Pro wrestling tends to be a family affair. Way back on the carnie days, pro wrestlers were a veritable tribe of traveling strongmen who challenged local hayseeds to shoot fights. When not pulverizing farmers, wrestlers beat each other up.
Such a gypsy lifestyle is not conducive to 9-to-5 living. Therefore, few wrestlers then or now could hold down a relationship with someone unfamiliar with the business. When wrestlers meet and make babies, those babies often become wrestlers themselves.
From the Von Erich boys to the Anoa'i clan, pro wrestling is replete with in-ring nobility.
Of course, wherever family dynasties are involved, nepotism follows. Backstage, this often means that wrestlers with family connections get heavy and sometimes immediate pushes regardless of their talent level.
On the screen, wrestling relatives have been known to hold the same title or trade said title back and forth for years. Such circular booking has hurt many territories (WCCW, USWA, and others), but it makes for interesting factoids.
That's what this list is all about: a set of fifteen factoids exposing just how despotic pro wrestling can become.
15 The Hardys: TNA World Heavyweight Championship
The Hardy brothers have never been above a little family politicking. Back before they were famous, the North Carolina siblings ran an independent federation called OMEGA Championship Wrestling. There, Matt Hardy wrestled under the name of "Surge," while Jeff Hardy was Willow of the Wisp. As expected, the pair dominated the singles title scene in OMEGA and participated in the company's best known feud.
Decades later, both Hardy brothers wound up in TNA. Because his fondness for narcotics got him the boot from the WWE, Jeff wound up in the company first. On October 10, 2o10, during his second run with TNA, Jeff Hardy became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. He'd hold the title two more times for a combined 256 days.
Matt Hardy would not win his first TNA world title until October 2015. All told, before becoming "Broken," Matt Hardy held TNA's top prize twice for a combined 69 days.
14 The Hardys: WWE European Championship
Arguably the most forgotten championship belt of the Attitude Era, the WWE's European tChampionship was mostly held by lower mid-card talents. Exceptions to this rule include Kurt Angle (who once held the European and Intercontinental titles simultaneously), Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho.
During 2001, when the Hardy brothers were still synonymous with high-flying and dangerous tag team wrestling, both brothers began capturing singles titles. Matt Hardy was the first to win the European championship when he defeated Eddie Guerrero on the April 26th episode of SmackDown.
Jeff would follow in Matt's footsteps over a year later. On July 8, 2002, Jeff Hardy defeated William Regal on RAW in order to become the new European champion. He'd lose the belt two weeks later to Intercontinental champion Rob Van Dam. Van Dam would be the last European champion ever.
13 Doug and Eddie Gilbert: AWA/CWA/USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship
For a time, the Gilbert brothers dominated Memphis wrestling. In both the Continental Wrestling Association to the United States Wrestling Association, the Gilberts ruled.
Beginning in 1989, when the USWA became the primary federation in the mid-South, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert was tapped to play a villainous and vain heel. In particular, Gilbert's feud with long-time Memphis champion Jerry "The King" Lawler helped to put him over as a must-watch bad guy.
Eddie Gilbert first won the CWA's Southern Heavyweight Championship in 1985 by pinning Jerry Lawler. He'd win the USWA version of the title in 1990 by defeating Jeff Jarrett. Doug Gilbert would not win the title until 1994, but from then until the next year, he'd hold the strap on five different occasions.
12 Mr. Perfect and Curtis Axel: Intercontinental Championship
The Hennig family is wrestling royalty in the state of Minnesota, which definitely knows its wrestling. The family patriarch, Larry "The Axe" Hennig, was a tag team specialist in the NWA territories and Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association. In the Pacific Northwest, he and his son Curt Hennig, later known as Mr. Perfect, held the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship together.
The elder Hennig's fame would be eclipsed by his son, who not only captured several titles in the AWA, but who also managed to find success in the WWE during the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a two-time Intercontinental Champion, Mr. Perfect helped to make the mid-card title synonymous with technical excellence during his combined 406-day reign.
