There can be no denying that Michael Hickenbottom is one of the greatest stars to ever step into a WWE ring. From his days as a tag team worker, he was pulling off fantastic moves that wowed fans and when he became a singles star, he just kept it up. He has held just about every title in the company, won the Royal Rumble, headlined several WrestleManias and been part of some of the greatest matches and feuds fans have ever seen. There is not a doubt his legacy. There’s also no doubt of how much of an egotistical jerk Shawn was for much of his career.
It’s no secret as Shawn himself is the first person to talk about how much of an a-hole he was in the 1990s, driven on by his drug uses of the time. He has changed a lot since his injury and turning to religion and starting a family. It’s helped as well by his terrific ring work in the last decade of his career, restoring a lot of good faith. Amazingly, he was even better in his last run than his 90s run. Perhaps that's a sign that his head was screwed on right that time. However, there are still a slew of guys in the past who have had serious beefs with Shawn, some major, some settled but all with some good cause. Some have come around and made up but others continue to hate. Here are 15 of the most notable people in wrestling who have hated the Heartbreak Kid and even Shawn will acknowledge how they have a right to.
15 Marty Jannetty
For years, the Rockers were one of the best tag teams around, putting on fantastic matches with moves and double-teams fans had never seen before. Their party style was well known with Shawn able to handle it a bit better and so their famous break-up was more to give Jannetty time off. When he returned, they had their feud but their Royal Rumble match was marred by Jannetty showing up drunk and fired immediately afterward. Supposedly, Jannetty was not happy about it, thinking Shawn should have gone to bat for him and that if anyone deserved a spot in the Kliq, it was the guy who had helped Shawn get to stardom in the first place.
They would swap the IC belt but Jannetty never rose as high as a singles star as expected and he and Shawn grew more distant. They would patch things up for a one-night reunion in 2005 and speaking warmly but clearly Jannetty has had major resentment on how much further Shawn went without him.
14 Triple H
Yes, even Shawn’s long-time best friend has admitted to not getting along with him at times. On Shawn’s DVD biography, he talks of welcoming Hunter into the Kliq with open arms but HHH laughs, as it was more “whatever, kid, just be quiet” when he entered. The big issue was the Curtain Call when the Kliq bid farewell to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall and HHH was chosen as the fall guy, forced to lose King of the Ring and a losing streak afterward and Hunter has admitted being ticked at Shawn over it.
And there was supposedly a bit of heat from Shawn over Hunter’s “dropped the ball” comment re-forming DX being unscripted. Of course, they’re buddies now but even that bond has been tested at times.
13 Davey Boy Smith
Their heat goes back to 1992 when Shawn ended Smith’s IC title reign and Smith jumped to WCW without a rematch. It got bigger in 1995 and ’96 when they feuded with Shawn making some nasty remarks about Smith’s family.
The real hate was when Shawn refused to drop a match despite the fact Davey Boy was dedicating it to his dying sister which Shawn has admitted to being a douchey move. He beat Smith for the European title in 1997, in England. The match was mostly just to sway Smith’s son David Hart from getting into the business.
Until his death, the Bulldog made it clear Shawn was not one of his favorite people and Shawn has acknowledged being sorry they never patched it up.
To be fair, a lot of Vader’s problems were due to the man’s own ego and his stiff work in the ring. Still, you can make a good case that the guy came into WWE with a major presence and seemed destined to take the crown from Shawn at SummerSlam. Instead, Shawn used his clout to ensure he’d keep the belt, Vader winning by DQ twice with the match restarted each time before Shawn got the pinfall.
It pretty much crushed what heat Vader had in WWE and sent his entire career in a downward spiral and led to some backstage arguments that nearly turned violent. Shawn has never really apologized for it but given Vader’s own tendency to crush guys, that may not be surprising.
11 Gregory Helms
While most talk about Shawn turning over a new leaf in the last decade, “the Hurricane” publicly disputes this. He’s claimed in various interviews Shawn undercut guys like himself and Mr. Kennedy and isn’t as pious as he claims to be. It’s a minority opinion but notable how so many guys had beefs with Shawn in the past but Helms is one who insists he’s just as bad today and that some younger guys still have beefs with Shawn.
10 Chris Candido
While he himself has never confirmed it, it’s basically been accepted in wrestling that Shawn and Tammy “Sunny” Sytch had a pretty hot affair going in the mid-1990s. Naturally, this did not please Sunny’s husband, Chris Candido, known in WWE as “Skip.” Shawn just made it worse by ribbing Candido constantly about it, making it clear what was happening and Bam Bam Bigelow claimed to have found a note in Candido’s bag indicating he might kill himself. Candido himself wouldn’t talk about it much but most agree there was clear animosity that was never settled before Candido died in 2005.
9 The Harris Brothers
Best known in WWE as 8-Ball and Skull, twins Ron and Don have spoken out against Shawn got a lot in various shoot interviews. It appears to stem from various pranks Shawn pulled on them and throwing his weight around although the exact details are mostly muddled. What is known is the famed story of Don breaking into Shawn’s dressing room and lifting him by the throat, which left Shawn crying afterward. While the reasons are unknown, the Harris brothers have made it clear Shawn is not one of their favorites.
