Pro wrestling may be scripted, but this doesn’t change the fact that pro wrestlers themselves are very real. These people have emotions and feelings like anyone else, and often these feelings are quite different from what they’re trying to project in their wrestling personas. Typically, this relates to wrestling in that the people beating each other up on screen don’t actually hate each other, and in fact, can quite often be good friends. On the other hand, it also means that certain wrestlers forced to appear friendly on screen can actually despise one another once cameras stop rolling, and if the on-air teams become successful enough, they may have to put up with the charade for years.
The reality is, most pro wrestlers in successful tag teams genuinely have some level of affection towards their partners. Even if they don’t agree on every single subject, the fact that tag team partners work together and get paid together for their collective performances can do a lot helping to form a relationship between them. This is especially true if the business aspect of their partnership is lucrative. However, when business isn’t good, it puts tag teams on a fast track towards a breakup both onscreen and off. Of course, bad business is just one of many factors that can cause two people to grow cold. You’ll soon find out that the members of these teams had dozens of reasons to start dreaming about going solo, or at least finding a new partner. Some even started popping up before the team won their first match together. Check out our list of some of the most memorable tag teams, and see the 15 you never knew hated each other’s guts.
15. Jon Heidenreich And Road Warrior Animal
Take away his tag team with Road Warrior Animal, and Jon Heidenreich was that guy who raped Michael Cole. As a matter of fact, that’s still the only thing most fans remember him for, although he did indeed serve as the replacement for Road Warrior Hawk when Animal decided to revive The Legion of Doom in 2005. Hawk had passed away two years prior, and while there’s nothing wrong with Animal and WWE wanting to give some sort of tribute to him, Heidenreich had none of Hawk’s charm, and fans rejected the idea almost immediately. The duo nevertheless managed to win the World Tag Team Championships for the better part of three months. Surprisingly, Animal was the one person who at the very least accepted Heidenreich’s potential from the very beginning, only for Heidenreich to repeatedly disrespect him and the opportunity WWE had given them both. Animal claims Heidenreich was regularly late to airports and when meeting other travel arrangements, and also that WWE doctors accused Heidenreich of drug abuse around this era. Heidenreich responded that he would fight Animal over these accusations, which in Animal’s defense, the Road Warrior thought was a ridiculous way to react. That is almost certainly true, although it also makes it abundantly clear these two guys didn’t get along.
14. William Regal And Tajiri
WWE superstars are on the road practically the entire year, so it helps if the person they get stuck traveling with enjoys the same type of music. Sharing some tunes will make the long car rides a little more palatable, but there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a vehicle with someone who blasts your least favorite song the whole trip. Except, perhaps, someone who claims to be “afraid of music,” which is how William Regal explained the behavior of his longtime partner, Tajiri. Regal and Tajiri teamed up to win the World Tag Team Championships for several months in 2005, although their pairing had actually first started some four years prior when Regal was WWE commissioner and Tajiri was his onscreen assistant. As hilarious as the duo could be on television, it turns out they never got along when traveling together, largely due to Tajiri’s aversion to sound forcing Regal to sit through their long road trips in absolute silence. Tajiri also alleged to be strongly afraid of insects, meaning the car windows needed to be rolled up at all times, making the beginning of each trip sweltering until the air conditioning finally kicked in. It also didn’t help that Tajiri never quite mastered the English language, making Regal feel awkward about their inability to engage in small chit-chat during these silent, scorching hot car rides.
13. The Dicks
Despite how mainstream the sport has become, there’s a good chance pro wrestling will never entirely get over its reputation as low grade, trashy entertainment, and The Dicks play a huge role in the sport failing to shake this reputation. Chad and James Dick, known on the independent scene as Chad Wicks and Tank Tolland, were wrestlers/male strippers who made their WWE debut in late 2005. Rumor has it that The Dicks were rubbing people the wrong way backstage almost instantly upon their arrival, causing people to brand these rookies with premature attitude problems, to say the least. Names like JBL, Chris Benoit, and The Undertaker reported started hazing The Dicks for their behavior, which especially grated Chad Wicks, who decided to repeatedly complain to WWE management about what was happening. Tank Tolland, however, felt that considering who was doing the hazing and why, they were much more likely to lose their jobs for complaining than the people they made the complaints about. Tolland confronted Wicks with this fact, and when Wicks refused to back down, the Dicks started fighting each other. WWE made the quick decision to fire both men, before they could leave the company in a sticky situation.
