Wrestling is a rough business for families. It’s rather remarkable that one of the longest lasting relationships ever has been the marriage of Vince and Linda McMahon. When someone is on the road for nearly 300 days out of the year (barring injuries), it puts a lot of pressure on a marriage. It also means a lot of temptations as even guys like Bret Hart are open about cheating while on the road and the use of drugs is also a danger. But some relationships go the extra mile and turn downright horrible for those involved. Some started great and then ended badly while others were just offbeat at the start and got worse as it went along.
These are relationships that ruined marriages and even lives and some ended in true tragedy. Some can make you laugh in a dark way but others just make you feel sad or horrified at what happened. There are a lot of relationships that broke down but few got as horrifyingly bad as these did, with massive damage all around and they were just downright toxic. Here are the 15 real life wrestling relationships that caused the most damage to those involved and show how the business often exacts a very harsh price from those in it.
15 Brooke Tessmacher and Robbie E
After starting off as just a valet, Brooke Tessmacher soon took off as a fantastic wrestler, reigning as TNA Knockouts champion several times. Robbie E was getting a push for his act as a goofball New Jersey guy and the two were soon hooking up despite how Robbie was married for a time. According to reports, their relationship was actually cooling down when “The Amazing Race” heard about them and thought a wrestling couple would be a fun thing for the show. So the two kept up the partnership for the series and did well with it.
However, once it was done, they split up, this time for good and Robbie went back to his wife. They were soon taking potshots at each other on social media and it was quite awkward when TNA tried to pit them against each other in a terrible feud, showing how trying to put on a show for TV doesn’t make for a healthy relationship.
14 Hulk and Linda Hogan
For over two decades, the Hogans were one of the best relationships in wrestling. Hulk married Linda in 1983, just as he took off into mega-fame and stood together through children and his various changes. Linda didn’t take an on-screen role but enjoyed the success and hanging with Hogan through his rise as wrestling’s biggest star. It reached a height with the reality TV show “Hogan Knows Best” showing their quirky marriage and made Linda a star.
In 2007, however, the two would engage in a divorce that would make headlines. Linda accused Hogan of cheating on her multiple times, of his rampant steroid use and soon an infamous sex tape. It was ugly as hell with the battles in the courtroom and Hogan having to pay a hefty alimony with Linda writing a tell-all book revealing the darker sides of their marriage. Given Hogan’s rough stuff since (such as his racist remarks), some think Linda might be better off while others feel she’s just as bad as it takes two to ruin a relationship.
13 Melina and John Morrison
MNM were a breakout team in 2005 thanks to their style, good matches and especially Melina. With her great looks and her stunning split-leg ring entrance, Melina sparked the team to championship gold and herself to a good wrestling career. She and Morrison had been rumored to be together for a while and finally just came right out and admitted it. However, Melina’s attitude backstage could rub folks the wrong way, especially when she and Batista had a fling.
He claims in his book Morrison knew as they were “on a break” but reports abound that Batista was hardly the only guy Melina was cheating on Morrison with. Given her harsh attitude that would end up getting her dropped from the company, it’s likely Melina’s promiscuous reputation added to the heat against her. She and Morrison did date after both leaving WWE but are apparently broken up once more and show that “being open” might backfire on a relationship.
12 Mildred Burke and Billy Wolfe
Long before any of today’s female workers, Burke was doing her best to make women’s wrestling respectable. A great worker, Burke was a sensation, often wrestling men, gorgeous but skilled and it was thanks to her that women's wrestling was taken more seriously. She and manager Billy Wolfe were married but it would later be revealed that Wolfe was a womanizer who often took advantage of the women he promoted, trading favors for sex. It got too much for Burke and she filed for divorce in 1952. Wolfe responded by doing his best to blackball Burke from wrestling anywhere in the U.S., a ban she fought in legal channels in a very ugly situation.
Eventually, Burke wrestled Wolfe’s daughter-in-law, June Byers in a legitimate shoot match that ended in controversy with Burke thinking she’d won but Byers was hailed the victor. It was nasty and ugly and showed how “The Golden Age” of wrestling had plenty of tarnish to it.
11 Steve Austin and Debra
Debra had been married to Chicago Bears star Steve McMichael for years before she came to WCW and she soon caught the wrestling bug herself. In 1998, they had divorced with Debra moving to WWE and soon getting involved with a then-married Steve Austin. Austin divorced his wife and ended up with Debra, the two doing well together for a time. However, an ugly side came up with Austin’s temper and recovery from various injuries taking a toll.
