The swerve or the turn is one of the most utilized storylines in the WWE and all of wrestling. Two friends or partners, once on the same side, battle adversity and heartache only for one of the friends/partners to stab the other in the back. There's really no method of making fans believe two performers hate each other more. Turning on your partner is almost unforgivable.
In recent storylines, Kevin Owens turned on Chris Jericho. Everyone knew it was coming, but it still made the feud feel fresh. Perhaps not as obvious was Seth Rollins turning on his brethren in The Shield. Of course, one of the most famous turns ever would be the time Hulk Hogan turned on WCW and the fans to join the NWO. It was likely the biggest turn in wrestling history and trying to get the same sort of crowd reaction is something a wrestling company can only dream of.
But, it's not just wrestlers in storylines on television that turn on each other. Behind the curtains and backstage, there are all sorts of political agendas. Friends don't stay friends, money speaks loudly and performers backstab each other to get ahead.
Below is a list of 15 different times friendships have been damaged or talent have turned on each other in real life. In some cases, those who got turned on never recovered. In other cases, the two performers were able to set aside their differences and come back together.
16 Randy Orton Turns on Mr. Kennedy
Randy Orton has a reputation for not getting along too well with others. He's known to whine and complain, pull rank, lash out against others on social media and overall, sort of thinks his sh%^ doesn't stink. There's no better example of this than a match that occurred where Mr. Kennedy attempted a back suplex on Orton which landed a bit awkwardly. Instead of understanding that accidents can happen, Orton lost his mind and went immediately to anyone who would listen and demanded Kennedy be reprimanded. Orton got John Cena to side with him and quickly the two convinced Vince McMahon that it was time for Kennedy to go.
Mr. Kennedy went public with this story about a year later and it was just another checkmark on the list of Orton's that showed he was quick to turn on you if he didn't like you or you made a mistake. He did the same to Kofi Kingston and others (although it appears only Kennedy was fired).
15 CM Punk Turns On Jeff Hardy
In 2009 Jeff Hardy and CM Punk were set to do some very profitable business together. They feuded in the ring for a while and capped things off with a spectacular match at SummerSlam that year.
At the time, Punk was still pushing his hardcore straight edge gimmick. As he phrased it, he didn't drink, he didn't smoke, and he didn't do drugs. Hardy, meanwhile, had well-documented issues with substance abuse that only in the last few years was he able to overcome. In an effort to get himself over, Punk made references to real-life struggles and Hardy was none-too-pleased. Punk didn't seem to care and to this day has a reputation for thinking only of himself, regardless of what it does to others. Jeff Hardy left the company not long after.
14 Edge Turns On Matt Hardy
Known as two of the great tag team competitors, Edge and Matt Hardy were a part of the group of six superstars who changed tag team wrestling with their tables, ladders and chairs matches. What they and their teams were doing with the Dudley's at the time was innovative and big money for them and the WWE. It didn't last.
Not long after those iconic matches, Matt Hardy got released from the WWE after he went on a public tirade because Edge had an affair with Lita who was very much Matt Hardy's girlfriend. Lita cheated, Edge got the lady and Hardy got fired. The amount of hatred that came from Hardy was unparalleled. He gained so much sympathy from the WWE Universe fans began chanting his name during Edge's matches. Lita was nearly ostracized from the company and the WWE thought they could make some money off a feud between the Edge and Matt. Hardy was re-hired, but the feud was not nearly as entertaining as the real-life drama that played out on social media.
13 Vince McMahon Turns On Bret Hart
This one is pretty obvious if you know anything about the "Montreal Screwjob." It was the real-life drama between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart where, because Bret didn't want to lose his WWE Title in Montreal, Vince decided to tell Bret he could keep it, then informed Shawn Michaels, the referee and a couple other people that they were going to cheat Hart out of the title in front of a live audience. Bret was under the impression the match would end one way and it went completely sideways, ending in utter confusion, but Bret knowing he'd just be duped.
That would be Bret's last match before leaving for WCW. He didn't talk to Vince for years and spent a lot of his spare time trashing the WWE when possible. He'd finally return to WWE, for a big payday with Vince at WrestleMania XXVI.
