Tumultuous as life inside the wrestling ring may look, it’s actually the backstage area where wrestlers engage in their most bitter, heated rivalries. Sure, there may be less punching than in the scripted versions of such wars, but most WWE superstars stop caring about whatever fake reason they’re fighting over the second cameras stop rolling. Unless, of course, they have some other real life reason to hate their co-workers, thus causing a legitimate feud to brew behind the scenes. These fights typically get so intense they don’t even stop when both wrestlers leave the arena, instead festering and growing worse over time.
On the other hand, wait long enough, and the old expression that time heals all wounds may well come into play. On plenty of occasions, wrestlers who were once considered arch enemies suddenly turned around and forgave one another, slowly turning into friends. In some cases, these reconciliations happened only moments before one of the two parties shuffled off of this mortal coil, making them all the more touching and poignant to fans, not to mention the people involved. If you’re looking for rare wrestling stories with happy endings, keep reading to learn about 15 pro wrestlers who one hated one another but are now friends today.
15 Ric Flair And Mick Foley
Right off the bat, it’s important to distinguish the fact “friendship” in wrestling doesn’t necessarily mean the two people involved speak to one another in glowing terms on a daily basis. Ric Flair can still talk down to Mick Foley now and again, but the difference in their relationship is they’ve reached an understanding where Foley just doesn’t seem to mind all that much. This is a departure from back in 2004 when Foley understandably took offense at Flair referring to the hardcore legend as a “glorified stuntman” in his autobiography. Shortly thereafter, WWE capitalized on their public problems with a series of matches including an I Quit Match won by Flair. That they were willing to work together in Foley’s type of match probably helped Flair respect him a bit, evidenced when he later invited Mick onto his podcast as a guest. There’s also the fact both Foley and Flair are heavily supportive of the Nature Boy’s daughter, Charlotte, a fact that has slowly brought them together.
14 Raven And Stevie Richards
If their onscreen relationship was in any way similar to real life, and they’ve both said it was, then it’s completely reasonable of Stevie Richards to have gradually grown to hate Raven after they teamed together in ECW. While the two were equals in the ring at points, winning the ECW Tag Team Championships together, it was clear from the start Raven was the true star and Stevie was just his lackey, a fact he seriously abused backstage. Raven was also a severe drug addict at this time and basically treated Stevie like his errand boy, a fact Richards made worse by later walking out on his WCW contract and spreading strange rumors about Raven’s Flock to wrestling media. The two drifted apart to a point where they barely talked, but they would later patch things up and remain friends to this day. They even resumed working together on independent promotions and in TNA.
13 Jeff Jarrett And Kurt Angle
Professional wrestling has seen its fair share of love triangles over time, yet none seemed to move as quickly or as strangely as the one involving Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett, and the woman both men would at one point be married to. Not long after Jarrett’s first wife died of breast cancer, he was linked romantically with Angle’s then-wife Karen, though the two were apparently already on the outs before the situation became public. Proving this, Angle had been engaging in a likewise high-profile relationship with his fellow TNA wrestler Rhaka Khan. Even so, it was considered a questionable move for Jarrett to start dating Angle’s ex so soon to their breakup, especially since as TNA’s founder, Jarrett was basically Angle’s boss at the time. Jarrett was momentarily placed on leave of absence due to the situation, but the moment he returned, he and Angle had a sit-down conversation where they patched things up in shockingly quick fashion. Almost immediately, the two were on good enough terms to come up with a long-term storyline playing on their real life animosity, and claim respect for one another’s skills in the ring to this day.
12 Alundra Blayze And Mick Foley
In some respects, it may not even be fair to single out Mick Foley in this next entry. The fact is, a good portion of the wrestling world was furious at Alundra Blayze in late 1995, when she took the WWE Women’s Championship and dumped it in the trash on Monday Nitro. On the one hand, we understand her motives, as Vince McMahon had basically done the same thing to women’s wrestling in general by firing her as champion. Even so, wrestlers remained highly offended and disrespected by the incident, and Foley in particular was highly critical about Blayze for many years. Once WWE finally forgave her by way of a Hall of Fame induction in 2015, Foley went through a similar transformation, in Blayze’s words admitting he “drank the Kool-Aid” about what had happened. Since then, the two have had a much more cordial relationship.