In 2002, shortly after his infamous walkout on WWE, Austin was arrested for domestic abuse with Debra shown bearing bruises. They divorced with Debra accusing Austin of “roid rage” and multiple beatings and even accused WWE of covering the abuse up because of Austin’s fame. Given Austin’s temper and arrests since, many are willing to believe Debra despite her own ego, as a relationship featuring such abuse is never a healthy one.
10 Undertaker and Sara
When The Undertaker debuted, WWE was careful building up his mystique as this strange otherworldly guy, never showing him outside the ring. Even when he transformed into the tattooed “American Badass,” they still pushed his privacy. Which was why many fans were surprised when in 2001, it was revealed Taker had a wife, Sara, who was “stalked” by Diamond Dallas Page. She would join The Deadman for a bit in storylines but vanished in 2001. The talk was that she was upset about 'Taker cheating on her while on the road and their conflicts grew more and more. They finally divorced with part of the agreement that Taker would have to get a tattoo of her name removed from his body. Taker would go on to marry Michelle McCool and Sara faded away as Undertaker is willing to erase part of his body rather than remember this marriage.
9 Kurt Angle and Karen Angle
It’s never a good idea to bring your wife into a wrestling program and Kurt Angle found that out the hard way. He and Karen had been married since 1998, long before Kurt’s rise to fame and their relationship was said to be a good one despite his constant touring and injuries. When Kurt came to TNA, he brought Karen along and soon had her involved in his feuds. According to reports, Karen wasn’t happy with Kurt’s tendency to get into drinking and painkillers to deal with injuries and his rather harsh treatment at times.
They had a separation that took place during a time where Kurt and Jeff Jarrett were feuding with Karen put in the middle. Before long, life imitated art as Karen and Jarrett were soon together and Angle trashed Jarrett constantly. The Angles divorced as Karen ended up marrying Jarrett and many speculate Kurt was never the same with TNA after that. Just goes to show that if you try to push your wife off on a guy on screen, don’t be surprised if it happens for real.
8 Randy Savage and Elizabeth
When Savage joined WWE in 1985, he brought the idea of his real life wife Elizabeth coming on as his manager. The original idea was for her as a hidden vixen but as fans responded to her beauty, that was shifted to Savage possessive and jealous of anyone going after her. As it happened, that wasn’t too far from the truth as Savage was seriously out to hurt anyone he saw going after Elizabeth even if it was just a simple talk. Indeed, the feud between Savage and Hulk Hogan was fueled by Savage feeling Hogan and wife Linda were trying to turn Elizabeth against him and Savage’s roids-fueled rant and short temper hardly helped. They did mend it a bit in 1991 for an on-screen wedding but in late 1992, announced their divorce for real. They worked together briefly in WCW but tensions still there as both would meet sadly too-early deaths. On television, it was one of the great romances of wrestling but it sure didn’t work out that way in real life.
7 Edge/Lita/Matt Hardy
It’s the relationship that changed so many careers for WWE. For years, Amy Dumas and Matt Hardy had been a great couple both on and off screen as part of “Team Extreme” and helping push each other well. When Matt was out due to injury in early 2005, he discovered that Amy had been cheating on him with Adam Copeland aka Edge. Given Edge and Matt were good friends, this was naturally a huge betrayal. Matt took to social media to spread the news and the fanbase erupted as fans trashed Lita and Edge for their behavior.
Matt’s antics would get him fired while this was finally the spark needed to turn Edge into a massive heel star. Matt would return for a feud but it was clear the real-life bad blood was too much to overcome as the matches were rough and had too much brawling. Lita would “slut it up” a bit for antics while she and Edge took off before eventually breaking up. It put Edge on top as a superstar while showing off one of the biggest cases ever of real life intruding on screen in recent wrestling history.
6 Jerry Lawler and the Kat
“The King” is well known for going after ladies younger than himself and Stacy Carter fit that bill. Already twice divorced, Lawler met Stacy Carter in 1989 to begin a long-term relationship. They got married in 2000 as Lawler pushed for Stacy to join WWE as The Kat. She became infamous for bits like stripping on a live PPV and other antics but she and Lawler did well together. As 2001 began, they had a feud of Lawler defending her from the Right to Censor but then Stacy was fired for some backstage altercations.