8 CM Punk
True, Punk’s hate of Shawn is much lower than a lot of other guys in WWE but it’s still there. Punk has cited Shawn as a great worker but no fan of the guy’s selfish attitude and showboating. The big thing is that when Punk was doing his tryout for WWE in 2005, reports are that Shawn and Triple H were there and spent the entire match running down Punk as totally unready and not “proper” for WWE.
Shawn has disputed the claim, saying he wasn’t even there while Punk refuses to discuss the event totally, which many claim means it’s true. The two seemed to get along later and were photographed together but according to many backstage, Shawn is still one more name to be added to Punk’s very long “crap list.”
7 The Rock
It may not seem an obvious choice but The Rock has had his issues with Shawn. It seems to go back to Shawn being disrespectful toward the Rock’s grandmother in a Pacific Northwest show circa 1990 or so. When the Rock started his run in WWE, Shawn was using his clout to push his buddy HHH instead, even wanting it to be Hunter in the main event of WrestleMania XV and not the Rock. The Rock has been terse in interviews saying he never sought Shawn’s help or advice and has never wished to wrestle him at any time. They seem okay now but still signs of major tension in the past.
6 Jim Cornette
You can fill an entire separate list on guys Cornette has had a beef with as the Louisville Slugger has never held back on his opinions and his own ego pushing him on. While Shawn doesn’t get the same amount of talk as others, Cornette has spewed plenty of venom about him in various radio interviews. There’s no real single incident, simply the fact that when Cornette was with WWF, Shawn’s massive ego and backstage politics rubbed him the wrong way and he felt hurt the entire business. While Shawn has shifted his attitude, Cornette hasn’t changed his own opinion and made it clear Shawn is not among his favorites.
5 Kurt Angle
Angle has always been up front on how, as an Olympic gold medalist, he’s automatically a better wrestler than anyone else. He’s disparaged some guys in the past and Shawn is among them. The two put on a sensational feud in 2005 but there was friction with reports of Shawn complaining about Angle being too stiff and Angle firing back Shawn was too loose and the reports of Angle tossing Shawn around in a backstage fight. Some claim that heat added to their fantastic matches but another case of two guys with major pride clashing.
4 The Undertaker
Today, they get along well, speaking highly of each other and put on two classic Mania main events. But during the ‘90s, Shawn and Taker had some serious backstage heat between them. We all know of the Kliq but Taker had his own group called the Bone Street Krewe with himself, Yokozuna, the Godwinns, Charles Wright and others. Naturally, there were major clashes between the two groups jockeying for position and pushes. Taker and Shawn used that heat in stuff like the first Hell in the Cell match.
The famous story is that at WrestleMania XIV, Shawn talked about not dropping the title to Austin and Taker just taped up his fists while glaring at them and sat at the Gorilla position to ensure Shawn dropped the belt. They’ve gotten past it today but that doesn’t change how much loathing the guys had.
3 Hulk Hogan
The only man in history who could outdo Shawn in terms of self-serving behavior, Hogan’s tales of tossing his weight around are legendary. He and Shawn barely interacted until 2005 when they were set up for a SummerSlam battle and the talk was less the match itself and more on which guy was going to job. The beef began with Hogan insisting Shawn be the heel which Shawn didn’t like but got back at Hogan in some mocking promos to which Hogan took offense.
The match itself was a spectacle as HBK over-sold just about everything Hogan did, flopping around like crazy and Hogan not at all happy with the display. Shawn cut a promo the next night sarcastically thanking Hogan for the match in a way that Hogan took offense to and thus, the planned rematches were canceled. Probably the only result with two guys as infamously selfish as these two.
2 Shane Douglas
Douglas has never been known for his quiet side, his own ego pretty big and infamously clashing with Ric Flair among many others. So it’s no surprise he doesn’t speak well of his WWF tenure where he was pushed as “Dean” Douglas and the act of a sinister teacher. At the time, the Kliq ruled backstage and everyone knew it, Shawn and company not bothering hiding throwing their weight around and Douglas quickly go t on their bad side.
Shane would be rewarded the IC title when Shawn was injured only to lose it in 15 minute to Razor Ramon and Shane claims Shawn ducked him after hearing Shane was going to “stretch” him during their match. Given both men’s egos, it’s no surprise they would clash so much and Shawn is yet another mark on the long list of guys Douglas has had serious beef with.
1 Bret Hart
The relationship between Bret and Shawn was always intriguing. They respected each other’s abilities, especially in the ring but their egos and pride kept them from really being friends. It’s notable that supposedly, there was serious heat in 1996 when Shawn won the title but it turned out that was all an act between them to hype a rematch. However, as Bret nicely put it, “we worked ourselves into a shoot” as tensions grew more in 1997 with the rematch not happening and the “Attitude” era starting to take over.
The tensions got bigger such as Shawn alluding to Bret having an affair with Sunny and it led to more conflict that set the stage for Montreal and the fallout of Bret obviously hating Shawn for being part of the entire Screwjob. In the aftermath, it was only natural that Bret loathed Shawn for his part in his humiliation but they did publicly reconcile in 2010. Still, for a while, there was serious bad blood between them and that mutual pride no doubt prevented them from becoming true friends.