|Two natural rivals going at it.|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
1. Jerry "The King" Lawler
When Savage left his father's ICW and went to work in Memphis, you could argue he really came of age. It's natural, as Lawler's run in Memphis may have been the most important singular draw to one region, and working with him would be seasoning enough for anyone. It was here that Macho got prepared for the big time. This list really isn't in any order, but you could make the argument that Lawler may have been Savage's most important rival.
2. Ric Flair
...then again, when you feud with perhaps the most decorated and important wrestler of all-time over the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania, that counts for a lot more than going at it in a regional promotion. The first clash between Macho and Naitch was so heated, so edgy for the time. Flair claimed to have racy pictures of Elizabeth, something actually right out of the Memphis playbook actually. The interplay between the two felt so natural, so right. It was an iron they'd strike several more times in WCW, and even though they really didn't go up against each other at all until the '90s, it felt like they were rivals throughout eternity.
3. Hulk Hogan
Yes, the feud was one-sided for the most part. Yes, Savage was always portrayed as Hogan's bitch. However, Hogan and Savage were both inexorably linked if only for the Mega Powers angle and the watershed WrestleMania V match. It was a feud that lasted both in and out of character for a long time, eliciting the infamous Be a Man rap album from Macho that was somewhat of a nadir for him, but hey, no one's perfect.
4. George "The Animal" Steele
ON the total opposite end of the "importance" scale is Steele, who was more of an ancillary feud, an annoyance than a legitimate feud. I mean, he was a big doddering, slobbery beast, and he basically lusted after Liz like King Kong did after Fay Wray. But in a way, he was the perfect foil for Savage and Liz as a couple. What better way to accentuate the fact that Macho really didn't deserve Liz than having this slovenly old man, a slovenly old man who was a super fan favorite, creeping after her?
5. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
This is a no-brainer. I think Bill Simmons hit the nail on the head in his excellent Savage tribute column today. Wrestling's peak kinda began with Savage crushing Steamboat across the larynx, and their match at WrestleMania III was THE first ever WM marquee match. Seriously, Shawn Michaels as Mr. WrestleMania? Austin and Hart? Taker and Trips this past year? Hart vs. Hart? It was a tradition begotten with this match. It arguably made the Intercontinental Championship, and thus it's a rivalry that belongs on this list.
6. Diamond Dallas Page
This was his signature WCW-only feud, but man, what an intense and critically acclaimed one it was. These two went at it, and it really did a lot to make DDP, much in the way that feuds with Steamer and Hogan made Savage in the '80s. You really got the feeling that both guys were looking to kill each other. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were both probably somewhat legitimately crazy, but hey, that always adds to a great feud.
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