20 underrated rivalries

20 underrated rivalries

Professional wrestling’s timeline of history is scored by unforgettably bitter rivalries — Hogan vs. Andre, Bret vs. Shawn, Rock vs. Austin. Countless battles have been waged on the canvas, but not all get the attention they deserve.

VIDEOS: Watch these rivalries unfold |  PHOTOS: See rare snapshots of the battles

WWEClassics.com dug deep to shine the spotlight on 20 uncommonly vicious grudges — including the contest that resulted in Rey Mysterio briefly losing his mask and the career-defining conflict between William Regal and Fit Finlay — that have been all but lost to time. Hear directly from  some of the combatants who endured these struggles, andgain a unique and fascinating look inside some of the most compelling, yet underrated, rivalries of all time. Presented by “Grudge Match,” in theaters Dec. 25.

Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio

20 underrated rivalries

I knew instantly that my nose was broken. I didn’t know that my septum was deviated, which is way worse than your nose breaking. The cartilage doesn’t grow back. When Rey did the splash on me, I didn’t even try to make it hurt any less. My arm was still protecting my nose, and it ended up hurting worse. I was just hoping the thing would end quickly.

There are so many different ways things could have gone. I got Dr. Jeremy Murray in Detroit, who makes Rip Hamilton’s mask, to make me a mask. The first time I put it on and pinned the Velcro the proper way, I remember thinking, “I’m not the same person.” It was a portal to another side of me. I didn’t know where it would lead, but I really wanted to follow it.

The WrestleMania match was my very first singles match on a pay-per-view, ever. I had main-evented pay-per-views and been a part of major matches, but I had never found myself in a singles match on a pay-per-view. And this happened to be at WrestleMania, in a building where I watched Monday Nitro in the state I grew up in. There were so many overwhelming factors, I found myself eerily calm throughout the whole day and throughout the match.

It meant the world to me for it to be against Rey. As much as I disliked Rey, I had an unbelievable amount of respect for him. But I didn’t want to just be a fanboy for a guy that I saw wrestle Dean Malenko in one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen. I wanted to supersede his level. There’s one point in the match where I superplexed him from the second rope. I didn’t intend to, but I held on to him and he’s up there kicking his legs. I was looking out at the flashbulbs and I thought, “That’s so damn cool.” – CODY RHODES, AS TOLD TO ZACH LINDER

The relationship between Cody and me didn’t start until I was a part of WWE, but the fact that I love Dusty Rhodes so much, and have so much admiration and respect for the Rhodes family, it made things so special.

I always thought Cody had incredible talent. It was an adrenaline rush,  meeting somebody fresh and new. He was, to a certain extent, counting on my history and name to take it to another level. We both had that in mind, and we both knew we had to steal the night every night.

The broken nose incident was an accident, but it turned into something new. When little things like that happen, it makes everything much better. It amps you up, it feeds you to the next match. If I didn’t break his nose, maybe it wouldn’t have gone that route, but he took advantage of the situation after his nose was broken – putting the mask on and getting into that deep, dark side persona that he was just waiting to let loose. – REY MYSTERIO, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch the young and dastardly Cody manhandle the veteran at WrestleMania

Rikishi vs. Val Venis

20 underrated rivalries

Rikishi and Val Venis will always be remembered for their adolescent Attitude Era hijinks, which is great. Few Superstars defined the times quite like the dancing Samoan with a backside that would make a Kardashian blush and the agile entertainer with a gift for innuendo. Still, it’s unfortunate that the 2000 rivalry between the two is often overlooked.

Set in motion after Rikishi introduced the face of Venis’ valet, Trish Stratus, to his ample posterior, the enmity was startlingly physical from the jump as Rikishi tossed an attacking Venis off the Raw entrance ramp before launching his 400-plus-pound frame on top of him. The dance-offs and double entendres that characterized their personas were quickly discarded as the two bashed and bruised each other week in and week out. Ultimately, the rivalry came to an end — as the most heated rivalries always do — inside a steel cage, where Rikishi splashed Venis from the top of the structure in a moment that inexplicably didn’t, but should have redefined both competitors. — RYAN MURPHY

Watch Rikishi and Val settle their differences inside a steel cage

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick "The Model" Martel

20 underrated rivalries

Two individuals whose diverse personalities made them unique entities in WWE wound up engaging each other in a rivalry that clearly was underrated by many. For nearly six months, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “The Model” Rick Martel battled tooth and nail with an intensity and purpose that was off the charts.

