Professional wrestling may be one of the great American forms of entertainment (even though it was more-or-less invented in France), capable of telling many types of stories. But, for the most part, nobody has figured out how to tell an effective wrestling love story.
Most of the time, when a pair of wrestlers hook up in a storyline, the scenario’s played up for laughs, an awkward attempt to utilize a real world situation or dumb soap opera tropes. The closest WWE’s ever come to an authentic, earnest romance tale was “The Macho Man” Randy Savage wedding Miss Elizabeth - and even then, their ceremony was ruined when Jake Roberts attacked.
The most recent instance that pops to mind - the love square between Rusev, Lana, Dolph Ziggler, and Summer Rae - was sort of the worst of the previously mentioned three worlds. Rumor has it WWE creative got mad at Lana for announcing her engagement to Rusev - her in-character ex and enemy at the time - on social media. Maybe that wasn’t the most tactful move in the world, but nonetheless, the writers should’ve thanked Lana for ruining an angle that had already dragged on for too long and never quite started resonating.
Could WWE ever pull off a love story that wasn’t a joke or a farce? Hard to say. But in the past, pretty much every onscreen couple or fling in mainstream wrestling has been abnormal, in one aspect or another. This is such a sampling - in no particular order - of some of the quirkiest we could think of.
19 Stephanie McMahon and Test
This one mostly only seems weird in retrospect. Like, remember when Stephanie McMahon played a fairly bland, wholesome 22-year-old who couldn’t act very well? At the time, it was difficult to envision her growing up into the powerful individual in the entire professional wrestling industry. And yet, here we are. Funny how things work out sometimes! Andrew “Test” Martin was considerably more talented than many fans gave him credit for, but at least he got to play a primary role in one of the Attitude Era’s most memorable storylines - his courtship of Stephanie McMahon put him at odds with Shane McMahon and the Mean Street Posse on numerous occasions.
18 Kane and Tori
For a supposedly deformed, socially-stunted, Big Red Machine who only knows how to beat people up and make fire appear out of nowhere, Kane has had a surprisingly busy love life. He’s made out with Terri Runnels and AJ Lee on camera, and we also know he had a long-term girlfriend named Katie Vick who will never, ever, ever get mentioned on WWE TV ever again. Ever. But his first major onscreen romance was with Terri “Tori” Poch. Tori eventually dumped Kane for X-Pac. Her character apparently had a fetish for unconventional looking, monosyllabic guys.
17 Kane and Lita
Until things started getting weird towards the end, Tori and Kane’s thing seemed cute and harmless. Such was not the case with Kane’s kidnapping, implied sexual assault, and forced impregnation of Lita back in 2004. The multi-time Women’s Champion and Hall of Famer, admired by young women worldwide, developed Stockholm syndrome and learned to love Kane after he triumphed in a “‘Till Death Do Us Part” match in which she was forced to marry the winner. Fortunately, getting booked like a literal trophy and agency-less baby factory made Amy Dumas so furious, she briefly lost her common sense and started shoot sleeping with Edge. The ensuing fallout between her, Edge, and Dumas' real life boyfriend Matt Hardy made tons of noise, allowing us to gracefully forget about this thoroughly loathsome storyline.
16 Edge and Lita
Okay, let’s say you just won the WWE World Title. You’ve fulfilled a childhood dream, years and years of hard work have paid off. You’re feeling pretty good about your life, right? Would you ever under these circumstances think, “To commemorate this occasion, I will perform a sezual act on live television, thereby putting my job and new status in the company in serious peril! I'm risking it all because I’ve just started a relationship with a woman who cut ties with her previous longterm boyfriend about a week ago, and therefore, almost certainly won’t stick with me for longer than six months or so!” Unless you’re a very abnormal and not very smart person, no, you would not think to do that thing.
15 Vickie Guerrero and Edge
The way the La Familia angle was presented, fans were asked to believe Edge was using Guerrero, then Smackdown General Manager, to protect his WWE title or make it easier for him to win it back. In order for the fiction to make sense, we had to overlook the fact that Vickie became General Manager after Teddy Long’s kayfabe heart attack forced him to relinquish the position - a circumstance neither Guerrero or Edge could’ve possibly foreseen, much less created. Also, we were supposed to accept Vickie Guerrero as physically unappealing - which was confusing for the WWE universe, as she was in her 30s and in good enough shape to pose for bikini photos.