11 Bret Hart And Ric Flair
Far worse than the minor tension between Ric Flair and Mick Foley was his borderline blood feud with Bret Hart…or at least that’s what the Internet had everyone believing, anyway. Whether or not it was blown out of proportion, as they both would later claim, the fact remains Hart publicly claimed Flair “sucked” as a performer way back in 1993, something Flair responded to in his autobiography by arguing Hart was never truly a top draw in the United States. Both men being extremely proud of their work, neither were able to let the insults go for many years. Similar to the case with Foley, the two would finally prove there was no more animosity between them on an episode of Flair’s podcast in 2015. In the interview, Flair and Hart were overwhelmingly positive towards one another, praising each other’s careers and suggesting the heat between them was mostly just rumors from the start.
10 Curt Hennig And Brock Lesnar
It will never make sense to outsiders, but certain communities have this thing where anyone who ever lived there will forever be friends for life. Apparently, the entire state of Minnesota has this feeling of brotherhood, as a shared home state is all it took for Curt Hennig and Brock Lesnar to become friends. Technically speaking, they may not belong on this list, as the two never seemed to falter in their positive relationship, aside from one fateful night when it suddenly looked like they hated one another. It just so happens that night was the highest profile moment they would share. In an event later dubbed the Plane Ride From Hell, both Lesnar and Hennig had been drinking heavily when one challenged the other to a fight some 40,000 feet in the air. The two briefly scuffled and got pulled apart, and Hennig was soon fired for his role in what happened. Despite the drama attached to the incident, Lesnar had nothing but good things to say about Hennig in his autobiography, noting he wished his old friend was still alive to laugh about their past.
9 The Rock And Mick Foley
To this day, the I Quit match between The Rock and Mankind at the 1999 Royal Rumble remains one of the most difficult to watch encounters WWE ever broadcast. At the end of the bout, Rock hits Mankind in the head with a steel chair an unprecedented 11 times, really revving up and giving powerful swings several times throughout. As a result of the constant blows to the head, Foley wound up unconscious and suffered a serious concussion, neither of which was particularly new to him. However, it was new that the person who injured him so badly wouldn’t say a word, which is what happened when the still young, inexperienced Rock left the building without even checking if Foley was okay. The two didn’t speak for months after the match, making Foley more upset with each passing day. Finally, he confronted Rock about it, and the Great One admitted he had been too embarrassed to say anything the whole time. Foley took an understanding approach to the response, and the two have been friends ever since.
8 Tommy Dreamer And Bob Backlund
A man of the people in every sense of the expression, Tommy Dreamer’s interest in pro wrestling started the same way as it does for most. As a young boy, he happened to catch a match on TV featuring the WWE Champion, who at the time was Bob Backlund. Backlund took apart his opponent in expert fashion, and Dreamer was a fan for life. Well, at least that’s how the story should go, but unfortunately, a few weeks into his obsession with Backlund, Dreamer actually met the guy, and things didn’t go all that smoothly. Cold and tired from the match he just wrestled, Backlund blew off Dreamer’s request for an autograph, turning his lifelong fan into a hated enemy. For decades, Dreamer resented Backlund over the incident, until years later when he was a well-known wrestler himself. The two had a heart-to-heart talk about what happened back when Dreamer was a kid and Backlund apologized, leaving the two in a much better place than young Tommy could have ever dreamed of.
7 Booker T And Batista
Countless wrestling feuds have been waged not over titles, glory, or fame, but merely matters of respect, and the backstage problems between Booker T and Batista were apparently of a similar vein. From the very beginning, Batista was accused of lacking respect for the wrestling business, at least in part due to his relatively quick climb up the WWE ladder of success. His attitude came to a breaking point during a commercial shoot for SummerSlam 2006, when Booker T had heard enough bragging and egged Batista into a fistfight. Specifics of the fight are hard to come by these days, with both men brushing it off and WWE doing what they could to protect their major assets by assuring news stories on the incident would be minimal. All we know for sure is that Booker T won the fight, in his mind beating respect into Batista, and the lesson took at least insofar as Batista now respects Booker T, and Booker in turn respects him for having grown since their altercation.
6 Goldberg And Chris Jericho
In all fairness to Bill Goldberg, anyone placed in the position he held in WCW circa 1998 would be bound to make a few enemies. Virtually out of nowhere, Goldberg was suddenly turning into the company’s biggest star, and there really wasn’t any competition in the matter. There were, however, plenty of other wrestlers on the WCW roster who thought they were more talented either in the ring or on the microphone. Technically, they might’ve even been right, but Goldberg’s popularity meant he had the final say on whether or not they worked together. This fact came much to the chagrin of Chris Jericho, who devised what he thought was a brilliant storyline wherein Goldberg would ultimately kick his butt. Unfortunately for the young Y2J, Da Man had no interest in a prolonged feud with someone of Jericho’s then modest caliber, as he was busy feuding names like Hollywood Hogan and “Diamond” Dallas Page. Years later, when both men were working for WWE, they actually got into a fistfight backstage, which Jericho surprisingly won. Some time after that, the two claimed all resentment between them had faded.
