There have been a lot of pairs of wrestlers through the years who, beyond any storyline or angle, disliked each other, or worse, outright hated each other. We all know how Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had to force themselves to act professionally and work together, until the Montreal Screwjob happened, ending Bret's WWE run on a bum note, and fully estranging him from Michaels (and the WWE too) for over a decade. We know about how Matt Hardy and Edge's friendship broke up when the latter cheated on his wife with Matt's girlfriend Lita; the WWE turned that into a storyline, might we add. Even Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage; the Mega Powers may hav exploded on TV, but their own tenuous friendship was on shaky ground, as the latter was insanely protective of his then-wife Elizabeth, who may or may not have been a romantic interest for the then-married Hulkster.
We all know those beefs as wrestling fans in one way or another. But what about those less talked-about or more forgotten examples of true-to-life animosity wrestlers have for one another, or even times where a couple wrestlers don't like the situation they were put in, but don't harbor personal dislike or hatred for their onscreen rival? We've got them all in here – 11 male pairs, and 10 female pairs of wrestlers whom you may not be aware didn't like (or don't like) working with each other.
21 Male: Dean Ambrose And Brock Lesnar
So let's start out with a fairly recent example, shall we? For Brock Lesnar's contractually obligated WrestleMania match two years ago, he was booked against Dean Ambrose, who, by most accounts, was excited to be facing The Beast Incarnate at the Grandest Stage of Them All, even if he likely knew beforehand he'd be doing the job. Lesnar, on the other hand, was less than thrilled to be facing a much smaller man, and with that in mind, he promptly mailed it in during their No Holds Barred Street Fight at WrestleMania 32. Suffice to say, that's one of the less memorable matches (despite the star power) in what was already a rather mediocre 'Mania.
Speaking on the Stone Cold Podcast in August 2016, Ambrose vented his dissatisfaction with what went down a few months prior, telling Steve Austin that he felt he had to "pull teeth" just to get a good match against Lesnar. Not long after, the Lunatic Fringe found the main event rug pulled from underneath him; not just because of his comments about Brock, but for a myriad of other things that the WWE found unsavory about his interview with the Texas Rattlesnake.
20 Female: Sable And Luna Vachon
In the late 1990s, Sable and Luna Vachon had absolutely nothing in common. The former was extremely attractive and glamorous, yet had precious little grappling knowledge to justify the rocket push WWE was giving her. The latter was, how shall we say it, unconventional in appearance and in gimmick, but grew up around the wrestling business and knew her way in the squared circle. Yet WWE thought it would be a good idea to put both women in a program together, with Luna tasked to make the inexperienced Sable look as good as possible in the ring.
It was a complete mismatch from day one, with Luna allegedly believing that Sable didn't pay her dues to get to where she was, and Sable supposedly acting like a diva in the actual sense of the word and refusing to cooperate with her far more experienced onscreen rival. The real-life beef with both women made any prospects of an extended feud (they had two) possible, and worse, it even got their respective husbands – Marc Mero (Sable) and Gangrel (Luna) – involved in some real-life, physical "mixed tag team" altercations.
19 Male: Enzo Amore And Simon Gotch
Most people will tell you that Enzo Amore was not an easy person to be around with in the locker room, and they'll also probably say the same thing about Simon Gotch. And you'd be right to think they have real-life heat with each other, especially since The Vaudevillains accidentally concussed Enzo at Payback 2016. But as Gotch explained in a few shoot interviews he cut after leaving the WWE last year, their heat went all the way back to their NXT days.
According to Gotch, he had several reasons to be annoyed with Amore, primarily his tendency to talk a much better game than he could play, as he often found himself with his foot in his mouth after his lack of experience (or apparently, knowledge of the wrestling business) betrayed his boasts. Given Enzo's fake accent, fake Italian-American ethnicity, numerous foot-in-mouth moments, and his "realest guy in the room" catchphrase, Gotch quipped in one interview that the "only real thing about [Enzo] is being a guy." Talk about sick burns.
