Just like any other professional sport, wrestling has seen its share of familial legacies inside the ring. The occupation of wrestling has in some cases been passed down from generation to generation, and the family name continues in multiple eras of the squared circle. It can turn into a long standing tradition, and it has produced some of the most legendary names the business has ever seen. A family affair in the world of wrestling is almost always a good thing.
Certain family trees in the sport are obvious: The Rock and his father, Rocky Johnson, The Anoa’i Family, and The Guerrero Family to name a few. These are world-renowned wrestling lineages that can be traced back for generations. Everyone knows about them and their impact on the sport cannot be understated. There remain, however, many unsuspected second- and third-generation wrestlers who carry on that same tradition. In some cases, these legacy wrestlers were just as important as their family members who preceded them. Other times, they couldn’t live up to the family name. In any event, they decided to take on the family business and went mostly unrecognized in doing so.
Ranked below are 15 wrestlers you never knew were second-generation talents.
15. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio’s father is Lucha legend Dos Caras, who wrestled in many high-flying classic matches for promotions such as Mexico’s CMLL and Japan’s Michinoku Pro. Caras was one of the first luchadores to begin to bring international attention to that particular style of wrestling, and is on the highest level of the totem pole for that niche of wrestling. Taking on other lucha innovators such as Dr. Wagner and Mil Mascaras throughout the 70s and 80s, Caras certainly cemented his status as one of the most high-profile Mexican wrestlers in the history of the sport. Del Rio may not go down as historically important as his father (and most wrestlers wouldn’t), but he still has assembled a nice resume for himself, which includes a WWE Title reign. All things considered, both are regarded in the upper echelon of the business, and two of the most notable talents to ever originate from Mexico.
14. Rene Dupree
Dupree’s father, Emile, was a world-traveled wrestler in the pre-80s era, and did battle with many of the top stars at the time. Matches with Killer Kowalski and Dusty Rhodes are on his resume, and he performed internationally, as well as doing a stint in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling for a period of time. Dupree also has run his own promotion, Grand Prix Wrestling, since the 70s, and now both Rene and Emile run the promotion. It’s hosted some familiar names in the wrestling world, and is well-renowned for being a staple promotion in the Canadian region. Rene Dupree may have gotten more praise from the wrestling world for his mid-card role in WWE, but his father was impressive in his heyday as well, albeit for promotions that were on a much smaller scale.
13. Road Dogg
It was a far cry from the New Age Outlaws, but Road Dogg’s father, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong was a prominent figure in the NWA-territorial days in the 70s. Wrestling all over the South, Armstrong collected dozens of titles, and was able to succeed on a regional level. When his sons (Brad, Steve, etc.) were all getting into the business, the elder Armstrong formed tag teams with them in the later stages of his career to give them a leg up. Road Dogg obviously went on to years of success in WWE, along with a stint in TNA, and to this day is one of the most fondly remembered performers of the Attitude Era. The Armstrongs are a successful wrestling family, despite not having the sheer number of accolades that others can lay claim to. But considering that nearly all of them had substantial careers, in numerous mainstream American promotions like WCW, WWE and TNA, that counts for a lot all on its own.
Paige was able to get into the wrestling business at a young age, due to her family lineage. Her mother and father, Sweet Saraya and Ricky Knight were both wrestlers, and worked in promoting as well. Knight promotes for World Association of Wrestling, based out of Norwich, England. While not the biggest geographical hotspot for wrestling, England still has it’s share of promotions and homegrown stars in the ring. Given these circumstances, there was a clear door into the industry, and for Paige to start training at a young age. She honed her skills quickly, and is now considered one of the top female in-ring technicians in the world today, and a leader of the revolution of sorts that is currently going on with women’s wrestling. In all, she’s one of WWEs most reliable talents for match quality, and a lot of that comes from the fact that her mother and father were such prominent figures in English wrestling.
11. Jacques Rougeau
Rougeau was a staple figure in WWE during the 80s and 90s, and well-decorated in tag competition, with his brother Raymond Rougeau, as well as his stint as one-half of the Quebecers. Lesser known however, was his father, Jacques Rougeau Sr. and his career. The elder Rougeau was a Canadian wrestler, beginning in the 50s, and while he was mostly slotted in a mid-card role, he still has matches on his resume with certified legends such as Abdullah The Butcher and The Sheik. He rarely ventured outside the realm of Canadian promotions, but his workman-like attitude towards the business clearly transferred over to his son, who became one of the more underrated workers that WWE could lay claim to during his time with the company.
10. Rey Mysterio
Mysterio’s uncle, Rey Misterio Sr., was a former boxer who rose to prominence in Mexican wrestling during the 70s and 80s. It was there that he set the stage for plenty of future cruiserweight stars in the business, including his nephew. The elder Misterio wrestled for several different promotions in Mexico, including well know organizations such as WWA and AAA. He did make an appearance for WCW in 1990 at Starrcade, representing Mexico in an International Tournament. He didn’t know it at the time, but less than a decade later, Mysterio Jr. would revolutionize the high-flying style of wrestling in the United States, for the same company. The Misterio’s are legends when it comes to the squared circle, and in the world of high-risk, high-flying wrestling, there’s nobody that does it better.
9. Dean Malenko
Everyone knows Dean as one of the best technical wrestlers of all-time, but his father Joe, and his grandfather Boris, are near-equal status in the business. Well-traveled for their time, Joe spent many stints overseas wrestling in Japan, and Boris was mainstay for the NWA in their Texas and Florida territories. Clearly, Dean’s roots run deep in the business, and it’s no wonder he was able to become such a pronounced mat technician. He even adopted his father’s finisher, The Texas Cloverleaf, for a period of time. Ultimately, all of the Malenko’s were successful in their own careers, and their family name is steeped in tradition, making them one of the more respected wrestling families of all-time. All of them were underrated in their heyday, considering how sound they were in the ring.
