The term “professional wrestling” isn’t used by the WWE today, as they like to refer to their industry as “sports entertainment”, and with that comes the pageantry and storytelling that the WWE have become famous for. If those stories are to succeed, there must be logical advancements in the story, and sometimes, great swerves and betrayals. While WWE struggles to tell great stories these days, they sure do know how to break a wrestling fan's heart. For such betrayals to work, the fans need to be invested in the performers, and while the company is struggling to make top main event stars, their presence on our screens each and every week creates a bond between superstar and fans, and even if it’s just for the sheer shock factor alone, they do know how to swerve the fans.
We may have seen some of these coming, while others came completely out of left field and shocked us, and some amounted to nothing, while others skyrocketed some stars to the top of the card. Regardless, the following are 15 of the most heartbreaking betrayals in the history of the WWE.
15 Christian Turns On Edge
There are many reasons that people would betray each other in the world of WWE (most of which will be explored through this article), and sometimes there is no reason at all, but the most common is out of simple jealousy, and that’s exactly what happened between lifelong best friends and onetime kayfabe brothers, Edge and Christian. The two came to WWE in 1998, and went on to be seven-time WWE Tag Team Champions, and they helped innovate the ladder/TLC match. but when Edge was becoming a star on his own, the company gave him a win at the 2001 version of King of the Ring, and that trophy that came with it. That simply drove Christian over the edge. The jealousy boiled over, and on an episode of RAW is WAR, Christian hit the team's signature “con-chair-to” on his former best friend in a very shocking moment. Hey, at least WWE was right in predicting which one would become the bigger star.
14 Eddie Saves Rey, Only To Betray Him
Eddie Guerrero is without a doubt one of the greatest performers to ever step foot inside a wrestling ring, but what made him truly great was his ability to read the crowd while in a match, as well as what his character should be doing. This was yet another testament to his ability to play both the loveable babyface (see; 2004, No Way Out), or an absolutely despicable heel. Not even Eddie was immune to WWE’s terrible ideas, however, as he battled Rey Mysterio in a ladder match at SummerSlam 2005, for the custody of Rey’s son on the line. That was actually kickstarted by a classic betrayal. Eddie saved Rey from the attack of MNM, but unfortunately for the fans that rejoiced, Eddie immediately turned on his friend, and for fans of both men, it was utterly tragic (except for the fact that we knew the matches they were going to have would be great, and they indeed were).
13 Cass Stands Alone
This is the most recent betrayal on this list, and despite the fact that Enzo Amore and Big Cass have been booked horribly since their arrival from NXT, the fans were still heavily invested. While fans only saw one possible outcome from the weeks and weeks of attacks to both men, it still hurt like hell when it was finally announced via video that it was indeed Cass behind it all along. After admitting to the attacks, and giving an impassioned promo (most of which was very believable, making the scene a whole lot more heart breaking), Big Cass kicked Enzo in the head, officially putting an end to their alliance in WWE. What made this moment however was the look on Amore’s face, as it genuinely looked like his brother, his family was turning on him, and even if you weren’t a huge fan of the two as a team, you had to feel emotional at this point.
12 Heyman Turns On The Best In The World
Whether WWE likes to admit it or not, the Straight Edge Superstar CM Punk is the last genuine superstar in the company, and the defining run in his career was the record-breaking 434 day reign as WWE Champion. For the majority of that run, he had the legendary Paul Heyman by his side. After losing that title, and then losing to the Undertaker at WrestleMania, his career was at a standstill until the Money in the Bank ladder match where it looked like he’d win the 3rd brief case of his career, until Heyman attacked Punk from behind, ending their professional relationship in a shocking moment. Of course, this all led to one of the best matches in SummerSlam history, The Best vs. The Beast, so it worked out with great purpose. Still, the initial moment was one that no one saw coming, and showed even the great CM Punk had vulnerabilities.
