The wrestling business is filled with men and women who consider each other the best of friends, and in some cases, have been that way for a good number of years. Back in the day, we had Edge and Christian, two childhood friends who debuted for WWE as brothers, only for the company to retcon the fictional bloodlines and advertise them as best friends. Ron Simmons and John “Bradshaw” Layfield have been the same way for more than two decades, as their close friendship in the APA and shared love of beer drinking and playing the tough guy (and going overboard on the toughness, in JBL’s case) being more than just an on-air gimmick. Meanwhile, fans of today’s product are now seeing longtime buddies Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn working together for a shared heelish cause, though this has yet to result in much success for either man.
We could go on with more examples, but we should also remind you that even the best of friends in the wrestling business could fall out. It could be over somebody each of them are (or were) dating, it could be due to professional jealousy or backstage politics, and in many cases, the reasons might not be clear at all.
In any case, these 15 pairs of wrestlers and wrestling personalities have all fallen out with each other, and have yet to fully reconcile with each other, with the bad blood still remaining in most of these cases. And while we’re not making any promises, you just might be surprised by some of the entries we’ve compiled.
15. Shawn Michaels And Marty Jannetty
For Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, life in the 1980s to early ’90s was like the Judas Priest song that inspired their original tag team name, The Midnight Rockers. The two young up-and-comers were “living after midnight” indeed, partners in crime as they partied like rock stars, even getting fired from the WWE for their troubles. When they returned to the WWE in 1988 on the condition that they conduct themselves in a more professional manner, they stuck around, only to keep on with the hard-partying lifestyle when WWE’s higher-ups weren’t looking.
The impetus for The Rockers’ infamous breakup turned out to be the growing animosity between Shawn and Marty, as Jannetty was reportedly insecure over Michaels being considered as the team member with the most promise. And while one would think that time’s healed the wounds now that both Rockers are in their 50s, that hasn’t been the case, as it was only a few years ago when Jannetty referred to his far more successful ex-tag team partner as a “li’l b***h.”
14. Michael Cole And Tazz
Although Tazz was a disappointment in the WWE as a wrestler, the injuries that ultimately ended his in-ring career allowed him to show promise behind the announce table. That allowed the far more experienced Michael Cole to bond with the Human Suplex Machine, as the two became good friends and broadcast partners, with Cole helping Tazz learn the ropes of commentary. They even had their own radio show together, but alas, these two men weren’t destined to become the next Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon, not in terms of announcing excellence, but rather in terms of their close friendship.
The reasons for Cole and Tazz’s fallout aren’t quite clear, but it would seem that they suddenly stopped talking to each other, or even texting each other, a few years back. This may have happened soon after Tazz left WWE for TNA in 2009, and if you’re wondering why he hasn’t made his way back to WWE despite being long gone from TNA, you might want to ask Maggle about that.
13. The Bella Twins And Maryse/Kelly Kelly/Maria
Yes, we know we said “pairs of wrestlers.” But why don’t we bend the rules a little bit and explain why there might have been more than a little legit heat back when Nikki Bella and Maryse were feuding ahead of WrestleMania 33? Despite being fairly close in the WWE locker room, relations between The Bella Twins and Maryse (as well as Kelly Kelly and Maria Kanellis) turned icy when the recently-returned Bellas allegedly blocked WWE from rehiring the three other women to star in Total Divas. It probably didn’t help that Nikki and Maria were reportedly feuding as well over the same man – Dolph Ziggler – well before they ended up with their present-day partners.
Interestingly, Nikki is currently on the same brand as Maria, who had recently returned with husband Mike Bennett, only for the two to flop in a big way. Maria apologized for shooting on the Bellas in 2014, though we’re not sure how well they’re getting along these days. As for Maryse, who moved from SmackDown to Raw in this year’s Superstar Shakeup, she seemed to be having a little too much fun impersonating Nikki during the aforementioned feud leading into ‘Mania…and Nikki’s on-air engagement to John Cena.
12. Rikishi And Too Cool
During the final years of the Attitude Era, the stable featuring Too Cool (Brian “Grandmaster Sexay” Christopher and “Scotty 2 Hotty” Taylor) and Rikishi was one of the most fun things about the period. Their hip-hop dancing gimmick got majorly over with fans despite their mid-card status, and they truly appeared to be enjoying themselves as friends doing goofy things on WWE television. But something must have happened in recent years for Rikishi not to credit Too Cool when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
The omission appeared to be especially tough on Scotty, who took to Twitter to blast his former friend, accusing him of refusing to recognize the time the three creative afterthoughts “made each other” by forming a comedy babyface faction. It’s not clear what had ended Rikishi’s friendship with Too Cool, but rumors suggest that there were unspecified issues over an indie show the three were booked to appear at.
