We’ve all seen couples in our lives who were destined to fail. Sometimes people are too different and other times they’re tool alike. Sometimes one member of the relationship is clearly out of others league, and everyone can see it (except, perhaps, the people involved in the relationship themselves). Some couples come together at the wrong time—or at just the right time to only work in the short run, but not to really stand a chance at making a long term relationship work.
Relationships of this nature are a part of life, and figures from the professional wrestling world are no exception. Whether it’s a backstage hook up that didn’t work in the long term, or a marriage broken by the business, the wrestling world doesn’t exactly lend itself to the relationships that go distance. After all, it is a business that involves constant travel, always having to stay in shape, and a cut throat culture of competition in which so few stars stay consistently employed by the same company over the long term.
Some of these relationships falling apart are a matter of the personalities involved not being built to weather the long haul as a couple. Others might seem like they have potential but a combination of circumstances mean they’re ultimately destined for failure. This article takes a look back through time over the last twenty five years to relationships that were doomed from the beginning, and as you might expect, did not ultimately go the distance.
15 Sunny and Chris Candido
Sunny and Chris Candido were high school sweethearts when Candido decided to embark on a career in professional wrestling. Sunny would follow him, and though they would work separately at times, their careers were inevitably intertwined, and the pair rose to national recognition via their work for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling before they signed with WWE and were rebranded as The Bodydonnas.
The couple was young, talented, and committed to wrestling, all of which suggested things could have worked out for them. However, Sunny wound up being too hot of a commodity for the long term good of the relationship. WWE began marketing her as a sex symbol, and Sunny would end up being involved with a number of other wrestlers. As she’s indicated in shoot interviews, Candido was aware of her hooking up with other men, including Shawn Michaels, and was so committed to her that he was willing to tolerate her having other partners as long as she didn’t leave him for good. That’s not exactly a healthy dynamic for a relationship. Candido passed tragically, but you have to imagine things wouldn’t have worked out well for the on-off couple had he lived on.
14 Steve Austin And Debra
Debra was introduced to the world of professional wrestling when her husband, former NFL defensive tackle Steve McMichael, signed on with WCW and transitioned from color commentator to in-ring talent. She would manage McMichael and others in the ring, but after their divorce, made her way over to WWE to resume managing duties there, and to wind up in a couple with Steve Austin.
Austin was, at this time, transitioning from extremely talented mid-card mechanic, to one of the most over acts in professional wrestling history. The pressures of full-blown crossover stardom, combined with neck issues, combined with a drinking problem didn’t exactly make Austin a prime candidate to be a partner in a healthy relationship. The two were married for a time but in the divorce, Debra spoke openly about his abuse of alcohol, his anger issues, and accusations that he had physically abused her. The two would divorce in 2003, and Austin now seems to be a better in place in retirement from the ring, happily remarried to his new wife Kristin who makes regular appearances on his podcast. At eight years and counting, it’s the longest of his four marriages to date.
13 Jerry Lawler And The Kat
Jerry Lawler was already a wrestling legend who had transitioned from full-time wrestling to spending more time on color commentary when he married Stacy Carter, better known as Attitude Era star, The Kat. Lawler was 21 years older and the two of them were in very different stages of their lives and careers. Those close to the couple purportedly had misgivings about the couple, starting with Lawler leaving his marriage to pursue the relationship, and later questioning Lawler’s choice to quit his job with WWE when they released The Kat.
In the end, The Kat would break Lawler’s heart when she left him the summer of 2001. They each traveled very separate roads as Lawler returned to the fold with WWE and has been featured off and on, most recently as a special guest color commentator and panelist as he’s needed. The Kat left the wrestling business for the most part, though she did wind up marrying an independent wrestler years later.
12 Triple H And Chyna
Triple H and Chyna came together at a key time in each of their professional careers. According to the Thy Kingdom Come WWE documentary about Hunter, he and Shawn Michaels identified Chyna when she was a fitness model as an optimal choice to play Helmsley’s new on air bodyguard. She had the physical presence to pull off the role, and being a woman guaranteed extra heat for Triple H having her fight his battles.
The pair would get over as top attractions, knocking on the door of the main event together. However, they weren’t built to last. Whether it was his ambitions, or his feelings, Triple H would end up leaving Chyna behind in pursuit of Stephanie McMahon, which led him to ultimately marry into the McMahon family. Chyna, meanwhile, left WWE on less than stellar terms. According to Jim Ross, the company offered her a new deal, but she made exorbitant salary demands that seemed like she didn’t really expect WWE to honor and thus left the company. While Triple H would go on to enter the short list of top WWE stars of all time, and most powerful executives in the wrestling world, Chyna would struggle with substance abuse and emotional issues, taking a detour into adult entertainment. While she seemed to have cleaned up her act to a fair degree, she nonetheless passed away at the age 46, still on the outs with the WWE organization.
