Any professional wrestling promotion lives and dies on the strength of its feuds. A good rivalry can captivate the audience for weeks, months, and sometimes even years on end. Often times it doesn’t even matter if the two (or more) performers involved in the storyline are big names in their own right; if the story is good, it can turn all those concerned into massive stars by the time everything has been said and done. Booking a feud is generally seen as a lost art in the wrestling world of 2016. Many of the most beloved old-school bookers and wrestlers have voiced their displeasure with the lack of time given to developing feuds and the underwhelming blow-offs which usually last no more than a couple of minutes.
Many hardcore fans share the concerns of these professional wrestling legends, often seeing feuds as dull or utterly uninteresting. Perhaps both parties would be more interested in the rivalries which are going on and have gone on behind the scenes in WWE and beyond for years.
The wrestling business is obviously a very cutthroat one, with everybody putting their own success first. In such testosterone-driven chaos, it is no surprise that some genuine pretty heated feuds have had the chance to develop, and we’re going to be looking at a few of them in this article. Here are 15 sets of wrestlers can’t stand each other in real life.
15. Daniel Bryan/Ezekiel Jackson
Daniel Bryan is quite possibly one of the most relaxed men to ever enter the wrestling business. He is generally pretty content to just hang around and do his own thing as long as he gets to wrestle, which unfortunately he can’t do anymore.
In his autobiography Yes: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania, Bryan recounts the only real backstage feud of his career. According to Bryan, during the first season of NXT, he and his fellow rookies were traveling with some of the main roster superstars, and all were booked on the same flight. At one point, Ezekiel Jackson, who was receiving a massive push at the time, approached the group and demanded to know if any of them had a window seat. Bryan replied that he did only for Jackson to tell him “Not any more you don’t,” or something to that douchey effect.
Jackson demanded Bryan hand over his window seat to him, but the future World Champion refused. Before Big Zeke had a chance to get physical, William Regal became involved and scolded him, telling the final ECW Champion that Daniel Bryan had more talent in his little finger than he had in his entire body.
14. Chris Jericho/Goldberg
Goldberg rubbed a lot of people the wrong way behind the scenes during his time in both WCW and WWE. Goldberg had been hand selected to be the next big thing in WCW, despite a complete lack of experience in the ring, and was pretty arrogant about it. He frequently disrespected both veterans and rookies, including Chris Jericho.
By the time Goldberg arrived in WWE, Chris Jericho was a pretty big star and was no longer going to be pushed around and made fun of. After learning that Goldberg had been saying some nasty things about him behind his back, Jericho hunted him down and demanded an apology. This lead to an altercation between the two, during which Jericho managed to get Goldberg in a head lock which the former face of WCW couldn’t get out of.
A couple of days later, Vince McMahon spoke to Jericho to ask about the incident and admonished him not for getting in a fight, but for not telling him about his victory.
13. Booker T/Batista
Batista had a similar attitude to Goldberg after he began to get his push in WWE. He had been very well taken care of since his debut on the main roster and was placed in Evolution solely to build toward a push to the main event, which he received when he defeated Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXI.
Batista’s arrogance was not received well backstage and a lot of his co-workers wanted to see him taken down a peg or two, and Booker T was more than happy to oblige. Booker T, who was already a legend in the eyes of many by this point, had been in the WCW locker room to see how Goldberg made life hell for everybody in the back and he wasn’t going to let it happen again.
At a SummerSlam photoshoot things became heated between Batista and Booker T and an exchange of insults soon turned into an exchange of blows. According to those who witnessed the fight, Booker T dominated the supposed animal, drawing on his street fight experience to make the World Champion look like a fool.
12. Paul London/Triple H
Paul London, one of the most successful performers WWE’s Tag Team division has ever seen, has long had problems with the company’s management. He infamously found himself in trouble after grinning idiotically at Vince McMahon during a segment in which the entire roster had been instructed to appear fearful of the boss.
Since leaving the company, London has voiced his various problems with Triple H, who he believes to be as much of an egomaniac as his father-in-law. Most recently, London has taken issue with Triple H’s treatment of Kevin Owens, the WWE Universal Champion.
The former WWE Tag Team Champion has said that he is disgusted with Triple H for acting as though he has always supported Kevin Owens, despite the fact he has openly mocked heavier superstars in the past. Triple H, for his part, has metaphorically slapped London in the ever-grinning face by bringing back his former tag team partner, Brian Kendrick, as a singles competitor.
