Most of the WWE is staged and choreographed. Storylines are written. Promos created. Wrestlers know who will win the match beforehand—usually. And they know which major spots will take place before they walk to the ring. Wrestling is theater. It's similar to going to the circus and watching performers jump and swing from ropes, back flip into the air, and play with fire.
What makes professional wrestling different than other type of entertainment is that the performers often have real-life beef with each other that often plays out in the squared-circle (e.g., Hardy, Edge and Lita). And, at the very least, if they do have beef that doesn't culminate in an intense storyline, they often still have to square off in the ring. Wrestlers have to entertain thousands of fans who know nothing about their personal differences, but still expect a high quality product.
One problem fans often have with professional wrestling (mostly WWE) is getting behind babyfaces and heels. Some wrestlers are great at creating kayfabe heat while others struggle. Kevin Owens, for example, knows how to work a crowd. He knows when and how to taunt and how to sell a performance. Others struggle. Wrestling is a show, and in order for storylines to register with viewers, the performers need to come off as real as possible.
Much of what we'll discuss involves unique and sometimes high-profile backstage arguments and fights between wrestlers. Some of these, as we mentioned before, were made into storylines and the results were fierce, tense and memorable. Others didn’t lead to an in-ring feud, but were simple social media or interview rants that allowed fans to get a brief glimpse into the real life of professional wrestling.
15 15. Kurt Angle Calls Batista "Horrible"
While things have smoothed over in recent years, Kurt Angle let it be known how he felt about the WWE and its talent when he left the company in the mid-2000s. In an interview with Live Audio Wrestling in 2007, Angle said that Batista only rose to fame because of Vince McMahon’s help and that “The Animal” “is horrible.” Batista has since found success away from WWE in Hollywood.
14 Triple H Says Hogan Only Cares About the Money
In the lead up to WrestleMania XXVII, Triple H was asked whether or not the legendary WCW Superstar, Bill Goldberg would one day be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. While providing the answer, Triple H also called out Hogan and said, “We try to honor the guys that deserve [the Hall of Fame]. To the guys that go in, it’s something special. I heard Hogan shit on it, but I don’t think anything’s special to him except for money. Like, if you called Michael Jordan to put him into the Basketball Hall of Fame and he said, ‘Alright, but I’m only gonna show up if I get to play for the Bulls next year.”
13 Rene Dupree Says Johnny Ace Isn’t a Family Man
In the mid-2000s the WWE was giving Rene Dupree a major push alongside John Cena. Around the same time, Dupree’s mother was suffering from cancer so Dupree asked John Laurinaitis, his boss, whether he could occasionally go home to check on her. He responded by saying:
"Well asking for time off is like the kiss of death, especially during the biggest push of your career," said Dupree. "I don’t know if you guys realize this but cancer doesn’t go away in a weekend, it’s a process. So, I never heard from him again and basically they don’t give a shit about what is going on in the wrestler’s personal lives. You are there to work and make them money and that’s all they care about. It makes them look good because they are a publicly traded company and if it makes them look good well whatever then. Good luck to them is all I have to say."
12 Triple H Believes Goldberg Isn't HOF Worthy
Triple H and Goldberg both had illustrious wrestling careers, depending, of course, on how you look at it. To Triple H, Goldberg was a passing fad and, because of that, doesn’t belong in the WWE Hall of Fame with wrestlers who dedicated many more years to the industry's service.
In an online interview to promote WrestleMania XXVII, Triple H and Shawn Michaels gave their opinion on whether Goldberg would be inducted into the Hall. Triple H responded by saying, “So, when you say, ‘What about Goldberg,’ no offense to Bill, but you’ve got guys like Bruno Sammartino that were legends with longevity that should be in there, but they’re holding out because they think they’ve got one more run. Just using Bill as an example, how many years did he wrestle? Not many.”
Goldberg responded by Tweeting, “I read HHH and HBK’s views on the #WWE HOF….everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They do have a point if induction is based on tenure.”
11 Mr. Anderson Loves That Orton Got Injured
Mr. Anderson’s run in the WWE was memorable but unfulfilled. The company released him following a series of transgressions and poor in-ring performances. One such incident involved Randy Orton: Anderson suplexed him incorrectly. During this time, Orton lobbied for McMahon to release Anderson saying that he was a stiff worker. So, it’s no surprise that Anderson felt slightly redeemed when Orton injured himself at one of WWE’s Pay-Per-Views, Over the Limit, in 2010. Anderson Tweeted at Orton, “I have one thing to say: Kharma is a MOTHERF****R.”
