For millions, becoming a professional wrestler is a dream. Becoming a Superstar in the WWE is another on its own level. And of course for 90-something percent of humans on God’s Green Earth, we dream of meeting our soul mate; the person of our dreams who we can spend the rest of our lives with. But often, many lovebirds face daunting tasks: Do you stick with your lover and your everything, or do you go for the dream job that you’ve worked so hard for?
Thankfully, most of us never have to go through such a dilemma, but WWE superstars and employees have often had to make the tough call. Even if they get all the way to the top, some WWE Superstars decided that loved mattered more than working for the dream job. Here are 10 wrestlers who left their promotion for the sake of their significant other.
10. Eden for Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes had high expectations to live up to, given how his father Dusty was one of the greatest and most iconic Superstars of his time (The American Dream). Cody spent nearly a full decade with WWE. Though he never quite made it to the main-event card, he was always a solid mid-card guy, especially with The Legacy.
However, Rhodes made the awful decision to become “Starrdust,” a horrible gimmick similar to that of his half-brother, Goldust. He quickly fell out of favour, and his real-life wife, Eden Stiles, was not to leave him behind. Stiles was an announcer mainly for SmackDown and Pay-Per-View events (sometimes Raw), but decided to leave the company following Rhodes asking for his release. They both got their wishes and left the WWE side-by-side.
9. John Morrison for Melina
John Morrison and Melina were in the MNM alliance (Joey Mercury being the other guy), and the two fell in love during Tough Enough (though Melina didn’t make the show).
Melina, one of the most beloved Divas during The Ruthless Aggression Era, was quickly drifting away from a stacked Divas division, and would end up being released in August of 2011. Just a few months later, Morrison lost to The Miz in a match and had to leave via stretcher (all scripted.)
Morrison was released shortly after. For the past few years, both Melina and Morrison have wrestled independently, but their relationship ended some years ago. But hey, at least Morrison was being a good man to his girl by refusing to wrestle for the company that let Melina go in the first place.
8. Sable for Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar was one of WWE’s mega Superstars when he came out of nowhere during the Ruthless Aggression Era. In his second stint with WWE, he’s remained a huge main event wrestler and big money maker. As for his real-life wife, Sable, she was one of the WWE’s first ultra-awesome Divas during the ’90s and early 2000s as the Divas division started to take off. However, Lesnar left the company in 2004 as he followed his dreams of trying out for the NFL.
Shortly after, Sable left the company, and Lesnar even said it was because she wanted to be with her family more. The two remain happily married to this day, having two kids together. With Lesnar back in WWE, we can’t help but wonder if she just might make one more return herself…
7. Beth Phoenix for Edge
The Rated R Superstar was the WWE’s top heel during the Ruthless Aggression Era. He relished the bad guy role so well that they kept him as a heel for six years before he got the face turn. Edge had some of the greatest matches against the likes of John Cena and The Undertaker two of the biggest names in WWE history.
However, he had to retire in 2011 after doctors told him he could be paralyzed or even killed if he kept on wrestling; so Edge had to tragically retire. Beth Phoenix, one of the top wrestlers in the Divas division, left the WWE in 2012, citing that it was to do with her family. Phoenix and Edge since kept their relationship strong, and have had two children together. Here’s hoping to a happy life for these two.
6. Rebecca Curci for Shawn Michaels
Rebecca Curci may not be well known to the average eye of the WWE Universe, but she sure as heck was during the days of WCW. Curci was featured on Nitro shows for WCW and went by “Whisper.” However, her heart was not with Ted Turner’s company, but rather one of WWE’s top wrestlers in Shawn Michaels.
Curci was on the Nitro dance team, but living in the spotlight didn’t matter to her. She left WCW and married Michaels, who was one of the wrestlers trying to put WWE over in the Monday Night War. The two married in 1999 and have stayed together since, having two children together. Michaels would retire in 2010, citing reasons that he wanted to be around to see his children grow up. All is well with the Michaels family.
5. Brie Bella for Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan didn’t need long to instantly become one of the WWE’s most beloved babyfaces. He was a four-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and his quick rise and smaller stature (5-feet-8, 210 pounds) compared to most wrestlers made him one of the top babyface the company has seen since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Sadly, Bryan was forced to retire earlier this year after multiple concussions and other head injuries. His real-life wife, Brie Bella, also decided to retire. Though still with the WWE, she doesn’t plan to wrestle anymore and has stayed on in a backstage role while Bryan serves as the General Manager of SmackDown Live. Bella retired shortly after her husband, but thankfully both of them found work immediately after. This story has had a happy ending so far, despite having a sad beginning.
4. The King for The Kat
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler has been a critical part of the WWE’s global powerhouse development since the 1990s, when he was a commentator/wrestler. Everyone remembers him today as the iconic voice to go along with Michael Cole, and previously Jim Ross. Honestly, how does anybody not love The King?
He was married to Stacy Carter, known by “The Kat,” while she worked for WWE. Their marriage barely lasted a year, but The King did show how much he cared about her. In 2001, The Kat was released, and some say it was because of the problems to work with her backstage. Shortly after her release, Lawler also quit to protest the decision. Of course, Lawler would be back on the WWF announcing team a few short months later, and has kept the job since.
3. Debra For Stone Cold Steve Austin
Debra worked in both WCW and WWE, both as a manager and as a wrestler. She was a one-time WWE Women’s Champion, and was married to the biggest star in WWE history: Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, The Texas Rattlesnake left the company on ugly terms in 2002. After years sereving as the top star in WWE, Austin had reached a crossroads.
Austin got frustrated with the WWE’s angles and Vince McMahon, walking out on shows and voicing his displeasure overall. Austin ‘s run ended with the company in 2002. Debra also left the company with her husband that same year. Sadly, the marriage was overshadowed by Austin getting arrested for domestic violence; and the two divorced in 2003. Debra even sold her wedding ring on eBay.
2. Paige for Alberto Del Rio
Before we continue, allow me to remind everyone that Paige has NOT officially left the WWE yet; but this is bound to take place sooner rather than later. With her real-life boyfriend, Albertio Del Rio involved an ugly exit with the company and Paige having friction with management, these two lovebirds will take their talents elsewhere.
Del Rio was fired in 2014 for backstage altercations, but brought back in 2015. Del Rio never got to be the top heel he was in his first tenure with WWE, and was suspended for violating their Wellness Policy. Del Rio grew very frustrated with the company’s plans for him and was officially released on Sept. 9, 2016. Paige, despite being pushed as a main event woman, has stuck by her man and will be leaving WWE soon enough. You can’t clash with WWE, side with your boyfriend who was let go, and decide to stay.
1. AJ Lee for CM Punk
CM Punk had the strangest departure from the WWE in recent memory.
Vince McMahon loved what this guy did and let him become one of the top Superstars of the company’s history. Punk won multiple titles, headlined many Pay-Per-Views, and got to clash with legends like John Cena, Jerry Lawler, and The Rock. But then one day, things took a huge turn. Punk was a no-show for a 2014 edition of Monday Night Raw, telling Vince backstage that he was going home. Friction grew more and more, as Punk was allegedly screwed out of a promise that he was going to headline WrestleMania. The last straw broke when the WWE officially terminated his employment with the company…on his wedding day.
That was enough for AJ Lee to leave the WWE shortly after, as one of the top babyfaces of the then Divas division had no interest in staying for a company that didn’t treat her husband fairly. Can you really blame her? This was a huge loss for the WWE Universe; and one that they may never get over.
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