Stables are an established storytelling device in pro wrestling history. The idea is for a group of wrestlers—most often, though not always, heels—to band together. The story goes that, as a unified force, they can gang up to get the advantage or defend against a greater threat. On screen, stablemates tend to be portrayed as close friends, though they can also occasionally be portrayed as reluctant allies who come together for a common purpose.
The Four Horsemen may be considered modern history’s ideal stable. They dominated the main event scene for much of their run, and tending to feature top shelf workers. Moreover, the faction often told stories that demanded the wrestlers purposefully work together. There was no casual slapping the same t-shirt on a bunch of guys so they could be haphazardly marketed as unit—the Horsemen came along as kin. As time moved on, the New World Order, D-Generation X, and plenty of other groups have come along to achieve varying degrees of success. Even some simple pairs of wrestlers have come across as more like stables than tag teams on account of their working together while still working more as singles stars. Cases like that could include Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage as The Mega Powers, Triple H and Steve Austin as the Two Man Power Trip, or most recently Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn being featured on SmackDown.
The members of factions often get along. Sometimes they’re real life friends put together because they pitched the idea or the powers that be recognized their chemistry backstage. Sometimes they grow together on account of working together so much.
Other times, however, factions see partners put together who aren’t so chummy. Being forced to plan together, cut promos, and work matches can then deepen rifts, resulting in stablemates who just plain don’t like one another. This article looks at eight stablemates that hated each other, and seven that were best friends.
15. Hate Each Other: Hulk Hogan And Scott Steiner (nWo)
Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner coexisted as part of the New World Order for sometime, This included the point at which WCW began Steiner’s transition from the upper mid-card to a main event push, which included commentators making mention that Hogan had formally passed the reigns of nWo leadership to Freakzilla
It’s not entirely clear how Hogan and Steiner felt about one another in their time in WCW, but it’s clear in the aftermath that Steiner had a huge chip on his shoulder about Hogan’s politicking, creative input, and hogging the spotlight. There was an undercurrent of discontent over a period of years, but it boiled over after the two had coexisted in TNA as well. Following that period, Steiner, was one of Hogan’s most outspoken critics. He purportedly warned Hogan’s wife that he was going to kill him when they crossed paths at an airport. After Hogan’s fall from grace—particularly after a tape leaked of him using racist epithets—Steiner was all too quick to suggest The Hulkster got what he deserved.
14. Best Friends: Braun Strowman And Bray Wyatt (Wyatt Family)
Though Braun Strowman has since broken out on his own as a main event level star for WWE’s Raw brand, he was first introduced to the WWE audience as a supersized new member of Bray Wyatt’s Wyatt Family stable/cult. Strowman didn’t accomplish all that much in the role, but through sheer virtue of his size added some heat and some intrigue to the faction while he was there, and developed his in ring skills to ready himself to stand alone.
Reportedly, Wyatt and Strowman’s alliance, and particularly Wyatt’s role as a leader and mentor, wasn’t limited to their kayfabe relationship. In a visit to Steve Austin’s podcast, Strowman discussed that he learned a lot about ring work, psychology, and life on the road from Wyatt. While his prospects as a WWE star—not least of all his immediate push—benefited from the separation, it seems the two forged a real life friendship that they’ll hold onto for some time.
13. Hate Each Other: Eric Bischoff And Ric Flair (Immortal)
Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair had one of those rivalries that played jump rope with the line between kayfabe and reality. In WCW’s heyday, they were cast on opposite sides of the WCW vs. nWo war, in particular with The Nature Boy heading up the insurgent Four Horsemen. Reality entered the picture do to personality and legal disputes between Flair and Bischoff. Bischoff purportedly told the locker room that no one there but Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper had ever drawn, blatantly disrespecting Flair’s legacy. Later, there was a contract dispute regarding Flair needing to report for an episode of Thunder when he had made plans to attend his son’s wrestling tournament, and claimed to have cleared it with management in advance.
While Flair and Bischoff made amends to an extent, there are suggestions that hard feelings remained in how Flair wrote about Bischoff in his book, and in Bischoff maintaining, for example that Flair never actually asked for the time off that led to their legal disputes. Whether they ever made up or not, the two would end up kayfabe allied in TNA during the Immortal angle. Bischoff and Hulk Hogan headed up the heel faction, while Flair was part of the Fortune stable that was, for a time, absorbed into the larger super group.
12. Best Friends: Ric Flair And Arn Anderson (Four Horsemen)
While Flair did not get along with his Immortal stablemate Eric Bischoff, he did have a real life close relationship with Arn Anderson. For the better part of a decade, every incarnation of the Four Horsemen that ran roughshod over WCW included both Flair and Anderson. There nicknames said it all, as Flair was The Nature Boy—the flamboyant, glorified leader of the stable, and often as not the reigning world champ. Anderson was dubbed The Enforcer, and as such cast as Flair’s sidekick and henchmen, whose primary objective was to protect and aid Flair, besides which he settled for less glamorous tag team or mid-card titles.
