Ah, the wrestling business — a landscape so often overflowing with testosterone and various other chemicals that have seen many a grappler on edge and always watching over their shoulder. These days it’s less so, but back in the day, barely a week or month would go by without a couple of wrestlers getting into a legit backstage fight over something (usually of a trivial nature). Given the fact that you’re often talking about some 250-lb., muscled-up dudes with a chip on their shoulders, sometimes, these fights could turn pretty brutal. Other times, you get that ever-great sight of a supposed tough nut being schooled and embarrassed by someone he thinks is beneath him.
Be it the old days of the WWWF and NWA, the times of WWF, WCW and ECW, or the modern-day landscape of the WWE, wrestlers will always find something to bicker and argue about, and that can lead to hands being thrown.
Here, it’s time to have a look back at 17 instances of backstage brawls over the years, some of which have gone down in infamy, whereas others have merely served to highlight how certain tough guys really weren’t as tough as they themselves believed.
17. Sid Vicious vs Arn Anderson
The fight between Sid and Double A is one of the most infamous in wrestling history. But just in case you’ve not heard the story before, here are the basics.
During a WCW tour of the UK in 1993, Sid busted into Arn Anderson’s Blackpool hotel room and stabbed him 20 times with a pair of scissors. A shocked and dazed (and bloodied!) Anderson would manage to inflict 4 stab wounds on Sid, but The Enforcer was clearly on the worst end of things here as he would end up in serious condition in hospital from the attack.
16. Vince McMahon vs Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker
In terms of the stories and battles discussed here, this one is one of the more light-hearted tales. As the story goes, during a flight back from an overseas tour, Vince McMahon made the bold move of playfully challenging Kurt Angle to an amateur wrestling match. Not wishing to lose face and also wanting to play along with Vince, the Olympic gold medalist agreed and the pair began to grapple.
At this point in time, The Undertaker had been peacefully asleep. Upon waking up, The Deadman saw Angle on top of McMahon and thought that Kurt was legitimately taking out the boss. Ever the WWE mainstay and loyalist, ‘Taker instinctively choked out Angle to protect Vince.
15. Scott Steiner vs DDP
Scott Steiner is one of the most notorious legit tough guys in the wrestling business. And just as much as that, he’s also famous for his hair-trigger fuse and temper. As the story goes, Kimberly Page went to WCW management in 2001 after finding some drugs backstage. The blame was pinned on Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, and this drew the ire of Steiner, particularly as his friend Tammy promptly took and passed a drug test.
The next time Steiner was in front of a WCW crowd, he immediately cut a scathing shoot promo slating Kimberly and her husband, Diamond Dallas Page. Infuriated by this, DDP made the ballsy move of waiting backstage for Steiner. From there, heated words led to heavy fists as a brawl broke out. Steiner, a legitimate amateur wrestler, took control of the bout and was trying to pull out Page’s eyes! Luckily for DDP, the fight was broken up although his ballsy decision to stand up to Scotty won him plenty of respect from the boys.
14. Chris Jericho vs Goldberg
During his WCW stay, one of Chris Jericho’s most memorable feuds was with Bill Goldberg. The only thing is, this wasn’t exactly a feud as Jericho openly mocked and challenged Da Man without Goldberg ever responding. Completely on his own, Jericho had built up huge anticipation for a collision with Goldberg… which ultimately never really happened. Bill would shoot down the idea of working with the smaller Canadian, and instead, a PPV match was just changed to Goldberg hitting a Spear on Jericho in the aisle.
Fast forward a few years to Goldberg’s initial run in the WWE, and by then, Jericho was a huge star. When Goldberg started trying to play politics backstage, Y2J told him that things didn’t work like that up in New York. This led to an argument breaking out, which in turn led to a backstage brawl that saw Jericho tame the beast with a front face lock.
13. Ken Shamrock vs The Nasty Boys
Put the badass, aggressive, and intense Ken Shamrock together with notorious brawlers The Nasty Boys and you have an explosive situation. And that’s what happened way back in 1990 in South Atlantic Pro Wrestling. After Knobbs had constantly tried to fumble a girl’s breasts, Shamrock repeatedly told him to knock it off until the situation became a fight between the pair. That was broke up by security, but Shamrock sought out The Nasties at their hotel, where he was blindsided by Sags with a telephone and left with a broken sternum, a broken eye socket, and a concussion after the duo went to work on him.
