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The 17 Wildest VMA Beefs Of All Time (Of All Time!)

Arrests, fistfights, and shade through the ages

The VMAs are all about celebrating talent, about highlighting the best work that artists bring to the screen. But let's be real: They're about drama, too.

Over the years, bands have beefed with bands, brothers have beefed with brothers, and rappers have beefed with unsuspecting techno artists. There's no shortage of juicy VMA beef to be found in the archive. We ranked the show's 17 wildest spats.

  1. Russell Brand vs. the Jonas Brothers (2008)
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    Promise rings were a thing among celebrities at the end of the aughts, and outspoken British actor Russell Brand wasn't having it. Brand made fun of the Jonas Brothers for their rings at the 2008 VMAs, saying he'd take them more seriously “if they’d wear it on their genitals.” But the joke was ultimately on him: Promise ring sales went way up after the show.

  2. Tré Cool vs. Kurt Loder (1998)
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    After Green Day won their very first VMA, drummer Tré Cool decided he needed just one more thrill from the night. Moments into their after-show interview with Kurt Loder, Cool decided the Universal globe behind him just needed climbing. So, despite Loder's protests, he climbed it.

  3. The Strokes's Julian Casablancas vs. Saliva's Josey Scott (2002)
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    Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas apparently thought he was too cool for school at his first VMAs — or at least too cool for Saliva. In a 2004 interview with MTV News, lead singer Josey Scott recalled their meeting. “I was at the VMAs and walked by the singer for The Strokes,” he said, “and I give everybody their day in court, so I said, ‘What's up?’ to him, and he looked at me and sort of goes, ‘Hmmph.’ He's just lucky my girl's son was with me, I would've broken his jaw. Whatever. Fuck him.”

  4. Oasis's Noel Gallagher vs. Liam Gallagher (1996)
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    The brothers of Oasis never could seem to get along. While they were performing at the 1996 VMAs, Liam made rude gestures and told poor Noel to “sod off” onstage, which is British for “you bring great shame upon our family and I wish you had never been born.” He also changed the lyrics to “Champagne Supernova” from “a champagne supernova in the sky” to “a champagne supernova up your bum.” Then he spat beer at the stage and stormed off. Scandalous.

  5. Kid Rock vs. Tommy Lee (2007)
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    Pamela Anderson's exes couldn't keep their hands off each other at the 2007 VMAs — but not in the sexy way. While Alicia Keys performed, Tommy Lee and Kid Rock got into an argument that turned into a fistfight. Rock was cited for misdemeanor battery for the altercation.

  6. Christina Aguilera vs. Fred Durst (2000)
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    Technically, Fred Durst's fans were the ones who really had beef with Xtina. When Christina performed with the Limp Bizkit frontman at the 2000 VMAs, the band's following wasn't pleased. “The VMA appearance was about the worst moment in music this year,” said one commenter on MTV.com. Another called Durst a “pop-lovin’ piece of frozen dog shit,” because that was how you insulted people online in the year 2000. Durst tried to save face by saying that he had done the performance “for the nookie,” a rumor that Aguilera swiftly shut down.

  7. Guns N' Roses Izzy Stradlin vs. Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil (1989)
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    The VMAs used to be a lot more violent. Mötley Crüe's frontman Vince Neil already had bad blood with Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, but it came to a boil at the 1989 show. Stradlin had allegedly punched Neil's wife earlier that year, and Neil wanted revenge. As soon as Mötley Crüe had handed a moonman to Guns N' Roses for Best Metal Video, Neil threw a well-timed punch at Stradlin backstage.

  8. Beastie Boys vs. R.E.M. (1994)
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    Everyone thought Spike Jonze would take home Best Director for the Beastie Boys's iconic “Sabotage” video. When R.E.M. went ahead and won for “Everybody Hurts” instead, MCA (a.k.a. Adam Yauch) wasn't having it. He rushed the stage as his Swiss alter ego Nathaniel Hornblower for the first speech interruption in VMAs history. “This is an outrage!” he said. “Since I was a small boy, I had dreamed that Spike would win this.” His impromptu protest would set the bar for VMA interruptions still to come.