18 Female: Lana And Summer Rae
She may have been, at one point, one of the most popular women among WWE fans. But it's a different story backstage for the Ravishing Russian, Lana, who has had her share of backstage beefs with her colleagues. We've had our share of incidents to choose from, but we're sticking with two, including the rather long-running real-life feud she had with the recently released Summer Rae.
We're not sure if Lana and Summer had heat during the "love quadrangle" storyline with Dolph Ziggler and Rusev, but months after that, Summer stood up for Paige in her own feud against Lana (we'll get to that), alleging that the kayfabe Russian/real-life Florida native falsely accused Paige of bullying. About a year and a half later, Summer proved that there was no love lost between her and Lana, as she joined Sasha Banks and a few others in tweeting the hashtag "#BL2017" ("Block Lana 2017"), in retaliation to Lana liking Melina's tweets in support of Banks' questionable loss to Alicia Fox on Raw.
17 Male: Bret Hart And Dean Malenko
This one's a rather obscure example you'll probably be familiar with only if you read Bret Hart's autobiography. While he may have oozed with a bit too much ego as he detailed his experiences working with all sorts of wrestlers in his long career, the stories were nonetheless interesting, especially when it got to the guys he didn't like working with. There's another, more familiar example featuring Hart in this list, but for this entry, we'll look at why the Hitman didn't like working with Dean Malenko, despite their obvious similarities as technically gifted wrestlers.
Talking about the matches he had with him in WCW, Hart described Malenko's style as being too "rehearsed" and too "Cirque du Soleil" in nature, immediately burying the future Radicalz member as overrated in his point of view. He even hinted at having lost all respect for Malenko because of their inability to connect in the ring. Guess you can say that the Man of A Thousand Holds gets a "4/10" in the Hitman's book.
16 Female: AJ Lee And Stephanie McMahon
A good percentage of the WWE Universe wanted to see AJ Lee as one of the surprise entrants in the first-ever women's Royal Rumble last month. While one may surmise that Lee's non-appearance was due to her husband CM Punk's long-running issues with the WWE, a more educated guess may be AJ's well-documented issues with Stephanie McMahon over the lack of respect (and lack of pay) women's wrestlers got during her time in the WWE.
Not long before AJ announced her surprise retirement from wrestling, she reacted to a retweet from Steph, where she thanked actress Patricia Arquette for standing up for women's rights. Lee responded by suggesting that the Billion Dollar Princess was hypocritical, as WWE's then-Divas "[received] a fraction of the wages and screen time" their male counterparts did. Add that to the almost-shoot nature of several AJ/Steph segments from 2013 to 2015, and you've got two women who almost certainly didn't get along.
15 Male: Ahmed Johnson And Goldust
When Darren Young casually came out to TMZ in 2013, Ahmed Johnson was one of the few wrestlers to publicly show dissent, saying on a shoot interview that he was nonplussed by Young's admission of his homosexuality. That shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone who knew how uncomfortable the Pearl River Powerhouse was with Goldust – an obviously straight man whose kayfabe androgyny was a key part of his gimmick when he made his return to WWE in the mid '90s.
Years after their King of the Ring 1996 match, Ahmed would put over Goldust as a great worker. But back then, he was so put off by the Bizarre One's on-the-fly decision to give Johnson a "non-worked" kiss on the lips that he ended up stiffing Goldust with some real hard blows in the ring.
14 Female: Maryse And Nikki Bella
Inasmuch as Nikki and Brie Bella have to be respected for their business sense and how they've built up the Bella brand since returning to the WWE in 2013, they've also gotten tons of flak through the years. Some have accused them of leveraging the fact that they're in relationships with, or married to two of WWE's top male Superstars, while others have accused them of flexing too much political muscle in other ways. Ways such as preventing three former WWE women from returning to the company for Total Divas.
