JG's Columns
JG's Ten Wrestling Matches We Never Got To See (But Thought We Would)
By James Guttman
Feb 9, 2011 - 9:53 AM

They say wrestling fans expect a lot and they're right.  Some of the dream matches we have in our heads are impossible to deliver.  No Lou Thesz vs. John Cena.  No Samoa Joe vs. Abe Lincoln.  Sorry.  But there are a select few big contests that not only could have happened, but we assumed they would.  In the end, the years ticked away and we never got them.  These are ten of those matches.  You know you  were just waiting on bouts like...

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sting


In 1992, the wrestling world spoiled us wrestling fans by delivering the dream match we never thought we'd see - Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair.  Not only were we given the match, but WWF went out of their way to make sure the matches were so underwhelming that we all felt silly for wanting it so long.


Because of all that, though, fans assumed that it was simply a matter of time before we got to see the second dream match of our generation - Sting vs. The Ultimate Warrior.  After all, both men were younger than the Hulkster and the Nature Boy.  Both men were in the prime of their careers.  Of course it would happen eventually.  Unless, you know, one of them decides to stop wrestling altogether.  But that couldn't happen.


Actually, that's exactly what happened.  Fancying himself as a Chief among Indians, the Warrior grew tired of WWF's political nonsense and took his face paint home.  Summerslam 1991 would go on to be his last show as a regular performer and his career would be spotty and sporadic from that point forward.  It looked like we'd never get a chance to see him tie up with his former Blade Runners tag partner after all.


Then, in 1998, the world saw hope as Ultimate debuted in WCW, Sting's home base.  The snarling Warrior confronted old nemesis Hulk Hogan, now fighting for the evil team, and the eventual rematch between the two was so awful that it actually tainted some memories of their first.  No matter, though.  We'd eventually get to see Sting and The Ultimate Warrior wrestle.  After all, that was the match the fans wanted, right?  What company wouldn't do a match like that?


In case you weren't around during their heyday, you might not realize I was being sarcastic there.  The answer is WCW.  WCW wouldn't do a match like that.  Instead, we got a tag match with the two on the same team, but that was about it:



Years later, Warrior did a shoot interview where the interviewer had asked if he felt that he was simply brought to WCW in order for Hulk Hogan to "get his win back" from WrestleMania VI.  With a smile on his face, Ultimate nodded and then asked a question that sums so much of wrestling's political insanity up in four words:


"Yeah.  Isn't that sick?"


JBL vs. Ron Simmons


There's a classic template that wrestling fans have gotten used to.  Babyface tag team has successful run.  After a while, one member branches off and becomes a villain.  Before he does, though, he takes the time to throw his partner through a window or something and then they fight.  It's how it goes.


Not for The A.P.A., though.


In 2004, John "Bradshaw" Layfield was on his way to becoming wrestling's version of a Red State Warrior.  The beer guzzling brawler had cut his hair, dyed it blonde, and written a book about how to make money playing the market.  While he did this, he continued his run as a bar room battler by the side of his partner Ron "Faaroq" Simmons.  The transformation happened right before our eyes.  Ron, though, didn't change at all.  Everyone noticed it - including Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman.


During an edition of WWE's Thursday Night program, Heyman threatened to fire the duo.  When they confronted him backstage, Paul clarified his position.  His termination threat wasn't for both men.  It was just for one - Faaroq.  After praising John's money-saving ability (a characteristic that would have kept ECW afloat), Paul fired Ron and told Layfield that he needed to reinvent himself as John "Bradshaw" Layfield, as he did...



The following weeks would see the birth of JBL.  With his mooing limousine and white cowboy hat, the evil Bradshaw would declare war on Mexicans everywhere.  As he moved on, Layfield focused on other opponents.  Ron stayed home and soon fans forgot all about a possible bout between the two.  Even when Simmons did return now and then, the two never found themselves on opposite sides of the ring and wrestling fans had no choice but to accept it and respond with the only reaction we could muster.




Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus


Hulk Hogan's feud with Zeus in 1989 was probably one of the most intriguing in wrestling history for a number of reasons.


1. Zeus wasn't a wrestler.  He was an actor.

2. Zeus's character was based on his movie character.  His real name was actually listed in the credits of the film they were trying to get fans to pay and see...while he was wrestling under the movie name.

3. Despite being in the company for a number of months, Zeus never had a singles match with Hulk Hogan.


Surprising, right?  Some fans might not realize it, but Hulk Hogan never went one on one with Tiny Lister during his entire WWF tenure.  They had a tag match at SummerSlam 1989.  Hogan teamed with Brutus Beefcake and Zeus teamed with Randy Savage.  Four months later, the four did it all again inside a steel cage.  And then - poof - that was it.


What was most intriguing is that many thought it was destined to be.  In fact, back when Pro Wrestling Illustrated was still viewed as a source of news for fans, there was blurb in December 1989 that read, "The whispers are growing louder.  Hogan vs. Zeus at WrestleMania VI."


But no.  It didn't happen.  In hindsight, we should all be sort of glad though.  I can't imagine how that would have turned out.  Instead, the WWF took a hard turn and threw The Ultimate Warrior at Hogan and the two went on to have an epic encounter that is still remembered to this day.


In fact, it was still remembered in 1998 when Hogan brought Warrior to WCW so he could beat him back.  Yeah.  Isn't that sick?


  Andre The Giant vs. Haku


Andre the Giant's final match took place on December 4, 1992 as he teamed with Giant Baba and Rusher Kimura vs. Haruka Eigen, Motoshi Okuma & Masa Fuchi in All Japan Wrestling.  But the legend's final competitive WWF match was at WrestleMania VI.  The giant had formed "The Colossal Connection" with Haku and the duo went into the event as the WWF Tag Team Champions.


They didn't leave that way, though.  In a stunning moment, the evil team dropped the straps to Demolition and Bobby Heenan was, well, livid.  Following the encounter, Heenan took it upon himself to slap the big man and demand answers.  Not remembering that this approach had earned him beatings at the hands of everyone from Paul Orndorff to the Red Rooster, Bobby hadn't anticipated that the 7'4 monster would attack.  He did.  Boy did he ever.


After knocking Heenan from the ring, Andre turned to find his partner Haku poised and ready to nail him with a kick to the face.  The gigantic Frenchman caught his foot and then beat him silly.  When Bobby and the man-who-would-be-Meng tried to escape on the rolling WrestleMania cart, Andre attacked again.  He tossed them from the cart and then took it for himself.  The guy was tired and there was no way in hell he was going to walk all the way back to the locker room.  That cart was his.

That was the end of the big man's in-ring WWF career.  He returned a few times to confront people like Earthquake and Curt Hennig, but never found the time to extract revenge on the Islander he once called partner. With a career that saw him face off with thousands of well known names, Andre's missing match with Haku stands out as the one piece of unfinished in-ring business that was left on the table.  


Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage II


Perhaps the greatest match of all time took place at WrestleMania 3.  It was the jam-packed Pontiac Silverdome and they were literally hanging from the rafters, Brain.  With 93,000 plus in attendance, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, with George Steel in his corner, wrestled "Macho Man" Randy Savage, with the Lovely Elizabeth in his.  It was the culmination of a blood feud dating back to when Savage had taken the time keeper's bell and driven it into Steamboat's throat.  After months of rehabilitation for his "crushed larynx", The Dragon returned and the results were stunning.  


Between the amazing buildup and breath-taking near falls, Rick and Randy tore the house down.  When Steamboat was crowned the new champion, everyone was prepared for a new era of IC title glory.  That's exactly what they got...


...thanks to the Honky Tonk Man who ended Rick's forgettable reign and went on to defend the strap for well over a year.


Either way, the match still stood up  and fans the world over bring it up to this day.  We all waited with baited breath for the chance to see it again.  When the following year's WrestleMania rolled around, we thought we'd get just that.


