In the long history of professional wrestling, we've seen sons and daughters of professional wrestlers try to follow in their parents' footsteps. While there have been many, such as Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt, who haven't let their daddies down in terms of in-ring success, there have been others who simply didn't, or still don't belong in the wrestling ring. And that's because they somehow fall short of having the necessary tools required to be a big name in pro wrestling – it could be wrestling ability, promo ability, backstage attitude, and/or charisma. Or in some cases, all of the above.
For the most part, we shall be avoiding second-generation wrestlers who, despite their lack of success, aren't too bad, if all things are considered. That means we're not including the likes of Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Ted DiBiase Jr., or even Paige, whose stock has dramatically fallen since 2016 to the point that she may arguably be considered a WWE bust. You think the late Brad Armstrong, son of "Bullet" Bob Armstrong and former WCW undercarder, was a joke as Arachniman, and later on as an ersatz version of his younger brother Road Dogg as "Buzzkill"? Fair enough, but he was at least a more than decent worker.
With that out of the way, let's look at 20 second- or even third-generation wrestlers who may have been better off working a day job away from the squared circle.
20 20. Manu
Afa Anoa'i Jr. obviously has great bloodlines – his older brother Samu was a Headshrinker, and his father, Afa Sr., was one-half of The Wild Samoans. Then you've got his other family members, including a cousin who's extremely popular with the WWE Universe. (If, by "extremely popular," you mean "booed to the high heavens as a babyface.") But success seemed to elude Afa Jr., who had a brief WWE run from 2007 to 2008 as Manu. Yup, that's right, Manu as in Ginobili. Who names these wrestlers anyway?
Not only was his ring name a bit questionable due to the aforementioned Mr. Ginobili being, by far, the more popular Manu. He also lacked most of the tools required to at least be a competent WWE midcarder. The Legacy noticed this soon enough, and booted him out of the stable after mere weeks. According to Legacy leader Randy Orton, Manu's attitude contributed to him quickly wearing out his WWE welcome, as he was someone who "didn't feel like he had to pay his dues." Not a good look for anyone, especially a member of a prominent wrestling family.
19 19. Cody Hall
At 6'9" and almost 270 pounds, it's clear that Cody Hall has inherited the height and muscular frame of his father, WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall. Unfortunately, he didn't inherit the charisma that made Hall a big success in WWE as Razor Ramon, and an even bigger one in WCW as one of the founding fathers of the nWo. His wrestling skills weren't really top-notch either, though he did improve over time. Still, that didn't stop him from being inducted into the Bullet Club as the stable's "young boy" trainee in 2015.
During his time in Bullet Club, Cody Hall was mainly used as an enforcer, and just as it seemed he was gaining his footing in New Japan, he suffered an injury in April 2016 and would soon depart the company with little fanfare. He's still based in Japan and working for Pro Wrestling Noah, but it's obvious that unlike that other second-generation star named Cody (you know, the son of the son of a plumber), following in his old man's footsteps has proven to be more than a little challenging.
18 18. Lacey Von Erich
Although Kerry Von Erich was a bit of a disappointment during his brief, drug-addled WWE run, the late Texas Tornado did hold the Intercontinental Championship, and was pretty competent in the ring, if not the same talented worker he was for his dad Fritz's World Class Championship Wrestling. That's what saves him from making this list. But there's no exempting his daughter Lacey, as she was absolutely awful during her one-year run in TNA. She did hold the Knockouts Tag Team Championships alongside Velvet Sky, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out who was doing most of the work...and letting the pigeons loose for that tag team.
Since leaving TNA, Lacey has since retired from professional wrestling to focus on motherhood. But her name did re-emerge in 2016, when she was one of several second-generation women (also including Brooke Hogan, Brittany Page, and Roddy Piper's daughter Ariel Toombs) reported to be working on an all-female wrestling promotion. Wonder how that's turned out so far?
