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  • Writer's pictureHunter Howe Cates

Why these pro wrestling dream matches probably would have been terrible

Originally published on Wrestling Inc. on Aug. 30, 2022

Discussing pro wrestling dream matches is even more popular than debating "The Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling" and "Is ____ the next Lex Luger?" In an entertainment medium that can get pretty routine (how many times did Triple H fight Undertaker "for the last time ever?"), the excitement seeing a bout we never though would ever happen ignites our imaginations.

Let's be honest though ... many pro wrestling dream matches would have been terrible.

Maybe the wrestler's styles would've clashed, maybe one guy was well past his prime — or maybe the match could have never compared with our fantasies. We won't debate unrealistic dream matches between two stars in their primes (so sorry, no Gorgeous George vs. Ric Flair or Andre the Giant vs. The Big Show), but matches that could have happened between guys who were active at the same time.

Some of these matches allegedly almost happened, others never stood a chance, but we believe all probably would've been bad. Looking for seven stars from Dave Meltzer? Look elsewhere. Here's why these pro wrestling dream matches probably would have been terrible!

Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena

Vince McMahon's default booking strategy is "Conquering Babyface," usually with an all-American good guy getting taken out by a bad guy, only to come back to save the day. So basically, "Rocky IV." McMahon built his WWE empire using this strategy with Hulk Hogan and has tried to replicate it ever since (despite a brief, but highly profitable detour into Attitude Era anti-heroism with "Stone Cold" and The Rock). McMahon finally found his Hogan heir apparent with John Cena.

While Hogan told youngsters to "say your prayers and eat your vitamins," Cena preached the gospel of "hustle, loyalty and respect." The "Conquering Babyface" is a great act with the right guy, and sold lots of yellow doo rags and sparkly spinner belts. However, make no mistake, a match between the two would have been the worst.

While Hogan told youngsters to "say your prayers and eat your vitamins," Cena preached the gospel of "hustle, loyalty and respect." The "Conquering Babyface" is a great act with the right guy, and sold lots of yellow doo rags and sparkly spinner belts. However, make no mistake, a match between the two would have been the worst.

Hulk Hogan's last WWE match was a "Legend vs. Legend Killer" mid-card match at SummerSlam 2006, with Hogan vanquishing Randy Orton. The night's main event was Edge vs. Cena for the WWE Championship, showing who the real star was. Cena was not the worker he'd become, while Hogan was on his literal last legs, so we'd get a slow-paced punch fest until Hogan finally "passed the torch" he no longer carried anyway (and for which he would demand Cena return the honors). Yes, the crowd would have been molten, but a past-his-prime Hogan versus a (lime) green Cena would've had us saying our prayers for it to end.

Roddy Piper vs. CM Punk

What "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was to Portland, CM Punk is to Chicago. However, Piper and Punk had more in common than just the devotion of the fanbase in their homebase. Both were great workers with excellent "pipe bomb" skills who succeeded in other venues (though Piper's film career was slightly more impressive than Punk's UFC career).

And while both guy were big stars, neither was happy about playing second fiddle to their respective eras' biggest stars, Hogan and Cena. So instead of fighting, Piper and Punk probably would have rather shared a beer (or a Pepsi, since Punk is "Straight Edge"). However, we'd want to see them fight!

They theoretically could have in the 2000s, as Piper continued to wrestle into the 2010s, while Punk made his WWE debut in 2006. Famously, Piper rarely jobbed, but he might've passed the torch to Punk a la his bout versus Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII.

However, WWE's booking philosophy tends to be making legends look unbeatable against current stars (heck, that was Heath Slater's gimmick). We bet Piper would've quickly squashed the newbie Punk for a cheap nostalgia pop. Sure, we would've marked out too, but it'd be a far cry from the epic dream match these two could've delivered in their primes.

