Wrestling has a select number of families that are associated with greatness and legacies in the industry. The Harts, The Von Erichs and the McMahons are just some of the legendary families that come to mind. Yet wrestling is full of second and third generation wrestlers whose gimmicks are not tied to their families. In some cases, a first-generation wrestler may have been nothing more than a jobber. In others, the parent of a second- or third-generation superstar may have been well-known, but didn’t wrestle for a major promotion like the WWE. Some wrestlers just don’t identify with their families at all in hopes of creating their own legacy outside of their family’s shadow.
When a second- or third-generation wrestler enters the business, it isn’t unusual for companies to hype someone with such a background up as “the next big thing.” We’ve seen the Harts and the Anoa’i families craft generations of greatness in professional wrestling across the world. Yet, not all of a wrestler’s offspring can be as successful as their parents. For whatever reasons there may be, a Hall of Fame wrestler’s children is not guaranteed to make it in the Squared Circle. These are 15 wrestlers that you may not realize are second- or third-generation competitors.
15 Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts is one of the greatest villains WWE has ever produced. His avid use of in-ring psychology, over-the-top charisma and larger than life persona truly made him a character. But Jake’s family also has ties to the professional wrestling business. Jake’s father is none other than Grizzly Smith. In addition to Roberts, two of Smith’s other children, Sam Houston and former WWF Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin, also wrestled.
In the early '90s, The Snake would go on to work for WCW, teaming up with his father in a feud against Sting and Nikita Koloff. But Jake’s relationship with his father has not always been smooth. The strained relationship Roberts had with his father led to him becoming severely depressed. After struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, Roberts moved in with Diamond Dallas Page, got his life back on track and was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
The Princess of Staten Island is also the princess of a former WWF enhancement talent. Her father, Paul Van Dale worked numerous matches for the company during the 1990s against the likes of Jimmy Snuka, Big Boss Man and Shawn Michaels. Despite sharing the ring with multiple WWE Hall of Famers, Van Dale’s career never took off, unlike that of his f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s daughter. The first-ever female Money In The Bank winner has proven that your family doesn’t have to be considered wrestling royalty to become successful.
However, unlike many second-generation wrestlers, Carmella didn’t seek training before receiving a WWE tryout. But regardless, she grew up in the business and was a childhood fan. Her family’s history may be silent on WWE television, but at this rate, she’s only one Code of Silence away from obtaining WWE gold - something her dad can’t say he accomplished.
13 Alberto El Patrón
The man formerly known as Alberto Del Rio has a family tree full of wrestlers. El Patron comes from the Rodriguez family, one of the most well-known Mexican wrestling family, and his father is none other than famed Mexican wrestler, Dos Caras. El Patrón began his career training with his father and made his debut as Don Caras, Jr. in 2000. While El Patrón’s father isn’t known for wrestling in the United States, he did make an appearance with his son on WWE programming a few years prior.
El Patrón’s family connections don’t stop with his father. His uncle is WWE Hall of Famer Mil Máscaras, one of the most influential lucha libre stars of all time. His younger brother was also once signed to an NXT development deal, but now wrestlers as El Hijo de Dos Caras, which is Spanish for “The Son of Two Face.”
12 "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
It’s no secret that The Million Dollar Man’s son is a non-first generation wrestler, as he’s wrestled for the WWE in the last decade. But newer fans may not realize that the original Million Dollar Man was also the son of a wrestler.
Ted DiBiase Sr. was the son of Helen Hild, a women’s professional wrestler who worked across the United States. Eventually, Hild would marry “Iron” Mike DiBiase, who would later adopt and raise Ted and his siblings. However, the “Iron” would die in the ring of a heart attack while Ted was a teenager. Despite this, Ted would make his professional wrestling debut a few years after his father’s death along with his adoptive father’s last name. Fast forward to the late 1980s, and the “Million Dollar Man” would truly begin to take center stage and carry his father’s legacy at a national level.
11 Road Dogg
Oh, you didn’t know? You better call somebody! Road Dogg’s father is none other than WWE Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong. All of Armstrong’s sons (and Road Dogg’s brothers) entered the professional wrestling business. As a matter of fact, Road Dogg’s brother, Scott Armstrong is a current referee for the WWE.
