If you’re a wrestling fan, chances are you’re familiar with the wrestling promo. It’s what every great wrestling feud is based around, a scripted exchange in which wrestlers essentially call out their opponents, either pointing out their weaknesses in the ring or exploiting their personal lives in order to further build on a rivalry or create excitement for an upcoming match. However, every now and again, these promos turn real.
It’s not like every wrestler means what they say when they call their competitor a “jabroni” or make fun of their family. In fact, most wrestlers actually enjoy working together. However, every now and again, two people will be paired up who despise each other just as much behind the scenes as they do on camera, leading to some electric clashes in the ring and even more volatile ones backstage.
These feuds are often chronicled in the shoot interview. A shoot interview can be classified as any interview in which a wrestler leaves the politics and kayfabe of wrestling at the door and tells people exactly what went on behind the scenes and exactly how they felt about certain people. While these interviews often ruin the TV magic of sports entertainment, essentially showing fans how the sausage gets made, they’ve also made for some memorable quotes.
The following list examines 15 times a wrestler savagely called out one of their co-workers, either during a shoot interview, or during a promo that felt so real, it’s hard to believe there wasn’t some real motivation behind it.
15 CM Punk On How He Really Feels About Triple H
Perhaps one of the greatest shoot interviews of all time came in the form of CM Punk’s sit down with Colt Cabana on the Art of Wrestling podcast. In a massive two-part event, Punk detailed the events that lead to his controversial departure from the WWE, airing out as many grievances as possible from his problems with fellow wrestlers, to his frustrations with creative, to his mistrust of WWE doctors. However, in one of the juicer segments, the five-time WWE Champion recounted refusing to face Triple H at WrestleMania in a match he was scheduled to win, saying that he didn’t want to give him the privilege of wrestling him. “Hunter [Triple H] was gritting his teeth and I knew, he never liked me,” he said. “Me and him in a room together, never any good vibes. The way he always looked sideways at me, the way he always treated me.”
14 Lana Accuses Paige Of Being A Bully
Anyone who watches Total Divas knows that Lana and Paige can be a lightning rod for drama at times, and that was no different in November of 2015 when the two took their heat to Twitter and engaged in an all out keyboard war. It started when Lana called Paige out for being “phony,” leading Paige to respond, “I’m glad you have an opinion, too bad you lie all the time. All you want is fame.” Lana refused to back down however, writing, “I actually wanted to write a longer paragraph about you, we both know you bullied me in NXT,” before ending the confrontation with “You’re a great wrestler and I hope [Charlotte Flair] crushes you at Survivor Series because you are mean and disrespectful.”
Paige has vehemently denied Lana’s claim of bullying and it seems like the two were able to patch things up based on their recent interactions on Twitter.
13 Bret Hart Says Triple H Couldn’t Lace His Boots
Bret Hart has never been one to mince his words, a fact that anyone who watched his epic rivalry against Shawn Michaels, can surely attest to. So it’s no surprise that The Hitman is just as candid on his Sharpshooter podcast, particularly during a 2016 instalment in which he recalled attending an event for the WWE 2K16 video game in which he found out Triple H’s character was made considerably stronger than he was. “I remember I was like, why would he be a 98? And they go, well, because he’s the boss and we have to suck up to the boss. I thought, I don’t care how many titles Triple H wins, he could never lace my boots up. Period.” He went on to call him a, “Very good, medium, mediocre wrestler.”
12 Matt Hardy Airs Out Lita’s Dirty Laundry
This next entry proves that just because something’s a work, doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth behind it. Back in 2005, Lita and Matt Hardy were going through one of the most tumultuous times in both of their careers. After a very public romance, Hardy announced online that he and Lita had broken up because she had cheated on him with Edge, leading to both parties receiving nuclear heat from fans. The response was so intense, the WWE did the only thing they could do: Turn it into a storyline.
This led to one of the most awkward episodes of Byte This ever, and likely the most awkward nine minutes of Lita’s life in which Matt Hardy “unexpectedly” called in during an interview and aired out all of his ex-girlfriend’s dirty laundry. “Monday night, I came out there and called him [Edge] Adam, because that’s what I know him as and I didn’t even call you Amy because the Amy Dumas I know is dead. Lita is all I know now, this filthy [expletive], hanging out with Edge.”
While the whole segment was a planned work, it’s hard not to feel like both were getting a lot of their real emotions out.
