Part sport, part theatre, WWE is all entertainment.
As every conflict is inevitably settled in the ring, the relationships between the stars serve as the foundation for the entire enterprise. As heels turn and faces leap to their friends’ defence, it is their interlocking ties that cause an emotional reaction in the crowd.
Unavoidably, romantic love is a prime source of inspiration for Creative. Love triangles can add plenty of fuel to feuds and perceived slights done to loved ones can inspire superstars to do fantastic, stupid things.
Plenty of relationships are entirely fabricated to cause shock (and sometimes disgust) amongst viewers. Yet wrestling can be inspired by real affairs. As we move into the age of social media, it is more and more difficult to maintain kayfabe. Why even bother to make couples up when there are so many real pairings to bring into storylines?
There are relationships between wrestlers that did not make it into any scripted events. This article deals with relationships that have played out in the squared circle – either a mirror of a real love story or as a strange scripted affair.
Let’s explore the power of love with these 8 WWE Couples Who Are Totally Fake and 7 Who Are The Real Deal!
15 Real: Rusev and Lana
The Bulgarian Brute, Rusev, and his ravishing Russian wife, Lana, are the perfect example of a WWE couple combining a bona fide relationship with a WWE twist.
Miroslav Barnyashev, better known as Rusev, is a Bulgarian powerlifter turned pro-wrestler. Catherine Joy Perry, born in Florida but growing up in the Latvian SSR, debuted as Rusev’s manager under the name Lana in 2013 with an exaggerated Russian accent and anti-American tendencies. The couple married in 2016.
Vince McMahon was apparently unsure of the pair working as a unit in the ring, wanting to push Rusev’s brutish persona and finding the love-story with Lana softening the superstar’s facade.
Yet as Lana finally gains her first WWE victory in the ring during the Mixed Match Challenge with her husband by her side, it seems WWE is fully embracing the couple.
14 Fake: John Cena and Maria Kanellis
Love him or loathe him, John Cena is one of the titans of modern WWE. Recently, he publicly proposed to his girlfriend Nikki Bella at Wrestlemania but, in the past, Big Match John has earned a reputation as something of a ladies’ man.
During his long and well-documented career, there were various rumors of hook ups with his female co-stars. One such suspected relationship was with Maria Kanellis, now married to fellow wrestler Michael Bennett.
Cena and Maria were put together for a WWE storyline in 2006 when John needed a tag team partner to face Lita and Edge. Backstage, Maria was shown to be nervous about the match and Cena was caught on camera kissing her to make her feel better. Thought to be a staged moment for the storyline (especially as Maria was dating CM Punk at the time), it still might explain the famous rift between the Bellas and Maria.
13 Real: Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella
With the growth of reality show Total Divas, Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella’s relationship becomes very public. The self-proclaimed hippie couple, with their love of clean eating and recycling, recently gave birth to their first daughter, Birdie. In many ways, the relationship is the sort which makes many viewers jealous, but the pairing started off as an unlikely match.
Not unusually, their love story began with a romantic storyline in the ring. In an awkward setup, the Bella Twins teamed up with Daniel Bryan after mishearing Bryan talk about being a vegan and thinking he'd never had relations. The twins aimed to see who would sleep with him first.
While Brie may have been a party girl, dating celebrities such as Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen in the past, and Daniel likes gardening and shies away from the idea of having his relationship all over social media, the couple’s relationship seems to be going stronger than ever.
12 Fake: Zack Ryder and Eve Torres
Eve Torres, the first woman to hold the Divas Championship on three occasions, began her journey with WWE in 2008.
Matthew Brett Cardona, better known as Zack Ryder, is the self-proclaimed "Internet Champion" of WWE.
In a 2011 episode of Raw, Eve teamed up with Zack Ryder in a mixed tag team match against Natalya and Tyson Kidd. Eve and Zack began a romantic storyline which culminated in Eve being attacked by Zack’s opponent Kane, who tried to kidnap her. Saved by John Cena, Eve thanked him with a kiss.
The storyline ended with Eve admitting she had never loved Zack and been using him for publicity.
It led to a pretty strong period of Eve as villainess but did not do a lot for Zack who remained at lower-tier status on the roster for some years after.
