By their very nature, love triangles are pretty horrible for everyone involved. Whenever two people fall in love with the same third party, who in turn can’t choose between them, things are bound to get extremely complicated, and fast. Double that if all three parties happen to work together and intend to continue doing so despite their messy personal lives spinning out of control. Throw in the ridiculous lifestyle of professional wrestlers, and love triangles can turn into shockingly explosive affairs.
For the most part, WWE and other wrestling companies are happy to separate the in-ring performances of their superstars from their real-life personalities, including all the relationship drama that goes with them — unless, of course, the company thinks they can make a quick buck off of it, which has happened countless times when real-life love triangles spilled into the ring. Situations like this blend kayfabe with reality and generally get more heated than the promoters intend, making them both extremely popular and dangerously controversial each time they happen.
In retrospect, WWE, in particular, has attempted to downplay their involvement in any real-life love triangles, whether they made it to television or not. When love triangles end, there’s inevitably somebody who comes out looking bad, sometimes so bad the company gets embarrassed whenever it gets brought up. Because some wrestlers who survived love triangles still hold very high profile roles within the WWE Universe, the company has been extra vigilant in pretending they never happened. Keep reading to discover the truth and learn about 15 real-life pro wrestling love triangles Vince McMahon wants you to forget.
15. Sable, Marc Mero, and Brock Lesnar
Though unusual, sometimes a love triangle can actually happen without anyone feeling particularly upset about the situation. Granted, we’re talking about situations where the love triangle only exists on paper, like when Sable reportedly started dating Brock Lesnar before her divorce from Marc Mero was entirely finalized. Granted, it’s not like the self-proclaimed “happiest man alive” Mero was going to question the Beast Incarnate for asking out someone he was trying to divorce. The exact date Sable and Mero separated isn’t public knowledge, nor is the first time Lesnar and Sable made their romantic intentions known, but we do know there couldn’t have been more than a full year between the two. Mero’s trademark optimism was definitely getting put to the test around that time as his wife left him to return to a company that harshly misused him, and she then went on to marry a much younger, more athletically gifted superstar in his stead. That Mero barely reacted says a lot about his ability to move on fast, although again, there’s not much he could’ve done to stop Lesnar from getting what he wanted.
14. Ashley Massaro, Matt Hardy, and Paul London
In many respects, 2005 Diva Search winner Ashley Massaro could be defined as Lita-lite, up to and including her relationship habits. The former swimsuit model with punk sensibilities was a hit with WWE fans due to her off-kilter style. To really sell the comparison, almost instantly after Massaro won the competition, reports surfaced that she was dating Matt Hardy. However, those reports were of the classic blink-and-you’ll-miss-them variety, and apparently, it was no time at all before Massaro and Hardy split, and she moved on to Hardy’s friend Paul London, whom Massaro was coincidentally managing at the time. According to London, he told Hardy about the situation and was assured everything was okay only for Matt to suddenly become extremely hard to work with, complaining to management about London behind his back. London has a notorious reputation for being bitter about his place in wrestling, but if he’s right about Hardy’s behavior, he does have a point in saying it was two-faced and even cowardly.
13. CM Punk, Lita, and Beth Phoenix
Being straight edge meant CM Punk had to give up lots of cheap pleasures, and one way he more than made up for the loss was engaging in a highly tumultuous love life with many high profile partners. The erstwhile Voice of the Voiceless is happily married to AJ Lee today, but not too long ago, he was having trouble deciding between a number of other major female wrestlers. At one point, Punk spent about a year dating Lita, left her to spend another year with Beth Phoenix, and then returned to Lita for an even longer stretch than the first. Eventually, Punk left Lita again and soon moved on to Lee, with whom he finally settled down. Prior to his flings with Lita, Phoenix, or his current wife, Punk had also been rumored to be involved with fellow wrestlers Mickie James, Daffney, Maria Kanellis, Allison Danger, Cookie, and Traci Brooks, occasionally with small overlaps between the relationships. It might be a stretch to call all of them love triangles, let alone a love nonagon, but the point is Punk’s love life was complicated indeed before he tied the knot with AJ.