Jake The Snake Roberts vs. Randy Orton

While Randy "The Viper" Orton is the son of "Cowboy" Bob Orton, you can see more similarities between Randy and one of his dad's contemporaries, another serpent-inspired performer — Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Orton became a star as the cocky, pretty boy Legend Killer, but he became a legend himself by playing the same kind of cold-blooded, sadistic psychopath that Roberts perfected in his day. So you'd think a match between "The Viper" and "The Snake" would be legendary, right? Maybe in their respective primes, but the results would've been downright disastrous when the two could have logically wrestled.

By the time Orton arrived in 2002, Roberts' decades of drug and alcohol abuse had done a number on him (watch the 1999 documentary "Beyond The Mat" to see what we mean). Orton and Roberts had an altercation on the March 14, 2005 episode of "Raw," with Orton RKO'ing Roberts to cement his "Legend Killer" persona. It was a good moment for generating heel heat, but that's all it should be — a moment.

You can see that physically Roberts was a shell of his former self (he committed himself to rehab a few years later), while Orton was still greener than a garter snake. Put the two together and you'd have a bout about exciting as watching a python run a marathon.

Ric Flair vs. MJF

The arrogant rich guy has been a pro wrestling staple since Gorgeous George. There's a reason for that — it works. The only thing fans enjoy more than watching an abrasive A-lister talk smack is watching him get smacked. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair owned this role like a sequined robe, styling and profiling for multiple promotions, 16 world championships, and an incredible six decades. Now the part has been taken up by Maxwell Jacob Friedman, or MJF, who is already one of the best parts of pro wrestling (which he'll remind you of).

MJF is young enough to be Flair's grandkid. Heck, if Flair's self-professed prowess is to be believed, MFJ may be his grandkid.

While MJF is in his mid-20s, Flair hasn't been in his 20s since President Jimmy Carter was in office. And though Flair did his best work in his late 30s and early 40s, he's currently in his 70s. Even if Flair's wrestling his "last match" (we've heard that before Ric) at Starrcast V in 2022, MJF is young enough to be Flair's grandkid.

Heck, if Flair's self-professed prowess is to be believed, MFJ may be his grandkid. So a match between the two would be pretty hard to watch. However, while Flair isn't what he once was in the ring, he's still one of the best on the mic, so watching the two duke it out on the stick would be the real dream match.

Sting vs. John Cena

John Cena wound up becoming the next Hulk Hogan, but in his early years he could have been mistaken for a young Sting, with his square jaw, pronounced pecs, and V-shaped upper body. Some things never change, as Twitter noticed (via Essentially Sports) how similar Cena and Sting still looked in 2021. However, the similarities began to fade as Cena transitioned from vanilla babyface into Vanilla Ice, becoming the biggest babyface in the business, while Sting remained "the Crow" in TNA. Make no mistake, Sting vs. Cena is a dream match beyond the fact they kinda look alike, as both were top guys and strong workers with charisma to spare.

Alas, unlike a lot of former WCW guys, Sting stayed away from WWE during Cena's rise in the mid-2000s, not arriving until 2014. While Cena was on a hot-streak wrestling younger guys in 2014-2015, since 2010 Sting has worked best in tag matches that can protect his limitations. Maybe Cena could've carried the 50-something Sting to a low-key classic ... or, more likely, maybe it would've been a sloppy, slow-paced snoozer (or needed a lot of overbooking, a la Sting's match with Triple H). Sting and Cena won a tag match on "Raw" against Seth Rollins and Big Show in 2015, which was the best use of both guys — Cena carrying the match, Sting being the "hot tag" guy. Frankly, we're disappointed we didn't see more of Team S&C.

Ultimate Warrior vs. Goldberg

Bill Goldberg and Jim "The Ultimate Warrior" Hellwig (who changed his name to "Warrior") were former athletes in other sports — Goldberg in football, Warrior in bodybuilding — who became huge stars in pro wrestling. While each guy lacked the usual key ingredients of superstardom (work rate and mic skills), they both more than made up for with the kind of raw, feral, pure intensity of a guy who looks like he could beat you up, because he 110% could. Both also saw their superstardom peak after beating Hulk Hogan for a world title, Warrior at WrestleMania VI and Goldberg on "Monday Night Nitro" in 1998.

