chance of winning when they eventually did face off. In an amazing display of patience on WWF's part, they kept Undertaker & Kane apart from each other by having Taker state that he would never fight his own brother. After months of destroying superstars left & right, Kane finally pushed Taker over the edge at the Royal Rumble when he locked him in a Casket & set it on fire! There were many shocking moments & visuals in the build up to this match and it was, to me, the best of Undertaker's Wrestlemania feuds.

Taker would face Kane again at Wrestlemania XX. That feud was nowhere near as strong as their earlier storyline in 98. The Kane character in particular was nowhere near as interesting (an unmasked, bald, speaking, non-burned Kane...yeah, lame). However, it was the return of The Dead Man Undertaker presentation after years of watching him as a Motorcycle riding American Bad Ass. All the signs of Taker coming back as The Lord of Darkness were growing as the weeks went on. The lights would go out. The Gong would sound. The video packages showcased graveyards, crosses, & every other symbol associated with the original Undertaker. The building of anticipation for the return of Undertaker to his roots made it exciting, and a perfect attraction for the Wrestlemania where "it All Begins Again".

That's not to say Taker hasn't had other great Mania build ups with others besides Kane. I also really enjoyed his feud with Triple H at X-Seven. For that one, Undertaker was in the American Bad Ass character. What made this one work so well though was that it was a great Attitude Era pairing that we hadn't seen before. What would happen if The Game, the man who dominated the WWF in 2000 went up against the biggest main stay for a decade? The part of it that I really liked was Stephanie McMahon putting a restraining order on Taker to protect her husband. On the flip side, Taker had been on the receiving end of some violent sneak attacks by Triple H. By the time Mania rolled around, a violent reaction from Taker & a wild match was almost guaranteed. This was one of the few cases where a one month build up actually worked just as well as a long term one given how strong both characters were & how well established they were by that point.

Another one of my favorites was his feud with Randy Orton heading into Wrestlemania 21. Randy's face turn hadn't worked out well, so it was time to get a return of The Legend Killer as he decided to take on the greatest of all legends at Wrestlemania. I'll be honest, this was the last time I truly felt like the Streak was in jeopardy of ending. Orton was a young talent that the WWE wanted to push up to the main event, and like I said, there probably is no bigger win to give than a win over Taker at Wrestlemania. It stars seemed to be in place for the Streak to finally end. That didn't happen, but at the time, the likelihood of that outcome made the feud very interesting, and it was fascinating to see a young talent constantly outsmart & disrespect The Dead Man the way Orton did.

And the last few entries of The Streak have had The Undertaker taking on the two most prominent members of The Kliq, Shawn Michaels & Triple H. What has really been brilliant here is how great every match has set up the next one from year to year. The build up to the original Wrestlemania XXV Match between Undertaker & Shawn Michaels wasn't much to remember on its own, but the match itself was the starting point of what would carry over into Taker's next few Mania wars. After losing to Undertaker at XXV, Shawn spent an entire year waiting to challenge The Undertaker again. His growing frustrations & questions of whether or not he could defeat The Undertaker led to him deciding to put his Career on the line in order to get his rematch. The stakes got raised in a big way and the match at Wrestlemania XXVI was now much bigger than a battle between legends. Once again, Shawn lost and his career was ended. That then carried over into the next year where Triple H decided that he wanted to avenge his best friend and try to end the Streak himself. That personal element and carry over from the previous two entries made that match seem big as well and its amazing to see how they are still getting mileage out of The Undertaker working with Triple H & Shawn Michaels.

But with all the great individual feuds that The Undertaker has had, they were all chapters in a much larger story and an example of the greatness the WWE has gotten out of sticking with something for two decades. Undertaker's Legacy is defined most by the Streak and one can only wonder where it will go from where it is now and how much more they will try to get out of it in the future.


Recapped Short List

28) Warrior vs. Rude (V)
27) Hogan Vs. Slaughter (VII)
26) Big Show Vs. Mayweather (XXIV)
25) Michaels Vs. Angle (21)
24) DiBiase Vs. Virgil (VII)
23) Piper Vs. Adonis (III)
22) E/C Vs. Hardys Vs. Dudleys (2000 & X-Seven)
21) HHH Vs. HBK Vs. Benoit (XX)
20) X-Pac Vs. Shane-O-Mac (XV)
19) Hogan/Mr. T Vs. Piper/Orndorff (1)
18) Roberts Vs. Martel (VII)
17) Trish Vs. Mickie (22)
16) DiBiase Vs. Roberts (VI)
15) Hart Vs. Austin (13)
14) Savage Vs. Flair (VIII)
13) HBK Vs. Y2J (XIX)
12) Foley Vs. Orton (XX)
11) HBK Vs. Razor (X)
10) Warrior Vs. Savage (VII)
9) Bret Vs. Owen (X)
8) Savage as IC Champion (2 & III)
7) Hogan Vs. Warrior (VI)
6) Hogan Vs. Savage (V)
5) Setting Up The Tournament (IV)
4) Rock Vs. Austin Trilogy (XV, X-Seven, & XIX)
3) Austin Vs. HBK (XIV)
2) Hogan Vs. Andre (III)
1) Undertaker: The Streak (19-0)

WEEKDAY WARRIORS OF WRESTLING: The Podcast I'm On
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QUESTION AND ANSWERS: FINAL VIDEO OF 2014



Last edited by TripleG; 01-21-2013 at 07:24 AM.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-12-2012, 01:02 AM
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Re: Top 28 Build Ups, Storylines, & Feuds in Wrestlemania History

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Originally Posted by TripleG View Post
12) Orton's Foolish Hubris and Foley's Frightening Rebirth

"The Hardcore Legend" Mick Foley Vs. "The Legend Killer" Randy Orton (Wrestlemania XX)


Sometimes its just best to leave sleeping dogs alone and walk away. Orton would learn this lesson the hard way as his constant taunting of Mick Foley led to Foley's return as The Hardcore Legend.

While acting as Co-GM of Raw, Foley put himself in an Intercontinental Title match against Randy Orton, which would have been his first match in almost four years. Inexplicably, Foley walked away from the match which led to Orton spitting in his face. What happened next was months of The Legend Killer's mockery of Foley, even labeling him a coward. This led to Orton challenging Foley to appear at the Royal Rumble, which he did, and entered himself into the Rumble match just so he could beat the hell out of Orton. As the months wore on, Foley became darker & more deranged. Signs of the old Cactus Jack were coming out. And I have to say that Foley's promos during this period were amazing, among the best & most intense of his career.

I'll be honest, this storyline would probably rank higher had it been building to Orton Vs. Foley at Wrestlemania. Instead, Foley had to get help against Evolution as a whole, so that led to the return of The Rock to reform The Rock & Sock Connection to battle them at Wrestlemania. That was fine and having Rock & Sock back was a fun attraction for Wrestlemania XX, but the Foley/Orton match would be saved for a month later with excellent results. In any case, this was a fantastic storyline that reminded us why Foley was so great and pushed Orton to the forefront as a break out star.
I agree. While it was cool to see Rock & Sock team again, it would've made the feud even better if the Orton vs Foley Hardcore match happened at Mania.
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