There was a time over the past decade where it seemed that the only way to get a break in the WWE was to have ties to a wrestling bloodline. With second and third generation guys like Ted DiBiase Jr., Cody Rhodes and Curtis Axel among others secured spots in developmental territories and ascended to the main roster ahead of many of their peers. However, while there are definitely some success stories that point to the benefits of great genetics and a little political sway when required, not every aspiring superstar that grows up with a wrestler in the family assures a fast track to success.
In fact, while we have seen the explosive success of third generation stars such as The Rock and Randy Orton, those with a pedigree in the sports entertainment realm probably represent merely the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are many sons and daughters of legends and Hall of Famers that have attempted to find their own spot in the family business but have fallen short of the mark. The following list explores just a small selection of aspiring hopefuls that have graced the ring that you may never have even known existed.
20 20. Mike DiBiase
19 19. Jeff Dupre
There was a great deal of excitement in Atlantic Canada when the veteran promoter of Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling announced that his son Rene had been signed to a contract with the WWE and was among the youngest wrestlers ever to be signed with Vince McMahon’s company. The 6’3”, 250 pounder had wrestled a few seasons for his father in his teens and the first vignettes announcing his arrival in the WWE aired while Rene was still 19 years old. While Rene had a good run as a two-time tag team champion, many may not realize that Emile had another son with aspirations to become a star wrestler.
18 18. Shane Canterbury
At 6’10” and 305 pounds, it would appear that his sheer size alone would secure Shane Canterbury a spot in the WWE, a territory that has always been regarded as one where the super heavyweights held sway. Adding to his credentials was his pedigree, the son of Henry Godwinn, a former WWE Tag Team Champion from the 1990s. Godwinn had started in the Atlantic coast independents before a short run with WCW and finding great success in the WWE. Shane was signed to a developmental contract and wrestled in Florida Championship Wrestling under the name Buck Dixon.
17 17. Colby Corino
If you haven’t heard the name Colby Corino yet, it’s only a matter of time before you learn about this second generation wrestler. Son of the internationally traveled Steve Corino, who is a former ECW and NWA World Champion with successes everywhere except the big two companies in the United States, Steve is well regarded among his peers as one of the greats.
16 16. Tama Tonga
Currently a member of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club, many may not realize that Tama Tonga is the son of one of the industry’s most reputed tough guys – Haku/Meng. Haku, who also wrestled by the name King Tonga during his early career was a no-nonsense heavyweight whose feats both in and out of the wrestling arena are woven into wrestling lore identifying him as a man that you don’t want to mess with. It seems like only a matter of time before his son makes his way to household name status in the U.S. as well. A former member of the United States Air Force, Tama Tonga has plied his trade in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Japan for the past eight years.
15 15. Baby Beefcake
The daughter of WWE legend Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake hadn’t even wrestled a single match when she had generated her first wrestling headlines in 2013. News of her intention to follow her father into the world of sports entertainment was accompanied by the announcement that Jersey Championship Wrestling had signed her to a contract with intent to train her as their first in-house developed talent. However, despite the wave of publicity promoting her earliest appearances before wrestling audiences in February 2014, the goddaughter of Hulk Hogan has failed to register on the radar since that initial press release.
14 14. Cedric Rougeau
13 13. Joe Muraco
One of the dark horse tag teams of the WWE in the mid-80s was the duo of Don Muraco and Bob Orton Jr. The dissolution of the team led to Muraco hearing the cheers of the crowd for the first time in his run with the company. For a time in the mid-2000s, it appeared as though there might be an opportunity for a second generation of that pairing to cross paths in the ring as well. Randy Orton, Bob’s son, was already making waves as the youngest World champion of all time and well established in the WWE. Meanwhile, the son of the “Magnificent” Muraco was starting to make a name for himself in Afa Anoa'i’s WXW and other independent promotions.
12 12. Jesse White
Before the dawn of the Monday Night War, one of the most dominant WCW World Champions of the era was a masked mastodon known simply as Vader. Leon White had played professional football before getting into the wrestling game, first seeing success with Verne Gagne’s AWA under his own name before heading to Japan where he would be given the character that would define his legacy. Vader was a punishing presence in both WCW and WWE and when his son announced his intentions to get into wrestling, his father trained him and sent him to Japan to learn the trade.
11 11. Richie Steamboat
Similar to the intense pressure that rested on the shoulders of David Flair during his ill-fated run in World Championship Wrestling, one has to believe that the same had to be the case for young Richie Steamboat – son of one of the smoothest wrestling technicians of all time. From the outside looking in, it would appear that he was being set up for a career in the ring from birth, making his first public appearance in 1987 shortly after his birth in the pages of WWF Magazine. He accompanied his father to the ring, in matching apparel for some of his biggest matches in 1988 and 1989.
10 10. David Finlay Jr.
In the celebration of multi-generation legacies in professional wrestling, it has seldom been discussed that former WCW Television and WWE United States Champion, Dave “Fit” Finlay was himself a third generation wrestler. The Belfast Bruiser built his reputation campaigning across Europe starting in 1974 and already laid claim to a 20-year career before he was signed by WCW and introduced to North American audiences in the mid-90s. Perhaps eclipsing his success as a wrestler is his reputation as a trainer and producer behind the scenes for the WWE. With this in mind, word that Finlay’s son, David Jr. has now entered the wrestling ranks, we expect to see him find his way to the top company in the U.S. at some point in the future.
