It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been a fan of pro wrestling for any length of time that the business is a mixed bag of friends and enemies. Often times some of wrestling’s greatest rivalries are formed in front of the cameras between two men or women who are actually the best of friends behind them. Notorious best buddies Triple H and Shawn Michaels once went to war in 2002, completely demolishing one another in a brutal street fight at SummerSlam. Though the story went that their friendship had completely fallen apart, the two were as close as ever when Triple H drilled Michaels with that sledgehammer. Similarly, career rivals Trish Stratus and Lita have always considered themselves “besties.”
But this also works in reverse, as many of the most famous wrestling teams secretly couldn’t stand one another outside of the wrestling ring. From long running tag teams to pairs of wrestlers who teamed up only once, it is more common than many of us realize for legitimate enemies to be forced into playing nice for the live audience and viewers at home. Here are fifteen examples of WWE Superstars who teamed up on television but couldn’t manage to get along in real life.
15. Ric Flair & Bret Hart
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Bret “Hitman” Hart are two of the most iconic professional wrestlers of any era and each of them carries a lot of pride with him, so it shouldn’t come as any major surprise to learn that the two never exactly got along. In a case of two guys that just couldn’t say enough bad things about one another, it seemed as though Flair and Hart would never bury the hatchet.
They’ve made a couple of appearances together in recent years in matches involving Flair’s daughter Charlotte and Hart’s niece Natalya, and on the surface, it seemed as though they were able to stand one another again when they appeared to finally become allies following an NXT Women’s Championship match between the two ladies. From what history tells us, though, these two egos will never be put aside.
14. CM Punk & Jeff Hardy
You would think that two edgy, tattooed underdogs would have a lot in common, but that couldn’t be further from the case. CM Punk and Jeff Hardy had very different outlooks on life, with Punk’s straight edge lifestyle conflicting sharply with Jeff Hardy’s very relaxed perspective on illicit substances. Jeff was busted numerous times for substance abuse and is one of the most notorious offenders of WWE’s wellness policy. For obvious reasons, CM Punk and Jeff Hardy are actually nothing alike and this caused a lot of tension between them.
Punk and Hardy will be remembered for their battles over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship several years back, but they’ve also been teammates, too. Most notably, Punk teamed with Jeff and his brother Matt along with Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a match at the 2006 Survivor Series.
13. John Morrison & Trish Stratus
Melina Perez was always involved in some sort of backstage drama and had a notable feud with Mickie James. Her longtime on again, off again boyfriend and former WWE Superstar John Morrison is much in the same boat, though not quite as often. One incident Morrison was involved in revolved around a six-person tag team match at WrestleMania XXVII in 2011 when he teamed with celebrity personality Snooki and WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus to take on Michelle McCool, Layla, and Dolph Ziggler.
Apparently, John Morrison was upset that Trish Stratus had come out of retirement to take a WrestleMania spot that could have gone to his gal Melina, and while Trish tried to keep things professional with a post match celebratory hug, she was snubbed by Morrison on live television.
12. Hulk Hogan & Scott Steiner
In the strictest sense, Hulk Hogan and Scott Steiner were actually only considered having been on screen partners during their time in World Championship Wrestling. At one time both of these wrestling legends were simultaneously members of the famed New World Order stable, a group of guys who were largely credited for the successes of WCW.
Hulk Hogan is obviously an icon in the business, and for Scott Steiner’s part, he’s no slouch either. He was part of a successful tag team with his brother Rick and built an impressive singles career in WCW and later in WWE, but he’s also got a reputation for being quite angry. It’s unknown how he managed to work with anyone during his career, but he and Hulk Hogan seem to have had a particular loathing of one another.
11. Melina & Mickie James
Melina Perez is no stranger to backstage drama. In fact, rumors swirled that her release from WWE several years ago was a direct result of her inability to stay out of trouble behind the scenes. She managed to make enemies out of quite a few people during her run with the company, but one, in particular, was a woman she repeatedly worked with not only as an opponent but as a tag team partner. That woman’s name was Mickie James.
For whatever reason, Melina and Mickie James always seemed to have some sort of real life feud going on. It remains unclear how they managed to work together so often for so long before one of them got the ax, but ultimately they both left the company. Mickie, however, is back working full time for the Raw brand and Melina is nowhere to be seen.
10. The Rock & John Cena
It’s been called the longest and most painstakingly dull rivalry in modern memory by the more hardcore WWE fan base, though it was quite captivating to the casual viewer when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson came out of retirement to kick start a two-year long rivalry with WWE’s new golden boy John Cena. The Rock and Cena went back and forth in verbal battles typical of the two involved and they competed in two consecutive WrestleMania main events against one another.
At the end of it all, mutual respect seemed to have taken over and the two men appeared to have become allies. Reports stated, however, that this on screen rivalry was not just smoke and mirrors and that Cena and Johnson truly did not like one another.
9. Matt Hardy & Edge
Technically, Matt Hardy and Adam “Edge” Copeland were still good friends when they were working together to revolutionize tag team wrestling throughout the Attitude era. Though usually on opposite ends of the ring with their respective tag team partners Jeff Hardy and Christian, Matt and Edge often found themselves teaming together, too. The teams of Edge & Christian and the Hardy Boyz were the definitions of “frenemies” at the peak of their tag team careers, but at some point, betrayal ruined all of it.
