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The Toxic History of Pro Wrestling on Marriages and Relationships

What really goes on during Divorce Court? How unpleasant is it? Well it’s clear to me that WWE creative and management probably doesn’t have a clue. Over the last month, they have put Rusev and Lana in a really uncomfortable storyline that has Lana now in a “relationship” with Bobby Lashley. Many reports are circulating that Rusev and Lana’s contracts are going to expire soon and this storyline is a tactic to humiliate and test their loyalty to company. This is not the first time that this happened with Rusev and Lana. Several years ago, they attempted to put Lana and Dolph Ziggler together as a romantic couple. That did not last long because Rusev and Lana got engaged and abruptly ended the storyline. The storylines aren’t necessarily the reason why marriages and relationships fall apart, but the wrestling industry has a lot of temptation in many areas.

Rusev and Lana wouldn’t be the first to have things end because of the wrestling business. Randy Savage and Elizabeth would be a prime example of how the wrestling business can make you paranoid, insecure and jealous. The stories of Randy being controlling of Liz have always been there. Many have backed those stories up while a few have denied them. Unfortunately for Liz, it was another wrestling relationship that ended up getting her killed. Her last relationship was with Lex Luger and that ended in Liz overdosing in his house. They had been together on TV much like her and Randy were many years before. A long with temptation comes having an ego. No one may have had a bigger ego in the 90’s than Sable. Marc Mero had a career as a Johnny B. Badd in WCW long before he got to WWE. When he got to WWE, he was convinced to bring his wife Rena in as a valet. In the end, Marc and Rena divorced in 2004 and Rena married Brock Lesnar in 2006. Has anyone ever noticed that Rena never appeared on TV again once her and Brock got married? Brock is not just a smart business man, but he knew how toxic the business could be and wanted to keep his private and professional life separate.

When relationships end and they end badly, it can have a negative domino effect on everything and everyone around you. This rang true when Jeff Jarrett hooked up with Karen(Angle at the time), while Jeff was grieving the loss of his first wife and Kurt was have marital problems with Karen. Jeff Jarrett had been the founder of NWA-TNA(TNA Impact Wrestling) and Kurt was considered their biggest acquisition when he came over in 2006. When everything came to light, Dixie Carter who owned the company feared that Kurt would leave over what happened. To Kurt’s credit he stayed with the company and stayed professional when he worked a program with Jarrett later on. To the credit of Matt Hardy, Edge and Lita they were also able to remain professional once the initial anger that Matt felt over Lita cheating on him with Edge. Matt and Edge’s careers ended up becoming more legendary after they worked their program together. Before social media and the internet were popular other superstars worked in programs that exploited affairs and relationships. Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit beat the hell out of each other over Nancy leaving Kevin for Chris. In late 1997, WWE exploited the fact that Brian Pillman dated Terri Runnels before she married Dustin Rhodes. The storylines may not have been the result of problems, but I am willing to bet they had an effect on the relationships.

In terms of relationships effecting company business, the one that will always stand out is Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. They were involved in a storyline that was trying to make Triple H one of the top heels in the company at the time. What some may not know is he was also dating Joanie Laurer, who was known as Chyna. While Triple H and Stephanie were involved in the storyline the began to get close and started to date. There were a lot of issues that came with this relationship. It was well documented that most of the men and women in the back did not approve of this relationship. The relationship ultimately ended Chyna’s career in WWE and sent her down a path that would eventually lead to her passing. Chyna also had a very toxic relationship with Sean Waltman(X-Pac), which involved drug abuse, alcoholism and pornography. Needless to say, it was a long time before Waltman got back in good graces with WWE. Chyna was a one in a lifetime performer for WWE in terms of women breaking barriers in the business. It’s still tragic that a personal relationship ruined professional relationships because Chyna had so much more to give the wrestling business.

I feel for Rusev and Lana because they have been put in a difficult spot. If they said no, they might not be making any money to support themselves. By saying yes, they have left themselves vulnerable for resentment, insecurity and trusting in what’s real and what’s not. My advice for anyone in the pro wrestling industry is, that if you value your relationship and significant other than keep your personal and professional life separate. Some might ask, how is this different from TV and movies? Actors and Actresses are involved with romantic and love stories all the time. Once they’re done filming they can go home to their significant others and can separate the two environments. WWE superstars are on the road close to 300 days a year. There is not a lot of time for family, friends and other relationships. They don’t have the work-life balance that most other professions do. I hope that Rusev and Lana can overcome what WWE is putting them through and remain a happy married couple. If not, it’s just another example of what WWE does wrong. For once, I’d like to see them do what’s right on TV and drop the storyline before it goes any further. I’d hate to see it add to the negative history that pro wrestling has had on relationships.

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