11. John Cena/Alex Riley
Despite the fact that fans aren’t crazy about him, it is difficult to find anything too negative about John Cena online. Most of the people who have worked with him in the past have nothing but positive things to say about him, and those who share the locker room with him on a weekly basis offer glowing reviews of their leader.
However, a couple of superstars have had their problems with the Face That Runs The Place (no, we’re not talking about AJ Styles), including the recently released Alex Riley.
Riley, who initially seemed to have a promising career ahead of him in WWE, drew Cena’s ire early on. For several months, Cena gave Riley and unreasonably hard time, demanding he act a certain way while in the ring and even searching through his bags, which many talents perceived as Cena looking for a reason to get Riley fired.
It is unknown just why Cena singled out Alex Riley, but the general consensus in the back was that the reason couldn’t possibly have justified the shoddy manner in which he was treating the young man.
10. Bruno Sammartino/Vince McMahon
Bruno Sammartino is one of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling and was instrumental in establishing the then WWWF as the most powerful wrestling promotion in the world. Sammartino and Vince McMahon, Sr. had a close working relationship and made each other very rich men. Unfortunately, the longest reigning WWE Champion in history did not have the same relationship with McMahon’s son.
Bruno Sammartino worked with Vince McMahon, Jr. for a period in the 1980s, making appearances in a variety of different roles in order to keep the old school fans interested in the product. As time went on, however, Sammartino grew more and more disillusioned with the younger McMahon. The Living Legend did not care for the manner of booking or the push of Hulk Hogan, nor was he particularly fond of the drugs and alcohol which ran rampant backstage.
Sammartino distanced himself from the company and remained a solitary man for over two decades, refusing to have any contact with Vince McMahon, who he blamed for the downfall of pro wrestling. It was Triple H who finally managed to convince Sammartino that the company had changed. With all fences mended, Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
9. Bret Hart/Seth Rollins
It is no secret that Bret Hart has a bit of an argumentative personality. Over the years, he has had heated rivalries with the likes of “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Hart has had so many backstage feuds that he seems to be uncomfortable if he doesn’t have a wrestler to rag on, which might have something to do with his recent criticisms of Seth Rollins.
Since Sting suffered a neck injury in a 2015 encounter with Seth Rollins, The Hitman has been claiming Rollins is an unsafe worker. This is despite the fact that Sting himself has stated the injury was a freak accident and the result of neither man in the ring that night. Hart has also scrutinized Rollins for John Cena’s broken nose and Fínn Balor’s shoulder injury, all while managing to mention the he never injured another wrestler in his career.
Rollins was initially reluctant to discuss Bret Hart’s comments but has been more open about the situation in recent months. The Architect has criticized The Hitman for using the situation to get publicity for himself when he could have spoken to him about his concerns privately.
8. John “Bradshaw” Layfield/Joey Styles
John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s past as a locker room bully is well-documented. There are countless former WWE superstars who have recalled JBL’s hazing of them during their rookie years, with some even citing Layfield as the reason they left WWE. For most superstars who caught JBL’s attention, there was nothing they could do but keep their head down and take it For one guy, however, that was simply not an option.
That guy was Joey Styles, the former voice of ECW. It was Styles, of all people, who finally shut JBL up after enduring weeks of hazing and mockery. Probably because he thought he could get away with it, Layfield chose the small and non-confrontational commentator to be the subject of his cruel brand of humor during a WWE tour of Iraq. On the plane home, Styles decided that he could not let it slide any longer and clocked JBL good and hard on the side of his face, leaving him with a black eye and a cut above his eyebrow.
Before Sable came along, Sunny was the biggest female star WWE had. Before the Attitude Era, Sunny was the First Lady of WWE, but that all changed when a more edgy model began to get TV time. Sable, then the wife of Marc Mero, outshone everybody she was on camera with. With shiny black catsuits and golden curly, she was impossible not to look at, and whenever she was not on TV, a good portion of the audience could be heard chanting her name.
Sunny and Sable had issues from the get-go, with Sunny, like much of the roster, taking issue with Sable’s entitled attitude. Sable eventually drove Sunny out of the company in 1998, almost two decades ago. Despite the time which has passed, Sunny still cannot resist taking a few shots as Mrs. Lesnar on social media.
6. Jim Cornette/Kevin Dunn
Neither Jim Cornette nor Kevin Dunn are wrestlers, but they almost came to blows a couple of times backstage. For a period, Cornette was a high ranking member of WWE’s creative team, back when the company took advice from people who were actually knowledgeable about the wrestling business. He was an old-school guy and had an affinity for the tradition and history of the sport, which frequently caused problems when dealing with the Executive Vice President of TV Production, Kevin Dunn.