While Road Dogg didn’t achieve too much success as a singles competitor, he had a part in one of the most influential stables in wrestling history: D-Generation X. Along with his time in DX, Road Dogg’s other big claim to fame was being a member of the New Age Outlaws with Billy Gun. Together, the team became one of the most decorated tag teams of all time, holding tag team titles six times in the WWE alone. It would not be surprising to see Road Dogg, who currently is a WWE producer, join his father in the WWE Hall of Fame in the near future.
Despite being out of the ring for nearly a year, Paige remains one of the most popular (and talked about) female wrestlers in the company. Yet she also comes from the famous Knight wrestling family from the United Kingdom. Paige’s first match happened when she was just 13 after her father, a wrestling promoter, asked her to participate. However, some may argue that Paige’s first match was in the womb as her mother, Saraya Knight, wrestled matches without realizing she was pregnant with Paige.
While her mother is widely recognized as one of the best female wrestlers in the world, Paige’s family connection to the Knights isn’t widely acknowledged by WWE. None of the Knights ever held a WWE contract, let alone won a title on their first night on the company’s main roster. For a wrestler with so much talent and potential, it’s a bit surprising how no one in her family ended up wrestling for the number one company in the business.
10. Santana Garrett
Santana Garrett is one of women’s wrestling’s fastest rising stars who is known for her time in TNA as Brittany. She’s also appeared on NXT numerous times with the likes of Asuka, Emma and Billie Kay. Regardless, her father, Kenny G. worked the independent scene near St. Louis as a wrestler and a promoter in the 1990s. She would eventually move to Florida to pursue her wrestling career.
Despite already working for some of the top wrestling promotions in the world, Santana’s star continues to shine. Her resume continues to grow as she works for top women’s promotions, such as STARDOM, Shine and Shimmer. She’s still young; at the age of 29, she could very likely be on the WWE’s main roster someday, if not soon.
9 Grand Master Sexay
Best known as one of the dancers that made up Too Cool, Grand Master Sexay is actually the son of WWE commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler. This relationship has seldom been acknowledged on WWE programming, despite Lawler providing commentary for many of his son’s matches during The Attitude Era.
Before he became Grand Master Sexay, Lawler’s son was known as “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher. On Lawler would occasionally put his son on a pedestal compared to other wrestlers, but never admitted it on WWE programming. However, Grand Master Sexay made a return to WWE programming in 2011, introduced by Michael Cole as Jerry Lawler’s son. Grand Master Sexay would also acknowledge his relationship with his dad, throwing insults to him in the process.
8 Rachael Ellering
The name “Ellering” may be familiar to you if you’ve watched NXT in recent months. That may be because Paul Ellering, the former manager of the Road Warriors, returned to manage the Authors of Pain. While primarily a manager, Ellering did step into the ropes from time to time, and his daughter, Rachael, has followed in his footsteps.
Graduating from the Storm Wrestling Academy less than two years ago, Rachael has quickly made a name for herself in the women’s wrestling scene, and the top companies have clearly noticed. You may recognize Rachael from her various appearances on Impact Wrestling or, like her dad, on NXT. As a matter of fact, she made her first NXT appearance within six months after her debut match. Rachael may not be as well known as others on this list, but with her rising ascent, she’s destined to leave her mark in due time.
7 Doink The Clown
Doink The Clown was portrayed by plenty of people over the years, but the first person to portray the character was Matt Borne, a second-generation wrestler. His father was Tony Borne, a notable wrestler in the 1950s who locked up with the likes of Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne. Tony Borne has been cited by Dave Meltzer as one of the greatest legends of the Pacific Northwest wrestling scene.
Born as Matt Osborne, the man best known as the original Doink The Clown originally went by the ring name Matt Borne. At some points of his career, he was considered to be nothing more than a jobber. Eventually, he would find his greatest success as Doink, competing at WrestleManias. He would also reprise the role over the years until his death in 2013.
6 Cheerleader Melissa
Arguably best known for her time in TNA as Raisha Saeed and Alissa Flash, Cheerleader Melissa’s father, Dog Anderson, was a professional wrestler in the 1980s. Her uncle, Billy Anderson, was also a wrestler. She began her training as a teenager, working with her father’s former tag-team partner, Billy Anderson.
