Professional wrestling has always been a family oriented business starting with the McMahon family who run the WWE. Not only have there been a high number of second and third generation superstars, there have also been many sets of brothers, cousins, and other family members who have all wrestled. There have been some great wrestling families over the years, but that doesn’t mean that every member of that family was successful in the business.
Even legendary wrestling families such as the Harts, Von Erichs, and Anoa’is have produced some less than extraordinary wrestlers. Some of these competitors may have been looked at as decent if they weren’t stuck being compared to their family members and living in their shadows. Read on to check out some of the most miserable failures from wrestling families.
15 David Hart Smith
David Hart Smith is the son of former wrestler “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith. He is Stu Hart’s grandson and Bret “The Hitman” Hart’s nephew. Smith started wrestling in 1994 but didn’t compete for the WWE full time until the mid-2000s. He was a member of The Hart Dynasty along with Tyson Kidd and Natalya, although the team wasn’t successful for long. They did manage to hold the WWE Tag Team Championship but this second-generation version of The Hart Foundation didn’t live up to their expectations. Smith has had a little bit of success in Japan and was inducted into the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016. In late 2015 he acquired the trademark to the British Bulldog named and started competing under that moniker, although many feel he does not do the name justice.
14 John Laurinaitis
John Laurinaitis is now actually a member of two successful wrestling families. His brother Joe was better known as Animal of The Road Warriors, and his brother Marcus was known as The Terminator. “Big Johnny” is also the uncle of NFL player James Laurinaitis. In 2016 John married Kathy Colace, the mother of The Bella Twins. When he wrestled he was better known as Johnny Ace and competed in the NWA/WCW and All Japan Pro Wrestling. He was big in Japan but didn’t do much in the US. Big Johnny was also a failure as the Raw General Manager. Behind the scenes he worked for the WWE in talent relations for eight years and later became a producer. He also worked for WCW as an executive.
13 Ryan Nemeth
Most wrestling fans have probably never heard of Ryan Nemeth. He is the younger brother of WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler. Nemeth won a competition and earned a one year scholarship to Ohio Valley Wrestling where he was trained. He made his debut in 2010 and won the OCW South Tag Team Championship with Christopher Silvio. Nemeth signed with the WWE and competed in Florida Championship Wrestling where he won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship with Brad Maddox. He competed in NXT as Briley Pierce before being released and never making it to the WWE main roster. Nemeth then went to the independent circuit and won gold in DDT Pro-Wrestling. He is also an actor, writer, and comedian who was far less successful than his brother Dolph Ziggler.
12 Barry Orton
We all know how successful Randy Orton has become and that he is a third-generation wrestler. Randy’s father is Bob Orton Jr. and his grandfather was Bob Orton. What you may not know is that Randy Orton has an uncle who used to wrestle under the name Barry O. Barry made his wrestling debut in 1986 and competed in the WWE as well as several other federations including NWA and Stampede Wrestling. He retired in 1992 and was part of a sex scandal filed against the WWE. The lawsuit alleged that booker Terry Garvin asked Orton to perform oral sex on him repeatedly. Barry appeared on an episode of The Phil Donahue Show to discuss the issue. He started acting and had small parts in a handful of films.
Rosey came from the famed Samoan Anoa’i wrestling family. Even though he wasn’t very successful, he was still beloved by the wrestling community and his family, who suffered a difficult loss when he passed away in April 2017 from congestive heart failure. Rosey had two brief stints in the WWE where he was a part of the tag team 3-Minute Warning with his cousin Umaga, and later with The Hurricane. That tag team actually managed to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship at one point. Rosey was released from the WWE in 2006 and continued to wrestle on the independent scene. He would go on to run a restaurant and compete on the reality television series Fat March. He was survived by his two sons and daughter who have yet to enter the family business.
10 Wes Brisco
Wes Brisco is a second-generation wrestler that just didn’t have as much talent as his father Gerald Brisco or even his uncle Jack Brisco. Wes competed for Florida Championship Wrestling for a couple years but never made it to the WWE’s main roster. Over the years he has wrestled for several promotions including New Japan Pro Wrestling and Paragon Pro Wrestling. Brisco’s best run came in TNA from 2012 to 2014. He had a brief feud with Kurt Angle before joining the villainous Aces & Eights faction. Even during that time, he was more of a glorified jobber and never won any championships. Brisco followed in his family’s footsteps and has managed to stay in the wrestling business, even though he hasn’t found much success.
9 Lacey Von Erich
The famed Von Erich wrestling family has seen lots of success and tragedy over the years. Lacey Von Erich is a third generation superstar, which is a rarity for a female wrestler. She is the daughter of the late, great Kerry Von Erich who was known as The Texas Tornado in the WWE and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009. Lacey is also the granddaughter of Fritz Von Erich. Her professional wrestling career only lasted about three years and she was best known for being a member of the female faction The Beautiful People in TNA. Lacey Von Erich competed for the WWE briefly, but was unsuccessful. She held the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship with Velvet Sky and Madison Rayne and now runs an advertising business.