As Shamrock himself put it, he actually died on his way to the hospital. And he also never forgot that 2-on-1 attack…
Fast forward to 1998, and Shamrock saw the pair at an airport and offered them to fight. The Nasty Boys hightailed it out of there, now aware of Ken’s status as an MMA legend and a former UFC Champion by that point.
12. Shawn Michaels vs Marty Jannetty
Even though they’re revered as one of the greatest and most influential tag teams of all time, there was a good chunk of time when The Rockers couldn’t stand each other. This would often be fueled by alcohol and drugs, with the pair getting hammered out on the road and then getting into fist fights with each other. One particular unsavory incident, though, happened back in 1991.
After Roddy Piper had stirred the pot a little, Shawn Michaels decided to go and fight Marty Jannetty. Unfortunately for Shawn, all reports say that Marty was dominating the fight until the police arrived. With Michaels a bloody mess, the officers were about to arrest Jannetty when Randy Savage came to the rescue. Macho Man managed to convince the cops that this fight was actually part of a future storyline, and he signed some autographs and sent them on their way.
11. Awesome Kong vs Reby Sky
There aren’t too many widely publicized stories of backstage fights in TNA, but one of the more notorious ones relates to the beef between Awesome Kong and the wife of Matt Hardy, Reby Sky.
In January 2016, the pair were due to share a locker room during a UK show emanating from Manchester. The imposing Kong wasn’t too keen on this idea due to her long-term hatred of Reby Sky and her feeling that Sky didn’t belong in the same dressing room as the company’s Knockouts.
Kong would throw the bags of Sky, Matt, and their son, Maxell, out of the locker room. Heated words followed, Sky was pushed against a wall and then shockingly choked out in front of her infant son, and Awesome Kong was immediately sent back home on the first flight out of Manchester.
10. Paul Orndorff vs Vader
During his time in WCW, “Big Van” Vader was an absolutely unstoppable monster when it came to his in-ring persona. Behind the scenes, though, Vader wasn’t quite as unstoppable, as highlighted by the time he got into it with Paul Orndorff.
At that point in the early ‘90s, Mr. Wonderful was working as an agent for WCW, and he and Vader had a long-standing animosity. When the Mastodon arrived late for a TV taping, Orndorff chewed him out in front of the boys. Not taking too kindly to this, Vader got in Orndorff’s face, to which the legit tough Mr. Wonderful dared him to hit him.
9. Shawn Michaels vs The Harris Twins
Back in 1995, when Shawn Michaels was often calling the shots backstage and generally acting like a bit of a d*ck to anyone but his Kliq buddies, HBK would end up pushing Ron and Don Harris a little too far. The Harris boys were serving their last week before they left the WWF, and Shawn chose to openly mock their in-ring work. With nothing to lose, Ron and Don were more than a tad annoyed about the loudmouth HBK and decided to do something about it. As Michaels’s fellow Kliq brothers were on a different tour, Shawn had no one to back him up, and so the Harris Twins locked themselves in the locker room with no one but the Heartbreak Kid. Soon enough, Shawn was pinned up against a wall by his throat, although Ron Harris would decide Michaels wasn’t worth the hassle and left the now-shut-up Michaels with the fear of God put in him.
8. Nailz vs Vince McMahon
During Kevin “Nailz” Wacholz’s cup of coffee in the WWF in 1992, one of his few notable matches saw him beat the ever-jobbing Virgil at that year’s SummerSlam. Despite being happy with the win, Nailz was far from happy with his pay. Unhappy with the check he received for besting Ted DiBiase’s former manservant, Nailz went and confronted Vince McMahon in his office. With his buddy, The Berzerker, watching the door, Nailz proceeded to choke out Vince after McMahon refused to dish out some extra dollars.
Safe to say, Nailz was promptly fired and would soon end up in WCW as The Convict. He also played a big part in the ongoing steroid scandal when his testimony helped Vince get off due to the pure hatred he had for McMahon tainting proceedings in a court of law.
7. Joey Styles vs JBL
There’s nothing quite as good as seeing a notorious longtime bully get his comeuppance, especially if said comeuppance comes at the hands of an apparent underdog. And that’s exactly the case where John Bradshaw Layfield and Joey Styles were concerned.
During an overseas tour, ECW announcing icon Styles had finally had enough of Bradshaw’s constant hazing and bullying antics. When the former World Champion pushed the voice of ECW too far, Styles punched and knocked out the hefty Texan. And with that, the Internet Wrestling Community cheered in unison!
