Historically Speaking: Romance…Pro Wrestling Style

“What else can history teach us? Only the vanity of believing we can impose our theories on history. Any philosophy which asserts that human experience repeats itself is ineffectual.” – Jacques Ellul

The Opening Chapter
I know Valentine’s Day was a few days but I’m still in the mood so this week you are going to get a look back at some iconic romances, pro wrestling syle.

#5 – Billy & Chuck
Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo, or simply known as “Billy and Chuck,” were pro wrestling’s first mainstream gay character couple. The pairing started innocently enough in late 2001; a pair of muscle-bound guys who were a fairly successful tag team. But as time went on they started incorporating subtle nuances into their characters that hinted that they might be more than just partners inside the ring.

Then in September 2002 after a match on national television, Chuck got down on one knee and proposed to Billy; who readily accepted. The stint gained national publicity and The New York Post even ran a story about it. Billy, Chuck and their “stylist” Rico did promotional interviews for the event, including spots on Howard Stern and The Today Show. In fact while on Today, representatives from GLAAD even presented the couple with a gravy boat.

Of course, this being pro wrestling it all ended up a stunt. During the ceremony (which of course was to be broadcast on SmackDown) Billy got cold feet and admitted it was a publicity stunt. Then of course the justice of the peace unmasked like a Scooby-Doo villain to be Eric Bischoff, a rival bad guy. He sent his Samoan thugs “Three Minute Warning” to ruin the ceremony and set up a tag team match for the next pay per view.

You just don’t hear of love stories like that any other place.

#4 – Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
It all started when Stephanie McMahon, the young daughter of Vince McMahon, started to appear regularly on WWE television in 1999. She naturally gained the attention of a young muscle bound monster named Test. The two courted on-screen and were all set to marry live on Monday Night RAW in December 1999. This being wrestling, a wedding can’t go well, and sure enough Triple H intervened and showed video of HHH and a drugged-up Stephanie going through a drive-up wedding chapel in Las Vegas.

This led to Triple H not only battling Test but also Stephanie’s father Vince in the ring. Then in a great twist, young innocent Stephanie turned on her dad and admitted she was in it with Triple H from the beginning. From 2000 until May 2001, Stephanie and Triple H ruled WWF TV under the McMahon-Helmsley Era. In early 2002 the pair got divorced on screen and remain awkward rivals to this day on television.

Of course during the whole story, real life intervened and Triple H and Stephanie fell for each other actually. The pair was married in October 2003 and since then the couple has had two daughters. They are still happily married and are both heavily involved on-screen and backstage in all capacities.

#3 – Matt Hardy and Lita
This is the tragic tale on this lovey dovey list. Matt, along with his brother Jeff, were paired up with Lita as their on-screen valet/manager in early 2000. The trio was an instant hit with fans, and along the way Matt and Lita started an off-screen relationship, which is not uncommon for co-workers who work together closely. The pair’s relationship was incorporated into their on-screen storyline, including times where Matt would defend Lita’s honor against other wrestlers.

Then in early 2005 it all fell apart. Hardy, who was out with a knee injury, found out that Lita was fooling around with Adam “Edge” Copeland, another wrestler who was married at the time. Hardy made the transgressions known to the world via the Internet. WWE fired Hardy during the time period and then struck while the iron was hot and paired up Lita with Edge on-screen. The Internet-savvy crowds were all over the Edge and Lita pairing, and the duo drew insane crowd heat. The company had no choice but to rehire Hardy just a few short months later to re-enact the hateful story live on TV. Surprisingly the bad guy Edge came out on top of the on-screen feud while no one came out on top in real life. Lita left pro wrestling in the fall of 2006, while Edge went on to become one of the most successful bad guys in recent memory. Today he and Matt co-exist on the SmackDown brand of WWE, but I’m sure neither will be on the other’s Christmas list any time soon.

#2 – Vince and Linda McMahon
Easily the most influential couple in pro wrestling history. Vince and Linda built World Wrestling Entertainment from the ground up back in the early ‘80s after Vince bought the company from his father Vince, Sr. Together the duo has made World Wrestling Entertainment one of the most profitable entertainment companies going today. Linda acts as the company’s CEO and corporate face of the company while Vince sits as the Chairman of the Board and works as the maniacal “Mr. McMahon” character on TV, among his numerous other roles. They have built a family dynasty that now includes their son Shane, his wife Marissa and their two young sons and their daughter Stephanie, her husband Triple H and their two daughters. Linda makes occasional appearances on WWE TV, usually in the straight-woman role to the circus that is unfolding around her.

