Stephanie McMahon is a very polarizing figure in the wrestling business. Her intentions always appear to be in the right place and she says the right thing just about every time she is interviewed about the state of WWE and how it's being run. Her on-screen work is superb as a tremendous heel character that would succeed on any television show, let alone in professional wrestling. However, there is a side of her we don’t see that often provides negativity in the wrestling business.
Stephanie is a shrewd businesswoman that learned from her father and shows no mercy in getting ahead. Many wrestlers and fans complain about how she always stands tall on screen and no one can ever truly get revenge on her, since the men can’t hit the women and the women’s wrestlers don’t work against Stephanie in matches. There’s also the allegations of hypocrisy, as many have said she's a mean spirited person behind the polite smile and PR comments. Stories have surfaced through the years of her friends seeing Stephanie’s loving side and her enemies seeing the vindictive boss. We'll look at both sides of Stephanie McMahon’s relationships with eight of her closest friends in WWE history and seven wrestlers she despised.
15 Close with: Charlotte Flair
The friendship between Charlotte Flair and Stephanie McMahon sees them share the similar background of having to follow in the footsteps of their legendary fathers. Vince McMahon is the iconic owner and promoter of WWE that Stephanie is trying to succeed. Charlotte is doing the same as she continues the Flair legacy created by her dad, Ric Flair.
WWE clearly has more faith and trust in Charlotte than they do the other women on the roster and Stephanie’s opinion may have something to do with that. Stephanie is close with all of the new ladies who are coming onto the main roster from NXT, but always goes the extra mile to put over Charlotte in interviews. Charlotte has gone on the record to say her dream match would be against her friend Stephanie at a future WrestleMania.
14 Despises: Kaitlyn
One women’s wrestler that got on the bad side of Stephanie McMahon was Kaitlyn. The former Divas Champion apparently crossed Stephanie backstage in an incident that would eventually play out on the screen. Kaitlyn allegedly approached Stephanie to ask her something while McMahon was having a conversation with someone else. This led to Stephanie apparently causing a scene and talking down to Kaitlyn backstage.
A segment on Raw took place shortly after with Stephanie telling Kaitlyn to never interrupt her again after all of the women’s wrestlers came to the ring during Stephanie’s promo with AJ Lee. Kaitlyn lost the Divas Championship during that timeframe making it likely that the incident caused her stock to fall. We would see Kaitlyn choose to leave the wrestling industry in favor of starting her own business where she wouldn’t have to answer to anyone.
13 Close with: Big Show
Big Show has been in WWE for eighteen years now and has remained a loyal employee. The big man doesn’t mind taking a backseat to the new talent, but will still appear on the live events and promotional tours to help the company. It comes to no surprise that Show is a good friend to all members of the McMahon family.
Stephanie McMahon has a close relationship with Show that once became a storyline on-screen. The story saw Stephanie take her evil heel character to another level by using Show for her own personal gain. WWE booked the idea of Show losing his money in investments and his friend Stephanie “helping” him by having him do the bidding of The Authority. This was similar to real-life, aside from Show being poor and Stephanie demanding he punches people in the face. Okay, maybe the friendship part is the only real thing.
12 Despises: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner’s singles career in WWE was a huge failure that went by faster than anyone could have expected. The WCW legend returned to WWE to a massive ovation at Survivor Series 2002 that showed the fan base loved him. Steiner’s return storyline saw him choose between Raw and SmackDown brands with General Managers Stephanie McMahon and Eric Bischoff vying for him.
One segment that may have seen Steiner go too far featured him getting aggressive with Steph while she was trying to sign him. Steiner revealed in a shoot interview that it may have annoyed Stephanie and Triple H enough to sabotage his career. Triple H beat Steiner on the following two PPVs, forcing Steiner down into irrelevance. Stephanie’s hatred of him could have played a major role.
11 Close with: Lita
Stephanie McMahon became close with many of the wrestlers from the Attitude Era and kept in touch with some of them. Lita and Stephanie have always claimed to be friends with positive words always being exchanged. The latest push of women’s wrestling in WWE is partially due to Stephanie wanting to be the figurehead of equality in the company.
Lita returned to WWE in a few noteworthy roles such as joining the Hall of Fame, working as a producer for women’s matches and trying her hand in broadcasting. The latter two didn’t work out in the long run, but her friendship with Stephanie at least allowed her the chance to try them out.
10 Despises: Christy Hemme
The firing of Christy Hemme by WWE was one of the more shocking decisions at the time. Hemme won the first Diva Search contest and was rather popular with the fan base. There was potential there and she continued to gain popularity. WWE letting her go in less than two years meant there had to be some smoke where there was fire.
A rumor started to make the rounds that Triple H had an affair with Hemme behind Stephanie’s back. The theory is that Stephanie made the call to fire Hemme and get rid of her to save the marriage. No one has ever confirmed the story but we’ve also never received a valid reason for the random firing of Hemme. If true, Hemme is definitely one of the most despised wrestlers of Stephanie.
9 Close with: Shawn Michaels
Triple H’s friends have become Stephanie McMahon’s friends through the years, especially since they all work together. Michaels is the one member of The Kliq that has remained in WWE through the years and completely cleaned up his life.
Michaels was a horrible person to be around during his prime years in the 90s. Luckily, Stephanie wasn’t around much then and started becoming a fixture for the company after he left. She ended up growing closer to the Michaels that beat his personal demons in the 2000s. The two are friends with a very strong common bond of loving Triple H. Michaels will have a place in WWE for life with his close friends running the company.