6. Dynamite Kid vs Jacques Rougeau
Regardless of how groundbreaking and influential a worker he was, Dynamite Kid is one of the most notorious bullies and thorough bastards the wrestling business has ever seen. For every match of Dynamite’s that blows you away, there’s also just as many stories of him overstepping the mark — from needlessly roughing up opponents, to excessive backstage pranks, to even pulling a gun on his sleeping wife.
Blaming Jacques and Raymond Rougeau for cutting up his clothes — which was actually done by Mr. Perfect — Dynamite blindsided the French-Canadians. After carefully planning revenge, Jacques Rougeau would lay out Dynamite with a quarters-filled fist several weeks later — a move that took out 4 of the Englishman’s teeth.
5. Steve Blackman vs Bradshaw
If there’s one thing better than seeing a notorious bully get his comeuppance at the hands of an underdog, it’s seeing a notorious bully get his comeuppance at the hands of a total badass martial artist nicknamed The Lethal Weapon.
When a drunken Bradshaw decided to spend a late ‘90s airport stay reaching for the buttocks of Steve Blackman, he was warned by Blackman several times not to do it. Ever the drunken bully, the Texan continued time and time again until tough-as-nails Blackman unloaded a flurry of fists and feet on Bradshaw. Luckily Bradshaw’s partner, Ron Simmons, was there to drag his tipsy tag partner away, but not before Blackman threatened to kill the former Justin Hawk Bradshaw the next time he saw him. Safe to say, that particular “next time” saw Bradshaw full of apologies at the prospect of another beating.
4. Booker T vs Batista
During the shooting of the SummerSlam 2006 commercial, a legitimate fight broke out between Booker T and Batista due to Big Dave running his mouth just a tad too much for many people’s liking. By this point in time, Batista had become a bit of an arrogant asshole who would often talk about how he was the sole reason why SmackDown was doing well. Even then, though, he’d still regularly praise the Raw brand as a better place to work regardless of his supposed allegiance to the blue brand. This all came to a head at the SummerSlam shoot, where The Animal continued to make similar remarks to Booker T, with Book reportedly repeatedly warning Batista and giving him a chance to walk away. Dave didn’t, and so the pair got into it.
3. Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon
The backstage fight between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon back in 1997 saw The Hitman live out the dream of many an employee: he legitimately got to punch out his boss. At the infamous 1997 Survivor Series PPV, we all got to see the Montreal Screwjob play out on in front of our eyes. After Hart was double-crossed on his way out of the WWF, the Excellence of Execution was rightly furious and had a whole heap of anger to unload.
With Shawn Michaels lying through his teeth to deny any responsibility, the target of Bret’s anger switched over to McMahon. And when Vince entered the locker room, Hart warned the owner that if he was there once Bret had showered, he’d knock him out. Well, Vince didn’t leave, and the two got in each other’s faces and even locked up in wrestling fashion… only Bret knocked Vinny Mac on his ass with an uppercut before several officials dragged Vince away.
2. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels
The history and beef between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are legendary. The one time it really got physical, though, was back at the 1997 King of the Ring PPV. Having not spoken to each other for 3 weeks, Hart decided to make peace with Shawn. From there, HBK told the Hitman to go and f**k himself, and thus Bret retaliated with his fists. At this point, there was a whole lot of tension between the pair, largely due to Michaels’s “Sunny days” comment, causing problems in Bret’s home life. As the duo’s animosity came to a head, Hart fired off the first punch and soon had Michaels on the floor. Shawn followed suit by trying to target Bret’s bad knee, although Hart took him down once more and started to repeatedly punch him in the face, bloodying Michaels in the process and even pulling out some of HBK’s hair as he was pulled off of the Texan.
1. Bruiser Brody vs Invader #1
While most of the entries in this article were merely backstage scuffles and fights that had no major lasting consequences, the sad case of Bruiser Brody was a far, far more tragic one. Brody infamously died following a stabbing in a Puerto Rico shower.
Bruiser was notorious for being hard to work with for many promoters, and officials in Puerto Rico decided to prove their point by sending Jose Gonzalez, aka Invader #1, into the locker room to teach Brody a lesson. As Gonzalez took Brody into the showers to apparently talk business, minutes later, the locker room heard a scuffle and a loud scream. Bruiser Brody would stumble out of the shower with blood pouring out of him.
Brody would pass away in the early hours of the following morning, and a corrupt legal system would see Gonzalez walk away from this shocking incident as a free man.