WWE feuds are commonplace in a league that typically progresses its superstar cast of characters through conflicts between one another. Wrestlers, and sometimes even managers, frequently take to the middle of the ring with a microphone in hand in order to further their plotlines, calling out whomever it is they are currently feuding with. The WWE sprinkles in some staged television cuts backstage as well, all filled with gimmicks and attempts at intimidation in order to ramp up the tension preceding upcoming matches.
The result is an increase in fan interest. Fans want to see who will come out on top between a pair of wrestlers with a storied history. So, the WWE does its best to establish that backstory before their big matches. Essentially, they want every main event to be like watching the wrestling versions of the Montagues and the Capulets, winner takes all.
Of course, like many aspects of professional wrestling, these feuds are all scripted and written out by the people upstairs. The wrestlers themselves usually hold no grudges, as they realize feuds are simply part of the profession they’ve chosen. There are exceptions, though, and sometimes feuds that began as scripted clashes of egos begin to take on a life of their own.
We’ve gone through the history of the WWE to compile a list of feuding superstars who actually gathered a genuine distaste for one another. Sometimes this leads to a mere battle of words, other times, well, there are no punches pulled. Did your favorite feuds make the cut?
What follows are the ten steamiest real life WWE feuds:
10 Edge and Matt Hardy
They’re both famous for their contributions to the tag team realm of the WWE world, but there is no love lost between these two famous wrestlers. Their feud blossomed in 2005, and revolved around a woman. At the time, Lita was an extremely formidable WWE diva and happened to be dating Hardy.
According to Edge’s documentary You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge, Hardy was eventually injured and Lita began traveling with Edge while Hardy started the long road to recovery. While on the road, Edge became romantically involved with Lita. The illicit romance soon became public knowledge. This set Hardy off, and the two began an in-ring rivalry that was truly memorable. Hardy was so upset that he actually left the WWE for some time, only to return a while later in order to exact his revenge on Edge.
9 CM Punk and Vince McMahon
Okay, we know McMahon isn’t necessarily a wrestler. The CEO of the WWE has made occasional appearances inside the ring, but the moments are usually staged so that wrestlers can kick his butt. We imagine Punk would like to try his hand at one such segment, as his relationship with McMahon has become strained to say the least.
While in the WWE, CM Punk was not averse to calling out “the man” whenever the mic was in his hands. He was once even quoted as saying “I love the place I work, I just hate the people in charge.” The upper management of the league didn’t take too kindly to CM Punk’s attitude, and eventually his contract was terminated. Since that day, Punk has aired even more grievances. Apparently McMahon gave him quite the low blow and released him on the day of his wedding! The two have tried to mend fences as of late, though, and McMahon has apologized for how the events unfolded.
8 Mick Foley and Ric Flair
Once again, we have a pair of really big name wrestlers who genuinely dislike each other. Flair and Foley represent completely different approaches to wrestling. While Ric Flair enjoys extravagance and, well, flair to the utmost degree, Foley is more laid back and down to Earth. Both are noted for their wrestling ability, and so whenever the two clash in the ring it usually makes for a splendid event.
Their feuds lasted throughout the 1990s while they both wrestled in the WCW. Since that time, both have made it known publicly how they feel about each other. Flair once dubbed Foley a “glorified stuntman.” It was an insult Foley countered by calling Flair “a washed up piece of crap.” The two even had a back stage confrontation at a 2003 RAW event. Over the course of their wrestling history, it seems Flair has gotten the last laugh, as he was the winner of the resulting matches and even forced Foley to quit the league for some time.
7 Randy Orton and Ken Anderson
Orton has developed quite the reputation for himself over the years. He has an infamous temper, and it’s one that is quick to rise to the surface. Whenever it does, it usually spells bad news for any wrestler in his way. Ken Anderson is one such unlucky wrestler.
In the WWE, Anderson was known as Mr. Kentucky. He was fired from the league shortly after he had a match with Orton, and Anderson views this as no coincidence. Apparently, Orton’s temper flared and he complained to WWE brass that Anderson was too dangerous inside the ring. The WWE responded by letting Anderson go, as Orton was a gem of a wrestler they needed to appease. Anderson’s opinion on Orton has gone public on social media: after Orton injured his shoulder Anderson tweeted a particularly vulgar message about the workings of karma.