It was after the latter victory that a match between the two would have made the most sense ... and cents. Goldberg was growing his undefeated streak, while Warrior began his brief run in WCW. However, Warrior was there for one reason — to give Hogan back his victory from WrestleMania VI more than eight years earlier. Nobody can accuse Hogan of being impatient. After Warrior did so in a stinker of a match at Halloween Havoc, he was gone.

Why didn't WCW do Goldberg vs. Warrior? Because WCW. Warrior vs. Goldberg would have been more epically bad than epic, as neither guy could go longer than two minutes. Frankly, Warrior vs. Goldberg would've made Goldberg vs. Brock look like Steamboat vs. Flair.

André the Giant vs. The Undertaker

In Vince McMahon's WWE, there are "The Guys," huge stars who Vince builds the brand around (Hogan, Austin, Rock, and Cena), but who he usually maintains a love-hate relationship with. Then there are also "The Bosses," locker room leaders and special attractions that Vince forms long-lasting friendships with. Among those, none were bigger (literally or figuratively) than André the Giant and The Undertaker. It's no shocker why Vince had such strong relationships with André Roussimoff and Mark Calaway — Vince likes big guys, and very few were better or more loyal than André the Giant and The Undertaker.

While The Undertaker made his WWE debut in 1991 when André was still on the roster, the two never faced off in what would have been one of the biggest torch-passing matches ever. While André famously didn't like other big guys, he did like Undertaker and seemingly wanted the match.

As Undertaker revealed to Pastor Ed Young: "I'd come in and say, 'Hey boss, how you doing today?' [He'd say], 'Good. You know, one day, kid, me and you. I have this idea.'" While we would have been excited to see the spectacle of André the Giant vs. The Undertaker, there's no denying it would have stunk. André was broken down by that point, while Undertaker always struggled carrying big men. See his match versus Giant Gonzalez as an example. Actually, don't.

nWo vs. DX

The New World Order and D-Generation X were the two dominant factions in the 1990s — and two of the most popular ever. While the nWo had teenagers daydreaming about spray-painting people's backs, DX had pre-teens telling teachers to "Suck it!" Okay, we're not saying they were good role models, but their anti-authoritarianism was super over. Both factions are so similar because they reflected the creative impulses of The Kliq; nWo reflected Kevin Nash and Scott Hall's outlaw mentalities, while DX displayed Shawn Michaels and Triple H's juvenile senses of humor.

While the nWo had teenagers daydreaming about spray-painting people's backs, DX had pre-teens telling teachers to "Suck it!"

Fans sort of got to see the nWo versus DX at WrestleMania 31, but that was for the nostalgia pop. As bad (and kinda sad) as watching a bunch of 50-somethings acting like degenerates was then, we think an actual match could have been much worse.

The most logical time for it to take place would be around 2002, when most members were in WWE around the same time. However, Nash and Hall were both broken down physically, Hogan was coasting on Hulkamania-nostalgia, Triple H had lost a step post-quad surgery, and Michaels still had some ring rust from his four-year hiatus. Could HBK work a miracle and make this match watchable? Never doubt HBK, but it would have been a challenge.

Brock Lesnar vs. Batista

Vince McMahon likes his big men, and he got two of the best ever with Brock Lesnar and Dave Batista. Despite both coming onto the main roster in 2002, the two never wrestled ... except for an OVW match in 2001. It's surreal watching two of the biggest stars ever face off in front of a few dozen fans. Both guys' star power is palpable, though each had a long way to go. Unfortunately, the timing was never right.

The younger Lesnar was brought in first as "The Next Big Thing," and within less than a year had become world champion and main evented WrestleMania XIX. The older Batista developed more slowly, finally main eventing WrestleMania 21 ... one year after Brock left. By the time Brock returned in 2012, Batista had gone to Hollywood, returning only for a brief run at WrestleMania 30, before retiring after WrestleMania 35.

