Whether or not the saying that pro wrestling is a male version of a soap opera is entirely true or not, it’s definitely a fact that the industry has a penchant for writing love stories. Of course, these love stories are much more violent than those played out by Julia Roberts, although a few of them were indeed treated with the gentleness of true romance. More often than not, that’s because about half of the couples fans see in WWE or other wrestling companies are based in reality, with the wrestlers legitimately either dating or even married.
In other instances, the superstars thrown into couples on Raw and SmackDown Live are completely random, and they often show it in their complete lack of physical chemistry. That said, a few of them have been talented enough at acting to sell the relationship and make fans believe in them, so it might help if someone could separate fact from fiction in pro wrestling. While some fans are prepared to do the research on their own, others would like it spelled out for them a little easier. As is always the case in such situations, this is where we come in.
There’s no telling how people feel unless they say so, and thus, no one can know for sure exactly what the feelings are or were between any two wrestlers paired up together in a romantic way. However, we can at least point out which couples are actually married to one another and which ones are married to other people, or at least dating them, and are allegedly staying faithful to only the real relationship. Keep reading to learn about 8 onscreen WWE couples that were real and 7 that were totally fake.
15 REAL: John Cena and Nikki Bella
Given the fact John Cena actually proposed to Nikki Bella in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania 33, chances are, the two create one of wrestling’s highest profile real-life couples in history. Add in the fact that their life together has been well documented on Total Divas, and it’s hard to imagine any WWE fans somehow being unaware of the fact Cena and Bella are truly together. More so than any drama seen on their reality show, the real conflict between Cena and Bella for many years was the former’s reluctance toward getting married despite his beloved’s undying dreams of them doing just that. Things get more complicated with the news their lives together have been much like a wrestling angle, with Bella recently out of a different relationship with another co-worker, Dolph Ziggler. Cena, too, had just been in a high-profile coupling, which ended in a divorce that proved financially disastrous for the Face of WWE. That explained his wish to keep things between him and Nikki simple, but the fact they tied the knot probably means they’re both in it for the long haul.
14 FAKE: Billy and Chuck
There will probably never be a day when WWE understands how to integrate LGBT characters into their programming in a respectful manner. This might be a cynical way to look at things, but yet again, the last time they tried, the results were so horrible some would probably prefer they never try again. It started off innocently enough, with Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo deciding they would do better in the tag division than on their own, which was probably accurate enough considering their past in the industry. As the story progressed and the team became more successful, though, an obvious undertone gradually developed, implying the two were lovers in addition to tag team partners. The introduction of Rico as their manager brought things to the next level, meaning all that was left was for Billy and Chuck to get married. A wedding was planned for an episode of SmackDown, with several GLAAD associates in attendance. Instantly throwing away all that mainstream attention in a heartbeat, WWE had Billy and Chuck reveal it was all a publicity stunt, followed by the duo receiving a beating. From beginning to end, it was an experience WWE should never try to replicate.
13 REAL: Edge and Lita
If there are still those who don’t believe that Edge and Lita were really a couple, they should ask Matt Hardy about it. Not only was Lita cheating on Matt when she and Edge began their tryst, but also, it was revealing the situation on the Internet that at least in part led to Hardy temporarily losing his job. On the contrary, Edge and Lita themselves experienced pretty much the greatest push of the careers, with both of them soon winning their respective gender’s WWE Championships. While the relationship didn’t end in marriage, it was most certainly very real, and Hardy’s life was destroyed in the process. The one thing different between the real and fake versions of their relationship is that the two were hardly exhibitionists in their real lives, and, in fact, Lita was often uncomfortable with some of the things she was forced to do -- specifically, the live sex celebration was a pretty tough segment to get through for everyone involved. As though hurting Hardy wasn’t enough, Edge was also cheating on his wife Lisa at the onset of the affair. Like that relationship, Edge and Lita didn’t stick together for long, making it all for naught.
12 FAKE: Jeff Hardy and Trish Stratus
As bad as Matt Hardy’s relationship with Lita ultimately turned out, at least he got to be with her in real life for a little bit. Brother Nero wasn’t quite as lucky, considering his relationship with WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus. This might be a surprise to those of us who remember Stratus and Jeff Hardy were linked together twice, first as an addition to Team Extreme when Matt and Lita were still together, and then again in 2003 after both had gone solo. Granted, the second time around it didn’t last particularly long, albeit that was more due to Hardy’s infamous problems with drugs and alcohol causing him to lose his job before the relationship could really play out onscreen. The fact of the matter is that Hardy had already begun his relationship with future wife Beth Britt, and Stratus was similarly with her eventual husband Ron Fisico since the time they were in high school. Despite how pretend it all was, Hardy was at least a step up from the other man Trish was regularly linked to in WWE, and the list will cover that soon.
