In a world where wrestlers perform on television weekly or sometimes even more frequently, it's very tough to keep an issue going more than a month or two before it's blown off on a pay-per-view. But this Top 50 list celebrates those rivalries that have endured, be it for half a year or several years.

 

To be clear, length of time is not the only form of measurement here, as it would be unfair to compare grudge matches and feuds from 20 or 30 years to the ones today using endurance as the only metric.

 

What we're looking for here is rivalries that stand the test of time and may have even crossed over into more than one promotion, drawing serious money for both competitors (or multiple competitors in some tag team rivalries) over a prolonged period.

 

In counting down the Top 50 Long Running Rivalries, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:

 

  • How long did the rivalry last, relative to others in the same promotion and time period?

  • Did it produce memorable matches and angles?

  • Is it recognized as a top feud for either competitor's career?

  • What kind of impact did have on the promotion (or promotions) where it was featured?

 

As always, we want YOU to be a part of the conversation! Leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter (@CanadianBulldog) using the hashtag #Top50. 

 

Ready? Here we go!

50.

Jushin Liger vs. The Pegasus Kid

Wrestling in Japan during the 1990s was defined by a series of matches between Jushin Liger and The Pegasus Kid, the masked alter-ego of Chris Benoit. The two battled numerous times in New Japan Pro Wrestling, including in tournament finals and a mask vs. mask match. The two also battled in WCW.

48.

Jerry Lawler vs. Bill Dundee

The bad blood between WWE Hall of Famer Jerry The King Lawler and Bill Dundee dates back to the 1970s where Dundee was the territory's top babyface and Lawler the top heel. While the two teamed on and off over the years, they continually went back to the feud, which included a match as recently as 2015.

46.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Terry Funk

WWE Hall of Famers Dusty Rhodes and Terry Funk began their rivalry in the early 1970s, with Rhodes challenging Funk for the NWA World Championship. Over the years, they would battle throughout Texas, Florida, WCW and even in Major League Wrestling in the mid 2000s. 

44.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

The first singles match between Sami Zayn (El Generico) and Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen) took place in 2002 in IWS. Since then, the two feuded in PWG, Ring of Honor, NXT and WWE, where the two battle on a frequent basis on SmackDown, despite having an apparent "final" match at 2016's Battleground.

42.

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa began teaming in 2015 as DIY, but even then faced each other in The Cruiserweight Classic. In late-2017, Ciampa attacked his partner after a match and the two had a series of matches at NXT TakeOver over the next couple of years, ending with a bout in April 2020.

40.

Trish Stratus vs. Lita

WWE Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita arrived in the WWF in the summer of 2000 and were soon battling on behalf of the tag teams they managed. Both became wrestlers, and traded the WWF/E Women's Championship many times. Stratus' final match in the company in September 2006 was even against Lita.

38.

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho

WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels began a rivalry with Chris Jericho in 2003, culminating in a match at WrestleMania XIX. The two picked up their feud in 2008, leading to a series of matches that spread out over some half a dozen PPVs between Judgment Day in May and No Mercy in October.

36.

John Cena vs. The Rock

The rivalry between John Cena and The Rock began in the lead up to 2011's WrestleMania XXVII, where Rock was the guest host. After The Great One interfered in Cena's match, they agreed to a match the following WrestleMania. And after Rock won that bout, they had a WrestleMania rematch, won by Cena.

34.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude

WWE Hall of Famers The Ultimate Warrior and Ravishing Rick Rude began their rivalry at the 1989 Royal Rumble after a Super Posedown went awry. This continued to WrestleMania V, with the two trading the Intercontinental Title, and again a year later, when Rude began pursuing Warrior's WWF World Title.

32.

Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar

WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg and Brock Lesnar began their rivalry leading into 2004's WrestleMania XX, with both men leaving the company afterwards. Lesnar return to WWE in 2012, followed by Goldberg four years later. This led to big matches at Survivor Series and WrestleMania XXXIII.

30.

Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair

Lex Luger first battled WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair in 1985, when the former was a rookie star. Flair soon recruited Luger for The Four Horsemen, but eventually they began a feud that went on and off for the next decade. After both returned to WCW in the mid-1990s, Flair and Luger had a few more matches.

28.

The Undertaker vs. Mankind

WWE Hall of Famer Mankind was brought into the WWF in 1996 specifically to feud with The Undertaker, but no one expected the rivalry to last as long as it did. The two had featured matches during The Attitude Era, most notably with The Dead Man tossing Mankind off the top of Hell In A Cell.

26.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart

The sibling rivalry between WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart and younger brother Owen Hart began at the 1993 Survivor Series and led to a match at WrestleMania X. The brothers feuded throughout the summer, including the main event of SummerSlam 1994, and were at each other's throats until early 1997.

24.

The Rock vs. Triple H

Long before either man became huge stars in the industry and beyond, The Rock (as Rocky Maivia) upset Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) for the Intercontinental Title in 1997. They later feuded as the leader of their respective factions, over the WWF Championship, and teased a rematch as recently as 2014.

