Virtually ever since professional wrestling has existed, nepotism has played a major role in the world of sports entertainment. For better or worse, when fans hear a new star is related to an old favorite, they have an instant connection to the rookie talent, creating volumes of backstory with one simple piece of information. That’s all well and good if the grappler is actually related to a legend of yesteryear, but most wrestlers enter the business without a famous forefather, thus preventing them from taking advantage of this poorly kept industry secret. Unless, of course, they dig into another trademark element of pro wrestling and egregiously lie about where they come from.
As is the nature of the business, wrestlers have been kayfabing their familial relationships in the same way they do just about every other element of their lives. Over the years, different performers have chosen to do this in dichotomous ways, both fabricating pretend relationships and denying real ones existed despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Granted, none of these athletes were necessarily trying to necessarily trick their fans, as most were merely trying to get their foot in the door through any means necessary. Keep reading to discover 8 wrestlers who lied about being related, and 7 who hid the fact they actually were.
15. NOT RELATED: Dixie and Ethan Carter III
Despite a longstanding reputation for trying to rip off WWE, you have to give Impact Wrestling credit for the way they turned wrestling’s reputation for nepotism into a career-defining gimmick for Ethan Carter III. The feat is all the more impressive for the fact EC3 had previously worked for WWE to little acclaim, performing as Derrick Bateman. For once, Dixie Carter realized there was potential where Vince McMahon couldn’t see it, as the then-TNA President decided to give the cast-aside young grappler a gimmick that could have made anyone a superstar. Instead of literally pushing her children into major roles, Carter simply pretended that EC3 was her nephew, when in fact the two share absolutely no relations. Thanks to his fake aunt, EC3 was a top star instantly upon arrival, and he has generally remained such even as Dixie has faded from her position of power.
14. HID BEING RELATED: Mike Awesome and Horace Hogan
Considering Hulk Hogan’s nephew Horace based almost his entire North American career on his shared heritage with the Hulkster, fans aware of the fact Horace was cousins with Mike Awesome may have expected the former ECW World Champion to take advantage of their connection, as well. On the contrary, Mike Awesome pretty much never mentioned that he was related to Horace Hogan in WCW, and it definitely never came up in ECW, although the reason becomes clear once we dig into the specifics. Although Awesome is indeed related to Horace Hogan, their connection was made in a manner that meant Awesome was not related to Hulk, meaning he had little to gain from making the situation public. Regardless, Awesome believed the superfluous connection was enough it affected his career, claiming WCW writer Vince Russo punished him because of it. Maybe there was something worth hiding, after all.
13. NOT RELATED: Jamie Noble and Nunzio
The WWE Universe can be a strange place sometimes, like when a redneck stereotype introduced an even more stereotypical Italian gangster as his cousin. While few fans probably remember it today, that was exactly how Nunzio made his debut, care of Jamie Noble. Granted, it’s not like anyone could be blamed for forgetting, because WWE dropped the idea almost instantly after it was introduced. Within mere weeks, Nunzio and Noble went their separate ways, the former soon recreating his ECW group the Full Blooded Italians, while the latter eventually became a member of The Authority. Bizarrely enough, Nunzio isn’t the only short-lived, completely random relation Noble has claimed throughout his time in the WWE Universe: in April 2015, he also made reference to Luke Harper being another cousin. That time around, WWE was nice enough to justify it with a joke, albeit one mocking Noble’s Southern heritage.
12. HID BEING RELATED: Johnny Ace and Road Warrior Animal
Now that John Laurinaitis has spent several years as a top WWE executive, plenty of fans are aware that he and WWE Hall of Famer Road Warrior Animal, a.k.a. Joe Laurinaitis, are brothers. That said, back in the 1980s, no two units seemed more dichotomous than the Legion of Doom and the Dynamic Dudes, a tag team Johnny Ace found himself in with Shane Douglas. While Animal and his partner Hawk became wildly popular by being big, mean, and destructive, Ace and Douglas rode to the ring on pink skateboards and got booed of the building for it. In the end, though, Ace did pretty well for himself by climbing the corporate ladder, not to mention undergoing a career reinvention in Japan along the way. On top of it all, a third Laurinaitis brother named Marc also exists, a perennial jobber best known as either The Terminator or Fury of the Wrecking Crew.