By all indications, their real life relationship isn’t so different from what’s portrayed on screen. Anderson is completely loyal to Flair and his greatness, and Flair trusting Anderson as one of his closest personal friends and political allies backstage.
11. Hate Each Other: Ken Shamrock And Triple H (The Corporation)
Vince McMahon’s Corporation had a revolving door of members, which was a testament to the Attitude Era. There was a period of months for which Triple H and Ken Shamrock overlapped in the group, after years of having been on the opposite ends of feuds, first with Shamrock as the face and Helmsley as the heel, then the reverse. They coexisted in The Corporation, and given the style and size of the group, they didn’t necessarily have that much involvement with each other.
All these years later, Shamrock has been a vocal critic of The Game. In particular, Shamrock indicates that the reason he never returned to WWE has nothing to do with his high asking price, his personality, or the company not seeing a need for him. On the contrary, he suggests it was a result of a personal beef of Hunter having been jealous of him when they were both coming up, and especially resentful when he had to put Shamrock over a number of times. Triple H has never commented, so it’s unclear if there’s any truth to Shamrock’s theory. Regardless, it’s clear there are hard feelings running at least one way for these former stablemates.
10. Best Friends: Kevin Owens And Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn aren’t officially part of a stable, but currently fall under the category of a pair of top tier stars, working together inextricably, whom its nonetheless difficult to really describe as a tag team. They were paired up after years spent as rivals in NXT and on the main roster, and are now quite arguably the hottest act on SmackDown.
WWE hasn’t shied away from the fact that Owens and Zayn were real life friends from long before signing with WWE. The two came up through the independent scene in Montreal and wound up traveling extensively together as rivals and as tag ream partners, including memorable work in ROH before landing with WWE. In a podcast interview with Edge and Christian, Owens described Zayn like family. He’s the kind of guy he wouldn’t necessarily chosen to be friends with, but whom he’s undeniably close with now because of how intertwined their journeys through the wrestling world have been.
9. Hate Each Other: Ric Flair And Paul Roma (Four Horsemen)
In 1993, Ric Flair returned to WCW after a year and a half away working for WWE. With the Nature Boy’s return came the possibility of reviving the Four Horsemen, and all the better, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were geared up to return to the company as well.
Blanchard would flunk a drug test and not be welcomed back into the WCW fold. So, WCW lined up a replacement and, in their infinite wisdom, selected Paul Roma. In interviews to follow, Flair, Anderson, and others have rejected the idea that Roma ever should have been in the running for membership. Roma has countered that he thought Flair was jealous of his youth and good looks—a claim that many fans find ridiculous and only underscores the differences between his and Flair’s world perspectives.
8. Best Friends: Bradshaw And Faarooq (The Ministry)
For lack of other clear directions, WWE paired Bradshaw and Faarooq as The Acolytes—a bruising tag team and henchmen for The Undertaker. While they’d never match the notoriety of The Hardys, Dudleys, or Edge and Christian, The Acolotytes—or The Acolyte Protection Agency (APA)—would evolve before fans’ eyes and out of personality, hard hitting style, and longevity became an all time great team.
The guys became kayfabe guns for hire and passed their time in backstage vignettes smoking cigars, drinking beer, and playing cards. By all indications, their real life connection wasn’t so different, as the two big men traveled the roads together, working a no nonsense style, keeping the locker room in line, and enjoying on another’s company. Ron Simmons would wind up the best man for JBL’s wedding, and years later JBL would be the man chosen to induct Simmons into the WWE Hall of Fame.
7. Hate Each Other: Rikishi And Scotty 2 Hotty (Too Cool)
Too Cool tends to get overlooked in the name of more prominent tag teams and stables from the Attitude Era. Just the same, they were a very reasonable act in their own right, featuring the underrated face tag team of Scotty 2 Hotty and Brian Christopher—two talented mechanics rebranded under more modern gimmicks to fit the time. At their side stood Rikishi. In an earlier era, he may have been a cast a wild Samoan but he got redefined as a dancing big man. The gimmicks all around were pretty silly but worked in their context.
At the time Rikishi seemed to be friendly with his partners, and there’s little indication of hard feelings even after they broke up upon Rikishi’s heel turn (the big man and Scotty would even end up as a tag team for a bit down the road). Years later, though, Rikishi was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and completely omitted his old running buddies from his speech. He then proceeded to do his old dance routine, but with his sons, The Usos, in place of Too Cool. Scotty took to social media to blast his old ally in bitter fashion, claiming he’d forgotten the guys who helped make him.
6. Best Friends: Shawn Michaels and Triple H (DX)
Shawn Michaels and Triple H were not only charter members of D-Generation X, but would also be the last men left standing as they reprised the group as a two man unit in the PG era (three if you count Hornswoggle toward the end). The reality of the situation? Michaels and Hunter have made no bones about the fact that they’re very real friends. Michaels was a veteran and something of a mentor to Triple H early on. The Game was the rock solid guy who didn’t party much and offered a steady hand and legitimate physical backup for Michaels when his mouth got him into trouble.
