Professional wrestling, particularly at its highest levels, is full of big egos. It takes a certain level of belief in oneself to make to the top of wrestling business, and stars understandably have strong opinions about not only themselves but those around them.
There are those legends from years past who go out of their way to praise current stars whom they can see themselves in, or whom they otherwise recognize special talent in. However, there are also those Hall of Fame caliber talents who have gotten into public beefs with contemporary talents, be it sniping via social media, making offhand comments in shoot interviews, or in actual personal interactions. This article looks at five legends who have real life beef with current wrestlers and five who are big supporters of today’s stars.
10 Beef: Superstar Billy Graham With New Day
Former WWE Champion and Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham has been vocal in criticism of various aspects of contemporary wrestling, but seemed to grow particularly impassioned when Kofi Kingston got his push as WWE Champion. Graham came after Kingston for being too small to be on top, and suggested he go on steroids.
Kingston has mostly stayed above the fray, but his New Day compatriot has more actively engaged with the Graham. Graham has come after him for his comedic antics, while Big E hasn’t hesitated to poke fun at the legend’s verbiage. For example, when Graham commented on social media that he wouldn’t miss seeing Big E’s “a**,” Big E quoted the exact line to underscore Graham’s absurdity, with a GIF of someone crying. This intergenerational clash seems to come down to how wrestling and its main event players are presented.
9 Biggest Fan: Edge With Tommaso Ciampa
When Tommaso Ciampa visited Edge and Christian’s podcast, he revealed that he has had a behind the scenes mentor-mentee relationship with Edge. That includes texting for advice, and The Rated R Superstar offering encouragement and praise to NXT’s top heel.
The relationship is particularly interesting given that Ciampa had vocally criticized E and C’s Pod of Awesomeness on social media. It seems that even this apparent discord was a part of Edge and Ciampa working together to further get Ciampa as a character worthy of fans’ disdain.
8 Beef: Bret Hart With Seth Rollins
Bret Hart has been known for his critical eye, including lowballing ratings of other wrestlers and their matches. On the surface, one might expect that Seth Rollins would be a favorite of Hart’s given his generally agreed upon excellent work rate that in some ways parallels the way Hart executed bell to bell in his day.
Hart was also very proud of his record of never hurting anyone, though, and has more than once been openly critical of Rollins for performing in an unsafe manner. That includes citing Rollins’s knee strikes reckless, and assigning Rollins responsibility for hurting Sting in his last match. Rollins has, at least publicly, remained respectful, so the beef only seems to go one way, but it is clear that Hart is not a fan of The Beast Slayer.
7 Biggest Fan: Mark Henry With Sami Zayn
Mark Henry has become increasingly vocal in offering shoot commentary on the wrestling world since stepping away from full time performance with WWE. Not everything he has had to say has been positive, but outspoken heel Sami Zayn got some glowing praise from The World’s Strongest Man recently.
When Zayn returned from injury this spring, Henry was quick to publicly praise his promo work, in particular citing that it didn’t sound like it came from writers, but rather represented Zayn’s unique mic skills and personality. While Henry and Zayn are about as different as can be as professional wrestlers, this is nonetheless high praise coming from a proven veteran star.
6 Beef: Booker T With Matt Riddle
During his NXT residency, Matt Riddle has been outspoken on social media, including taking shots at top main roster talents like Brock Lesnar, as well as legends like The Undertaker and Goldberg for their widely panned Super ShowDown match.
After Riddle knocked The Dead Man and Goldberg, Booker T took to his radio show in an effort to put The Original Bro in his place. Booker suggested Riddle still needs a lot of work based on his efforts in NXT and implied that the young star was out of line. Notably, Booker didn’t point out any shortcomings in Riddle’s game, but rather focused on his own credentials as a past star to indicate that he knew what he was talking about.
5 Biggest Fan: The Rock With Bray Wyatt
The Rock doesn’t show up on WWE television much these days, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t paying attention to his old stomping grounds, or that he’s not still interested in supporting current talent. The Great One recently took a moment to put over Bray Wyatt on Twitter.
As an extension of his TV persona, Wyatt has taken to forgiving talents he has feuded with in the past on social media, often in odd and over the top fashion. Wyatt publicly forgave The Rock for their confrontation at WrestleMania 32. The People’s Champion responded by telling Wyatt he was crazy, but adding on that he loves it, thus putting over the younger talent.
4 Beef: Road Warrior Animal With Beck Lynch
As half of the iconic tag team, The Road Warriors, Animal is certainly a pro wrestling legend. However, he also has an old school mindset that many of today’s workers and fans might not see eye to eye with. He has criticized smaller wrestlers, as well as the degree to which women are currently pushed in WWE.
On his podcast, Animal has been vocal about not feeling women should be main event level star. He has, in particular, criticized Becky Lynch’s persona as The Man, because he feels she isn’t believable in that sort of tough, attitude heavy role. Lynch hasn’t hesitated to snipe back over social media, no doubt irritating Animal further.
3 Biggest Fan: Hulk Hogan With AJ Styles
While he has had his share of personal issues that have placed his adoration from the masses in jeopardy, Hulk Hogan remains one of pro wrestling’s definitive icons. It’s no small thing for him to wholeheartedly endorse another wrestler, and he has gone out of his way to do just that with AJ Styles.
Hogan’s experience working with Styles dates back to their shared time in Impact Wrestling. His public praise for the Phenomenal one has sprouted up more recently, though. In a number of interviews, The Hulkster has cited that Styles is not only a first rate performer, but also a human being worth celebrating.
2 Beef: Steve Austin With Jon Moxley
Steve Austin’s podcast was generally well received by the wrestling community, and when Stone Cold brought the show to the WWE Network for shoot interviews, it yielded some interesting conversations. One iteration that was less entertaining than uncomfortable, however, saw Austin interview the former Dean Ambrose, now known as Jon Moxley, including criticizing the modern star for not showing enough fire.
Austin has publicly claimed since, that there’s no heat between him and Moxley and that the interview was less confrontational than just a case of the conversation never clicking. Moxley, however, has made some comments that suggest a bit of residual spite, including commenting that Attitude Era stars who try to advise the current generation are often off the mark and fail to understand the circumstances current WWE talent face.
1 Biggest Fan: Mick Foley With Becky Lynch
Mick Foley is not only a wrestling legend, but the kind of wrestler whom pretty much everyone respects for his character work, longevity, and willingness to put his body through remarkable punishment in the name of entertaining fans. As such, an endorsement from The Hardcore Legend most certainly carries weight, and he has thrown his full support behind Becky Lynch.
Early in her run as The Man, Foley praised her as a breakout star, citing how the moniker and corresponding persona turned gender on its head and advanced her toward top spot among all WWE Superstars. As WrestleMania loomed, Foley spoke in a number of interviews about her capitalizing on opportunities and drawing parallels between her success and that of Stone Cold Steve Austin.