10 Superstars on their favorite opponents
As WWE fans, we all have our favorite combinations of Superstars facing off inside the squared circle. Sometimes it’s two aerial attackers taking to the skies to fly higher than their rival. Other times, it’s a pair of hard-nosed brawlers making each other black and blue, or when an underdog mixes it up with a tough superheavyweight. No matter the case, each unique pairing can create its own distinct energy in front of a live crowd.
But who do WWE’s Superstars love to get in the ring with? We asked 10 of them to look back on the chemistry they create with their rivals, and tell us who they like to see when looking across the ring. Who can help create that chemistry? Who brings out the best in them? Who is their favorite opponent?
Daniel Bryan’s favorite opponent is Sheamus
“In WWE, a guy who I’ve wrestled a lot and have always had great matches with is Sheamus, which is one of the reasons why WrestleMania XXVIII was so disappointing. I almost want to say we have the same wrestling ideals, in the sense that we want to go out there and have the best match possible. A lot of people think that, but aren’t willing to do the things that it takes to do that.
“I loved our 2-out-of-3 Falls Match [at Extreme Rules 2012], but we main-evented every night on the European Tour after WrestleMania XXVIII. Kane and Randy Orton were doing No Disqualification Matches on those same shows, and they are the guys who people considered main eventers way more than me and Sheamus at that time. I remember somebody came up to me and said, ‘I saw your match against Sheamus last night. I have never seen two men hit each other that hard.’ He was seeing one thing and then he saw us and said, ‘Holy crap.’”
Bad News Barrett’s favorite opponents are Kofi Kingston and Sheamus
“Two people come to mind. No. 1 is Kofi Kingston in terms of his creativity, athleticism and speed. We’re complete opposites, but that leads to a lot of counter-attacks, reversals and technical stuff, which I really enjoy. Every time I’m up against him, I know it’s going to be a good match, going to be exciting and we’re going to do some innovative stuff.
“The other one would be Sheamus. Completely different animal, but every time I get in the ring with him, I know it’s going to be a fight. I know I’m going to come out with some bruises and black eyes, but something about that brings out the animal in me. It gets that adrenaline pumping. We’re very similar, we’re both smash-mouth. It’s about two blunt forces meeting each other and who can hit the hardest. I know I’m going to have to be defending myself and keeping my hands up at all times, because the second I drop one, he’s going to be planting one straight on the jaw.
“It’s more of a chess game with Kofi, where with Sheamus it’s a heavyweight boxing match.”
Sheamus’s favorite opponent is Bad News Barrett
“[Bad News] Barrett and I have never had a bad match. We’ve never been in an actual rivalry, but we always have great matches that people are really into. We came up together, and got signed together. There’s a big England-Ireland thing, and people can see that and can feel it. There’s a lot of pride at stake in these matches. Whether it’s part of a rivalry or not, there’s always a matter of pride between who wins and loses.
“We’re both hard-hitting Superstars and have pretty similar styles. We absolutely like beating the crap out of each other. It might as well be for a championship.”
Kofi Kingston’s favorite opponent is Dolph Ziggler
“There was a point from 2010 to the middle of 2011 where we wrestled each other every single week. We were both guys who were so close to breaking into that next level. So everything we did was trying to outdo the other guy, which provides for a great match for everyone watching, but also helps us get to the next level. It’s like this creative competition. There’s so much going on that people don’t even know about.
“We had a match on ‘WWE Superstars’ and I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it. People don’t look at ‘Superstars’ as a top tier show, but guys like me and Dolph always put in 110 percent no matter what match we’re in. When we got that chance to go on ‘Superstars,’ we were going to do the exact same thing. For whatever reason, we had this amazing match.”
Dolph Ziggler’s favorite opponent is Alberto Del Rio
“Alberto Del Rio made it very clear one night when he told someone, ‘Dolph and I are not friends. We don’t hang out. We don’t talk.’ It wasn’t in a mean way, but he said, ‘When we’re in the ring, there’s such good chemistry. When he gets vicious, I get more vicious. We complement each other so well.’
