It must be rough growing up with a legend in your family. Rougher when you choose to head into the family business. With the big boom expansion period of the late seventies and early eighties, more and more children of wrestlers grew up seeing their fathers bringing much better than viable money into the home. Couple that with name recognition and the possibility to make even more money than their parents did and you have a slew of kids heading into the wrestling business to try and make a name for themselves.
We all know some of the greatest second and third generation superstars - Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, the Rock, along with current stars like Charlotte and Paige. But while diamonds like Charlotte might be forever, there are plenty of duds in the pile too. Clearly, all of the legacy children get their shots because of their lineage but the ones that don't cut the mustard fall as hard as any jabroni.
Whether it has been poor booking decisions over years, or they couldn't master their craft they way their elders could, here are 15 wrestlers who have failed and are failing their legacy.
15 David Flair
Towards the end of WCW, Ric Flair went slightly nuts from a character standpoint. But his son David went completely off the rails. Unfortunately the only thing compelling about the eldest Flair child in WCW was the fact he ran with Daphney and Crowbar. When you're biggest claim to fame is getting laid out by the Undertaker so that your very older father can attempt to avenge the beating, you're not doing too great in living up to the family name. True, daddy is one of the best ever, but Charlotte is doing a great job living up to the Flair name, there's no reason David couldn't.
14 Nattie Neidhart
Natayla Neidhart, the daughter of Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart and the first ever third generation diva deserves far, far more than she has been given. But because of the way she has been booked over the years, the WWE has failed to capitalize on what should have been sure fire money. All of this Divas revolution talk could have happened years ago with Nattie at the center when competitors like Beth Phoenix and Victoria were still around to have classic matches with. Instead, Nattie was booked to be a flatulent joke or an unsupportive, nagging wife. Not anything fans could ever get truly behind.
13 Horace Hogan
It's definitely hard living up to a family name, no matter what level of greatness the name is linked to. But it's damn near impossible when your uncle is the guy who is still the single most known wrestler in the world. When you have zero skills like Horace Hogan had, then you're no more than just another nWo lackey–who just happens to have a super famous uncle / leader of the faction. Horace Hogan never did much during his WCW run, nor since. Who said nepotism was dead?
12 Scott Putski
In the 70s and early 80s, there weren't too many bigger names than Polish Power Ivan Putski. A former WWF tag team champion, Putski rose to prominence as of Superstar Billy Graham's most famous challengers for the WWWF title. When Putski's son Scott was set to debut, he came to the WWE with fanfare. Scott had the physique that Vince McMahon covets but his in ring skills left little to be desired. Despite a decent showing at the 1994 Royal Rumble, Putski was gone. A few years later Scott and Ivan would engage in a brief feud with Jerry Lawler and Bryan Christopher, but pairing with his Hall of Fame father didn't do much to further Scott's career, and after a briefer stint in WCW, Scott Putski would retire from the business.
11 Brian Christopher
Speaking of Brian Christopher, he too makes this list. As part of the comedy act Too Cool, Christopher, along with Scotty 2 Hotty's were a fairly decent act during the Attitude Era, but that was mostly because they were partnered with Rikishi. They apparently didn't even rank high enough on the Big 'Kish's list of thank yous for his Hall of Fame induction speech. Christopher is the son of Jerry Lawler and the running joke on TV is that Lawler wouldn't acknowledge 2 Sexy as his own kid. Considering the legend that is the King of Memphis vs. the doofus that his son was on TV, perhaps Lawler just didn't want to acknowledge the kid at all.
10 David Sammartino
As the son of the longest-reigning WWE champion ever, David Sammartino had a lot to live up to. But lack of skill and Vince desire to squeeze more out of Bruno had David become a pawn. When Bruno was willing to work, a David was booked higher on the card and when he wasn't, David was jerking curtains, it's no wonder Bruno discontinued his relationship with the WWE for so long. But besides being a bargaining chip for McMahon and being PWI Rookie of the Year 1981, David was nowhere near the performer Bruno was.
9 Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak's first run in the WWE gave us the not so memorable Meat character, being led to the ring the two femdoms Terri and Jacqueline. But recording conversations in the locker room unauthorized led to his immediate release. The son of WWWF transitional champ, Stan the Man Stasiak did little to add to his family's legacy, besides WCW attempting to make him a ripoff of Mr. Perfect. Returning to the WWE didn't do him any favors either, and Stasiak became a joke, trying and failing to impress Stone Cold week after week. He now works a chiropractor, hopefully making a better showing for himself than he did in the ring.