Mr. Perfect's son also captured the belt. However, Curtis Axel, who is a ghost on WWE programming right now, somehow managed to devalue the title despite holding it for 155 days.
11 Rikishi and The Usos: WWE Tag Team Championship
Other than a brief run as the Intercontinental Champion, Rikishi was always a tag team performer in the WWE. This was true all the way up until his release from the company in 2004. Rikishi actually held both the WWE World Tag Team Championship and the World Tag Team Championship. While the latter title was discontinued by the WWE in 2010, the WWE World Tag Team Championship was the exclusive tag team title until last year's brand split.
In early 2004, Rikishi and partner Scotty 2 Hotty defeated The Basham Brothers in order to become the WWE World Tag Team champs. They would hold the belts for 77 days.
Rikishi's sons, Jimmy and Jey Uso, have proven to be better tag team wrestlers than their old man. The twins have held the titles twice for a combined reign of 258 days. Currently, The Usos are the SmackDown tag team champions.
10 Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher: USWA Championship
As the son and heir of the greatest Memphis wrestler of all time, Brian Christopher was clearly groomed for greatness. This rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including Doug Gilbert, who exposed Christopher's lineage on camera during an infamous shoot promo.
Nevertheless, before he became the goofy Grand Master Sexay, Christopher was the perennial champion of the USWA. While his father held both the USWA Heavyweight Championship twice and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship 28 times, Christopher carried around the USWA world title 25 times.
Taken together, two men named Lawler held the top prize in the USWA on 53 different occasions. Now that's nepotism.
9 Bret and Owen Hart: Intercontinental Title
Few wrestling families are as revered as the Harts. During the 1990s, the brothers Owen and Bret Hart were sometime friends and sometime enemies who always stole the show when they performed.
In 1994, when the rest of the WWE was stuck in cartoon land, the Hart brothers had an amazing feud that culminated in what is arguably the greatest cage match in WWE history.
Before that fateful year, Bret Hart, a former tag team specialist, turned himself into the company's ace by winning a string of singles titles. In 1991, Hart defeated Mr. Perfect in a classic match at that year's SummerSlam. Almost a year later, Hart would win back the title in another classic contest, this time against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania.
Like his older brother, Owen Hart would only hold the Intercontinental title twice, although his combined reigns where nowhere near as long as his brother's.
8 Booker T and Stevie Ray: WCW World Television Championship
Harlem Heat was one of the quintessential tag teams of the glory days of WCW. Along with The Outsiders, Sting and Lex Luger, and The Steiner Brothers, Harlem Heat helped to define the WCW tag team scene throughout the 1990s.
In 1997, after the team split up, WCW began turning Booker T into a breakout singles star. The first indication that Booker T was destined for greatness came when he captured the WCW World Television Championship on December 29, 1997. As champion, Booker T would take part in a much celebrated series of matches with Chris Benoit. All told, Booker T held the mid-card title six times.
Stevie Ray never could find the same amount of success. He only managed to hold on to the Television title for 27 days until being defeated by Chris Jericho.
7 The Steiner Brothers: WCW World Television Championship
Before the coming of Harlem Heat, another pair of wrestling brothers shared the WCW World Television Championship. Back in 1988, when the belt was still called the NWA World Television Championship, Rick Steiner pinned Mike Rotunda in order to become the new champion. He would hold the belt for just 56 days.
Years later, in 1992, younger brother Scott Steiner would capture the WCW World Television title by pinning legendary grappler Ricky Steamboat.
After a stint in the WWE and another string of tag team title victories, the Steiner Brothers broke up again in 1998. In that year, Scott won the Television Championship again and held it for 75 days. Not to be outdone, Rick would win the belt again two more times, thus brining his total days as champion to 211.
