The WWE has, since day one, been filled with exciting matches that are usually fought between rivals that can put on spectacles for the audience at home and in attendance. These rivalries and matches, despite being predetermined, are what has captivated fans for decades and brought us back for more.
What we don’t always see, however, are that some of these matches don’t always go off without a hitch. A lot of times the men and women you see in the ring don’t always see eye-to-eye, or just don’t work well enough together to put on a good show. This can sometimes lead to bitter feelings behind the scenes that are more real then what we see on camera.
In today’s article, we will be taking a look at 15 opponents in the WWE that just couldn’t work together, either due to ego, skill, or personal disdain for one another that can put some of the scripted, on-camera disputes to shame.
- Alex Riley/John Cena
Many claim that working with John Cena in a program can be a death knell, with Cena “burying” many talented individuals whenever they start to get too big of a push. While in most cases this theory is debatable, in the case of Alex Riley it very well may be fact.
The whole issue between Cena and Riley started with a simple botch during the 2011 Royal Rumble. In the match Cena, thanks to a distraction from The Miz, was supposed to be eliminated from the match by Riley. Instead, Riley tripped up and managed to eliminate himself from the match, which helped to draw the ire of Cena.
After this, we mysteriously started to see less and less of Riley, until the man was eventually released from the WWE. It just goes to show that, no matter if the rumors are true or not, you don’t want to find yourself on Cena’s bad side.
- CM Punk/Ryback
While neither of these men are still part of the WWE, there is no doubt that during their time in the company, they didn’t get along all that well: a fact that both men have been quite vocal about.
On Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast, Punk had singled out Ryback for being careless in the ring, frequently injuring the people that he worked with, and saying that Ryback was “Stupid” and “A Steroid Guy”. In response, Ryback refuted Punk’s statements, claiming that Punk never told him of these issues to his face and that it is not true, and has since been vocal about his dislike of Punk.
Given both men’s track record, it is unlikely that we will ever see these two compete against each other again in the ring. With the tension between these two and the egos at play, however, this may be a good thing.
- Ultimate Warrior/Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan, for all his accomplishments in the world of professional wrestling, has had more than a few run-ins with his fellow wrestlers backstage (as you will see later). One such man that had issues with “The Hulkster” is none other than the Ultimate Warrior.
At WrestleMania VI, in what was dubbed “The Ultimate Challenge”, Warrior and Hogan met in the ring to unify the WWF Intercontinental and WWF World Championships. While the match was passable, things between Hogan and Warrior apparently got rough backstage afterward, with Warrior making claims such as Hogan holding other talents back and being openly hostile.
While Hogan never spoke about these issues much himself, Warrior’s claims have since been backed by more than a few other wrestlers such as Randy Savage and Shawn Michaels. Speaking of Shawn Michaels…
- Shawn Michaels/Hulk Hogan
Hogan drops into our list for a second time due to his backstage politics, this time showing the amount of influence he has even over other people known for their backstage antics such as “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels.
In the summer of 2005, Hogan and Michaels were supposed to compete in a series of “Dream Matches”, starting with Summerslam 2005. This series was supposed to consist of three matches, with each man picking up at least one win, starting with Hogan at Summerslam. Hogan wasn’t having this, however, refusing to put over Michaels and wanting the series of matches to be a one-off instead.
In response to this, Michaels over-sold all of Hogan’s offense during their Summerslam encounter, creating a terrible match and making Hogan look foolish. Needless to say, neither man endeared themselves to the other as a result of this match, and the two never met in the ring again.
Even with all of the backstage politics such as those we have previously discussed, one person that never gets crossed is the Undertaker. No matter what type of maneuvering you try to do backstage, if you get on the Undertaker’s bad side, your career might as well be over. This is what Diamond Dallas Page learned during his very brief feud with “The Deadman”.
During the WCW invasion of 2001, DDP and Taker were involved in a feud that saw DDP stalking the latter’s wife, which led to a match at the Invasion PPV. Prior to the match, DDP had scripted and planned out everything that he had wanted to happen in the match; something that he had done many times previously in WCW.
Undertaker, who likes to do things his own way in the ring, saw someone such as DDP telling him how to conduct his match as a slap in the face. As a result, Taker destroyed Page in the ring that night. Afterwords, Page slowly slipped into the role of Jobber to the Stars before eventually being released from the WWE.
