Friendships among professional wrestlers are a lot more common in today's business. Most wrestlers are close and you won't find many willing to throw each other under the bus to get ahead. It used to be much more common but wrestlers are now satisfied with where they are, which some could argue has caused the product to suffer. The Ruthless Aggression Era is where this really begun and it took off to a whole new level during the PG Era.
The Ruthless Aggression is arguably the best era in WWE for the combination of entertainment outside of the ring and inside of the ring. They were capable of putting together compelling characters along with good wrestling. The Attitude Era put a great deal of effort in the outside of the ring antics but not so much in ring action. The PG Era and the "Reality Era" have phenomenal wrestling but very few wrestlers with characters. Regardless of your Era preference, the Ruthless Aggression Era has produced some of the most well-known relationships. This article is highlighting the friendships inside and outside of the ring during this era.
Here are 15 friendships from the Ruthless Aggression Era.
15 Kofi Kingston and CM Punk
CM Punk is one of the few guys you wouldn't expect to like anybody. Punk would admit himself that he could be a huge jerk at times. Punk has been outspoken about Triple H, Ryback, The Miz, Roman Reigns, and many more. However, Kofi Kingston is one of the few wrestlers to make the list of wrestlers that Punk likes. Punk and Kingston traveled together for most of Punk's WWE career. In the CM Punk documentary, Punk stated that he and Kingston would watch old-school wrestling on the tour bus. Since Punk's departure from WWE, Punk has stated that he only watches the New Day in WWE. Kingston just makes the cut for the Ruthless Aggression Era since he debuted in early 2008 before the PG Era began.
14 The Undertaker and JBL
The Undertaker has been the most protected character in wrestling. He's done a good job up until recently of maintaining his gimmick as well as kayfabe. It may come as a surprise to see him mingling with backstage talent let alone it being known by most wrestling fans. In the 90's, Taker had a group known as the Bone Street Krew or BSK for short. Wrestlers in this group included Yokozuna, Savio Vega, and Henry O. Godwinn. In the Ruthless Aggression Era, Taker made friends with JBL. Both were considered locker room leaders for Smackdown as they would hold Wrestler's Court and punish wrestlers for bad behavior.
13 Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit
These two Smackdown Six members relationship dated back to before they were even in ECW. They followed each other nearly everywhere they went from ECW, then WCW, and finally the WWE. The two jumped ship to the WWE as both men were unhappy with their booking. They formed the Radicalz in the WWE along with Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko. Guerrero and Benoit shared a very emotional moment at the end of Wrestlemania 20 where the two embraced and hugged while clasping the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles. Guerrero was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by a combination of Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Chavo Guerrero.
12 Edge and Christian
They tried to convince us that they were brothers during the Attitude Era but eventually eased up on that claim and said they were good friends. The two were kept apart because of the brand split and Christian was released in late 2005. Edge went on to have great success winning the WWE Title twice in the Ruthless Aggression Era while Christian became a main event talent in TNA. These two are best of friends to this very day and recently had a must-see awkward appearance on the Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast. The majority of their recent appearances have been together.
11 Bradshaw and Farooq
The APA, the Acolytes, and Hell's Henchmen are all names these two went under during their time as a team. In 2003 and 2004, the two were forgotten members of the Smackdown roster. They were nowhere near as cool as they were in the Attitude Era. They lost most of their matches including a four-way tag match at Wrestlemania. Bradshaw went on to become JBL, a character based on his real-life persona. Farooq retired and has made a few appearances since then. JBL often mentions Farooq on commentary when it's something related to the tag team division. The two have made a couple of appearances together including Raw 1000.
10 Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair
Despite his age, Ric Flair continued to wrestle into the Ruthless Aggression and had several great matches, such as his Wrestlemania 24 bout against Shawn Michaels. The match had so much emotion to it and a phenomenal build. Michaels referenced Old Yeller and claimed that he was going to "put him down". It was a tremendous match with back-and-forth action and a tear-jerking climax. Michaels "retired" Ric Flair with one more Sweet Chin Music. Due to the parallels between the two's characters and careers, there was no better option to retire Ric Flair than Shawn Michaels.
