Whether you consider it a sport, a form of entertainment, or you side with Vince McMahon and think it’s a combination of both, professional wrestling is a business like no other. It never stops. If you work for WWE then you never have holiday per se as there is no off period. If you also have a family then that can understandably be a massive strain on yourself, your partner and if you have any, your children. You’ll miss weddings, you’ll miss birthdays, you may even have to work over Christmas. It’s simply something that comes with the territory and in all fairness it’s something you know going in. Over the course of pro wrestling history we’ve seen some Superstars somehow live with the strain of balancing the business with their home life and others maybe not so much. As you’ll already have guessed by the title, this article in particular will focus on those wrestlers who either struggled or succeeded in being wrestling fathers.
Growing up with a wrestler as your dad is always going to be tough, even for the half of this upcoming list that made it work and were and still are great fathers. They’re often left at home without them as they perform across the country and around the world, probably seeing them on television more than they see them in the flesh which is a confusing feeling that I can’t even comprehend. Some wrestlers have defied the odds, kept their families together and been there for their sons or daughters. However some of them have not and the road plus the lifestyle that comes with it has stopped them being the father that they could have been and maybe in some cases really wanted to be.
24 Father Of The Year: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has reinvented himself more times than pretty much anyone in the history of professional wrestling. Recently The Ayatollah of Rock N Rolla has actually transformed more than ever, because he has to adapt to a life outside of wrestling as he branches out into a number of other ventures. One of his main ones right now is his twice weekly podcast, Talk is Jericho. The wrestling business makes it tricky to be a good father as it is due to the amount of time performers are on the road, add in everything else Y2J does and you’d think he never sees his kids. On the contrary, those who listen to TIJ will be very familiar with Chris’s son Ash the Fish Expert and that Chris is close to his son and his younger daughter and is clearly a terrific dad.
23 Deadbeat Dad: Stone Cold Steve Austin
While we’re on the subject of podcasts, let’s move swiftly on to Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Texas Rattlesnake is another professional wrestler that has had great success since branching out into the world of podcasts and also has a twice weekly show like Chris Jericho. You won’t be hearing Austin’s children making appearances on his show any time soon like you would with Y2J however. It’s well documented that in the early 2000s Austin had somewhat of a tumultuous time when it came to his personal life. Evidently those times had an affect on his relationships with his children and on the occasions that he does mention them he talks about those relationships being strained. In all fairness he has commented on how much he regrets that fact.
22 Father Of The Year: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio’s small size and stature may fool a lot of fans in to thinking the former World Heavyweight Champion is actually a lot younger than he truly is. Not only has Rey been wrestling for over twenty years, he actually has a son that’s also started training recently to get into the business. Now that Mysterio is away from WWE his wrestling schedule is a lot lighter, so the luchador has been using a lot of that free time to have a big hand in his son’s training, something you wouldn’t see from a lot of wrestling fathers as is evident from this list. I for one am excited to see the next generation of Mysterio stepping between the ropes sometime in the not so distant future.
21 Deadbeat Dad: Jerry Lawler
Most of the time when there is a father son connection in pro wrestling, the promoters and writers will jump on it. In WWE especially it conjures up all sorts of opportunities for story lines. That’s why it’s extremely puzzling when you discover that Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler and Grand Master Sexay, otherwise known as Brian Christopher, shared that connection. It’s unclear as to what the pair’s relationship was like outside of the business, but it appears while on the job Lawler didn’t want it to be common knowledge that he was Sexay’s father. At one point Paul Heyman mentioned it on commentary and Jerry took it upon himself to make his way to the ring and slap Heyman around the head for it.
20 Father Of The Year: Rikishi
To give a comparison of the Lawler-Christopher situation, take The Usos and Rikishi for example. The current SmackDown Tag Team Champions wrestle most Tuesday nights and I think you would struggle to find one of their matches where somebody, normally JBL, doesn’t mention that Jimmy and Jey are the offspring of the WWE Hall of Famer. Similarly to Rey Mysterio as well, Rikishi of course had a direct hand in training his twins to make them into the talented Superstars that they are today. Let’s be honest, this list could probably be made up of solely Samoans, at least the Father of the Year side, but this example stuck out to me more than any other.
19 Deadbeat Dad: Dusty Rhodes
Some of you may see Dusty Rhodes on this side of the list and tut in disgust. You may also be very confused as it’s pretty well documented that Cody Rhodes had a close a relationship with his father as you possibly can. Well it’s the direct comparison of that to his much older son Dustin, or Goldust to you and me, that had led us here. When Goldust was growing up his father was a much busier man, which meant he was barely home. Both have spoken openly about it and have since made up for that time. It’s also pretty apparent that Dusty maybe over compensated with Cody to make up for the time he didn’t put in with Dustin. On top of that before his passing Dusty was a father figure to pretty much everyone at NXT, so clearly The Dream learned from his mistakes before it was too late.