11 Andre Turns On The Hulkster
Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, The Rock, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, CM Punk or even AJ Styles. Most wrestling fans around the world will agree that the list of greatest WWE Superstars of all time will include one of these names, but the last great attraction in the wrestling industry was Andre the Giant, who was beloved around the world as an amazing performer, because of his gargantuan stature. He worked as a good guy that entire time, and as he reached the end of his career in the WWE, no one expected that to change, so it made it even more shocking and devastating when he turned on fellow fan favorite Hulk Hogan, by ripping his famous red and yellow shirt right off his chest. This led to their amazing match at WrestleMania III, which saw Hogan be the first man (on television at least) to slam the Giant. Although his turn was short-lived (as he became a good guy almost immediately following), it still didn’t take away from the pure shock factor of the moment.
10 KO Ruins Sami’s Big Moment
Kevin Owens (or Kevin Steen) and Sami Zayn (better known as El Generico before WWE) have been battling for years, with amazing rivalries and even better matches in ROH, NXT and the WWE main roster, but for fans unaware of their pre-WWE rivalry, NXT provided the perfect introduction. After finally climbing the mountaintop, Sami Zayn was met in the ring by the entire NXT roster to celebrate his huge victory, and one of those performers was his best friend, Kevin Owens who made his NXT debut earlier in the night, and it was a genuinely touching moment that put a nice end to a well told story. Unfortunately, Owens had other ideas, and attacked his friend as they walked up the ramp, and to see someone who had spent his heart and soul to reach the mountain top have his moment stolen like that was a genuine heart breaker.
9 Banishing The Nature Boy
Ric Flair and his influence has had a massive impact on the immense success that Charlotte has achieved during her WWE career (she is arguably one of the best female wrestlers of all time already, going on championship gold), so this is hardly the way to repay him, but as the best heel in the women’s division, it had to be done, and it had to be painful. After Flair had been helping Charlotte retain her title, in all manners of ways (sometimes quite disgusting, poor Becky Lynch), she decided that he had outlived his usefulness, and to fully cement herself as the top female heel, she dumped him in the middle of the ring on Monday Night RAW. As he’s always done well, Flair sold the moment and broke down in tears, and seeing the greatest champion in wrestling history in such a state is enough to break the hearts of any fan, young or old, but the knife in his back was that much more devastating coming from the daughter he is so proud of.
8 The Mega-Powers Implode
Every wrestling era has had its superstars, whether it be the Rock and Stone Cold, John Cena and Randy Orton, or even Ric Flair who spanned many generations, but the one that made the wrestling industry what it is today, and the two biggest stars of that era are the Macho Man, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. So when the two came together as the Mega-Powers, it spelled trouble for everyone else within the WWE. The two started a friendship that lasted a year, and as we know from wrestling back then, the stories that were told were told with patience, and they took time to develop, which made the fans fall in love even further with both men. But like it has been since the beginning of time, a woman came in between these two men. The Macho Man feared that Hogan was getting too close to his wife, Miss Elizabeth, and in a very uncharacteristic moment for Savage, he savagely attacked the Hulkster backstage, leading to their fantastic match at WrestleMania, which paid off a well told, emotional story.
7 Brother Betrays Brother
The Hardy Boyz are one of the most beloved tag teams in wrestling history, as evidenced by the ovation the two received at WrestleMania 33 upon returning to the company after six years away. While they got along as a tag team and then singles stars for the most part of their career, Matt would eventually succumb to the jealousy of Jeff being the more popular star for their entire run. As Jeff was striving to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Edge at the Royal Rumble, it seemed as though Matt was coming down to even the odds, but he nailed Jeff with a steel chair, giving a conclusion to the mysterious ill-fate he had been experiencing for months prior. This all culminated in a fantastic and brutal match at WrestleMania XXV (which Matt came out victorious in), but the initial moment was like a dagger in the heart of all the fans who grew up watching the incredible brothers and all their success.