11 Chris Benoit and Woman
Chris Benoit and Woman are an unlikely case of life imitating art. Woman’s husband, Kevin Sullivan, was the creative head for WCW off and on throughout the 1990s and one of his angles saw his wife leave him for Benoit. Sullivan purportedly pushed them to act like a couple, including holding hands, to really convince fans of the angle. The act got a little too good as Benoit and Woman wound up dating for real. She ultimately left Sullivan and married Benoit.
A relationship that starts in this chaotic fashion doesn’t necessarily seem like a good sign. Though the two were by all appearances happy for a time and had a son together, in the long term things didn’t turn out so well. As it made national news at the time, Benoit, likely as a result of long-term head injuries, would ultimately kill his wife and child before committing suicide.
10 Goldust And Terri Runnels
From his book Cross Rhodes, when Goldust first got together with Terri Runnels, his father didn’t approve. Things came to a head when the younger Rhodes backed out of golfing with his dad when Runnels was sick, which led to a falling out and the two not speaking for years. In the interim, Goldust and Runnels would end up leaving WCW for WWE where they arguably each attained their greatest fame.
In the end, Runnels and Goldust had a child and wound up divorcing after six years of marriage. Runnels has claimed that Dusty spread bad rumors about her, but all parties seem to agree that they get along better in the aftermath of the divorce and after Goldust and his dad wound up reconciling.
9 John Cena And Mickie James
John Cena and Mickie James never had a well publicized relationship, and a lot of that has to do with the two of them not being an official couple per se. On the contrary, Cena was still married to his first wife and James was involved in a relationship with Kenny from The Spirit Squad.
Infidelity rarely leads to long term happiness in a relationship, and sure enough, by most accounts, Cena would end up jilting James and send her packing for SmackDown to downplay the difficult interpersonal elements of touring with the same brand. Kenny purportedly took the worst of it as rumors suggest that Cena used his still relatively new political clout to bury the rising heel talent before he had a real opportunity to realize his potential.
8 Matt Hardy And Lita
While many of the couple featured in this article seemed like poor fits or got together under questionable circumstances, things were less clearly problematic for Matt Hardy and Lita at the outset. They were young, exciting talents for WWE, each hungry for success, and when WWE plugged them together as an on screen act, they did complement each other nicely with Hardy and his brother providing a platform for Lita to be more featured as part of the cool Team Extreme, and Lita adding some flair and sex appeal to the brothers’ act.
Unfortunately, with being young, traveling a lot, and working with a variety of talent, can come complications. When Hardy was on the shelf for an injury, Lita got closer with mutual friend Edge. Details are fuzzy about if Lita and Edge actually had an affair, if Edge’s feelings toward her were one-sided, or they just got really close emotionally without actually crossing any lines physically. Regardless, the story goes that Hardy found text messages from Edge to Lita that sent him into a jealous spiral and ruined their relationship. The matter played out with Hardy first getting legitimately fired to avoid him causing a scene backstage, then getting resigned to play out the drama of the broken relationship and friendship for the WWE audience.
7 Bram And Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair and Bram got together in WWE’s developmental system and wound up married in 2013. While both are talented athletes, they were unfortunately on very different career trajectories. While Bram was released before ever making it to the main roster and went on to star on the indies and for TNA, Flair became one of the top featured players on NXT before moving up to WWE’s main roster where she arrived as a champion and the first woman to ever win a PPV main event.
As Flair really began to take off, problems arose in the marriage. Bram was reportedly arrested for domestic battery involving another woman whom local media identified as his girlfriend. Bram and Flair wound up finalizing their divorce a couple months later.
6 Sable And Marc Mero
Marc Mero signed a big money deal to jump from WCW to WWE. The company seemed to see big things in him as he notoriously got a much higher first salary than contemporaries like Steve Austin and Triple H. He got to bring his wife Sable along, too, to play his valet.
In an unexpected turn, Sable’s star would outshine Mero’s and by a significant degree. She was over from the start as a beautiful woman, but would become an Attitude Era icon when WWE started an angle of Mero gradually turning heel by bullying her, and Sable ultimately standing up to both Mero and her more straightforward heel antagonists of the time. While Mero receded more firmly into the mid-card, Sable arguably became one of the top five most over stars in the company, just behind tip-top players like Austin and The Rock.
The two would wind up staying together until 2004, when they divorced. Sable would wind up dating Brock Lesnar shortly thereafter, and married him in 2006.
