When it comes to wrestling, your legacy is everything. Related or not, wrestlers paving the way for other wrestlers is a common bond held between the people who give and live their lives in the squared circle. While fame and level of success in wrestling and sports entertainment is up to one’s individual opinion, one thing is for. There are a few well known wrestling families in the business that are known as a wrestling royalty. Some of these families and bloodlines have female and male wrestlers that are currently in the business behind the scenes and inside the squared circle.
Charlotte is a Flair, and as the son of Ric Flair, had quite a legacy to live up to. Tamina, The Usos (Jimmy and Jay), Naomi, Rikishi, Yokozuna, and Roman Reigns are all tied to the Anoa’i family. Natalya is the first third-generation female wrestler as the niece of Bret Hart, granddaughter of Stu Hart, and daughter of Jim Neidhart. Goldust and Cody Rhodes are the sons of Dusty Rhodes. Randy Orton is carrying the Orton legacy as the grandson of Cowboy Bob Orton, the nephew of Barry Orton, and the son of Bob Orton Jr. Terry Funk is the son of Dory Funk. The list goes on and on. Whether it is because of booking or the highs and lows of the wrestling world, sometimes legacies and bloodline get forgotten. Here are 15 wrestlers you didn’t know, or forgot you knew, had parents in the business.
15 Bo Dallas
We have been calling for a Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda) and Bray Wyatt (Windham Rotunda) on camera partnership for the longest time now, but we often fail to remember that apart from having a brother who can save his career, Bo has a notable list of professional wrestlers who first introduced him to the business. Bo is the son of Mike Rotunda, who had two runs with the WWE as Mike Rotunda and I.R.S, along with time spent at WCW and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Apart from being the son of a multi-time tag team champion in various promotions, he is the nephew of Barry and Kendall Windham, and grandson of Robert Windham (Blackjack Mulligan). Will Bo’s recent acceptance into The Mizztourage push him in the direction of a career like his father and grandfather? Only time will tell.
She might have been the last pick in the 2016 WWE Brand Extension, but Leah Van Dale, better known as Carmella, is a NFL cheerleader and NBA dancer turned wrestler who knew of the wrestling world from a young age as the daughter of former WWF and independent wrestler, Paul Van Dale. While Van Dale obtained six detached retinas throughout his career, he managed to have matches with the likes of The Big Boss Man and Shawn Michaels while signed to WWF between the late eighties and early nineties. As his daughter now stands as the winner of the first female Money In The Bank ladder match, one can only assume Van Dale is living vicariously through her. He can always say however, that he was the Kurt Angle to John Cena, as he was Razor Ramon’s opponent in his WWE debut.
13 Andrade Almas
While he may currently only have less than two years on the NXT roster, Manuel Oropeza, known as Andrade “Cien” Almas, is a third generation wrestler who gained experience with New Jan Pro Wrestling and Mexico’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or the CMLL. His bloodline allowed him not only be exposed to wrestling from a young age, but to also make his wrestling debut at just 13 years old. Not only did his father work in Mexican territories as Brillante, but his grandfather worked under the name “El Moro”, along with uncles and cousins who also wrestled across Mexico and their family’s wrestling promotion. Brillante began his in-ring career in 1979 and had a notable stable in AAA named “Las Gemas del Ring” along with talents Diamante and Zafiro.
12 Axel Dieter Jr.
Axel Dieter Jr. might be fairly new to NXT. As an wXw and PROGRESS alumnus, Axel, who made his NXT in-ring debut at a live show (against Roderick Strong) under the name Marcel Barthel on June 22, 2017, though, has wrestling in his veins as the son of Axel Dieter Barthel, Sr., a German wrestler who performed throughout various countries in the sixties and seventies. He worked as a promoter before his 2015 passing and helped establish wrestlers like Vader and Moose Morowski. Unlike his father, Barthel’s wrestling journey has predominantly taken part in Germany. But if his sudden departure from Westside Xtreme Wrestling (where was both unified world wrestling champion and world tag team champion) proves anything, it's that he is ready to take the NXT and WWE world by storm.
