The Wrestling Connoisseur: Sleepless in Suplex City
The Wrestling Connoisseur: The (B)Romance or Sleepless in Suplex City
Wrestling is full of memorial moments. These often consist of great in-ring choreography or an entire match in some circumstances. On occasion a great feud or story line sticks out. Sometimes these big moments are the last thing someone would expect in wrestling-romances. Romances are often attempted, in poor taste or in poor writing, and nothing ever comes of it. Romances are often bastardized as well, see Nattie Neidhart and Tyson Kidd, a real life couple who’s on-screen romance just didn’t sizzle or wow the fans. But fans couldn’t get enough of other couples like Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth.
The old school dynamic relationship was introduced with valets. Women’s wrestling wasn’t too popular back in the day and the use of “eye candy” was rampant. Many of the women in wrestling, back then, weren’t wrestlers at all. Miss Elizabeth never laced up those boots. Neither did (a number) of Steve Austin’s valets/wives. Some valets did finally become wrestlers, like Stacey Keibler, Torrie Wilson, and Dawn Marie.
Older romance angles and storylines followed a more classic love triangle. The heel would steal the love interest and the face would seek revenge. In one (now horrible to watch) story line, Ric Flair was feuding with the Garvins and he won the right to “one night” with Precious, Jimmy Garvin’s wife and valet. This was during the ill-booked Ronnie Garvin/Ric Flair world title feud. The Garvin’s got the last laugh as Flair showed up to find “Precious” ready for him, but it was Ronnie Garvin in drag.
There have been numerous other minor love triangles as well, notable mention of Trish-Christian-Jericho. There are two love triangles that stand out in mind the most. The first, that I won’t dive to deep into, is Raven, Beulah, (and Kimona Wanalaya) and Tommy Dreamer. Beulah, Raven, and Tommy were all childhood friends. Beulah was in love with Tommy, but after being rejected by Dreamer she slept with Raven and eventually showed up in his corner. Later she would turn on Raven and join Dreamer. And even later, when Dreamer suspected she was cheating, he was right, but instead of being another wrestler it was Kimona. Mind boggling isn’t it?
The second that stands out is the infamous Lita story line. Lita and Matt Hardy were a real life couple. In a strange storyline where Kane tried to woo Lita from Matt, Lita revealed she was pregnant with Kane’s child. Lita “lost” the pregnancy thanks to Snitsky and that particular story line ended. The onscreen relationship between Lita and Kane ended when she turned on him to help Edge. In a strange twist, Lita and Edge had started a relationship in real life while she was still involved romantically with Matt Hardy as well. What a mess.
We can’t talk about romance in wrestling without talking about bromance though. The two sometimes tie in together as well. One of the biggest wrestling romances, Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, also involved Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage had formed a fan favorite partnership known as the Mega Powers. Their epic feud with the Million Dollar Man and Andre the Giant is legendary. Hogan was even in Savage’s corner when he won the WWF world title. The romance and bromance was cut short when Savage became jealous and obsessed that Hogan was after Elizabeth and the Mega Powers…exploded. Raven and Dreamer’s feud could also be seen as a bromance, albeit an obsessed one on Raven’s half. And the more modern bromance of John Cena and Zack Ryder and Eve triangle.
More notable bromances, minus the triangle, include Billy and Chuck, Triple H and HBK, Edge and Christian, Goldust and Booker T, and Rock and Mankind. Many of these are reluctant, with one wrestler chasing the other like Goldust chasing Booker T or Foley chasing the Rock. Some are best friends like E & C and DX. Sometimes the bromance is a life long duo, often it ends with one partner turning on the other. Bitter sweet relationships.
The most current story line in this manner is a throwback to Booker T and Goldust except now with R Truth. To vary this almost identical storyline up the writers began having Truth chase Goldust, until their own respective tag partners, Tyler Breeze and Fandango turned on both men to form their own tag team and Goldust and Booker T R Truth joined forces at lust last.
The key to making good romance is conflict. In wrestling romance is secondary or used as a jumping point for a feud. Very rarely has the romance been the central interest of story lines. The only time I can remember this happening was Randy Savage’s retirement and on screen marriage to Miss Elizabeth-which also served to feud later story lines with Jake Roberts and Ric Flair (another love triangle). In writing there doesn’t always have to be a love triangle. Sometimes the love interests face a world of obstacles where they can’t be together. Consider Romeo and Juliet. To my knowledge, this has never been done in wrestling, but why not? Especially in today’s modern setting where women’s wrestling is as good, if not better at times, than the men’s. One leg that wrestling has over novel writing is that cliches aren’t considered poison; amnesia, evil man just needs a good woman, the “ugly” but beautiful inside heroine.
In many ways, wrestling has yet to even dip in and explore romance like the novel. It would be a welcomed and unprecedented idea when wrestling often regurgitates old story lines, especially bromances like Goldust plus Booker/Truth. And heaven forbid wrestling reflect a modern society with their romances and story lines. I’d dare say ratings would increase.