6 Batista and Booker T
These two wrestlers once decided to make their fights a little less scripted at one backstage event. Apparently, Booker T was irked at Batista’s attitude during his meteoric rise through the WWE ranks. While somewhat talented, Batista refused to acknowledge the wrestling greats whose shoulders he stood on. The disrespect made Booker T call him out during a photoshoot for a SummerSlam event.
The confrontation quickly escalated to an all-out brawl. By all accounts the fight lasted more than five minutes before others could pull them apart, with Booker T giving Batista a black eye that was even visible on the following Smackdown! event. Some speculated as to whether or not the fight was staged, but most agree this speculation came indirectly from Batista’s camp in order to save some face.
5 Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage
This feud makes the list because of the iconic backstage moment between the two. Hogan and “Macho Man” Savage were wrestling partners forming the legendary team The Mega Powers. Much of the tension between the two was a result of a third party, Miss Elizabeth, who was the team’s manager. Savage was deeply in love with Elizabeth, and Hogan has cited how intense it was to work with the man as he was constantly worried about her health. Hogan once helped Elizabeth climb into the ring, only to deal with Savage screaming at him later on that he’d “grabbed her wrist too hard!”
The team eventually split, and a WrestleMania match was scheduled between the two, making for one of the better matches in WWE history. Tensions boiled over later down the road as Savage’s marriage to Elizabeth crumbled and he blamed Hogan for his misfortune. Savage even went on to record a rap album, with one song focused solely on calling Hogan out. Unfortunately, Savage passed away, but Hogan is said to have patched things up between the two.
4 Ric Flair and Bret Hart
Flair’s second appearance on this list must make him one of the bigger egos in all of wrestling, but that’s probably not much of a revelation. This time, it’s his feud with Bret Hart that resulted in some real life turbulence between the two.
Flair is no fan of Bret Hart’s, and is quoted as calling him a “p**sant” to the media. He believes Hart is an overrated wrestler, and only a legend in his own mind. He made things even more personal following accusations of utilizing the death of his own brother to gain popularity. Hart retaliated by stating Flair is the one who is overrated, going so far as to accuse him of sabotaging several matches between the two in order to make Hart look bad. The two Hall of Famers have yet to overcome their differences.
3 The Rock and John Cena
This list is one populated by extremely large egos. When those egos clash it usually leads to some fiery results. These two wrestlers are perhaps the biggest WWE egos of all time, and the war of words the two have engaged in were far from nice. Many trace the feud back to some comments Cena made in 2007 where he insinuated The Rock’s acting career interfered with his wrestling skills.
Cena went on to question the Rock’s love for the sport, basically saying the Rock was more infatuated with acting and that whenever he says he loves wrestling it irritates him. The Rock fired right back at Cena, saying he only wrestles for the paycheck each and every week. The two began an in-ring rivalry that finally came to a finale at WrestleMania 29. Cena defeated The Rock and claimed the title, and The Rock seemingly endorsed Cena by holding his hand up in the air.
2 Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart
Yet another wrestler double dips in our list, as Bret Hart’s feud with Shawn Michaels has become one of the more memorable feuds in wrestling history. The added intrigue of the Montreal Screwjob only furthered the animosity between the two. It’s one of the more dubious moments in WWE history, and these two wrestlers are at the center of it all.
Hart was scheduled to leave the WWE for the WCW after the match, and was unwilling to fall in his final match and relinquish his championship belt to a wrestler he simply disliked. The two wrestlers and Vince McMahon seemingly came to an agreement that the match would end in a disqualification, meaning Hart would hold onto the belt but would relinquish it later on down the road. Instead, Michaels submitted Hart in his signature “Sharpshooter” move, and the bell rang despite Hart never tapping out. The event lives on in infamy, and worsened an already testy relationship between the two wrestlers.
1 Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior
Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior have had a storied history to say the least. Their WrestleMania VI match in Toronto is largely touted as the best in WWE history, and it certainly featured two titans in the ring. Warrior would emerge victorious, and though Hogan lifted his arm up afterwards in an apparent show of sportsmanship, the two developed quite the feud.
After years of resentment, Warrior retired and kept on bitter terms with much of the WWE superstars he’d wrestled with. He was still inducted into the Hall of Fame though, and unfortunately passed away mere days later. Hogan is quoted as saying the two mended fences before the end, but Warrior’s widow blasted Hogan as a liar whose efforts were completely insincere. Unfortunately, we will never know Warrior’s side to the story, but the resentment coming from his widow makes it clear just how strained their relationship truly was.