WWE Superstars are often put into major wrestling angles where they are expected to convey how much they hate each other for whatever reason, despite the fact they might be best friends in real life. While the emergence of social media has pulled back the curtain on wrestler’s personal lives, this was not the case throughout some of WWE’s golden years. While we can now find out how closely art imitates life in the WWE, during some huge storylines we were completely blind to the real-life drama that inspired the events we saw onscreen.
On some occasions, the wrestlers involved in a storyline don’t need to portray or fake anything as the situation that they are feuding over is actually a real life issue. Whether it’s related to love, jealousy or respect, there can be many issues that cause these problems. When this hatred and animosity gets serious, wrestling companies often book it into matches to make the most out of the situation and make the wrestling and drama that we see on our televisions all the more interesting and captivating. Unfortunately, it may be at the expense of these wrestlers relationship.
This list will look at 15 examples of real-life stories that you never knew led to major wrestling angles in WWE.
15. Ric Flair And Mick Foley
Mick Foley is one of the nicest men in all of wrestling and it is almost impossible to imagine the Santa loving man to hate anybody, but Ric Flair was someone he didn’t get along with. So what does it take to get the man with the toothless smile to not like you?
After Flair claimed that Foley was nothing more than a ‘glorified stuntman’, a feeling of bitterness was created as Foley called him out and the pair argued backstage. WWE began to put them in a feud following their war of words and the pair brought the fight to each other, putting on an intense and bloody feud which appeared to end the real life problems between the two legends.
14. Kurt Angle And Jeff Jarrett
Not every major angle that stemmed from a real-life feud took place in WWE, with the rivalry between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett taking place in TNA. The problems between these wrestling icons were very real and TNA decided to start a storyline about the situation.
With Angle’s ex-wife deciding to leave him, she found herself dating Jarrett instead, something that obviously didn’t sit too well with the current Raw general manager. Angle was furious about it all and that was plain to see during the feud, which happened to be a good one. This level of reality was unprecedented and the heat was palpable. It just goes to show how jealousy and anger make for great drama on television.
13. Batista And Booker T
Sometimes, personalities collide and people simply cannot get along. This seemed to be the case with Batista and Booker T during 2006, when the pair ended up getting into a real-life brawl.
During a commercial shoot for SummerSlam 2006, Batista and Booker T got into a real-life fight after the two clashed and WWE decided to use that to intensify the feud that was ongoing between them. Word had leaked about the fight and it made their match at the PPV even more intense and it certainly attracted a greater amount of fan investment in the feud. We’re not sure if there were any lasting hard feeling from the fight, but we’d like to believe that they buried the hatchet.
12. CM Punk And Jeff Hardy
CM Punk and Jeff Hardy are polar opposites of each other with Punk living the straightedge lifestyle while Hardy was more about rock and roll, partying, drinking and feeding his many addictions that afflicted his life.
While they say that opposites attract, that certainly wasn’t the case when it comes to these two men who actively didn’t like each other in real life. This stemmed to the WWE and created a feud between them which turned out to be Hardy’s final go with WWE until his WrestleMania 33 return. Thankfully even though they didn’t get along, the two created magic together inside the ring, putting on one of the most entertaining feuds in either of their careers.
11. The Rock And Triple H
Two of the most iconic men in the history of wrestling came up in WWE at the same time, pretty much in the same way. Each time one would make a step up the ladder in the company, the other would quickly follow.
Because of that, Triple H and The Rock seemed to develop a personal feud in real life that might have been professional but was still very real. Both men wanted to be the best and carry the company and that translated into multiple feuds in WWE. Due to how good their matches against each other were the WWE Universe has been keen to see them have one final match at some point, something both men have teased several times themselves.
10. Chyna And Stephanie McMahon
Love often creates problems in all walks of life and as the saying goes, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned,” which was certainly the case with this real-life feud. After leaving a relationship with Chyna to be with his current wife, Stephanie McMahon, it’s fair to say Triple H caused quite a stir.
While most of the focus was on Triple H for sleeping with the boss’s daughter, that did not mean that there wasn’t any backlash against Stephanie McMahon herself. She certainly didn’t get the hate that her husband did, and Chyna certainly felt betrayed. The pair did exchange blows inside the ring and this feud can still be seen now after Chyna’s untimely passing, with her apparently not going to be placed into the WWE Hall Of Fame due to Steph’s feelings about her.
9. WWF And The Alliance
While this was technically just Vince McMahon booking talent he owned against each other, it really was his way of squashing WCW’s legacy once and for all and making sure everyone knew he was the winner in the Monday Night Wars.
