John Carbery, Jamie Lithgow, Benjamin Trecroci and Brian Damage
Today we have the latest in our series of Top Five pieces, listing some of the best moments in wrestling history. In today’s, we turn our attention towards underrated feuds and John, Jamie, Benjamin and Brian list their favourites.
5 Randy Orton vs. Christian (2011)
I feel like I don’t hear enough people discussing this one and it kind of happened by accident. Christian won the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in a ladder match against Alberto Del Rio and then quickly lost it to office golden boy Randy. Fans reacted negatively, Christian has always been undervalued by WWE but the fans let the company know he mattered to them by crapping on everything connected with the Orton reign eventually leading to a feud between them which delivered a string of minor classic matches. Orton and Christian were magic in the ring together and Christian even got a second run with the World title to boot so all’s well that ends well I guess.
4 Matt Hardy vs. MVP (2008)
These guys had a fantastic feud in 2008 which may not have delivered big matches but had fantastic storytelling and pacing. They’re constant bickering and one-upmanship was great week to week television and they had a very entertaining run as reluctant tag team champions. Some of the best stuff from a very underrated era for WWE.
3 Shane Douglas vs. Justin Credible (1999)
Just as he was set to leave ECW for WCW Shane Douglas engaged in his last notable feud with upstart Justin Credible. Douglas had lost a step or two since his heyday in the mid-90s but showed in this series that he could still turn it on when needed and his matches with Credible delivered in the ring and served to elevate the former Aldo Montoya as the Franchise left for other pastures. Check out their match from Cyber Slam 99, it’s underseen and underrated.
2 X Pac vs. D’Lo Brown (1998)
These guys routinely had the best matches on WWF TV and PPV in 1998. It seems a lot of folks have forgotten that while the WWF had their biggest star ever on top in Steve Austin their mid-card scene was largely dreck. Sure, there were guys who’d later become stars like HHH, Mankind and The Rock bubbling under but most of the matches that made up the undercards in 1998 were pretty ropey. X Pac and D’Lo bucked that trend and had a lot of great matches over the European and Intercontinental Championship. If you ever get nostalgic for the attitude era and go watch a show from 98, don’t be surprised if their match is the only one that holds up.
1 Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito (2007)
This was one of the best feuds of 2017 but its largely forgotten due to both of its major matches taking place in the semi-final position leading into era-defining classics between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega. Naito vs. Tanahashi was a feud that built for years and delivered classic matches on two big stages but will probably be forgotten because of the Omega Okada feud that will continue to overshadow it. Go out of your way to pay special attention to the work these guys did in 2017.
5. Christian vs. John Cena (2005)
Granted, I’m a Christian fan, but I thought this feud was brilliant and should have produced more of a payoff. Cena was on Smackdown while Christian was on Raw. Christian started ripping on Cena for being a poser; this was before everybody played that card. So, when Cena got drafted to Raw the expectation was that the two would hook it up after their war of words. Unfortunately, we only got one Triple Threat match out of this whole angle, albeit a really good one also featuring Chris Jericho. Instead of putting Cena over for a couple months on Raw, Christian got drafted to Smackdown. Cena went on to feud with Chris Jericho, funnily enough.
4. Randy Orton vs. Christian (2011)
Pardon the pun, but this was clearly supposed to be just one match. Problem being, the pair had fantastic chemistry and Christian was more over than WWE realised – especially given that Edge had just retired. So, they booked a rematch and that was good too. Soon enough Christian turned heel to make this a ‘proper’ feud, purely due to the positive fan reaction and quality of what were supposed to be matches solely designed to shift the belt onto Orton and have him move on.
3. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (2009)
On paper, this sounds great and in practice, it was every bit as good as it sounds. I feel like this feud is forgotten in hindsight because Hardy left the company directly after its conclusion – he lost a loser leaves town match to Punk – and these days WWE only mention Punk when they cannot avoid it. This was the feud that turned Punk heel and set him off to the races in terms of making progress in WWE. Him dressing as Hardy is still a classic moment but one WWE rarely, if ever, mention in retrospective clips or DVDs.
2. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (2008)
Having received the accolade from The Wrestling Observer and Pro Wrestling Illustrated, I think it is safe to call Jericho vs. Michaels the official 2008 feud of the year. The only reason I remembered about this rivalry is because Jericho has talked about his pride for it on some of his recent podcasts. Maybe it’s just me though, had anyone else kind of forgotten how good this was? The only explanation I have is that whenever WWE talk about Michaels and his best feuds and/or matches, Jericho is not going to be mentioned ahead of Undertaker, Triple H or Bret Hart, is he? As for Jericho, well he’s still going and we all know that WWE stray away from mentioning too many specifics about a current performer’s history.