12. Alberto Del Rio, Charlotte Flair, and Paige
Ever since Alberto Del Rio left the WWE Universe for the second time, his relationship with still employed female wrestler Paige has been one of the highest-profile stories in pro wrestling media. Had things gone a little bit differently, though, the world could be reading and reporting on an entirely different Del Rio relationship, as he was rumored to be dating Charlotte Flair only a few short weeks before his drama with Paige began. In fact, certain insiders believed that Paige and Charlotte started to develop serious backstage heat with one another over issues related to Del Rio, though that talk almost entirely dissipated upon his exit from the company. Complicating things further, throughout the entire controversy, Del Rio has also been married to a third woman, Angela Velkei, though he claims that relationship ended in June of 2015. Whether or not that is true, his marriage is still valid. Granted, it didn’t stop him from proposing to Paige, but chances are that at this point, Charlotte is happy to be away from the mess.
11. Nikki Bella, Dolph Ziggler, and John Cena
One of the biggest moments at WrestleMania 33 was John Cena proposing to Nikki Bella after some four years of dating. Cena and Bella’s relationship had been highly publicized from the onset, mostly through Nikki and her twin sister Brie’s reality series, Total Bellas. However, as fans of that show are no doubt already aware, Cena isn’t the first wrestler Nikki Bella has considered spending her life with. Prior to dating the face of WWE, Nikki was in a long-term relationship with Dolph Ziggler, the latter party admitting feelings lingered well after they had broken up and Nikki seemed to move on. A running theme throughout Total Bellas was Cena’s reluctance to marry Nikki until very recently, and at one point, Ziggler even stepped in to try and convince Nikki someone else might be more willing to tie the knot with her, namely himself. Although Nikki claimed she wasn’t tempted, she was nonetheless hesitant in telling Cena about it, knowing how explosive his reaction could be. That said, Cena simply accepted the situation and moved on, presumably realizing Nikki made her choice by staying with him.
10. Missy Hyatt, John Tatum, and Eddie Gilbert
Without ever working for WWE on a regular basis, Missy Hyatt was one of the most influential female wrestling personalities of her time. Of course, she wasn’t able to became a star entirely by herself. It was Hyatt’s relationship with Eddie Gilbert that started earning them both national attention, but she actually entered the business by way of her ex-boyfriend “Hollywood” John Tatum. In addition to introducing Hyatt to wrestling, Tatum was inadvertently instrumental in her linking up with Gilbert, bringing her along when he jumped from WCCW to the UWF. The top act in the UWF was Gilbert’s Hot Stuff International, which Tatum and Hyatt joined, the latter soon developing a key role as Gilbert’s girlfriend. Coincidentally, the shift in Missy’s role was occurring both onscreen and off. Before long, Gilbert’s group was renamed Hot Stuff & Hyatt International, and the dominant new co-leaders kicked Tatum out by way of Missy attacking him with a Gucci handbag. Though Tatum was clearly willing to do business about his predicament, it eventually started getting to him, and he soon quit the promotion.
9. Melina, John Morrison, and Batista
After a number of false starts, John Morrison finally made his WWE breakthrough by teaming with Joey Mercury and recruiting Melina as his manager, forming MNM. Morrison and Melina met in OVW, where their characters were presented as dating, and in a case of life imitating art, the two soon began an on-again-off-again relationship in real life that would span approximately 11 years. In what one might assume was an off-again phase, Melina was also reported as dating Batista circa late 2005, while she was still paired with Morrison as his manager in storylines. Things get confusing around here, as Melina has long denied there was any relationship with Batista despite Batista claiming the exact opposite in his autobiography. According to Melina, the two were merely friends, plus Batista would look out for her against the occasionally bullying locker room. In any event, it seems odd her boyfriend couldn’t have played that role, and it could have been enough to make Morrison jealous and lead to the rumors spreading in general. Or maybe Melina doesn’t want to admit the truth, fearing it makes her look bad.
