Welcome to not only the first installment of a brand new article series on the site, but also to my very first article as a member of the WWE News community. Writing opinion articles about my most enduring pastime has been a dream of mine since I figured out you can do this about five years ago, and I need to thank Richard, Kendra, and every writer in the community for giving me this opportunity. Now then, in deciding what topic I would write about for my first article, I had to look back to what got me hooked on wrestling in the first place as wee 11-year-old lad: the feuds. I’m probably preaching to the choir when I say this, but I believe that having strong feuds is the most integral piece of the success of a promotion, event and wrestler. Would WrestleMania III been as much of a draw without Hogan and Andre? Would Edge or John Cena be the credible main-eventers they eventually became without their nearly year-long feud? What would the Attitude Era have been without Austin vs. McMahon? My answer: no, no, and not as good.
When wrestling fans think of the most successful feuds in the history of the industry, usually the matches along the way are the benchmark for why the feud works. That’s all well and good; however, I tend to measure the success of a feud based on the level of emotional investment it demanded of me and the rest of the audience. That’s why I started Inside the Feud: to explore the psychology behind the storyline and its ability to capture the fans’ attention throughout the duration of the story. And I’ll start with the first feud I remember getting hooked on, the feud that I call the greatest three-team feud in the history of professional wrestling.
These three teams catapulted tag team wrestling to new heights by pioneering the use of gimmick matches with tag teams. The six men that made up the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian popularized the tag team ladder match, tag team tables match, triangle ladder match, and, of course, the TLC match, with each team contributing their signature weapon to the fray. They didn’t need the weapons to be entertaining, though. Outside of these gimmick matches, they kept the crowds happy with antics like five-second poses, diving off of the highest thing they could find, and the ever-popular powerbombing women through tables. Through it all, the focus was on chasing whoever had the tag team championships, even if the other two teams had to mix and match to get to them. Now, you could use any of the reasons I just gave in your argument for why this feud worked; however, in thinking back to when I was a preteen watching this feud live, I realized why I gravitated to this story, and I think you’ll agree with my realization.
The three teams embroiled in this intense rivalry represent three groups of people that I, as an outgoing, awkward, and slightly overweight preteen, encountered on a daily basis. For starters, the Dudley Boyz represented who I was. They were the largest of the six men, but they still moved around like they were forty pounds lighter. They were not the most popular guys in the company, what with their tie-dyed shirts, lensless glasses, and weird penchants for putting women through tables and head butting men the crotch, but those Damn Dudleys still went out to the ring and did what they loved to do (hurt people and use tables). They were a team that I could very easily relate to (note: I never power bombed anyone through a table), because they didn’t look like Superstars but still were.
On the other hand, Edge and Christian represented whom I hated growing up. They were arrogant, mean, and quick to insult everyone around them with very superficial put downs. They played the role of the pretty-boy jerk jocks who were still popular despite their piss poor attitudes and manipulation of the rules so well that I never thought they deserved any of their championships or success. I could not wait to see them get their comeuppance from either the Dudleys or the Hardys, it didn’t matter who did it.
Finally, the Hardy Boyz represented whom I wanted to be. They looked just as good as Edge and Christian did, but they did not flaunt their looks or made anyone feel jealous towards them. Team Xtreme were the popular kids who friends with people from every clique and group in school. They were also like the football players who did theatre in the off season. I could not believe how creative their move sets were. In-stero leg drops, corkscrew drop kicks off the top rope, simultaneous splashes, and the ever-popular Poetry in Motion made for some very exciting wrestling. They had the look, the skill, and especially the girl (can’t forget Lita!), but they still remained true to who they were and to the fans, and I respected and admired them so much for that.
Have a favorite feud you want me to explore? Let me know in the comments. I always appreciate a good feud, especially when all parties involved play a distinct part that brings the fans into the action. And when three tag teams can come together and create those parts that either distance or endear themselves to fans even without the fantastic matches, you have one of my favorite feuds of all time.