The world of entertainment and professional sports is littered with stories about broken homes and short marriages. On one hand, it is suggested that the schedule and life of a professional athlete is not conducive to establishing a solid home life. While an athlete’s spouse is at home, an athlete experiences the highs and lows of his or her professional life in virtual isolation, sometimes succumbing to the vices that present themselves on the road.
The world of wrestling is a bit different. Some wrestlers have been able to successfully negotiate to create opportunities to travel with their wives – often resulting in the couple becoming characters on television. Of course, this can create a whole other slate of challenges for relationships that can be equally difficult to navigate, as you will soon learn.
The following list showcases 20 professional wrestling couples – some which have endured the test of time and others which have suffered the predestined fate that seems to be written for celebrity marriages. Maybe you’re familiar with some of these wrestling couples who share a common connection through the "squared circle."
Check out how 20 of your favorite real-life wrestling couples have fared in the unpredictable world of wrestling.
20 “Exotic” Adrian Street
Long before Goldust was making audiences squeamish in the WWE with his Goldust character and the cigar-smoking Marlena in his corner as the director, “Exotic” Adrian Street was prancing through taboo territory on the independent scene and creating a memorable legacy with his soon-to-be-wife Linda at his side. Originally from England, Street had laid a solid foundation for his ring career, but it wasn’t until he came to America, donned flowery and colorful ring gear, feather boas and elaborate robes, and portrayed himself as an effeminate homosexual that he broke through as a marquee attraction that promoters wanted to have in their territory.
Together, the couple not only made a mark for themselves as wrestlers, but also recorded two albums, appeared in Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and then later launched a successful wrestling apparel business from their home in Florida. The couple remains together even to this day, and were finally married in 2005 after decades of partnership.
19 Jerry Lawler
One of the most dramatic situations in the storeyed career of Jerry “The King” Lawler came about when the WWE elected to release his wife Stacy “The Kat” Carter from her contract. Though Lawler was an embedded fixture in the company as a member of the broadcast team and an occasional attraction between the ropes, Jerry walked out of his job to stand by his wife. Up until that point, the two had been separate on WWE programming, though they were frequently visible together for independent appearances and autograph signings.
The marriage -- like Lawler’s protest -- was doomed, as not long after the release, Carter ended the relationship. Lawler returned to action in the WWE, mending relationships with Vince McMahon and has remained a fixture of the company in the years since. Though Lawler has been married on multiple occasions, his relationship with Carter marked a rare instance in which life and work intersected.
WWE fans may remember the ghoulish Gangrel as a featured character in the WWE’s Attitude Era, partnered with Edge and Christian as The Brood upon their respective debuts. Gangrel had been signed along with his wife, Luna Vachon, and while their interactions together on screen were somewhat limited, they were included in a feature about wrestling couples on the WWE roster during that era.
Gangrel and Luna had actually toured the roads on the independents together for several years as a duo, creating a stir in almost every promotion in which they appeared. Their ascent in the industry was out of sync with each other. Luna received her first WWE opportunity in 1992. By the time Gangrel got the call in 1998, Luna had been released due to a backstage confrontation with Sable.
17 Chris Candido
Chris Candido and his longtime girlfriend Tamara Sytch first made a name for themselves while appearing for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling in Tennessee. Candido may have excelled under the current configuration of the WWE, which has opened a division for the smaller wrestlers on the roster. Candido could deliver between the ropes and his partner had a talent to whip an audience into a frenzy. Upon their signing to the WWE as The Bodydonnas in 1995, it was soon apparent that Tamara was destined for greater things in the company under the name Sunny.
Though initially a valet and stable mate with her man, Sunny was soon assigned to The Godwinns, the Smoking Gunns and later the Legion of Doom, among other assignments. Chris and Tamara were re-united on screen after both were released from the WWE and re-surfaced in Extreme Championship Wrestling. Sadly, their relationship and careers were marred with controversy.