11 Don’t Cross The Boss
Another example of a planned work with some potential real feelings behind it. For as long as Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss have worked together, there have been rumors of their less than cordial relationship backstage. The talk largely stems from a match in NXT back in 2014 in which Banks inadvertently broke Little Miss Bliss’s nose but when the two began feuding over the Women’s Championship on Raw, speculation went into overdrive that The Boss and The Goddess of the WWE, were no fans of each other. This all culminated in Banks’s appearance on Raw Talk after the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view.
Fresh from technically losing to Bliss, Banks went in on the champ, proclaiming that Bliss is a fake wrestling fan who has politicked her way to the top of the company. “She came in so fake, with her fake little stories, her fake little, I love wrestling growing up, I love Matt Hardy. You can’t even tell the difference between Jeff and Matt, you idiot.” While Banks was clearly talking in-character, her passion for wrestling is well known and it’s very possible that she was getting some real feelings off her chest. Or they could just be very good at their jobs.
10 Batista Says John Cena Killed Hardcore Wrestling
If you grew up during the Attitude Era, chances are, you remember wrestling at its edgiest. When the WWE was all about pushing boundaries and making sports entertainment as adult as the censors would allow. It’s an era that’s long gone, the WWE trading bra and panties matches and characters like D-Generation X for clean cookie-cutter heroes and child-friendly storylines. The WWE made a big deal of rebranding it as, “The PG Era,” and according to Batista in a 2011 interview with the Chad Duke Wrestling Show, there’s one person in particular to blame: John Cena. “The hardcore fans can’t stand him. He is Mr. Hokey, Mr. PG. To me, he killed hardcore, edgy wrestling.”
9 Sunny Buries Sable: “She’s A Terrible Person”
Ask Sunny about Sable and chances are you’ll get an earful. The quote-unquote, original Diva has made her feelings for the former women’s champion perfectly clear in multiple shoot interviews over the years and while she admits that they were often pitted against each other backstage by higher-ups to stoke competition, that doesn’t mean her feelings for Sable are any more, ahem, sunny.
In one instance, Sunny recalled an alleged early conversation in which Sable revealed to her that the father of her eldest daughter had died in a car accident when she was an infant but brushed it off, saying, “It was the best thing that ever could have happened to me because if he hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have met [then husband] Marc [Mero].” “I can’t even call her a human being,” she said in another interview. “She’s just a terrible person.”
8 The Ultimate Warrior’s Ultimate Shoot Interview
A lot of wrestlers take shots at their co-workers in interviews but it takes a special kind of hatred to devote an entire shoot interview to taking another wrestler down. In 2011, just a few years before his untimely death, The Ultimate Warrior did just that, releasing a 55-minute interview with the company Karma Collects, devoted entirely to one Hulk Hogan. In the almost hour-long diatribe Warrior makes a number of claims against The Hulkster, including that he tried to sabotage his career, that he was dealing a legal substance backstage that many people OD’d on, that he has substance abuse issues and even that he lied about his reconciliation with Randy Savage. “You know Terry [Hogan], you get such a sick pleasure out of exposing other people’s dirty laundry, taking cheap shots at them, so I want to do some of that.”
7 Chyna Goes Off The Record On Trish Stratus
If Chyna was known for one thing backstage, it was her protectiveness of professional wrestling. Despite not being a trained wrestler herself when she debuted with the company, the Ninth Wonder of the World made it known that she had no time for women she felt delegitimized wresting. So when she was asked about her feelings regarding Trish Stratus during a 2000 appearance on Off The Record with Michael Landsberg, she didn’t hold back. “Trish Stratus is a prime example to me of someone who was hired with no ability. I think that she was hired strictly because of her looks,” she said, adding, “In my opinion, Trish didn’t have to pay her dues so I still think about that and I still think she should have to.”
Stratus would go on to become one of the greatest women’s champions of all time, winning the belt a record-breaking seven times and doing a lot to establish women’s wrestling in the WWE. In 2013, Stratus was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, the youngest inductee at that time.
6 Rob Van Dam Talks “Insincere” Shawn Michaels
Rob Van Dam is the perfect example of a performer that fans loved but people in power never understood. This lack of understanding is rumored to have especially been the case with Triple H and Shawn Michaels who allegedly never saw him as a main event talent. In an interview with YouShoot, Van Dam made it clear that there’s no love lost between them, saying that Shawn Michaels, “Dripped with insincerity.” He then told a story about his 2009 return to the Royal Rumble, saying that Michaels approached him backstage. “He was like, that’s what I enjoy about these things. You get to see people that aren’t normally here, to let me know I’m not part of the family or whatever.” He did add that Michaels could have done more to hold back his career however, but didn’t.
