With testosterone levels at an all-time high, the 80s and 90s were subject to some major encounters between wrestlers behind the scenes. Thankfully, we have various shoot interviews online and sites like The Sportster to keep these notable behind the scenes rivalries alive.
Today, the landscape has changed dramatically to modernize with the current climate of sports and entertainment, as professionalism is at an all-time high. Superstars are now regarded as team players instead of looking out for themselves and being ego driven like back in the day.
Ego is a huge topic of conversation in this article. Someone's large ego has rubbed many former wrestling stars the wrong way and this article features a plethora of those instances occurring behind the curtains. This article won’t be documenting the classic backstage tales like Foley and Flair or Michaels and Bret Hart, instead, we will take a look at some of the lesser known situations which feature the likes of Stone Cold, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam and other lesser known names you would not expect to have backstage heat.
Sit back and enjoy this list of 15 real-life behind the scenes feuds you never knew about!
15 Matt Hardy & Eric Bischoff
This is the most recent situation on the list and it got ugly real fast. Typically, pro wrestlers that are passionate and leave the WWE work shoot interviews with various independent companies. In this instance, Matt Hardy, who is no stranger to these types of interviews, discussed why TNA lost its way. He pointed the finger at Hogan and Bischoff for destroying the company, as he claimed "all they did was rape, pillage and plunder TNA.”
His comments were later met by Bischoff himself, who claimed he was going to sue Matt Hardy for his comments. At first glance, the situation seemed like a work, but it is in fact real, with Bischoff claiming legal action on Matt’s shoot.
Yikes. What do you guys think, is Easy E going overboard here?
14 Vince McMahon & Paul Heyman
Behind the scenes, Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon have had a very rocky relationship. Finally today, things have settled down between the two, mostly because Heyman appears as a part-timer nowadays running his agency in New York for the most part.
Things reached boiling points between the two several times. In one instance, Heyman was caught listening in on a phone conference between McMahon and the Raw writers. To make matters worse, the discussion was highly confidential and dealt with the booking of WrestleMania. When Heyman realized he shouldn’t have been in on the convo, he hung up which made things worse due to the fact that the phone notified the participants that Heyman had left. A furious McMahon fired Heyman following the event.
In another situation, Paul and Vince once again clashed during the ECW PPV December to Dismember. Paul wanted CM Punk to win but Vince overruled the decision and handpicked Bobby Lashley to win the match. To make matters worse, Punk would end up getting eliminated first in the Chamber match causing Paul to walk out of the company that very night.
13 Ahmed Johnson & Stone Cold
When it comes to hating on wrestlers behind the scenes, usually the same names tend to come up, whether it be Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Vince Russo and various others. A name that never really comes up is Stone Cold Steve Austin’s.
Ahmed Johnson made the unlikely announcement during a shoot interview, as he actually had some serious beef with Austin during the mid 90s when both wrestlers were labelled as huge upcoming stars for the company.
Johnson recalled a certain situation which is very controversial. After winning the IC Championship, Johnson made history by becoming the first ever African American Intercontinental Champion. After winning the title, Ahmed headed to the parking lot and saw a note on his car which said “congratulations n-word.” Now, Johnson can’t confirm who it was, but based on his heat with Austin, and the fact that fans told him they saw Austin put the note, the former IC champ thinks it was Austin who put the note on his car.
This was certainly one of the stranger backstage rivalries.
12 Jim Cornette & Sable
Love him or hate him, Jim Cornette is entertaining. Whether he’s discussing pro wrestling or politics, the guy is hilarious and always worth a listen.
During his long stint in the pro wrestling business, Cornette made several foes along the way and one of them was Sable. Without even knowing or meeting Sable, Jim was quickly critical about her joining the WWE. Cornette claimed it made no sense to put her with Marc Mero, as it would only hurt the new Superstar.
Ultimately, Cornette was right on the money. Despite his feelings, the WWE kept pushing her to the moon and Jim claims this was because Vince had an apparent crush on Sable. Cornette went on to say that she was only in the business for fame and didn’t give a damn about improving any aspect of her wrestling abilities.
Harsh, but true.
11 Hulk Hogan & Harley Race
During the 80s, the landscape of pro wrestling was extremely different. Unlike today, where competition stems from different companies, the 80s instead used different territories to establish the competition. So, as you might expect, when the WWE turned in to a touring juggernaut, some promotions got rubbed the wrong way and one person specifically who was none too pleased, Harley Race.
During an event that took place in Harley’s territory, Race stormed an arena looking for Hulk Hogan. After The Hulkster got word, he tried to flee, but Harley eventually caught up with Hogan and pulled a gun on him. Thankfully, it was all a joke and the legend was just looking for a new job with the company and squashed any beef they might have had. A terrified Hogan obliged and quickly put in a good word for Race, ending the heat between the two once and for all.
10 Hardcore Holly & Rene Dupree
Since leaving the WWE back in 2009, Hardcore Holly hasn’t shied away from expressing his opinions about certain individuals. One person Holly has openly bashed is former WWE star Rene Dupree.
Holly always had an edge to him, but he was also especially severe with younger talents behind the scenes, similar to JBL. In this case, Holly absolutely lost it when Rene Dupree had unpaid tickets for a rental car that he borrowed from Holly, so he put a beat down on him. To this day, Dupree claims the dispute was blown way out of proportion and that he simply forgot to pay the ticket.
We will discuss another unlikely Holly feud a little later in this piece.