Following Andre The Giant's accidental forfeiture of the WWF Title, Jack Tunney declared the title to be the prize of WrestleMania 4's big main event tournament.  The brackets were set up in a way where the winner of Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine would face off against the winner of Randy Savage vs. Butch Reed.


All it would have taken was for Savage to win his match with Reed and Ricky to defeat Valentine and all would have been fine.  But no.  Poor Steamboat ran out of steam and lost cleanly to the Hammer.  Macho Man would go on to win the WWF Title that night and The Dragon would go on to...well, WCW.


The missing moment was so memorable that when I eventually interviewed Greg Valentine on about it, I brought it up.  I forget how I phrased it, but I'm sure I found a nicer way to ask than, "How do you feel about ruining WrestleMania 4?"


Given the fact that Randy had a WWF Title win coming to him, nixing the match with Ricky made sense.  After all, Rick was popular with the fans, so a bout at WM 4 would have not only split the crowd's support but reminded people that Mr. Nice Mach had played crushy-crushy throaty-throaty only a year earlier.  Add that to the fact that it could have stolen the show for a second straight year and you have all the makings for an "almost happened, but didn't" moment.


Shawn Michaels vs. Mike Tyson


The match that put Stone Cold Steve Austin on the map took place at WrestleMania 14 when the Texas Rattlesnake took on Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title.  Austin was on a roll as the company's top anti-hero while The Heartbreak Kid was the cocky villain looking to keep his title around his Degeneration X waist.


The bout had a twist, though, as Mike Tyson stepped in to be the special guest referee.  Years removed from his original role as guest referee for Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage in 1991 on NBC (a spot filled in by James Buster Douglas), Mike was ready to step in as the outside-of-the-ring enforcer.  Before the contest took place, however, he joined HBK's evil troupe and looked like he would be a card-carrying member of DX.   Seemingly enraged by Austin's confrontation during his debut, Tyson was ready to make him pay.



But in pro wrestling, everything is never as it appears.  As the contest came to a close, Mike ran in the ring and counted the pinfall for Steve as he covered the champion and claimed the title.  The move enraged Shawn, who confronted Iron Mike and ended up on his Heartbreak Ass.

That match would be Shawn's last in the WWF for over four years.  Nursing a back injury that many assumed would keep him out of action forever, Michaels stayed home.  By the time he returned, Mike Tyson was a distant memory and Kid Heartbreak was once again loved by the capacity crowd.  The eventual showdown never happened and when the two met up again in 2010, HBK played his new gimmick - guy who makes up with people he used to hate.



  Bill Goldberg vs. Steve Austin


Bill Goldberg was a Stone Cold Steve Austin ripoff.  


Now don't get mad at me.  I didn't say that.  Vince McMahon did in an August 1998 AOL Chat.  You couldn't really blame him.  After all, WCW had debuted a bald star in black trunks with a goatee and pushed him to the moon.  Sure, there was no beer involved, but it was still like watching a version of Stone Cold that someone put on a piece of Silly Putty and stretched out to make huge.


For years, fans waited for Steve and Bill to be in the same place at the same time.  It was for two reasons.  One - they wanted to make sure they weren't actually the same person.  Two, they wanted to see them fight.  Unfortunately, only one of those things became reality.  When the two did finally meet up, they drank beer.


The only time Stone Cold and Da Man found themselves in the same ring during a contest was during Bill's debacle against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX.  With Steve Austin as the special referee, the crowd, having caught wind that both Goldberg and Lesnar were leaving the company, booed the competitors and actually cheered the referee most of all.  It was surreal.  


Although it ended with both Brock and Bill getting Stunners, it lacked the umph that many expected from an encounter.  Austin had settled into retirement and Goldberg was gone from WWE.  As he would say later, "I'm done.  Vince McMahon can kiss my tuchus."