8 Richie Steamboat
During the big boom period of the eighties, so many legendary stars were born and they gave birth to so many hopefuls. Fans actually got to meet Richie Steamboat, son of the Dragon when he was just a little baby dragon, appearing with Ricky and his wife at various wrestling events. It was quite possibly the cutest thing ever in wrestling–perennial babyface Ricky coming to the ring carrying his baby boy in matching ring robes no less! But Richie, despite having what Jim Ross would call a huge upside, would suffer several injuries and be cut from the developmental roster. Because of this Steamboat is the only member of this list tragically couldn't live up to the legacy of the Dragon as opposed to being a failure.
7 Sim Snuka
While there are plenty of reasons for Tamina to be on this list, she still has a career and didn't almost kill the Undertaker. The same cannot be said for Sim Snuka. Debuting as part of the Thowbacks, the team was halfway decent and could have been better had they been around now or during the Attitude Era. Since the team wasn’t reaching their potential, Snuka went to Raw and adopted the name Sim Snuka. There, the guy couldn’t even get into Legacy (he stinks more than Ted DiBiase). At WrestleMania XXV, during the classic between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, Snuka, as a cameraman, failed to catch the Deadman doing a suicide dive, allowing the Phenom to land on his head–that is the most memorable moment of Snuka’s career; almost killing the Deadman.
6 Ted DiBiase, Jr.
The Million Dollar Man was arguably the greatest heel of the eighties and early nineties. Where guys like Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes did all they could do to distance themselves from their famous fathers, DiBiase was saddled with the "Priceless" gimmick, and given the Million Dollar belt. Unfortunately, nothing about Teddy Jr. spelt money. Lackluster ring skills, next to zero mic skills, and the charisma of mayonnaise, Jr. was never able to gain the traction that his Legacy teammates could and did nothing to further the DiBiase legacy in the sports entertainment world.
5 Erik Watts
Anyone who listens to Jim Ross’ podcast or happens to be a wrestling history buff should know all about the Cowboy Bill Watts. Watts was one of the many to challenge Bruno for the belt and now infamously is remembered for being one of the bookers behind WCW’s early failings before Bischoff took over. It was during this time that his son Erik debuted. Clearly, Watts was nowhere near the level his father was in the ring, or even ready for wrestling. But sadly his biggest claim to fame is heading to the WWE, where he was part of Techno Team 2000, wearing the pinnacle of early 90’s wrestling fashion–Zubaz.
4 Teddy Hart
There are some wresting pundits out there who believe if Teddy Hart could get his demons in check, he'd be the best of the new Hart generation. But like many who struggle with personal demons, Hart has proven hard to work with and erratic in the ring, providing an unsafe work environment. On one event, the guy performed an unplanned shooting star press off the top of a cage unto several unsuspecting wrestlers. His excellent skills got him signed not once but twice to WWE developmental. But his attitude has gotten also gotten him released twice, not to mention allegations of rape and being in the crosshairs of the RCMP.
Stardust is the one wrestler on this list that at least has longevity, even if he'll never get a real push. After all, he's the son of Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Goldust, who as of next year will be celebrating 20 years of the character and is currently having a career renaissance. Unfortunately for Cody/Stardust, his greatest character has also shoehorned him firmly into the undercard, so while the guy might still be working in 20 years, he is never going to reach his full potential until if and when he goes back to being Cody Rhodes.
2 Curtis Axel
When your grandfather is regarded as one of the toughest wrestlers ever and your dad is Mr. Perfect, everyone's expectations of how you might perform are unfairly blown through the roof. But while Curtis Axle's expectations might have been set high, his failure to even come close to touching the bar are quite shocking. He was given so many different opportunities and mouthpieces (CM Punk, Paul Heyman), but alas, so far all Mr. Axle is known for is for the comedy bit - Axlemania, which fell flat to begin with but totally failed once Hulk was fired for his indiscretions.
1 Bray Wyatt
Our number one is more Vince McMahon's fault for Bray not getting over. Wyatt has done a remarkable job playing the character. But for some reason, McMahon has failed to pull the trigger on the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan / son of Michael Rotunda / nephew of Barry and Kendall Windham. The guy gets tremendous reactions and whenever the Wyatts are pitted against some other group, the crowds go insane (see the recent League of Nations altercation). But until the big boss decides to hear the cheers of the crowd, Wyatt will continue to fail his legacy.