It’s a well-known fact that pro wrestlers sometimes get into fights with each other backstage. When you put a bunch of athletes, whose job is to pretend to hate each other in public every week, in a highly competitive environment like a wrestling organization, and keep them together for long periods of time, every once in a while, things are going to get physical. The history of professional wrestling is littered with stories of altercations taking place behind the scenes, many of which end up being mostly harmless, but which have occasionally escalated to the point of injury, or worse.
16. Dynamite Kid vs Jacques Rougeau
One half of the British Bulldogs, Dynamite Kid was considered one of the greatest wrestlers of his time, but he also earned himself a reputation as one of the meanest bullies in wrestling, who enjoyed playing pranks on other wrestlers that often crossed the line. Kid was also notoriously thin-skinned, and when other wrestlers sought retribution for his antics, he was quick to drop the gloves, and as tough in a fight as the canine his tag team was named after. However, after the Rougeaus, a French-Canadian tag team that had regularly clashed with the Bulldogs backstage, were the subject of a rib that actually was perpetrated by Curt Henning (not the last time Hennig would cause problems with his love of jokes, which we’ll get to), they blamed Kid, and after an initial confrontation led to blows, Jacques and Raymond planned revenge. A few days later, Jacques approached Kid and punched him in the face while holding a roll of quarters in his fist. Kid lost several teeth in the incident, and it was seen by some as justified retribution for his long-standing reputation. Nobody was officially disciplined, although Rougeau was told to pay Kid’s dental bills (the rumor is that the company paid the bill but told Kid it was Rougeau in order to make peace).
15. DDP vs Scott Steiner
If you ever needed another indication of how absolutely out of control WCW was backstage by the end, take Scott Steiner, who managed to become one of WCW’s last remaining main event attractions through a combination of his impressive physique, and noticing that he could pretty much say whatever he wanted on TV and not get punished for it, because nobody in charge was really paying attention anymore. During one promo in particular, Steiner made some decidedly non-PG statements about Diamond Dallas Page, as well as his then-wife Kimberly, including suggesting that it would require Page to have a sex-change operation so that DDP would have the balls to face him. Once Steiner returned backstage, an irate Page instigated a brawl, and after initially getting the upper hand, Page was dominated by the larger, stronger Steiner. After everyone was separated, DDP and Kevin Nash immediately walked out of the company (although they would return a few weeks later), and there was, unsurprisingly, no punishment given to Steiner.
14. Nailz vs Vince McMahon
Nailz was a short-lived and terrible pro wrestler who is well-known in the industry for two incidents that ended up being related. Nailz was brought into the WWF as a disposable heel, in order to put over The Big Boss Man, and the later, The Undertaker, and it seems that he felt he wasn’t being paid enough for his role. Allegedly, Nailz confronted WWF owner Vince McMahon backstage during an event, and attempted to intimidate McMahon into paying him more money, including an advance on his salary. The argument escalated, until it was discovered by some people investigating the noise that Nailz had knocked Vince down and was attempting to choke him! The two were quickly separated and Nailz was immediately fired. A few days later, he filed a police report, claiming McMahon had been sexually harassing him, and also sued McMahon for wrongful termination. Shortly afterwards, Nailz was a star witness for the federal government in their trial against Vince McMahon for steroid distribution, thanks to his public statements that McMahon had forced him to take steroids. On the witness stand, however, Nailz was a massive liability, showing himself to be a man with a massive grudge against his former employer, who would do or say anything to get revenge. His testimony is considered one of the major reasons why McMahon was not convicted on a single charge.
13. Goldberg vs Chris Jericho
When Goldberg made his initial run in WWE, there were a fair number of people who still had grudges from his days in WCW. One such person was Chris Jericho, who had issues with Goldberg stemming from a planned feud with the WCW Champion that never happened, allegedly due to Jericho not being seen as a big enough star. In fact, Goldberg actually no-showed the PPV where the match was supposed to take place, in what many saw as an ultimate show of disrespect. Reportedly, Goldberg came into WWE still not particularly fond of Jericho, and was apparently talking backstage about how Jericho was a bad wrestler. Word got back to Y2J, who at this point was now a former Undisputed Champion and definitely a main event guy in the eyes of the fans, and he took offense, confronting Goldberg backstage. Predictably, things escalated, and Jericho got the upper hand, taking Goldberg down with a front facelock, while simultaneously fearing that Goldberg would, at some point, get back up and kill him. The two were separated and the situation defused, and Jericho has gone on the record as saying that he regretted the way that he handled things, as Goldberg was newly arrived and had a lot of pressure on him, from multiple sources.