8 Scott Putski
Ivan Putski is a WWE Hall of Famer who once held the WWE Tag Team Championship with Tito Santana. His son Scott Putski tried his hand at being a wrestler but ended up failing miserably. Scott was a running back at Texas Christian University and made his wrestling debut in 1986. He had a tryout match with the WWE in 1991 but he was not hired. He competed for Global Wrestling Federation out of Dallas, Texas and won three different championships in that promotion. Putski had a brief run with the WWE in 1993 and 1994 but never gained any traction. He briefly returned in 1997 and competed in WCW in 1998. He retired in 2003 but returned to the indy wrestling scene in 2013.
7 Sim Snuka
WWE fans certainly remember Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. They also know Tamina Snuka, and some probably even remember the wrestler formerly known as Deuce. Sim Snuka is the son of Jimmy Snuka and competed in the WWE as part of the tag team Deuce & Domino where he managed to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. Snuka had an angle where he was involved with Randy Orton’s group Legacy, but that didn’t last long. He is also linked to an infamous incident that took place at WrestleMania XXV. Snuka was posed as a cameraman and was supposed to catch The Undertaker during a spot where he performed a suicide dive. He failed to do so and was released from the WWE. The ironic part of the story is that Snuka once actually worked as a TV cameraman.
6 Erik Watts
Erik Watts was the laughing stock of WCW at one point in time. His father is WWE Hall of Fame inductee Bill Watts, who was successful as both a wrestler and a promoter in many territories around the country. Erik Watts tried to follow in his father’s footsteps but failed miserably. He debuted in 1992 and wrestled in WCW, where he got a push only because of his dad, despite the fact that he didn’t have much wrestling talent. Watts followed his father to the WWE and competed as part of Tekno Team 2000. He later wrestled in ECW, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and TNA where he was part of a second-generation heel stable with David Flair and Brian Lawler. Erik Watts eventually became a booker himself for an independent promotion.
5 Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak was the son of former WWE Heavyweight Champion Stan Stasiak, who wrestled during the 1970s. Shawn grew up around wrestling and met popular wrestlers including Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Andre the Giant as a kid. He was best known as Meat in the WWE and competed from 1998 to 2000. Stasiak got into trouble and left the WWE for WCW in 2000 and had a brief feud with Curt Hennig. Stasiak won the WCW World Tag Team Championship three times with Chuck Palumbo and the WWE Hardcore Championship 15 times. This might sound like big accomplishments, but under that title’s 24/7 rule, it changed hands very frequently. Stasiak left the wrestling business and became a chiropractor and has also worked as a motivational speaker.
4 David Sammartino
Bruno Sammartino will go down as one of the all-time great wrestling legends. The Hall of Famer was a two time World Heavyweight Champion and also held numerous other titles. His son David Sammartino tried to piggyback off the success of Bruno. David debuted in 1980 and took over his dad’s feud with Larry Zbyszko. He joined the WWE in 1984 and was managed by his own father. David Sammartino actually competed at the first WrestleMania against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. David actually tried to quit several times but kept coming back, thanks to his father. He had some harsh words about Vince McMahon although he kept wrestling and even came back to the WWE. Sammartino became a professional trainer and has admitted to taking steroids in the past.
3 Sam Fatu
By now most wrestling fans are well aware of the Anoa’i wrestling family that has produced the likes of The Rock, Roman Reigns, Yokozuna, Rikishi, The Usos, and more. One of the least successful members of the Samoan family was Sam Fatu. He was also known as The Tonga Kid and Tama among other names. Fatu had a long career from 1983 to 2011 and wrestled in the WWE, WCW, and more. He wrestled alongside Haku as part of The Islanders, but never managed to capture the tag team championships. Sam Fatu is the twin brother of Rikishi although the two didn’t have much success as a tag team. He is also the uncle of the Uso brothers and the older brother of the late Umaga.
2 Richie Steamboat
Richie Steamboat is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. He was somewhat successful during his short wrestling career in the WWE developmental system, but never made it to the main roster. Steamboat competed in Florida Championship Wrestling where he was a Grand Slam Champion which means he held the Florida Heavyweight Championship, Jack Brisco 15 Championship, and Florida Tag Team Championship with Seth Rollins. Steamboat also competed in NXT for a short time. He competed overseas and was trained by his father and Harley Race among others. Steamboat was injury-prone which may have cost him his career. He was forced to retire due to multiple back surgeries and was not able to achieve his full potential. As a high school wrestled he often competed against Ric Flair’s son Reid.
1 Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas is a third-generation wrestler who has not managed to find much success in the business. His father is Mike Rotunda, better known as I.R.S. and his grandfather was Blackjack Mulligan. Bo’s uncles Barry Windham and Kendall Windham also wrestled. Even his brother Bray Wyatt has had a lot more success than Dallas has. Bo wrestled in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT for several years before he finally debuted on the main roster. His "Bo-lieve" motivational speaker gimmick has been a failure and he was also a member of the Social Outcasts before later becoming part of The Miz’s MizTourage. Dallas won the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship three times and the NXT Championship once, but hasn’t held gold in the WWE. At this point it doesn’t seem like he will ever have much success in the wrestling business.