6 The Guerreros: WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Although better utilized by the WWE, Eddie Guerrero and his nephew Chavo won plenty of gold in WCW. The first to capture a prize was Eddie, who, in 1997, defeated Chris Jericho in order to become the WCW Cruiserweight Champion. Eddie, along with Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and Dean Malenko, helped to define cruiserweight wrestling in North America.
Eddie would hold the belt for a second time in 1997, thus brining his total days as champ to a mere 91 days.
Chavo, on the other hand, held the WCW and WWE Cruiserweight title six times. As both Chavo Guerrero and Lieutenant Loco, Guerrero was the original "King of the Cruiserweights" between 2000 and 2007.
5 Dusty and Dustin Rhodes: WCW United States Championship
Based on his experiences in WCW, Attitude Era writers in the WWE made Goldust, aka Dustin Rhodes, into an angry young man tired of living in his father's shadow. There may have been some truth to this, for the younger Rhodes' time in WCW, while highly decorated, never lived up to the legend of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
Nicknamed "The Natural," Dustin first captured the WCW United States Championship in 1993. He'd win the belt back after a controversial match against Rick Rude that same year. By any definition, the younger Rhodes' 229 days as champion is impressive.
In fact, "The Natural" bested "The American Dream" in this one respect. Dusty only held the belt once for 141 days.
4 Barry Windham and Blackjack Mulligan: WCW United States Championship
The merger of the Windham and Rotunda families is what produced both Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas. Barry Windham himself, the uncle of both Wyatt and Dallas, grew up in a wrestling family headed by his father Blackjack Mulligan.
In 1976, Blackjack Mulligan became just the fifth ever NWA United States Champion when he defeated Paul Jones. Mulligan would go on to hold the belt twice more (some disputed records claim that he held the belt three more times) for a combined reign of 498 days.
A decade later, Windham would capture the same belt by defeating Nikita Koloff in 1988. Although he only managed to hold the belt once, Windham's reign lasted for 283 days.
3 Tony and Matt Borne: NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship
Long before he was Doink the Clown, Matt Borne was wrestling royalty in the Pacific Northwest. Before the territory became the playground of "Playboy" Buddy Rose, the father and son team of "Tough" Tony and "Maniac" Matt Borne absolutely owned the city of Portland.
Tony Borne first earned the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship in 1960. Before the decade was out, he would win the belt eight more times. After a Borne-less 1970s, Matt grabbed the silver title in 1981 after defeating Rose.
Sadly, this would be Matt Borne's only reign as champion.
2 The Von Erichs: WCWA World Heavyweight Championship
Jack Adkisson, better known as Fritz Von Erich, made sure that World Class Championship Wrestling, a Dallas-based promotion that he owned, became a showcase for his athletic and talented sons.
The first ever WCWA World Heavyweight Champion was Fritz himself. Later, beginning in 1978, Fritz's boys began taking turns as WCCW's top champion. The first to do so was Kevin, who defeated Bruiser Brody for the title on December 25, 1978. Kevin would hold the belt six times in all.
The most famous Von Erich brother, Kerry, would win the belt on nine different occasions. In 1984, Mike Von Erich won the title by defeating Gino Hernandez.
Still, when it comes to championship reigns, none of the boys came close to breaking Fritz's record twenty title runs.
1 Dory and Terry Funk: NWA World Heavyweight Championship
The rough and tough Funks of Amarillo, Texas hold the distinction of being the only pair of brothers to ever hold the prestigious NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Older brother Dory Jr. captured the belt by beating Gene Kiniski in 1969.
As champion, Dory Funk, Jr. would the belt for a staggering 1,563 days.
Younger brother Terry Funk won the title six years later when he defeated the great Jack Brisco in Miami, Florida. Funk's single reign as champion lasted 424 days from 1975 until 1977.
These days, the Funk brothers are better known for their popular run in All Japan Pro-Wrestling and their hardcore days in Extreme Championship Wrestling.
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