9 The Rock and Brock Lesnar
Brock doesn't seem very friendly if you ask most people. He claims to be disconnected from the entire world as he has said on the Steve Austin Podcast. He even moved to Canada and tries to stay away from the public eye. However, he has made a few friends in the wrestling business and one of them happens to be someone who loves people. Rock agreed to drop the title to Brock during his peak years at a time when Lesnar was still relatively new. The Rock even showed up after one of Lesnar's UFC victories as the two embraced.
8 Kane and Undertaker
These two were portrayed as brothers on TV just like Edge and Christian. Sadly, Kane's character would lose its appeal over the years. The two feuded with each other, and have teamed up as recently as 2015. Taker considered Kane to end his streak which shows the respect between the two. It is said that Kane respectfully turned it down. In their most recent matches, Kane defeated The Undertaker several times in 2010. Both men were also close to Paul Bearer and have paid tribute to him.
7 John Cena and Randy Orton
They've fought a plenty of times inside of the ring but the two have always been close outside of it. In Randy Orton's documentary, Cena claims that he didn't like Orton when they first met. However, they eventually bonded while became WWE stars at the same time. Orton had won a World Title before John Cena did although the latter has more World Titles than him. They both trained OVW together under the guidance of Jim Cornette. Fun fact, Randy Orton has never beaten John Cena cleanly in a one-on-one singles match despite their trillion matches.
6 Shawn Michaels and Funaki
Funaki and Shawn Michaels have had two completely different careers in WWE. Funaki was a comedic lower-tier wrestler while Shawn Michaels enjoyed great success with the company. This bond or friendship came to be as a result of Funaki being a Shawn Michaels fan. It is believed that Shawn Michaels saved Funaki from being released on multiple occasions. It's probably no coincidence that Funaki was released shortly after Michaels retired in 2010. Both men currently have a role at the NXT Performance Center, while Funaki is also doing commentary for WWE pay-per-views as a member of the Japanese announce team.
5 Lita and Trish Stratus
Lita and Trish Stratus feuded several times throughout their WWE tenure. Both retired in 2006 which hurt the women's division. Their matches mesmerized WWE audiences for five years with both willingly dropping the Women's Title to each other on numerous occasions. Trish Stratus inducted Lita into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014 in a star-studded class. It is also believed that Lita is the godfather of Trish's son. These two feuding for essentially their entire WWE tenures has made them incredibly close friends to this day.
4 Triple H and Ric Flair
Much like Shawn Michaels, Triple H grew up a fan of the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. There are also some similarities between the two wrestlers. According to the Triple H documentary, Flair was very disappointed with his position when he made his return in 2001. He was in limbo with little direction. Triple H and Flair joined forces, and recruited Batista and Randy Orton to form Evolution. Evolution lasted three years with Orton leaving first, followed by Batista, and finally Flair. The two had gruesome matches shortly after their split. In recent years, Triple H has brought back Flair as an ambassador for the company.
3 Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio
Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio had a strange feud in 2005 as they put on some good matches but failed to top their WCW work, including the 1997 Halloween Havoc fight. After having won the WWE Tag Team Titles, Guerrero turned on his former best friend in a feud that would last several months. Their chemistry is matched by few people in the wrestling business as they knew every move in each other's repertoire. In 2006, Mysterio inducted Guerrero into the WWE Hall of Fame. These two were very close friends and seeing Mysterio cry at Eddie's Tribute Show was heartbreaking.
2 Shawn Michaels and Triple H
Before the Attitude Era began, Triple H joined the WWE as Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Shortly after, he joined the Kliq which featured Shawn Michaels. The two formed the entertaining duo known as D-Generation X. When Shawn Michaels returned at the beginning of the Ruthless Aggression Era, he had an instant classic against Triple H. Shawn Michaels pinned Triple H at the first Elimination Chamber to become the second ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Most of their matches have been memorable from the Last Man Standing match to their 2004 Royal Rumble fight, as well as the triple threat at Wrestlemania. Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 by Triple H.
1 Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle
Remember the claim about Brock not being the friendliest guy? Kurt Angle is the second objection to that statement. While in the UFC, Brock spoke highly of Kurt Angle, indicating that he and Kurt Angle did a lot of "real" moves in the wrestling ring. They had several humorous segments on Smackdown which was a completely new side from Brock. This includes post-show footage of Brock kissing Angle on the lips. The two have never had a bad match and have traded clean victories. With Angle back in the fold, we could see another set of matches between the two. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely due to Kurt Angle's health problems.
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