9 Rikishi & Jim Ross
This one wins the award for the most unlikely candidates to have backstage heat with one another. The hatred began online believe it or not, with Ross constantly bashing the big man during his popular “Ross Report.” After years of silence, Rikishi finally broke out and discussed the issues he had with the WWE’s former head commentator. He talked about the fact that Ross hated the “fat guys” and would constantly ride him behind the scenes for no reason. Rikishi believes he could have had even greater success with the company if not for Ross and his bias opinion of the big man backstage.
Rikishi went a step further and claimed that Ross was the same way with many other “heavy” wrestlers backstage.
8 Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels
It's not surprising to see HBK on this list, however, it is odd that this hatred actually happened during Shawn’s better days as a Born Again Christian. Also, some might be shocked to see Van Dam have heat with someone, although it should be noted that Rob is actually very vocal for a guy that has a “laid back” demeanor. Van Dam has bashed several wrestlers during various shoots, including his former boss Vince McMahon.
As for this heat, Van Dam claims Michaels rubbed him the wrong way behind the scenes by constantly talking down to him. Shawn would act surprised when Van Dam cut a good promo and would speak to Rob in a 'surprised' tone backstage. It didn’t sit too well with the former ECW star and created a beef between the two, which seems to be still effecting Van Dam today.
7 Sable & Sunny
It's almost impossible to write up a 'behind the scenes feud' article without discussing the first WWE Diva in history, Sunny. During her time with WWE in the 90s, Sunny quickly became one of the more popular performers on the show.
Later on, in March of 1996, a woman by the name of Sable would escort Hunter Hearse Helmsley down to the ring. No one could've guessed that she would become a mega star a couple of years later.
Her superstardom would eventually rub Sunny the wrong way and the two would typically throw verbal jabs at one another behind the scenes to other wrestlers. Finally, the company would decide to part ways with the old guard in Sunny because of her problems with Sable and many other issues she had going on at the time.
6 Hardcore Holly & Stone Cold Steve Austin
We’ve seen this story time and time again. When a wrestler starts getting popular, he also starts to change behind the scenes. This did not sit well with Hardcore Holly and it created tension with Steve Austin.
Holly claims Austin changed once he became “the guy.” According to Holly, Austin “knew everything.” The change in Austin’s behavior also caused him to stop hanging around with Holly and Billy Gunn. who were his travelling partners at one point, which just furthered the animosity Holly had for Austin.
We’d be willing to place a bet that Austin won’t be calling Holly over to the Broken Skull Ranch any time soon.
5 Konnan & John Cena
We said Rikishi and Jim Ross were the most bizarre feud, but this one is a strong contender as well. Despite the fact that they worked in different eras, the two surprisingly have beef with one another, which was vocalized by Konnan during a shoot interview.
The feud between the two apparently began after a couple of encounters between the two. Konnan claimed that Cena was a “di**” the times he met him. The former WCW star only made the beef worse when he started criticizing Cena for his Make-A-Wish Contributions, claiming all wrestlers do it, but they just don’t get glorified like Cena does. Despite Konnan’s bitter feelings, Cena has yet to respond, nor do we think he even has time to acknowledge such a beef.
4 Bret Hart & Triple H
Over the years, the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) have glorified some of Bret Hart’s most heated behind the scenes feuds with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon and Ric Flair.
One that typically flies under the radar is his on-going feud with Triple H. The heat between the two actually began way back in the 90s, during The Montreal Screwjob. What many fans seem to forget is that it was actually Hunter’s idea to “screw” Bret. Triple H famously said “if he doesn’t want to do business, why don’t we do it for him.” That statement rocked the foundation of the WWE and caused one of the most controversial angles ever.
To this day, jabs are being thrown. Recently, Hart bashed Triple H’s WWE 2K17 rating claiming Hunter “couldn’t even lace his fu*** boots in real life.” So as you can see, that feud still seems to be alive and well.
3 Triple H & The Rock
Although they seem like best friends today, this couldn’t have been any further from the truth back in the Attitude Era.
During this time period, the focus wasn’t on working an incredible match with someone, but instead it was all about being the top dog. The Rock and Triple H were the hungriest of the bunch, which caused the two to clash. The heat began when Hunter would go off script and start insulting Rocky with some real verbal jabs on air. The Rock, who would usually stick to the script, got frustrated and began to fire back. Before you knew it, the heat they had in the ring was kind of real, which is what made it so spectacular to watch.
After the dust finally settled, the two grew a great amount of respect for one another and still hold a formidable relationship today.
2 Mark Henry & Shawn Michaels
At the young age of 24, Mark Henry joined the WWE ranks by signing a mega contract with the company. Coming from a power-lifting background, the WWE had high hopes for the young man.
Early on, things weren’t looking all that good for Henry in and out of the ring. In the squared circle, he was struggling to develop a rhythm and out of it, things were even worse. Henry was pretty much a lone wolf backstage and seemed to be the guy that was always in a bad mood. He’d rarely talk to anyone and always kept his guard up. Again, he was only 24, so it's somewhat understandable.
In one instance, Henry almost destroyed HBK after a verbal confrontation between the two went down. Thankfully that didn’t happen and cooler heads prevailed. It finally took a talk from The Undertaker to settle Henry down behind the scenes. After the conversation, Henry finally allowed himself to loosen up.
1 Chris Jericho & Triple H
During Ric Flair’s podcast, Y2J revealed some information that most of us were unaware of. Chris Jericho discussed some major backstage heat between himself and Triple H when he first arrived in the company. When Jericho came from WCW, he was instantly labelled as an outcast and a “WCW guy.” This caused Jericho to be alone for his first couple of months and led to tension with other stars. Triple H himself clashed with Jericho, as Hunter had the mindset that Jericho was the “enemy,” although Chris just wanted to earn his stripes.
After the stigma of the WCW guy finally wore off, the tension between the two subsided and they were able to work some great angles with one another.