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Coupling: we take a look at wrestling's 10 greatest romantic twosomes

By Kevin Eck - Wrestling Digest, Dec, 2003


      PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING is described as a soap opera for men. And in wrestling, as in any soap opera, couples play an important role in the story lines. True love, jealousy, and infidelity have all been used as plot devices to set up confrontations in the ring.

      In addition to couples creating compelling scenarios, being paired with an attractive woman often can help a male wrestler get over with the fans. Or, in the case of Billy and Chuck, putting two male wrestlers in a relationship can be a temporary career boost.

      A number of wrestling couples also happened to be together in real life and often times their personal lives mirrored their wrestling story lines. In some instances, fact was even juicer than fiction.

      Here's a look at the top 10 couples in wrestling history:


      1. RANDY SAVAGE & ELIZABETH

      Savage had all the necessary tools to be a superstar when he entered WWE in 1984--he had a good look, he could work, he could talk, and he was charismatic. But what really shot him to the top was the decision to make the lovely Elizabeth his manager in 1985.

      Elizabeth, a.k.a. the late Liz Hulette, Savage's real-life wife at the time (but not acknowledged as such in story lines), was the first female manager in WWE history. Elegant, petite, and somewhat mysterious, Elizabeth's presence at Savage's side made the "Macho Man" stand out in a company loaded with talented wrestlers.

      The couple made for an interesting dichotomy, as people hated him but loved her. Savage drew the fans'ire by verbally abusing Elizabeth, who, despite Savage's abhorrent behavior, remained loyal.

      Savage later turned babyface after saving Elizabeth, who perfectly played the damsel in distress, from an attack by the Hart Foundation and the Honky Tonk Man. That led to Savage and Hulk Hogan forming the Megapowers. Hogan's interference helped Savage defeat Ted DiBiase, "the Million Dollar Man," in the finals of the WWE world title tournament at WrestleMania IV.

      For one year, Savage and Elizabeth were on top of the wrestling world. Then, in one of WWE's most memorable story lines, an insanely jealous Savage accused Hogan of "lusting after Elizabeth." An enraged Savage turned on Hogan and shoved Elizabeth to the ground in an era when such violence toward women in wrestling was considered shocking. Eventually, Savage and Elizabeth reconciled and were "married" at SummerSlam in 1991. Seven months later at WrestleMauia VIII, Savage regained the WWE title by defeating Ric Flair, who had lied about having an affair with Elizabeth.

      In 1992, Savage and Hulette divorced, and she left the business. Elizabeth resurfaced in WCW in 1996 and resumed an on-air partnership with Savage. This time, she turned on him and sided with Flair before later going back to Savage again. By that point the story lines had been played out, and she went on to become the valet and real-life girlfriend of Lex Luger. Elizabeth died of an apparent drug overdose at Luger's home this past spring.


      2. TRIPLE H & STEPANIE MCMAHON


      The McMahon-Helmsley era was a glorious one indeed. The couple's reign in WWE, which spanned the latter part of 1999 through 2000, was the main story line during a time when WWE was at its peak both creatively and popularity-wise.

      It all began with the engagement of Stephanie, a sweet, wholesome, young girl in love, and Test. But before the nuptials could take place, Triple H, the smartass leader of D-Generarion X, kidnapped Stephanie, sedated her, and whisked her off to a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas, where he and an unconscious Stephanie were pronounced man and wife.

      When she came to, Stephanie was mortified at having married Triple H. This led to a match between Triple H and WWE chairman Vince McMahon, who was defending his daughter's honor. Stephanie, however, doublecrossed her father--she said the whole Vegas kidnapping was an elaborate ruse--and her interference helped Triple H gain the victory.

      Overnight, Stephanie morphed into an overbearing, spoiled, screechy-voiced villainess with a penchant for wearing outfits that would embarrass a streetwalker. After a disgusted Vince McMahon took some time off, the powerhungry couple had all the stroke in WWE and made decisions that stacked the deck against the federation's babyfaces.