Martel, who literally and figuratively was the purveyor of Arrogance, initiated the conflict during an Oct. 1990 installment of The Brother Love Show by spraying Roberts in the eyes with Arrogance, the name of his ubiquitous fragrance. From there, Roberts – who initially battled peripheral vision as a result of Martel’s attack – sought to get his hands on Martel at every opportunity possible.

The WWE Universe became the beneficiary of any number of intense, leaving-it-all-in-the-ring Snake-Model battles, which culminated at WrestleMania VII. A unique Blindfold Match between the two took place, and Roberts finally brought closure to their issue with an eye-opening, brutal DDT on Martel. – HOWARD FINKEL

Watch the infamous moment of The Model blinding The Snake

Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz

20 underrated rivalries

I had such a strong independent fan base who knew I had been wrestling for so long and was considered a very technically skilled wrestler, while Miz has never been considered the best technical wrestler. The idea that Miz – who had been wrestling a less amount of time than I had – would be my NXT Pro and I would be the Rookie, really offended a lot of people who had been following me for years.

I wasn’t offended, though. It was great for me, because I didn’t have to listen to him. I thought, “This guy isn’t any better than me.” It would be different if it were someone like Christian, but being Miz, I could have disregarded anything he said. I didn’t know it would turn into something special, but I thought it was a unique dynamic, and the fans could tell that all of it was very genuine.

The match for the U.S. Title at Night of Champions was my first singles pay-per-view match. Being in the ring with The Miz was interesting, because I hadn’t had a lot of long singles matches in WWE up to that point, and the WWE style is very different than the style I was used to wrestling. That was one of the first instances where I showed I was going to be wrestling completely differently than anybody else here.

It was cathartic for me to beat him and to prove that I belonged. People who like The Miz and don’t like Daniel Bryan are the type of people who say that I don’t belong here, but I proved them wrong to get to where I am today. And I made him tap out. – DANIEL BRYAN, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

I thought it was genius of WWE to put Bryan and me together on WWE NXT. Bryan was beloved on the Internet and in the independent world, and I was hated and ridiculed by everybody. So who more perfect to be Daniel Bryan’s mentor and Pro than me? It was so organic  and everybody could really feel the emotion. It created such great drama.

These things could last a day or a week, but my rivalry with Daniel Bryan lasted months upon months upon months. It worked out well because he was the total underdog. A lot of people were rooting for him. Even I was rooting for him in my own cold way. I just wanted him to learn as much as he possibly could from me. I wanted to make sure he was paying attention.

And then Daniel Bryan got fired. “See ya bye, Daniel Bryan.” And then he came back and takes my spot at SummerSlam. I was not happy, and I made sure it was well noted. We had a match for the U.S. Title at Night of Champions. The kid’s got pizazz. He had everything a top Superstar has; he just needed time, and time is what they gave him. Now he’s one of the biggest Superstars in WWE, and I’d like to take full credit for that. – THE MIZ, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch the long rivalry between Bryan and The Miz culminate on pay-per-view

Randy Orton vs. Christian

20 underrated rivalries

CM Punk may have stolen the spotlight in the summer of 2011, but The Second City Saint’s rivalry with John Cena was hardly the only marquee-worthy beef of that fateful season. The most grueling competition of that year, in many ways, actually belonged to Randy Orton and Christian’s months-long struggle over the World Heavyweight Championship.

Captain Charisma had initially claimed “Big Gold” after the events following his friend (and then-incumbent champion) Edge’s retirement, only to lose it to Orton days later when he was forced into a title defense by SmackDown GM Teddy Long. The untimely defeat caused Christian to exploit every avenue he could to get the title back; his transformation from spunky underdog to shady corner-cutter – and Orton’s increasingly dogged attempts to fend off a Superstar who tasted glory and promptly broke bad– captivated the WWE Universe as much as any pipe bomb ever could. That Orton and Christian met in yet another must-see match on Raw two full years after their dispute concluded, proves that one more match isn’t nearly out of the question. – ANTHONY BENIGNO

Watch the World Heavyweight Title Match where Christian finally outsmarts The Viper

Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka

20 underrated rivalries

Put simply, the matches between Masato Tanaka and Mike Awesome were so punishing that they were hard to watch, let alone announce. A rivalry that started in Japan was imported across the Pacific Ocean by ECW and eventually created a tsunami of brutality that sucked in the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.

