Right now, there is an debate within the Internet Wrestling Community about where the recent Bloodline storyline, mostly appearing on WWE Smackdown, places among the all-time storylines in Pro Wrestling history. It has a lot of recency bias, as it’s fresh and brand new… It reminds me of how many many younger sports fans are quick to label a current athlete in the NBA or NFL as the “GREATEST OF ALL TIME (GOAT)”, such as the never-ending and hopeless Michael Jordan vs. Lebron James debate or NFL quarterbacks. As much as I admire Patrick Mahomes and his talent, I’d like to see him win some more Super Bowl titles and MVPs to complete his career when being compared to the greats of the past. But he’s on the right track, as the Bloodline may be as well…
On my end, I have been a Pro Wrestling fan since late 1988, but was aware of WWE’s Hulk vs. Andre during the prior year for Wrestlemania 3 hype. In addition to almost being a current fan for 35 years, I have dipped back into the video libraries for the 1980s and even the 1970s. I have also read many wrestler biographies, as I used to review them in my columns, and have spoken to many pro wrestlers at shows or events. In my mind at least, I believe that I have a pretty good historical mind to rank the top storylines of all time and can properly place where the Bloodline should go.
However – The Bloodline storyline is an incomplete storyline that has may years to play out and needs a proper ending. It still has legs and we’re probably halfway through it, at worst. Sure, the Usos have fully left the Bloodline, but you just know that Roman may reload that group, kind of like how Ron Simmons reloaded the “Nation of Domination” stable with new talents, how DX reloaded in 1998, or how CM Punk rebooted the Nexus. Given how the Bloodline has boosted viewership and merchandise sales for the WWE, there is NO WAY this storyline drama between Roman and the Usos is going to end. Thus, the Mr. Tito redoing this list in 2025 or 2030 may have the Bloodline much higher on this list.
In my mind, a great storyline HAS to have a great ending… That ending is either the downfall of Roman Reigns as a heel champion or Roman possibly flipping to a babyface (both events could happen at the same time). Now that the recent shows have been KILLING IT with the Roman and Usos drama, I’m kind of glad that Cody Rhodes didn’t defeat Roman for the WWE Title… Roman had ALL 3 Titles out with him yesterday… He can’t show that arrogance if Cody defeats him and hold it against the Usos for losing their titles either…
I just wanted to say, for the record, that I’m really enjoying the Bloodline storyline and see it advancing on my list if it continues to captivate and if it ends well. Honestly, I’ll watch this stuff for 2 more years, no problemo…
At the very least, as Mr. Aaron Rift (owner of NoDQ) has said in this argument that “the Bloodline is the best storyline since the Attitude Era”. He’s 100% right… That’s the best compromise that a lot of us oldtimers can make with current & younger wrestling fans.
With that said, let’s discuss my Top 10:
Mr. Tito’s PHAT Top 10 Storylines of All Time
– Rise of Sting in NWA/WCW – 1988-1990
– The Hart Foundation during 1997
– Triple H/Stephanie McMahon – Late 1999-2000
– Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express – 1988-1989
– The Honky Tonk Man’s IC Title Run – 1987-1988
– CM Punk wins WWE Title at Money in the Bank 2011
– Rise and Redemption of Eddie Guerrero – 2002-2004
– Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens – 2016-2017
– Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – 1989
– Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan – 1984-1985
10) Bayley going for NXT Title
This will probably be my most controversial addition to the list, but hear me out… What if I told you that Bayley had to defeat Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Emma just to challenge Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover Brooklyn. Then, Bayley would overcome Sasha Banks to win the NXT Women’s Title in an epic match that many publications actually awarded “Match of the Year” for 2015. Bayley would become a major babyface sensation from there, as her merchandise became the top seller among WWE females during the latter half of 2015 and throughout 2016.
In my opinion, this Bayley climb and then overcoming Sasha Banks in a 5-star epic battle is what sold Women’s wrestling being an asset to wrestling fans. Think back to 2015… The “Divas Revolution” happened during mid-2015, but the WWE was still leery about giving women top spots. Then, Sasha and Bayley tore the house down at NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2015 and then later built on that with their epic 30 minute Ironwoman match.