11 Real: Maria and Mike Kanellis
Maria Kanellis is known for the ditzy Diva persona she portrayed early on in her WWE career. She moved to the independent wrestling circle where she met Michael Bennet and the two began dating. Mike had been wrestling the independent circuit since 2002 and the pairing teamed up in the ring.
The Power of Love couple came to the SmackDown Live brand as a duo in 2017.
They debuted as heels, with their obnoxiously close bond acting as their brand. The First Lady and The Miracle showed up at Money in the Bank to inform the crowd they intended to show SmackDown the power of love. It certainly irked audiences sufficiently.
Sadly, the push did not really get off the ground before Maria got pregnant this year. It is possible the pair will return to WWE in the future but for now, love in the ring is on hold.
10 Fake: Alicia Fox and Cedric Alexander
Cruiserweight Cedric Alexander joined WWE in 2016. During an episode of 205 Live, it was revealed that Alexander was dating Alicia Fox.
Victoria Elizabeth Crawford, better known as Alicia Fox, has been all over the place over her years with WWE. “Crazy Like A Fox”, Alicia Fox is actually the longest tenured female performer, having been with the company since 2006.
When Alexander lost to Noam Dar and Dar dedicated his victory to Fox, the pair began feuding over Alicia in a classic love triangle. After Fox lost Alexander a match, he eventually broke it off with the former Divas Champion but fans were not very invested. The love triangle angle has been done to death and this threesome was obviously scripted.
9 Real: Naomi and Jimmy Uso
Trinity Fatu, known by her ring name Naomi, married fellow wrestler Jonathan Fatu, better known as Jimmy Uso, in 2014.
The pair were one of the more wholesome parts of reality show Total Divas, but were dropped after their marriage, possibly due to not being as exciting as other dysfunctional couples.
At around the same time, Naomi was embroiled in a kayfabe love triangle in the ring with her husband and the Miz. The A Lister was offering her help with her singing career, causing jealousy to flair in her heel husband. Naomi and Jimmy’s real-life relationship was nodded to in the ring on several occasions, most recently with their pairing in the Mixed Match Challenge.
The couple have dynamic in-ring chemistry and brought humor to the match against Goldust and Mandy Rose. The pair proved they were Champions separately and equally successful in tandem.
8 Fake: Nia Jax and Enzo Amore
Nia Jax and Enzo Amore’s kayfabe romance came as something of a surprise.
The Irresistible Force arrived in Raw in 2016 and gained considerable momentum as a tough, no-nonsense contender. Meanwhile Enzo, two-time WWE Cruiserweight Champion, played a sillier role, with his constant catchphrases and loudmouth personality.
The comedy-romance was teased in a few segments, with Nia obviously seeking out Enzo for a chat, opening with his infamous catchphrase "How You Doin’?" Originally, the romance was planned to distract Nia in order to give the new girls on the block, Absolution, time to get popular with the fans before facing such a dangerous contender.
However, Enzo ended up released from WWE for assault allegations and the blossoming storyline was abruptly cut. Although Enzo is certainly gone, it does not seem to have halted Nia’s momentum one bit.
7 Real: The Miz and Maryse
Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, and his Manager, Maryse have consistently had their relationship played out in the spotlight.
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and Maryse Ouellet announced they were expecting their first child last September during an episode of Raw. The superstars will also being debuting own reality show entitled Miz & Mrs. later in 2018.
The Miz entered Tough Enough in 2004, a reality TV competition to win a WWE contract. Although he did not win, he caught the interest of the company and later a development contract. Maryse took part in the 2006 Diva Search, where she met Mizanin and they began dating. Maryse became a Champion in her own right, holding the WWE Divas Championship for the third longest period in its history.
In 2016, Maryse returned to WWE as The Miz’s manager with their 2014 marriage written into the storyline; a WWE power couple both in and out of the ring.
6 Fake: Kane and Tori
Kane, the demonic younger half-brother of The Undertaker, is not the most obvious pick for romance subplots. Yet he has had his share of issues of the heart.
In 1999, Tori was introduced as Kane’s girlfriend. Tori had very little build up but was soon seen objecting to Kane’s treatment at the hands of his ex-tag team partner X-Pac, as well as Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie responded by challenging Tori to a match, then replaced herself with X-Pac, who easily defeated Tori. Poor Tori then found herself used as a bargaining chip in matches, forced to spend Christmas with X-Pac when her boyfriend lost a bout.