18 Father Of The Year: Daniel Bryan
To the selfish dismay of many fans, one man who will not to be able to neglect his children while he’s on the road wrestling is Daniel Bryan. Well, as it stands it’s just the one child for Bryan and Brie as opposed to children, and the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion is by far the newest father out of all 20 entries on this list. Daniel and his wife Brie Bella became parents in May 2017 and I think to everyone from the wrestling world looking in, there is no doubt that they’re going to make magnificent parents. While Bryan is technically still SmackDown Live’s General Manager, he was away from the wrestling scene for a number of weeks preparing for the arrival of his daughter and at the time of typing this, won’t be back any time soon.
17 Deadbeat Dad: Scott Hall
Scott Hall’s substance abuse problems are no secret. Throughout his career the WWE Hall of Famer has had trouble with drugs and it’s something he’s been very open about since his attempts to get clean. Life was understandably pretty tough for Scott and those closest to him during the height of his wrestling career during the mid to late 1990s and hence the height of his drug use. Throughout that time Scott married and divorced the same woman twice as his drug use continued to be a problem. During that time Scott and his twice ex wife had two young children who would have gone through a pretty tough time themselves as they witnessed their father struggle. Scott is doing all that he can to make up for those times now though. His son Cody is currently trying to break into the wrestling business himself and Scott is helping him do that.
16 Father Of The Year: Goldberg
With no offence meant to Goldberg by this next statement whatsoever, judging by the persona he portrayed during his run as a pro wrestler in WCW then WWE I would not have necessarily picked him to be the best dad ever. To be fair based on the comments he made on his return to WWE recently the former Universal Champion would probably agree with me. At Survivor Series 2016 Goldberg made his in ring return and shocked the world by defeating Brock Lesnar in extremely short order. He cited his return as being for his son and his wife, neither of which were present to see Goldberg at the height of his career. On multiple occasions Goldberg brought his son into the ring with him on Raw and discussed in interviews the physical toll he put his body through to get in ring shape so he could show his son that he’s a super hero.
14 Deadbeat Dad: Jimmy Snuka
As is already evident from the entries so far in this list, the demanding schedule that comes with being a pro wrestler is a strain on any marriage contained within it. That was plain to see from the late WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka’s life who married a grand total of three women during his life. That would have been enough of a strain on his three children, all of whom were from his second marriage. On top of that there was the drama of a girlfriend Snuka had as well as those three wives who died while with Jimmy. Despite the incident taking places during the 1980s, in 2015 Snuka was charged with his then girlfriend’s murder. Due to his poor health the case was never brought to trial and Snuka passed away a short time later.
13 Father Of The Year: Owen Hart
One of the most tragic stories in the history of professional wrestling is that of Owen Hart. At Over The Edge in 1999 Owen was due to wrestle and ascend from the arena ceiling to the ring. Sadly Hart was not secured properly and he plummeted from the rafters and into the ring. You need only watch the tributes from his friends and peers the following night on Raw to see how beloved Owen was in WWE and how good of a man he was. What makes this horrible moment in history even more heart breaking is that Owen left behind a wife and two young children. By all accounts Owen Hart was as great a man in his personal life as he was in the ring and in the locker room and is still missed by so many to this day, almost 20 years after his untimely death.
12 Deadbeat Dad: Ric Flair
Jimmy Snuka and Scott Hall may have had their fair share of divorces, but there are none more infamous when it comes to this line of discussion than The Nature Boy, Ric Flair. He is perhaps the greatest pro wrestler of all time, winning the World Championship a record sixteen times, and part of his persona was that of a womanizer. Trouble is it was more than just a persona, it was who Ric was in reality. While Flair was touring the country with that big gold belt he was living the high life, limousine riding and jet flying as it were. Meanwhile he had children at home growing up more or less without him. Now his daughter Charlotte is a WWE Superstar and Ric has started to make up for that lost time as for much of her career he has been right by her side.
11 Father Of The Year: Taz
Former ECW Champion Taz has somewhat of a reputation for maybe being grumpy and unapproachable. It’s an aspect of his personality that he was labelled with while he was an in ring performer and one that has stuck all these years later. Those of you who listen to The Human Suplex Machine’s daily show however will know that isn’t the case whatsoever. One part of his life that Taz talks about on his show from time to time is his son. Taz’s son plays high school, and soon college, lacrosse and every time the show’s host speaks of it you can hear the pride in his voice. Taz goes to his games and it sounds like he has been there every step of the way for his son as he potentially goes on to become a lacrosse star in the future.
