As WWE celebrates the return of WrestleMania to the New York-Jersey area in 2019, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon talks about the glorious past of The Showcase of the Immortals.03/16/2018 - 14:00
WrestleMania's 10 Greatest Rivalries
The Rock versus “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hulk Hogan versus Andre The Giant. Shawn Michaels versus The Undertaker. Sports-entertainment’s greatest rivalries have an even bigger spotlight on them when they’re settled on The Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania.
But some rivalries aren’t over after The Show of Shows goes off the air. With tension building through the years, certain adversaries have found themselves facing off in epic bouts at more than one WrestleMania. These monumental bouts are the kind that end up in highlight packages at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and forever stand as the best of all time.
Filled with passion and fury, these are the 10 greatest rivalries ever settled at WrestleMania.
The Undertaker vs. Kane
This rivalry of not-so-brotherly love almost didn’t happen. The Undertaker initially refused to fight his demonic half-brother. The Phenom changed his mind after Kane locked him in a casket and set it on fire. The ensuing brawl at WrestleMania XIV pushed The Deadman to his limits. He needed three Tombstone Piledrivers to put away his younger brother.
The Brothers of Destruction were on-again, off-again rivals over the years, until Kane tried to rid WWE of The Undertaker forever, burying him alive at Survivor Series 2003. Unfortunately for Kane, the premature burial only angered his half-brother. The Deadman haunted Kane for months before returning at WrestleMania XX to continue his Streak, defeating Kane in Madison Square Garden.
Mr. T vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
One of the highlights of the first WrestleMania was the involvement of Mr. T, who joined forces with WWE Champion Hulk Hogan to take on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in the tag team main event. Piper didn’t take too kindly to a Hollywood star walking right into the main event of the biggest show in sports-entertainment history with no prior experience, and he was even more infuriated after Hogan and the actor emerged victorious.
Piper taunted Mr. T over the next year, even going so far as to attack “The A-Team” star’s friend Haiti Kid, shaving his hair to look like T’s. The bitter rivalry came to a head at WrestleMania 2. Mr. T challenged “Hot Rod” to a boxing match. Piper had no intentions of fighting fair, though. He bodyslammed Mr. T several times during the match, earning himself a disqualification loss. The Rowdy One may have gotten what he wanted in the end, though, as he set off a chaotic brawl with the actor, with officials filling the ring to pull them apart.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz
Edge & Christian and The Hardy Boyz redefined how the WWE Universe looked at Ladder Matches in fall 1999. It became destiny that they would meet again. But a curveball was thrown at them when the table-obsessed Dudley Boyz joined WWE that winter. The three teams met in the first-ever Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder Match at WrestleMania 2000. With the ringside area covered in twisted steel and broken wood, it was Edge & Christian who emerged with the World Tag Team Titles in hand.
The three teams met again one year later, at WrestleMania X-Seven in the match that would become their calling card: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. In a melee that left the WWE Universe on the edge of their seats, The Rated-R Superstar and Captain Charisma, with an assist from Rhyno, reclaimed the titles once again.
Kane vs. Pete Rose
The Big Red Monster, self-admittedly, has an unhealthy obsession with inflicting pain on baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose. The most unlikely of enemies, Kane and Rose’s WrestleMania paths have crossed more than most Superstars.
At WrestleMania XIV, Kane stopped Rose from disparaging Boston and its beloved Red Sox, laying him out with a Tombstone. The following year, Rose had retribution on his mind. The WWE Hall of Famer tried to use the element of surprise on Kane, dressing up as the San Diego Chicken and attacking him, only to eat another Tombstone.
Thinking he finally had the upper hand, Rose sent the Chicken out to dance with Kane, Rikishi and Too Cool at WrestleMania 2000. When Kane throttled the feathered mascot, Rose tried to sneak attack him with a baseball bat. His attempted assault was thwarted by Rikishi. After a Chokeslam from The Big Red Monster, Rose was the victim of a Stinkface.
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage
It was inevitable that Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, two of the top Superstars during WWE’s ascent to worldwide renown, would eventually do battle in the ring. But the friendship forged between them at WrestleMania IV, when The Hulkster helped the “Macho Man” win the WWE Title, seemed to be stronger than any force in sports-entertainment.