It is well-known among wrestling fans that Kevin Dunn is not particularly fond of the whole wrestling aspect of running a wrestling show, and has been a key figure in taking WWE from a wrestling show to a sports entertainment show, something which Jim Cornette rants and raves about to this day.
5. John Cena/Kenny Dykstra
Kenny Dykstra is another guy who has had problems with John Cena in the back, though his issues with the 15-time world champion are quite a bit more personal than Alex Riley’s.
After Dykstra debuted on Monday Night Raw as a member of The Spirit Squad, he entered into a relationship with Mickie James, one of the biggest stars of WWE Divas division and the perfect combination of talent and beauty. Their relationship blossomed and the two moved in together with plans to wed.
However, those plans came to an abrupt halt when Dykstra discovered that James had been seeing John Cena behind his back. After he made this discovery, Dykstra’s career began to suffer. He was relegated to jobber status and then eventually drafted to SmackDown, away from John Cena and Mickie James. Dykstra believes John Cena used his considerable pull backstage not only to have the upstart removed from Raw but also to squash his push and run him out of the company.
4. Colt Cabana/Triple H
When Colt Cabana made his main roster WWE debut in 2008, Triple H was being eased into his role as a major backstage player. There is no evidence to suggest Cabana and Hunter’s paths crossed at all during this period, and even less to say they had a strained relationship.
It was not until years after Cabana left WWE that his feud with Triple H and the company in general began. In 2014 CM Punk – Cabana’s best friend – walked out of WWE and appeared as a guest on Cabana’s podcast to air his grievances with WWE. Punk painted the company in such a negative light that Triple H openly spoke about his desire to kill both Punk and Cabana.
The head of WWE’s medical team later brought a lawsuit against Punk and Cabana for comments made about him on the podcast, which many believe Triple H and Vince McMahon are funding in order to settle the score with the troublesome duo.
3. Colt Cabana/CM Punk
CM Punk, like Bret Hart, has a tendency to ruin relationships with his stubbornness, a fate which unfortunately befell his friendship with the aforementioned Colt Cabana.
Cabana and Punk traveled the roads together for years before Punk was snapped up by WWE and the pair formed a strong friendship which was closer than some marriages. Their bromance was the stuff of legend within the internet wrestling community, with fans sharing and delighting in stories of their antics together.
However, recent reports say the two have fallen out, in large part due to Punk’s ego. According to those in the know, CM Punk was infuriated when he learned Cabana attended a WWE show to visit some friends. Punk felt that this undermined their feud with WWE and so severed all ties with his partner. Most people agree that CM Punk is in the wrong in this situation, especially since Cabana knowingly destroyed his chances of being rehired by the biggest wrestling promotion in the world to give his friend a platform speak out.
Lana has been described as many things, few of them flattering. Perhaps the most accurate description of Lana – real name CJ Perry – has been “Sable 2.0”. This is because Lana had little to no knowledge about professional wrestling when she joined WWE but was still given ample TV time because of her good looks.
While Lana is undoubtedly beautiful, it requires more than just a pretty face to make a superstar, and the manner in which she carries herself backstage has not won her many fans. Backstage sources have stated the Ravishing Russian has “nuclear heat” with her co-workers and much of the office. It has also been said that there is a feeling of pity toward her husband, Rusev, who must endure her various moods.
Earlier this year, it was reported that company officials were furious at Lana for throwing a fit in an airport, scolding her husband for some small mistake in front of dozens of WWE fans. There was also said to be some heat on Rusev for cowering like a puppy during the exchange rather than standing up for himself.
1. Bret Hart/Hulk Hogan
While Bret Hart has certainly been in the wrong in a lot of his feuds, he is justified in his hatred of Hulk Hogan.
In the early 90s, it looked as though Hulkamania had finally subsided and some attention could be given to other stars in the then World Wrestling Federation. Bret Hart was seen by many as the next big thing and had the chance to be the face of the company for years to come. Then Hulk Hogan decided he wanted back on top and everything Hart had worked so hard for was taken away and given to The Hulkster.
At WreslteMania IX, Hulk Hogan injected himself into the main event between Bret Hart and Yokozuna and somehow walked away with the WWE World Championship. He would then refuse to lose it to The Hitman, who he believed was too small to be a credible threat. He eventually dropped the belt to Yokozuna due to wacky outside antics.
In recent interviews, Bret Hart has discussed the many troubles which Hogan has faced over the past decade, which he views as karma for the way he behaved at the height of his fame.