Not every love story has a happy ending and the chances grow extra slim when you’re talking about high profile celebrity couples. In the rough and tumble world that is the WWE Universe, the chances of marriage ending in divorce are significantly higher than the 41% rate amongst America at large. It should go without saying that any onscreen splits are as explosive and bombastic as one would expect a sports entertainment divorce would be. As it would turn out, many of the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment also went through real life divorces that were just as messy as the fake ones that took place on TV.
There are as many reasons for couples to get divorced as there are for couples to get together in the first place. Add the stress of constant travel and the mindset of people in such an active line of work as pro wrestling, and it can be particularly difficult to maintain a normal relationship. That doesn’t mean every marriage needs to go down in flames, but that’s exactly what happened for these wrestlers. In at least a couple instances, real life would even bleed into the storylines and the divorces would get mentioned on TV as part of the divorcees gimmicks. Keep reading to learn about 15 wrestlers you didn’t know went through messy divorces.
15 Ric Flair
It feels appropriate to start this list with the patron saint of wrestling divorces, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Flair has been wheelin, dealin, and kiss stealin’ since the early 1970s, so it isn’t too shocking he’s gone through at least four divorces thus far in his life. His first marriage occurred just as his career began, when he and Leslie Goodman wed in 1971. The couple had two children, Megan and David, and divorced in 1983 as Flair’s career was taking off in a huge way. That same year, Flair married for the second time, this time to Beth Harrell, with whom he fathered two more kids, Reid and Ashley. Ric and Beth divorced in 2006, and once again Flair remarried that same year, to a woman named Tiffany VanDemark. In 2009, marriage number three transitioned to number four, when Flair left Tiffany for new wife Jackie Beems. He and Jackie started having troubles in 2016 when Flair started dating Wendy Barlow, who he is rumored to want to marry once his divorce from Jackie is final. It would take too long for us to compile all the money Flair spent in his divorces, but needless to say, his ex-wives have all taken big pieces of his fortune.
There are many of ways Charlotte Flair has taken after her famous father Ric, with her career basically founded on how proud she was of his accomplishments and vice versa. The one area they probably aren’t proud to have in common is their explosive love lives, as Charlotte had already gone through two divorces before winning her first championship. Charlotte’s first husband, Riki Johnson, was involved in a domestic incident that saw Charlotte attack a police officer in 2008, but they got married in 2010 anyway, in a marriage that only lasted two years. In 2013, Charlotte remarried to TNA wrestler Bram and though the two of them didn’t come to blows, there time together wasn’t without incident. Bram was arrested in late 2015 for allegedly abusing his girlfriend, a different woman from his wife, as he and Charlotte were separated but not officially divorced. The charges against Bram were eventually dropped and her divorce from Bram was finalized shortly after.
13 Steve McMichael
Ric Flair and Arn Anderson always contested Steve McMichael lived the proper lifestyle to be one of The Four Horsemen and his marriage record is one area the public knows for sure that’s true. McMichael was a former NFL player with the Chicago Bears, a team he helped win the Super Bowl in 1985. His football fame made him an instant star when he debuted for WCW in 1996, which is why they allowed his wife of 11 years, Debra Marshall, to follow him. Within two years of working for WCW, Steve and Debra’s marriage completely collapsed, both on screen and off. After Debra turned on McMichael for Jeff Jarrett, she followed Jarrett out of WCW to WWE, where she continued her career. Sometime during her time with Jarrett, Debra made the split from McMichael official by way of a divorce on October 12th, 1998, seven days before her WWE debut. She almost immediately moved into her next marriage, which would turn out even worse for her.
12 Steve Austin
Upon first glance, moving from an NFL player with a Super Bowl ring to the most financially successful superstar in WWE history looks like a pretty impressive romantic resume. Debra Marshall knows otherwise, and she found out when she divorced Steve McMichael and started dating “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The couple moved in together in early 2000 and married later that year in Las Vegas. Two years later, Austin was in the middle of tense negotiations with WWE and he made the horrible decision to take his stress out on his wife, leading to an arrest for domestic assault several months later. According to Debra, it was actually the third time Austin assaulted her and WWE had asked her to quiet the first two incidents. It was a manner of weeks before the couple filed for divorce, which was finalized by the time Austin patched things up with the company.
