The heart of the professional wrestling business is built on simulated feuds, made-up battles between individuals that are played out inside of the ring at shows and on television programs. Often times, the two performers who are pretending to kick the crap out of each others – and in some cases actually inflicting pain on opponents – are, in real-life, close friends, godfathers to each other’s kids, roommates when on the road and long-time buddies who help each other advance in the business. It is a lifestyle unlike any other, as sports teammates are not asked to hurt each other multiple times per week.
As can be expected in a business where one must do whatever possible to get to the mountaintop of the business, scripted battles can lead to legitimate feuds among wrestlers. Sometimes, those disagreements can lead to one attempting to squash the career of a rival by making him look bad during a high-profile match. In other circumstances, however, things spill over behind the scenes, where fans do not have access to the sights and sounds of how storylines are created. These can lead to serious consequences, including a wrestler leaving an organization to join up with a rival brand.
What will probably forever be the most famous finish to a World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view event was born because of two wrestlers simply not being able to get along. That feud, which was set to end with a wrestler being able to leave the WWE with dignity intact and head held high, was one that was mentioned in WWE storylines for over a decade, one that also changed the face of North American professional wrestling because of everything that occurred after the fact. Those two wrestlers are icons of the business, and not just because of their incredible matches.
10. Sid Vicious vs. Arn Anderson
We kick things off with what is probably the mother of all backstage pro wrestling stories, one that was even mentioned on World Championship Wrestling television years after the fact. Anderson and Sid got into a fight backstage, allegedly due to Anderson defending the honor of real-life Ric Flair after Sid had insulted the “Nature Boy,” and the fight continued later at a hotel. Sid was eventually stabbed – STABBED – in the stomach by Anderson, who famously used a pair of scissors in the attack, but it was Sid and not Anderson who was fired for the incident.
9. Chris Jericho vs. Bill Goldberg
The story of what actually occurred backstage at the WWE event has changed over the years, but something involving the two definitely occurred. Jericho was upset that Goldberg, the biggest phenom in the company at the time, would not complete a program with Jericho while they were still in WCW and Y2J took great offense to the snub. It has been claimed that Jericho got the better of the battle, but Goldberg has, in interviews, claimed that the altercation was not much of anything at all. Of course, that is what you would expect a loser of a fight to say.
8. Batista vs. Booker T
Batista and Booker T were preparing for a photo shoot when, according to legend, Batista was acting as if he was bigger and better than the other talent in the company. The five-time WCW Champion did not take kindly to this and he politely challenge Batista to a battle. Batista, probably believing that he would win because he was the bigger guy, accepted, but it was Booker who got the better of things for the majority of the encounter. The incident has been played down by Batista over the years, but Booker insists that he delivered a whooping on that day.
7. Ric Flair vs. Eric Bischoff
The real-life feud involving Flair and Bischoff played out on WCW television for years, and the two were reunited under the WWE banner in 2003. Flair, obviously still bothered about the way that Bischoff treated him in WCW, approached Bischoff when the two were in catering, and the “Nature Boy” challenged the former executive producer to a brawl, one that Bischoff wanted no part off. Things were broken up before Flair could get in too much damage, but he did hit on at least one shot that had to feel good for the legendary performer and all-time great pro wrestler.
6. Paul Orndorff vs. Vader
There are numerous stories out there of Orndorff getting into backstage arguments and fights during his in-ring career, including one that involved arguably the best big man in the history of the business. Orndorff and Vader, who had legitimate heat with one another, threw down after a photo shoot, but what exactly happened depends on the person telling the story. Either Vader got the better of Orndorff before the fight was broken up, or it was Orndorff who inflicted damage on Vader until the two were separated. Either way, it is a backstage incident that has lived on in part because of the glory of the Internet.
5. Nailz vs. Vince McMahon
Nailz (real name Kevin Wacholz) believed that he was owed some money from the WWE when he approached McMahon in December of 1992. After, according to Bret Hart, an argument that lasted roughly 15 minutes, Nailz knocked McMahon out of a chair before the wrestler began choking the chairman. This resulted in Nailz understandably being released from his deal, lawsuits being filed by both the performer and the company, and Nailz getting a bit of revenge when he testified against McMahon during the trial that stemmed from the boss being accused of giving wrestlers steroids.
4. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
The Olympic gold medalist has, in his time, been alleged to have told some tall tales (how is that budding MMA career coming, Kurt?), but nobody can deny that the man was one heck of a grappler. As the story goes, Lesnar, a champion college wrestler, believed that he could take Angle because of the size difference, but it took weeks of challenges from the smaller Angle before Lesnar finally accepted. Angle and, to his credit, others have said that Angle got the better of the encounter. It’s too bad fans couldn’t have seen this battle. That would have been big-time buys for the WWE.
3. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero
Guerrero and Angle were, at times, oil and water, two wrestlers who did not always mix. The story, put out there years ago by current WWE on-air commentator JBL, was that Angle and Guerrero got into a verbal disagreement after a televised match, and the encounter was turned up a notch when Guerrero thought it wise to attempt a takedown on a guy who won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. It did not end well for the aggressor, as Angle made quick work of Guerrero before eventually having to be held back. That was not one of Eddie’s brightest moments.
2. Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon
Hart was going through his worst night in the business in November 1997. He had, to his shock, legitimately been robbed of the WWE Championship by multiple individuals, most notably Vince McMahon. The Hitman and the boss of the company met backstage after Hart destroyed monitors and other WWE property at ringside, and the “Excellence of Execution” excellently popped the man who made the final call to go with the “Montreal Screwjob.” McMahon was left with a black eye and Hart made his way to WCW.
1. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
You can take your pick among the incidents that involved The Hitman and The HeartBreak Kid. There are the rumors about Hart allegedly having an affair which led to Michaels’ famous “Sunny days” reference on Raw. One could reference the reported actual fight involving the two that supposedly occurred backstage at a Raw in 1997 Then, of course, there is everything that happened to set up “The Montreal Screwjob,” the incident responsible for the No. 2 incident in this piece and one that helped create the Mr. McMahon character that ultimately skyrocketed the WWE past WCW in the Monday Night Wars.
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