11. Bret Hart And King Kong Bundy
It’s not unusual for wrestlers to get upset over pointed comments a colleague had written about them in their autobiography. Consider Ric Flair and Mick Foley beefing it out in their respective books, with Mick calling Ric a bad booker, and Ric calling Mick a glorified stuntman. Those were fighting words, yet both men were mature enough to move on and become friends later on. Yet King Kong Bundy remained furious at Bret Hart for years over stuff the latter had mentioned in his autobiography, and you wouldn’t believe how petty his gripes were.
In a 2014 interview, Bundy shot hard on the Hitman, acknowledging that they were indeed friends at some point, but criticizing him for having way too much of an ego. He also took offense at Bret writing that Bundy used to call him “little man,” clarifying that he used to call Bret the “little hitter” because of how small he looked in the ring. So much for putting the big guy over on print.
10. Matt Hardy And Paul London
We’ve got two Matt Hardy entries in this list, and it shouldn’t surprise any of you that both entries are related to women whom the former (and hopefully future – we’re still not giving up) “Broken” one was dating. Although he’s best known for his past relationship with Lita and current marriage to Reby Sky, Hardy dated a third female wrestler – Ashley Massaro – soon after he dumped Lita over her affair with Edge. And when things went sour between Matt and Ashley, that was when she moved on to another man, Hardy’s SmackDown colleague Paul London.
Prior to London swooping in and starting a relationship with Massaro, he and Hardy were good friends – not as close as Matt was to Edge at the time of the Lita incident (we’ll get to that), but friends nonetheless. However, the love triangle drove a wedge between Hardy and London, and it wasn’t too long ago when the latter refused to work with the former in Ring of Honor, proving that time wasn’t enough to heal the rift between both men.
9. Tommy Dreamer And Paul Heyman
As the advocate for the Beast, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman is second-to-none, and consistently one of the best things about Monday Night Raw during the few times Lesnar is contractually required to up on television. But as a businessman, Paul E. left a lot to be desired when he was running the original ECW, oftentimes failing to pay his talents on time, and sometimes not paying them at all. Tommy Dreamer was one of those talents, and despite all those issues with paychecks, he and Heyman were good friends during the glory days of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
The last straw, however, came when Dreamer discovered ECW was receiving money from WWE to stay afloat, and therefore wasn’t in as bad financial shape as Heyman had made it out to be. (Though still bad, nonetheless.) This led to Dreamer and Heyman being estranged for years, and while the 2014 WWE Network special ECW Exposed nearly led to the two burying the hatchet, the heat was on once again, as Dreamer brought up his financial issues from way back, and Heyman accused Dreamer of trying to gain sympathy by joining the “I got screwed” bandwagon.
8. Mick Foley And Madusa
There may be nothing excusable about literally trashing a belt you won in your old company upon your move to the new one, but it’s well-established now that Madusa (aka Alundra Blayze) dumped her WWE Women’s Championship in the trash can on the request of her new boss, WCW’s Eric Bischoff, aka Mr. “Controversy Creates Cash” himself. That got the legendary women’s wrestler a lot of heat from her past and present colleagues, and that included friends like Mick Foley, a man whom you can never accuse of disrespecting the business.
Just to be clear, Foley and Madusa appear to be in civil terms these days, and she appeared to be cool with posing with the Hardcore Legend and his daughter Noelle in a recent photo. But it may be a stretch to call them friends, as many who watched Madusa’s Legends with JBL interview observed how she still appeared to be upset at Foley for piling on her over the belt-trashing incident, even if Mick had done his part to apologize for being too harsh on her.
7. Randy Orton And Mr. Kennedy
One of these men was born into a prominent wrestling family, the other man was supposed to portray the illegitimate son of THE most prominent wrestling family’s current patriarch. Indeed, Randy Orton and Ken Anderson, aka Mr. Kennedy, cut their teeth together in WWE’s developmental system in the early 2000s, and seemed to remain friends as they made their respective main roster debuts, albeit with Kennedy arriving three years after the Viper did.
By 2009, Orton wasn’t even 30-years-old and already a veteran of WWE’s main event. Kennedy, on the other hand, was still in the mid-card, a victim of injuries, Wellness violations, and attitude problems. And when Kennedy came dangerously close to injuring Orton with a botched backdrop, the Apex Predator allegedly went straight to Vince McMahon to complain about the miscue.
6. Hulk Hogan And Brutus Beefcake
We poke a lot of fun at Hulk Hogan for his penchant for using the word “brother” – who doesn’t, or who hasn’t? But if there was someone in the business who was as close as you could get to being the Hulkster’s brother, it was one Edward Harrison Leslie, Ed to friends and family, and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to ’80s and ’90s WWE fans who watched him make the most out of his limited in-ring skills with an entertaining gimmick. When Hogan took his business to WCW in 1994, Beefcake wasn’t far behind, as the two friends, who became best buddies working together in the late ’70s, still had each other’s backs.