Maryse (together with Maria Kanellis and Kelly Kelly) was one of those women, and while she's now more or less retired as a pro wrestler, she's arguably become bigger than ever before since returning in 2016 as valet to her real-life husband, The Miz. Still, her past issues with Nikki Bella must have motivated her to put a little extra into her anti-Nikki promos and impersonations, as she and The Miz feuded with Nikki and John Cena in the months leading up to their mixed tag match at WrestleMania 33.
13 Male: Steven (William) Regal And Goldberg
Before William Regal became a valuable part of WWE's mid-card and a skilled on-air authority figure several times over, he was working the English snob gimmick in WCW as "Lord" Steven Regal. He was equally respected as a hard-hitter and technically sound wrestler in the ring, and with that in mind, he must have seen it as beneath him to lose cleanly and quickly to WCW's rising, then-undefeated sensation, Bill Goldberg.
Visibly unimpressed by the fact that WCW was giving a God-push to an ex-NFL benchwarmer with little pro wrestling experience, Regal let his feelings be known by letting loose with some non-worked shots and trying to make himself look competitive in defeat. WCW was unhappy with the stunt, and fired him immediately. It wasn't like he became a big deal in WWE right away, though – he had to go through the whole "Real Man's Man" nonsense and another WCW run before he finally enjoyed success in Vince McMahon's wacky world of sports entertainment.
12 Female: Candice Michelle And Melina
In the late 2000s, social media had not yet become what it is today, but that didn't stop certain WWE Superstars from having internet-driven feuds away from the cameras. Take the example of Candice Michelle and Melina, the former being one of the more successful products of the Diva Search despite having no prior wrestling experience, the latter being a sound in-ring competitor who was oftentimes less than sound backstage.
Apparently, the feud began on both women's official WWE blogs, as Candice first accused Melina of stealing one of her signature moves. Melina fired back by accusing Candice of being jealous of her, and explaining that she had used the move in the indies, even before she joined the WWE. Things just escalated from there, with the same old refrain being played out – Candice asserting that she legitimately loves and respects the wrestling business, Melina dissing Candice for being an untalented model-turned-wrestler.
Don't pretend to be surprised – WWE capitalized on this real-life online catfight by turning it into an onscreen rivalry, which Candice ultimately won.
11 Male: Chris Jericho And Vampiro
Back in the early '90s, both Chris Jericho and Vampiro were young men looking to make a name for themselves in the Mexican wrestling scene. And as Jericho related in his first autobiography, it seemed as if Vampiro was jealous of the hot newcomer from his home country, which led him to do and say some things to make the future Y2J look bad. These included telling the higher-ups that Jericho hated working in Mexico, which was untrue. And believe it or not, suggesting that Jericho wear a loincloth to get over.
To Vampiro's credit, he hasn't exactly denied the things Jericho accused him of in A Lion's Tale, and has shown remorse in shoot interviews for his past actions. He also appears to have made nice with Y2J and apologized personally for (at least) some of his actions, so kudos to that other rock musician/wrestler from Canada for realizing the error of his ways.
10 Female: Paige And Lana
Fortunately, Paige and Lana haven't directly feuded with each other on air, as part of the same brand. But before WWE's most recent brand split, they did share a locker room backstage, and things did get very tense between the two of them back in 2015, shortly after Paige made those infamous comments about the late Reid Flair, in an ill-timed attempt to get her some heel heat in her feud against Charlotte.
At first, it seemed as if Lana was acting in character as she accused Paige of being a "phony anti-Diva" who bullied her back when they were in NXT. But as details of the Twitter feud began to add up, it became apparent that this was no work – the Ravishing Russian really had a bone to pick with Paige, and vice versa. Things were ultimately diffused, but as you may have seen in Lana's other entry, this was not the first time she had some real-life issues with other women in the WWE.
9 Male: Bret Hart And Ric Flair
In theory, Bret Hart and Ric Flair should have had a plethora of 5-star (or near-5-star) matches in the early '90s, back when the Hitman was in his prime and the Nature Boy a surprising defection from his longtime home company, WCW. Unfortunately, the two respected legends never clicked in the ring. While vastly superior talents on their own, their styles simply clashed with one another, and both men would let loose with some biting shoot comments about the other in their respective autobiographies. The TL;DR version is this – both Hart and Flair were left feeling that the other was massively overrated.