5 AJ Lee Breaks It To The Bella Twins
If there is one person who you can count on to drop a promo that feels just a bit too real, it’s AJ Lee. The WWE geek goddess made a reputation for seemingly airing her real frustrations with the company in her promos, particularly towards the Bella Twins who some feel got their place in the WWE thanks to their looks and relationships with top wrestlers John Cena and Daniel Bryan. After being cheated out of a match with Brie Bella during a 2014 episode of Raw, Lee laid into the twins during a post-match promo, saying, “There it is, it takes two Bella Twins to be champion. But two of you do not even come close to being half the woman I am. You want to cheat? You want to kiss your way to a title? It’s about time someone breaks it to the Bellas, talent is not sexually transmitted.”
4 Kurt Angle Slams Batista
Oh it’s true, it’s damn true. While Kurt Angle embodied intensity, integrity, and intelligence throughout his accomplished career with the WWE, the all-American wrestler delivered some choice words to then-World Heavyweight Champion Batista during an interview for the April 2007 issue of Men’s Fitness Magazine. “A guy like Batista can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. He prefers wrestling with smaller guys than jacked up guys who look good to the crowd but doesn’t know what he’s doing.” It should be noted these comments were made during a particularly difficult time in Angle’s life, having walked away from the company the year before. Angle has since repaired his relationship with the WWE and even returned to the promotion in 2017.
3 Ivory On The “Real” Chyna
If you’re looking for a candid shoot interview with someone who is willing to tell it like it is without any filter, look no further than Ivory. The former Women’s Champion laid it all out in an interview conducted in 2010 and while her most venomous comments were directed towards Miss Kitty, Ivory did have some things to say about Chyna’s hostility towards the other women in the locker room. “Chyna was one of those insecure people. She was mean,” she said, adding, “She wasn’t very embracing to the talent in the locker room, the female talent, because I guess we didn’t do much for her.”
Ivory would go on to say that she believes that there should be a sisterhood among female wrestlers because of how male dominated the industry is but did praise her as a one of a kind talent who maybe should have just been a little more collaborative with the women around her.
2 Maria Kanellis Reveals Her Real Heat With The Bellas
When Maria Kanellis left the WWE in 2010, few could have predicted the career she’d create for herself outside of the promotion. Between her time in Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and TNA, the “First Lady of Wrestling,” has transformed into one of the most exciting female characters in wrestling today and while she’s currently back where she belongs in the WWE, she alleges she could have been back a lot sooner if it wasn’t for the Bella Twins. In 2013, Kanellis publicly accused the Bellas of blocking her contract with the WWE, revealing in an interview with Wrestling Inc. that her heat with the sisters came from an incident in which Kanellis and Dolph Ziggler engaged in a friendly dance at a party while Ziggler was still in a relationship with Nikki Bella.
In the interview Kanellis also poured cold water on the possibility of a reconciliation, saying, “She took something from me and it wasn’t a man, it was a contract. It was my career and I think for me, that’s probably the worst thing you can do.”
1 John Cena Calls Out The Rock For Being A Part-Timer
John Cena and The Rock are two of the biggest stars in professional wrestling history. Their accomplishments inside the ring and in pop culture have been numerous, so it’s easy to believe their commonalities would make them the best of friends, right? Wrong. Real life tensions between the two became apparent in the lead up to their historic match at WrestleMania XXVIII in which Cena took several shots at The Rock’s status as a WWE part-timer, calling him a sellout for leaving the squared circle behind for a career in Hollywood. “When it comes to Dwayne, as soon as he got his first taste of the bright lights of Hollywood, he was out of here faster than I could say, Rocky don’t go,” Cena remarked in a scathing promo during a 2012 episode of Monday Night Raw. “Vince [McMahon] is probably going to fine me for this one but the only reasons he came back [for WrestleMania 27], was to promote Fast Five and launch his Twitter account.”
Cena has since become a part-timer himself, starring in 2015’s Trainwreck with several more projects in the pipeline and admits that he regrets what he said about the People’s Champ. On a 2016 episode of Talking Smack, Cena called his comments, “The stupidest stuff ever,” and said that he’s since apologized to The Rock.