In protest, Lawler also walked, a big deal as he was a very popular commentator. After giving up his beloved job for his wife, Lawler was naturally devastated to discover Stacy had been cheating on him for some time. They divorced as a humbled Lawler returned to WWE. He’s had issues over the years but this was a showcase for how even “The King” couldn’t make his marriage work.
5 X-Pac and Chyna
From her start in WWE, Chyna had been with Triple H but was devastated when she found out he and Stephanie McMahon were seeing each other for real. Chyna went to Vince to complain and came home to find her termination letter waiting. Chyna was soon hooking up with X-Pac which led to their infamous “One Night in China” sex tape being released. The duo were soon involved in a harsh relationship with Chyna accusing Sean Waltman of assault, drug use and even attempted rape. Waltman would deny the charges in various interviews and slam Chyna as delusional and being a drug addict. They actually got back together but split again and the fights between them were even harsher.
This included Chyna doing a radio interview talking about Waltman liking men and an irate Waltman called in to lambaste her. Waltman would express true sadness when Chyna died in 2016 that their friendship was ruined and that their own actions may have contributed to her downfall.
4 Beth Phoenix and CM Punk
Punk has been reported to have hooked up with numerous ladies, including Lita. He keeps his mouth silent about them, preferring to keep things private…unless it’s Beth Phoenix. In which case, Punk is totally open on how much he dislikes the “Glamazon.” They seemed to be a good couple for a time in WWE, including a famous bit where Punk gave her a GTS at the 2010 Royal Rumble. But they had a rather ugly breakup as Punk has slammed Phoenix as a “flake” and a “d----bag.” He heavily implied Phoenix was one of those women who just wanted a boyfriend and didn’t care who it was and that she was even bad in bed. For her part, Phoenix refuses to discuss the relationship and is now married to Adam Copeland while Punk is with AJ Lee but this showed how rough a good relationship can get for two people.
3 Kevin Sullivan and Nancy Benoit
Sullivan was a good worker and booker but more infamous for having a rather twisted temper. He and Nancy Benoit had hooked up in Florida when Sullivan was first doing his “Devil Worshipper” bit and their relationship was notable for some backstage stuff involving S&M and some rather twisted “gags” on other workers. Sullivan brought her to WCW where Nancy gained fame as Woman, the tough manager for Doom and soon was hanging with Sullivan and later the Four Horsemen.
She also had a great run in ECW before joining Sullivan again in WCW. As part of his feud with Chris Benoit, Sullivan had Benoit “winning” Woman and, a believer in kayfabe, encouraged them to spend time together for real. That led to the two having a real affair which ended up making the feud into a real one. It also led to Sullivan and Benoit hating each other’s guts, a key reason Benoit walked out on the company in 2000 when Sullivan took over as booker. In the end, of course, Nancy would have a harsh fate and this relationship was just the first step to that painful road.
2 Lex Luger and Elizabeth
Luger's always been full of controversy due to his past drug use. When Elizabeth joined WCW in 1996, she and Luger hit it off and despite Luger being married, the two were engaging in an affair. Luger supposedly broke it off but it kept up even as WCW suffered its slow collapse. Elizabeth herself would fall into some bad habits with Luger as the two were partying hard together in 2003 despite how Luger was arrested for domestic violence against her. Just days later, they were pulled over with Luger being drunk and police discovered a handgun in the car while Elizabeth was still with him.
Just weeks later, they were drinking and mixing painkillers when Elizabeth passed out. Luger rushed her to the hospital but it was too late as she was dead at only 42. Luger was arrested for drug possession, his wife divorced him and he’s basically been persona non grata among wrestling fans since. It's a shame such a beautiful lady had to come to such a harsh end.
1 Chris Benoit and Nancy
This has to top the list. For all his great accomplishments in the ring, Benoit will always be remembered first and foremost for the most shameful act the business has ever known. In retrospect, the signs were there with his short temper and taking so many hits to the head. But most ignored that because of Benoit’s utter brilliance in the ring and giving his all to the business. He and Nancy seemed to be a great couple, with no reports of conflict and Benoit was considered a good father as well. He was riding high in WWE, with runs as World and US champion and plans to make him ECW Champion as well.
That made it all the more shocking when news of his death broke in June of 2007. At first WWE gave him a tribute on RAW but then the word came that Benoit had killed Nancy, their son and then himself and instantly made himself the most reviled man in wrestling history. Reports have come now of conflict between them, signs that should have been recognized but were ignored until it was too late. It’s a shame Benoit’s legacy will always be overshadowed by his horrific end and that he took his family with him in the most shameful downfall imaginable.