5 Seth Rollins And Zahra Schreiber
Seth Rollins and Zahra Schreiber rode an unusual wave of anonymity and scandal in their relationship. Rollins was engaged to another woman when the two of them got together (presumably when they were both in WWE’s developmental system, though, understandably, the details of the timeline are sketchy). Prior to making the main roster, both were known to hardcore fans, but still relatively anonymous to the public.
Rollins exploded onto the main roster, first as part of the popular Shield trio, then as a solo star. Things took a turn when Rollins’s Twitter account posted a provocative picture of Schreiber—it’s still unclear if he may have been hacked or made a mistake. Regardless, given his celebrity, the post was widely scene and automatically transmitted to the Twitter feed on the WWE homepage for millions of fans to potentially access it. Rollins’s fiancée responded by posting a nude photo of him to her Twitter.
The cat was out of the bag that Rollins and Schreiber were together, and under tumultuous circumstances. He stuck with her even when WWE released her over social media posts that included swastikas (there was an anti-Semitic implication; Schreiber claimed there was a different context of reclamation behind her images). However, in early 2016 word leaked that they’d split up. Neither had much to publicly say about it.
4 AJ Lee And Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal has become a top star of the indies who did well for himself in TNA and arguably reached his peak (to date) as a long reigning ROH Champion. He was also responsible for dating AJ Lee, whom he wound up dating.
It turned out Lethal and Lee were on different career paths. Lethal became one of the most recognizable stars not affiliated with WWE (particularly after NXT started snatching up top indie talent and Lethal still didn’t come over). Lee, however, wound up getting her big break with WWE at a young age, arriving as one of the company’s top female stars, and then retiring before the age of thirty. These paths were largely incompatible and Lee wound up married to CM Punk, another top WWE talent (albeit an indie-bred one) who wound up retiring early.
3 Sean Waltman And Chyna
When one of your best buddies breaks it off with an unstable woman, it’s a questionable choice to pursue a relationship with her yourself. Just the same, that’s the choice Sean Waltman—best known in the ring as X-Pac—made when he decided to engage in a relationship with Chyna.
Of course, Chyna may not have been making the best choice herself, associating with a guy who was known to have his own substance abuse problems. Collectively, the two weren’t the best for one another and their exploits included taping a themselves having sex to sell as a pornographic video, as well as a domestic violence issue when Chyna purportedly battered Waltman.
The couple ultimately dissolved. Sadly, Chyna would pass away just as she, from an outside perspective, seemed to be getting her life together. Waltman would survive and seems relatively clean now and has been working the podcast circuit and making occasional appearances for WWE while maintaining a regular schedule of appearances still wrestling for indie promotions.
2 CM Punk And Beth Phoenix
CM Punk cultivated a bit of reputation as a philanderer backstage during his time with WWE (as well as his time in wrestling before that). As part of the WWE locker room, he dated women including Maria Kanellis, Lita, and ultimately AJ Lee whom he wound up marrying. Along the way, the was also involved with Beth Phoenix.
The Phoenix relationship stands out because of the contrast in personalities between the outspoken Punk and the relatively private Phoenix. After they split, Punk made a number of unflattering comments about Phoenix, including that she was way more into him than he was into her and that she was bad in bed. Phoenix, characteristically, has stayed mum about the personal matter. There was some speculation last spring that Phoenix’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, while not undeserved, may have included an element of management taking a jab at Punk through the ex whom he’s clearly not on good terms with.
1 Randy Savage And Miss Elizabeth
When you talk about pro wrestling love stories, few come close to rivaling Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth on screen or off. While Savage was a phenomenal talent in the ring and on the mic, his pairing with Elizabeth added an emotional urgency to him as a wrestler that pushed him from star to all-time great legend—I’d argue he was never more compelling than when he was defending or avenging Elizabeth, sometimes as a jealous heel, sometimes as a white knight face.
The Savage-Elizabeth story was, unfortunately, in many ways similar in real life, which set them up for failure in the long run. Savage was reportedly fiercely protective over Elizabeth. While Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo, has argued against relatively extreme claims, there remain a number of wrestlers who claim that he’d constantly stick to her side backstage and go so far as to lock her into private dressing rooms when he couldn’t be with her to keep other wrestlers from potentially getting at her. Whether Elizabeth got fed up with this kind of behavior, the two had other issues, or simply grew apart, Elizabeth and Savage divorced in real life in the early 1990s. Savage addressed the point briefly in an odd moment of breaking news for WWE Magazine. Though the two would be posed as a couple again in WCW, and then enemies when Elizabeth turned heel on him, the two were purely colleagues at that point.
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