Pro Wrestling Relationships With Uncomfortable Age Gaps
Does love know no age? And is age truly just a number? Hollywood couples like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, Emilie Livingston and Jeff Goldblum or Leonardo DiCaprio and anyone he’s ever dated are testaments to finding love despite age differences. Well, maybe not Leo; that may be one guy who’s never looking to settle down.
The world of professional wrestling seems to have followed Hollywood’s tradition of May-December romances. And if this dynamic is inextricably linked to fame, then it makes sense; pro wrestlers are huge celebrities in their own orbit, and even occasionally break into the mainstream to become some of the biggest stars on the planet. But when it comes to matters of the heart, these heels and faces alike don’t seem to want to date anyone their own age anymore. While a two to three-year age difference is not out of the ordinary, some of these age gaps are bound to shock and awe — and that may actually be an understatement.
The Chick Magnet settles down
Phil Brooks aka CM Punk was one of WWE’s more outspoken superstars of the modern era. The "pipe bomb" dropping wrestler also had a short stint in UFC with a career of 0-2. Although he hasn’t been able to pick up a victory in the octagon, he picked up a great victory in locking down former WWE star AJ Lee, who is eight years younger than Punk.
Now, eight years is not that big of a gap and certainly not the biggest we’ll see on this list. It’s also no secret that Punk and the WWE were on bad terms up until the very end. In an interview with his close friend and fellow wrestler Colt Cabana on his Art of Wrestling podcast, Punk reveals that he got his walking papers on his wedding day. He states, "As much as I kind of chuckled at it and didn’t really let it affect my day, I was like ‘once again you pushed too fu***** far; you pushed the wrong guy.’" Layer on the fact that Lee was still employed by WWE for a year thereafter, and you’ve got the recipe for some uncomfortable conversations at the Punk/Lee dinner table.
Fortunately, the relationship between Punk and WWE seems to have smoothed out a bit, with the straight-edge wrestler making appearances on the wrestling juggernaut’s talk show Backstage up until its June 2020 cancellation.
The older man behind The Boss
Sasha Banks is one of the most notable females in professional wrestling today. Affectionately known as "The Boss" and the real-life cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg, Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado began her wrestling career in the independent scene at only 18 years old, and cemented her status as a top female performer upon entering WWE in 2012. Since then, Banks has won multiple titles across WWE’s Smackdown, RAW, and NXT brands, as well as competed in the first-ever female Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber matches.
In 2016, Banks married Sarath "Mikaze" Ton, a former wrestler turned WWE costume designer who is nine years her senior. In a chat with WWE, Banks shared how she and Ton "met in the independents together," and that he quit his job to support her dreams of going pro. And while that sounds so sweet, the couple’s first date didn’t exactly send the sparks flying. "We had pho, of course, and his nose was running," Banks recalled, adding, "And I think I had a hair on my chest and he grabbed it and I was like, ‘Dude, you’re a little too forward.’" Not exactly the stuff of a Nicholas Sparks flick, but everything worked out in the end because the two are still married, as of this writing.
Privacy also seems to be important for Banks and Ton as only a few social media posts about their wedding mark their only public remarks about it.
Sarah Logan and Raymond Rowe: Modern Day Vikings
While Sarah Logan made a name for herself in the WWE with The Riott Squad, Raymond Rowe (who goes by Erik in the ring) was crushing the competition with his partner Ivar in a tag team called The Viking Raiders.
Logan and Rowe met while wrestling for independent promotions, and later tied the knot in a Viking-themed December 2018 wedding. Aside from their obvious common interest in wrestling, the pair is also keen on the fighting style and craftsmanship of the Norse heritage. Their wedding guests wore their best tunics and cloaks, and there was even a Viking shield cake!
Logan, who is nine years younger than Rowe, took a break from wrestling after being released due to the budget cuts made by the WWE amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after that bad news, however, the couple announced a pregnancy. Even more good news? They’re head-over-heels for one another. In their wedding video, Rowe described his love for Logan: "She’s my why. She’s my reason… she’s why I sacrifice… why I want a future. Without her it doesn’t make any sense." Logan reciprocated the love, and revealed that even though she’s the younger of the pair, it was her advances that sparked the romance. "Our relationship started as strictly a friendship… He made me like a shy little schoolgirl, so I couldn’t confess my feelings for him for a very long time… until I put my game on him."
Sable’s next big affair
Brock Lesnar has won numerous titles across WWE and UFC. "The Beast Incarnate" tied the knot with Rena Greek aka Sable, who is hands-down one of the most over-sexualized women in professional wrestling history — and ten years older than Lesnar.