The lack of chemistry between Hart and Flair was one of the many reasons why Naitch's early '90s WWE run didn't live up to anyone's expectations, even if he did end up winning two WWE Championships. By 1993, he was back in WCW, where he would remain until the bitter end. It's a good thing, however, that Ric and Bret have patched things up in recent years, and are presumably happy to fully recognize each other's greatness.
8 Female: Miss Tessmacher And Angelina Love
No, we're not completely ignoring TNA/Impact in this list, as we've got a couple examples from WWE's often troubled top competition. For our female example, the two women in question didn't have a television rivalry at the time, but like in some of the other female examples in this list, the feud played out on social media. That's what happened early in 2013, when Miss Tessmacher (aka Brooke Adams) threw some shade at the heavily-inked Angelina Love, as she said she didn't like having visible tattoos in the interests of looking "classy, not trashy."
To each their own – women with tattoos are far more acceptable in today's society than they were in decades past, but Tessmacher obviously isn't a fan. But she wasn't done yet, as she continued to nitpick at Love's appearance, calling her out for her weight, and suggesting that she wasn't aging very well. Just as a reminder, those were adult women posting those tweets, not a pair of high school girls from opposite cliques.
7 Male: Kurt Angle And Jeff Jarrett
How's this for a topical entry? Yes, we understand that TNA fans may be very familiar with this real-life beef between (veteran) male wrestlers, but since Jeff Jarrett is getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2018, why don't we look back at his issues with last year's "prodigal son" of a Hall of Fame inductee, Kurt Angle?
The issues between Angle and Jarrett began sometime in 2008, as Kurt's wife, Karen, was preparing to divorce him, fed up with his womanizing, drinking, and painkiller abuse. With Jarrett apparently ready to date again after losing his wife to cancer in 2007, he went for his good friend's (soon-to-be?) ex-wife, and that understandably upset the Olympic gold medalist. Proving to be hardly different from WWE when they made Matt Hardy and Edge feud over Lita in kayfabe just as they did in real life, the Angle/Jarrett love triangle was also incorporated into TNA storylines, which must have made things at least a little awkward for some, if not all of the three main participants.
6 Female: Mickie James And LayCool
It's one of the most infamous, reviled feuds in the last decade of WWE history. And this also marks the only example in the list where the people involved didn't necessarily hate or dislike each other for real at the time they were feuding on-air, but hated or disliked the situation they were mutually in. We are referring to the "Piggy James" angle of late 2009, where the duo of Layla and Michelle McCool, aka LayCool, bullied and fat-shamed Mickie James, even if the latter was anything but fat and unattractive during the time of the angle. Rumor has it that this was punishment for James reacting negatively to the end of her affair with John Cena and her subsequent move to the SmackDown brand.
Mickie tried to deal with the matter as professionally as possible, even as she knew she would be losing the feud without the "mean girls" of LayCool getting any real comeuppance. That doesn't mean she liked the storyline, and as it turns out, McCool was no fan of it either, as she reportedly felt uncomfortable having to engage in such verbal bullying on television, even if it was, at the end of the day, all a work.
5 Male: CM Punk And Jeff Hardy
The similarities pretty much ended with their age and their tattoo-covered bodies. CM Punk and Jeff Hardy had very little in common, with the most notable difference being Punk's hardcore straight-edge beliefs, and Hardy's well-documented problems with substance abuse. And it all came to a head when Punk cut a scathing series of promos ahead of Night of Champions 2009 that took digs at his personal demons, and how Jeff seemed to be letting his fans down due to his inability to kick his vices.