#1 – “The Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth
Macho Man and Elizabeth are the true first couple of pro wrestling. The pair met in the early ‘80s when Liz worked for the wrestling promotion owned by Savage’s father. They entered the WWF together as a duo in 1986, already an off-air married couple.

In 1989 the pair split on television as Savage became “The Macho King,” and Elizabeth took a leave from television while Savage became a reviled villain. Then after WrestleMania VII when Savage lost a “career ending” match his valet Sensational Sherri turned on him only for Miss Elizabeth to run into the ring and save her man. Savage apologized for his past transgressions and the happy couple was reunited. It led to a pay per view wedding at SummerSlam 1991 in what was probably the only wrestling wedding in history that went off without any run-ins from bad guys, fist fights or someone left standing alone at the alter.

The pair continued to work on and off together through the rest of the 1990s in both WWE and World Championship Wrestling. Ultimately their real life relationship didn’t work as well as they divorced in the early ‘90s. Despite their tumultuous times both on and off-screen there was no couple in wrestling history that was more fondly remembered. Any wrestling romance that has come since will be compared to Macho and Liz, and rightfully so.

The Perspective
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some other influential and popular couples in wrestling history like “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin and Precious, Booker T and Sharmell, Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch, Goldust and Marlena and of course Kurt & Karen Angle (well maybe scratch that last one) that made an indelible mark on wrestling history. But really when you think of couples in wrestling is there really any other choice than Macho and Liz?

For this week the vault is closed…

Linked to the Pulse
Kace gives his early thoughts on WrestleMania XXV.

David B. continues to look at Memphis wrestling from back in the day.

Jake Zeigler is thankfully now on the Pulse to give his expert Ring of Honor analysis. Welcome to IP Jake.

This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.

1942 – Bill Longson defeated Sandor Szabo for the NWA Heavyweight Wrestling title
1943 – Bill Longson defeated Bobby Managoff for the NWA Heavyweight Wrestling title
1986 – The Cuban Assassin defeated Kendall Windham for the Florida State Heavyweight title
1994 – The Heavenly Bodies defeated the Rock n’ Roll Express for the Smokey Mountain Tag Team title
1995 – WCW SuperBrawl V was held at the Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, MD
2000 – Shark Boy defeated Matt Stryker for the HWA Cruiserweight Title
2000 – “Surfer” Cody Hawk & “Taxi Driver” Mad Anthony McMurphy defeated Alexis Machine & Suicido & GQ Masters, III for the HWA Tag Team Title
2002 – Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo defeated Spike Dudley & Tazz for the WWF Tag Team title
2003 – Nick Dinsmore defeated The Damaja for the Ohio Valley Heavyweight title

The Assignment
It’s important to know your history to know where you have come from and where you are going. Back when Nova was in charge of the WWE developmental system he implemented mandatory history assignments for the students of the developmental territories so they would know pro wrestling’s history and they would learn just how many moves Nova created and apparently the best ways to get on-line prescriptions. I feel Nova had a great idea there and every week I will assign a book or DVD for you to check out and learn from. They are not only educational, but very entertaining.

I finally got through “The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians” by Greg Oliver, a part of his Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series of books. I had previously read his “The Heels” book, which I enjoyed very much, but unfortunately I just didn’t like this one nearly as much. Maybe it’s because there were many, many athletes profiled here that I didn’t have any emotional attachment to. It made it hard to get into their life stories, and Oliver’s writing style can be a little dry so I think that is why it took me so long to get through. As a self-professed wrestling historian it was nice to read about so many wrestlers I have never heard of, but I was terribly biased towards many of those who become quite famous in America. Oliver was the author who was blasted by Bret Hart at a convention a while back, and while Hart went about his criticisms in completely the wrong way I can’t help but agree with Hart’s assessment of being much too low on his Top 20 list.

This is recommended only if you want to learn about wrestling’s past and history, but don’t expect a real exciting read overall.

For more relevant, exciting and interesting wrestling information from your truly, check out my paying gig over at Examiner.com.

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