If you thought Hogan and Beefcake were still running mates some 40 years into their friendship, you’d have thought wrong. It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago when Beefcake admitted on Twitter that he and Hulk had a falling out over the former’s ex-wife, and added that he’s working on a tell-all book that promises to dish out a lot of dirt on Hogan. The Hulkster may have threatened to sue Beefcake in that Twitter exchange, but we haver to admit we’re interested – what else has Ed Leslie have to say about a man who’s essentially been disgraced for those leaked racist remarks?
5. Bob Holly And Steve Austin
A lot of us have that one friend at work, that friend whom you’re great buddies with while you’re both at or near the bottom of the corporate food chain, only to ignore you for the proverbial friends in higher places once he or she gets promoted. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was that kind of friend for Bob Holly – a close friend while they were both in WWE’s circa-1996 mid-card, but someone who became frustratingly distant when he moved up to the main event and Holly got stuck jobbing to the stars, and even joining a JTTS-themed stable we now know as The J.O.B. Squad.
Be that as it may, Holly had, and still has a reputation as a surly sort in the WWE locker room. That made him rub a lot of people, Austin possibly included, the wrong way. Regardless, the former kayfabe stock car driver and former Ringmaster still have heat with each other, even if it’s been years since either man has been actively wrestling for, or in Holly’s case, affiliated with the WWE.
4. Scott Steiner And Hulk Hogan
And we’ve got another pair of wrestlers who may leave you asking if they were actually friends to begin with. As two of the most musclebound and charismatic workers WCW had ever seen, Hulk Hogan and Scott Steiner did hit it off for some time in the now-defunct company’s locker room. But as Steiner moved higher up the card and fell further into his Big Poppa Pump persona, he began to resent the Hulkster for the same reason many others thought of him as a toxic presence – the guy seemed to live to flex his political muscle and prevent anyone from eclipsing his popularity with the fans.
If anything, the heat between Hogan and Steiner intensified as both men grew older. Steiner quit TNA during the height of the Hogan/Eric Bischoff regime, and wasn’t shy to call those two out on Twitter whenever he had the chance. Just two years ago, the Big Bad Booty Daddy even got himself banned from WrestleMania, after it was alleged he had threatened Hulk’s wife at the airport. Don’t expect things to get better between them anytime soon, as one does not use “mellowing with age” and Scott Steiner in the same sentence.
3. Matt Hardy And Edge
As two of the brightest and most exciting young stars to establish themselves in the WWE in the early 2000s, Matt Hardy and Edge got along famously in the WWE locker room. He even allowed the future Rated-R Superstar into his tight clique of friends, which consisted of his brother Jeff, girlfriend Lita, and fellow North Carolina natives Hurricane Helms and Shannon Moore. Matt must have regretted that move in 2005, when he discovered that Lita and Edge were carrying on an affair behind his back, with the fact that Edge was a married man making things even worse.
With Matt going public about the bitter way in which his relationship with Lita ended, WWE unceremoniously fired him, only to rehire him by popular demand soon after. Leave it to WWE to make a storyline based on the real-life heat Matt now had with Edge and Lita, effectively turning Edge into WWE’s top heel well after the feud had ended.
2. Bret Hart And Shawn Michaels
We all know that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were mortal enemies in the lead-up to, during, and for many years after the Montreal Screwjob. They were, for better or worse, two of the biggest egos in the WWE locker room of the mid 1990s, and they didn’t hesitate to bring their personal rivalry over to the TV screen, as Bret called Shawn out for posing on Playgirl, and Shawn called Bret out for having “Sunny days” when he most likely didn’t. But you might not have been aware that they were actually friends before Michaels’ Heartbreak Kid character had fully formed, united as they dealt with a common political foe in Hulk Hogan.
With HBK forming the Kliq and Hart remaining loyal to his family and friends in the WWE, it was all-out war in real life between both men in 1996 and 1997, and when Michaels went over via the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997, it took 13 years for them to finally bury the hatchet. Still, recent interviews suggest that neither man considers the other a friend, despite the fact that they’re obviously civil to each other these days.
1. CM Punk And Colt Cabana
One might have thought that CM Punk and Colt Cabana would be homies for life after the former told all on the latter’s Art of Wrestling podcast, spilling cup after cup of hot tea on the WWE, several months after he had walked out of the company on bad terms with management. That November 2014 podcast episode is where, among other things, Punk told the world that WWE fired him on his wedding day and accused WWE doctor Chris Amann of being grossly incompetent, specifically misdiagnosing a staph infection that could have potentially been fatal.
Fast forward to 2016, and it’s been well over a year since Amann filed a defamation lawsuit against Punk and Cabana. One day, Cabana attended a Raw taping and took photos with some of the wrestlers. That would have been fine with most people, but then again, CM Punk is not most people. Reports soon emerged that the two best friends had fallen out and unfollowed each other on social media, as Punk felt Cabana socializing with WWE employees could jeopardize their lawsuit. So far, we haven’t heard any word of the two men reconciling.
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