What happened when you get a locker room full of guys that are pumped with testosterone and possibly steroids, forcing them to work in a fake fighting environment for more than 200 days a year? Eventually, some of these people come to blows because of disagreements, especially when there are higher spots on the roster and more money to be had. Hell, even the ladies get involved sometimes because that’s the way a company like the WWE works.
You probably haven’t seen too many fights at your office, but the WWE is a different animal. In any corporate environment, a rare fight is usually swept aside as those who are higher up don’t really want to comment on the situation. If it were up to Vince McMahon, you’d probably think that every fight backstage was a work that only advances a storyline.
With that said, there have been some legitimate fights backstage that range from the surprising to the “it was only a matter of time” range. Some of these fights actually resulted in some pretty significant career changes, as well. Let’s take a look at 15 of those legitimate fist fights that WWE personnel had backstage, including who came out on top and what happened in the aftermath of the brawls.
15 Paul Bearer vs. Sunny
We start the list with perhaps the weirdest story. Instead of a fight between two large and imposing men, we have one between a female wrestler and an a portly manager that weren’t even linked. The two reportedly had heat backstage, and it finally came to blows in the mid 1990s. The confrontation was described as two children going at it, with Sunny reportedly hitting Paul Bearer while he restrained himself, not wanting to harm her physically.
Vince McMahon had to step in between the odd pairing and get over their petty issues, but it almost turned into another fight between Bearer and Sunny’s boyfriend Chris Candido. Because of Bearer’s relationships with backstage veterans like The Undertaker, he didn’t have much to worry about. In fact, Candido was escorted out of the arena after threatening to beat up Paul Bearer.
14 Vince McMahon vs. Nailz
If you don’t remember Kevin Wacholz in WWE, he played a wrestler named Nailz back in the early 1990s. During that time, Nailz wasn’t too happy with his lack of pay, and decided to confront the boss, Vince McMahon, himself. This happened in December 1992, and Nailz told McMahon that “I want my f***ing money!” The setting was McMahon’s personal office, and people had to rush in after hearing loud thudding noises coming from said office.
When those working for WWE entered, they saw Nailz choking out McMahon after hitting him, leading to the fight being broken up. It took a long time for either side to talk about the issue because of legal reasons, as McMahon simply stated Nailz was let go because of conduct that wasn’t professional.
13 Joey Styles vs. JBL
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon likes to protect his superstars, making them look strong whenever possible. That’s why when word got out that a large main eventer like JBL got taken down by an announcer, it was quite shocking to hear and a bit embarrassing for kayfabe. The story goes that JBL had been bullying Styles (as well as other people in the back) for quite some time.
Getting tired of JBL’s actions, Styles stood up to the former champion in late 2008 while the WWE was in Iraq. When the two started getting into it, both broke free from the people holding them back, and Styles connected with a mean haymaker clean to JBL’s face. The punch knocked JBL to the ground, leaving him stunned. Many of the other wrestlers broke out laughing when they heard about the result of the fight, but it’s oddly JBL that’s still with the company instead of Styles.
12 Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty
After joining the WWE as a team known as the Rockers in 1988, it seemed that Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were set up for some great success. The most memorable confrontation between the two was a work, however, as Michaels kicked Jannetty through a window, setting up Michaels’s solo career. Before that, however, there was a real confrontation between the two that started the beginning of the end.
Apparently, Roddy Piper got the two worked up and they started going after each other. When the fight was reaching its conclusion, Macho Man Randy Savage approached the pair and asked what was happening, and eventually the police were called. Jannetty ended up getting the better of the fight, and was on the hook for charges before the police reportedly let everything slide after getting some autographs.
11 Batista vs. Booker T
When you’re promoting your second biggest event of the year, the last thing you want is two of your biggest stars getting into an altercation. When filming a commercial for the 2006 SummerSlam event, though, that’s exactly what happened when Batista and Booker T got into a brawl. According to those close to the situation, Batista was making some remarks about SmackDown’s ratings, and that he was the star of the show.
This rubbed Booker T the wrong way, and he confronted the young star. Reports say that the fight lasted for several minutes, with Booker T coming out on top as Batista’s face was cut up, humbling him. There was some damage control to say that it was a work between the two, but those that were there say it was definitely real.
10 The Great Khali vs. The Big Show
If you want an earth-shattering fight, pitting two of the biggest men in WWE history is the way to do it. The two had met in the ring on several occasions, but the best fight apparently happened backstage. Reports say that the two never did like each other, and that they certainly had their differences in what they felt made for good wrestling. This included Great Khali stealing the Big Show’s chest chop after silencing the crowd.
Khali didn’t think that Big Show was actually angry at first until he challenged him by getting into Khali’s face. Big Show reportedly threw the first punch, connecting with Khali’s jaw and knocking him back before Khali retaliated and the two kept swinging. It took quite some time for people to break the fight up, and it was another large man (Kane) that finally intervened.
9 Jim Cornette vs. Santino Marella
Jim Cornette had always been a bit of a thorn in the side of Vince McMahon and company, which is why he was put in charge of Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE’s former developmental territory) while an employee at WWE. One of the gimmicks that Cornette came up with was The Boogeyman, and Cornette instructed his wrestlers to act frightened of the new character. After the wardrobe malfunctioned, a young Santino Marella laughed at the character.
Cornette got into the face of Marella, dropping a few f-bombs and even assaulted him. Marella wanted to retaliate in the worst way, but had to restrain himself. Marella said that he feared getting sent back to Canada if he attacked Cornette, but he wasn’t happy. Eventually, Marella would get called up to the WWE while Cornette was let go, so his restraint ultimately worked out in the end.