17 17. Dakota Darsow
Looking at his scrawny frame and lack of height for a wrestler, you wouldn't guess that Dakota Darsow's father is none other than Barry Darsow, a tall and bulky man who had a stellar WWE tag team run as Smash of Demolition, and a less-than-stellar run in singles as the Repo Man. (Let's not forget evil wrestling golfer Stewart Pain in WCW, before golfer Payne Stewart's untimely death forced the older Darsow into using his real name, but keeping the gimmick.)
Though Dakota was only 21 when he signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2008, he was largely an undercard journeyman who jumped from promotion to promotion, including a few cups of coffee in TNA, where he unsuccessfully fought in matches for a full-time contract. As such, he hasn't exactly been a chip of the old block as a wrestling success, and as of 2015, he was working as a sheriff's deputy in Michigan.
16 16. Teddy Hart
Unlike the other wrestlers in this list, Teddy Hart is in here not because he lacked for talent. Rather, it's because his crummy, cocky attitude made him a much better fit for a trashy Jersey Shore-style reality show or NFL bust-turned-full-time party boy Johnny Manziel's entourage, and that's putting it nicely. The grandson of Stu Hart and son of Stampede Wrestling's B.J. Annis and his wife Georgia Hart, Teddy was signed by WWE in 1998 at the tender age of 18. But repeated attitude problems caused him to burn bridges, not only with WWE, but also Ring of Honor and other wrestling companies.
Teddy Hart's only televised WWE experience in two runs had him jobbing on Velocity, and that's not something you should expect from someone who had "blue-chipper" written all over him as a teen. And he's still got the entitled man-child shtick going in his mid-30s, as he racked up a DUI arrest on New Year's Day, 2017, a month shy of his 37th birthday.
15 15. Scott Putski
This writer remembers Scott Putski in the WWE for three things – long, wild hair, lots of energy in the ring, and an unusually-jacked frame for someone competing in the Light Heavyweight Division. (I mean, just look at the guy.) Putting things in perspective, that's almost as if you tried revitalizing the 230-pound Curtis Axel's career by having him compete on 205 Live. But despite his good look and energetic approach, Scott didn't bring much else to the table as the son of the Polish Hammer, WWE Hall of Famer Ivan Putski.
In recent years, Scott Putski gained some notoriety for ragging on Vince McMahon's decision to place him, at 250 pounds, as a light heavyweight, as a jab at his similarly-jacked old man, whom Vince had heat with at the time. He also added that he's not a fan of WWE's current product due to a lack of musclebound "freaks" and ethnic heroes a la Bruno Sammartino... or Ivan Putski. Right, Scott. You realize that the latter could also lead to some ugly stereotyping, don't you?
14 14. Mike Von Erich
Speaking of the Von Erich family, let's move back one generation and focus on the young man who was the least-talented of Fritz Von Erich's wrestling sons. Following David Von Erich's alleged drug-related heart attack in 1984, there was a lot of pressure on younger brother Mike to follow in David's footsteps in Texas-based WCCW. But unlike his brothers, Mike wasn't that good of an athlete. He wasn't even that interested in wrestling, as he seemed to be more interested in playing guitar and trying his hand in the music industry.
With old man Fritz pushing him in every sense of the term, Mike Von Erich couldn't quite live up to expectations, and was especially bad in the ring, to the point that the Wrestling Observer named him "Worst Wrestler" of 1986. Tragically, Mike's life ended in April of 1987, when he committed suicide by overdosing on Placidyl and alcohol. He had just turned 23 years old the month prior.
13 13. Wes Brisco
Remember the time TNA seemingly had a fixation on second-generation talents with no business in the ring? You've seen a couple of examples so far, and Wes Brisco, son of the legendary Gerald Brisco, wouldn't be the last example you'd be seeing in this list. Like fellow second-generation workers Brooke Hogan and Garett Bischoff (um, did we spoil you?), young Wes was one of the many undeserving stiffs who made up TNA's overblown Aces & Eights stable, and not even Kurt Angle's talent could have made their cage match at the 2013 Lockdown PPV worth watching. Oh, and there's that Aces & Eights induction promo where he referred to one "Hawk Hogan" and to his "Holla...Famer" dad Jerry. We can get the Southern accent, but not an inability to enunciate certain words.