12 Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle
It's difficult to imagine two wrestlers working together in a ring after one wrestler steals the other's wife, but in wrestling, it's not terribly uncommon. The backstory between Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett is that Kurt was going through a variety of personal problems. From issues with his marriage to dependency on painkillers, it was an awful time for Jarrett to scoop in and get with Kurt's ex Karen. Basically, Karen left Kurt at a time that Kurt could have used a friend.
Of course, TNA didn't mind and decided to put these two in a series of matches that lasted almost six months. Of course, it's not an issue any longer as Kurt Angle is now back with the WWE where Jeff Jarrett will probably never be welcomed. Why? Jarrett turned on Vince McMahon by holding up the company for about $300k over the Intercontinental Title years before.
11 Triple H Turns on Batista
Batista wants to come back to the WWE. The now extremely famous and successful actor says he'd love one more run with the company but he has only one stipulation — he gets to feud with Triple H to say goodbye. The friendship between these two is fairly well documented, but I guess Triple H isn't willing to throw a bone to Batista because "The Game" has shot down any and all ideas of the two having that feud, thus ruling out Batista's return.
It's not certain whether Triple H just doesn't think it's a feud the fans will buy into or that because it's not WrestleMania it isn't worth it, but until he decides to take Batista up on his offer, Batista will continue to stay on the outside looking in and say some not so very courteous things about the WWE (which he tends to do when not employed by them).
10 JBL Turns On The Blue Meanie
JBL has become the poster boy of the WWE for the rumored bullying that has been going on behind the WWE curtains for years. When he decided to take that bullying and make it a public display at the ECW One Night Stand pay per view in 2005, it showed the world that JBL was what people thought he was — a real jerk. The Blue Meanie was the unfortunate recipient of JBL's display.
It wasn't clear why JBL targeted Blue Meanie until people traced back that Meanie had been somewhat public about JBL's tendency to harass and bully wrestlers that weren't exactly veterans. This was five years earlier and JBL harbored his feelings then used the final segment of the show to lash out. Meanie threatened to sue the WWE, which got him a bit more time added to his employment.
9 Steve Austin Turns On Brock Lesnar
These two are actually still really good friends and Brock has come out publicly saying he wasn't bothered by Austin's decision, but when Steve Austin took "his ball and went home," it was because the WWE wanted him to wrestle and unadvertised match with Brock and put him over as the new monster in the WWE. Austin believed that it was a horrible idea to waste such a marquee matchup with no buildup and instead of doing as instructed, simply ditched the WWE.
Austin did return and made amends with the company but he was fined heavily and Brock was the one left without an opponent, having been, in a way, insulted by Stone Cold. It's tough to say whether or not Brock actually agreed with Austin's decision to refuse the match. Lesnar clearly understands the notion of making the most money possible with the fewest appearances and one way to do that is properly build to a match between two stars. The Brock of today would have thought that was nuts back then too.
8 Triple H Turns On Chyna
Chyna and Triple H were a very public thing for a while. The two were an item during the heyday of D-X and a ferocious duo on and off screen. Of course, that relationship didn't hold a candle to the power yielded by Stephanie and Triple H who got together instead. Chyna was unceremoniously dumped by Triple H and when she voiced her opinion on the fact that Stephanie had become a homewrecker, Chyna was fired.
Triple H not only didn't defend Chyna in any way, he didn't stand in the way of her release and when asked about whether or not Chyna was Hall of Fame worthy prior to her passing, he made remarks that centered around her adult film past and that anyone with her reputation shouldn't be considered. Triple H has a lot of fans these days thanks to his involvement in NXT, but this was an instance where he clearly wronged someone else only to get ahead in the company.
6 Nailz Turns on Vince McMahon
Apparently, being pushed as a mega-heel and earning the money that comes with it in the WWE isn't enough to make you think to yourself, maybe I shouldn't attack my boss. Kevin Wacholz (Nailz) decided that he hadn't been paid enough after his SummerSlam matchup and proceeded to hunt down Vince in McMahon's office, yell at him and choke him. There were tons of witnesses and Wacholz didn't hide a thing (even asking someone to watch the door for him).