11. NOT RELATED: Ken and Ryan Shamrock
Strange though most of the fake relationships on this list may be, none are anywhere near as legitimately unsettling as Alicia Webb taking the name Ryan Shamrock and getting billed as Ken’s sister. This list proves kayfabe siblings are nothing special in wrestling, yet the Shamrocks made it weird by actually having a romantic relationship in real life while pretending to be siblings in the WWE Universe. Adding a second taboo kink to the concept, Ryan’s gimmick was basically that she dated everyone in the company in order to make Ken mad, easily making their relationship one of the most convoluted of the Attitude Era, and that’s saying a lot. That said, if Vince McMahon had his way, it could have been even weirder, as he allegedly wanted the arc to end with the Shamrock siblings shacking up, but both Ken and Ryan refused to do something so blatantly offensive.
10. HID BEING RELATED: “Macho Man” Randy Savage and The Genius
Not all brothers are created equally, and in one of wrestling’s finest examples of this fact, The Genius was never anywhere near as legendary as his brother “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Regardless, Lanny Poffo was a pretty great wrestler in his own right, but WWE was still completely correct in thinking that pairing them together would probably only serve to distract Savage from his already incredible solo act. That wasn’t always the case, as the Poffo brothers both tagged and feuded while working for their father Angelo’s International Championship Wrestling. However, it turned out their father was the sole promoter willing to keep them together, as neither WWE nor WCW would alert fans to the connection. Of course, Lanny never actually appeared in WCW, and ironically was only hired to appease his brother, so it’s not like they had the chance.
9. NOT RELATED: Edge and Christian
Because of how successful both men eventually became, the kayfabe brotherhood of Edge and Christian has almost gone full circle back to the point where WWE is know hiding the fact it used to exist. After a few WWE and World Championship reigns each, Edge and Christian decided to deemphasize the fact they were introduced to the WWE Universe as brothers, and before long, WWE had outright retconned the situation to the truth: that they were merely childhood friends. The fact remains, however, that when Christian first made his debut alongside Gangrel, it was to join his brother, and that fake connection kept getting mentioned throughout much of their success as a team. That their ultimate rivals were the actually related Hardy Boyz added to the confusion, since WWE loves promoting family feuds of the literal variety.
8. HID BEING RELATED: Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt
For all the talk he does about his family, Bray Wyatt has kept a considerable distance from Bo Dallas pretty much the entire time they’ve both been in the WWE Universe. Granted, the brothers Rotunda don’t talk much about their father IRS either, despite his status as a multi-time WWE Tag Team Champion. The modern era makes it hard for the Rotunda family to truly hide their connection to one another, but WWE has sure done its best to ignore it in every way possible. If Michael Cole did his usual generational pandering about how IRS was Bray Wyatt’s father during one of his cryptic speeches, it would kind of take the life out of the moment. Same goes to Dallas suddenly Bo-lieving in the power of Sister Abigail. Clearly, the various gimmicks are just too divergent for WWE, Wyatt, Dallas, or even IRS to call attention to their family ties.
7. NOT RELATED: Fritz and Waldo Von Erich
To many Texas wrestling fans during the 1980s, the name Von Erich was synonymous with sports entertainment. Family patriarch Fritz had dominated for decades in the NWA and his own WCCW, with his children David, Kerry, Kevin, Mike, and Chris all amongst the most popular stars in the country after his retirement. That family was entirely real, aside from the fact their last name was Adkisson, not Von Erich, the latter of which came from Fritz’s earlier tag team with Waldo Von Erich. This distinction makes things a little confusing, considering the Von Erich name had been created through Fritz and Waldo’s villainous pro-German tag team, founding their family legacy on a lie. Years later, another fake Von Erich would be added to the mix, when Fritz introduced Lance as his nephew, upsetting many fans who were by then on the up and up.
6. HID BEING RELATED: Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher
Unlike most of the wrestlers on this half of the list, who merely ignored the fact they had famous relatives, Jerry Lawler was confronted with the fact he had a son on an almost weekly basis during the Attitude Era. Whenever his son Brian Christopher got in the ring, Jim Ross would inevitably note the resemblance and make jokes about it, only for Lawler to vehemently deny the two were at all related. Naturally, the truth was they indeed were father and son, and Lawler genuinely didn’t like the fact this was common knowledge, feeling it made him look old to have a son who was clearly in his mid-20s. And that was back in the ‘90s, so imagine how hard Lawler would try to deny it now that Christopher is already in his mid-40s.