At 5-foot-11 and a solid 210 pounds, Tanaka's physique resembled a fire hydrant, and he seemed to be made of iron. Mike Awesome was simply an anomaly. At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Awesome lived up to his ring name by exhibiting aerial offense similar to Kofi Kingston.

What is most memorable about these contests – which may have been the inspiration for "Don't Try This At Home" – is the fact that Tanaka and Awesome always, and I mean always, looked to finish one another off with a powerbomb from the ring, over the top rope, through a table and onto the concrete floor. To this day, the sickening splat horrifies YouTube viewers worldwide. – JOEY STYLES

Watch Awesome and Tanaka clash for the ECW Championship

The APA vs. The Dudley Boyz

20 underrated rivalries

I don’t think it was a test for The Dudleys to go through me and Ron [Simmons], but I do think people perceived it as one, because Public Enemy came in right before them and were such a disaster. The Dudleys were the next team that came in from ECW, but there was no comparison. The Public Enemy was terrible and The Dudleys were a very good team, so I don’t think there’s any comparison other than they came from the same place. The only other common denominator was they both faced  me and Ron.

Public Enemy found a way to get a reaction in Tables Matches, but The Dudleys were just good wrestlers. Any time you get guys out there for the first time, especially back in the day, you test them a little bit, just to see if they’re on board with everything. I remember Bubba hit me so hard with a 2x4, I lost feeling in my fingers, feet, everything. It was all fine. We had done the same to them. We threw them through steel barrels on an interview set, so it was fine

We literally beat the hell out of each other. I’ve been in street fights that were less vicious than some of the matches we had with The Dudleys, but that was fun to us and it was fun to the Dudleys. We all enjoyed it. We had an absolute blast. – JBL, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch two of the toughest tag teams ever collide in the ring

The Hollywood Blonds vs. Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas

20 underrated rivalries

WCW and its predecessor, Jim Crockett Promotions, were famed for their tag team wrestling. Whether it was the underhandedness of Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard or the pure power of The Road Warriors, tag teams dominated the landscape.

As WCW went global, however, big personalities like Ric Flair and Sting put tandem ring competition on the backburner. Then, in late 1992, a pair of true heroes, Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas, captured the WCW Tag Team Titles. They soon found their foils in the dastardly duo of “Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin’” Brian Pillman, who would become known as The Hollywood Blonds.

In their first encounter at the January 1993 Clash of the Champions, Steamboat and Douglas were on the verge of cutting their upstart rivals off at the knees. That was, until Austin clocked Douglas in the head with one of the titles. Steamboat tried to protect his partner, only to get viciously whipped with the titles himself.

The Blonds would take advantage of a distracted referee to defeat the champions in a February 1993 non-title match. When Steamboat and Douglas refused to play as dirty as the challengers in the final encounter between the two teams, it cost them their championships. On the Mar. 27, 1993 edition of WCW Worldwide, while the referee tried to restrain Douglas from attacking Austin on the floor, “Stunning” Steve grabbed one of the titles and cracked Steamboat in the head, making it elementary for Pillman to pick up the win. After winning the WCW Tag Team Titles, The Hollywood Blonds went on to become one of the most hated tag teams of the ‘90s, but also one of the most revered. – BOBBY MELOK

Watch Austin & Pillman finally capture the WCW Tag Team Titles

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Raven

20 underrated rivalries

In 1998, the talk at the sports-entertainment community water-cooler was The New World Order taking Monday Nitro by storm, their struggle against Sting, and the beginning of Bill Goldberg’s unprecedented undefeated streak. Despite all of this, a bitter and personal rivalry often stole the spotlight from The nWo and Goldberg’s dominance.

Once upon a time, Diamond Dallas Page was Scotty Flamingo’s mentor. Eventually, Flamingo became Raven, a self-loathing, grunge-inspired brawler. When DDP successfully defended the United States Championship in a Triple Threat Match at UnCensored by putting Raven through a table, it set off an intense animosity between the competitors.