8 Chris Jericho vs. Brock Lesnar
Sometimes, even when Vince McMahon doesn’t want news about a legitimate fight between his wrestlers to break news, it ends up happening. At the SummerSlam pay-per-view in 2016, Brock Lesnar took on Randy Orton, and the match left Orton bleeding profusely from the head. It looked like Lesnar had thrown some stiff shots, which set off Chris Jericho, who was quick to defend Orton backstage.
When Lesnar got backstage, Jericho confronted the former UFC star and asked him what he was doing in the match. Reportedly, the two got into each other’s faces and started exchanging words, with fisticuffs being involved. Jericho would go on to downplay the situation, saying that it never escalated to the point of being violent, but those that were around told news outlets that Triple H had to break up a fight between Jericho and Lesnar. We might not ever know exactly what happened, but Jericho wasn’t happy with the match. That much we know.
7 Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg
Chris Jericho might not be the biggest guy in WWE, but he’s never been afraid to get in the face of a larger wrestler. Back in 2003 when Goldberg joined the WWE (Jericho had been there for a few years already), the two reignited their rivalry from the WCW days. During a match that featured Jericho teaming up with Triple H, Goldberg was reportedly sitting backstage talking trash about Jericho’s performance and personality.
Jericho quickly wanted to establish that the WWE was his territory, getting up into Goldberg’s face and asking if he had a problem. The two tangled after Goldberg tried to grab his throat and they ended up on the ground. By all accounts, it was Jericho that ended up getting the best of Goldberg. The two have made up since then, with Jericho saying that there will be no rematch so that he can always be up 1-0 on Goldberg.
6 Simon Gotch vs. Sin Cara
The newer Sin Cara (played by Jorge Arias and known once as Hunico) has developed quite the reputation backstage. There have been several incidents where he has gotten into brawls with fellow wrestlers backstage, reportedly getting the best of his opponents in all five confrontations. The most recent one allegedly came between himself and Simon Gotch, former of the Vaudevillains.
While the two were backstage at catering during a SmackDown Live taping in late 2016, the two went at it. Some say that Gotch started the chirping, leading to Sin Cara throwing a can of soda at Gotch’s face. Others claim that Sin Cara simply decked him in the face. Either way, Gotch was left off of shows for an extended period because of a black eye, and was eventually released from the WWE.
5 Eric Bischoff vs. Ric Flair
Both Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair have a long history with one another, dating back to their WCW days. When both men had been part of the WWE in 2003 before a taping of Raw, the two started a disagreement about the direction of television in general. Flair advised Arn Anderson to watch the door so that nobody would intervene, with Flair hitting Bischoff across the face and then swinging repeatedly.
Flair said that he pinned down Bischoff and threatened to beat him further, but that Bischoff surrendered before Sargeant Slaughter finally intervened. Flair advised those around him that he confronted Bischoff for previous digressions that went back to his time in WCW. Vince McMahon denies that anything ever happened, but both parties involved say that it indeed did.
4 Sheamus vs. Yoshi Tatsu
WIth someone that was hot shotted to the main event scene like Sheamus, the higher ups at WWE certainly didn’t want him looking weak. However, stories came out from former WWE wrestlers that Sheamus once got into a brawl with the undersized Yoshi Tatsu from Japan, and that Tatsu gained the victory. This happened when both were with FCW, the developmental territory before NXT.
Shamus and Tatsu were living together in an apartment at the time, and Sheamus reportedly asked to borrow money. When Tatsu didn’t get his money back, he slapped Sheamus, prompting the fight. After Tatsu came out on top, he did get the money back from Sheamus. Now, Sheamus is still with the WWE as a favored wrestler by the executives while Tatsu is long gone.
3 Ric Flair vs. Mick Foley
Even though his characters have always been tough as nails, the lighthearted Mick Foley isn’t really someone you expect to see in a backstage fight. According to reports, the two were backstage in 2004 for “Monday Night Raw” shortly after Flair had wrote a book that said some disparaging things about Foley. Flair had extended his hand for a handshake, but Foley refused and instead asked for an autograph that he could auction off for charity.
The two then got into it, with Flair reportedly throwing the first punch that landed. Quickly, other members in the backstage were able to break up the fight. Some of those that witnessed the confrontation thought it might be a work, while others said that it was very real, and just a coming to blows between two legends that are very protective of their legacy.
2 Dynamite Kid vs. Jacques Rougeau
The Dynamite Kid (along with his tag partner Davey Boy Smith) always developed a reputation backstage for being a couple of practical jokers. When that happens, sometimes you can set off the wrong person when taking a joke too far. That’s what happened with Jacques Rougeau, who was one of the targets. Although it wasn’t much of a prank, Dynamite Kid attacked Rougeau backstage after Rougeau told him to knock the jokes off.
Vince McMahon sided with Rougeau, and being the victim of an attack had him set a plan into action. Rougeau decided that he would pick up a roll of quarters, and connect with one sucker punch to Dynamite Kid’s face. Well, the punch connected, and did some serious damage to Dynamite Kid’s face. Dynamite Kid has several of his teeth knocked out, and WWE had to pay the bill to get them fixed.
1 Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had always been rivals in the ring, and seemingly had a lot of bad blood, even if it was mostly a work. In 1997, however, the disagreements between the two became very real backstage. Michaels had implied in a promo that he had an affair with Sunny, and didn’t last too long. Both Sunny and Hart denied these rumors started by Michaels, but the implication from Michaels set Hart off.
Hart got into Michaels’s face and they both started swinging. The brawl spilled into the bathroom, with Jerry Lawler being the only one around...while sitting on the toilet. Lawler stepped in to break up the fight, and Michaels then went to Vince McMahon’s office and told him that he was done. Michaels almost joined WCW, but it was Hart that would ultimately head to the rival promotion.