Jericho and Owens have been slowly, and masterfully playing out a friendship on the decline for months now, and if their recent interaction last week on Raw is any indication, it seems the teases are over and we might finally be heading into full-blown enemy territory. The storyline has been brilliant and in my opinion has earned itself a rubber match at Wrestlemania. In celebration of this classic wrestling story done right, I count down my top 5, “Best Friends turned Rivals” storylines and see how they stack up (spoiler, most don’t)
5. Nash vs Hall – 1998
Seemingly inseparable, the Nash/Hall feud in the late 90s would have been deemed “impossible” by many, but lo and behold in 1998 WCW decided to pull the trigger. This best friends turned bitter enemies storyline is not on this list for it’s promos, matches or payoff (in fact all of the above were quite lame), but simply for the level of friendship at stake. Nash and Hall had been a duo since their debut, and behind the scenes possessed a rare, unshakeable bond. The storyline itself was rushed, shortsighted and largely offensive to Hall’s real-life drug and alcohol problems and therefore comes in a lowly 5th. Effectively, Hall during matches would proceed to get drunk, angering pal Nash, who on a random Monday Nitro stormed to the ring and big booted his fellow Kliq brother. Unfortunately, Halls legitimate alcohol problems kept him off TV for any PPV matchup, and the rivalry fizzled out the following week after Nash would proceed to cut a scathing “shoot” promo (the norm for WCW at this time), announcing it was “last call” for Scott Hall….real classy stuff.
4. DDP vs Chris Kanyon – 2000-01
Sticking with WCW for a minute, the number 4 entrant on this list of “frenemies”, comes in the form of a rather obscure feud straight out of the dumpster fire that was 2000-01 WCW. Chris Kanyon’s entire career retrospective seemingly involves DDP in some capacity. In 1999, with the addition of Bam Bam Bigelow, the 3 formed the “Jersey Triad”, and had great success as tag partners all the way until Slamboree 2000, a year and a half run as best buds. As with all Wrestling friendships however, the swerve occurred at the Great American Bash, when Kanyon attacked Page and costed him an ambulance match against Mike Awesome. With Page off TV momentarily (assumedly nursing a broken heart), Kanyon would enter the ring each week dressed as DDP, mocking him in a gimmick titled, “Positively Kanyon”, a reference to Page’s autobiography, sporting a blonde wig, he even started using the diamond cutter as a finishing move! Surprisingly, Kanyon emerged the winner of this feud with a heel win at Superbrawl Revenge (2001), a mere month after his career-defining loss to Buff Bagwell in a (gulp) “Judy Bagwell on a forklift match”….Dammit Russo.
3. Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio – 2005
Where to begin with the, “I’m Your Papi” program of Smackdown 2005. That year Eddie and his closest friend Rey had originally engaged in a friendly rivalry that had Mysterio continuously get the best of Guerrero. This series of matches sent Eddie on a heelish spiral, and promos began alluding to a, “deep family secret”. Eddie and Rey battled at the Great American Bash with the grand stipulation being the protection and or announcement of said secret. Eddie lost, but in true villainous fashion revealed the secret anyway, that Rey’s son Dominick was Guerreros biological son, that he had fathered Dominick out of wedlock and allowed Mysterio to adopt him. The feud culminated in a ladder match for Dominick’s paternal rights, and despite the sappy, often melodramatic tone of the feud, seemingly plucked straight out of a Mexican Telenovella, the legitimate performances of both men solidified this as a classic friends turned enemies storyline. Side note, this feud also spawned one of the worst T-Shirts in WWE merchandise history, but that’s a different entry for a different article.
2. Hulk Hogan vs Macho Man – 1987-1989
Who doesn’t remember the colossal awesomeness that was the “Mega Powers” in WWF from 1987-1989? Hogan and Macho, the two biggest babyfaces on the planet at the time, joined forces on an eventful episode of “Saturday Nights Main Event”. Hogan arrived to save Ms. Elizabeth and Macho Man from an assault at the hands of dastardly Honkey Tonk Man and the almost unbelievably, HEEL Hart Foundation. Feuding with the Twin Towers (Bossman and Akeem) throughout the late 80’s, the friendship was insatiably over in the eyes of the fans, making Macho Man’s eventual attack from behind with the title belt all the more shocking. The friends turned rivals met in the ring in the legendary main event of, “Wrestlemania V”, appropriately title, “Mega-Powers Explode”, and the sheer magnitude of this feud means it enters the list at the no.2 spot.
1. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels – 2002-2004
In my opinion, this is the benchmark Owens and Jericho are aiming to best. And in fairness they are well on their way.
What appeared to be a DX reunion in 2002 turned into a pedigree that stunned the Wrestling world. Triple H’s double cross culminated into a classic, nearly 2-year feud, kicked off by a legendarily violent “non-sanctioned” street-fight at Summerslam (2002). Who could forget Triple H throwing Shawn Michaels, Jannetty style, through the windshield of a car, or spiking the back of his head with the point of a sledgehammer. This feud was bloodthirsty and emotional, and rewarded us with epic last man standing matches (Royal Rumble) and one of the greatest triple threats of all time at WM 20. Therefore HHH v HBK must be appreciated as the pinnacle of friend vs friend storytelling in Wrestling.
Jericho and Owens has hit all the right notes, but it remains to be seen how legendary this feud can truly be.
What do you think? Anyone I missed? Leave your comments below!