12. Brock Lesnar vs Chris Jericho
We can definitely say this for Chris Jericho: he doesn’t back down from anyone. If you thought taking on Goldberg was tough, how about getting in the face of the massive Brock Lesnar, while he was still amped up from a high-profile main event PPV match? According to reports, after Lesnar deliberately busted open Randy Orton with elbows to the forehead during their match at SummerSlam 2016 (which would require Orton to get ten staples in his head to close the wound), Jericho was waiting for the Beast backstage, in a furious state at what Jericho saw as Brock “taking liberties” with Orton, who is close friends with Y2J. Lesnar, allegedly confused at Jericho’s anger but also not wanting to back down, started throwing insults in response. The two reportedly got right into each other’s faces, but were quickly separated by wrestlers and officials, including Vince McMahon. Eventually, Orton managed to explain to Jericho that the entire injury had been planned out and done with his approval (although likely not to the severity that ended up happening), and things calmed down, with nobody obviously punished for the incident.
11. Brian Pillman vs Sid
To be fair, this actually didn’t end up in a real fight, but it was too hilarious not to include. As you might have already guessed, Sid doesn’t exactly get along with a lot of people, and he’s had more than his share of clashes with other wrestlers. In this particular incident, he was badmouthing several WCW wrestlers (Sid had just left the company for the WWF earlier in the year) and generally talking himself up, to the point that Brian Pillman, who already had heat with Sid over an infamous botch in a WarGames match that saw Sid accidentally misjudge the clearance of the cage roof while delivering a powerbomb to Pillman, nearly breaking Pillman’s neck, decided to step up and challenge the big guy to a fight. Now, Pillman, a former pro football player, had legitimate fight credibility, so it actually wasn’t surprising when Sid backed down, claiming an injury, and left the bar. However, he returned shortly afterwards with what he must have assumed was a threatening weapon in tow. In fact, it was a squeegee (that thing you use to wash car windows), causing Sid to look like a fairly large idiot. He was quickly disarmed and left the bar a second time, never to return, while the “Squeegee Incident” became a part of wrestling lore forever.
10. Sid vs Arn Anderson
Perhaps it was his utter humiliation against Pillman that drove Sid to more extreme methods just a couple of years later, when, having returned to WCW after his initial WWF run, an argument with Arn Anderson in a hotel bar escalated to violence. The story is, after the argument, both men went back to their rooms, and later that evening, Sid knocked on Anderson’s door and attempted re-open hostilities. The difference was, this time Sid was armed with a pair of scissors, and managed to cause significant damage to Anderson before the fight could be broken up. Sid was, obviously, fired on the spot, which actually caused massive problems for WCW in the process. You see, at the time, WCW was pre-taping a significant number of shows for their syndicated programming at their studio in Disney world, while still running live PPVs and Clash of Champions specials, which worked out as long as the booking of those shows matched up with the pre-recorded ones. The problem was, they had already filmed shows with Sid as WCW Champion, as he was scheduled to defeat Vader on PPV later that year. Obviously, that was all out the window, and WCW was forced to scramble to come up with a new plan.
9. Sheamus vs Sin Cara
In an unexpected twist, one of the smallest wrestlers on the roster also appears to be one of its more prolific brawlers, to the point that we’re not sure why people keep picking fights with him. At this point, Sin Cara has been named in as many as five backstage altercations, none of which he started or was blamed for, and all of which saw him come out as the perceived victor. And we’re not talking lightweights, here, as Cara reportedly took down Sheamus when the Celtic Warrior was reportedly acting like a bully towards him in a trainer’s room. In addition, Cara came out on top in a scuffle with Simon Gotch that saw the Vaudevillain punished severely for his role, and also went toe-to-toe with Chris Jericho (who, as we mentioned earlier, clearly gets in his share of fights). It makes you wonder why Vince McMahon’s reported love for wrestlers who stand up for themselves hasn’t translated into a better position for Sin Cara on WWE programming.
8. Brock Lesnar vs Curt Hennig
This would be the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell”, which was less of a legitimate fight than what happens when you let wrestlers have unfettered access to alcohol and fail to supervise them properly. Lesnar and Hennig were actually good friends, due to their common roots in Minnesota, but Hennig was a notorious prankster who enjoyed messing around, and during a flight back to America after a European tour, Hennig managed to goad his buddy Lesnar into showing off his amateur wrestling skills, resulting in the two of them rolling around the aisles, and according to at least one report, even slamming into the door of the plane. The fight capped off an incredibly tense flight full of multiple incidents involving drunken wrestlers, and resulted in WWE massively overhauling their conduct policies and adding extra supervision for future tours, as well as immediately firing Hennig, due to the entire thing largely being seen as his fault.
7. Booker T vs Batista
This fight between a respected veteran and a brash (if older) main event star apparently simmered for months, over Batista, a Raw Superstar, making public statements that were derogatory towards Smackdown, the brand where Booker T was located, as well as a feud between Booker’s wife Sharmell and Melina, who was involved with Batista. Things culminated at a commercial shoot, which went from an argument to a shouting match, followed up by Booker reportedly dominating Big Dave in a fight, although Batista did get in a punch which caused significant swelling in Booker’s eye which was visible on TV. The fallout from the fight was minimal, as it was mostly seen as a situation when both men just needed to “get it out of their system”, and in fact, they would work together regularly in the months and years following the incident, without any further problems.