1. World’s Greatest Tag-Team vs. Los Guerreros (2003)
What was happening on Smackdown in 2003? The first thing most people will point to – who can remember that for back – will probably be Brock Lesnar. Away from the emergence of The Beast, there were some of the best tag-team matches WWE has ever seen. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Hass vs.. Eddie and Chavo Jr. were just outstanding performances. Things were kept fresh too with Edge and whoever he was tagging with at that point in time. This era of tag teams is still completely overshadowed by what came before (The Hardyz, Dudleys and E&C) and that is understandable, but the matches these guys were way ahead of their time.
5. Southern Boys vs. Fabulous Freebirds (1990,91)
Having reviewed the Clash of the Champions and remembering how good these matches were, I had to enter them in this. They would face each other four times on Clashes and two PPVs.. The Southern Boys were the better workers at this point in their career, but The Birds would always get the crowd into the matches that would go down as some of the best tag matches of that time period.
4. Matt Hardy vs. Brock Lesnar (2002-03)
Matt Hardy V.1 really started his persona as a singles competitor when he went one on one with The Next Big Thing. For some reason these two had great chemistry, it was one of those opposites attract moments. Of course, Brock was a different type of cat back then and didn’t just suplex everyone. Hardy had Shannon Moore in his corner while Brock was on his own after Heyman left his side. A really fun feud that was a highlight of Smackdown when that was the show to watch.
3. Filthy Animals vs. Revolution (1999)
Just look at these names: Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrero, Konnan, Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, Juventud Guerrero, Torrie Wilson, Asya. WCW just did a reboot and finally, let guys like this shine. Douglas was so good on the mic and even when he was injured he brought his “Franchise” persona from ECW over without skipping a beat. Kidman was seen as star especially with Torrie on his arm. This was a hot feud that sadly was muddled down in those later WCW days.
2. Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund (1994)
Remember somewhat stepping away from watching wrestling and all of sudden I see Bob Backlund of all people involved with Bret Hart, no way! Backlund They slowly built this with Backlund snapping on just about everyone, slapping the crossface chicken wing on ring announcers, fans, etc. It would culminate at the Survivor Series when Backlund would recapture the WWF Championship after putting Bret in the chicken wing for nearly nine minutes. It was nuts seeing 45-year-old Backlund as champion again.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff (1986)
For some reason, Orndorff is someone who is hardly ever talked about or seen much in greatest highlights, but he was such a big deal back then. After Orndorff turned on Hogan, he would be enemy number one for Hulkamaniacs. They would feud for most of the summer and all the way until the end of the year. They would have a controversial cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, where they “tied” but Hogan won. Once they made the switch to Andre vs. Hogan, Orndorff was put on the backburner and was never really seen as a main-event player again.
5. Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain
As a kid, I absolutely loved this feud between the two monster tag teams. It was immediately elevated in my eyes when they did a double turn at the Survivor Series. Mr. Fuji turned on Demolition and aligned with the Powers of Pain. A really good, not much talked about feud developed after that.
4. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. The Honkytonk Man
Like it or not, Honky was one of the top heels in the WWF during this time. He was a true heat magnet as far as I’m concerned, and he and Macho Man had a very under the radar feud that saw Honkytonk Man smash a guitar over Savage’s head and HTM shoving Miss Elizabeth to the ground. That was something truly shocking for that era in WWF.
3. The Midnight Express vs. The Original Midnight Express
This took place in the NWA and, at the time, was really considered a dream matchup. Jim Cornette and the Midnights versus Paul E. Dangerously and his Midnight Express. Two of the greatest trash-talking managers of all time certainly elevated this feud to great heights. It really isn’t talked about much anymore but this was a solid feud.
2. Jake the Snake Roberts vs. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat
What a great feud that had a ton of heat and some really good matches and is not nearly talked about enough. It all started when Roberts DDT’d Steamboat on the cement floor knocking him unconscious. As a kid watching it on television, I was truly concerned for Steamboat’s well-being.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff
This to me was a feud of that often gets overlooked for whatever reasons. Orndorff turning on Hogan was great and he received a huge amount of heat when he hired Bobby Heenan as his manager. Paul Orndorff even came out to Hulk Hogan’s theme song and mimicked all of his gestures. In my view, Orndorff was so red hot as the top heel…he should’ve won the WWF title and Orndorff himself agreed. I had the pleasure of interviewing him once for my old hotline and he told me he felt that was the biggest mistake made by the WWF. He really wanted a run with the title and it never happened.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.