Bad in the ring and bad on the mic – that's a combination that suggests Wes Brisco should have tried other lines of work other than his dad's trade. But we can't fault him for trying, as he remains active in the independent scene, but far removed from any major promotion showing any interest in his mediocre tools.
12 12. Camacho
You know you're a crappy second-generation wrestler if you're not even allowed to work a gimmick representative of your own ethnicity. The son of the tough-as-nails Haku (a.k.a. Meng), Tevita Fifita was given the unlikely ring name Donny Marlow while in FCW, and when time came to call him up to the WWE main roster, he was renamed Camacho – that's right, a Tongan guy playing a kayfabe Mexican gangster. His tag team with Hunico largely went nowhere on both the main roster and NXT, and when Hunico took over from Luis Urive in the Sin Cara role, he was essentially cannon fodder on developmental until WWE finally cut him in the summer of 2014.
To his credit, he did slightly better in TNA as Micah, and seems to be enjoying an even better run in NJPW as Tanga Roa. But he's obviously fallen far short of his dad's accomplishments, which is a shame, as Haku/Meng was, and still is one of wrestling's bona fide badasses.
11 11. Greg Gagne
Let's face it – there's no way Greg Gagne would have come anywhere close to approximating his father Verne's accomplishments as one of the greatest wrestlers of his era, not to mention his status as the man behind the AWA. But it was just that – Verne Gagne owning the AWA – that propelled the scrawny then-youngster to an undeserved, nepotistic push that wasn't seen until the likes of Erik Watts and David Flair came along about 20 to 25 years later. (Don't worry, readers, we'll get to them!)
Throughout the years, Greg benefited from having a talented tag team partner in future Killer Bee Jim Brunzell, but he was obviously a far cry from his father on every level. But the worst was yet to come, as Gagne joined Sgt. Slaughter's Cobra Corps in the mid-'80s and became the least-convincing Rambo knockoff of all-time. It's no wonder WWE wasn't too interested in Greg Gagne, except for a few cups of coffee years before Vince McMahon Jr. took over from his dad and went all scorched-earth on the territories.
10 10. Shawn Stasiak
Even if Stan Stasiak was merely a transitional champion (for all of nine days) who allowed the then-WWWF's top belt to transfer from Pedro Morales back to Bruno Sammartino in 1973, there's no denying that Stan had a successful run with Vince McMahon Sr. Alas, that wasn't to be the case for his son Shawn, who debuted in WWE in 1999 as Meat, the wrestling sex slave. He obviously had a great look, but his skills and charisma left a lot to be desired, hence his eventual demotion to job duty.
Shawn Stasiak would head to WCW in 2000 after he was fired for taping a backstage conversation as a rib, and took part in some pretty senseless, par-for-the-course storylines in the company's final year. He then returned to WWE in 2001 as part of the Invasion angle, and was just as forgettable until he wigged out and became the guy who claimed to be from "Planet Stasiak." He left the wrestling business soon after his 2002 release, and is now based in Texas as a chiropractor and motivational speaker.
9 9. Tiger Ali Singh
Criticize Jinder Mahal all you want for being that guy who went from counting lights to holding the WWE Championship, almost in the blink of an eye. But at least he's no Tiger Ali Singh. To jog your memory on this guy, WWE heralded his January 1997 signing with a press conference that was featured briefly on Monday Night RAW, then teased at a big push by having him beat Owen Hart to win WWE's Kuwait Cup. Because he was in so much need of seasoning, WWE kept the son of legendary NJPW heel Tiger Jeet Singh on the bench until 1999.
