Ever since it went public declaring all its matches and proceedings being ‘scripted’ in 1989, it became a well known fact that all the matches, segments and even heated undertakings are actually a work. While it’s still real to some, WWE is an entertainment show where the booking is vital towards giving a realistic vibe to it. Most wrestlers who are put in the most seemingly heated rivalries probably share a pint after doing their jobs in the ring, as many of these wrestlers are obviously on good terms with each other having to work among themselves and travel 24/7 together. But like any other work environment, WWE also has its share of people who create beefs with each other and make it uncomfortable for others. Vince McMahon has a history of taking advantages of such feisty relationships by pitting them onto on-screen rivalries and making great money out of watching his wrestlers tear each other apart (yeah because that’s how WWE works).
Off-screen rivalries are often created due to jealousy of another superstar's status, ego clashes between the top stars and sometimes even due to working bad matches, and many times we have seen a rivalry get so heated up that kayfabe got broken and we were left contemplating on how much of it was real and how much was scripted. Personal rivalries can be a boon for the promotion if the wrestlers are going through an on-screen one as well, but sometimes have resulted in disastrous outcomes as the hatred for each other sticks with these wrestlers even after they’ve done their job. One can’t exactly figure out when a rivalry is ‘real’ or scripted, but with the boon of the internet community, many of the wrestlers personal beefs were revealed to give us an idea of what exactly goes on behind the curtains. Let’s take a look into 15 times things got personal in the WWE.
14 15) Randy Orton and Mr. Kennedy
13 13) Melina and Candice Michelle
12 12) JBL and The Blue Meanie
11 11) Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker
10 10) Ric Flair and Mick Foley
9 9) Chris Jericho and Goldberg
This personal beef dates back to the late 90s where Jericho and Goldberg were in WCW and Goldberg didn’t want to work with Jericho because he was ‘to small’. Fast forward to 2003 with both having top positions in the WWE, and the two got in an altercation in the locker room. According to Jericho, Goldberg was trying to bully him when Y2J stood up for himself and put Goldberg in a series of wrestling locks, which Goldberg couldn’t get out of. They were eventually separated, but traded some abusive language with one another, with Goldberg saying ‘Your mother is an a**hole’ which got a hilarious reaction from Booker T.
8 8) Booker T and Batista
7 7) CM Punk and Jeff Hardy
Now this was a rivalry which blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality brilliantly and was dangerously close to ruining the public image of Jeff Hardy as a ‘hero’. The rivalry started when Punk won the World Title after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase, which led to a series of matches. Punk soon turned heel and went all out on Jeff Hardy with his straight edge gimmick, thrashing him constantly for his drug problems.
6 6) Matt Hardy and Edge/Lita
This love triangle destroyed a long-time friendship between Matt and Edge, both being buddies at one point. In 2004, Matt Hardy and Lita were a couple and traveled with Edge but when Matt got a knee injury, Edge and Lita traveled together, got close and became a couple. Matt was livid with this betrayal when he returned, and posted aggressive videos and writings on his site, but got himself fired because Edge was more over at that time. After working a bit in Ring of Honor, WWE would re-sign Matt as he would attack Edge, abusing ‘Adam’ (Edge’s real name) for screwing him over.
5 5) Stone Cold and Vince McMahon
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s on-screen rivalry with the villainous Mr. McMahon is what helped WWE prevail over WCW in the Monday night wars, as this excellent showcase of rebelling against the boss’s rule and kicking ass made WWE buckets of money. This was obviously all kayfabe as both had a good relationship with each other, until 2002 where Stone Cold was frustrated over his booking and left the company without any notice. He failed to appear for a Raw event where he was supposed to put Brock Lesnar over, and this also made for a promo by Mr. McMahon stating how Austin would be missed.
4 4) Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan
3 3) John Cena and The Rock
2 2) CM Punk and Triple H
In the words of Punk himself, this was not Punk vs. HHH, it was Phil Brooks vs. Paul Levesque. The dislike between these two goes back to a long time back, when Punk came to the WWE and he felt to be treated as an amateur rookie by HHH. Punk’s actions only got more infuriating for staff as he blend into WWE, with Triple H especially disliking him as a person. This all culminated in 2011 where they both were put in a storyline, which soon turned very real in a promo where they both take shots at each other and a display of hatred can be seen right there.
1 1) Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart
The infamous rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart blurred the lines of kayfabe and reality and created a bitter rivalry where even the sight of each other getting an upper hand could make them cringe. It all started in the mid 90s, with both HBK and Hart being the top dogs in WWE and also spectacular wrestlers who could put on 5 star matches and amaze crowds. HBK won his first ever WWE title by defeating Hart, but later refused to lay down and drop the title to him, by making it vacant and allegedly faking an injury to take time off. HBK would use his backstage politics and other tactics to provoke The Hitman, cutting a promo indicating Hart was having relations with Sunny.
Then we got the Montreal Screwjob, for which HBK pleaded ignorance on it, but later revealed he was in on it. At the time, it must have been great for HBK to screw Bret and this meant for such raw hatred that they couldn’t face each other until 2010, where WWE they ‘made up’, but one can be sure that this kind of hatred doesn’t pass away into thin air.
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