While Bayley wasn’t as much of a babyface hit on the WWE roster, she made a big impact for Women’s wrestling for NXT. Furthermore with Sasha Banks, she was an amazing heel and a legitimate challenge for Bayley to overcome. Sasha and Bayley weren’t as good in the WWE as they were in NXT during 2015, but their impact was made and sold the upper WWE brass that women’s wrestling could work well on the WWE roster, if done right. But let’s be honest about Bayley and Sasha… They are still top stars today, though their characters are way different now. Bayley, though battling injuries, is still finding work in the WWE and Sasha has since moved on to be featured in New Japan. Sasha even scored a major role in Star Wars: Mandalorian.
9) Raven and Tommy Dreamer feud
Talk about blood feuds… This was a 2 year battle where Raven, as the heel, had the upper hand against the ongoing underdog Tommy Dreamer in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). On top of that, it involved a woman between the competitors with Beulah McGillicutty. The storyline was that Raven and Dreamer was that they were childhood friends but things boiled over in ECW, especially with Beulah (also from their past) was a part of Raven’s flock. According to the storyline, a younger Beulah always had a crush on Tommy Dreamer and that, of course, caused jealousy with Raven and competitiveness between Raven and Dreamer.
The best part of this feud is the fact that it occurred in the ECW environment, so thus it could push adult themes and get very violent. People always bash ECW’s influence for pushing tables, chairs, ladders, and other violent antics during matches, but they NEVER give ECW credit for their great promos cut and the great stories told. While most of the ECW fans were “smart”, with obvious knowledge of the business being scripted, they willingly played along with the storyline and were captivated by the many twists and turns.
For years, a win over Raven kept eluding Dreamer, as Raven always had flunkies in his Flock that caused interference or other issues with their match-ups. It took Raven signing a contact to WCW, to leave ECW, for the win to finally happen for Tommy Dreamer. At Wrestlepalooza 1997, Dreamer finally scored the win and it was highly emotional. Hearing Dreamer scream “EC-F’N-W” before he delivered that final DDT to Raven was awesome. It capped off an amazing 2 year struggle for Dreamer and paid off many loyal ECW fans who watched weekly to see where this storyline would go next.
8) Batista and Triple H
If you want a step-by-step guide on how to make a star, check out Batista’s WWE career… No, I mean after he was “Deacon Batista”. What were they thinking? Batista joins Evolution and you can see him carefully learning from Triple H and Ric Flair while being a loyal member of the group alongside Randy Orton. Then, Orton gets a taste of World Title glory and gets turned on… The beauty of Orton getting screwed is that Batista got to witness it and learn from it to put the screws to Triple H.
Batista wins the 2005 Royal Rumble and is left with a choice… Challenge Triple H (RAW) or JBL (Smackdown) for their World Titles. Triple H fully expected Batista to challenge JBL, but instead, Batista went after Triple H. Best part is the fear that Triple H finally showed after dominating the RAW roster for the past year and a half. Then, Triple H puts Batista over cleanly and we’ve got a solid Main Event star in Batista for the next 5 years or so and he also becomes a household name that gets known in Hollywood years later.
Just watching Batista work in the midcard, you could see him getting better and better while respecting the veterans (Triple H, Ric Flair) that he was with. On top of that, he developed a smooth character with personality that could help sell him as a Main Eventer through 2005. It was perfectly done… This is how you make a wrestler. Introduce him, let him develop and learn from others, and then when the timing is right, push him. The timing was sooooo right during early 2005 and at Wrestlemania 21, they nailed it and made Batista into a big star.
7) Undertaker vs. Paul Bearer
I’m have this as Undertaker vs. Paul Bearer because Paul was pulling the strings for both Mankind and then Kane for their feuds against the Undertaker. During the 1990s, the Undertaker just fought the largest wrestlers… But then in 1996, a drastic change happened… Undertaker’s longtime manager, Paul Bearer, turned on the Undertaker and then sided with Mankind. This made for a great feud with Undertaker and Mankind and built up great chemistry that continued for their 1998 King of the Ring match. But during 1997, Paul Bearer had other plot twists to deliver.
