WrestleMania's 10 greatest rivalries
Sports-entertainment’s most iconic moments can be traced back to classic WrestleMania matches. And whether it’s Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant or Edge spearing Jeff Hardy off a ladder, those moments are only part of larger, longer rivalries between the Superstars that played out over multiple Showcases of the Immortals.
As Triple H and Batista prepare for a WrestleMania rematch 14 years in the making, check out the 10 greatest rivalries ever settled at WrestleMania, presented by Snickers.
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, though. The ensuing brawl at WrestleMania XIV pushed The Deadman to his limits. He needed three Tombstones 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.
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was an unstoppable monster in 2015, but Roman Reigns welcomed the challenge. After The Big Dog won the 2015 Royal Rumble Match, the two powerhouses were on a collision course for WrestleMania 31. Lesnar dished out so many suplexes that he coined the phrase “Suplex City” during the bout, but Reigns perplexingly took the punishment with a smile. Just as Reigns mounted a comeback, though, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and spoiled it.
For the next three years, Reigns stewed over falling short to Lesnar. Their long-awaited rematch at WrestleMania 34 was one of the most brutal bouts to ever occur on The Grandest Stage of Them All, with Lesnar needing a ridiculous six F-5s to keep Reigns down to retain the Universal Championship. And it doesn’t seem like these rivals are going to be done with each other anytime soon.
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 The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, 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. 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
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant had one of the biggest WrestleMania rivalries, both literally and figuratively. 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.