When Tiger Ali returned to WWE television that year, it was as a second-rate, downright annoying knockoff of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Man gimmick, complete with a manservant named Babu. And since he still wasn't worth a damn as a wrestler, WWE tried Singh out in a non-wrestling role, having him manage Lo Down (Chaz and D'Lo Brown) from 2001 to 2002. That didn't work either, and Singh was out of the company by 2002, having lasted way much longer than he should have.
8 8. Deuce/Sim Snuka
My love for a lot of things '50s, including the cars and the music, means I've somehow got a soft spot for Deuce 'n' Domino, gimmick-wise. But the reality is that such a gimmick doesn't have much long-term potential, unless it was used in the '80s, hence the success of The Honky Tonk Man. That said, Domino (Cliff Compton) was a pretty competent hand in the ring, while the same cannot be said about his partner Deuce, aka the real-life James Reiher Jr., son of the late "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Younger sister Tamina isn't great shakes in the ring either, but Deuce? He was terrible.
Deuce's stiff, clumsy style of wrestling would have normally been bad enough for WWE to turn him down flat. But the Superfly connection meant WWE was going to give him a fair amount of chances to succeed. Turns out he blew all of them – as Blackboard Jungle/Rebel Without a Cause reject Deuce, as short-lived Legacy member Sim Snuka, and even as the unnamed cameraman who failed to catch Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV.
7 7. Brooke Hogan
Hmmm, let's see here. Daddy was once one of the tallest bassists in the bar band scene, but would make his name as the alpha babyface of wrestling in the 1980s, and one of the most hated heels in the business from the mid- to late-'90s. Daughter was a mediocre dance-pop singer and actress (well, at least she did take after her dad in that latter regard), and was even worse in terms of wrestling skill (not her dad's forte, but he's not as bad as a lot of us like to think) and wrestling charisma/promo skills. Who is the daughter we are referring to?
No prizes for you if you guessed Brooke Hogan, daughter of the one and only Hulk Hogan. As TNA Knockouts Commissioner, occasional wrestler, and kayfabe bride to Bully Ray in one of the most confusing, senseless parts of Aces & Eights' time as a faction, she was flat-out horrible. We should thank the wrestling gods that she hasn't made it back to a major promotion since her August 2013 release, though as explained in the Lacey Von Erich entry, Brooke was planning to form an all-women's promotion as of late-2016. Gods of wrestling, please, in all your mercy, don't let her be the Commissioner.
6 6. Garett Bischoff
Although he was mostly an evil authority figure back in the day, Eric Bischoff did wrestle on occasion, and even held the WCW Hardcore Championship at one time. (Don't ask, okay? It was latter-day WCW.) That means his similarly untalented son (as far as in-ring AND refereeing talent goes) Garett Bischoff qualifies as a second-generation wrestler, and one of the many who should have looked for some other way to pay the bills. Like the aforementioned Wes Brisco and Brooke Hogan, Garett was part of Aces & Eights, and the fact that he had a midcard push in TNA despite his lack of in-ring skills tells you a lot about who was one of the top dogs in TNA at that time – dear old dad.
Bischoff was quietly let go by TNA in 2015, about a year after he had last wrestled, and he, together with The Wonder Years star/family friend Jason Hervey, would sue the company for unpaid salaries. He's now focusing mainly on his clothing business, One Bad Cat INC, and that's probably just as well.
5 5. Barry O
It's pretty clear that Randy Orton belongs nowhere on this list, as he's far outdone his father, Bob Jr., in terms of wrestling accomplishments. But his uncle, Barry O, is a completely different story; while "Cowboy" Bob Jr.'s upper-midcard run in WWE should have made Bob Orton Sr. proud, Barry O was such a hopeless jabroni that it was just right that he was merely billed by his first name and last initial.