In the storyline past, Undertaker’s brother, Kane, was thought to have died in an accidental fire… However, Paul Bearer has been taking care of Kane on the side, because as it turned out, Kane was Paul’s son… Then at Badd Blood 1997, Kane debuted during Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels (loved Vince McMahon’s commentary of “that’s gotta be Kane!”), ripped the cage’s door off its hinges, and attacked the Undertaker. From there, they’d have multiple feuds that would span over the next decade or slightly longer. They’d team up, too, as the “Brothers of Destruction” as well.
Before the Kane gimmick, Glenn Jacobs’s career was in a bad way… He was a wrestling dentist and then Fake Diesel… However, he became Kane and seriously made a 20+ year wrestling career out of it. Of the Undertaker’s feuds, the one with Kane is often most remembered and Paul Bearer was at the center instigating it. Great stuff with highly talented individuals, both on-screen and behind-the-scenes, to make it happen.
6) The Bloodline
Folks, it’s an honor to be this high on the list and in my opinion, I could see the Bloodline storyline climbing the charts further after it has been completed and absorbed for years. I believe we’re in the middle, as now we’re seeing Solo/Roman versus the Usos. I fully expect that heel Roman Reigns will add new members to protect himself as World Champion and allow him to boast about being the “head of the table”.
Because this storyline is still evolving and doesn’t have a proper finish yet, it’s hard to place this higher on the list. Now, if the storyline ends well with Roman dropping the World Title and/or converting to a babyface to reject what the heel Bloodline has become, it will likely climb up this list.
This storyline has SAVED Roman Reigns’s career in the WWE. From 2014 to early 2020, he was a shoved-down-your-throat babyface who did exactly as WWE Creative and Vince McMahon scripted. Turning heel was the best medicine for Roman, as he has some creative freedom to portray a character that he’s comfortable playing and he has Paul Heyman by his side as a big influence. It saved the Usos, too, as now they have a purpose other than just being a solid tag team. Both Usos have greatly improved their characters and promo cutting abilities, as has Roman.
You gotta hand it to Sami Zayn, who injected new life into the Bloodline and created a real conflict between the Usos and Roman that we’re now seeing explode. That ending of Royal Rumble 2023 is one for the history books, as it was so compelling with Zayn nailing Roman with the chair. People can hate on Cody failing to defeat Roman, but it set-up the next stage perfectly because with Roman as champion and Usos without titles, that created a difference between them and began to boil over until recently.
This story has a LONG way to go and how it ends or what new stars it fully forms (besides Roman), in my opinion, will judge where it appears on my list. Easily, the most compelling thing to watch in wrestling today.
5) Dusty Rhodes versus Ric Flair
This was NWA’s finest storytelling and it placed 2 guys at the opposite sides of the spectrum against each other and delivered nothing but quality match-ups. Ric Flair, the heel World Champion who lived in the life of luxury and boasted regularly about it. Dusty Rhodes was the “son of a plumber” and not only connected well with middle class America, but was also beloved by a diversity of wrestling fans who were also fighting to survive daily.
On top of that, you had 2 wrestlers who could shred each other on the mic to cut non-stop promos against each other that truly sold the tickets while the matches afterward were just gravy. But the matches were superb and hold up well as all-time classics. On top of that, Dusty, like all babyfaces during the mid to late 1980s, had to deal with the Four Horsemen who protected Flair as their World Champion. It was a long struggle for Dusty to finally defeat Ric Flair for the NWA World Title at Great American Bash 1986. Of course, this could be higher up my list but Ric quickly regained the title and they tried to keep the feud going throughout the years, but it was never as good as its 1986 peak where Dusty finally got the upper hand on Ric.
In my mind, Dusty and Ric are all-time great legends because of this feud and NWA wasn’t quite the same after its 1986 peak at Great American Bash. Flair never had a stronger babyface dance partner than Dusty and Dusty wasn’t quite as good after his Flair feud.
4) Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Honestly, I get tired of the excessive praise of Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 3. Sure, it’s a great match, but it’s not what packed that stadium to over 75,000 people in Detroit, MI during 1987. Hogan and Andre packed that place because it was a massive match-up of epic proportions.