  9. Poison's Bret Michaels vs. C.C. DeVille (1991)
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    Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille absolutely bombed the band's performance at the 1991 VMAs, going into the wrong song and unplugging his guitar at an inopportune time. The intra-band conflict came to fisticuffs with lead singer Bret Michaels backstage, and DeVille was ultimately fired.

  10. Fat Joe vs. 50 Cent (2005)
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    While introducing a performance at the 2005 VMAs, Fat Joe joked that he felt extra safe “with all the police protection courtesy of G-Unit.” 50 Cent then ran around the venue taunting Joe, and later called him a “pussy” onstage.

  11. Taylor Swift vs. Harry Styles (2013)
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    It's always so awkward when you run into your ex at the VMAs. In 2013, Taylor Swift took home Best Female Video for “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and she made sure to thank “the guy who inspired it.” She also could be seen mouthing “shut the fuck up” when Harry Styles and One Direction were presenting an award onstage. Subtle.

  12. David Lee Roth vs. Eddie Van Halen (1996)
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    The four original members of Van Halen regrouped at the 1996 VMAs after more than a decade of estrangement, but former lead singer David Lee Roth couldn't keep the reunion on good terms. After Van Halen noted that he needed hip replacement surgery in an interview, Roth said, “Tonight's about me, man, not your fucking hip!” Van Halen apparently responded by saying, “If I ever see you again you better be wearing a cup, pal!”

  13. Rage Against the Machine vs. Limp Bizkit (2000)
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    Limp Bizkit just wanted to accept their Best Rock Video award in peace, but Rage Against the Machine's bassist Tim Commerford had other plans in mind. While Fred Durst took the mic, Commerford stormed the stage and climbed a huge set piece behind him. Rage was also in the running for Best Rock Video, and maybe Commerford took the loss a little hard. He ended up getting arrested for his antics and spent the night in jail.

  14. Nirvana and Courtney Love vs. Axl Rose (1992)
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    Grunge power couple Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love brought their baby daughter Frances Bean Cobain to the 1992 VMAs. When Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose walked by the happy family, Love couldn't help but tease him: “Axl! You're the godfather!” she yelled. Axl wasn't having it, and he told Cobain to “keep your woman in line.” (Yikes.) After Nirvana's performance, drummer Dave Grohl kept the beef going by asking, “Where's Axl?” from the stage.

  15. Miley Cyrus vs. Nicki Minaj (2015)
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    Three days before the 2015 VMAs, Miley Cyrus had dissed Nicki Minaj in an interview with the New York Times, claiming that the rapper was neither “kind” nor “polite” in her reaction to “Anaconda” being overlooked in the Video of the Year category. So when Nicki won a moonman for Best Hip-Hop Video, she had some words for Miley. “Back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press the other day,” she said. “Miley, what's good?”

  16. Moby vs. Eminem (2002)
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    At the 2001 Grammy awards, Moby had a few criticisms about Eminem's music, calling it racist, homophobic, and misogynistic. Eminem retaliated by dissing Moby in his song “Without Me,” which he performed at the 2002 VMAs. Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog brought up that verse when he ambushed the producer: “Poor Moby. How could Eminem call you a 36-year-old bald-headed fuck? First of all, you're 35!” Triumph tried to get Eminem on the mic, but he wasn't eager to comment — that is, until “Without Me” won Best Male Video. “That little Moby girl threw me out of my zone for a minute,” the rapper said during his acceptance speech, prompting boos from the crowd. “Keep booing, little girl,” he said. “I will hit a man with glasses.” Luckily, Eminem never made good on his promise, and Moby made it out of the show unscathed.

  17. Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift (2009)
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    In 2009, Kanye West started the VMA beef to end all VMA beefs. Taylor Swift won Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me” over Beyoncé's “Single Ladies” video — and Kanye wasn't pleased. He snatched the mic from Taylor before she could even start her acceptance speech. “Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time,” he said. Those words have been burned into our memory for years. They're not going away any time soon.

Tune in to the 2016 VMAs, live from New York on Sunday, August 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.