22.

Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard

As part of Magnum T.A.'s rivalry with The Four Horsemen, he targeted WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard in the summer of 1985, leading to their bloody "I Quit" match at that year's Starrcade event. Years later after T.A. was forced to retire, Blanchard attacked him on television as part of an angle.

20.

Bruno Sammartino vs. Killer Kowalski

WWE Hall of Famers Bruno Sammartino and Killer Kowalski first began competinig in 1963, when Sammartino was WWF World Champion and Kowalski was the territory's top heel. They would battle for much of the next decade, even when Kowalski was one of The Executioners.

18.

Blue Demon vs. El Santo

The bad blood between Mexican wrestling legends Blue Demon and El Santo lasted nearly 30 years. Their first contest was a tag team mach in 1952. After briefly teaming up, they began a series of matches throughout Mexico. The feud only ended when Santo retired in the early 1980s. 

16.

Ric Flair vs. Harley Race

WWE Hall of Famers Ric Flair and Harley Race first faced each other in 1977, when Flair was the challenger to NWA Champion Race. They feuded again in the early 1980s, culminating in Flair winning his first NWA World Championship in 1981, and his second one in the main event of Starrcade '83.

14.

Hulk Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper

As the legend of Hulk Hogan grew during the Rock & Wrestling Era, it was largely because he was in a rivalry with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper. The two battled on MTV and WrestleMania and more than a decade later, they resumed their feud in WCW.

12.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

Before they became two of the most celebrated champions in WWE history, John Cena (then The Prototype) and Randy Orton first battled in OVW in 2001. In WWE, the two have had eight PPV matches (at least one on ones) and dozens more matches on WWE television, the most recent being February 2017.

10.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair

WWE Hall of Famers Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair first opposed each other in 1977, engaging in a rivalry in the Mid-Atlantic area. After briefly teaming, they battled in the NWA in 1989, culminating in a classic three-match series. The final match between Flair and Steamboat was on WCW television in July 1994.

8.

Tommy Rich vs Buzz Sawyer

Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer feuded for nearly two years in the Georgia Championship Wrestling territory between 1981 and 1983, often for the NWA Georgia National Title. The final match was the famed 'Last Battle of Atlanta' Steel Cage Match in1983. 

6.

The Von Erichs vs. The Fabulous Freebirds

WWE Hall of Famers The Von Erichs and The Fabulous Freebirds were initially positioned as friends until Freebird Michael Hayes turned on Kerry Von Erich in 1982. This led to a rivalry over the next several years, ending in a series of violent grudge matches that ran until 1988.

4.

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

The first time WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels did battle, it was part of a tag team match in 1990. They would have their final match at the 1997 Survivor Series, but in between then, the two headlined several pay-per-views including WrestleMania XII, where Michaels won the WWF Title.

2.

WCW vs. nWo

In 1996, WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall showed up on WCW Monday Nitro and declared war on the promotion. With Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan soon in his corner, the new World order (nWo) battled it out with WCW in various incarnations over the years until the final WCW-era version of the nWo in 2000.

49

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair

Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair began their careers together in NXT, feuding with each other and also teaming from time to time. They graduated to WWE's main roster at the same time in 2015 and rekindled their feud, spanning several pay-per-views in 2016 and including the first womens match to headline a PPV.

47.

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar began their rivalry in 2002, when Lesnar held his first world championship. The two had a series of matches that culminated with a Hell In A Cell match. They went at it again more than a decade later, with Lesnar ending The Dead Man's streak -- and again ending with Hell In A Cell.

45

Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe

When WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle entered TNA in 2006, he was immediately programmed against Samoa Joe, culminating in a match at the Genesis pay-per-view, where Angle ended Joe's 18-month undefeated streak. The two would battle many times over the TNA title between 2006 and 2009.

43.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard

In the early 1980s, Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard helped to define the NWA with their epic rivalry. The two WWE Hall of Famers had a feud over the Television Title, trading the championship and competing in several high-profile matches. Rhodes ended the feud by "winning" the services of Blanchard's valet.

41.

Sting vs. Big Van Vader

The rivalry between WWE Hall of Famer Sting and Big Van Vader began in 1992, when Vader injured then-WCW Champion Sting during a match. Months later, they began trading the title and years later, they were feuding in both tag team matches and in WCW's King of Cable Tournament, which was won by Sting.

39.

Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin

When Bret Hitman Hart returned to the WWF in 1996, his first match was against fellow WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin at that year's Survivor Series. They carried that feud through to the following year's WrestleMania, and continued even further, after both men swapped personas during that match.

37.

Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero

Rey Mysterio began a feud with best friend and WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero in 1997, battling over the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. They both went to WWE the following decade and after teaming up for some time, they feuded over several months over betrayal -- and the paternity of Rey's son.