5 Hulk Hogan And Randy Savage
Due to the incredible fame of the two wrestlers involved, it could be said Hulk Hogan’s longstanding feud with Randy Savage is the single most example real life war any two wrestlers ever waged. When exactly it happened is up for debate, as in some respects, it seems like the two were at each other’s throats almost the whole time they knew one another…unless there was money to be made, that is, in which case they were always able to patch things up and keep working together in peace. That stopped after the two left WCW, however, with Savage especially upset Hogan failed to show up to a charity event where they were supposed to square off one last time. Savage got so mad he released a whole album of songs about how much he hated Hogan, entitled Be A Man, and Hogan similarly had little good to say about the Macho Man. Thankfully, right before Randy suffered a heart attack in 2011, he and Hogan finally patched things up and made plans to start hanging out again.
4 Magnum TA And Tully Blanchard
Back in the 1980s, there was no feud more personal or bloody than the war between Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard. Initially, their problems were related to the NWA United States Championship, but it soon became about much more than that as they engaged in some of the most violent bouts of their era, most notably an I Quit Cage Match at Starrcade 1985. The two also didn’t get along well behind the scenes, citing the fact they lived their gimmicks as the ultimate virtuous hero and the pretentious playboy jerk 24/7, making them natural foils. One thing the two did have in common, however, was converting to born-again Christianity later in their lives, a move that theoretically comes with a whole lot of forgiveness. Indeed, their shared religious epiphanies caused Magnum and Tully to let bygones be bygones – even though by that point Magnum had married Tully’s ex-wife, adding an additional rigmarole to their already complicated relationship.
3 Vince McMahon And The Ultimate Warrior
With how many shocking comebacks the WWE Universe has seen over the years, this entire list could easily consist of the many times Vince McMahon reconciled with a former talent. To keep it simple, we’re just going to give one such example, because it’s arguably the most surprising of all. The Ultimate Warrior sued Vince McMahon for millions of dollars after leaving him high and dry moments before a major Pay-Per-View not once, but twice, and yet Vince still inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame years later. He wasn’t all that kind in the interim, though, producing a DVD about the so-called Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, which the destructive wrestler in question felt was so damaging he sued for libel to no avail. It truly seemed like neither side would ever again work with the other, and yet days before Warrior’s sudden death in 2014, he came home to WWE one last time and shared a big hug with the boss.
2 JBL And The Blue Meanie
Give or take a few examples where Vince McMahon tried to get opportunistic with a real life story, the whole point of this list is that most of the bad blood between these wrestlers wasn’t spilled inside the ring. In a unique case, the situation between JBL and The Blue Meanie both happened live on a WWE Pay-Per-View during a scripted encounter and also got so out of hand it transcended into the realm of real life. All that was supposed to happen was a full scale brawl between WWE and former ECW superstars, capping off the original One Night Stand event. For whatever reason, JBL got especially vicious when working with Meanie, repeatedly punching him in the face and leaving Da Blue Guy a bloody mess. Many superstars agreed JBL seriously crossed the line, citing this as one of many examples where he bullied other wrestlers without explanation. Showing undeserved levels of understanding, Meanie never harbored much resentment for the incident, appreciating the fact it lead to a high-profile victory on SmackDown a few weeks later.
1 John Cena And The Rock
For all critics talk about how wrestling is “fake,” the actual superstars of WWE have been known to take things remarkably seriously when scripted comments hit too close to home. Initially, the matches between John Cena and The Rock wrote themselves based on star power alone, and the two extremely popular superstars were happy to work together and learn from one another in the ring. However, once they actually started cutting promos leading up to their WrestleMania encounters, both Rock and Cena started to cross the line a bit with their personal attacks on one another, leading to genuine resentment between them. According to The Rock, there were times he legitimately hated Cena’s guts during their feud, and thus he constantly tried to one up him on the microphone. In turn, Cena did the same, leading to one of the more memorable programs in recent WWE history. Now that everything is over between them in the ring, tensions have considerably cooled down, and the two call one another good friends.