10 Paul London Says Triple H is a “Nerd”
Paul London’s WWE career spanned five years, from 2003 to 2007. During that time he won the Tag Team Championship and Cruiserweight Championship. After spending time in the WWE, he returned to the independent circuit and competed for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
In an interview with Gerweck Radio, London was asked whether he’d return to the WWE. He said he probably wouldn’t and cited Triple H as the main reason. London said that Helmsley was “pretty obviously jealous of certain individuals. I’m not saying he was jealous of me. I could tell he was envious of [Rob] Van dam. He was extremely envious of Rob’s success. He was jealous of Van Dam’s personality. He was jealous that people gravitated towards Rob, because people liked being around Rob because he was very positive.”
9 Randy Savage Dedicates Rap Album to Hogan
It’s not something you’ll ever hear on the radio, but Macho Man once created a rap album and titled it “Be a Man,” in honor of his former friend and enemy Hulk Hogan. Hogan was the WWE’s go-to-guy for most of the 1980s. Prior to Cena and Stone Cold, Hogan was the first “face that ran the place.” But in the late 1980s another superstar emerged: “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The two Superstars eventually joined forces as a tag-team called Mega Powers, but they eventually clash over Miss. Elizabeth who Savage was fiercely in love with and protective of.
Years later Savage created the rap album in response to Hogan’s appearance on shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge’s radio show. Lanny Poffo, Savage’s brother said, “Bubba wouldn’t have a show unless he raged on Randy [Savage], my father, my mother, and myself. I’d never listen to it, but the Tampa Bay area is a real microcosm, and him and Hulk were buddies at the time, and Randy took a beating on the radio, and this was Randy’s way of getting back. It was a reaction, not proaction.”
8 Lana Accuses Paige of Bullying Her
Sure, maybe there were more historical blow ups we could have put on this list, but this entry is very significant considering it involves bullying—something the WWE makes an effort to curtail. WWE’s Be a STAR program is the company’s anti-bullying initiative. The program has 58 alliance members, including National Education Association Health Information Network, GLAAD, STOMP Out Bullying, and the United Federation of Teachers.
In November 2015, the two women got into a vicious Twitter spat. Lana accused Paige of being a “phony ‘anti-diva’” who “bullied” her in NXT. Paige shot back by saying, “Ok sweetheart. You were [in NXT] barely 2 months. If it was true you wouldn’t have deleted [the bullying message]."
The rant didn’t sit well with WWE and Lana took immediate heat for it backstage. Her character (and career) hasn't recovered since.
7 Batista Calls Out Bubba Ray Dudley
Bubba Ray Dudley, one half of the legendary tag team The Dudley Boyz, has made quite a few real-life enemies over the years. Batista is one of them. In a tag match between The Dudley Boyz and Randy Orton and Batista, a few of the wrestlers, including Bubba, suffered injuries. All of the wrestlers blamed Bubba, who then blamed them for hurting his back when he stepped on Orton's foot mid match.
In his autobiography, Batista Unleashed, Batista unleashed a tirade against Bubba saying, “In my opinion, Bubbay Dudley is a jerk-off. He’s one of those people who used to always bully guys and throw his weight around just because he had a good position in the company. I don’t have a whole lot of bad things to say about people, but Bubba Ray Dudley will always be a piece of shit in my book.”
6 WWE Women Unhappy With “Divas Revolution”
The “Divas Revolution” has been a mixed bag of reviews since it first began in early 2015. When the WWE called up Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch from NXT, fans worldwide were overjoyed. Finally, the bathroom-break women’s matches would be a thing of the past. Or, so they thought. While matches have been much longer and of better quality, not all of the talent has been happy with the “Revolution's” direction.
"Team Bad" member Naomi, considered one of the more down-to-earth women in the locker room, retweeted a handful of tweets speaking out against WWE's Creative department. One of the tweets read “Me at creative when Team B.A.D hasn’t had a story line.” Along with the caption, the tweet shows a picture with a caption reading, “What the f*ck are you doing?”