Raven defeated DDP for the U.S. Title at Spring Stampede with help from his Flock, but the rivalry was far from over. Unfortunately for Raven, he lost the title the following night to Goldberg. Nevertheless, Raven’s animosity toward Page continued, prompting the two to clash at WCW Slamboree 1998 in a Steel Cage Match dubbed “the Bowery Death Match.”

Weapons from steel chairs to garbage cans to fire extinguishers were utilized during the vicious struggle, with neither competitor remaining in control for long. Though The Flock attempted to aid Raven to victory, DDP persevered and ultimately bested his nemesis, bringing the chaotic and vicious conflict to a close with the hero standing tall. – KEVIN POWERS

Watch DDP and Raven clash for the United States Championship

X-Pac & Kane vs. The Unholy Alliance

20 underrated rivalries

I had a really good time teaming with X-Pac, because he complemented my style with his style quite well. It was beneficial for both of us. From a fan’s perspective, you saw two different styles in the same match, which was rather unique. What was cool was that we also had a friendship, in a way. Fans could see there was a real emotional bond. X-Pac was sort of the first guy to bring me out of my shell and show that there was more of a human side to me, not just a monster.

In those situations against Big Show and Undertaker, X-Pac was definitely the odd man out. He took some beatings in those matches because he was the only guy under 300 pounds. And he’s not a little guy. It’s like when you think an NBA point guard is a little guy, then you meet him in person and he’s not that little. Same with X-Pac.

We also had the emotional component because I was buddies with X-Pac, but meanwhile I’m Undertaker’s half-brother. I’ll never forget the Monday Night Raw when Undertaker chokeslammed X-Pac behind my back. I saw it on the TitanTron, turned around, grabbed Taker and chokeslammed him. The place erupted. That was what cemented the bond between X-Pac and me.

We were lucky to have two competitors the caliber of Undertaker and Big Show. Big Show was still finding his feet here, so he wasn’t quite as dominant as he would become later on. Teaming with Undertaker certainly helped him a lot. Not taking anything away from him, but since that time 14 years ago, I think he has evolved into the greatest big man of all time. We had an advantage, because he had a little inexperience that we could capitalize on.

Nothing comes to mind quite like it. If nothing else, it was unique. – KANE, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

For me personally, at that particular time in my career, tagging with Undertaker was a chance for me to go under the learning tree. He is one of the greatest big men of all time, with this athleticism, his in-ring ability and everything he brings to the table. It was an opportunity for me to learn a lot about how to be a big man, how to be successful in this industry and how to develop a good worth ethic as a big man. Big men are usually slow, lumbering creatures. Being around Undertaker inspired me to push myself a little bit farther than my size would normally allow.

Those matches were a unique setup. Undertaker and I as a tag team were pretty much unstoppable. When you bring along Kane & X-Pac, a monster and an aerial striker, it was a great dynamic for some great matches. X-Pac was the gnat we were trying to catch, and we were three monsters. But we were three monsters who were athletic and could move. It was a battle of big men and X-Pac, but it was a battle of big men moving. – BIG SHOW, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch four of The Attitude Era’s biggest stars collide on pay-per-view

Edge vs. Kurt Angle

20 underrated rivalries

Before he began his pursuit of the WWE Championship in 2000, Kurt Angle formed a six-man tag team with Edge & Christian known as Team ECK. Their allegiance led to a rivalry with Too Cool and Rikishi and eventually – after Angle’s first WWE Title reign – assists from Edge and Christian to ensure victory. Although they battled in the 2001 King of the Ring tournament, they remained allies.

Following the WCW/ECW Invasion and Angle winning the United States Championship, Edge set his sights on The Olympic Hero. Initially defeating Angle and capturing the title, both Superstars engaged in a heated rivalry. No surprisingly, the charismatic Rated-R Superstar managed to win the support of the WWE Universe through the course of his struggle with Angle. As a result, the “You Suck!” chant in-sync with The Olympic Gold Medalist’s entrance theme – which remained throughout his career – began thanks to Edge.