      Along the way, Triple H won the WWE world title several times, and Stephanie somehow managed to capture the women's title. A love triangle between Stephanie, Triple H, and Kurt Angle made for great television and a hot feud. Coincidentally, a real-life love triangle played out behind the scenes and in the tabloids as Triple H began an affair with Stephanie while he was still dating Chyna.

      The Triple H-Stephanie on-air union ended when he left her at the altar as they were to renew their vows after he found out Stephanie had fled about being pregnant. While they're no longer together on camera, Triple H and Stephanie are still an item off screen--some would say life has imitated art judging by the power the couple yields backstage--and they were married for real in October.


      3. TULLY BLANCHARD & BABY DOLL

      During the mid-'80s, the Crockett promotion, based in the Carolinas, was on fire, and Blanchard, a cocky, young heel, was one of the company's top stars. A talented worker and good promo man, Blanchard really became a money player when Baby Doll became his valet.

      The angle began with Blanchard going on a search for the "Perfect 10." His quest ended when he laid eyes on Baby Doll, a tall, big-boned blonde whose physical stature rivaled some of the male wrestlers. The leather-clad Baby Doll was the antithesis of WWE's Elizabeth--she said what was on her mind, taunted fans, and never hesitated to interfere in Blanchard's matches. She was invaluable to Blanchard as he engaged in classic feuds with Magnum T.A. over the U.S. title and Dusty Rhodes over the NWA television title.

      In a surprising twist, Baby Doll had a falling out with Blanchard and became an ally to Rhodes. However, proving that you can never trust a woman (at least not in pro wrestling), she subsequently turned on Rhodes and rejoined Blanchard and the Four Horsemen.

      The real-life relationship between Blanchard and Baby Doll was strictly business, she was married to a wrestler--mid-card babyface Sam Houston, who in story lines was a frequent victim of attacks by Blanchard and company.


      4. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE & KIMBERLY

      Early in his career, Page was constantly surrounded by a bevy of beauties known as the Diamond Dolls. Eventually in WCW, DDP came to the ring with just one Diamond Doll--his real-life wife, Kimberly.

      Initially, Page and Kimberly had a SavageElizabeth type dynamic in that the fans booed him and cheered her because of the way he mistreated her. In 1995, Page fell on hard times after losing a loserleaves-WCW match to the Booty Man (a.k.a. Brutus Beefcake), who also won Kimberly's services. Page, however, returned a short while later, and he and Kimberly reunited.

      DDP hit it big in 1997 when he turned babyface after rejecting an offer to join the NWO. Page became a bonafide superstar when he defeated Randy Savage, with Kimberly (who was now as Page's wife on television) and Elizabeth in their respective men's comers. At that point, Page and Kimberly, who also was the leader of the Nitro Girls dance troupe, were the undisputed top couple in sports entertainment.

      Page went on to win the first of his three WCW world titles in 1999. In 2000, Kimberly turned on Page and allied herself with Eric Bischoff and the New Blood heel faction. Page and Kimberly were actually on opposite sides for some mixed tag matches, but before the angle could fully play out, Page took some time off to heal his neck and back injuries, and Kimberly left the business. When Page returned several months later, his wife did not, and she also remained at home during Page's WWE stint.


      5. "GORGEOUS" JIMMY GARVIN & PRECIOUS

      Garvin and his blonde valet Sunshine were making life miserable for babyfaces in the Texasbased World Class Championship Wrestling in the early '80s, but that wasn't satisfied. Deciding he needed two valets, he brought in another blonde named Precious, who was Garvin's real-life wife, Patty.

      Not surprisingly, the two women didn't get along, and Sunshine allied herself with the popular "Gentleman" Chris Adams and other babyfaces in mixed tag matches against Garvin and Precious. The heel couple later moved on to the Crocker promotion, where Garvin often won matches after Precious blinded his opponents by spraying perfume in their eyes.