Even then their paths didn't cross much, with Brock being too busy ending Undertaker's Streak, while Batista was busy putting over Daniel Bryan and The Shield in 2014 (a good use of his limited time) and Triple H in 2019 (who he wanted to be his last opponent). Therefore, the most logical time for the bout would have been between 2003-2004. However, Batista was still a green mid-carder, so the match would've been a forgettable big man bout, not the epic dream match we'd want.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Goldberg

For late-'90s pro wrestling fans, there's no bigger dream match than "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Goldberg. Heck, even Goldberg said he wished they'd wrestled on Steve Austin's "Broken Skull Sessions." Both guys kind of looked alike (which is why your grandma probably thought "Stone Cold Steve Goldberg" was a wrestler), but more importantly they were their company's biggest stars during one of pro wrestling's most popular periods. Austin was the beer-swigging badass every working man could relate to, while Goldberg was the unstoppable colossus of destruction nobody could relate to.

Had the match happened in the 1990s, the star power would've been off the charts, and Austin probably could've carried the green Goldberg to at least three stars (heck, DDP did at Halloween Havoc 1998).

Alas, both guys were in separate companies. Goldberg finally arrived in 2003 ... one night after Austin's last match. Austin was held together by needles and thread by that point, and had to be carried by The Rock the night before. Meanwhile, Goldberg was never what anybody would consider a solid or even "safe" worker (just ask Bret Hart).

So a broken down Austin versus a sloppy Goldberg (who'd only wrestled a few matches in Japan since WCW folded) would've been more than just an utter disaster — it would've had us fearing for the safety of "Stone Cold."

Sting vs. The Undertaker

Sting versus The Undertaker is a dream match that did happen ... kinda. Sting wrestled "Mean" Mark Calway at WCW house show, however no footage exists outside one picture. But it's not "Surfer" Sting vs. "Mean" Mark fans wanted to see — it's "the Crow" Sting versus "the Deadman" Undertaker.

While his move set stayed the same, Sting's turn to the dark side breathed new life into the character and defines him to this day. It also made him an interesting counterpoint to the pro wrestling's OG dark dude, The Undertaker.

However, while both guys were strong workers who could be carried to masterpieces against a Ric Flair or Shawn Michaels, neither was known for carrying a match on his own. Besides, Sting's best work was in the early '90s, while Undertaker didn't level up until the mid-2000s. By the time they were both in WWE in 2015, a match between the two would have needed all the smoke and mirrors to be watchable.

Turns out Sting wanted just that, telling Sports Illustrated a pre-recorded "Cinematic Match" against Undertaker might've kept him from jumping to AEW. However, Undertaker apparently wasn't interested, telling "I just don't know that the match could deliver on the people's expectations ... with the expectations being so high and the match not delivering, it would be a bigger disappointment than the match never happening at all."

We're siding with the Deadman on this one.

Hulk Hogan vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Fans will debate who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of pro wrestling, but two spots indisputably belong to Hulk Hogan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. These guys weren't just the biggest stars of their respective eras — they defined them. If not for Hogan's "Rock N' Wrestling Connection," WWE never would've gone national.

If not for Austin's "Attitude Era," WWE never would've gone public and probably would've lost the Monday Night Wars. So yes, Hulk Hogan versus "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is the biggest dream match of all time. No wonder WWE presumably wanted it for WrestleMania X8 instead of Hogan vs. Rock.

Problem was, Austin didn't.

According to Jim Ross on his "Grillin' JR" podcast: "Austin had it in his mind that Hogan's style and Austin's style were oil and water. He just didn't feel the chemistry." Truth is, Austin was right. Both guys worked best as mega babyfaces who defied the odds, though a heel Hogan versus face Austin might've worked.

Hogan and Austin fought a bit during a three-on-two handicap match on "Raw" in 2002, and while they seemed to work okay together, a tag match isn't a one-on-one encounter. Austin would've no-sold the "Hulk up," while Hogan would've shrugged off the Stunner.

Also, let's be honest, the audience wouldn't know who to cheer for; they loved both guys.

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