11 REAL: Rusev and Lana
Part of the reason why so many wrestling couples have been fake is that Vince McMahon, the most powerful man in the business, apparently has a very specific definition of what a couple should look like. Basically, tall and attractive blondes should be with tall and attractive blondes, and the idea of one suddenly falling in love with a Bulgarian Brute like Rusev didn’t sit well with the WWE CEO. Vince tried his damndest to break Lana and Rusev up on screen, forcing the Ravishing Russian into a relationship with Dolph Ziggler while Rusev was saddled with Summer Rae. Fans immediately realized neither of these fake couples had as much chemistry as the real one, and neither Lana nor Rusev were willing to put up with McMahon’s attempt at splitting them apart, to begin with. Instead of towing the company line, Rusev and Lana got married in real life when their characters were supposed to be apart and have remained happily together onscreen and off ever since -- at least until WWE put them on different brands, that is.
10 FAKE: Mark Henry and Mae Young
Once in a while, Vince McMahon will make a mistake, and rather than admit his mistake gracefully, he’ll double down to create the most horrible result possible. Case in point: the first 10+ years of the so-called “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry’s career was a nonstop barrage of offensive, embarrassing, and generally tasteless storylines all written in an attempt to get Henry to walk out of his lucrative contract. First, McMahon had made fun Henry’s weight and implied he had an incestuous relationship with his sister, followed by a fling with a woman who lied about being transgender. When none of that worked, McMahon paired the 28-year-old Henry together onscreen with the nearly 80-year-old Mae Young. Given Young’s infamous sexual appetite, she and Henry were made to appear hot and heavy from the get-go, and the pretend coupling was even intended to seal the deal with a baby. Unfortunately, the result was instead the most disgusting and bizarre plot twist in WWE history: Young instead gave birth to a single white hand. Ultimately, the whole farce made about as much sense as its shocking conclusion.
9 REAL: Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth
Back in the 1980s, the idea of wrestlers bringing their wives or girlfriends to the ring was far less common than it is today. On occasion, the practice could be seen in independent promotions, but in the WWE Universe, it was virtually an entirely foreign concept until “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the beautiful Miss Elizabeth hit the scene. Savage’s introduction to the company was a huge deal from the moment he arrived, with every manager in the company looking to sign him as a client. Rather than pick a seasoned vet like Jimmy Hart or Bobby Heenan, the Macho Man had his real life wife accompany him to the ring, although the couple was slightly fake in that they pretended they were merely dating when in fact they were married. Of course, that all changed when “The Match Made In Heaven” were married in the ring at SummerSlam 1991. Unfortunately for the once happy couple, this onscreen wedding was a last ditch effort at saving the relationship that didn’t quite work, and they were divorced by the next year.
8 FAKE: Spike Dudley and Molly Holly
On paper, WWE may have never had a couple that more directly summoned Romeo & Juliet than Spike Dudley and Molly Holly. Both were the youngest and smallest members of established wrestling families, Spike with his “half-brothers” Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley, Molly her “cousins” Crash and Hardcore Bob Holly. Granted, neither of these dynasties were exactly the stuff of wrestling royalty, but the tensions between both clans nonetheless made Spike and Molly star-crossed lovers of the most literal variety. Also, had WWE been absolutely serious about ripping off one of literature’s greatest romances, they might have picked wrestlers who actually had physical chemistry together to pull it off. In fairness to Spike and Molly, their relationship definitely possessed a much cuter quality than the average sports entertainment couple, and the whole point was how innocent both of their characters were. However, Molly’s fans know full well she was a virgin until she met her eventual future Geno, which pretty much excludes the possibility of anything having happened between her and Spike.
7 REAL: Test and Stacy Keibler
Nine times out of ten, when a male and a female wrestler are paired up on screen, the male wrestler inevitably becomes the more popular of the two. Real or fake, this holds true for every single couple on this list, except this one (and the one with two men in it, of course). Vince McMahon and company had apparently always wanted to make Test a star, hooking him up with Stephanie McMahon right off the gate. That relationship was entirely fake, though, and when it started to fall apart, so did Test’s career in general. On the other hand, Stacy Keibler was amongst the most popular imports from WCW regardless of gender, and that status extended well past the Invasion’s death. Truth be told, Keibler never did much with this fame, and it was more due to her good looks than anything else, but point is, she was still pretty far above Test in the totem poll when they were suddenly paired together onscreen in late 2002. Test and Stacy had been dating almost two years at that point, pretty much the only thing that justified them pairing up when cameras were rolling, as well.