      Garvin and Precious eventually became babyfaces, and Garvin made a strong challenge for Ric Flair's NWA world title. The Garvin-Flair title program, which was the highlight of Garvin's career, came about after the "Nature Boy" hit on Precious, who responded with a slap to the face. Flair went on to defeat Garvin in a cage match, and as a result, he won a night with Precious.

      In a memorable interview, Flair, in anticipation of his date with Precious, brought ont a mannequin dressed as her and proceeded to make out with it. When the big night finally arrived, it was Garvin's brother Ron in drag, not Precious, who was waiting for Flair in a hotel room. Ron Garvin, known as the "Man With the Hands of Stone," KO'd the lascivious champion with one punch.


      6. TRIPLE H & CHYNA

      Part of Triple H's Connecticut-snob gimmick in 1995 was that he would always come to the ring accompanied by beautiful women.

      Two years later, Triple H settled on having just one woman by his side, and she looked nothing like the fashionmodel types he had previously been banging out with. The muscular, Amazon-like Chyna made her debut by coming out of the audience and attacking Goldus's valet, Marlena, violently shaking her like a rag doll. Chyna's character, somewhat patterned after Baby Doll, got physically involved in Triple H's matches, helping her man win by delivering the dreaded low blow to his opponents. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna comprised the original D-Generation X, the top heel group in WWE at the time. After DX became babyfaces, Chyna turned on Triple H and joined Vince McMahon's Corporation.

      It wasn't long, however, before Triple H again turned heel and he and Chyna were back together. As Triple H began to work his way up to main events, he and Chyna parted ways and she began competing against men. The two remained together off camera until Triple H damped her for Stephanie McMahon. Chyna left WWE shortly thereafter.


      7. GOLDUST & MARLENA

      WWE fans didn't know what to make of this bizarre heel duo when they debuted in 1995. Goldust (a.k.a. Dustin Runnels), sporting a blond wig and gold and black face paint, was portrayed as being either gay or bisexual (it was never made clear), and he had a habit of quoting lines from movies in his promos. Marlena (a.k.a. Terri Runnels, Dustin's wife) was his sexy, cigar-smoking accomplice.

      The antics of Goldust and Marlena were at the forefront of WWE's transformation from family entertainment to an edgier, more adult product. A lesbian story line between Marlena and Sable was one angle that was nixed shortly after it started because it was deemed too racy (although flint certainly isn't the case today).

      After Goldust and Marlena turned babyface, Goldust engaged in a feud with Brian Pillman, who won Marlena's services in a match. Just as the angle was picking up steam, however, Pillman died suddenly.

      Eventually, Goldust and Marlena split in the story line, and Dustin and Terri Runnels divorced in real life.

      8. "EXOTIC" ADRIAN STREET & MISS LINDA,

      While Gorgeous George was the first effeminate wrestler to make a splash, it was Street who took the gimmick to another level. The native of England created an androgynous character that would serve as the inspiration for flamboyant wrestlers such as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, Goldust, and Rico, among others. Street also was one of the first wrestlers in the early 1980s to use face paint and have a female valet.

      While Street and Linda were married in real life, he played Iris part so well that none of the fans had a clue he actually was heterosexual Wearing lipstick, garish eye makeup, and his hair in pigtails, Street would skip to the flag and then prance around like a ballet dancer. He and Miss Linda drew a lot of heel heat in every territory in which they appeared. Street feuded with some of the top names in the business during the '80s.

      9. STEVE AUSTIN & LADY BLOSSOM

      Long before he became "Stone Cold," Austin was involved in an angle that was way ahead of its time. While it has become commonplace for wrestlers and their real-life wives to participate in soap opera-type story lines, that wasn't the case back in 1990.

      Austin, with long, blond hair, was a rookie in the USWA in Texas, when he turned on his mentor, Chris Adams. To get under Adams' skin, Austin brought in Jeannie Clark (a.k.a. Lady Blossom), Adams' real-life ex-wife, to be his valet. Adams' real-life second wife, Toni, then came in to be her husband's valet.