Nailz was fired and tried to come back at McMahon in a later trial over steroid abuse in the WWE. Lying on the stand, Wacholz insane testimony was so full of false information and contradiction, he single-handedly helped McMahon get out of the legal trouble he was in.
5 The WWE Turns On Bart Gunn
Someone in the WWE had the bright idea that holding a legit tough man competition in a wrestling ring full of performers who don't really fight would be a good idea. Sure, when a bunch of fake fighters are fighting each other it might look ok, but what happens when you fight a real fighter? One who makes his living legitimately knocking people out?
Bart Gunn found out the hard way that entering the Brawl For All contest (which was marketed internally as an opportunity for its competitors) and plowing through the field as the company's toughest guy was actually not a good idea. Gunn would have become a star, except Butterbean crushed him in a matter of seconds at WrestleMania XV. Not only did Bart lose the fight, he lost his job. The WWE viewed him as a disgrace even though he'd beaten everyone else. He was completely hung out to dry.
4 Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair
When Eric Bischoff took over WCW, he had one thing he needed to do — make the company profitable. Using Ric Flair and his star power would have been a smart move and for a while, Bischoff did. But, with his creation of the NWO, Bischoff turned on Flair, deciding he was old news. So too, Flair didn't feel the NWO storyline was the best storyline for his character and wanted little to no part of being continually beaten down and made to look weak. Neither man being fond of the other, when an opportunity in 1998 came up, Bischoff suspended Flair for missing a taping of WCW Thunder.
The reason this one is considered a turn is that Bischoff (or someone from his staff) had previously granted Flair the night off so Ric could see his son Reid wrestle. When Bischoff called Flair to get on a plane and return to Thunder, he threatened to sue Flair and beat him down financially when he refused. The animosity between the two lasted for years.
3 Hulk Hogan Turns On Billy Kidman
Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest political players in all of wrestling. He knows when and where to strike, who to side with and how to stay in the spotlight thanks to the people he knows and the friendships he makes. So when Vince Russo came to WCW and decided to push the youth of the company, Hulk Hogan (who probably didn't like Russo) was just fine with being in the spotlight against a younger Billy Kidman.
Hogan was happy enough to work with Kidman unless of course, it meant losing, which he wouldn't do. He beat Kidman twice in their feud and it ultimately put an end to any momentum Kidman would have had as a singles competitor in the main event scene of WCW. Hogan had to have known that pushing the younger talent meant potentially longer and more successful days ahead for WCW. Hogan just simply couldn't talk himself into the doing the right thing.
2 Paul Orndorff Turns on Vader
Back in 1995, Vader was asked personally by Eric Bischoff to take part in a WCW photo shoot but Bischoff had not told others on the road crew that Vader would be late getting back to the rest of the guys. When Vader did arrive late, he was chewed out by road agent Paul Orndorff. Having already been given the undeserved grill by Terry Taylor, Vader had come to a point where he wasn't interested in being reprimanded any longer and told Orndorff where to go.
Still unable to calm himself, Vader looked to get an apology from Orndorff but instead, Orndorff turned on Vader and met the big man with an offensive flurry that had to be stopped by a number of other wrestlers. Vader was eventually fired from WCW and in many ways was humiliated as it didn't look good that such a big man had so badly to a near retired and much older road agent.
1 Daniel Puder Turns on Kurt Angle
You'd think if you're trying to earn the respect of the WWE locker room and a contract with the company, that last thing you'd do is turn on and legit shoot fight one of the company's biggest stars. MMA amateur Daniel Puder apparently didn't get the memo. During an in-ring segment for Tough Enough (the WWE's reality show), the entire cast of the show was challenged to a shoot fight with Angle (which of course in wrestling terms means, make the fake fight look like a shoot fight). Puder tried to look good at the expense of Angle by putting Angle in a kimura arm lock. Angle didn't take too kindly to almost having his arm broken.
Not long after, Puder was entered into the Royal Rumble where members of the WWE roster legitimately fed chop after chop to his chest, then throwing him out of the ring. Puder was gone from the WWE pretty much immediately after that.