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Feud Transitions


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With a lot of talk about All Out lately and how, if the rumoured debutants arrive there, it could lead to the next big feud for whoever emerges as AEW Champion, this topic was brought to my mind; what are some of the most memorable feud 'transitions' in wrestling history?

The first one that sticks out for me is WrestleWar '89. Having finally won the World Heavyweight Championship from his rival RIcky Steamboat, new champion Ric Flair shows respect to his opponent by shaking his hand, only to have one of the potential judges of the match, Terry Funk, challenge him for the title. Famously, Ric's refusal caused Funk to lose it and give him a piledriver on the table at ringside, cementing the face turn for Flair and setting up his first title defence.

Another slightly more recent example, albeit by a meagre eight years, is the end of the Tommy Dreamer/Raven feud in ECW. Dreamer notoriously didn't get a single victory over Raven until the latter's exit to WCW at Wrestlepalooza 1997, but even then upon finally defeating his nemesis, Jerry Lawler arrived with RVD and Sabu to set his 'Extremely Crappy Wrestling' angle up, culminating in the cage match between Dreamer and the King at the second ECW PPV 'Hardcore Heaven' later that year.

For me, both of these moments encapsulate what works best about angles like this; the 'old' angle is blown off effectively, with a satisfying conclusion, but also they segue seamlessly into the next feud and build anticipation for what the feature players will do next. This was probably supposed to be the idea for a poor example I'd cite here, that being Hell in a Cell 2014 where Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins had their 'last' (ha!) one on one match. The actual Cell match was fine, but the ending compromised of a strange projection appearing, Bray Wyatt showing up and costing Ambrose the win by attacking him. On paper, someone almost certainly thought this was perfect - Rollins wins, Ambrose gets a new feud and Bray Wyatt makes a dramatic return - but unlike the previous examples, it lacks the logic to support the events. Nobody had any idea why Wyatt attacked (find out tomorrow on RAW!) or even probably noticed Rollins getting a win. Instead of feeling like a natural extension, it instead felt like a cop out.

Anyway. What examples, positive or negative, would you give of memorable feud transitions?

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It was pretty much the end for Bret but the SummerSlam 1997 finish to transition to the Taker/Shawn feud is the best finish and transition there will ever be. Just magnificent booking, delivered perfectly. 

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6 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

It was pretty much the end for Bret but the SummerSlam 1997 finish to transition to the Taker/Shawn feud is the best finish and transition there will ever be. Just magnificent booking, delivered perfectly. 

A bit earlier and Bret v Austin moving onto Owen vs Austin at Canadian Stampede is another brilliant tick for 97. 

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Posted (edited)

A more recent one - Sami Zayn finally winning the NXT Title only for his celebration to be turned into an attack by newly arrived Kevin Owens was the angle that got me hooked on NXT. More of a storyline transition than a feud one, but within the larger ‘Sami needs to win the belt’ angle was a feud with PAC that transitioned into the Owens one.

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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1 hour ago, tiger_rick said:

It was pretty much the end for Bret but the SummerSlam 1997 finish to transition to the Taker/Shawn feud is the best finish and transition there will ever be. Just magnificent booking, delivered perfectly. 

Perfection. Covered so much with such simple actions 

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The late 80s and early 90s were full of obvious transitions in the WWF where a PPV match would involve a run-in, finish or interaction designed to move one guy from the guy they’re fighting to the next guy they’re working on the house shows.

My favourite if it counts was LOD costing Demolition the tag belts against the Hart Foundation at SummerSlam 90. I say “if it counts” because the war of words had already begun even if the matches hadn’t. But yeah… the energy in Philadelphia when the Roadies emerge was absolutely nuclear. I imagine the anticipation at the time for those matches must have been huge. Shame they ended up not up to much.

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13 hours ago, tiger_rick said:

It was pretty much the end for Bret but the SummerSlam 1997 finish to transition to the Taker/Shawn feud is the best finish and transition there will ever be. Just magnificent booking, delivered perfectly. 

That whole finishing sequence of Bret vs Taker at SummerSlam was executed excellently. From Bret’s aim with the spit to the timing of the chair shot to Shawn’s frustration at having to make the count. And it transitioned into a completely fresh pairing in Shawn vs Taker, which is crazy really to think those two had never tangled one on one (at least on camera) at that point. Started the ball rolling on Shawn’s heel turn, which led to DX, the first Hell In A Cell etc. It was perfect. 

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13 hours ago, Tommy! said:

A bit earlier and Bret v Austin moving onto Owen vs Austin at Canadian Stampede is another brilliant tick for 97. 

My favourite year in wrestling by a considerable distance.

So much magic and more brewing during that period.

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Piper flashing his arse at Rude costing him the match to the Warrior at Summerslam 89 is a good one. DiBiase's antics at Mania 6 to go from Jake to Bossman stood out to me when I was younger (I hadn't seen the angle where DiBiase tries to pay Bossman to get the Million Dollar Belt from Jake beforehand) also. Some of the better candidates have already been mentioned. 

One that never gets mentioned because it didn't turn out great but was pretty exciting for the transition - Hulk Hogan feuding with The Butcher at the end of 1994, headlining Starrcade and polishing him off without too much trouble was as nauseating as it sounds. BUT - after the match as Hogan is celebrating with his flunkies in the locker room being interviewed by Gene, you just hear "HOGAAAANN!", which causes Okerlund to jump and say, "What the hell is that!?" Enter Vader into the locker room, commanding the scene completely and coming off like a bad motherfucker, yelling, "It's time to listen to Vader!" They have a little mini pull-apart, but as a kid I thought it was awesome - Hogan in WCW had done the Flair series, but this felt like a big deal to me with the interpromotional vibes - Vader was the scariest heel I'd ever seen at that point, and him and Hogan in a match felt pretty damn hot on that first night.

 

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