When Bud Davis moves from a small town in Texas to Houston, his days are spent working in an oil refinery, and his nights at Gilley's country western bar. At Gilley's, Bud meets Sissy, and the two fall in love and soon are married. On their honeymoon, they visit the Texas Prison Rodeo where they see convicted felon Wes Hightower ride a bull. When they return to Gilley's, a mechanical bull is installed at the club, and Bud impresses Sissy by riding it, but his male ego is threatened when she masters it too. Their fragile relationship is upset further when Wes Hightower gets out of jail, starts going to Gilley's, and is attracted to Sissy. Bud fights with Wes, and before long, she is seeing Wes and Bud is seeing another woman from the bar. When the two men compete in a mechanical bull-riding competition, Bud wins, and Wes retaliates by stealing the prize money, planning on escaping to Mexico with it and Sissy. But after Bud realizes that Wes has been abusing Sissy, the two men fight again, during which the stolen money is discovered and Wes is caught. Bud and Sissy realize that they need to leave Gilley's and make a new start together.