The feud between X-Pac and Kane continued to escalate and eventually, predictably, Tori turned on Kane to begin a relationship with X-Pac.
The relationship ended in a tombstone piledriver to Tori from Kane. It was certainly entertaining, but thankfully not real.
5 Real: Dean Ambrose and Renee Young
Renee Young and Dean Ambrose’s romance did not play out under the spotlight like many couples on this list.
The two stars got married in 2017 in secret, with fans only becoming aware when the pair where seen on screen with wedding rings.
Dean Ambrose, real name Jonathan David Good, had apparently been dating WWE announcer Renee Young since 2013. The romance was only confirmed to the public in 2015 when Young divulged the information during an interview. It was not acknowledged by WWE until 2016 when The Miz mentioned it during a promo against Ambrose on Smackdown Live. It’s possible, due to the scripted mention, that the couple were looking to feud with Ambrose and Young in the future. Sadly, this storyline never materialized.
The Lunatic Fringe is known to value his privacy, but a few intimate photos of the pair on Renee’s social media point to a softer side than Ambrose’s in-ring persona.
4 Fake: Carmella and James Ellsworth
Carmella, the Princess of Staten Island, began grooming James Ellsworth in 2017. Ellsworth has always been something of a joke, once eliminated in the Royal Rumble by Braun Strowman after only 15 seconds.
Carmella gave him a makeover and he acted as her sometime manager, sometime dog, often distracting her opponents to help her win. The relationship was a roller coaster, ending this year when WWE released Ellsworth from his contract..
It was also entirely fabricated for the drama.
In actual fact, during this romance storyline, Carmella was in a relationship with fellow wrestler Big Cass. They have had been an item since their days in NXT. However, Cass ended up working on Raw, while Carmella moved to SmackDown Live. Carmella and Big Cass recently went their separate ways, proving once again how difficult it is to make relationships work in the fast-paced WWE environment.
3 Real: Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, met her husband through WWE. She and Paul Michael Levesque, fellow wrestler Triple H and WWE Executive, have now been married for 14 years, often using their relationship in on-screen storylines and conflicts.
Before they even began dating in real life, they were "married" on Raw.
Stephanie had entered into a kayfabe engagement with wrestler Test. At the wedding ceremony (held in the ring), Triple H showed up and revealed that Stephanie was, in fact, already married. He had kidnapped and drugged her before taking her to Las Vegas to marry.
Perhaps not the most romantic start to a lifetime together, but Stephanie and Triple H are a power couple both inside and outside the ring.
2 Fake: Trish Stratus and The Rock
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is easily the most famous wrestler-turned-actor in WWE history. Similarly, fitness model-turned-wrestler Trish Stratus is one of the most popular Divas in history.
The sheer popularity of both parties in the early 2000’s led to an almost inevitable pairing.
The Rock saved Trish from an embarrassing Vince McMahon segment and Trish thanked him backstage with a kiss. The Rock/Trish relationship was teased a few more times on TV, but it did not blossom into a long-running storyline.
Rumors abound that the pair did in fact hook up during their time working together. However, both parties were in committed relationships at the time, with Stratus dating Ron Fisico and Johnson married to his first wife, Dany Garcia. The consensus seems to be that any teasing of a relationship between Trish and the Rock was purely for the cameras.
1 Real: John Cena and Nikki Bella
The real-life relationship between John Cena and Nikki Bella becomes an increasingly important part of WWE’s booking.
Played out in the ring, and in popular reality TV shows Total Divas and Total Bellas, the question mark over whether John and Nikki would be together forever culminated spectacularly with a proposal at Wrestlemania 33.
John Cena, undisputed face of WWE, began dating Diva Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace, better known as Nikki Bella, in 2012. Nikki, the longest individual reigning Divas Champion, and John began a popular feud with the other WWE power couple the Miz and Maryse. It is obvious that their relationship’s popularity contributed to WWE’s booking in this case.
With upcoming nuptials, there are bound to be ups and downs, and viewers can be sure they will be played out on reality TV or in the ring.
Who's your favorite WWE couple? Let us know in the comments!