- Sin Cara/Alberto Del Rio
Both the original Sin Cara and Alberto Del Rio had a bad reputation backstage in the WWE, where both were accused of being difficult to work with or having bad attitudes. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that both of them got on the other’s bad side fairly easily.
The rivalry between Sin Cara and Del Rio can actually be dated all the way back to the two wrestler’s original run in Mexican promotion CMLL, where backstage politics got them in each other’s way a lot. This carried over to the WWE in 2012, when Del Rio “accidentally” tried to remove Sin Cara’s mask in the ring: a cardinal sin in their homeland of Mexico. This was followed up a while later when the two met again in the ring, only for the match to be stopped by Sin Cara for what seemed to be a minor injury.
The heat between these two wrestlers is said to be so bad that fellow Luchadore Konnan has claimed that Sin Cara once pulled a gun on Del Rio in a locker room in Mexico. With this kind of bad blood, it may be a good thing that WWE released them before they had a potentially serious problem on their hands.
- Mr. Kennedy/ Randy Orton
While John Cena often gets a bad rap for pushing killing a wrestler’s push, Randy Orton is no slouch in that area himself. Even though this can be evidenced in the way he ended Kofi Kingston’s push during their angle (during which Orton audibly called Kingston “Stupid” during a match), it is perhaps even prominent in the sad tale of one Ken Kennedy.
During a match that the Kennedy and Orton had on a taping of Smackdown, Orton got dropped awkwardly on his neck and head by Kennedy during a botched backdrop. This move would infuriate Orton to the point that he threw a tantrum backstage, saying that Kennedy was reckless and that the botched move could have easily ruined his career. This incident eventually led to the release of Mr. Kennedy from the WWE.
Since his release, Kennedy has been very vocal about his disdain for Orton by criticizing “The Viper” every chance that he gets. Being so outspoken about one of the WWE’s top stars has pretty much guaranteed that Kennedy will not be back in the WWE anytime soon, but considering the career that he has had since leaving the company, it’s doubtful he would ever want to come back anyway.
- Chris Jericho/Chyna
Known today for pioneering the way for female wrestlers in the WWE as well as her many accomplishments in the company, Chyna was not always the most well-liked individual behind the scenes. In fact, many of her fellow wrestlers have had negative things to say about their experience working with her, and none more so than “Y2J” Chris Jericho.
During Jericho’s first few months he was shoehorned into an angle where he was “co-holder” of the WWF Intercontinental Championship with Chyna, which led to the two of them being involved in several matches together both as partners and opponents. During this time, the two of them complained incessantly about the other, with Chyna saying that Jericho always worked stiff with her and Jericho claiming that “Chyna was one of the worst in-ring workers” that he ever worked with.
To this day, Jericho still has a sour tone when talking about that period of his career. And although Chyna is no longer with us, her career both in and out of the ring will never be forgotten, for better or worse.
- Dynamite Kid/Davey Boy Smith
The British Bulldogs during their time with the WWF were two of the most popular competitors to ever grace the ring. The duo of Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid went on to defeat some of the top tag teams of the 80’s, including close friends The Hart Foundation, and won the WWF Tag Team gold. Despite all this, these two individuals had very little love for each other.
This mainly came as a result of the attitude of The Dynamite Kid. Kid was said to be quite unpleasant to be around at the best of times, and a straight-up ass every other time. This reputation made many wrestlers steer clear of the British grappler, including his long-time partner Smith.
The situation between these two was reportedly so bad that Smith was said to be “ecstatic” when the WWF finally decided to split the team into singles competitors. This decision led to massive success for Smith, who became Intercontinental champion and main evented Summerslam with Bret Hart, and relative obscurity for the surly Dynamite Kid.
- Andre the Giant/Kamala
Both Andre the Giant and Kamala are now considered legends of the squared circle today. Despite their relatively limited move set, the two wrestlers were able to capture the imagination of the crowd simply by size and intimidation. According to Kamala, however, these two behemoths could never see eye-to-eye despite having many similarities.
In an interview that was conducted with Kamala, the “Ugandan Giant” claims that he and Andre had not liked each other since day one, and often stiffed each other in the ring with their strikes. This mutual dislike boiled over to the backstage area, and neither man was ever able to put their differences aside before the untimely death of Andre.
It is a shame that neither man seemed to like each other that much, as a tag team consisting of Andre and Kamala could easily have been one of the best big-man tag teams to ever compete in a wrestling ring.