The two Superstars engaged in a number of memorable battles, most notably at Backlash and Judgment Day in 2002. Following Angle’s victory at Backlash, Edge challenged him to a Hair vs. Hair Rematch at Judgment Day. Building momentum in the weeks leading up to the event – Chris Jericho aided Angle in cutting Edge’s hair, and the pair defeated The Rated-R Superstar & Triple H in tag team action – it seemed as though The Olympic Hero would add “barber” to his resume. However,

Edge triumphed in a hard-fought contest at Judgment Day, and ended his much-buzzed over rivalry  with Kurt Angle by giving him his most memorable look – the bald Olympic Hero. – K.P.

Watch Edge shave Kurt Angle’s head

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Super Crazy

20 underrated rivalries

Their conflict is not remembered as well as other extreme rivalries like Tazz vs. Sabu or Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven. However, the case can be made that Super Crazy vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri (we used first names in ECW) produced the most exciting matches of any rivalry in ECW history.

A classic clash of clans, Super Crazy was a Mexican luchador and Tajiri was a Japanese kickboxer. The fact that neither man spoke much English proves that wrestling is fundamentally a primeval contest between two warriors who need not debate their differences before battle.

At first, their matches were master classes featuring acrobatics and martial arts strikes. However, as the rivalry became personal and extreme elements were introduced, their matches devolved into barbarism. Bent steel chairs, broken tables and a moonsault from a balcony at the Manhattan Center led to me screaming "Ay Dios Mio!" – J.S.

Watch one of many thrilling encounters between The Insane Luchador and The Japanese Buzzsaw

Vader vs. Cactus Jack

20 underrated rivalries

I was a hard guy to feel really sympathetic for. We had a match. Not a high-profile one, but a match on WCW Main Event. It was like night and day. Because he’s so much bigger than me, I was able to get the sympathy [from the fans] that I was lacking.

It was so brutal. He split the top of my eyebrow open, split me underneath my eye and broke my nose. I have a small nose. It doesn’t break easily. On the day of the second match, I had such an ominous feeling. Everything seemed darker that day; even the halls at Center Stage seemed dark. I even went to the extent of writing my wife a letter in case things didn’t go so well.

Vader powerbombed me onto the arena floor. As soon as I hit the concrete, I thought, ‘Oh, that wasn’t so bad,’ Then it was, ‘Now I’m having trouble feeling my foot and one of my hands.’ It was the biggest, toughest, most aggressive guy in the business doing one of the most dangerous moves on concrete.

At Halloween Havoc, I remember thinking vividly, ‘This is the peak of my career and I’m never going to get this high again.’ I was wrestling that match like it was my last ever.

I’m very proud of what Vader and I did in the ring together. It was a different rivalry in the sense that he was such a commanding, dominant figure and a monster in ways that the WWE Superstars were not.

The Vader matches were ahead of their time in terms of physicality and brutality. [They] helped cement my reputation as a very physical performer. – MICK FOLEY, AS TOLD TO B.M. AND Z.L.

Watch one of the most brutally physical matches in WCW history

"Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Crush

20 underrated rivalries

Most people remember “Macho Man” Randy Savage toward the end of his time in WWE as a color commentator, describing the madness alongside Mr. McMahon on Raw every week. However, one of the most heated rivalries of Savage’s career came in the twilight of his WWE career.

Savage’s good friend, Crush, held a grudge against the “Macho Man” for his failure to save him from series of Banzai Drops from Yokozuna that left him injured. After he healed, Crush returned with Mr. Fuji at his side to air his grievances with Savage. The former two-time WWE Champion begged his friend to ditch Fuji and talk it out like men. The Hawaiian big man seemingly agreed, only to double cross the “Macho Man,” setting him up to be squashed by Yokozuna.

The rivalry got much more personal when Savage took on the sumo grappler for the WWE Championship in early 1994. The “Macho Man” had Yokozuna beat after his trademark elbow, until Crush broke up the count at two and cost Savage a third WWE Title.

Perhaps seeing that his last chance at being WWE Champion had been ripped away from him, an incensed Savage gave one of the most personal interviews of his career to Mr. McMahon before WrestleMania X, vowing to embarrass and humiliate Crush. He did just that. In a vicious Falls Count Anywhere brawl at The Show of Shows, Savage tied Crush up by his feet and left him dangling in the bowels of Madison Square Garden, claiming one last victory on The Grandest Stage of Them All. – B.M.

