When I think of dream matches my mind flicks to clashes of generations like the Golden Era’s Hulk Hogan facing the Attitude Era’s The Rock, or The Rock taking on John Cena (twice). I also think about combat between the companies with Impact Wrestling’s AJ Styles going against WWE’s John Cena or New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Shinsuke Nakamura fighting Ring of Honor’s Sami Zayn (FKA El Generico).
We have seen these gladiators go at in the squared circle, but there are many match-ups we haven’t seen and a couple that we could have if it were not for other circumstances. (And I’m not talking about Big Show vs. Shaq.) I’m going to discuss two of these – one of which we got, just not at WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
We got the championship clash between Angle and Undertaker at No Way Out 2006 and the two put on a great match that had the right amount of built towards it with Kurt Angle picking up the win after almost 30 minutes of competitive wrestling. The very next pay-per-view was only a month later, WrestleMania 22, and according to a 2011 interview with Angle, The Undertaker actually wanted to push the match to WrestleMania and was willing to take the loss so he could have a great match.
“The person who wanted to do it was Undertaker himself,” Angle told The Sun. “I was flattered, for him to go to Vince McMahon and pitch it. Undertaker at that point never had a five-star WrestleMania moment match. He figured that the only one he could do it was me, at the time. Thank God a couple of years later he had Shawn Michaels, and it worked.”
Although we got to see the match-up, it could have been at WrestleMania 22 if the stars aligned and it surely would have been better than the casket match with Mark Henry that The Undertaker had that year. With Kurt Angle’s return and induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, and The Undertaker’s career coming to an end, it is near impossible for this match to take place nowadays and it wouldn’t be as much of a classic as it could have been 11 years ago when Kurt Angle was at the peak of his WWE career and The Undertaker was about to hit a run of great WrestleMania matches with the likes of Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels and Triple H.
Hulk Hogan vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Attitude Era saw the birth of many stars like Mick Foley, Triple H, and The Rock, but none rose to as much popularity at the time as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. He was the total anti-authority bad-ass who would crack open a can of whoop-ass at the drop of a coin.
Hulk Hogan was (and arguably still is) the star who transcended wrestling the most, became bigger than the business, and carried WWE on his back through much of the 80s and 90s. Although he did take a little vacation to Atlanta for six years, he eventually came back to his home turf in 2002 and was coming hot off the heels of the NWO. In classic WWE fashion the once WCW mainstay, the NWO, were coming into WWE and picking up where they left off. Hulk Hogan made his return at No Way Out 2002 to cost Stone Cold his Undisputed WWF Championship match against Chris Jericho.
There is your perfect setup, the veteran returning with his evil persona and screwing over the face of the company in his endeavour to grab the title that defined his career – but Stone Cold didn’t think so. On an episode of WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross’ podcast, Austin talked about the potential match-up, saying he didn’t think the match would be good and he shot down the idea.
“Physically and mentally where I was at, I could go,” Austin told Jim Ross. “I think Hogan probably would have been a step or two behind that. That wasn’t acceptable to me, and I didn’t want to slow myself down. I say that with all due respect to Hulk Hogan, because he had a hellacious run. That was my thought process back in the day. I didn’t think we could deliver.”
Instead, at WrestleMania X8, we got Icon vs. Icon with Hollywood Hulk Hogan taking on The Rock, but Stone Cold could have just as easily filled that spot and the two would have put on a match that was just as good, if not better. Now with both Stone Cold and Hulk Hogan out of the wrestling business, unless it is time to make surprise WrestleMania appearances, these two wrestlers in my mind will be two of the greatest draws WWE has ever had to never clash when there was a perfect opportunity to do so.
There are plenty more matches that could have been, such as Sting vs. The Undertaker, or John Cena vs. Fabolous and Jay-Z, but we don’t have that much time. Maybe during next year’s Road to WrestleMania!