- Edge/Matt Hardy
This is one rivalry that, despite the genuine dislike between the individuals involved, the matches that the two faced off against each other in were generally good. Despite this, it really is impressive that these two didn’t try to do more damage to the other considering the circumstances behind their hatred.
While Matt Hardy was injured and off the road, Edge moved in on Hardy’s real-life girlfriend Lita and the two became romantically involved. Incensed, Hardy tried legitimately jumping Edge during an episode of Raw, an incident that would get Hardy canned by the WWE. Hardy’s unemployment didn’t last long, however, as the WWE fans were very vocal about their opinion on the matter, with chants of “We Want Matt”.
Once Hardy was re-instated with the WWE, the company capitalized on the real-life animosity between the two and created one of WWE’s most memorable angles to date. This was an angle that helped both men out in the long run, as Hardy would go on to have a bit of a career resurgence and Edge would move on to become a main event player in WWE.
- Jeff Hardy/CM Punk
For this entry, we have a case of life imitating art. On one side you have Jeff Hardy, a man that has had to battle personal demons to get to where he was in the WWE, including drug addiction. On the other side, we have CM Punk, a man who has led a straight-edge, drug-free life which helped him become the man that he was. These two dynamics were mixed together by WWE creative to make one of the more personal storylines in the PG era.
It seems that this matchup was more than an on-screen storyline, as behind the scenes Hardy hated working with Punk, who he felt legitimately looked down his nose at him for his life choices. Having left the company after this angle, Jeff, along with brother Matt, took their grievances with Punk online where the pair voiced their real opinions on the man and his attitude.
Even though it is easy to look up to CM Punk for his life choices and standing by what he believes, with all the heat the man seemed to garner backstage with fellow wrestlers, one has to wonder if he really should take a “chill pill”.
- Booker T/Batista
Sometimes when you become a big-name WWE superstar, you become respected and well-liked, such as Steve Austin or The Undertaker. Other times, your ego can get away from you and you can start to rub people the wrong way, as in the case of Batista and Booker T.
In the beginning of “The Animal’s” WWE push, when he won the Royal Rumble the first time and beat Triple H at WrestleMania, the man started to get a bit of a large head, which led to him becoming a bit of a bully backstage. This was a fact that didn’t elude Booker T, who was in an angle with the big man at the time. During a filming for a 2005 Summerslam commercial, the issues between the two boiled over into an actual fist fight that saw Booker come out on top.
Despite the behind-the-scenes issues between the two men, WWE continued to have them work together afterward, a fact which both men detested. It has been said that, since this incident, things between the two men have gotten better and that they have reconciled their differences.
- Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan makes a hat trick on this list with yet another person that he rubbed the wrong way, this time in probably his most infamous rival, “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
These two individuals, at one time good friends, have a backstage rivalry that is almost as well documented as their on-screen one. From incidents including Hogan supposedly putting the moves on Savage’s wife, Elizabeth, to a dis-track dedicated to Hogan on Savage’s poorly received rap album entitled “Be a Man”, it looked as if these two were at each other’s throats on a nearly constant basis.
Even though there were certainly hard feelings between the two throughout their careers, the two seemed to meet constantly in the ring as both partners (as part of the Mega Powers and nWo), and as opponents. It is for this reason that it is almost impossible to this day to mention one of these men without bringing up the other’s name (or Slim Jim’s).
- Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels
If you thought that Hogan and Savage had an infamous off-camera rivalry, it pales in comparison to the real-life soap opera that is Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. For the longest time, neither man had anything good to say about the other, and the ramifications of their rivalry are ones that are still felt to this day.
Both men, despite putting on many classic matches like the Wrestlemania XII “Iron Man” match, hated working with each other. Both men had claimed that the other was immature, was disrespectful, or had too large of an ego, and both had refused to “do the job” (or lose) to the other on separate occasions. Perhaps the most infamous of these was at Survivor Series 1997, where Hart refused to lose to Michaels in his home country of Canada, which led to the now infamous “Montreal Screw Job”, where the title was taken off of Hart under dubious circumstances.
While Hart and Michaels had supposedly put their issues behind them when Hart returned to the WWE, there still seems to be some tension between the two whenever they are seen together. Even so, the effects that this rivalry had on the wrestling business as a whole cannot be understated, as the “Montreal Screw Job” ended up becoming the catalyst for the “Attitude Era” as well as the Monday Night Wars.