In addition to being used almost exclusively as a jobber during his time in WWE, Barry Orton is also notorious for his involvement in the Terry Garvin sex scandal, where he falsely claimed that the openly gay Garvin harassed him when he was a teenager. For lying about this incident, Barry O is essentially persona non grata in WWE, and the company doesn't come close to bringing him up when talking about how wrestling runs in the Viper's blood.
4 4. Erik Watts
Ugh, that dropkick still brings chuckles to anyone who watches it. The son of Texas wrestling legend-turned curmudgeonly promoter/booker Bill Watts, Erik Watts was originally a college football quarterback. But since his exploits at Louisville didn't draw the interest of anyone in professional football (that's what 6 TDs and 16 INTs as a senior would do to you), he trained under his dad to become a wrestler. And with "Cowboy" Bill in charge of WCW at the time, he was given a very strong push despite not being ready for it in the slightest. Yay, nepotism!
Not surprisingly, Erik followed his dad to WWE during his brief tenure in Vince McMahon's booking team, and became part of one of the most ludicrous tag teams of mid-'90s WWE – Tekno Team 2000. If Troy's lack of wrestling fundamentals, to say little of his unfashionable mullet, looked familiar, that's because he was none other than WCW washout Erik Watts, still as sucky as ever.
3 3. Stephanie McMahon
Because Vince McMahon did set foot in a wrestling ring a few times, while going as far as holding the WWE Championship on one occasion, we should definitely be listing one of his kids in here. But it won't be Shane McMahon – he may throw some of the worst worked punches in the history of wrestling, but you've got to respect his penchant for Leaps of Faith and other daredevil stunts, even now that he's in his late-40s. That leaves his younger sister, the Billion Dollar Princess herself, as the one product of Vince's semen who had, and still has no business getting down and dirty in the ring.
Not only was Stephanie McMahon outclassed by just about every opponent in terms of skill, she was also part of one match that has to stand out as one of the most cringeworthy in WWE history. That, of course, was the first, and thankfully only father-daughter I Quit match in the history of WWE at No Mercy 2003. We'd rather hear Steph emasculate babyfaces and watch her slap people in the face than re-watch even one second of that deplorable match.
2 2. David Sammartino
As the WWE went nationwide in 1984, the company went on a raiding spree that decimated regional territories by taking their brightest stars. David Sammartino was not among them, but as the son of the great Bruno Sammartino, WWE took great interest in the young man, teaming him up with his father until it became clear that he wasn’t half the worker his old man was. Essentially, the goal was to have David’s presence convince Bruno to unretire and take part in the new-look WWE, but even with the Italian Strongman making a brief return in 1985, that couldn’t get the now-lower-card David beyond the curtain-jerker matches.
A few things bear mentioning when looking back at David Sammartino’s career. One, his dad didn’t want him to get into wrestling. Two, David hated working for the WWE so much that he deliberately lost to a jobber. Three, there’s still a bit of estrangement between Bruno and David, largely because the younger Sammartino got into steroids in the mid-‘80s, which obviously disgusted the vehemently anti-drug Bruno.
1 1. David Flair
What is it with these second-generation wrestlers named David and their inability to live up to their dads' accomplishments? With that in mind, we hope David Benoit, despite the unthinkable crime his father Chris had committed, doesn't end up in the same boat as his namesakes Sammartino and Flair. And of all the second-generation flops we've seen through the years, none have been as woeful as Ric Flair's oldest son David, who had two things going for him in the dying days of WCW – one, he was dating Stacy Keibler in real life (just look at the lucky dude above), and two, his dad obviously had some backstage pull despite his ugly beef with Eric Bischoff.
To be fair, David Flair didn't really want to enter the wrestling business. But during his WCW run and his brief time on WWE TV, he didn't seem to make any improvements worth writing home about, and he was out of the wrestling business before the age of 30. Fortunately, younger half-sister Ashley proved to be the exact opposite despite a similar lack of interest in wrestling in the beginning, working her butt off and becoming one of WWE's brightest stars of the present as Charlotte Flair.
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