The Biggest Feuds: When The World Stops Pt. 1
by, 11-01-2011 at 07:45 PM (4550 Views)
Hulk Hogan v Ultimate Warrior
Bret Hart v Shawn Michaels
Stone Cold v the Rock
The three above collisions defined the WWF/E during certain times. The feud was everything that summarised the era which they occured.
There have been gazzillions of other feuds, but these three, from a wrestler standpoint, have been the showpiece.
First of all, another notable feud is missing from the above, and with good reason too. Stone Cold and Vince McMahon WAS the attitude era and it's existence was what led into the defining "wrestling" rivalry of that era, Rock v Austin.
WWE has tried many times to replicate the evil boss character but have not been able to come close really. They have had further periods of McMahon being the evil figurehead, and with Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff in swing but never have any been a patch on the rivalry beginning back in 1997 that revitalised the industry. Various factors have been in place, in 1998 and 1999 McMahon and Austin were made for each other. Never in Austin's career was he hotter, and the same goes for Mr McMahons onscreen career. CM Punk is currently the great white hope for us Attitude era veteran's as he has breathed life into the industry. But his arch nemesis John Laurenitis means that if they continue to make the GM a major part of the show, that it will just be another failed attempt at recapturing the boss employee-rivalry that recharged the whole industry, unless they pull a big curveball and have Triple H behind everything after all, making him a massive authority heel because he lied to the universe and Punk all along. Though that would be ludicrous considering all that's happened since, even though it's happened before (Vince being the "Higher Power").
Anyway, now that that feedback detailing that groundbreaking feud is done with, let's look at previous defining rivalries and compare them to the state of today's wrestling world.
ULTIMATE WARRIOR v HULK HOGAN
The original big BIG defining match for WWE. Hogan v Andre at WM 3 and Hogan v Savage at WM 5 were great for business but for the WM6 encounter between Hogan and Warrior you had at that time the two biggest names in professional wrestling history, circa of course from when WWF really broke big. Clash of the titans it certainly was, huge face v huge face, the first time it had been done and it was so special it wouldn't be repeated for some time. Despite how things eventually went with Warrior not living up to the part that was made for him, and Hogan eventually retaking his position, for that one moment when Warrior pinned Hogan in the Skydome it changed the industry in a big way.
Could they do it now?
Quite simply no. The 80's/early 90's was a completely different time, more inncoent. Back when this was taking place, Hogan was absolutely huge, not just in wrestling but well known in a mainstream sense. He is now one of these legendary 80's celebrities that are so revered because of the impact they had on pop culture. Nowadays, John Cena may be well known outside of wrestling even but even if he is the doppelganger of vintage Hulkster, he is nowhere near as famous as he was. This is because the role of celebrity isn't so exclusive anymore. In the 80's, if you were a celebrity, you had a damn good reason to be a celebrity, whereas now to be a celebrity one just has to flash her private parts and have it come to light that she is in a certain group with other well known celebrities, or better yet, be really obnoxious on some reality show. There are too many celebrities that John Cena can not make the impact that Hulk made in representation of the industry he worked in or for his personal fame. Rock v Cena may do something for Cena's image but Rock himself is just one of many celebrities in an overcrowded world. It will definitely bring in the hardcore fans but not many so-so fan's, like Hogan originally did through his allegiances with Stallone and Mr T, who were both considerably larger stars than The Rock. Also, Rock v Cena mirrors Rock v Hogan in the past v present clash, I just used that example to show how miniature Cena is as a brand compared to Hogan. Who would be Warrior to Hogan's Cena? No idea?? Sheamus??
BRET HART v SHAWN MICHAELS
The feud that was the centrepiece of the New Generation era. I will be able to write in greater detail about this because I properly experienced it and I could see all the stars of that era grow, unlike when I was only about 5 at the time of Hogan v Warrior, so most of what I "felt" has really just been recycling through archived footage over the years.
As a kid, these two were big favourites of mine. The Hart Foundation may have worn primarily pink but they had a rock track that was badass, wore shades to the ring and were good guys in a time were I actually hated the bad guys, and Hogan was my favourite by the way.
I also loved The Rockers, much like the Hart Foundation, partly because I was `told to, and partly because I saw something in them that millions of other kids at the time did too.
Bret and Shawn's forays into singles careers almost mirror each other, almost. Bret became a breakout star when he beat Mr Perfect for the intercontinental strap at SummerSlam 1991 and effectively ended the Hart Foundation team, who had won multiple tag belts.
The Rockers broke up too in which is nowadays the more traditional tag team break up, the heel turn, done by Shawn Michaels in early 1992. For Michaels he was given a brand new gimmick. Bret needed no change in gimmick, as Bret clearly was special and had credibility from tag team success. Rockers though popular, had no title credentials. Shawn thus became the heartbreak kid, and became the cockiest superstar of the times.
1992 was in many ways a very similar year for both guys yet saw them at completely different scales at the end of it. HBK was born before the 1992 Royal Rumble and was hated for what he did to Janetty and for how full of it he had become. Matching him up with Sensational Sherry who was an accomplished manager for the biggest heel's . Bret lost his IC belt in late 91 but won again against a bigger star than Mr Perfect, Roddy Piper. By SummerSlam, with the sentimental hometown hero British Bulldog thrust into the main event, Bret was trusted to be reliable to give Summerslam at Wembley stadium a feel good end. The match turned out to be a classic and convinced McMahon that Hart was the real deal. He shortly won his first world title.
When Hart beat Flair at a live show, this was the signal of a brand new direction, which would be to the detriment of the way wrestling had been built before but was completely necessary. Bret Hart being strapped injected a lot of freshness and gave the belt a credible champion. Bret Hart seemed to legitimise the belt. 1992 was the first time that Hogan was not closely related to the WWE title so in that regard Bret was given the green light to rep the company. 1992 was the first time that The Hitman and Michaels also properly started their rivalry. In mid 92, they had the inaugural (but unofficial) ladder match, and main evented in a wwe title match at Survivor Series 92 together, shortly after HBK had captured his first intercontinental belt. It was a great signal of how far Michaels had come in a year, and he looked a more than capable rival for Hart in this new direction of the company.
The next few years they kayfabe at least had a few problems when their paths crossed in battle royale's, tag matches, Heartbreak Hotel segments etc. , due to the heel v face dynamic. In 1993, Hart began a year long road back to the top culminating in his 2nd world title at WM10, and Michaels by 1993 had become the msot entertaining heel, and his credentials went through the roof when battling Razor Ramon in the first official ladder match at WM10. Both were now notorious for being the top guys. Bret could feud with anyone and it would make people take notice, and Shawn was constantly entertaining and rightfully a big name. When Bret and Shawn held the Intercontinental title, they brought credibility to their healthy accociation with the belt that would rival or even topple the guys who held world titles during those times. Bret was established a long time before Shawn, but his time was coming.
Part 2 soon