6 Evolution Dumps The Viper
Following the success of DX in the WWE, Triple H moved on to another faction, and with the past legend (Ric Flair), current Superstar (The Game) and the future stars (Randy Orton and Batista), he formed Evolution. For a full year, the group dominated Monday Night RAW, but not until the young star stole the spotlight from the rest of the group. Battling Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship, Orton managed to come out on top, and thus solidify himself as the youngest World Champion in WWE history, something which didn’t sit right with Triple H, Batista and Ric Flair. On the RAW following, it looked like Evolution approved of their young gun stepping up, but Triple H turned on him, and although the ensuing feud was nothing to write home about, this was a genuinely shocking moment to watch, as Orton watched his lifelong dream go up in flames in an instant, just hours after achieving it.
5 The Festival Of Friendship
Kevin Owens has been one of the best performers and best heels in the WWE since his arrival in 2014, but his best work came as the Universal Champion, in the lead-up to WrestleMania 33 where he was doing some great work with his best friend Chris Jericho. But the best "JeriKO" moment came when KO shocked the world and turned on his best friend. After Jericho set up an event, the Festival of Friendship, to honor the partnership and fun the two had over the past year, Owens presented his friend with a new list. However, it was the List of KO, which shocked Jericho as well as the entire WWE Universe. Owens began to tear shreds out of the legendary Y2J, and paid homage to Jericho’s attack on Shawn Michaels years earlier when he put his head through the monitor in the ring. It also led to an amazing feud that culminated perfectly at WrestleMania, bringing the best out in both men.
4 The Short-Lived DX Reunion
Triple H and Shawn Michaels have one of the most famous bromances in WWE history, but it wasn’t always like that onscreen. When they weren’t chummy best friends, they were embroiled in one of the most vicious and personal rivalries in WWE history. After being out of action for years due to injury, HBK was getting the itch to return to the ring in the early-2000s, and he relied on his best friend to walk him through the return, in an incredibly rivalry that culminated in a vicious Three Stages of Hell match. The initial turn from HHH sent him back to his roots as the company's top heel, and after breaking a sledgehammer off the back of his friend, it was clear that this was one of the most devastating betrayals in history.
3 The Barber Shop
This is perhaps the most infamous betrayal in WWE history, as it involved the greatest performer in the history of the wrestling industry, and was genuinely heart breaking for the fans that had followed The Rockers for many years. After teasing a breakup for quite some time, it had seemed like the two put their differences aside on an episode of The Barber Shop with Brutus Beefcake, and fans were touched, but then the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels showed his true colors, and hit Marty Jannetty with his now famous super kick, before it was even called Sweet Chin Music. He then put his partner's head through the Barber Shop glass, and thus Michaels and his massive, arrogant personality was born. Although it worked out for Michaels, it was a massive shock to everyone involved, as The Rockers were a massive hit, and one of the most innovative tag teams in WWE history.
2 Ciampa Does It Himself
Anyone who has followed the journey of #DIY knew that the two were incredibly close, and after working so hard to achieve their dreams, we all knew it was going to come crashing down, but it was done so well that our hearts were all collectively broken, even though we saw it coming. After falling short against the Authors of Pain in a ladder match, the company swerved us by displaying the show ending logo on the screen. But Tommaso Ciampa shocked the world by turning on his partner Johnny Gargano, with a vicious attack that made him look like the stone cold killer we knew he could be. What made it all the more heartbreaking was the fact that Gargano took a bullet for his brother during the match, making the heat on Ciampa even hotter, and although this moment was a genuine heartbreaker, it will lead to perhaps NXT’s greatest-ever feud once Ciampa gets healthy.
1 Seth Buys In
The Shield are the most dominant trio in the history of the WWE, and the group consisting of NXT standouts Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose tore through the entire WWE roster throughout their run, and after banishing the new version of Evolution, it seemed that no one would be able to break the bond they formed over their two years together. That was true from outside sources, but Ambrose and Reigns didn’t expect Rollins to turn on them and join the Authority, but on the RAW after defeating Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton 3-0 in an elimination bout, he did just that. Rollins instantly became the most hated man in the WWE, and it is one of the most heartbreaking and truly shocking moments in RAW history. Looking back on it 3 years later, it was perfectly executed.