16 Massive Damage
Canadian independent wrestling mainstay Massive Damage first met his wife while touring for Winnipeg promoter Tony Condello in 2001. In their case, it was a matter of love at first sight and upon the conclusion of the tour, Samantha Slides relocated from her native Vancouver to Edmonton, Alberta to pursue the relationship. The couple has appeared for almost every promoter in western Canada and have also made select appearances as a couple in the United States.
In fact, they were wed at the annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas in 2011 in a matinee ceremony and then finished off the day between the ropes in a mixed tag team match against another wrestling couple – Sinn Bodhi and Stacy Carter. Though now legally separated, the parting was amicable and they continue to tour and appear together at matches across the country.
15 Davey Boy Smith
Stu and Helen Hart had never intended for their daughters to find themselves connected with professional wrestlers, yet each of their four daughters found themselves married to the grapplers that shared the ring with their brothers. However while Jim Neidhart, Ben Bassarab and B.J. Annis found themselves connected to the Hart clan through marriage, only Diana Hart would find herself showcased front and center in the WWE.
Her on-screen visibility started with the build-up to Summerslam '92 when her husband Davey Boy Smith would challenge her brother for the Intercontinental title. She became a recurring character as a fixture in the corner of her husband a few years later, often accompanying Davey while he was partnered with her younger brother Owen. Sadly, this union suffered a fate all too common to marriages in the entertainment industry and resulted in a scathing account of their time together in a tell-all book in 2001, entitled Under the Mat.
14 Bobby Sharp
If you’ve heard about 2013 Cauliflower Alley Club Future Legend award winner Bobby Sharp, chances are you’re aware that he is just one half of an ambitious wrestling couple with his long time girlfriend, Kat Von Heez. The pair met while both were touring for Winnipeg’s Canadian Wrestling Elite and have been inseparable since – often appearing in intergender tag team matches as partners. Both are avid fitness enthusiasts and proponents of innovative health nutrition and see as much time together in the weight room, as they do wrestling locker rooms.
The couple, who will be married in the summer of 2017, recently relocated to Windsor, Ontario after several years in western Canada and have started to attract interest from some of the biggest movers and shakers in the wrestling game. While they have each achieved an enviable level of success on their own, it’s highly probable that their ascent will see them side by side wherever their careers take them.
13 Chris Adams
The late Chris Adams may be known for many things related to his professional wrestling career. Certainly, the British-born grappler made his presence felt in World Class Championship Wrestling as well as the Universal Wrestling Federation and other stops in the U.S. along the way. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame will be as the trainer that launched the career of Steve Austin. Adams’ greatest visibility in the wrestling media may well be from a lengthy feud against his protégé, one that involved both wrestlers’ wives as not only valets but also participants.
Chris was joined by his wife, Toni Adams, for battles against Austin and wife, Jeannie Clarke. These intense battles captured the imagination of Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine during an era when independent coverage was increasingly hard to secure in the wrestling press. Interestingly, Adams was also linked to Clarke, having been previously married to his fellow Brit before she struck up a relationship with the future “Stone Cold.”
12 Eddie Gilbert
Eddie Gilbert started his wrestling career in his teens, and was a fixture in wrestling arenas in the southeast for years as a photographer before launching his own career. One of the most decorated stars of the dying days of the territories and active internationally on the independents, Gilbert never appeared to be closer to success than when he was managed by his own wife, Missy Hyatt. Though Hyatt has been romantically linked to a number of wrestlers over the years, her connection to Gilbert legitimized his monicker of “Hot Stuff” as the brash second generation wrestler made his ascent from the territories to a spot with Bill Watts’ UWF and later with WCW.
However, as good as Hyatt was for Gilbert’s career, when the WWE came calling in 1987, it was to express interest in Hyatt alone. Missy was flown in for television tapings to screen test a few segments of her own interview show Missy’s Manor.
11 Vince McMahon
When you consider how often Vince McMahon has blurred the lines between fact and fiction (both in the wrestling arena as well as in the court room), he has been at the center of some of the most outrageous moments that we have ever seen. However, when it comes to long-time wrestling couples, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the partnership of Vince and Linda McMahon. While their efforts to build the WWE as a duo are often overlooked, what we can’t ignore are the times that Linda’s appearance on-screen helped to embolden some of the most poignant storylines in the WWE.
