It’s often said that professional wrestling is basically a soap opera, and that’s best exemplified by the number of romance angles fans have seen over the years, especially in WWE as fans have seen countless wrestlers, usually male and female, flirt backstage while a relationship blossoms. But more than just relationship stories, wrestling loves a love triangle, as having three people involved invariably results in two of them fighting over the third.
Love triangle storylines are rarely the best angles on any given show, but there have been some funny ones over the years. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best, some of which were the result of real-life dramas.
10 Rusev/Lana/Summer Rae
For much of Rusev’s WWE run, the “Bulgarian Brute” was managed by Lana, creating an Ivan Drago/Ludmilla Vobet dynamic. However, after a few months, the real-life couple broke up on-screen, with Rusev turning his affections to Summer Rae while Lana moved on to Dolph Ziggler. While the angle had some funny moments like Rusev gifting Summer Rae a fish, the storyline was ultimately scuttled by the news that Rusev and Lana had gotten engaged in real life.
9 Vince McMahon/Linda McMahon/Trish Stratus
As a stereotypical rich guy and pro wrestling heel, it’s inevitable that WWE boss Vince McMahon will end up cheating on his kayfabe wife. Over the years, McMahon had things with various women over the years on WWE television, but the most notable was his affair with Trish Stratus. It resulted in some awkward moments like the infamous “bark like a dog” segment, but it also led to one of the biggest moments that basically closed out the Attitude Era on wrestling 17 as both Linda McMahon and Trish Stratus turned on Vince.
8 Rick Martel/Shawn Michaels/Sensational Sherri
After betraying his teammate Marty Jannetty, the newly nicknamed “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels gained a manager in the form of Sensational Sherri. Before long, Sherri gained a fan in the form of “The Model” Rick Martel.
The climax of their love triangle was a coincidence in summer festival 1992 with one hilarious stipulation: neither could punch the other in the face. As the two wrestled, Sherri passed out at ringside, causing the two men to fight over who got to tend her, resulting in a double count out of her.
7 Kurt Angle/Jeff Jarrett/Karen Angle
Impact Wrestling, formerly known as TNA, was the source of scandalous backstage drama in 2007 when the promotion’s co-founder, Jeff Jarrett, began a relationship with Kurt Angle’s estranged wife, Karen. In 2011, after Jeff Jarrett and ex Karen Angle got married, Impact decided to turn the scandal into a storyline pitting the two wrestlers against each other and blurring the lines between kayfabe and reality and led to several solid matches in the process, including a street fight that temporarily forced Jarrett to leave the country.
6 Dolph Ziggler/John Cena/AJ Lee
In 2012, women’s division standout AJ Lee began romancing John Cena, which led to some surprisingly awkward moments where Cena seemed embarrassed to be seen dating a girl. However, this led to a betrayal, as AJ ended up forging a much less weird relationship with heel midcard Dolph Ziggler. From there, several matches ensued between Cena and Ziggler, and the AJ/Dolph pairing proved to be strong, especially once Big E was added to the mix as his enforcer.
5 CM Punk/Daniel Bryan/AJ Lee
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan had feuded during their time on the indies, but in 2012 they renewed their feud now that Punk was the WWE Champion. Rather than simply playing off their shared history, their WWE feud was over AJ Lee, who had been Bryan’s on-screen girlfriend for roughly seven months but had been attracting the affections of CM Punk. Punk and Bryan put together some great pay-per-view matches, with AJ coming back to Bryan only to leave him at the altar when she was named General Manager of Raw.
4 Edge/Matt Hardy/Lita
In 2004, Matt Hardy and Lita had been dating for real when it was revealed that Lita had been cheating on him with Edge. Hardy did not take the news very well and was eventually fired from WWE for it. However, fans were aware of the situation and ended up vocally clamoring for Hardy’s return to the company.
WWE ended up not only bringing Matt Hardy back, but also turning the scandal into a storyline, with Hardy feuding with Edge over Lita, with matches including a Steel Cage Match at unforgivable 2005, and a Loser Leaves Raw Ladder Match that saw Hardy going to Slap.
3 Triple H/Kurt Angle/Stephanie McMahon
The on-screen relationship between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was pretty wild over the years, with Trips marrying Steph under Test’s nose and the two running WWE with an iron fist as The Authority more than 13 years later. But in the early years of their kayfabe relationship, before they got married in real life a few years later, Kurt Angle came on the scene and became surprisingly close to Stephanie, much to Triple H’s chagrin. Angle and Triple H engaged in a match. No DQ in unforgivable 2000, which led Stephanie McMahon to definitively choose Triple H.
2 Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage/Miss Elizabeth
In 1987, WWE high heel Randy Savage became a baby after Hulk Hogan rescued him from a beating, leading the two to form a tag team called The Mega Powers. The duo was managed by Savage’s real-life valet and wife, Miss Elizabeth, who also began managing Hogan in his one-man matches. As the months passed, Savage, already overly protective of Elizabeth, began to grow more and more jealous of Hogan and Elizabeth’s interactions, leading not only to a betrayal, but also to a great deal. wrestlemania 5 main event title match between the former friends.
1 Chris Jericho/Christian/Trish Stratus
One of the most entertaining love triangles of the Attitude Era, the Chris Jericho/Christian/Tris Stratus affair began with Jericho and Christian betting on who could (respectively) sleep with Trish Stratus or Lita first, leading to a fight over mixed teams. nicknamed the “Battle of the Sexes”. Despite the questionable setup, a romance ensued between Jericho and Stratus, while Jericho’s friendship with Christian turned into a feud. This led to a WrestleMania 20 match between the former friends, with Stratus betraying Chris Jericho to side with Christian.