Since then, Melissa has been able to more than cement her name as an independent wrestling stable. PWI named her the top women’s wrestler in 2013, long after her time with TNA was finished. She also makes appearances on Lucha Underground as Mariposa, the sister of Marty Martinez. Only in her mid-30s, it is absolutely possible that Melissa could still see bigger stages in her career.
5 Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt’s character is so unique in a variety of ways, from his entrance to his moves to his overall look. By looking at Wyatt, you could not tell that his father is WWE legend IRS. The leader of the Wyatt family is indeed the spawn of a villainous tax collector. IRS would eventually form a tag team with Ted Dibiase, winning tag team championships on multiple occasions.
Wyatt’s family connections do not stop there. Two of his family members are WWE Hall of Famers. Wyatt’s grandfather is none other than Blackjack Mulligan. His uncle is none other than Barry Windham of the Four Horsemen. And his brother also happens to be on the same brand of the WWE main roster as Wyatt. That man is none other than Bo Dallas. UnBOlieveable, right?
4 Vince McMahon
Yes, a lot of you already know that Vince McMahon followed in his father, Vincent J. McMahon's footsteps, buying the company from his father and expanding it all over the United States. What lands Vinne Mac on this list is the fact that he's a THIRD generation promoter. His grandfather James "Jess" McMahon was the main man in wrestling in the northeast territory. When Jess passed away in the 50s, Vince Sr. then took over and really took a stranglehold over the New York territory, which encompassed the entire northeast. Vince is the third in line of the McMahon legacy, but he sure has stamped his own legacy. His ancestors probably never thought their offspring would be as crazy as Vince!
3 Tully Blanchard
Tully’s daughter, Tessa, is often talked about these days, even snagging the role of Paige’s stunt double in the upcoming film based on Paige’s life. But newer fans may not be familiar with her father, former Four Horseman Tully Blanchard. An even smaller amount of fans may be familiar with Tully’s father, former promoter and wrestler Joe Blanchard. Joe made his debut for Stampede Wrestling in 1953. That promotion has also hosted the likes of Bret Hart, Harley Race and Natalya, to name a few.
Joe would eventually train Tully to wrestle, and Tully would debut in his father’s promotion, Southwest Championship Wrestling, in 1975. Eventually, Tully would leave his father’s promotion and wrestle for a wide variety of promotions throughout the country. During this time, he would link up with Ric Flair, Ole Andersen and Arn Andersen, creating the first iteration of the legendary Four Horsemen stable. Blanchard would later be inducted alongside Flair, Andersen and Barry Windham into the Hall of Fame as the Four Horsemen.
2 Curtis Axel
Some may know that Curtis Axel is the son of the late Curt Hennig, but few may be aware that Axel’s grandfather, Larry “The Axe” Hennig, was a professional wrestler who wrestled for nearly three decades. As a matter of fact, Curtis Axel’s ring name is a tribute to both his father and his grandfather. But Axel’s heritage isn’t as obvious as it used to be.
Prior to joining the WWE’s main roster, he was known as Joe Hennig in FCW. He used his father’s signature move, the Perfect-Plex, as his finisher. Yet somewhere down the line in his developmental journey, his ring name was changed to Michael McGillicutty. His finisher was replaced with a neckbreaker. Any obvious ties that he had to the historic Hennig family were gone. Although his current ring name pays tribute to his lineage, it’s hard to visually recognize that Axel is indeed the son of Mr. Perfect.
1 Rene Dupree
The youngest champion in WWE history, Rene Dupree made a name for himself in the early- to mid-2000’s as a member of La Resistance alongside Sylvain Grenier and Rob Conway. Rene’s natural abilities could be credited, at least in part, to his early exposure to the business through this father, Emile Dupree. Although his father is known as a promoter of Grand Prix Wrestling, he also was a former wrestler, locking up with the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Killer Kowalski.
Rene would also wrestle for his father’s promotion at various points in his career. His WWE career fizzled out a little shortly after the split of La Resistance, but he has stayed in the business up to today. A WWE return though, it unlikely.