12. The Gangstas
Especially as time has started to pay its toll on ECW alumni, wrestling fans are finding plenty of reasons to hate on one of the company’s most extreme, hardcore competitors, New Jack. Jack’s reputation as a jerk is pretty fair. He’s been known to take liberties with his opponents in ultra-violent ways, with incidents on record where he bloodied both underage and elderly wrestlers far beyond what the script of their matches called for. All of that in mind, though, New Jack was still an infinitely more talented superstar than his long term partner Mustafa, which was one of the things that caused The Gangstas to grow apart as ECW became more popular. Neither of The Gangstas were particularly great wrestlers, but New Jack did have some genuine talent on the microphone, and at least had the energy to participate in innovative (albeit extremely dangerous) spots from time to time. Mustafa, on the other hand, was completely wooden in the ring, and his microphone skills entailed little more than a giggle and an agreement with what New Jack had already said. Another huge problem arose when Mustafa didn’t want to move to Philadelphia, where most ECW shows were held, making it too expensive for Paul Heyman to keep flying him to their shows. Jack and Heyman tried to phase Mustafa out and replaced him because of this, which Mustafa took personally and decided to blame Jack for. Mustafa left ECW not long after these problems started to arise, while Jack stayed in the company until it went out of business. The two have since reunited in independents, although their relationship has never fully recovered.
The Ax and the Smasher promised that they were a walking disaster at the outset of their theme song, and with the longest WWE World Tag Team Championship reign on record, they managed to prove that boast true. As it would turn out, Bill Eadie and Barry Darsow would take their characters’ promise literally and start turning into bitter enemies by the end of their initial run as a team. The whole story is marred in a bit of controversy so it can be hard to figure out the specifics, and from what we can tell, that was intentional on behalf of the WWE executives trying to get Demolition to split up. The two wrestled their last WWE matches as a team in late 1990. Crush was brought in to replace Ax during an injury, and by the time Ax was healthy again, Smash was ready to move on completely by way of switching gimmicks to Repo Man. Apparently, WWE executives told Smash that Demolition was over and he had to move on, while other execs told Ax it was Smash’s idea to move on and that the team was over because of his decision. Further trouble brewed when Ax decided to take WWE to court over the rights to the Demolition name, a battle that Smash decided Ax was best left fighting on his own. Decades later, once the legal issue was cleared up, Ax and Smash finally reconciled their differences and started teaming up again on the independent scene.
10. Billy Kidman And Paul London
It seems like every time a rookie is paired with a wrestler of only slightly greater experience, the team is a powder keg waiting to explode the first time one of them makes it clear what they think about the other. The comparative veteran always feels like the rookie isn’t appreciative of the role they’ve been given, and the rookie feels like the so-called vet isn’t quite good enough to be making these complaints. This is exactly what happened with Billy Kidman and Paul London, a team that nonetheless won the WWE Tag Team Championships in 2004. Their championship success was marred by the aforementioned cliché feelings of resentment, mostly coming from Kidman’s direction in response to being forced to work with someone who hadn’t “paid his dues.” London respected Kidman’s contributions to the business up to that point, but he quickly felt slighted by the way Kidman was treating him and responded by giving his partner the cold shoulder. It’s true that Kidman was a big success in WCW’s cruiserweight division, but London may have had a point in that Kidman was hardly a main event talent, and Kidman had been experiencing a career downswing in the immediate months proceeding the two forming a team. That said, London still takes some of the blame here for how quickly he turned on Kidman, which caused their team to collapse in a matter of months.
9. Vader And Bam Bam Bigelow
Whenever wrestling fans try and decide who was the greatest super heavyweight in the sport, two names inevitably stand neck and neck as the top two picks: Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow. Due in part to this shared reputation as two of the most agile and impressive athletes to tip the scales at over 400 pounds, the two formed a dominant and destructive team in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where they won the IWGP Tag Team Championships in 1992. Despite being two of the most powerful gaijin superstars in Japanese wrestling history, Vader and Bam Bam never got along with one another as a team, although Bigelow claims this is what led to them being so successful. According to Bigelow, Vader acted like a jerk and a bully behind-the-scenes, alienating his partner but also making Bigelow want to outperform Vader in the ring out of spite. Vader realized what Bam Bam was doing and started to up his performances as well, creating some of the hardest hitting matches New Japan had ever seen.