Eventually, The Mega Powers exploded due to the intense jealousy Savage had for Hogan’s friendship with his manager, Miss Elizabeth. The stage had been set for one of the most anticipated battles in WWE history. At WrestleMania V, Savage seemed to have the upper hand after ramming Hogan into the steel ring post and delivering his trademark elbow. Hogan summoned the strength to get back to his feet, though, pinning the “Macho Man” with his famous Leg Drop to win his second WWE Championship.
John Cena vs. The Rock
For a long time, it seemed as if a bout between John Cena and The Rock would remain a dream match. That all changed when The Brahma Bull returned to host WrestleMania XXVII. It was clear from the get-go that he and Cena wouldn’t be getting along, but The Rock truly earned Cena’s ire when he cost the Cenation leader his WWE Championship Match against The Miz at The Show of Shows.
The night after, the two rivals set up the “Once in a Lifetime” bout for WrestleMania XXVIII. In his hometown of Miami, The Rock emerged victorious, leaving Cena extra frustrated. Yet, a year later at WrestleMania 29, their fates would be reversed, as Cena claimed a milestone WWE Championship victory over The Great One inside MetLife Stadium. Even The Rock appeared impressed, as he endorsed Cena before the capacity crowd.
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish during his illustrious in-ring career. A multi-time WWE Champion, HBK became obsessed with trying to end The Undertaker’s unparalleled WrestleMania Streak. Michaels tried to play mind games heading into his showdown with The Phenom at WrestleMania XXV, dressing in all-white and descending from the heavens for their epic bout, but Undertaker still emerged victorious.
Michaels’ obsession grew over the next year. He was willing to do anything for a rematch with The Deadman. He put his career on the line at WrestleMania XXVI against The Streak, saying that if he couldn’t defeat The Undertaker, he had no career. Shawn Michaels withstood everything thrown at him in one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time, but three Tombstones meant the end of his WWE Hall of Fame career.
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
One of the biggest rivalries, both literally and figuratively, in WrestleMania history, was between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Born out of the massive Frenchman’s jealousy of the attention lavished on The Hulkster by officials and the WWE Universe alike, the giant’s challenge was reluctantly accepted by The Hulkster.
The irresistible force met the immovable object at WrestleMania III, in front of 93,173 rabid members of the WWE Universe at the Pontiac Silverdome. Many were unsure of whether Hogan could topple “The Eighth Wonder of the World” in the WWE Title Match, but The Hulkster proved them all wrong when he lifted Andre up for a bodyslam, sent him crashing to the canvas and defeated him, cementing his legacy forever.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
The Game and The Deadman have met at three WrestleManias in three of the most devastating bouts in WWE history. Their first encounter, at WrestleMania X-Seven, saw both men brawl throughout Houston’s Astrodome. The Game used steel chairs and sledgehammers, but could not overcome The Deadman, suffering defeat after The Last Ride.
Ten years later, at WrestleMania XXVII, the two future WWE Hall of Famers met in a No Holds Barred Match. Triple H destroyed Undertaker, using anything and everything around ringside to try and end The Streak. The Cerebral Assassin practically begged The Phenom to stay down, but he refused. Undertaker eventually trapped Triple H in Hell’s Gate, forcing him to tap out, but the damage had been done. The Deadman was unable to walk away from the ring on his own.
Thinking The Deadman was truly vulnerable, Triple H accepted The Undertaker’s challenge for one last match at WrestleMania XXVIII. In what was billed as the “End of an Era,” the two clashed inside Hell in a Cell. Although Shawn Michaels, the special guest referee, tried to aid The Game, The Deadman’s WrestleMania mystique prevailed in another epic bout.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock
The two biggest stars of WWE’s Attitude Era, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock were destined to clash at WrestleMania. They first met at WrestleMania XV, when The Rock was trying to aid Mr. McMahon in preventing Austin from regaining the WWE Championship. In a match where the WWE Chairman and all the members of his Corporation were banned from ringside, The Texas Rattlesnake regained his title with a “Stone Cold” Stunner.
The two mega stars collided again two years later, at WrestleMania X-Seven. In one of the most shocking events in WWE history, Austin turned his back on the WWE Universe and joined forces with Mr. McMahon to defeat The Great One and win the WWE Title once again.
In their final showdown, there were no championships on the line, only glory. At WrestleMania 19, The Rock had to execute three Rock Bottoms to defeat The Bionic Redneck at The Show of Shows, bringing an emotional end to their storied rivalry.