Andre the Giant was a top babyface draw for the WWE, but they opted to turn him heel and join Bobby Heenan for purposes of challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title. It was perfectly done, as Andre fully sold signing a deal with the devil and Hogan was completely disappointed. I always loved when Andre tore off his necklace…
The BEST part is that you had Hulk Hogan cutting his promos, but then you had the BEST of Bobby “the Brain” Heenan speaking on behalf of Andre. It was epic and proof as to the value of managers in pro wrestling. Then, they squared off and made Wrestlemania 3 a major mainstream success. Then, it fed into the rematch between Hogan and Andre on The Main Event show with the controversial finish with a lookalike referee, as Andre was now working with Ted Dibiase
3) New World Order invades WCW – 1996-1997
I say “1997” because I’m in total denial of the NWO that we witnessed during 1998 with the split NWO Hollywood versus NWO Wolfpack, and am further embarrassed by both NWO reboot attempts during 1999. The 2002 NWO was just nostalgia, but Vince quickly ended that.
Just go back to the Spring of 1996 for WCW. They were a hot mess. That Uncensored 1996 Pay Per View was total garbage and was the last true milking of Hulkamania that the promotion could do. Bischoff had both Scott Hall (Razor Ramone) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) coming in and he had to make a major impact. Thus, he took a stronger hand in the booking and began pushing more reality-based storylines, such as a hostile takeover storyline that he saw in New Japan. Scott Hall appeared first and he says “you know who I am, but you don’t know why I am here”, which implied he was invading from WWE. Kevin Nash joined him and they hyped the appearance of a 3rd man, but wouldn’t reveal it. At Bash at the Beach 1996, that 3rd person was none other than Hulk Hogan.
This group was total cool, as they had a great logo, great theme music, had cool vignettes, and their initial adds to the group were good (Sean Waltman, Giant, Ted Dibiase), but then things got ridiculous and bloated. In particular, when Eric Bischoff joined the group, it was all downhill from there because he was laser focused on his wrestling character and not on backstage matters with talent. 1997 rode on fumes of what was built during 1996, as the booking was a hot mess and there were too many members added. If you had any former WWE connection, you were in… The ONE COOL THING was Sting, as NWO tried to fool everyone that he joined and with everyone believing it, it prompted Sting to become Crow Sting.
All could have been well at Starrcade 1997 but noooooo, Hulk Hogan changed the finish to the botched finish that you see today as confirmed by the A&E documentary from Eric Bischoff’s own lips. Prior to that, Eric lied and tried to claim Sting was “out of it”, “not in shape”, “not tan”, among other BS claims to protect his Hulkster buddy. But botching this finish killed WCW and had it not been for Goldberg freshening things up, 1998 could have really began the destruction. By late 1998, the wheels began to fall off and the decision to reunite the NWO with the fingerpoke finish during early 1999 began WCW in a complete freefall downward.
If you watch WCW Nitro from May 1996 through October 1996, it’s completely captivating… After that, since November 1996 when Eric joined the group, the booking gets messy.
2) Macho Man Randy Savage Rise, Fall, and then Redemption – 1987-1992
Ohhhhhhh yeah, if you want to see a man in their 40s and 50s cry, bring up “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth to them. That stuff gets any wrestling fan of that era emotional as hell! When Savage joined the WWE during the mid-1980s, he was a dastardly heel and he used to berate his hot female manager Miss Elizabeth. People felt sorry Elizabeth and it poured heat on Savage for verbally abusing her. Yet, fans started to notice how GREAT Randy was inside the ring. By 1988, fans were ready to cheer Macho Man as a babyface and that he became. And then he won the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 4!
The Hogan and Randy Savage friendship, also known as the Mega Powers, was hatched and fans loved it… SummerSlam 1988 was HUGE because of that friendship, as the Mega Powers took on the Mega Bucks (Ted Dibiase & Andre the Giant). Then, you got to see the true power of Miss Elizabeth, as she tore off that dress to provide the perfect “red” distraction to help Savage and Hogan overcome the Mega Bucks. Afterward, Hogan and Savage held up Elizabeth in a salute and you could see some jealousy rising as Hogan was holding her. And that kept boiling and boiling, until the Main Event show when it was Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage versus Hakeem/Big Boss Man. Elizabeth got hurt and Hogan carried her to the back, while Savage remained in the ring to endure a 2 on 1 beating. Backstage, Savage and went right after Hogan with words about his love for Elizabeth, eventually attacking him. That set up Wrestlemania 5 where Elizabeth was in a neutral corner, but Hulk Hogan won the match.