8. Arn Anderson And Paul Roma
In all fairness to Arn Anderson, this entry could double as one for Paul Roma and just about every partner who was forced to work with him. Anderson still deserves special mention for being Roma’s most mismatched partner, and also for the fact that Anderson wasn’t alone in hating the team. His friend, Ric Flair, was also furious Anderson was forced to drag himself down by associating with Roma. Flair had good reason to be upset as well, since his reputation was also being harmed through the ordeal, thanks to the fact that Roma was considered one of The Four Horsemen while he and Anderson worked together. The reason Anderson and Flair hated Roma so much stems from the bizarre and amazing fact that Roma believed he was the true star of the group, claiming Flair was way past his prime and saying Anderson “look[ed] like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.” Anderson and Flair responded that Roma was by far the worst Horsemen of all time, also alleging that they never wanted him in the group in the first place. Other wrestlers to partner with Roma, including Jim Powers of The Young Stallions and Hercules of Power & Glory, have also gone on record to state their many problems related to being forced to team up with him.
7. Raven And Stevie Richards
Plenty of the teams on this list went through significant ups and downs, and even those that hated each other the most probably had a few professional good times somewhere mixed in with all the spite. Raven and Stevie Richards are in many ways responsible for one another’s success, Richards probably more so than Raven, although Raven still needs to be thankful for playing the ultimate idiot to Richards’ ultimate cool guy during their run as the top heels in ECW. Indeed, the two of them were getting together like gangbusters when they were both top stars and making money, but as often happens, Richards started to get bitter and jealous when Raven’s star began shining brighter than his. Raven isn’t entirely free of blame here, though, as he admits in hindsight to having been a miserable drug addict who never properly appreciated what Richards was doing for his character until many years later. The two were eventually able to put aside their differences and start working together again, albeit not until after Richards started spreading nasty rumors about Raven and the people Raven used to replace him in WCW.
6. The Eliminators
It is only appropriate that in the beginning, the two wrestlers named after the Greek and Roman harvester Gods would be pretty close to one another. Saturn and Kronus met prior to Kronus having entered the wrestling business, when Saturn was working on the independent scene with a side job in the nightclub business. Saturn inspired Kronus to become a wrestler and then offered him the chance to form a tag team, which they did, creating The Eliminators. The Eliminators achieved minor success in various Southern territories prior to exploding in popularity when they joined ECW, where they stood out due to Saturn’s technical and Kronus’s gymnastic abilities. According to Saturn, though, it wasn’t long until Kronus started to get extremely lazy, while Saturn was consistently working harder and harder every night. Obviously, Saturn started to get annoyed with his partner’s inability to keep up, especially as their careers were clearly on the rise and more fans were watching ECW than ever before. Instead of keeping the team going with diminishing returns, Saturn made the decision to leave ECW and go solo rather than let Kronus continue to drag him down. As the smoke cleared years later, Saturn explained that he never really hated Kronus on a personal level and that he was only upset how his actions were affecting both of their careers.
5. Soul Patrol
Since the magnetic and energetic personality of The Rock led to him being recognized as “the most electrifying man in sports and entertainment,” most fans probably assume that his father, Rocky Johnson, was a likewise affable and friendly guy. While it would be fair to say that Rocky Johnson’s contributions to pro wrestling have been unfairly glossed over due to the enormous success of his offspring, part of the reason “Soulman” wasn’t as well liked as his son could relate to comments his former tag team partner made about their time together. According to Atlas, Johnson didn’t like the idea of working with another black wrestler, and didn’t like it when more than one black wrestler would work in the same territory he did, because he felt it was his “niche.” While a story like this likely has more to do with the endemic race problem wrestling has suffered for decades than any personal animosity between Johnson and his fellow black superstars, it nonetheless makes it clear that Johnson wasn’t doing anything to help his black brothers, either. Atlas has also claimed that his hatred for Johnson was so strong that he would happily “punch him in the mouth” at every opportunity, even when they were tagging together.