The relationship allegedly started off as an alleged affair, while Brock was still engaged to his high school sweetheart, Nicole McClain, and Sable was still married to former WWE and WCW star Marc Mero. In an interview with The Hannibal TV, Mero states that he left a nasty message on Sable’s phone and wanted to "access" her voicemail to delete it, but got an unexpected surprise when there was another message before his. "I gotta listen to the first one to get to mine," Mero says, "and it’s this man’s voice apologizing for the night before. I was like ‘what the heck’ and it was pretty graphic and I was very taken aback. Then, I was realizing that she was seeing somebody else; it was devastating." With allegations like this, it appears as though Lesnar wasn’t "The Next Big Thing" for wrestling fans alone.
Lesnar or Sable appear to have kept mum about the alleged affair, and that seems to be their default mode about everything. In a moment of rare candor, however, Lesner did tell Highly Questionable how he pranked Sable before getting her a new ring for their wedding anniversary, by convincing her that their toddler swallowed her old one.
The Nature Boy’s (not so) new girl
Ric Flair is still the stylin’, profilin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, wheelin’, dealin’ son-of-a-gun — even at 71 years old. "The Man" has had a career longer than most of us have been alive and still appears on WWE shows, including the brutal August 2020 appearance in which he got punted in the head by Randy Orton. But that’s just business in pro wrestling, right?
On the personal side, things are going great for Flair, who married retired tennis player Wendy Barlow in a ceremony held on the rooftop of the Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, Fla. According to the Daily Mail, the two met during Flair’s time in the WCW, where Barlow was a valet going by the name Fifi. "The Nature Boy" even live-streamed some of the wedding, which starts off with Flair walking down the aisle to Migos’ Offset and Metro Boomin’s hit song, "Ric Flair Drip."
In an interview with People, Flair credited Barlow, who’s 11 years younger than the 2-time WWE Hall of Famer, for helping him change his hard-living ways, which included sleeping with around 10,000 women. But the 16x World Champion now says "I only love one now. I have never done anything since I met Wendy," and laments ever admitting to his bedroom-conquering ways. "I wish I hadn’t said that because of my grandkids." Obviously, we’re not related to Flair, but yeah, same.
The Chairman and The IIconic
"The Chairman" Shawn Spears, real name Ronnie Arneill, is one of the many talents who have gone on to AEW after their contracts with WWE expired. During Spears’ time in WWE, he went by Tye Dillinger and met his wife, fellow wrestler Cassandra McIntosh aka Peyton Royce during training sessions, where she was instantly enamored with him. This led to the two getting together and married in August 2019, sharing an age gap of 12 years; enough to make most of our mothers start asking questions.
In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Royce says, "I was just drawn to him. Yeah, straight away, I just thought he was so attractive. … I looked up to him because he was so good, and so anytime we got extra training in the ring and I knew he was going to be taking training, I was like, ‘I have to be in that session.’"
Spears owns a wrestling school called Flatbacks with Matt Clement (better known as Tyler Breeze) and the couple still trains together regularly.
A Hardy double restraining order
Matt Hardy was one half of The Hardy Boys with his brother, Jeff. Together, they made history in WWE with their TLC matches along with The Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian. After his initial release from WWE in 2005, the "broken" superstar spent time in the independents. Hardy, who was quite the ladies’ man, met his wife Reby Sky (who is 12 years his junior) during this period, and married her two years later.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, and the pair’s relationship was quite the rocky one. TMZ reported a disturbing 2014 domestic dispute in which Hardy and Sky both stepped away "bloody and bruised;" Hardy had scratch marks all over his face and Sky had cuts on her face, along with a black eye and lip swelling. The couple filed restraining orders against each other, but they were dropped by both parties sometime after.
Despite the ordeal, they’re still happily married today, posting happy times with their kids and tender moments with each other. Sky even captioned one photo with a somewhat on-brand version of their once-turbulent romance: "The ONLY person who could possibly ever make this backwoodsa** country sh*t worth it 🤪 love u [Matt Hardy]."
No one put The Rock in a hard place about marriage
What is there to say about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that hasn’t already been said a million times over? He’s one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2016, and he’s the most electrifying man in all of sports entertainment. Oh yeah, and he’s also married to singer/songwriter Lauren Hashian, who’s 12 years younger than "The Great One."
The two were wed in a private ceremony in Hawaii, having dating for ten years before deciding to tie the knot. Johnson has been candid about his hesitation to marry his longtime girlfriend, and it actually has nothing to do with the fact that she was born around the time he was graduating high school. Speaking with WSJ Magazine, the Moana star didn’t address the potentially uncomfortable age gap, but he did reveal, "My divorce did a number on me. I wasn’t fearful of getting married again, there was just some hesitancy, but Lauren was incredibly patient: ‘I love you, you love me, we have this amazing life together — no presh.’"