Linda, often playing the honest woman against the audacious caricature of Mr. McMahon, may never be featured as a WWE action figure, but she has played an understated, yet important role in the history of WWE. Thwarting the seemingly outrageous while participating in “Jerry Springer-esque” programming best summarizes the saga of Vince and Linda.
10 The Miz
Can you believe that Mike Mizanin has now been under contract with the WWE for more than 12 years? While perhaps the template of what the modern professional wrestler is expected to be – having the ability and appeal to cross-over from the ring to other media projects – within the realm of wrestling, he has easily become one of the most polarizing personalities of all time. In fact, not even some of the behind the scenes out-of-character programming on the WWE Network can help us to shake the smug, self-centered persona of his on-camera character.
He’s seen success as a multi-time champion in both singles and tag team action and if there weren't enough reasons to hate this guy, he married one of the hottest WWE wrestlers of all time in Maryse Ouellet. While successful separately, the dynamics of this pair together looks like they are poised to be elevated even higher.
9 Tyson Kidd
Tyson Kidd is often misidentified as a member of the Hart wrestling family by birth. His career has been so integrally tied to the family that he simply is looked at as one of the third generation of Harts. Wrestling alongside Harry Smith, Teddy Hart and others who caught the wrestling bug while still in grade school, it was Tyson and not Teddy that was called up to the WWE and signed to be a member of the Hart Dynasty tag team, taking on another Hart cousin, Nattie Neidhart, as their valet.
What many fans may not have realized at the time is that Kidd and Natalya had long been a couple and, since their arrival in the WWE. They officially tied the knot in 2013. Prior to signing with the WWE, Tyson and Natalya frequently toured the independent scene together while working their way to their goal under Vince McMahon’s banner.
Many long time wrestling fans will recall that Dustin Rhodes turned up in the WWE in 1995 after being fired by WCW on the heels of the ill-fated “King of the Road” match against Barry Darsow. However, what was more significant about the jump was a period of estrangement between “The Natural” and his father “The American Dream.” While many have drawn conclusions that Goldust was originally inspired as a vicious play on the "Stardust" nickname that his father had carried during his legendary career, perhaps the most significant detail of Dustin’s WWE rise under his most recognized character has often been ignored.
At the root of his conflict with his father was his relationship and later marriage to Terri Boatwright. He brought her into the WWE as his manager and his wife Marlena, which truly illustrates the mindset and influence that Dustin was facing at that stage in his career. The couple have since divorced and Dustin mended the relationship with his father in the final years of the elder Rhodes’ life.
7 Steve Austin
WWE fans will recognize Steve Austin as the Texas Rattlesnake whose motto “don’t trust anybody” destined him to largely work alone while on camera. However, the character was a significant contrast from his WCW work just five years earlier when he had debuted as the blonde-coiffed “Stunning” Steve Austin. Wearing glamorous robes in the style of Ric Flair and accompanied by his wife, Jeannie Clarke, who was dubbed Lady Blossom, Austin quickly captured the WCW Television title and as his star rose, the marriage began to deteriorate.
Both Austin and his ex-wife have written biographies which speak to their marriage. Jeannie’s book, Behind The Broken Glass, focuses in much greater detail about the partnership than Austin does in his own autobiography. Austin would later find love again within the ranks of the wrestling business, marrying WWE valet Debra in 2000.
6 Kevin Sullivan
While many wrestlers experience trouble with their marriages as the road schedule often prevents them from being home to spend quality time with their significant others, Kevin Sullivan’s situation may be one of the most unique in professional wrestling. Sullivan had often worked with his wife, Nancy, who was billed as The Fallen Angel, dating back to the mid 1980s in the Florida territory.