10 Deadbeat Dad: Vince McMahon
Yes the WWE Chairman Vince McMahon makes it onto the wrong side of this list. Most of the reasons for that will be story line based which may raise a few eyebrows, but let’s be honest some of the things I’m about to mention shouldn’t have even been done in the realm of WWE. The one that springs to mind immediately is Vince’s I Quit match with his daughter Stephanie. Yes we all know pro wrestling is staged but this one was still uncomfortable to watch, especially with Steph’s mother Linda watching on at ringside. The match ended after Linda threw the towel in while Vince was choking his daughter with a lead pipe, very fatherly indeed.
9 Father Of The Year: Edge
We’ve covered Daniel Bryan, we’ve covered Owen Hart, but when it comes to widely renowned nice guys in the business someone else who is always included in that conversation is Edge. That’s why when The Rated R Superstar’s career was unexpectedly cut short it left everyone from the fans to his peers in the locker room fighting back tears. Much like Daniel Bryan is beginning to do though, Edge turned that huge negative into an even bigger positive and has used all that spare time to start a family and become a father. The former WWE Champion is married to recently inducted Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix and I can’t imagine a better set of wrestling parents to the couple’s two children.
8 Deadbeat Dad: Jake Roberts
Scott Hall, who we’ve covered already in this list, had substance abuse problems that led to him having a fractured home life among other things. Well Jake Roberts’ issues with the same kind of thing make Hall’s seem like a minor inconvenience. Roberts has candidly discussed his major drug problems via the documentary he and Diamond Dallas Page made documenting his recovery. A topic throughout the touching rollercoaster ride that is The Resurrection of Jake Roberts is the strained relationship with his children, of which Jake has eight. Since then he has managed to rekindle his relationships with some of his kids. Roberts problems stem from the abusive childhood he suffered which we’ll cover in more detail in a few entries time.
7 Father Of The Year: Mick Foley
I challenge you to find anybody who wouldn’t cite Mick Foley as one of the nicest, if not the nicest, people in professional wrestling. Shocking really considering the transformation Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy would undertake before stepping between the ropes and donning the personas of Mankind and Cactus Jack. As was demonstrated by the WWE Network show Holy Foley and to be honest something we had already seen glimpses of, Mick is as fantastic a father as he is an all round human being. He and his long time wife have three children together, a daughter and two sons. He shares a strong bond with his daughter Noelle who took centre stage on the Network show as she revealed to her father and the world that she wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps. Mick’s oldest son is also trying his hand in the business and currently works with the writing team at WWE headquarters.
4 Deadbeat Dad: Chris Benoit
I’ll be completely honest, I’m not 100% aware of how Chris Benoit was with his son before the tragic events that led to both of their deaths in 2007. Even if I did it wouldn’t change the reasoning behind placing The Rabid Wolverine on the deadbeat side of this list. For those of you that don’t already know, in 2007 Chris Benoit was found dead at his home along with his wife and young son. Upon further investigation it became clear that Benoit had in fact killed his family before killing himself, I would guess from being racked with guilt. Again Benoit may have been the perfect father before that fateful night and while we will never know exactly what happened, if it’s what we expect it is then Chris’s actions that night are beyond unforgivable.
2 Father Of The Year: Triple H
Triple H may very well be the busiest man in all of professional wrestling right now. The Game is the father of NXT, travels around the world helping to scout new talent for the Performance Center and various tournaments, helps run WWE in general as well as still competing in the ring from time to time. All of that and The Cerebral Assassin still manages to find time for his and his wife Stephanie McMahon’s children, their three daughters. Their grandfather and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has even commented on how around his kids, Triple H is a completely different man to the one you see in WWE, and that his three daughters have him wrapped around their little fingers.
1 Deadbeat Dad: Grizzly Smith
Jake Roberts made an appearance a few entries back in this list. When you compare his abilities as a dad to his own father however Roberts could basically be considered a saint. It also goes a long way to explaining why Jake ended up journeying down the long, substance strewn road that he did. Roberts’ father Grizzly Smith was a wrestler himself. Jake has been quite open during interviews about his life growing up with him. He has explained on numerous occasions that he was sexually, verbally and physically abused by his step mother when he was a child. Roberts has also claimed that he was conceived when Smith raped his then girlfriend’s, so Jake’s grandmother, thirteen year old daughter.