Matt Hardy’s real life girlfriend at the time, WWE Hall of Famer Amy “Lita” Dumas, had an affair with Edge. When all of this came to light there was a very public falling out which ended up with art imitating life in the form of an on screen rivalry between the two.
8. Charlotte Flair & Paige
Speaking of the Flairs, real life personal drama does not seem to be exclusive to Daddy Ric. Charlotte Flair is now not only one of the most respected women in the ring, but one of the most respected and naturally gifted performers of any gender under contract with WWE. She is continuously making history, having won six championships between NXT and WWE and proving that it is possible for a woman to be able to wrestle circles around a man.
Paige is also an amazing athlete with a family history in the wrestling business, but respect was the last thing on anyone’s mind when rumors starting making the rounds that these two former on screen partners couldn’t get along anymore due to jealousy over Charlotte’s ex-boyfriend and Paige’s current fiancé, Alberto Del Rio.
7. The Young Stallions
The late 1980s was a boom period for the business that is professional wrestling. WrestleMania was born in 1985 and for the next several years the World Wrestling Federation was growing exponentially, both in popularity and financially. Plenty of new stars were being made from the top of the card to the bottom of it, but one tag team just couldn’t seem to take advantage of their time in the bright spotlight of late ‘80s WWF, and that team was known as the Young Stallions.
Consisting of former WWE Superstars Paul Roma and Jim Powers, the tandem wrestled for a few years before eventually fading into nonexistence, and never saw much success. Roma and Powers reportedly could not put their egos aside to get along, so this team was probably never getting off the ground anyway.
6. The Can-Am Connection
One tag team in the late 1980s that didn’t manage to see much in the way of success was the Can-Am Connection. This was a time when the tag division was undergoing growth and so was the entirety of the World Wrestling Federation. When Tom Zenk and Rick Martel were paired for this team there were high hopes from everyone involved considering each man’s talents in the ring as well as their marketable look.
Unfortunately, these two never got off on the right foot, neither with each other nor the WWE Universe as a whole. Tom Zenk eventually left the WWF following differences with his partner and the company itself, but Rick Martel would stick around and find success as a singles wrestler and with another tag team known as Strike Force with partner Tito Santana.
5. Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas
Every year during Black History Month, black wrestlers from the past and present are celebrated for their accomplishments in the World Wrestling Federation. There are plenty of men and women worthy of celebrating, but few can lay claim to being the trailblazers that Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson were. During the early 1980s, before the WrestleMania era, they feuded with the legendary Wild Samoans and defeated them to become the first ever African American team to become the WWF Tag Team Champions.
Despite being highly successful, rumors persisted over the years that Atlas and Johnson just couldn’t seem to get along during their run together. They apparently accused one another of being late to shows among having other quarrels, but that didn’t stop them from making history.
4. Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior
During the first several years of WrestleMania, Hulk Hogan had a starring role in nearly every main event at the biggest wrestling event of the year. Hogan and the late WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior became famous rivals for their classic World Wrestling Federation Championship match at WrestleMania VI in 1990, but being the two massive fan favorites that they were they would inevitably find themselves on the same side of the ring as partners as well.
Hogan and Warrior were often allies on the screen and when they were opponents there was a lot of mutual respect, but in real life, they completely hated one another. Their legit rivalry spilled over into WCW and beyond, and it didn’t ease up until WrestleMania weekend in 2014 when Warrior was inducted into the Hall of Fame and made peace with Hogan just days before Warrior’s death.
3. The Rockers
The Rockers were a spectacularly popular tag team throughout the 1980s and early 1990s that consisted of two men you might know as Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels. After years of tagging together successfully, they were involved in one of the biggest and earliest swerves in all of wrestling when Michaels turned on Jannetty and set out on a solo career that, as you know, went quite well for him. Unfortunately for Jannetty, his career went almost nowhere while Michaels skyrocketed straight to the top of the WWF and never looked back.
Rumor has it that, while they seemed to be the best of friends on screen, there were quite a few disagreements behind the scenes between the two not entirely unrelated to Marty Jannetty’s substance abuse.
2. The British Bulldogs
This list includes several tag teams of the 1980s in the World Wrestling Federation that seemed to have had a major problem putting egos aside and getting along when the cameras were off. One team that belongs on that list is the British Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were responsible almost single handedly for ushering in a new, more competitive era in tag team wrestling when they became prominent WWF Tag Team Champions in the late ‘80s. They were bringing a more athletic style to the ring that was rare for the time period and seemed poised for a long career together until an injury to Dynamite Kid left Davey Boy Smith without a partner. Apparently, though, they were doomed anyway considering the fallout they had when Dynamite Kid discovered Davey Boy had trademarked the British Bulldog name.
1. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan and the “Macho Man” Randy Savage are undoubtedly the two biggest wrestling stars of the 1980s, though the argument can be made that they’re the biggest of all time considering the fact that their legendary rivalry is often credited for giving birth to modern professional wrestling as we know it today. No two men are more often cited as inspirations to the wrestlers who followed them in the generations after, but they aren’t just known as rivals.
In fact, the on screen rivalry between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage evolved from their previous alliance as a tag team known as the Mega Powers. The Mega Powers split up after Savage became paranoid that Hogan was trying to steal Savage’s wife Miss Elizabeth, but that apparently wasn’t all fiction because rumors still persist to this day that Hogan and Elizabeth had an affair.
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