Rivalries are at the heart of wrestling storytelling. The sport has evolved immensely over the years, but while the mainstream product is drastically different to what it was a few decades ago, the basic dramatic framework remains the same. At its core, it's about two or more parties butting heads on their road to the top, and that'll never change.
The way these feuds are presented has changed with the sport as a whole. The modern era's rivalries are often characterised by what happens outside the ring as much as anything else, particularly in WWE. Rock vs. Austin and Andre vs. Hogan are classic storylines, but they're primarily remembered for the pageantry surrounding them, and the same goes for many more of wrestling's greatest feuds.
Soap opera elements are inevitable in all forms of wrestling, but some rivalries transcend them. In these cases, the ring work is so irresistible that it takes precedence over everything else, and defines the rivalry as a whole.
Each of these feuds brought wrestling storytelling back to its roots as a simulated form of athletic competition, and while they all came with strong narratives, they're ultimately remembered for the matches.
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