The Deadman’s Bride
Mark Calaway, better known as The Undertaker, is one of the greatest gimmicks pro wrestling has ever produced. With over 30 years in the industry, The Phenom hinted at his plans to retire, however, he left the door open for special appearances. Throughout his career, he’s been married three times, his most recent wife being former wrestler and WWE Women’s Champion Michelle McCool — with a 15 year age gap between the two.
The two married in 2010 and McCool’s ability to throw a perfect spiral sealed the deal for The American Badass. In the WWE Network documentary Undertaker: The Last Ride, he recounts, "It was a TV day, and I had a little football. She just happens to walk out, picks it up, and throws about a 35-yard spiral, just scorched it. I kid you not. I had never seen a girl throw a football like that." Speaking with Stephane Chase, McCool admitted her first impression of The Undertaker wasn’t quite so enthralling. Due to his character’s persona instilling fear in her (and most of us) at a young age, she said, "I grew up watching it, and he is not the most inviting person when you’re watching as a fan from home." Honestly, we should all just be happy that The Undertaker and Mark Calaway are two different people.
Kurt Angle earned the respect of his young bride’s dad
Olympic Gold Medalist (which he’ll tell you he won with a broken neck, no less) Kurt Angle had quite the prominent wrestling career. During that time he had stints in WWE and Total Nonstop Action (formally TNA and now iMPACT Wrestling), winning championships everywhere he went. The Olympian and former WWE Champion is currently married to Giovanna Yannotti, who was born when Angle was 17 years old.
Yannotti, an actress, has appeared in My Bloody Valentine, the Sorority Row remake, and even has an uncredited role in Justified. Angle met Yannotti on the set of 2009’s End Game. In an interview with Vince Russo, she explains, "All of a sudden I saw Kurt walking in, big blue eyes; he was so handsome. … I was just like, ‘I gotta have him.’" She also mentioned that even though the 17 year age gap may have been a concern, Angle was very traditional, asking her police officer father for her hand in marriage and gaining his respect in the process.
Angle married Yannotti in 2012 and they have three kids together, including a son they’ve adopted from Bulgaria.
Hulkamania’s still running wild
Ever thought about dating someone who was born when you were already able to legally purchase alcohol? That’s unfamiliar territory for most people, but Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, is not most people. Not only did the Hulkster exhibit superhuman strength when he body-slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, but apparently he’s got the stroke when it comes to the ladies as well.
After his 23-year marriage to his first wife, Linda, ended in 2009, Hogan, who was born in 1953, married Jennifer McDaniel, who was born on May 13th, 1974. Regardless of the decades between them, perhaps the most unusual thing about the couple is what happened at their wedding. The two sealed the deal in a Clearwater, Fla. ceremony that turned into a brawl. According to Bleacher Report, one of Hogan’s family members (working as a security officer) prevented a photographer from entering the ceremony; a brief scuffle ensued, but the confrontation was broken up by police officers who arrived at the scene.
Even though the wedding wasn’t as messy as his divorce from Linda, Hogan — who wed for the second time in his late 60s — still ate his vitamins, said his prayers, and signed a prenup.
Jerry Lawler and the Fountain of Youth
Of all the gaps on the list, this one takes the crown. Jerry "The King" Lawler has been wrestling since the ’70s but cemented his career as the quippy commentator alongside Jim Ross in the WWE/F through the ’90s to the early 2010s. You may also remember him from the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, where he re-enacted his epic feud with quirky comedian. Unfortunately, one of the things he’s most known for these days is having a heart attack during a live episode of RAW in 2012.
The King also makes headlines for his relationship with longtime girlfriend Lauryn McBride. Although the two aren’t married, they are engaged and have been together since 2011, with a WHOLE lot of craziness going down since then. There was a case of domestic violence that may or may not have involved a gun, a horrific car crash in Tennessee, and of course, the stroke Lawler suffered while having sex with McBride, which he explained in great detail on his now-defunct podcast, Dinner With The King. After the aforementioned 2015 car crash they were both involved in, McBride described her minor injuries on Facebook, adding, "I think Jerry is superman… not a scratch or anything… he tried to cover me to save me from the airbag before it deployed."
Well, what’s the age gap exactly, you ask? A whopping 39 years! if someone mistook McBride for Lawler’s granddaughter they’d be wrong, but perhaps totally justified.