Watch the infamous Crush and Randy Savage Summit from an early episode of Raw

Bret "Hit Man" Hart vs. Bob Backlund

20 underrated rivalries

I think the beauty of [the rivalry] with Bob Backlund was that you kind of forgot about it over time. You forget about the intricacies that went into the title loss involving my brother Owen, [British] Bulldog and my parents. It was one of the more involved dramas I was in – very complex with a lot of intensity.

It was a really tough thing to prepare for Bob, because he was so strong and a really sound technical wrestler. He was one of the strongest wrestlers I ever knew just from raw, pure strength. He could do anything. In fact, when Bob slammed you, he slammed you like no other wrestler could. [The Crossface Chickenwing] is one of the most painful submission holds you’ll find. You want to treat yourself, have someone put you in a Crossface Chickenwing [laughs]. It’s a really intense hold and can do a lot of damage. He’s the best when it comes to that kind of submission. It’s a faster, sharper pain where it gets to you right away. You can’t stay in the Chickenwing.

[The “I Quit” stipulation at WrestleMania XI] seemed like the way to [end the rivalry]. It was his Crossface Chickenwing against The Sharpshooter, and it came down to that: Who could put it on first? I knew Bob had gotten that hold to the point where it was an art and a science, but at the same time I wanted to show him it could go the other way around, too. – BRET HART, AS TOLD TO A.B.

Watch Backlund defeat The “Hit Man” for the WWE Title in a match laced with tons of irony

Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano

20 underrated rivalries

It might seem surprising for the unusual rivalry between Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano to be considered underrated, but these two women certainly earned said recognition. Nakano was imported from Japan in the summer of 1994 by Luna Vachon, who was hell-bent on dethroning Blayze of her Women’s Championship. Nakano’s unique spiked hair and face painted visage stood out, making her even more of a menacing title threat.

The rivalry lasted nearly a year, and was underrated because of the nature of the intensity that both women exhibited when they battled each other. No stone was left unturned, and both competitors tried to wear each other down by attrition, which led to a series of memorable contests that included a big title match at SummerSlam 1994. Another encounter of note was when Nakano had home field advantage on November 20, 1994, at the Big Egg Wrestling Universe event in Japan’s Tokyo Dome, where she finally garnered the Women’s Championship from Blayze.

Nakano’s reign came to an end on April 3, 1995, when Blayze regained the title on an episode of Monday Night Raw. I have never seen two females amp up like Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano did when they battled each other. Their matches were so closely contested that whoever gained each victory in this underrated rivalry was literally only three seconds better than the other. – H.F.

Watch two of WWE’s greatest female competitors dish it out in the ring

Fit Finlay vs. Lord Steven Regal

20 underrated rivalries

Our rivalry goes on long before Fit ever came to WCW. I was 18 at the start of our rivalry. He was the man in Britain, in all of Europe, to be honest with you. He just terrorized everybody. The reason he has the name “Fit” is he was quite literally the fittest man alive. Our first match was in a place called Ashton-under-Lyne in Manchester and it went from there.

At first, I was just hanging in there, but by the time I was 19 or 20, I was holding my own. I was just getting battered mercilessly for the first couple of years. We wrestled all over England and all over Europe – a lot in Germany and Austria. Then, it finally brought itself to America. I knew we were going to change people’s perception on what real tough guys were all about.

It was only a few matches in WCW, but it was so different. Still, nobody has ever done anything like it. If you watch the match at Uncensored, he fractured my cheek, broke my nose and gave me 12 stitches with one punch. They had to stop the match, but that’s just what we did. We did things that were inhumane to each other. That match in the parking lot was sheer mental. That was insanity. We were running each other’s heads through car windows. We were both picking bits of glass out of us months and months later.

Hardcore is going out and putting yourself on the line for something – smashing each other’s faces in with your feet, fist and head, tearing your ears off, ripping your nose off, fracturing your eye sockets. That was regular occurrence for what we used to do to each other. There was never a time we didn’t come out of the ring with something broken, fractured or chipped. That’s the way it was.