Although the promos were all part of a storyline, Hardy was apparently upset over what Punk had to say, and it still affected him even as he joined TNA in 2010, as he cut a bizarre, seemingly stoned YouTube video mocking Punk's straight-edge lifestyle. Given how Punk is very outspoken away from the ring, with his "Straight-Edge Savior" gimmick basically a version of him turned up to 11, we wouldn't be surprised if the promos he cut on Hardy came from a very real place.
4 Female: Sasha Banks And Alexa Bliss
In most of the examples in this list, there's at least one wrestler who isn't, or wasn't exactly Mr. or Ms. Popularity among his or her co-workers. In this case, we've got two women who are, despite their youth, very well-respected by their colleagues and beloved by fans. Unfortunately, they apparently haven't been getting along since their days in NXT. We're referring to Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss, and while it's not clear how and why the animosity started – it might have been because Banks had worked stiff with Bliss during their NXT days – these two ladies clearly do not have any love lost for each other.
They don't follow each other on social media, they aren't seen together outside of WWE's cameras, and they oftentimes can't resist a chance to take a dig at the other in work and shoot situations. But we'll have to give Alexa some credit for admitting in a recent interview that she's okay working with Sasha on a professional level despite their mutual dislike for each other, just as long as there isn't any funny business involved.
3 Male: Chris Jericho And Triple H
Y2J has made the list – twice. He isn't exactly the guy you'd expect to be unpopular among colleagues, but stuff can happen backstage, and he's written three autobiographies (and a fourth, mostly motivational title) where he candidly tells stories from his dual careers in pro wrestling and rock music. As such, Chris Jericho has been very open about the times he didn't exactly get along with everyone in the locker room, and while you may be familiar with the two times he had beef with Goldberg, you might have forgotten that he butted heads very early on in his WWE run with The Game himself, Triple H.
This all stemmed from a match Jericho had with Chyna, where he had accidentally given her a black eye after working too stiff. Her then-boyfriend, Triple H, was none too happy about it, and that led him to flex some political muscle, effectively burying him backstage, getting him in trouble with Vince McMahon, and having X-Pac plan his matches (a demotion for a highly-touted newcomer like Jericho) so he could learn how to work a more WWE-friendly style. While Jericho and HHH seem to be getting along just fine these days, it did take a while indeed for Y2J to earn The Game's trust and respect.
2 Female: AJ Lee And The Bella Twins
And here's another entry featuring AJ Lee and one or both of The Bella Twins. This time, however, we're including Nikki and Brie in here, as they were prime targets in AJ's so-called "Pipebombshell," a worked-shoot promo where she ran down the cast of Total Divas and remarked that talent "isn't sexually transmitted," an obvious dig at Nikki and Brie's respective relationships with John Cena and Daniel Bryan. And just as I've pointed out in a couple other lists, this promo had AJ mentioning the word "women" a dangerous number of times, right at the point in WWE's history where it was verboten to refer to female wrestlers by anything else other than the term "Diva."
If backstage relationships between AJ and the Bellas were already tenuous at the time, the "Pipebombshell" made them outright frosty. But Nikki would end up getting the last laugh, as WWE had her break Lee's record as the longest-reigning Divas Champion in WWE history. Then the women's revolution began to kick off in earnest, though by that time, AJ had long retired, effectively missing out on an era where her talents would have definitely been more appreciated.
1 Male: Shawn Michaels And Marty Jannetty
Shawn Michaels' superkick on Marty Jannetty on Brutus Beefcake's The Barbershop segment is still, more than 25 years after the fact, one of the best remembered WWE heel turns of all-time. It could have made bigger stars out of both men, as Shawn and Marty obviously had the talent to succeed in singles after their 1992 split. But there was a reason why The Rockers ultimately had to split up – relationships had become strained between Michaels and Jannetty, with the latter allegedly jealous that the former was already being touted as having bigger potential, should they go solo.
Of course, there's the matter of Jannetty's repeated failures to get sober, and the many chances WWE gave him to do so. Combine that with the aforementioned tension he had with the Heartbreak Kid, and you've got two guys who probably wanted to hurt each other for real, due to the real-life beef that forced the WWE to break up The Rockers.
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