“When Del Rio beats the hell out of me, it makes me want to beat him right back. We’ve had so many matches on every kind of possible show, and every time, there’s no way it’s not the match of the night when it happens. There’s no chemistry backstage, but out there, it’s unstoppable.”
Jack Swagger’s favorite opponent is Alberto Del Rio
“I really liked wrestling Alberto Del Rio. [Del Rio walks by.] That’s so crazy. I miss you, buddy!
“I come from a wrestling background and he comes from MMA, and our styles definitely complement each other. They’re very similar techniques, and you need a guy who knows those techniques to really appreciate it. If you try to do amateur wrestling with a sports-entertainer, he’s not going to know how to click with me. But Del Rio and I complement each other, our styles go hand-in-hand, and that makes the chemistry that much better.”
Seth Rollins’ favorite opponent is Daniel Bryan
“Daniel Bryan is my favorite. I don’t know why. It might be because we have similar backgrounds, styles and approach, but every time I’ve ever gotten in the ring with him — from my early days to now — there’s always some sort of crazy electricity that seems to spark between us. It’s one of those things that you can’t really explain, and you don’t need to try. He pushes me beyond my limits. He takes all the things I’m good at physically, mentally and emotionally, and we push each other.
“The singles match we had on Raw was probably my favorite one with him that I’ve had in WWE. The matches in Ring of Honor, we had a little more time and the matches were a little different. My favorite one was in Detroit at a show called New Horizons where I powerbombed him into the turnbuckle and the top buckle broke. It was really crazy. It was one of those moments that no one saw coming and you can’t recreate it. It was terrifying, but if you were there live, you’ll literally never forget it.”
Rob Van Dam’s favorite opponents are Sabu and Jerry Lynn
“My favorite opponent is probably Sabu, but also Jerry Lynn. I know the matches with Sabu are going to have the ingredients I prefer in a showcasing of The Whole Dam Show. It’s going to be very physical and there’s going to be a lot of punishment absorbed by both wrestlers to the point where it’s going to be entertaining and amazing to fans just to see the thrashing that we take during those matches. They’re going to be mixed with a display of skill and acrobatics. That’s what I enjoy, and likeminded opponents like Sabu make for a better match.
“I wouldn’t say one match is my favorite. In my mind, I remember specific things, like the Matter of Respect  match where the loser had to shake the winner’s hand. I remember wrestling in [Marietta, Ga.,] at Wrestlepalooza , because I did a 180 split-legged moonsault. I challenged myself in that match and Sabu threw up underneath the bottom rope during that match, too.
“Jerry Lynn was amazing and we just have this chemistry where we both push ourselves and each other. It’s something that happens naturally in the ring. His energy and my energy, when they’re both out there, it’s a competitive combination. That’s the only way to describe it. It meant a lot to me to wrestle him in the last ECW match at the Hammerstein in New York City, absolutely. Each match I had with Jerry Lynn seemed to outdo the previous one.”
Goldust’s favorite opponent is Randy Orton
“My favorite opponent is probably Randy Orton. You can have a bad opponent out there and still get the job done. You just have to work around certain things. Randy and I don’t have that. It clicks. I definitely feel it when I’m out there with him, and you know it.
“You always know who’s really good and who is not real good. I would consider Orton and myself the two smoothest performers here. I know my stuff after 26 years in this business come August. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. If I’m studying in NXT and trying to make it to the main roster, I would be watching Randy Orton. Study him.”
John Cena’s favorite opponent is The Rock
“Dwayne Johnson is such a bona fide Superstar transcending WWE that you feel even more so that you are being tested physically, mentally and verbally. He’s such an orchestrator of the live audience. It’s a wonderful feeling to be out there with him.
“To be out there doing The Rock’s thing is one thing. To be out there competing against The Rock is totally different. I love being out there competing against The Rock. Because of his ability and his popularity, it’ll be the most important parts of your career.”