6. Vince McMahon vs Bret Hart
While only the people in the locker room at the time know what really happened, there are enough secondhand accounts of the aftermath of the infamous Montreal Screwjob, and enough video evidence of the injuries suffered by Vince McMahon, that it’s a well-known fact that after being betrayed by McMahon in the main event of Survivor Series, Bret Hart punched his soon-to-be-former employer in the face, causing Vince to stumble backwards and injure his ankle in the process. In fact, probably our favorite recounting of the incident comes from Mick Foley’s first book, via Owen Hart, who was in the locker room, and claimed that Bret first warned Vince that if he was still here when Hart finished his shower, he was going to punch McMahon right in the nose. As Owen’s testimony goes, Vince waited for Hart to finish his shower, at which point, Bret followed through on his promise.
5. Joey Styles vs JBL
It’s always the little guys you have to watch out for, because sometimes, when they’re pushed too far, they will unleash a fury unlike anything you’ve ever seen. This was reportedly the case in this incident, where former WWE Champion JBL, who has a notorious history of being a backstage bully who enjoys hazing just a little too much, decided to spend an entire weekend picking on announcer Joey Styles. As the story goes, after a weekend of torture, on the flight home, Styles became so incensed with JBL’s behavior that he finally fought back, reportedly leveling Bradshaw with a single punch and giving him a nasty black eye in the process. Styles was not punished for the incident, and was actually seen as something of a heroic figure, due to JBL’s aforementioned history, and reportedly even earned the respect of Vince McMahon for standing up to the bigger man.
4. Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar
Everyone knows that Kurt Angle is a former Olympic gold medalist, and everyone also knows that Brock Lesnar is a former NCAA wrestling champion and UFC Heavyweight Champion. So to say that in their primes, they were perhaps two of the most legitimate shoot fighters on the WWE roster would probably be an understatement. As such, it was probably inevitable that the two would test their mettle against each other at some point, and indeed, it did come to pass, although it was one of the tamer instances on this list. As Kurt Angle has recounted it, he was watching Lesnar toss The Big Show around the ring while training, and decided it was a good day to challenge the Beast to an amateur wrestling match. By all accounts, it was a friendly competition, which never crossed any lines, but definitely became far more physical than expected, with neither many wanting to lose, and several WWE officials reportedly got in trouble for allowing two of their top stars to get into that situation. As for a winner, Angle claims he ended up with the victory, and many people have backed him up on it, so that’s the version we have to accept as factual.
3. Awesome Kong vs Bubba The Love Sponge
Even if you didn’t know anything about the two people involved, just looking at the names, which one would you bet on in a fight? At any rate, Florida radio shock jock and close, personal friend of Hulk Hogan (at the time, anyway), Bubba The Love Sponge, was one of several people brought into TNA when they signed Hogan and Eric Bischoff, with the hopes of becoming direct competition with WWE. And true to his usual form, Bubba began offending a lot of people, most notably the mammoth TNA Knockouts Champion, Awesome Kong. After the country of Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake, Bubba began making blatant insults about the company on social media. Kong, who was deeply involved in the relief efforts, took offense to his comments, and the end result was reportedly her beating the tar out of Bubba backstage. Kong walked out of the company as a result and demanded her release, also filing a lawsuit against Bubba, who had continued to harass her after the incident. Kong eventually got her wish, and Bubba was fired as well, but not before Mick Foley also had the opportunity to also get a few legitimate punches in on him, during a backstage segment which aired live on Impact.
2. Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels
It’s safe to say that tensions ran high between HBK and The Hitman in the months leading up to the Montreal Screwjob, so the fact that at one point, things broke down into an actual fight probably shouldn’t have shocked anyone. Vince McMahon’s idea to have them air things out during televised promos created great TV, but it also created a whole lot of bad blood, and after some particularly nasty exchanges, Hart and Michaels threw down in a brawl that saw Bret reportedly tear actual chunks of hair out of Michaels’ scalp. Shawn was sent home to cool off, which caused additional problems due to the fact that he was one-half of the WWF Tag Team Champions alongside Steve Austin at the time. This inadvertently created one of the best things in wrestling history, as Austin’s search for a replacement partner introduced the world to the immortal Dude Love. but it also forced WWE to keep Hart and Michaels separated as much as possible, creating a situation that was clearly unsustainable.
1. Bruiser Brody vs Jose Gonzalez
This is the most tragic story on the list, for reasons that will become all too clear. Bruiser Brody was a mammoth of a man, one of the best (if not the best) brawlers of his era, and a legitimate top star who drew money pretty much everywhere he went. In an era of really tough guys, Brody was one of the toughest, and there’s no doubt that he rubbed many people the wrong way. Unfortunately, one of the people who had a problem with Brody was Jose Gonzalez, who worked as a promoter and wrestler for a Cuban wrestling company. During a show in 1988, Gonzalez invited Brody into the showers to “talk business”, and allegedly stabbed Brody with a knife. At least in part due to medical personnel not being able to reach the locker room for over an hour after the incident, Brody died from his injuries, and despite a mountain of evidence, including eyewitness accounts from other wrestlers, Gonzalez was acquitted of all charges, after claiming the stabbing was in self-defense.