      Austin, Adams, and the two busty blondes participated in a wild feud featuring mixed-tag matches and impromptu catfights. Austin and Clark ended up getting married in real life, and they eventually moved on to WCW, where she became known as Lady Blossom. The couple became a successful high midcard act in WCW before she decided to leave the business. Austin and Clark, who reportedly came up with the "Stone Cold" moniker for him, divorced in 1999.

      10. BILLY & CHUCK

      The careers of Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo were going nowhere when the WWE creative team put them together as a heel tag team last year.

      At first, a homosexual relationship between the twotime WWE tag-team champions was strongly implied, but never actually stated. That is, until Chuck got down on one knee in the ring and proposed to Billy. The buildup for the commitment ceremony on "Smackdown" garnered a lot of mainstream publicity for WWE, including praise from GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

      GLAAD, however, was anything but when it saw how the angle played out. Just before they were about to say "I do," it was revealed that the whole thing was a publicity stunt and they actually were straight. Just like that, Billy and Chuck, who had been booed for being homosexuals, received cheers for being heterosexuals. Shortly thereafter, Gunn suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for nearly eight months, and his partnership with Palumbo was history.


      THE DUMBEST DUOS

      WRESTLING WRITERS AND PROMOTERS make matches for a living, but that doesn't necessarily always make them good matchmakers when it comes to creating couples. Here are five pairs that we could have done without:

      1. MARK HENRY & MAE YOUNG

      There are two images from this May-December romance between the 400-pound "Sexual Chocolate" and the crusty octogenarian that have been scarred onto our retinas: Young, enjoying a post-interlude cigar while lying next to a breathless Henry in bed; and a supposedly pregnant Young giving birth to a hand. A hand?!? Considering what object reportedly was originally supposed to have come out of Young--which is not suitable for publication--before the writers changed their minds, perhaps the hand was a good thing after all.

      2. STEVE & DEBRA McMICHAEL Except for the fact that the former Chicago Bear was a lousy announcer and an even worse wrestler with no charisma, and her acting ability made Sable look like Meryl Streep, the MeMichaels would have been a big hit. Debra does deserve credit for one thing: she saw she was with losers (her husband and WCW), so she got a divorce, signed with WWE, and went on to marry "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. That is the definition of "trading up."

      3. AL WILSON &DAWN MARIE

      The WWE creative team tortured "Smackdown" viewers witl this story line, which was more tedious than titillating. Torrie Wilson's father, Al, whose anti-charisma made Lance Storm seem like the Rock in comparison. had a fling with Dawn Made, his daughter's rival. Among other things, this ted to Al and Dawn getting married in their underwear; a lesbian kiss between Torrie and Dawn: an exhausted Al having a heart attack on his honeymoon; and Torrie and Dawn engaging in a catfight at Al's viewing, which resulted in Al's casket (with AI inside, showing his usual amount of personality as a corpse) being knocked over. We love dark humor as much anyone, but this garbage wasn't remotely funny or entertaining even in a kitschy way.

      4. KANE & KATIE VICK

      This angle featured perhaps the single-most tasteless vignette ever in pro wrestling--and imagine the ground that covers, To build up the. feud between Triple H and Kane, Triple H revealed that a teenaged Kane was behind the wheel years ago when his passenger, a girl he had a crush on named Katie Vick, was killed in a car accident, Triple H also suggested that Kane had sex with her dead body. "The Game" then treated "Raw" viewers to a re-enactment, complete with him dressed as Kane and simulating a sex act with a mannequin in a coffin. At least Triple H's mentor, Ric Flair, had the decency to draw the line at making out with a mannequin during his angle with "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin and Precious in the 1980s

      5. TAJIRI & TORRIE WILSON


      We all know wrestling is entertainment, but just like any form of entertainment, there has to be at least shred of believability. No one bought the "Japanese Buzz Saw" and the blonde bombshell as a couple. Then again, a lot of fans probably have a hard time believing Wilson actually married a guy like Billy Kidman in real life. but we digress. Tajiri and Wilson as an odd couple just didn't work, and they eventually split after he repeatedly mistreated her.


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