Randy Savage remained a heel after Wrestlemania 5 and joined forces with Sensational Sherri Martel (or “Scary Sherri”). Savage would remain a heel through Wrestlemania 7, as he went after the Ultimate Warrior and cost him his World Title at Royal Rumble 1991. This set up the Savage vs. Warrior classic Retirement Match which Warrior won, but the aftermath had Sherri upset at Sherri but Miss Elizabeth ran and attacked! This reunited Savage and Miss Elizabeth and who could forget the night when Randy Savage proposed? “ElizaBETH… Will… You… Marry… Me?”. Loved it! And then they got married at SummerSlam 1991. Even though most fans knew that wrestling was staged, they wanted to believe that Savage and Elizabeth getting married was real. And then at their wedding reception, Jake “the Snake” Roberts decided to start trouble. During the next year, Ric Flair did the “she was mine before she was yours” to further test their marriage.
Sadly, their real life marriage started to fall apart after Wrestlemania 8… But, the great storyline arc was actually carried into WCW where Ric Flair used Miss Elizabeth to anger Randy Savage and later, Elizabeth joined the NWO with Savage.
It’s just perfect and it has made Randy Savage into an absolute legend. Every wrestling fan who witnessed this rise and redemption angle is forever emotionally attached to what they saw.
1) The Vince McMahon Corporation (1998-1999), also known as Austin vs. McMahon
Easily the best and I’d argue thanks to Vince McMahon with help from the Rock and many other stooges, that the Corporation is up there as one of the best heel stables of all time. Much of 1998 was fueled by Austin vs. McMahon, as Austin refused to tow the corporate line with Vince as WWE Champion and Vince was now in heel mode after accepting the fate of the fans’ viewpoints of him following Survivor Series 1997’s screwjob of Bret Hart. With Austin as Champion, Vince used his corporate powers to put challenger after challenger after him… And then, Vince would “get his” when Austin finally got a hold of him.
But then, the masterstroke of the storyline… The Rock turns heel and joins the Corporation from the Survivor Series 1998 WWE Title tournament. In my opinion, the storyline arc from Survivor Series 1998 through Wrestlemania 15, is the best thing ever written on wrestling television. Mick Foley thought he was going to win the Tournament but the Corporation screwed him in favor of the Rock instead. This all led to an AMAZING Rock vs. Foley feud that captivated wrestling fans and led to amazing battles between Foley and the Rock. This built up so much heat against the Rock and the Corporation supporting them that the blowoff became huge at Wrestlemania 15 when Steve Austin was able to get a WWE Title shot against the Rock and they nailed it with an awesome Main Event. In my opinion, the storyline ends here but the WWE kept milking it for the rest of 1999 (“Higher Power”, ugh!). The Attitude Era, in my opinion, peaked through Wrestlemania 15 and it was all thanks to this Austin and then Austin/Foley vs. Rock/Corporation feud. Vince McMahon’s work here as a heel is the best work of all time.
THE LAST WORD
Could the Bloodline reach #1 in my list? Not without a spectacular ending that makes many stars and influences the WWE moving forward. Even then, I just don’t see how this storyline overcomes NWO, Macho Man in WWE, or the Corporation… If NWO didn’t remain a strong brand, I could see Bloodline overtaking it but NWO significantly grew the business even if didn’t end well. Macho Man’s 1987 to 1992 run was amazing and the Corporation during 1998-1999 is close to untouchable.
But hey, they can gladly prove me wrong. Bloodline seriously pushed Smackdown to 2.7 million viewers with their segment seriously pushing 3 million. Could you imagine if that continues to grow and the WWE’s deal with FOX gets significantly expanded because of them? That’s quite legendary…
In my mind, it all depends on where the Bloodline goes next and if Roman tries to reload. Then, how does this new group function to protect Roman as champion or does it lead to his downfall and eventually return to babyface. We’ll see…
Comment below on what you think are the BEST storylines of all time and post your list!