8. Matt Borne
Most famous for portraying Doink The Clown, among many other notable mid-card gimmicks in WWE, Matt Borne is actually a second-generation talent, which isn’t often talked about. His father, Tony Borne was an NWA staple back in the 50s and 60s, and wrestled against some true ring royalty in his time, including then-NWA Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz. Contrary to what was popular in his father’s heyday, Matt Borne was one of the leading embodiments of a gimmick wrestler, which he found much success with over the course of his career. Both father and son were technically sound in the ring however, and could both work a great match at any given moment. Even though the Doink The Clown character is pretty much the epitome of “Wrestlecrap”, Borne was still good in the ring.
Carmella’s father, Paul Van Dale, served the admirable job of enhancement talent in WWE during the 90s. Despite much of the decade when Van Dale worked, to be not the best in terms of quality of the product, his work did inspire his daughter to eventually take up wrestling, and is now one of the more prominent wrestlers on the women’s roster for WWE. It’s fair to say that by the time her career is over, that Carmella has a reasonable chance to surpass her father’s resume, which didn’t include many title reigns or notoriety of any kind, although working for WWE in any capacity certainly is an accomplishment. Even though the elder Van Dale never amounted to much in his wrestling career, he planted the seeds for his children to do so. Carmella’s shown to be a quality in-ring worker, and can manage as well, so she figures to be around WWE for the forseeable future.
6. Ray Gordy
One half of the former WWE tag team Jesse and Festus, Jesse Dalton, real name Ray Gordy, is the son of Fabulous Freebirds member, and NWA legend, “Bam Bam” Terry Gordy. No one really suspected it at the time, since the younger Gordy was performing under a different name, but it turns out that his father was actually wrestling royalty. Ray never ended up living up to the family name in terms of wrestling prowess (though it would have been tough for anyone to that), and retired from wrestling after a short career. He was never really given the best shot while in WWE, but it’s just as well that he retired to become a police officer in Atlanta after stepping away from the ring. Though one was clearly more successful than the other, it’s cool that Ray Gordy attempted a go at maintaining his father’s legacy in the business.
5. The Usos
Though it may not be obvious to some viewers due to their name, The Usos are actually a part of the legendary Anoa’i family of wrestlers, whose lineage stretches back to the days of the Wild Samoans. Other relatives to The Usos include The Rock, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Umaga, and many other wrestlers throughout the years. Their father however, is none other than Rikishi Fatu, a former WWE star in his own right. The family history can get a bit confusing, but the important thing is that nearly everyone to come out of the Anoa’i family has contributed in significant ways to the business, and are confirmed wrestling royalty. The Usos currently carry on that tradition in WWE, representing the family name in the best possible way. The standards may be high, but they are more than up to the challenge of living up to them.
4. Luna Vachon
Casual fans probably aren’t aware that the crazy, intense valet that ran around WWE rings in the 90s was actually just the next in a long line of wrestling icons from Canada. Luna’s father was Paul Vachon and his uncle was “Mad Dog” Vachon, both legends in their heyday. Together, they wrestled all over for a wealth of different promotions, cementing themselves as some of the toughest in the industry. Luna was able to live up that moniker as best she could. At the time, her antics for a valet/manager seemed to come out of left field, but she was able to draw plenty of heat from them. Ultimately, one of the most overlooked wrestling families of all-time and for them, the intensity never took a day off when it came to the squared circle.
3. Barry Windham
Wyndham’s father, Blackjack Mulligan, was truly one of the most legendary wrestlers of his time, despite his cowboy gimmick being one that had been utilized before. It didn’t matter, because he was able to transcend the everyday gimmick and make it something truly memorable, in either singles or tag competition. Barry’s career is more renowned, as he was in the NWA just as the business was going national. A member of the Four Horsemen, Windham was involved in some of the hottest feuds of the time period, and had a unique in-ring style that resonated with many fans. Furthermore, Wyndham’s son, Bo Dallas, is currently in WWE, making this wrestling family one of the most prolific, and name-recongized in the history of the sport.
2. Curt Hennig
The father of the renowned “Mr. Perfect” may have actually been more successful in the squared circle than his son was. Larry “The Ax” Hennig was just about as big a star that anyone could be back in the territorial days of the business. Legendary stints in the AWA, as well as the Texas territories cemented this fact, and Hennig won titles nationwide. Of course, his son Curt was just about as popular, becoming a great heel in WWE, and then later moving on to do quality work in WCW. Both father and son were masters of in-ring psychology, making their family name one of the most respected in the business. It’s hard to top the Hennig’s resume, and they’re both certified legends of the squared circle.
1. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jaker Roberts was woefully under appreciated during his time in the wrestling business, and his father Grizzly Smith suffered the same fate in his heyday of the 60s and 7os as well. Standing at a hulking 350 pounds, Roberts’ father wrestled all over the country (and in Canada), never getting much recognition along the way. Title reigns were present, but they were few and far between, and he never separated himself from the other regional performers of the time. The same was true for Jake during his time in WWE and WCW. Even though he had a surplus of promo-cutting ability, and in-ring psychology, he never received the title shots that most fans agreed that he should have. So, while the wrestling legacy runs deep for this family, both of them were never truly able to shine under the brightest of lights, due to a lukewarm opinion from the bookers and management that they worked for.
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