10 Wrestling Romances that Worked Out
#9 Rusev and Lana
Before "Lana is the best, Lana number one!", CJ Perry and Miroslav Barnyashev were two prospects at the NXT Performance Center in Orlando; the couple met in a promo class taught by none other than "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
Perry would don a business suit, a Russian accent, and a severe hairstyle to become The Ravishing Russian, Barnyashev's (now renamed Alexander Rusev, before being shortened to just his surname) manager and spokesperson, communicating with NXT (and, later, WWE) crowds for the Bulgarian Brute because of the disdain Rusev felt for the American fans.
During an interview on Chris Jericho's Talk is Jericho podcast, the couple detailed how their courtship followed the same path as Brie and Daniel (and numerous others, including at least two other couples on this list). The sheer amount of time spent in close contact working on their act fostered sparks that turned into a full relationship before Rusev's main roster call-up in 2014.
Onscreen, the pair's kayfabe relationship was seemingly just a professional one, although Lana's promos often focused on Rusev's qualities which made him more appealing to the women in the building; a storyline starting with Rusev's loss of the United States Championship to John Cena at WrestleMania 31 set in motion the storyline split of the Bulgarian Brute and the Ravishing Russian.
Lana gravitated toward Dolph Ziggler that summer, even taking on some of his "1980s Whitesnake video" manner of dress, before a late summer Instagram post revealed that Perry and Barnyashev had gotten engaged in real life, with mainstream media outlets picking up the story using the pair's kayfabe names.
The split storyline was immediately dropped, and Lana and Rusev reunited on television; the couple was added to E!'s Total Divas and became an instant sensation thanks to Barnyashev's real-life goofball charm and the pair's easygoing warmth with each other, which comes across in Twitter and Instagram videos the couple posts in character (as well as the Rusev Day gimmick which took the wrestling world by storm in late 2017 and early 2018).
The pair married in 2016, their engagement, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and wedding being major parts of season six of Total Divas.