Why the ‘Dream Match’ is So Important to Wrestling History

The dream match.

Eddie Guerrero vs. The Rock. Kurt Angle vs. Ric Flair. Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson. There are a plethora of examples of dream matches in this sport that actually took place. And not in under the dim lights of a non-televised dark match, for example, such as the case of The Undertaker vs. Randy Savage (1991). These are actualized dream matches that fans across generations have been lucky enough to witness.

However, when it comes to the modern day dream match, there is one company that stands out above the rest.

Tony Khan and All Elite Wrestling.

Khan is often criticized for booking “dream matches” with little to no story, however, it has led to some of the best wrestling bouts over the last five years in the sport. MJF vs. Kenny Omega, C.M. Punk vs. Darby Allin, Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson; these will stand the test of time. And they happened, mostly, just for the sake of happening, with very little (or no) story.

This in itself, has created some issues within the larger online wrestling fan base when it comes to the booking of said dream matches.

“Where’s the story?”

Well to answer that: Do dream matches really need one?

The Biggest Missed Dream Match

Let’s play out a hypothetical.

It’s early 2005. Shawn Michaels is in the middle of his historic WWE comeback, and one “dream match” on the docket could be The Heartbreak Kid vs. Eddie Guerrero (which was later confirmed to be a real possibility in the works). As we all know, Guerrero tragically passed away in November of 2005. This was a scenario that simply couldn’t be helped due to obvious circumstances.

However, let’s say you had a time machine and were able to go back to an alternate universe where this match took place much earlier — let’s say early 2005 (keep in mind at the time they were on two different rosters due to the brand split). However, regardless of brand split, the match was booked for a weekly show, or even a random PPV, with little to no story at all — would you still want to see it?

Of course you would. We all would.

When we boil all of this down, dream matches serve a larger purpose that becomes more important than demanding a story. Pitting two current or future legends up against each other not only becomes the story itself, but is more important than a random storyline a fan could ask for.

Remember A.J. Styles vs. Finn Balor TLC 2017? Thrown together at the last minute due to injuries, it became an instant classic. No build. No reason. Just two of the best inside a wrestling ring.

Isn’t that what pro wrestling is truly about at the end of the day?

Nothing is Forever. Plans Change

Nothing is guaranteed in pro wrestling. Plans change, injuries occur, personalities clash; life happens. We have seen this throughout history time and time again. In fact, a slew of Wrestlemania (and other) “dream” matches never took place due to various changing circumstances. This includes:

-Shawn Michaels vs. Eddie Guerrero
-Bret Hart vs. Hulk Hogan (Summerslam 93)
-Steve Austin vs. Brock Lesnar
-Bryan Danielson vs. Kurt Angle
-Sting vs. The Undertaker
-Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan

The list goes on and on. Comment below on your own dream match that you’ll never get to see.

The point is that when opportunity knocks for a potential dream match, it’s best to strike when the iron is hot. Whether it’s little to no story, sometimes the dream match itself is the story. This should be the case regardless of current feuds (within reason) — if the talents are available and healthy, perhaps it’s best to consider that dream match. You may never get the opportunity again.

And this in itself asks another question in regards to this year’s Wrestlemania: 

Let’s say for some reason, The Rock vs. Roman Reigns simply never happens. Due to injury, or other, next year’s Wrestlemania just doesn’t work out. What is more important in hindsight of pro wrestling history? Two wrestling legends that have the chance to collide right now, or Cody Rhodes simply winning a world championship?

Something to chew on…

The Modern Day Dream Match

Enter Will Ospreay vs. Bryan Danielson.

Announced for AEW Dynasty on April 21st, this match alone is worth the price of admission solely based on the resumes of these two talents. Simply put, the modern day dream match, regardless of an in-depth story or not, is crucial to the history of pro wrestling. A dream match in itself pays homage to the two or more extraordinary talents competing in that moment in time.

Current possible dream matches that can still happen within their promotion include:

-The Rock vs. Roman Reigns (TBA?)
-Britt Baker vs. Mercedes Mone
-Cody Rhodes vs. C.M. Punk
-Orange Cassidy vs. Tetsuya Naito
-Darby Allin vs. Will Ospreay
-MJF vs. Adam Copeland
-Jordynne Grace vs. Rhea Ripley (not impossible given recent events)
-Kris Statlander vs. Jamie Hayter
-Swerve Strickland vs. Kazuchika Okada
-Jade Cargill vs. Bianca Belair
-Malakai Black vs. Kenny Omega (injury-dependent)

Again, feel free to create your own. Everyone has their own idea of what a dream match looks like to them. The point is this:

If these matches had to take place without a story, simply for the sake of being booked as a dream match, would you complain about it? Is it better to book it and watch it happen than to never have it happen at all when it’s within reach? In the end, is it best for dream matches simply to have happened, no matter at what cost, than to never have happened at all?

In Conclusion

This is a shorter piece, mainly meant to spark discussion. Now we know that not every dream match can be booked with zero story. However, not all dream matches need one. Sometimes, the need for booking a dream match supersedes the need to develop any kind of story other than “This is a dream match. Enjoy.”

These are two (or more) of the best wrestlers in the industry, and we’re going to put them in the same ring. That’s it. That’s all you need sometimes.

But these dream matches, story or not, are important for pro wrestling. Because sometimes dream matches that are right in front of us never get to happen. And if a booker, be it Khan or Levesque, can make that happen — shouldn’t they take that opportunity no matter what?

Think back to The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family in 2014 at Elimination Chamber. While this was a longtime feud and had build, when you look back, what do you remember the most? The promos and vignettes to build the hype? Or the banger of the match itself? Is the first thing you think of is “Wow, it’s amazing this match happened in my lifetime!” OR “That feud had some great in-ring promos!”?

And perhaps it’s “both” for you — but in the end, what did it lead to?

A wrestling match. The match itself is why we are all here, and sometimes, this is all you need. Such is the case of the dream match. With so many talented wrestlers in the industry, now on more of a global stage than ever, is a deep story always required when it comes to a great wrestling match?

Ospreay vs. Fletcher on Dynamite didn’t need one, and that’s already considered a MOTY candidate. In the end, I find it best sometimes to not overanalyze a matter like this. Enjoy dream matches as they come, because as we’ve seen in the past, they’re almost never guaranteed.