4. The British Bulldogs
The Dynamite Kid has gradually turned into one of the most hated pariahs in wrestling thanks to an overwhelmingly bad attitude, and yet fans still tend to side with him when it comes to the breakup of The British Bulldogs. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out why, either, unless you became a fan after the two broke up, and you’re therefore only familiar with one British Bulldog. Of course, therein lies the issue, in that Davey Boy Smith kept using the name he and Dynamite created as a team long after Dynamite was forced into retirement, causing a levy of copyright issues not to mention serious personal animosity between two former close friends at the idea that one would completely ignore the existence of the other in building their fame. Things were made even worse due to the popular perception that Dynamite was by far the more talented member of the group, causing him to feel Davey Boy took his hard work and stole his name. The war between the Bulldogs was apparently so heated that it even started to separate their families, with future relatives Tyson Kidd and David Smith claiming the Hart family lines are still torn to this day based on whose side people took during the fallout of the team.
3. The Mega Powers
Most of the tag teams on this list were broken up because of success or money. The Mega Powers had more of either than anyone else, so it makes sense that their breakup would be an outright explosion. That’s especially true when you realize Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the only tag team on this list to start hating each other once a woman got involved, namely Randy’s long-suffering wife, Miss Elizabeth. The stories of Savage mistreating Elizabeth behind-the-scenes are as infamous as they are well-known, best summed up by explaining that Savage was so jealous that he’d lock Elizabeth in his locker room at all times so he could be immediately with her. How exactly this would allow for an affair with Hogan is unclear, but Savage started to believe that the two were going behind his back nonetheless, and this jealousy was hardly confined to the wildly popular storyline version of events fans are familiar with. Savage also grew jealous over Hogan’s constant claims that he was the biggest star in wrestling, which Savage felt ignored his contributions to their feuds, not to mention the contributions of the many other people Hogan battled on his way to the top. The rivalry between the two went so far as to involve a battle rap song called “Be A Man,” in which Savage challenged Hogan to a legitimate fight years after their wars in the ring seemed over. Thankfully, the two were able to make peace shortly before Randy’s untimely death, proving all teams on this list where both members are still alive have some hope for reconciliation.
2. The Can-Am Connection
It makes sense that a fresh young tag team would expect to make the same amount of money should they sign with a company at the same time. This is certainly what Tom Zenk believed when he and Rick Martel signed with WWE as The Can-Am Connection in 1986. However, there are certain extenuating circumstances to consider, such as the fact that Martel was only a few months removed from reigning as AWA World Champion, in addition to having been a former two-time WWE Tag Team Champion in his earlier run with the company. This put Martel’s stock way above Zenk’s, and therefore he was promised a bit more money at the onset of their team. Zenk was furious about this arrangement and angrily demanded that Martel should walk out of the company with him over the slight. What Zenk failed to consider was that Martel had only gotten Zenk hired as a favor, and that WWE was completely happy keeping Martel by himself and teaming him with someone else. Therefore, Zenk wound up walking out, and Martel teamed up with Tito to form the wildly popular Strike Force. Zenk has remained bitter about the incident ever since, and he remains just about the only person the highly affable Martel has anything bad to say about in the entire wrestling industry.
1. The Midnight Rockers
These days, when one member of a tag team becomes significantly more popular than the other, the lesser member of the duo is given the distinction as that team’s Marty Jannetty. This trope was born with The Midnight Rockers, the legendary duo of Jannetty and Shawn Michaels, formed well before HBK earned his reputation as one of the greatest sports entertainers ever to live. Michaels and Jannetty were actually considered roughly equal talents, who shared boundless potential and who could have been unstoppable as a team had personal problems not interfered. The Rockers were apparently extremely jealous of one another at the onset of their team and would get into regular fistfights before their matches. Drug use was rampant between both members, which no doubt only served to make their tensions significantly worse. Even years later, after Michaels found religion and attempted to make peace with everyone, Marty continues to talk negatively about his former friend during interviews, noting that Shawn seemed not to care when informed about Marty’s health problems and when asked to comment on their “fallen brothers.”