You can get hit on the head with silly garbage cans, baking trays, chairs or kendo sticks all day long, but it doesn’t prove anything to me. Anybody wants to watch what fighting’s all about, they need to watch me and Fit. That’s showing you’re tough. – WILLIAM REGAL, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch Finlay brutally assault Regal in his intense WCW debut

Diamond Dallas Page vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage

20 underrated rivalries

For me, the whole thing got started at Uncensored, when Savage attacked me and then spray-painted [Kimberly Page]. It got really personal, really fast. We both knew that we had to go all out and lay everything on the line. The thing about both me and Savage was that neither one of us liked to do a lot of talking when it came to settling our differences. We both wanted to just slug it out.

As soon as we locked up [at Spring Stampede 1997], Savage was really aggressive. I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, so this is how it’s going to be.” I knew right from the opening bell that he would be coming hard. Even though it was personal, I was just jacked up to be out there with Randy Savage. But business is business, so once that bell hit, we pulled out all the stops.

We knew the second match [at The Great American Bash] would be as wild as the first. So WCW promoted it as Savage/Page II, taking a page out of the Ali/Frazier days, and it definitely added to the intensity of the match. [Savage’s] elbow drop knocked me out. I got back up the ramp and I remember asking Kim, ”Where am I? Nitro? Did I just have a match?”

I remember being in the dressing room with La Parka; he didn’t speak any English, but he was going over his mannerisms — that walk and his guitar thing — for me to mimic when I went out there. So I’m dressed as La Parka and Paul Orndorff, who was a producer at the time, comes in to let La Parka know his match [against Savage] was next. Paul looks at me and says, “La Parka, you’re up.” He then looks at me, realizes I’m about three inches taller than La Parka and I’ve got blue eyes. At that point, he realized who was really under the mask and he says, “Nice. I like it.” – DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, AS TOLD TO K.P.

Watch the crowd go wild as “La Parka” catches “Macho” by surprise

Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn

20 underrated rivalries

You’d have to dig into the ECW archives to set eyes on the rivalry between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn, but this legendary competition between the two is well worth the effort.

A career journeyman who stealthily built up a cult fan following, Lynn didn’t seem at all like the prototypical rival for Van Dam. Yet the hybrid competitor truly brought out the best of The Whole Dam Show, matching the multi-time champion in both moveset and pace throughout the course of their clashes.

On the biggest stage they were afforded, RVD and Lynn delivered a classic in the main event of ECW’s final pay-per-view, Guilty as Charged 2001. Van Dam got the win after defeating his opponent with a Van Terminator, which seemed appropriate: Only a move that tremendous could end such a quietly epic rivalry. Seriously. Look it up. – A.B.

FULL MATCH: Watch Lynn and RVD collide in the final televised ECW match ever

Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio (2009)

20 underrated rivalries

It is awesome wrestling Chris, especially knowing we both have similar backgrounds. We stepped in the same arenas. Sometimes he stepped in certain arenas and I came after. He started up in Canada, I started down in Tijuana. He made his way down to Mexico, I did the same. He went to ECW, I was right behind him. He went to WCW, I came right behind him. Then he became a megastar in WWE and I came right behind him.

We followed similar roads and eventually we met at the top of the mountain and went at it. We both, in our own way, had a dream in mind that we pursued and became a reality. You can imagine all of the struggle, hard work, sweat and tears. It was well worth it and we ended up becoming really good friends.

We brought back a little bit of that lucha libre style. We took a mixture of that and everything we had done in years past and threw it all in the ring. We gave the fans something that they had never seen before, especially the newer WWE fans that had never seen a Chris Jericho-Rey Mysterio confrontation. We made the mask mean something. Before that match, we tried to explain the heritage, the culture behind it, and what it meant to me. When he took it off, of course it made things even more personal.

Any type of match we had was special. At that point of our careers, you can’t go any further than that. We’ve done it all. Anything that comes along at this point is a welcome blessing for both of us. We had both of our heads on straight, we were just enjoying life as human beings and parents. We’re both dads and enjoyed that we had time together in the ring to do what we love to do – entertain fans around the world who know the Chris Jericho-Rey Mysterio legacy. – REY MYSTERIO, AS TOLD TO Z.L.

Watch Jericho commit one of lucha libre’s greatest sins against Mysterio

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