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Sometimes, art imitates life in WWE

Matt Riddle vs. Seth Rollins and 4 WWE rivalries based on real-life backstage problems

Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle are currently embroiled in one of the most personal feuds in WWE.

The Visionary and Original Bro were originally scheduled to face off at Summerslam before a storyline injury to Riddle on the go-home edition of RAW. They then resumed hostilities on the road to Clash at the Castle, which will now extend to Extreme Rules in a Fight Pit.


The feud has been marked by the incorporation of real-life events involving The Stallion's family and Rollins' wife Becky Lynch. Riddle's divorce and his former wife's body-negative comments about Lynch were used to turn the heat up on an already red-hot feud, leading to the Fight Pit grudge match.

WWE has occasionally used real-life heat between superstars to drive storylines, with the added realism making the feuds more compelling. Here are four more rivalries that were rooted in real-life disagreements between superstars.


#4: Triple H and CM Punk's personal issues were the focal point of their feud


Triple H and CM Punk are two of the most brilliant minds to ever step into WWE. They are also two of the most outspoken and controversial figures in the company's modern history. Most importantly to this list, their disdain for each other was well-known.

The duo often had clashing creative views stemming from their respective backstage politics, and these issues translated to their 2011 feud. They roasted each other in promo segments so iconic that they still resurface in relation to current events.

According to a 2016 Cody Rhodes interview, HHH was a big influence on Punk's infamous pipebomb, which was very derogatory to him. The two legends are perfect examples of using personal issues to do what's best for business.


#3: Jeff Hardy's struggles with substance abuse were used in his feud with Sheamus

The bar fight was met with a mixed response

WWE legend Jeff Hardy has had various struggles with substance abuse over his storied career.

The Charismatic Enigma returned to the company with brother Matt Hardy at WrestleMania 33 to great fanfare. After a solid tag team run, the Hardy Boyz went their separate ways, with The Woken One eventually teaming with Bray Wyatt as The Deleters of Worlds.

Jeff, on the other hand, went solo, winning both the United States and Intercontinental titles before leaving the company. One of his most memorable feuds was with Sheamus, who repeatedly tried to goad him into taking alcohol.

The storyline was poorly received and has aged badly, with Hardy now in rehabilitation after relapsing.

#2: John Cena and The Rock have admitted to having personal differences during their iconic feud

The tension was palpable between these two icons

One of the most famous WWE feuds rooted in real-life animosity was The Rock vs. John Cena. The Cenation Leader was vocal about his opinion that The Rock "neglected" the business after going to Hollywood. The Great One was not happy with this, since his acting schedule dictated that he couldn't be involved with WWE's grueling physicality.

The duo proceeded to infuse their real-life grievances into promo segments in the build to WrestleMania 28, with Cena famously calling out The Rock for writing promo notes on his wrists. The blurring of lines between reality and kayfabe drove this compelling clash into the stratosphere as they headlined the most-bought WrestleMania of all time.

The icons have since reconciled, and Cena has followed in his former foe's footsteps by becoming a big Hollywood star.

#1: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart is arguably the most personal feud in WWE history

#OnThisDayinWWE 20 years ago on WWE Confidential:

@ShawnMichaels finally admitted he knew about the Montreal Screwjob in advance, 5 years after the controversy

"He asked me to do it and I did it"

@Fgbrisco: "I think it took a lot of courage to do what Shawn did that night"

Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were WWE's franchise players in the New Generation Era. After the Hulk Hogan-led Golden era, the company turned to the two technical wizards to carry it forward.


Both Hart and Michaels shared an unrivaled mastery of their craft and incredible in-ring chemistry, but they had an even more fiery off-screen rivalry. The bad blood between them is so well-known that it has spawned documentaries and books.

The most infamous event in their rivalry was the Montreal Screwjob, an incident widely credited with ushering in the Attitude Era. Michaels allegedly conspired with Vince McMahon to take the world title from Hart by deceitful means, prompting the latter to knock him out backstage.

The bad blood between them lasted for more than a decade before they reconciled on-screen in 2010. The infamy of the screwjob lives on, however, and it has been referenced, recreated and mentioned multiple times in the 25 years since it went down.

A former WWE writer thinks Bronson Reed's push could be in jeopardy here.

Edited by
Jacob Terrell
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