11 Reina Gonzalez
She may stand at 6'1, but Texas indie wrestler Victoria Gonzalez, now known as Reina Gonzalez, has a WWE career that is bound to be much bigger if she continues in the path that she is currently on. As the daughter of fellow Texas indie wrestler Speedy Gonzalez or Rick "Desperado" Gonzalez, Gonzalez was eager to make it to the ring. Who would have thought she’d make it to WWE just one year after auditioning for the 2015 season of Tough Enough and just three years into her training? While her father promised to start training her once she graduated from college, Rick himself, left wrestling when she entered high school to spend more time with her and her sister.
Reina was announced as a WWE recruit in October 2016, made her NXT in-ring debut January 2017, and had her televised May 2017. She will be appearing as part of the first ever Mae Young Classic this fall.
10 Tessa Blanchard
When it comes to the last name of Blanchard, don’t count it out as a wrestling family. Known as a member of The Four Horsemen and The Brain Busters, the NWA and WWE Hall of Fame member Tully Blanchard (son of Joe Blanchard) is the father of Tessa Blanchard. If you are a casual wrestling fan, you may not recognize a fact that might be obvious to others, but Tessa, unlike her father, has made a strong presence in the indy wrestling scene and may currently be known for. From Shine to Lucha Underground and multiple one time appearances in WWE, Tessa’s wrestling background is evident. While Tully most recently made an appearance in WWE in an episode of “Table For 3”, we cannot tell if his daughter will make a permanent appearance sooner than later.
9 Santana Garrett
With an upcoming appearances in the Mae Young Classic, Santana Garrett’s prominence in the wrestling world has never been as solidified. With runs in WOW and Shine, along with appearances in WWE and a notable first run in TNA as “Brittany”, watching her father be a part of the business as “TNT Kenny G”, (Kenny Garrett) probably aspired her even more. She has been quoted saying that her father showed her a lot about the business as a kid (having said that he showed her holds before she was in junior high) and knew she wanted to be a wrestler seeing him wrestle from ringside. Kenny currently runs High Voltage Wrestling in St. Louis, Mo. While she has had more success than her father, she has her father to thank for introducing him to the business.
8 Jake The Snake Roberts
He is a WWE Hall of Famer who might be more familiar to fans than his estranged father. If you know wrestling, you know who he is. If you do not know your wrestling history however, you don’t Grizzly Smith. As the father of not only one notable wrestler but also Sam Houston and Rockin’ Robin, Grizzly worked as WWE and WCW backstage official and road agent (respectfully) after his in-ring career ended. During his time as a wrestler he worked and held titles such as the American Wrestling Association (AWA) Midwest Tag Team Championship and the Worldwide Wrestling Association (WWA) Tag Team Championship. He also had a brief stop in the WWWF as a member of The Kentuckians and feuded with the Graham Brothers (Gorilla Monsoon & Klondike Bill) and the Mortieas.
7 Luna Vachon
We're several generations removed from when Luna Vachon's father and uncle were huge in the business, so many of you probably forgot that Luna was a second generation wrestler. She was in WWE throughout the 90s in multiple stints, but her father Paul Vachon and her uncle, Mad Dog Vachon were huge in the business back in the territorial days. Luna came around at the wrong time in WWE, as they weren't really taking their women's division seriously, leaving Luna as mostly a valet for Bam Bam Bigelow and Goldust later on. Her most notable feud was with Sable in late 1997 into early 1998.
Sadly, Luna died back in 2010 from an overdose of overdose of oxycodone and benzodiazepine at the age of 48.