11 Bret Hart
Just about every branch of the Hart family tree has their fair share of skeletons in the closet. Bret Hart is no different from his brothers and sisters, though he tried for years to pretend he was when with his wife, Julie Smadu. They were married in 1982 and had four children, only to separate in 1998 and ultimately divorce in 2002. Bret openly admits to having cheated on Julie countless times and yet he still was the one to officially file for divorce, citing the feeling Julie never cared enough about his career. Julie countered Bret was never able to separate his wrestling character from reality, not to mention the fact he was the one constantly cheating with random women. Whatever the case, both were on board with the divorce when it finally happened. Hart had a second, shorter marriage to Cinzia Rota, which allegedly ended when they couldn’t agree on where to live. He married for a third time in 2010, this time to a woman named Stephanie Washington.
10 Alberto Del Rio
As of this article’s publication, Alberto Del Rio is technically still married to his first wife. He lands on this list anyway due to the fact they’ve been undergoing divorce proceedings for over a year now, made significantly worse by his nascent relationship with WWE anti-diva Paige. Details are scare on Del Rio’s first love, who we know is named Angela Velkei, along with the fact he had three children with her. The relationship started falling apart in 2015, with Del Rio alleging she was “guilty of cruel mistreatment,” and Velkei counter arguing that Del Rio was cheating on her. The relationship with Paige seems to have started after the fact, although this doesn’t leave out the possibility other women were involved, as well. In any event, the divorce proceedings are still undergoing, with the former couple fighting over custody of their children and ownership of their house. Paige has responded to her boyfriend’s romantic woes with complete apathy, proposing to him while the situation is unfolding.
9 Randy Savage
The relationship between “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth is regarded as one of the most fairytale stories in WWE history. At least until the ending, that is, at which point it started to turn into more of a nightmare. Randy and Liz met while working for Randy’s father at International Championship Wrestling, where Randy was a top star and Liz was a camerawoman and then announcer. The two stayed together during Savage’s long and historic run in WWE, with their onscreen split and reconciliation causing endless memorable moments. The tumult they experienced continued off screen, as virtually every wrestler at the time has one story or another about how Randy acted dangerously jealous whenever other people came near his wife. The macho madness drove Liz crazy and the couple divorced in 1992. Though the relationship’s deterioration was pretty scandalous, once it was over, Savage and Liz apparently made enough peace to start working together again in WCW.
Having a wrestling family doesn’t make romance between wrestlers any easier, as Dustin Runnels and Terri Boatright found out the hard way through their six-year marriage. The two met while working for WCW, Dustin as the up-and-coming son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes and Terri as an accountant character named Alexandra York. They married in 1993 and had one daughter, Dakota, the next year. Throughout the entire relationship, Dustin’s father made it clear he didn’t approve, constantly accusing Terri of gold digging and nonstop affairs. Terri denied the accusations, but they deeply strained the marriage nonetheless, leading to a divorce in 1999. A few years later, Goldust had a short and in his words “highly volatile” relationship with Milena Martelloni, that resulted in a yearlong marriage. While this second marriage ended badly enough Goldust never talks about it, he and Terri have since been able to become friendly for the sake of their daughter. Goldust has also moved on to a third wife, who he married in 2012.
7 Hulk Hogan
Once Hogan Knows Best debuted on VH1 in 2005, it was only a manner of time before the beast that is reality TV overtook the Bollea family’s lives in some scandalous way. Sure enough, within two years of the show hitting the air, it was revealed Hogan cheated on his wife of 23 years, Linda Claridge, with one of his daughter Brooke’s best friends, while the two were working on Brooke’s debut album. Linda filed for divorce the month after Hogan Knows Best aired its last episode despite Hogan heavily denying the accusations. Judges seemed to agree with Linda and the rumors, leaving Hogan with only 30% of his assets once proceedings were final. According to his autobiography, Hogan was so downtrodden by the divorce he even considered suicide, only to get talked out of it by his friend, Laila Ali. Hogan eventually recovered emotionally if not financially, and remarried to Jennifer McDaniel in 2010.
6 The Undertaker
Twilight be damned, undead zombies aren’t generally known for their love lives. Bikers going through a midlife crisis are a totally different story, though, Taker married his first wife Jodi Lynn before he started dancing with the devil, back in 1989. The two stayed together for 10 years and had one son, Gunner, born in ’93. Undertaker met a woman named Sara Frank some time in the late ‘90s, leading to a divorce from his first wife and a second marriage to Sara in 2000. The couple had two children and Taker tattooed Sara’s wife on his neck in tribute. The divorces on this list are all painful, but in terms of actual physical pain, getting that ink removed has got to be one of the worst side affects of divorce faced by a wrestler. He needed to get rid of it once the relationship ended in 2007, around the same time The Undertaker started seeing Michelle McCool. It was only a manner of months before Taker married McCool, although this time he was smart enough not to get any painful tattoos to celebrate the fact.