8. Eddie Gilbert, Missy Hyatt, and Madusa
Creating a classic case of “dishing it out while not being able to take it,” Missy Hyatt had a reputation as being the cause of many love triangles in her day, yet she nonetheless became one of the most bitter people on this list when she herself suffered because of one. Hyatt became famous through her work with Eddie Gilbert as the co-leaders of Hot Stuff & Hyatt International, behind the scenes starting a relationship with him that culminated with marriage in 1987. Showcasing his notoriously flaky nature, Gilbert filed for divorce a mere two years later, then got remarried to Madusa in 1990. Granted, that marriage likewise fell apart extremely fast, but Hyatt was never able to get over it, causing her to make extremely bitter comments about Madusa in the ensuing years. All the while, Hyatt continued dating/hooking up with whatever willing wrestler to cross her path, whether they were married, dating, single, whatever. Madusa, on the other hand, largely seems to have moved on, never having much to say about her romantic rival.
7. Karen Smedley, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Jarrett
This list should already be making it pretty clear that love triangles are no fun in general, and things can only get exponentially worse when things like employer-employee dynamics get involved in the mix. That’s what happened when Kurt Angle separated from his wife of almost ten years, Karen Smedley, and she almost instantly moved on by dating his boss, Jeff Jarrett. Technically speaking, Jarrett wasn’t the sole person in charge of TNA at the time, as Dixie Carter was still able to place him on a leave of absence over the situation, making a rare salient decision in trying to minimize the damage this love triangle could cause. However, it didn’t take Carter long to completely change her mind on the situation as it would soon bleed into TNA storylines, leading into a lengthy feud between Angle and Jarrett with Karen’s affections playing a major role. Amazingly, little long-term resentment seems to remain between Angle, his ex, or her new husband, with everybody looking like they moved on shortly after the onscreen storyline ended.
6. Lady Blossom, Chris Adams, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
In stark contrast to every other item on this list, very, very rarely, a love triangle can be an almost generous occasion. No, we’re not talking about swinging although that wouldn’t be too far off. Backing up a bit, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is one of the most famous wrestlers in history, and “Gentleman” Chris Adams was his trainer. Austin has Adams to thank for a great many things in his career, indirectly including his famous nickname. However, as some readers are surely aware, it was Austin’s wife, Lady Blossom, who created the “Stone Cold” moniker, so how does that work, exactly? Well, Adams introduced Blossom to Austin, correctly thinking the two would hit it off. This seems normal enough until you learn Blossom was also Adams’ ex-girlfriend. Amazingly, Adams didn’t seem to find any of this awkward even as Austin legally adopted his and Blossom’s daughter, Jade. Granted, Austin doesn’t look too great in the ordeal either as he was also married to a different woman when his relationship with Blossom began.
5. Sunny, Chris Candido, and Shawn Michaels
Proudly boasting about being a sexy boy toy isn’t something just any wrestler could get away with, and yet if such wrestler had Sunny on his arm when he said it, most audiences would allow him to get away with it. That said, Shawn Michaels and Sunny never took their relationship on screen, while Chris Candido did make his long-term connection with the self-proclaimed first WWE diva public from the moment it began. In fact, Sunny made her WWE Universe debut as Candido’s manager back when he was still known as Skip, eventually leading him to a reign as one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions with Zip. That reign ended when Sunny turned on Skip in a match against the Godwinns, coincidentally, around the same time she was reported as hooking up with Shawn Michaels behind the scenes. Whether or not the kayfabe split had anything to do with Sunny’s personal life is unclear, though the fact remains her relationship with Michaels wasn’t meant to last, and she was back with Candido by the time they left WWE.