6 FAKE: Eddie Guerrero and Chyna
Real or fake, no one person on this list has created a more endearing nickname for their beloved than Eddie Guerrero did for Chyna the first time he called her his “Mamacita.” Sure, the term is fairly commonplace in Latin culture, but it was entirely new to wrestling when Eddie started using it, and before long, it was one of the most popular elements of both his and Chyna’s careers. Amazingly, despite the incredible chemistry the couple had together, not to mention Eddie’s natural charisma being through the roof at this point in his career, the pairing between Latino Heat and the Ninth Wonder of the World was entirely for show. Throughout the entire ordeal, Eddie was married to the same woman WWE fans would become familiar with shortly after his death, Vickie Guerrero. On top of that, Chyna was getting off of a particularly bad breakup with a man who was slowly becoming her boss, which are obviously less than ideal circumstances to start a relationship with, to say the least. None of that mattered at the time, though, and now that both are sadly gone, fans can look back at history and pretend whatever they want about their pairing being more real than it was.
5 REAL: Goldust and Marlena
Thanks to their behavior often being bizarre and controversial in every way, there are probably a few WWE fans who would prefer to believe Goldust and Marlena’s disturbed relationship was entirely for show. For better or worse, the truth is that they were indeed married the entire time they were paired together onscreen, and the relationship actually survived in real life longer than it did on television. That said, it’s not like the two lived happily ever after, as they divorced roughly two years after pretending to split up in an infamous sit-down interview with Jim Ross. In any event, it should go without saying that whatever Marlena and Goldust’s real relationship actually entailed was probably a whole lot different than the antics their characters got into when cameras were rolling. For example, instead of leading Goldust around like a dog, Marlena took a more traditional route in giving birth to their daughter, Dakota. On that note, although they've divorced, the two allege to maintain a relatively positive relationship to this day, with Dakota playing a huge role in keeping them together.
4 FAKE: Santino Marella and Maria Kanellis
They say that opposites attract, and plenty of the other couples on this list, real or fake, have gone a long way at proving that cliché entirely correct. On the contrary, it would seem the sole reason Santino Marella and Maria Kanellis were paired up in the WWE Universe was the fact they had some pretty similar characters -- the two were both total goofballs. That said, perhaps that aforementioned cliché was the hint Marella and Kanellis were never really together. Unlike the other fake couples on this list, there isn’t much public information about whom either party actually was dating when pretending to do so in the ring, and yet, had the two been dating, it almost surely would have hit the rumor mill by now. To this day, no such speculation has ever been raised, all but confirming that the chemistry between The Cobra and the future First Lady of Professional Wrestling was merely for show.
3 REAL: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Debra
Entering the wrestling industry as the wife of former NFL player Steve “Mongo” McMichael meant Debra was in a real-life relationship from the moment she debuted. However, the only people who give much regard to McMichael these days are football fans, and this is a list about wrestling, so let’s focus on Debra’s second, more famous husband, arguably the most popular sports entertainer in history, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Two years after Debra divorced McMichael and jumped from WCW to WWE, she began a relationship with Austin that culminated in marriage in September of 2000. Tragically, the relationship would go through many trials and tribulations, all of them entirely Austin’s fault, as Debra would later allege he was physically abusive on a number of occasions. If there’s any upside, it’s that Vince McMahon was at least wise enough not to shove this into the Austin family’s storylines throughout 2001, when they were almost inseparable on screen. On the other hand, Debra claims the McMahons did know about the abuse and did nothing to stop it, so there goes any theory that paints them in a positive light.
2 FAKE: Vince McMahon and Trish Stratus
By and large, there’s no logical reason to judge any couple paired together onscreen for going along with the script. Sure, the guys might appreciate it more than the gals, in most cases, but that doesn’t mean the female half isn’t still a willing participant who at some point must have agreed to playing out the affair, except, that is, were any of these fake relationships to include her boss, in which case, she couldn’t really say no without risking her job. Naturally, Vince McMahon is aware of this and has used it to his advantage by writing storylines that see him hook up with practically every woman ever to work for him. In addition to his biggest televised romance with Trish Stratus leading toward WrestleMania X7, the WWE CEO has also paired himself with Sable, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Dawn Marie, and Candice Michelle, just to name the most famous examples. As much as Vince probably wishes they were, none of these relationships were real, and he always went home to his wife Linda regardless of who he was kissing on camera.
1 REAL: Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Alright, folks, this is the big one. Realistically speaking, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether any of these relationships were legitimate or not, with one glaring exception that could well determine the WWE Universe’s future. Not long after they revealed an onscreen relationship at Armageddon 1999, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon began dating for real. Less than four years later, they were married, and at the time this article is being written, the couple have three happy children to prove just how real things between them are. Granted, given The Game’s notorious ambition, there are some conspiracy theorists who think the whole thing is all part of a plot by him to one day take over the company. That’s probably a cynical way to look at it, but the fact remains, Triple H and Stephanie will indeed most likely take control from Vince McMahon should the day ever come when he can’t continue. For that reason alone, HHH and Steph are easily the most important real couple in wrestling today.