5. NOT RELATED: Vince McMahon and Hornswoggle
Hoo, boy. Everyone knows that WWE is at least one part fantasy land, but that still didn’t prepare fans for Hornswoggle, the pint-sized pugilist who started off as Fit Finlay’s mascot and turned into one of the most omnipresent characters of the past decade. Out of nowhere, Hornswoggle went from prancing around the ring with Finlay to suddenly being revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son, also indirectly setting the seeds for his connection with Triple H and D-Generation X. Not the type to lovingly accept a new family member, McMahon instead immediately punished Hornswoggle for daring come public. In the end, it was all a giant swerve, as Vince’s real family, Linda, Shane, and Stephanie, had apparently conspired with Finlay (Hornswoggle’s “real” father, also not true) to lie to the WWE patriarch about the whole mess. Why? To throw Vince off his game. Or something. Frankly, it didn’t feel like they were trying at that point.
4. HID BEING RELATED: Yokozuna and The Headshrinkers
As one of the biggest wrestling dynasties in history, the Anoa’i family has at times been honest about their relations and lied about them simultaneously. No one period better exemplifies how this is possible than the New Generation, when cousins Yokozuna, Samu, and Fatu were all active wrestlers in high profile roles, not to mention Samu’s father also around as his and Fatu’s manager. While the connection between The Headshrinkers and Afa only served to make their unit stronger, acknowledging Yokozuna was their cousin as well would have done little more than destroy all three gimmicks at once. How could a Japanese sumo wrestler be related to Samoan “savages”? With that said, prior to signing with WWE and devising the Yokozuna gimmick, the family had no such reservations, and they in fact all three formed regular tag teams in various arrangements, making their family ties well known.
3. NOT RELATED: Gene, Lars, Ole, and Arn Anderson
While most brotherly tag teams are content on simply providing their family name and relation, Gene and Lars Anderson decided to get a bit more vicious with it and call themselves the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Of course, the two weren’t actually brothers, nor were Ole and/or Arn related to one another as they joined the fold down the line. Gene’s name was indeed Anderson, but everyone else merely became an Anderson due to their uncanny resemblance in both wrestling style and physical appearance. As time went by, it wasn’t enough for the Andersons to simply kayfabe brotherly relations, so Ole and Arn’s fellow Horseman Ric Flair was added to the family as a cousin. In years since the legendary Andersons have all either retired or passed on, other wrestlers have pretended to claim familial lineage, most notably Karl and CW Anderson, yet these, too, are merely pretend connections based on similar looks.
2. HID BEING RELATED: Jake Roberts, Rockin’ Robin, and Sam Houston
Knowing what we do about Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his various demons, there’s little surprise Rockin’ Robin specifically requested that WWE not mention the fact they were half-siblings while both held pretty big roles in the company. Sam Houston, who shares both of Robin’s parents and one of Roberts’s, was also working for the McMahon family at the time, and likewise was kept out of the equation. Granted, back then, Robin wasn’t necessarily trying to hide (or maybe escape) from her family history; it looks like she was just trying to succeed on her own merits. Also, the three had some pretty divergent gimmicks, Roberts the psychological mastermind, Houston the boisterous cowboy, and Robin a more basic everywoman character, who actually didn’t appear like much to begin with. On top of it all, none of them wanted to be reminded of their father, Grizzly Smith, whom two out of three accused of childhood abuse.
1. NOT RELATED: Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake
Given all the time they spend together, Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake certainly seem like brothers, or maybe something else if Linda Hogan is asked. The truth has always been that Terry Bollea and Ed Leslie, as they’re known in real life, are simply best friends, and have been for decades. And this friendship has led the two to fake a brotherly connection dozens of times throughout their career. The idea seemed to start way back in the 1970s as a ploy to ensure they would both get employed whenever a promoter was only interested in one of them, which was often the case, Hogan inevitably the one the wanted. If nothing else, the Hulkster was always a loyal friend, telling promoters he wouldn’t work for them unless they hired his brother Eddie, too. By the time Hogan was an international megastar, he didn’t need these false pretenses, and simply transitioned to demanding promoters hire his BFF.