4. Mickie James, Kenny Dykstra, and John Cena
Prior to his high-profile relationship with Nikki Bella being the driving force behind a reality show, John Cena was known as something of a ladies man. Right before Cena married his first wife, Elizabeth Huberdeau, reports swirled he was dating Mickie James, although the real story was that James’s other boyfriend, Kenny Dykstra, was unaware of this at the time. Dykstra eventually found out about the relationship and confronted James about it, leading to her confessing and breaking down in tears. There wasn’t much Dykstra could do about it, though, as he had already lost his job with WWE, while Cena was still the face of the company and therefore the biggest name in the business. Basically, Dykstra was forced to step away from the situation and watch as Cena broke James’s heart later in the year by leaving her for Huberdeau. That isn’t even the worst of Cena’s behavior, as according to Dykstra and prevalent rumors at the time, James took the breakup rather poorly, causing her to get demoted from Raw to SmackDown when she couldn’t continue working with her ex.
3. Woman, Kevin Sullivan, and Chris Benoit
More so than any other person on this list, Kevin Sullivan has an incredible amount to regret when it comes to losing his ex-wife, Woman, to Chris Benoit, and worst of all, it was absolutely 100% his fault when he did so. That said, Sullivan is obviously not at all responsible for what Benoit ultimately did to Woman, but it doesn’t change the fact that he most certainly caused them to get together. Even if things were already going south between Sullivan and Woman in the mid-‘90s, the Taskmaster nonetheless drove her directly to Benoit’s arms, and in most literal fashion, by devising an angle where she would leave him for the young Horsemen. Life has a way of imitating art, and as Woman and Benoit shot vignettes where they flirted and acted like they were in love, well, they actually flirted with one another and gradually fell in love. At the time, WCW fans were able to benefit through an incredibly heated, hardcore feud that developed between Sullivan and Benoit in relation to their relationships with Woman. Unfortunately, in retrospect, few fans can even think about those matches without feeling sad about what they inevitably led to decades later.
2. Lita, Matt Hardy, and Edge
The Internet has changed dating in countless ways, up to and including how a love triangle can affect the lives of everyone involved. Depending on where a person works, a love triangle can even cause someone to get fired for talking too much about it, which is what happened to Matt Hardy in April of 2005. Shortly before Hardy was fired, his ex-girlfriend, Lita, revealed she had been cheating on him with the person he thought was his best friend, Edge. Understandably feeling betrayed by the situation, Hardy took to the Internet and voiced his frustrations, apparently breaking part of his contract that made it clear he wasn’t supposed to talk about personal business with the public. Legal issues be damned, fans were furious that WWE sided with Edge and Lita over the ordeal, loudly chanting “You Screwed Matt” or “We Want Matt” whenever either of them appeared on camera. It wasn’t long before Hardy was rehired, and the three engaged in a controversial storyline about their romantic woes, although the whole saga remains a dark period in the lives of all three wrestlers.
1. Triple H, Chyna, and Stephanie McMahon
Truth be told, the odds are actually pretty high that Vince McMahon doesn’t actually care whether or not fans remember 14 of the 15 items on this list. The one he does care about is extremely near and dear to his heart, though, because it directly involves his daughter, Stephanie. As practically every fan of pro wrestling is aware of by now, Stephanie McMahon has been married to Triple H since 2003, and the couple began dating three years before that. What fewer fans realize, because WWE has made serious efforts to hide this fact, is that Triple H was still dating Chyna when his relationship with Stephanie began. Matter of fact, HHH and Chyna were still living together, and thus, in many ways, were dependent on one another for their lifestyles to remain steady. If the relationship had ended normally, maybe Chyna could have recovered, but for her to suddenly lose everything because her ex-boyfriend decided to ditch her in favor of his boss’s daughter absolutely crushed her. Indirectly or not, Chyna would be so hurt by what happened to her, it led to a downward spiral that didn’t end until she overdosed. Triple H and Stephanie, on the other hand, have only flourished as a couple ever since, sweeping the remnants of Chyna’s legacy under the rug every opportunity they get.