14 Rusev and Lana/Summer Rae
We don’t mean to insult Miroslav Barnyashev, who’s popular with the ladies for reasons we easily understand. But we don’t get why his character, Rusev, appears to have equal magnetism. He’s in a bad mood most of the time. Compared to most of his fellow wrestlers who shave off their body hair, he’s a walking carpet. He never wears shoes. And women usually love shoes! Nonetheless, Rusev has managed to woo at least two sought after young ladies - Lana and Summer Rae. Do Lana and Summer Rae also hate shoes? Is the notion that all women love shoes a misleading stereotype? Such appears to be the case.
13 AJ Lee and John Cena
Of all the onscreen flings AJ Lee had during her WWE run: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, probably one or two more we’re forgetting about - John Cena made the least sense. It’s kind of hard to imagine a meat ‘n potatoes, vanilla dude who probably wants to vote for Jeb Bush like Cena making a go of it alongside an outspoken feminist, possible vegan, and apparently huge X-Men fan who wanted to be Lita when she grew up. Even their onscreen kiss looked a little forced and awkward.
12 The Blue Meanie and Jasmine St. Claire
Anyone who doubts that “true love” is never difficult or complicated need only look to The Blue Meanie and Jasmine St. Claire’s relationship to know that just because two people are apparently destined for each other, that doesn’t mean it will work out in the end. There’s something kinda beautifully perfect about a “successful” wrestler best known for bad dancing and a C+ moonsault, dating an adult actress who owes her fame to deceptive editing that made 10 men look like a record-breaking 350 in her breakthrough video. Meanie and St. Clair's onscreen romance might’ve lasted longer had the original ECW stayed in business. Their offscreen romance ended in 2005, much to the chagrin of hopeless romantics everywhere.
11 Raven and Kimona Wanalaya
This pairing didn’t work out for two major reasons. The first: Raven was obviously just using Kimona as a rebound girl, while remaining highly distraught over Beulah McGillicutty leaving him for Tommy Dreamer. The second: Kimona probably didn’t mind Raven’s neglect all that much, as she was partaking in a clandestine relationship with, ironically enough, Beulah McGillicutty. Soon, Raven lost Kimona and the ECW world title once and for all. All poor, devastated Raven had to console himself with were the hundreds of thousands of dollars and scores of loose women quickly thereafter made available to him as a new employee of the Turner Broadcasting System.
10 Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan
Buh Buh Ray Dudley/Bully Ray and Hulk Hogan’s only daughter were like two ships crossing in a night of disappointment and lowered expectations. Ray - at one point in his career, positioned as the breakout singles star of the Dudley Boyz - had been saddled with a silly-sounding name in TNA, a slowly-tanking attempt to compete with his old bosses at WWE. Brooke Hogan’s music career had lately collapsed, alongside her status as a bonafide reality show star. Like many paramours brought together by their own hard luck, the relationship dissolved as soon as circumstances started looking up for one of them. Ray became TNA World Champion and revealed himself as the president of Aces and Eights. The bloated heel faction was an exceptionally bad angle, even by TNA standards, but at least Ray got to be president of something.
10. Daniel Bryan and The Bella Twins
Remember when Nikki and Brie Bella fought over Daniel Bryan, then realized he was kayfabe dating Gail Kim, and got ticked off at her? Do twin siblings feud over mutual romantic interests often in real life, or is that basically a weird male wish fulfillment scenario that plays out in TV, movies, and adult videos all the time? At any rate, Bryan and Brie Bella eventually got engaged, while Gail Kim went on to eliminate herself from a battle royal and pretty much got fired on purpose. Considering Kelly Kelly was the Diva’s Champion at the time, Kim was correct to say, in the words of the mighty Jim Cornette, “F@$% This Company.”
9 Trish Stratus and Jeff Hardy
Whatever your opinion may be of Jeff Hardy, we can all agree that he did not get famous for his promos. And that’s okay - neither could a lot of the all-time greats. That’s why they became wrestlers and not actors. It didn’t matter if Jeff Hardy was having a scripted conversation with his brother, Trish Stratus, Vince McMahon, Mike Tyson, or a puppy - he came off about as natural as an eleventh toe. Hence, his brief onscreen romance with Stratus was ill-advised. Watching it was akin to watching Stratus pretend to date a broom, or a mop, or something silly like that.