So for fans waiting on a Goldberg-Austin match, all we could do is quote the Rattlesnake - "What?  EH EH!"


William Shatner vs. Jerry Lawler


You might not believe this, but there was a time when every celebrity who showed up on Raw didn't wrestle.  Yeah.  Let that sink in.  


The wrestlers wrestled and the celebrities celebritied.  That was is.  That was the case in 1995 when William "Captain Kirk/TJ Hooker" Shatner showed up on Jerry Lawler's Kings Court to promote his epic show, TekWars.  The two engaged in a battle of words and Jerry, as was the case at the time, took the beating and the crowd went wild.


And that was it.  


It was one of the most memorable moments of the year and fans assumed that Shatner would put on some sort of spacesuit to fight the evil monarch eventually.  Nope.  Never happened.  Instead, the moment remained a piece of wrestling history with no follow up until William inducted Lawler into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.  When Shatner did return to the WWE years later, he had better things to do anyway...



Dustin Rhodes vs. Dusty Rhodes


The Undertaker debuted for the WWF at Survivor Series 1990.  Everyone knows that, right?  But what you might not remember is that the weeks leading up to the bout saw Taker's spot shrouded in mystery.  Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Team would unveil their hidden member to face Dusty Rhodes's American on Pay Per View.

Many casual fans guessed that the partner would be Dusty's grinning son, Dustin.  But that was not to be.  Instead, Dustin would go on to grin for about six more years.  From New York to Atlanta, "The Natural" smiled his way into the midcard.


Then in 1996, Dustin would reinvent himself.  Sporting makeup and ambiguously gay promos, the newly minted Goldust shocked fans with his over-the-top style.  He even took time to pay homage to his dad - or slam him, depending on how you view this clip that referenced Big Dust...who wasn't under a WWF contract at the time.


Even after that moment, Dusty's name was brought up time and again as it related to his son.  He was mentioned during the bizarre divorce angle Dustin did with wife Terri too.  But still, no Dusty.  In fact, to this day, many are still waiting for that contest to happen.  Despite both being with World Wrestling Entertainment, there have been no plans for a match between the two and, as the years tick by, it seems less likely by the day.



  Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan


Steve Austin owes his career to Hulk Hogan - in a weird indirect way.  Fed up with The Hulkster's WCW politics, Stunning Steve ran to ECW in 1995 and showed the world what he could do when he was free from the chains of World Championship Wrestling.  He made it quite clear who he had issues with too.

Channeling his rage, Superstar Steve declared war on corporate wrestling politics and everyone felt his pain.  When he joined up with the WWF and became Stone Cold, we all assumed that a match with Hulk would never happen.  After all, Hogan was WCW 4 Life and short of that company dying, he'd never return.


Well, they died.  And he did.


In 2002, Hulk's big WWF redebut took place with the N.W.O. by his side.  Stone Cold was still active at the time and the two had a meeting on television that left many fans wondering if WrestleMania 18 would see the long awaited Austin-Hogan contest.


What?  Eh!  Eh!


The Hulkster ended up stealing WrestleMania that year against The Rock while Steve-a-Mania was forced to fizzle against Scott Hall.  It wasn't long after that that Austin was gone and given that it appeared Politics-a-Mania was swinging back into town, you couldn't blame him.


In 2006 when Steve showed up for his Hall of Fame induction, the whispers started to grow.  Would the two finally have a match?  Sure, the years hadn't been kind to the Hulkster and his knees or the Stevester and his neck, but fans were still dying for it.  Looked like Austin was too.  Hulk?  Not so much.  Here.


And that was that.  The talk went on for a while more, but eventually died out.  The world would never get to see the match we waited on since 1995.  The reasons?  Take your pick.  For many, it looked as though Hogan's insistence that he defeat Shawn Michaels at the 2005 SummerSlam pay-per-view may have been enough of a warning sign that the outcome would never be something that Steve would want.  After all, Hulk would most like insist on a pin again.

Yeah.  Isn't that sick?

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