6 Eddie Gilbert
While his life was caught short at age of 33 due to a heart attack, Eddie Gilbert managed to make his career some “hot stuff.” He began as an enhancement talent in the WWWF, and then found more success in the USWA, NWA, UWF, and WWC. Although his brother is in the business, his father, Tommy Gilbert, is the one who showed him the world of professional wrestling. Tommy wrestled mostly in the South, and is known for his time with the Continental Wrestling Association. He became a referee for Mid-South/UWF and retiring from the ring in 1984 and was inducted into the Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994. Apart from managing wrestlers like Sting, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, and Rick Steiner, Eddie held multiple championships throughout his career such as the ECW Tag Team Championship and the NWA and UWF Tag Team Championships.
5 Doink The Clown
To us, there was only one Doink The Clown, as the best version was undoubtedly portrayed by the late Matt Osborne, a second generation wrestler. The Doink character would be played by various wrestlers after Borne was released by the WWE in late 1993 due to recurring drug problems. Osborne had a father by the name of Tony Borne in the wrestling business, who wrestled in the NWA Pacific Northwest and in the Omaha territory. He even had several matches with NWA Champion Verne Gagne. Unfortunately, Osborne's substance problems persisted throughout his life and he sadly passed away in 2013, just three years after his father following an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone which was worsened by a pre-existing heart condition.
4 Curtis Axel
Does training under Mr. Perfect make you perfect? We don’t know. It might be sweet telling your friends your dad is not only perfect but Mr. Perfect. His son Joseph Henning however, might have an idea of how that feels. Joseph, better known as Curtis Axel, signed with WWE in 2008 and reported to FCW. While he was introduced to WWE with some spotlight as one of the people who represented his father Curt in the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame, the rest of his time in WWE has faced highs and lows. The first half of his career saw him work in NXT and as a part of The Nexus under the name Michael McGillicutty In 2013 he adopted the Curtis Axel as a tribute to his wrestling bloodline. Curtis is shortened from her father’s first name and Axel comes from his grandfather’s (Larry Henning) nickname. He has held the WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships. His father also held the WWE (at the time WWF) Intercontinental Title and performed in the AWA, WCW, and TNA.
3 Rachael Ellering
Ellering? That name sounds familiar, does it not? That’s because Rachael Ellering is the daughter of Paul Ellering. While Paul has a background as a professional wrestler along with being a weightlifter and dog musher, Paul is mostly known for his work as a professional wrestling manager. He not only spent most of his career managing the Road Warriors (throughout their runs in various promotions), but returned to WWE through NXT as the manager of the then new tag team “Author of Pain” during NXT TakeOver: The End. Before that, he went into the WWE Hall Of Fame with the Road Warriors in 2011. Rachel brought some mystery to her identity through her entrance in the Mae Young Classic under the name Rachel Evers. While she has had appearances on NXT television, she has not been signed by WWE or NXT. Rachel is continuing her independent circuit career currently working under Impact Wrestling.
2 Primo Colon
The Colon family has established their family within the wrestling world as performers in the Puerto Rican promotion, World Wrestling Council as Carlos Colon was one of its founder. Carlos himself, held a record after winning the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship 26 times. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. However, one of his biggest achievement was introducing his two sons into the world of professional wrestling and negotiating their deals with WWE. While Carlos Colon Jr., better known for his time in the WWE as Carlito, may arguably be the more successful one of his sons, his brother, Eddie Colon, is not far behind. Eddie is mostly known as Primo Colon, and has had multiple runs in the WWC and WWE teaming with his brother Carlos and his cousin Epico.
1 Grand Master Sexay
It was one of the worst kept secrets in wrestling. Jim Ross would often poke fun at Jerry Lawler on commentary when Brian Christopher (eventually Grand Master Sexay) was wrestling he would often refer to him as Lawler's kid, only for The King to comically deny ever having a son and just being a huge fan of his work. Well, yes in reality Grand Master Sexay is the king's son, and in case you forgot, Michael Cole brought him out to berate Lawler heading into WrestleMania XXVII to call Lawler out as a bad father in order to further their cringeworthy feud. He had a completely different style from his father, as he was a lot more agile and his offense involved going airborne quite more than The King ever did.