Even though the Invasion angle was one that ultimately could have been a lot better, the fact still remains that the entire thing stemmed from the very real battle for supremacy between WWE and WCW. The Monday Night War affected Vince McMahon very personally, as his business was under attack on a weekly basis and many of his most loyal employees jumped ship because of it. Having revenge must have been very satisfying.
8. Bret Hart And Vince McMahon
An obvious inclusion on this list which only finds its way lower down because of just how bad the eventual match between the two of them was and the fact that they had actually made peace by the time it happened.
Regardless of all this, the match (if you can call it that) between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon took place because of years worth of bitterness and hatred that all started during the Montreal Screwjob. The situation is one that Hart has never forgotten and WWE played into that fact when they eventually got him back to the company, setting up the feud between himself and the man who orchestrated the job against him.
7. Eric Bischoff And Ric Flair
Not every legitimate feud in wrestling comes from just two wrestlers who can’t get along, which was the case with Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair. It is known that the two actually deeply hated each other back in WCW. After taking a leave of absence, Bischoff would file a lawsuit against the Nature Boy.
After eventually returning, Bischoff tried to keep Flair down, not giving him the opportunities somebody of his talent deserved. Flair began to cut shoot promos on Bischoff in the middle of the ring and it was clear that the two were going to play up their real feelings on television for the world to see, which is exactly what they did.
6. JBL And Blue Meanie
The infamous incident that occurred between JBL and the Blue Meanie has been covered countless times, but it deserves to be given the strangeness of the situation. With JBL giving the Meanie a cheap shot during an angle at ECW’s One Night Stand and legitimately left him a bloody mess, the hatred between the pair was quickly created.
Recognizing the opportunity to create a quick feud, WWE seized on the chance to plug it and even put comments from the wrestlers onto WWE.com, pulling back the curtain a little to show fans the hate was legitimate. WWE put them in a match and Stevie Richards jumped in and defended Meanie with some real chair shots that rattled JBL and quickly evened up the score.
5. CM Punk And The Authority
This feud was so real that it eventually led to CM Punk walking out on the company. Sick of not being given the opportunities he believed he deserved, Punk was the top talent in WWE before his departure and The Authority were his bitter rivals, both on screen and in real life.
Whether it was Triple H, who Punk actively despised, or Vince McMahon himself, Punk hated those in charge. This was never more evident than when he delivered his now historic ‘pipebomb’ promo where he tore apart the way the company was run. While the promo was a legitimate shoot, this was all WWE’s idea, a master plan to play up Punk’s frustrations in a television angle that worked to perfection. Unfortunately it got too real and they lost a huge star.
4. Bret Hart And Shawn Michaels
At this point, it should not come as a shock that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels didn’t like each other as it is widely known that the duo didn’t get along despite the brilliant matches they were able to create together. But even though everyone always points to the Montreal Screwjob when it comes to HBK and the Hitman, that wasn’t the start of their hatred for one another, The pair simply had a long history of not getting along.
A lot of the problems came down to Michaels’ attitude at the time, which was widely known for not being the greatest, and it rubbed Hart the wrong way. They still managed to put on some of WWE’s greatest ever matches together, so the WWE Universe will likely not be complaining.
3. Matt Hardy And Edge
When you think of real-life problems that created a feud in WWE, the one between Matt Hardy and Edge is probably one of the top ones that you will think of. A real-life feud that was so passionate and public, the problems between Matt and Edge were very legitimate and it converted into an amazing storyline.
After Lita cheated on Matt Hardy with the Rated R Superstar, there was an obvious reason for Hardy to hate his former friend and the WWE quickly smelled an opportunity to make a great feud come to life on screen. Full credit to both men who managed to stay professional throughout the entire storyline even though they had real life issues going on.
2. Chris Jericho And Goldberg
You would have to struggle to find many wrestlers who don’t respect a legend like Chris Jericho, and even though the situation between Goldberg and Y2J took place prior to him reaching that status, he was still one of the absolute best at the time.
This makes it very understandable as to why he felt so disrespected when Goldberg decided that Jericho wasn’t on his level and told WCW he didn’t want to wrestle him. This was played out on television when Jericho would call out Goldberg and receive no response. The pair eventually found themselves in a legitimate fight backstage and finally locked up inside the squared circle for everyone to see.
1. The Rock And John Cena
Once in a lifetime might have eventually become twice in a lifetime, but the match between The Rock and John Cena definitely looked like one we would never see. With The Rock’s busy acting career in full swing it seemed like he had put his wrestling career in the rearview mirror.
That is exactly how this real-life feud began, with Cena taking shots at The Rock for forgetting about his roots with WWE, which Cena didn’t appreciate. Cena made his comments in an interview and he quickly gained The Rock’s attention. It led to one of the biggest feuds in WWE history, with a year-long build that saw some of the best promo work of recent history, with both men trading very personal insults due to their real-life dislike for each other.
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