Sullivan’s Army of Darkness included a motley crew of characters with Nancy standing out from the group in much the same way as Princess Leia in Jabba the Hut’s den. When the couple migrated to WCW in the early 90s, they were split up creatively with Nancy managing Rick Steiner, Doom and even Ric Flair for a time. Sullivan was a matchmaker with WCW when he booked a storyline involving his wife managing Chris Benoit. His peers have since identified that Sullivan “booked his own divorce” as Nancy would actually leave him to marry Benoit after being cast as a couple on screen.
While wrestling critics might correctly identify that Bulgaria and America have never been at war, Rusev has done a great job of portraying a bloodthirsty brute along the vein of so many foreign threats of decades past. Of course, a large part of Rusev’s success has been the accompaniment of his manager, Lana. Lana’s popularity had actually prompted the WWE to flirt with the idea to split the pair and propel Lana as one of the featured female faces of the company. However, in the modern internet age where nothing is a secret, plans changed after their marriage was leaked. Instead, the real life union of the pair was injected into a storyline on camera and the couple remains a unit both on and off screen.
4 Marc Mero
When Johnny B. Badd jumped from WCW to WWE, it may not have even registered with wrestling fans in a big way if Mero hadn’t arrived in the WWE with his wife by his side. Ditching the Little Richard impersonation in favor of becoming a pleather-wearing “Wildman,” Mero was initially earmarked for success with a larger guaranteed contract than Mick Foley, who was signed at around the same time. Mero did enjoy an Intercontinental title reign shortly after his arrival in the company, but unfortunately, the idea to bring his wife into the realm of wrestling might have been a mistake.
In no time at all, Sable skyrocketed in popularity and became one of the most digitally downloaded women in the world. Her fame quickly eclipsed that of her husband and their off screen relationship deteriorated not long after. Mero’s exit from the company went almost unnoticed, with Sable staying on and becoming one of the top female stars of all time in the WWE.
3 Booker T
When you consider that wrestlers such as The Missing Link had a short-lived relationship with the WWE because the WWE declined their requests to allow them to travel with their wives, it speaks to the star power of Booker T that he was able to command that concession in his contract. Booker T had just recently wed Sharmell Sullivan when the WWE declared some big plans for the five-time former WCW World champion. Initially, Booker declined, voicing his intention to spend more time at home with his bride. The WWE responded by creating an opportunity for Sharmell to tour with Booker and become a character on-screen as well. The pairing fit well into the plans for crowning “King Booker” and his Queen. Booker recently identified on Legends With JBL that being able to travel with his wife made that one of the most enjoyable elements of his entire career.
2 Triple H
Back when the storyline that launched the McMahon-Helmsley era was hatched, probably few saw what the future held for Triple H beyond his ring career. The relationship of “The Cerebral Assassin” and the boss’ daughter, Stephanie, has seen its own evolution over the course of the past 20 years, with the couple now poised as the heirs-apparent to the McMahon wrestling empire and both as actively involved with the development and direction of the company behind the scenes as they are as on-screen characters.
Unlike many of the wrestling couples that are featured on this list, the union between Triple H and Stephanie appears solid and has yet to become the fodder of discussion on any internet news and rumor sites. Arguably, they may be one of the most successful couples in pro wrestling history. Perhaps the secret to their success is that they are both on equal footing as stars within the company, without one’s success occurring at the expense of the other.
1 Randy Savage
Is there a more memorable couple in all of professional wrestling than Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth? Many fans will recall Elizabeth’s introduction to a national audience when Savage was being courted by a number of WWE managers upon his debut and he shocked the world by introducing his own wife to be in his corner. While their relationship may have been tumultuous behind the scenes, in front of the cameras, the fans were captivated by the contrast of the couple as a beauty and the beast combination.
Savage’s real life jealousy and protectiveness of Liz behind the scenes has become a regular narrative in the story of their WWE careers. Of course, the height of their on-screen partnership would come at SummerSlam 1991, when they exchanged nuptials as the co-headline feature of the pay-per-view. The two would then divorce in real life in 1992.
It was somewhat startling when they both arrived in WCW, but were each pursuing separate paths at that point.