8 Saturn and Terri Runnels
After The Radicalz tandem went by the wayside, Perry Saturn needed a transition between his super serious alliance with Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and the Tainted One, and his upcoming coupling with Moppy the mop. Terri Runnels had managed and/or been an onscreen flame of nearly every wrestler active from the mid-’90s to the early ‘00s - thus providing a kind-of-ridiculous bridge for Saturn to cross before venturing forth into the realm of completely ridiculous. Following the emergence of Saturn’s new infatuation with Moppy, Terri became the new manager of Raven - whose legendary mic skills made managers unnecessary, yet he had several throughout his storied career.
7 Daffney and David Flair
There were major plausibility issues with this one. Obviously, a woman as near-supernaturally attractive and talented as Daffney could pretty much date anyone on the planet she felt like. Therefore, given the limitless options available to her, it was impossible to buy into the idea that she was especially enraptured with Ric Flair’s far less talented son. David Flair dropped out of wrestling after WCW folded and Wikipedia tells us he currently manages a wire business of some sort. Daffney never got to be as big of a star as she should’ve been, probably because everyone was jealous and wrestling doesn't know what's good for itself. Oooh, and also, screw TNA.
6 Mark Henry and Mae Young
Hopefully Mark Henry will get a Hall of Fame induction sometime down the line, because wow, he has put up with a loooooot of shenanigans during his extensive WWE career. His “Sexual Chocolate” persona came about when writers had too many ideas for Val Venis, yet insisted on using them all, even though many of them were very bad. If you don't remember how this story ends, Henry and Young dated for a while, the much older Young got pregnant, and gave birth to a hand. Well played WWE.
5 Chyna and Eddie Guerrero
Not unlike David Foster Wallace and Mary Karr, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, and any number of Hollywood power couples, professional jealousy caused massive problems in the courtship between Chyna and Eddie Guerrero. Even before Chyna caught Guerrero in a threesome with The Godfathers’ um, “helpers,” their squabbles over the Intercontinental title proved irreconcilable. Fortunately, Guerrero was married in the real world and Chyna didn’t know Triple H was sleeping with Stephanie McMahon on the side yet, so the end of their imaginary romance hardly devastated either individual.
4 Harvey Wippleman and Bertha Faye
Sometimes overlooked by women’s wrestling historians, the first ever Stampede Wrestling Women’s Champion Rhonda Sing fell victim to the same awful gimmick machine WWE used to ruin Shane Douglas, Tony Anthony, and countless others. The creative team morphed the erstwhile All-Japan ass kicker Monster Ripper into white trash comedy routine. Sing was a heavier than an average woman and therefore, as "Bertha Faye," hilarious to audiences in the ‘90s who were all jerks. Meanwhile, Wikipedia tells us she and kayfabe boyfriend Harvey Whippleman didn’t even like each other all that much.
3 Dawn Marie and Al Wilson
By 2003, Dawn Marie had gone from indie sensation to ECW star to the WWE. A person did not survive such a trip without substantial dedication to their craft. So what was strange about her time as the very provisional bride of Al Wilson - Tori Wilson’s father - wasn’t so much their age difference or the over-the-top soap opera element of the angle. It was watching Dawn Marie, a very talented and exceptionally well-versed performer, who’s also business savvy enough to realize she might never get this much screen time again, doing the best she could to pull off one of the most ludicrous piles of monkey droppings WWE creative ever saw fit to present on national television.
2 Vince McMahon and Trish Stratus
Out of concern for its fanbase's often highly troubling obesity rates, every now and again, WWE stages a storyline designed to prompt uncontrollable mass vomiting. One such angle was Vince McMahon’s on camera romance with Trish Stratus in the early ‘00s. As uncomfortable as it made us all watching Vince force Trish to bark like a dog whilst in her undergarments and on all fours, an entire arena full of fans were left up to their knees in each other’s stomach fluid after Vince announced that while Stephanie McMahon was “daddy’s little girl,” Stratus was “daddy’s little toy.”
1 Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Backstage might’ve been a different story, but in kayfabe, DX kidnapped The Billion Dollar Princess, drugged her, then forced her to marry Triple H while unconscious at a Las Vegas Drive-Thru Chapel. There is no plausible way such a union would be legal in the real world. In fact, the dawn of the McMahon/Helmsley relationship marks the first of many felonies Triple H has committed on television during his WWE career. Probably, he should go to jail.
Later, it was revealed that Steph herself masterminded the entire ruse to get revenge on her dad for letting The Undertaker traumatize her during his Ministry of Darkness campaign, which hardly makes the Trips/Steph onscreen union feel any less bizarre.