35

Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair

Leading into WrestleMania VIII, WWE Hall of Famers Randy Savage and Ric Flair began an issue over Savage's then-wife Elizabeth and the WWF World Championship. The two traded the WWF title and reconnected in WCW in 1995, headlining PPV's, but this time with Elizabeth in Flair's corner.

33.

Taz vs. Sabu

Shortly after Taz (as The Tazmaniac) and Sabu debuted in ECW, they teamed and became ECW Tag Team Champions. Shortly after that, Taz began calling Sabu out for the better part of a year, leading to a grudge match at ECW's first pay-per-view. After the match, Taz's manager Bill Alfonso switched allegiances to Sabu. 

31.

Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask

Dynamite Kid had primarily been building a career as a junior heavyweight when he was pinned by a debuting Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) in 1981. The two would have numerous intense battles in New Japan and the WWF that would ultimately shorten careers, including match of the year candidates in '82 and '83.

29.

Edge & Christian vs. Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. The Dudley Boyz

Edge & Christian, Matt & Jeff Hardy and The Dudley Boyz had several matches before WrestleMania XVI. They followed that up with the first-ever TLC match at SummerSlam 2000 and again at WrestleMania XVII. Two of the the teams faced each other as recently as 2014.

27.

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu

Japanese wrestlers Genichiro Tenyru and Riki Choshu first faced each other in 1984 as part a tag team rivalry. Various singles and tag team feuds kept them connected throughout the 1980s, incuding a five-star match in 1986. They battled right up until 2010.

25.

Lou Thesz vs. Buddy Rogers

WWE Hall of Famer Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers began a long-running rivalry in 1946, when the two were starting out in Kentucky. Over the years, the two legends would compete in Texas, the National Wrestling Alliance, and the match that effectively led to WWWF's creation.

23.

Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness

Years before WWE, Bryan Danielson (a/k/a Daniel Bryan) and Nigel McGuinness had a long-running rivalry in Ring of Honor. This included matches for the ROH World Title in 2006, matches around the globe, and one final encounter at 2009's Glory By Honor VIII show.

21.

Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman

WWE Hall of Famer Jerry The King Lawler was challenged by comedian Andy Kaufman in 1982 after Kaufman had been wrestling in Memphis. While the match only lasted a few minutes, it lasted to a rivalry that would play out over the next years in the territory, and even on Late Night With David Letterman.

19.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels first crossed The Undertaker in 1997 where he was assisted by Kane, Chyna and Triple H in a feud that lasted until the following Royal Rumble. They largely stayed apart until 2009 when they had a pair of matches at WrestleMania XXV and XXVI.

17.

Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

Shawn Michaels first battled fellow WWE Hall of Famer Triple H in 1996. The two soon became BFFs on air as D-Generation X, though a few years later, they began a feud throughout the second half of 2002. The D-X founders would clash on and off until early 2006.

15.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant

WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant first crossed paths in 1979, quickly beginning a feud in the WWF the following year. By 1987, Andre turned on his friend Hogan, leading to their epic match at WrestleMania III, a match on NBC and at WrestleMania IV.

13.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair

WWE Hall of Famers Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair were polar opposites of each other, which made their legendary NWA rivalry in 1986 that much better. After the traded the NWA World Championship back and forth, the feud died down, but it even had one last hurrah as recently as 2001 in a WCW Nitro tag match.

11.

The Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express

The biggest rivals of WWE Hall of Famers The Rock 'n' Roll Express have always being various incarnations of The Midnight Express, dating back to the early 1980s in Mid-South Wrestling. They carried their feud over to the NWA and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, competing in tag team action as recently as 2011.

9.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven

The longest-running rivalry in ECW history, Raven began taunting his childhood rival Tommy Dreamer upon entering the promotion in 1995 and seemingly never gave up. The two were constantly at odds, battling through hired goons and women until Dreamer won a Loser Leaves ECW Match in 1997.

7.

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage

The first bouts between WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage happened in the WWF in 1985. Then, after teaming together for a year, The MegaPowers exploded at WrestleMania V, leading to a year-long feud. A decade later, they feuded again in WCW.

5.

Sting vs. Ric Flair

The first match between WWE Hall of Famers Sting and Ric Flair was at the first Clash of the Champions in 1988, a 45-minute draw. Over the years, the two traded the NWA/WCW World Championship, with Flair turning on Sting twice. They last battled on the final edition of WCW Monday Nitro in 2001.

3.

The Undertaker vs. Kane

Kane debuted in the WWF in 1997 as the long-lost brother of The Undertaker, so it was a natural they would come to blows. In fact, it was one of the few matches that has happened at WrestleMania more than once (WrestleManias XIV and XX). In between teaming up, The Brothers of Destruction feuded as recently as 2010.

1.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon

On a September 1997 edition of Monday Night Raw, WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin rebelled against the system by delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to WWF owner Vince McMahon. When Austin won the WWF World Title the following year, McMahon remembered this and evolved into a heel character that launched arguably the greatest rivalry in wrestling history. Raging through The Attitude Era, Austin has still stunned McMahon even in recent years!

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Wrestling Historian Mike Rickard