The friends reportedly hit a rough patch when HBK’s personal demons got out of control leading up to the back injury that put him out of wrestling for a period of years. After HBK cleaned up his act, Hunter was there waiting to rekindle their friendship and serve as an opponent he trusted completely when he got back in the ring. They’d go on to assemble a lengthy feud against one another before finishing out their respective full time runs more often than not teaming up.
5. Hate Each Other: Bret Hart And Kevin Nash (nWo)
Bret Hart and Kevin Nash weren’t exactly friendly during their time in WWE. Hart writes in his book about Nash asking him for advice and being grateful for Hart’s guidance when he got his first main event push. He also recalls, however, Nash growing more insular as he got closer to Shawn Michaels, and his bitter response when he had to drop the WWE Championship to Hart in 1995.
A couple years later, they found themselves in the same locker room in WCW Hart recalls Scott Hall and Nash giving him a warm welcome early on, but politics seem to have taken over again. Hart and Nash wrestled on and off under the same New World Order banner, though they didn’t have a ton of interaction. Hart doesn’t have much good to say about his WCW experience on the whole, and working with Kliq members may be the one area he’s even less positive about. He held a grudge against Michaels for a long time, has more recently been critical of Triple H as overrated. While Hall and Nash haven’t gotten as much direct criticism from Hart, he doesn’t seem to care much for either of them, either. For Nash’s part, he doesn’t seem like Hart’s biggest fan either, as he tends to suggest The Hitman takes himself too seriously.
4. Best Friends: CM Punk And Joey Mercury (Straight Edge Society)
CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society faction tends to get overlooked these days. Punk would go on to much higher profile things following his pipebomb promo, besides which his legacy is largely buried by WWE now based on the bad terms under which he left the company, and the legal proceedings to follow. The stable was good and got heat, though, for its cult-like overtones and Punk’s skills on the mic. Alongside him, Luke Gallows, briefly Serena Deeb, and Joey Mercury formed an imposing unit.
In WWE’s CM Punk documentary, Mercury flat out called Punk his best friend. He cited that the two were buddies backstage, but that Punk rose to another level when Mercury was released and about to lose his house. Punk bought the house for him—a key step in preserving any sense of stability in Mercury’s life and getting him out of the funk of substance abuse. Later, Punk would purportedly handpick Mercury for his role with this stable.
3. Hate Each Other: Arn Anderson And Sid Vicious (Four Horsemen)
On paper, Sid Vicious was a sensible enough addition to the Four Horsemen stable. The heel group was notorious for stacking the odds against its face rivals, and what better way to do so than to recruit one of the top monster heels of the day? Unfortunately, Vicious never really jived with the group beyond that base line logic, and thus his time as a Horseman became largely forgettable.
Issues between Anderson and Vicious came to a head years after Vicious’s Horsemen stint. The big man purportedly started spouting off at a hotel bar about how Ric Flair was over the hill and overrated and needed to step aside to make room for fresher talent at the top of the card. Anderson, always loyal to Flair, took exception to the comments and a heated argument followed. The confrontation wound up in a physical fight upstairs at the hotel, with Anderson reportedly wielding a busted off leg of a chair, and Vicious stabbing Anderson repeatedly with a pair of scissors. Needless to say, the former stablemates had very real hard feelings between them.
2. Best Friends: Edge And Christian (The Brood)
Edge and Christian were first pitched in WWE as brothers. Though WWE would drop that façade soon enough, their careers would be intertwined for over a decade to follow. They progressed from cryptic members of The Brood to a team that melded comedy on the mic with serious heel brutality in the ring like no other team before or since. While they did have some brief periods spent as rivals during their singles runs, and those matches were by no means bad, there was little question that the two were at their best working together.
It’s little surprise that the two are real life friends from way back in childhood. They’ve remained linked, and currently run a popular wrestling podcast together that feeds off the natural chemistry of two best friends shooting the breeze between one another and their guests.
1. Hate Each Other: Eric Bischoff And Vince Russo (The New Blood)
Eric Bischoff is generally known as the mastermind behind WCW’s ascent to compete with—and even briefly surpass—WWE. However, during his final stint with the company, he had to share creative direction of the company with Vince Russo. Russo had made his name as one of the architects of the Attitude Era. Theoretically, Bischoff’s business sense and Russo’s outside the box creativity would make them a dream team, but from both men’s accounts—and particularly Bischoff’s—they butted heads immediately.
On screen, the two cast themselves as leaders of the New Blood faction and portrayed that they were working in concert with one another. In reality, their ideas diverged and, according to Bischoff, Russo didn’t respect the hierarchy. This dynamic culminated in Russo going into business for himself in the infamous Bash at the Beach worked shoot that saw Hulk Hogan win the WCW Championship from Jeff Jarrett and walk out, only for Russo to cut a blistering promo against him after he’d left the building. The incident led to all manner of not only kayfabe, but real life chaos. In an interview with JBL for the WWE Network over 15 years later, Bischoff flat out called Russo a liar.
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