9 9. Matt Hart
An interesting piece of trivia when it comes to the Hart Wrestling Dynasty out of Calgary Alberta is that out of Stu Hart’s 12 children who actively involved with the business or married into it, his daughters' offsprings that have seen the greatest success in the ring. Diana’s son Harry is a former WWE Unified Tag Team Champion and is making stellar waves in his career outside the WWE. Natalya is the daughter of Ellie Hart. Then, there's Teddy Hart, the son of Georgia Hart. There are a few lesser known Harts among that third generation, though.
8 8. Dylan Eaton
Debuting in 2006 at age 17, the son of “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton took his first steps down the path that both his father and grandfather took as pro wrestlers. Many may not realize that Dylan Eaton is actually a third generation star. His maternal grandfather is Bill Dundee, a standout in the Memphis territory for several decades. Not surprisingly, some of the younger Eaton’s earliest opponents are names that his father faced during his career – Ricky Morton, Brad Armstrong and Manny Fernandez. While Bobby Eaton might not have been a World Champion, he is well respected as one of the top performers of his era with multiple singles and tag team titles to show for it.
7 7. Dakota Darsow
Best known by the name Maverick Darsow during his five-year wrestling career, the son of two-time WWE Tag Team Champion Demolition Smash was quickly snapped up on a developmental contract in 2008 shortly after his debut on the independent scene in the American Midwest. Standing 6’0” and weighing only 180 pounds, the younger Darsow was certainly a contrast from his barrel-chested father, but wasn’t out of place among the roster of aspiring hopefuls in Florida Championship Wrestling at that time.
6 6. Amy Hennig
We’re not sure why Amy Hennig isn’t a household name yet in the world of professional wrestling. It would seem that she was off to a great start as the daughter of “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and receiving her training from respected trainers Brad Rheingans and Harley Race. She had been signed to a developmental contract with the WWE and was sent to Race’s Missouri wrestling camp to train. Most of her career highlights list matches and a title win for World League Wrestling between 2008 and 2010, but the curly blonde locks that she inherited from her famous father would never make their way onto WWE television.
5 5. Cody Hall
It’s possible that Scott Hall’s tumultuous personal and professional life have influenced how little we have heard about his son Cody, or why the 6’8”, 268 pounder hasn’t already been snatched up by the WWE as an acquisition to develop in their Florida performance center. Cody debuted in 2012 at age 21 after being initially trained by his WWE Hall of Famer father, Dallas Page and Larry Zbyszko, a WWE Hall of Famer himself. His early matches have included tag team pairings with some of his father’s closest friends and associates like Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman.
4 4. Stacy Colon
Even though the Colon wrestling family was showcased in the WWE’s compilation of most powerful wrestling families, the spotlight piece failed to shine any light on Stacy Colon specifically. Daughter of Puerto Rican wrestling legend Carlos Colon, Stacy has been involved with the industry as well as her brothers, primarily as a valet for the family-owned World Wrestling Council. Her brothers Carlito and Primo have enjoyed the visibility and success of the WWE as has cousin Orlando Colon, but Stacy has not made the transition to the American mainstream as well.
3 3. Colt Toombs
In many ways, the early combat career of Colt Toombs mirrored the start that his father Roddy Piper had taken on the mean streets of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the 1970s. Before enrolling in Tony Condello’s wrestling school, Piper had been trained as a boxer. Competing as a featherweight, Colt Toombs trained with Team Quest in MMA and holds a record of 4-1. His earliest exposure in wrestling came when he was featured alongside his father in the reality TV series World of Hurt taped in Calgary in the summer of 2011.
2 2. Miss Natural
She has been wrestling for 16 years, and while Heather Patera has generated some notoriety on the independent scene wrestling as Miss Natural, that fame hasn’t crossed over to the mainstream for this second generation star. Her father, Olympic strongman Ken Patera had competed as a weightlifter at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and went on to wrestling success in multiple territories, including reigns as AWA World Tag Team Champion and WWE Intercontinental Champion. Trained by her father and later by Harley Race, Miss Natural is a five-time World League Wrestling ladies champion and three-time AWA Women’s Title holder.
1 1. Ross & Marshall Von Erich
Texas belonged to the Von Erich family in the 1970s and 80s until a series of tragedies befell the beloved wrestling clan. In succession over a period of nine years between 1984 and 1993, four of Fritz Von Erich’s five wrestling sons David, Mike, Kerry and Chris had perished, three of them at their own hand. Out of that family tragedy, only eldest son Kevin remained. A third generation of Von Erich wrestlers got off to a rocky start when Kerry’s daughter Lacey emerged onto the scene in 2007 but was quickly gone from both the WWE and TNA, announcing her retirement in 2010.
In 2012, Kevin Von Erich’s sons Ross and Marshall debuted as a team after training with Harley Race and have seen action in Japan and TNA. Could they restore the greatness of the Von Erich family name in the wrestling world?
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