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Greatest WWE Rivalries: Golden Era Edition

A photo of WWE Golden Era icons Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan.

Greatest WWE Rivalries: Golden Era Edition

From 1985 -1992, WWE entered the most prosperous era in company history. Dubbed “The Golden Era” it was a period where the company got international exposure, the money arrived in dump trucks and several wrestlers became legends.

A huge reason for the popularity of this era was storytelling. The action was not what we are accustomed to today and needed to be counteracted by putting on some compelling narratives. At the forefront of these stories were some fantastic rivalries.

The Golden Era was home to some of the most dynamic rivalries in WWE history. These feuds drove the era and helped it achieve heights never seen before. Below are the 10 best of these Golden Era rivalries.

Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper

This was the rivalry that started it all. Piper and Hogan were engaged in a bitter feud over the WWE Championship in the early 80’s. Hogan’s popularity was incredible, and Piper proved to be the perfect detestable heel to combat Hogan.

It was during this feud that mainstream media, including popstar, Cyndi Lauper got involved. Lauper had a relationship with Hogan and Piper was having none of it. Famously smashing a record Piper became public enemy number one and kickstarted the rivalry that gave us WrestleMania.

Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts

The Macho Man and The Snake engaged in the most personal feud of the Golden Era. It all started at SummerSlam when Roberts gifted Macho Man, and his new bride Miss Elizabeth, a snake. It angered the Macho Man to the point that he came out of retirement to combat the sinister wedding gifter.

Once in the ring, this rivalry got turned up to 11. The matches were intense, with Savage bringing his usual fervor to the ring, but it was after one match that it became iconic.

Following a battle Jake Roberts unleashed his Cobra on The Macho Man. The snake slithered towards Savage and sank its fangs into Randy’s arm. It was a terrifying sight and one that was a lasting image of their rivalry.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant

This is the defining rivalry of the Golden Era. Even those who aren’t familiar with professional wrestling are aware of the all-time feud that took place between these two giants.

Originally friends, Hogan and Andre the Giant clashed over Andre’s want of a world championship. The Giant proved to be the most formidable opponent that Hogan had ever faced. He towered over the Hulkster, making him look like a child in comparison.

The unstoppable force versus the immovable object was the poster for the Golden Era. Hogan and Andre were the perfect pairing and one that brought the fans out in droves. They filled the Pontiac Silverdome and did amazing business for the company.

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart

The rivalry between Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect is one of the most technically sound ones in the history of WWE. When Bret entered into singles competition, he immediately set his sights on the Intercontinental Championship, held by Perfect.

Of course, Perfect needed to gain an edge so he took shots at the famous Hart wrestling family. It wasn’t much but it was enough to add a deeply personal edge to their feud.

What made this feud great was not the story or the personal edge, but the best wrestling any of us had seen. Perfect and Bret were master technicians and adept at putting on great matches. This rivalry produced some of the best matches in company history. Their SummerSlam match is widely considered to be one of the best produced.

Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage

It’s the Golden Era so there is a good chance that Hulk Hogan is going to show up on this list a few times. One of his best was in 1988-89 when he allied with The Macho Man. It was an alliance that was great, for a while, but one that everyone knew was bound to fail. Professional jealousy began to seep in, and Savage turned on his partner.

The two men were always going to be better enemies than friends. When they were at odds they produced some great matches. The most notable being their wonderful WrestleMania V main event. Outside of that the two went to war in numerous matches throughout the Golden Era. They were joined at the hip and were never too far from stepping between the ropes.

The Hart Foundation vs. Demolition

There are no bigger tag teams, from the Golden Era, than The Hart Foundation and Demolition. They were the gold standard of tag team wrestling and were the teams that define tag team wrestling.

Naturally, the two best teams were going to be part of one of the best feuds of the era. They were the perfect contrast of tag teams. One was a dominant powerhouse while the other was the perfect combination of power and grace. The two teams used this contrast to always put on great matches whether in multi-man matches or straight-up tag contests.

Both teams have been at the forefront of some of the biggest matches in company history. They went to battle at both SummerSlam 1988 and 1990, for the tag team championships. As well as being on the opposite sides of the ring at Survivor Series 1988 there is a huge history between the two teams. They were at the forefront of the tag team division throughout the Golden Era.

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Most of Hulk Hogan’s career was spent being the giant killer. He would combat monster heels to the delight of the masses. That is why it was so interesting when it became clear that The Ultimate Warrior was going to be the one going for Hogan’s championship at WrestleMania VI.

The Ultimate Warrior was the only man whose popularity rivalled Hogans, during the Golden Era. He got thunderous reactions from the audience and fans began to wonder when he would surpass Hogan as the golden goose. That time came at WrestleMania VI.

The professional rivalry, between the two men, was one of the best. What started as a simple feud evolved into an intense rivalry. Both men wanted to be at the top but only one could accomplish this. It was captivating television and a highlight of the Golden Era.

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage

No rivalry got more personal than the feud between The Nature Boy and The Macho Man. When Flair entered WWE, in late 1991, it didn’t take long for himself and Macho Man to butt heads. Flair was ever the ladies’ man and his advances towards Miss Elizabeth didn’t go unnoticed. Savage was incensed and when he got his shot at the title everything got ramped up.

Flair began to claim a past relationship with Elizabeth to get under Randy’s skin. It, predictably, worked and Savage was driven mad with jealousy. He had green coloured glasses on any time he saw Flair.

This was not a one-off rivalry, as the two men were joined at the hip for the majority of 1992. It kept building in intensity as it went on and was one of the most personal feuds in company history.

Rick Rude vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Before he stood toe-to-toe with Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior needed a standout feud to push himself into the upper card, enter Ravishing Rick Rude.

Rude and Warrior had one hell of a fantastic mid-card feud, during the Golden Era. Warrior was not one who could work that well. He was there because of his impressive look. This was something that Rude helped to alleviate. Their matches were some of the best of Warriors career and proved that he was more than a one-hit wonder.

The Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude were a perfect pairing. Their physique was incredible and Rude was a great veteran to help Warrior along. They were a marquee feud that stole some spotlight from the main event. Not an easy task during the Golden Era.

Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog

Professional rivalries always make for compelling television but add family drama into the mix and you have the making of something special. That’s what happened in the summer of 1992.

Bret Hart was enjoying a great run as Intercontinental Champion when his brother-in-law was chosen as his next opponent. Davey Boy Smith had married Hart’s sister and while they were cordial a battle over the IC title was beginning to chip at the armor. A growing distrust between the family members made the build towards SummerSlam mean that much more.

Their match will forever be considered one of the best in company history. But that wouldn’t have been the case if their personal rivalry had not heightened the stakes. It was a brief but fiery feud that finished the Golden Era off on the right foot.

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – WWE – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.

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