5 Bret Hart Says Ric Flair “is a Nobody”
While Bret Hart and Ric Flair are undoubtedly two of the greatest wrestlers of all time, the two don’t think very fondly of each other. In fact, I’m going step aside and let the two of them describe their feelings:
Ric Flair on Bret Hart, in his autobiography: “I feel sorry for Bret Hart. He is a legend in his own mind. He lives in his own little world. He has the nerve to compare himself to me. Let’s get realistic. If you put Bret Hart in your left hand and me in your right hand…compare the career. Who is Bret Hart.”
Bret Hart's response to Ric Flair: “Flair says [in his autobiography] that I believed my own press and convinced myself that I’m the best there is." Hart then went into several reasons why he believes he is the best."
4 Triple H Has Reservations About Chyna and HOF
During one of his podcasts, Stone Cold asked Triple H: "Chyna...when is she ever going to the hall of fame?" Triple H took about a full minute to finally admit why she'll probably never get in:
"Bit difficult though," said Helmsley, "And this is the flip side of the coin that no body looks like. I got an eight year old kid. And my eight year old kid sees the Hall of Fame and my eight year old kid goes on the Internet to look at Chyna, 'I never hear of her. I'm eight years old, I've never heard of her' so I go type that in and punch it up and what comes up."
Clearly "The Game" was implying that the reason Chyna isn't in the Hall, and likely never will be, is because she took in the adult entertainment industry.
3 Steve Austin Still Disgusted with 2002 Creative Team
Those who grew up watching "Stone Cold" Steve Austin wreck havoc on the WWE know how difficult it was to watch him walk out of the company in 2002. While he’s mended fences with Vince McMahon and says he “handled the [Brock Lesnar] situation like a total ass,” you can tell he’s still bitter about how Creative handled his character.
“I’m laying in a hotel, just kind of resting up for the match because I got into town early and made the drive," said Austin. "[Jim Ross calls] and told me...they wanted Brock to beat me. And I’m thinking, okay, hold it…So now all of a sudden you want me to do a job for a guy, now I love Brock Lesnar and he’s a monster…but for me to do a job for him without any kind of buildup."
2 CM Punk Rolls Over WWE
Punk's 2011 "Pipe Bomb" promo is—and will go down—as one of the best promos to ever air on a WWE program. While some say the promo was a work, he’d echo many of those thoughts in later interviews. In various interviews Punk called out Ryback for using steroids and deliberately hurting him several times while also criticizing Triple H who Punk knew didn't like him. Punk as well criticized Vince McMahon for the company’s wellness policy saying, “Across the board, we don’t know the long-term ramifications of all the concussion stuff.” He also said that Dana White, President of UFC, is “more opened minded” than McMahon. Punk brought it in the ring and he certainly knows how to still bring it outside of the squared circle.
1 Matt Hardy Becomes Part of a Fatal Love Triangle
The real love triangle that took place between Matt Hardy, Edge, and Lita is something even Hollywood would struggle to write up.
After the Hardy Boyz broke apart in the early 2000s, Matt Hardy moved to WWE's Thursday night show, SmackDown! He found some success there, and the company eventually moved him back to their flagship program, RAW. His stay on the program was short lived, however, because he suffered a knee injury, which put him on the shelf for a period of time. During this time he was also dating Lita.
As Hardy recovered, Lita grew close to Hardy's long-time rival (kayfabe) and friend Edge. Hardy eventually found out about the affair and went off the deep end. The WWE would eventually release Hardy, partly because he couldn't get himself together.
After working the independent circuit for a short time, Hardy returned to the WWE and attacked Edge on RAW (kayfabe), beginning a feud with Edge and Lita. During a promo, immediately after the attack, he called Lita a "whore" (something which stuck with her for the rest of her WWE career) and told the WWE to "kiss his ass." Whether his promo was a work or not is still debatable because he took to his website the following day and posted a rant. Here's a quick excerpt:
"I can now finally join the Movement because I am no longer controlled by the WWE. The McMahons, the Johnny Aces, and all of the WWE management can kiss my @$. I did what I did tonight because for me to live with myself, Adam "Feces" Copeland must pay. I'm not going to let the WWE forget that they f**ked up when they released me instead of that scumbag home-wrecker. And Amy Dumas, you know what's it's like to have me as your closest ally--but you're gonna hate to see what it's like to have me as your worst enemy b*tch."