8 Despises: Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam struggled to succeed in the political landscape of WWE. Stephanie McMahon was one of the people that didn’t like Van Dam and it likely hurt his career. His attitude saw him play a strangely laid back role backstage while everyone walked on eggshells. Stephanie didn’t like his attitude and she absolutely despised his hobbies.
One story featured Stephanie complaining about Van Dam reeking of weed every time he entered the building. Everyone knows RVD loves marijuana and he wouldn’t hide it. Stephanie detested how proud he was of something every other wrestler would have gone out of their way to hide. It all likely played a role in Van Dam failing to reach main event status for the majority of his WWE career.
7 Close with: Mick Foley
The friendship between Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon has lasted for almost two decades now. Foley wrote a blog stating a major reason for him taking the on-screen role of Raw General Manager last year was getting to work with Stephanie. Mick cut a promo on Raw where he recalled meeting Stephanie as “the girl with the shy smile” on the night of his infamous Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker and it was a true story.
It’s no secret that Foley has had many negative moments with Vince McMahon through the years, but he's always remained close with Stephanie. The blog also mentioned the fact that Mick’s daughter, Noelle, made a pot holder for Stephanie back in 2000 and it's still in her home today. Foley may be seeing the end of his time as Stephanie’s on-screen General Manager, but he'll likely always remain her real-life friend.
6 Despises: Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon had one of the most understated backstage rivalries in WWE history. They started working together backstage when putting together the SmackDown shows following the brand split. SmackDown received rave reviews under the direction of Heyman leading the staff. Stephanie often butted heads with him and rumors leaked at the time that they would get into shouting matches during booking meetings.
Heyman shockingly lost his booking spot on SmackDown, but received another opportunity to run the ECW brand in WWE. The project was a complete failure and Heyman hated it so much that he chose to quit. Heyman’s final meeting featured Stephanie joining Vince McMahon to witness the end of Heyman’s time in WWE. They are on better terms today now that Heyman is exclusively a talent, but Stephanie will often find time to take a shot at him for no reason on-screen.
5 Close with: The Rock
Another Attitude Era friend that Stephanie McMahon still has today is The Rock. Stephanie’s early career saw The Rock become one of her first rivals on the microphone. The Rock would tear her down once she became an evil heel that fans loved to boo. Their friendship would form through the bond of working together in front of thousands in the arena and millions on television.
The Rock still has a great relationship with WWE despite spending the majority of his time in Hollywood shooting movies. Stephanie is often tweeting congratulations to Rock every time he reaches a new milestone or accomplishment. Rock was even allowed to film part of his company’s movie about Paige during Raw. No one has ever been allowed to do that, but Rock is a close friend of Stephanie and Vince.
4 Despises: AJ Lee
AJ Lee is one the very few performers to publicly speak out against Stephanie McMahon while working for WWE. The bad blood started due to Lee’s husband's, CM Punk, ugly relationship with Stephanie’s husband, Triple H. Both wives apparently held on to the personal grudge. Stephanie and AJ had a few on-screen segments that often saw Stephanie talking down to the Divas Champion.
Things would get worse when Lee went to Twitter to call out Stephanie. The incident happened after Stephanie celebrating the movement of women’s rights and equality on Twitter. Lee replied, asking Stephanie why the women of the roster make significantly less money and got less television time than the men. Stephanie responded to the savage comment by saying she appreciated AJ’s criticism, but you know she had to be fuming. It was no surprise when Lee left WWE following her contract expiring due to the toxic situation.
3 Close with: Brie Bella
Stephanie McMahon has only wrestled one match on WWE television over the past thirteen years. The surprising choice for her opponent was Brie Bella at SummerSlam 2014. It made sense because Brie’s husband, Daniel Bryan, feuded with The Authority for many years ,but it was such a rare opportunity. Stephanie is the most hated female heel in the company and she just doesn’t wrestle.
Brie received the huge spot in the feud that closed Raw two weeks in a row for a feat that had not been done by the women in WWE for many years. Stephanie handpicked Brie as the person to have her comeback match with. It could have been Stephanie’s final match and she picked someone she truly enjoyed being around. Brie and Stephanie have remained friends through the years and it allows Brie to remain a WWE Ambassador while having her first child with Daniel Bryan.
2 Despises: CM Punk
There is no one in WWE that Stephanie McMahon has ever publicly shown more contempt for than CM Punk. Everyone knows Punk hates how the company is run and he absolutely loathes Triple H. That has led to fans chanting “CM Punk” at Triple H, Vince McMahon and Stephanie any time Raw is in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois.
Triple H, Vince and the wrestlers to get the chant have ignored it and mocked the crowd in other ways. Stephanie is the one person that shows no chill, responding with insults towards Punk. Words like “loser” and “quitter” have been used by Stephanie regarding Punk. The most shocking moment featured her mocking Punk for losing so quickly in his UFC debut. It is obvious that Stephanie absolutely despises Punk and will not allow you to chant his name at her.
1 Close with: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon are extremely close friends that have been bonded together since the days of the Attitude Era. They had a great match together at No Way Out 2001 and their chemistry played a huge role in the Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon storyline at the time. Both women benefited greatly and went to the next level as performers by working against each other on-screen.
The friendship of Trish and Stephanie went understated until the news of Trish entering the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame broke. Everyone expected Lita to be the one to induct Stratus, considering they are real-life best friends and had a legendary rivalry. Stephanie ended up being the one to induct Trish and clearly wanted the honor. Stephanie's speech saw her speak lovingly about one of her best friends in the wrestling industry.