5 Kurt Angle
The wrestling industry can be blamed in some ways for the breakups of most relationships on this list and yet the Angle family have an especially strong case considering how quickly things fell apart after Karen became involved in the business. Kurt was one of the most amazing success stories imaginable, transitioning from an amateur career as an Olympic Gold Medalist into a run as one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history in a manner of months. He married Karen Smeadley the same month he signed with WWE, although she wouldn’t make her debut until nine years later, at which point Kurt was working for TNA. Their on screen storyline mostly saw the couple fight and it wasn’t long before that fighting spread off screen, and they divorced in October of 2008. Very soon after, Karen started dating Jeff Jarrett, who she married two years later. Though TNA initially punished Jarrett for the relationship, Kurt didn’t seem to have any problem turning it into a storyline yet again when he and Jarrett feuded in 2011. Angle has since remarried as well, to actress Giovanna Yannotti.
A spurned lover probably feels like there’s no excuse for cheating, but sometimes we understand that the heart wants what it wants and not all relationships on this list were meant to last, so sometimes the transgressions in the very least make sense in retrospect. The actions of Batista are at least a little less forgivable, considering his long suffering wife was battling ovarian cancer while he repeatedly took advantage of her trust. Batista’s first marriage was to a woman named Glenda years before his wrestling career, followed by a second marriage to Angie in 1998. He and Angie stayed together for eight years, during which time Batista started his wrestling career. Also during this time, Batista was linked with co-workers Melina Perez, Kelly Kelly, and Rosa Mendes, all while still married to Angie. Amazingly, he and Angie still get along, and have made videos together to contribute to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. He remarried for the third time to a dancer named Sarah Jade.
Considering his long awaited breakout as a main event star came concurrent with a real life affair with his best friend’s girlfriend, maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that Edge showed up on this list, but his relationship ending normally gets lost in the mix. Edge was actually in the midst of his second marriage during the scandal with Lita and Matt Hardy, and his time with Lita wouldn’t last long, either. His first marriage started in 2001 to Alannah Morley, notable to wrestling fans as the sister of Val Venis. The relationship lasted until 2004, the same year he married his second wife, Lisa Ortiz. It was while married to Ortiz that Edge started his relationship with Lita, resulting in his second divorce just like it did her split from Hardy. Despite the highly public affair, Lita and Edge split up a few years later and Edge’s love life quieted down. Eight years later, he began dating Beth Phoenix, with whom he has since had two children. Edge and Phoenix married in 2016, thus far without the scandals of his previous relationships.
2 John Cena
As the ultimate good guy in pro wrestling today, the idea of John Cena turning heel is so unlikely he’s even cracked wise about it in the middle of a WWE ring. The one area in which Cena isn’t the preeminent goody two shoes was his love life, especially his short-lived and tumultuous marriage to Elizabeth Huberdeau. The two were married in 2009, only to finalize their divorce three years later. Despite having signed a pre-nuptial agreement, Elizabeth still felt jilted and jaded by Cena, who she alleged cheated on her repeatedly throughout the marriage. Cena countered things fell apart as the two attempted to remodel their house, which is cited as one of the leading causes for divorce in America. Kenny Dykstra and online rumors would agree with Elizabeth, claiming Cena was also in a relationship with Mickie James around this time. Whether he was dating anyone else at the time or not is unclear, but Cena definitely moved on from Elizabeth in a manner of months after the divorce, as he has been linked to Nikki Bella since November 2012.
1 Kevin Sullivan
Most divorced women would probably argue their ex-husbands were responsible for things falling apart. Ironically, while most wrestling fans would think Kevin Sullivan is the superstar who most definitively proves this trope, he later revealed his ex-wife Nancy might have had more of a role in the split than anyone realized. The story goes that Sullivan caused his divorce while booking WCW by writing a feud between himself and Chris Benoit over Nancy’s affections, which bled into real life when Nancy legitimately left Kevin for Chris. This isn’t far from the truth, although it leaves out the fact Nancy allegedly suggested the idea. Sullivan was still responsible for the specifics, which included videos of Benoit and Nancy snuggling and going out on dates, something Kevin himself was apparently neglecting to do. Sullivan and Nancy were divorced in 1997 and she became engaged to Benoit later that year. Sadly, the way that relationship ended was a tragedy impossible to compare with mere divorce.
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