“Wrestling is in my blood” is a common refrain among many wrestlers but for some, it’s not just a saying, it’s actually true. Many of your favorite wrestlers got into the business because it was the family business and they learned the ropes from family members. It’s no different from any other profession that was passed down from generation to generation. If your dad was an engineer or a doctor, there is a good chance that you’ll grow up to do the same thing. Whether it is your father, your brother, your uncle, or any other relative; most people tend to gravitate to the same line of work that has surrounded them from the beginning.
But wrestling is unique in that family ties among wrestlers are not always apparent. Sometimes this is by design as to keep kayfabe as back in the golden age of the sport; promoters didn’t want the fans to know that their top babyface was actually related to their monster heel. Other times wrestling promotions just don’t feel a need to broadcast that some of its wrestlers are related as they don’t feel that making that public knowledge would benefit either side. Conversely, when you have someone with the star power of The Rock, you make sure to point out every single wrestler that has any sort of familial connection to him just for the sake of name recognition.
While the WWE makes it seem like every Samoan/Tongan/Polynesian wrestler is related to The Rock, that is not true. But what is factual is that many of your favorite wrestlers were related and you didn’t even know it! We’ll take a look at some of these “hidden” relatives as we look at 20 wrestlers you forgot have family ties.
20 The Rock And Haku/Meng
According to The Rock, the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment is the nephew of the Toughest SOB in Wrestling History. The Rock stated this during an interview on the Jimmy Kimmel Show even though he is half-Samoan and Haku is Tongan. They are more likely “blood brothers” which is common among Polynesian wrestlers as opposed to actual blood relatives. But are you going to be the one to confront Haku and dispute The Rock’s claims? Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Stone Cold Steve Austin are just some of the wrestlers who have gone on record to say that Haku was the toughest person to ever step foot into a squared circle. Eric Bischoff also said that he was supposed to tell Haku (or Meng as he was known in WCW) that his contract would not be renewed, but he was afraid to do so, thus, they kept him employed.
19 Chris Chetti And Tazz
The two undersized wrestlers from New York were cousins and both made their marks in ECW. Tazz came up first and would go on to become one of the biggest names in ECW history as he was just one of four wrestlers ever to be a Triple Crown champion with the company. In the mid-1990s he began training wrestlers including his younger cousin, Chetti, who would join ECW in 1996. He was often a lackey for Tazz and teamed with Super Nova until the company folded in 2001. Chetti then went on the indy scene while Tazz went to WWE and later TNA. Both of them would retire early due to injuries as Tazz stepped away in 2002 while Chetti followed three years later.
18 Tessa Blanchard And Magnum T.A.
Happy Birthday to someone who's always encouraged me to chase my dreams & if I want something then I have to work for it. He's told me to go out in the world, create my own path and become undeniable. Thank you for being you... plus a total bad ass! I love you, Happy Birthday @magnum_ta ?
Most people are aware that Tessa Blanchard is the daughter of Four Horseman member, Tully. But many don’t know that Tessa’s mother divorced Tully and then married Magnum T.A. That means that not only is Tessa the daughter of Tully, but she is also the step-daughter of Magnum T.A. Tully and Magnum engaged in lengthy feud during the 1980s so this would be like if Sting divorced his wife and married Ric Flair’s ex-wife, thus becoming Charlotte Flair’s step-father! Sometimes art imitates life instead of vice versa and this is a perfect example of something that seems like a wrestling storyline actually playing out in real life. Tessa currently competes for Shimmer and had a brief run in WWE as one of Adam Rose’s Rosebuds.
17 Jerry Lawler And The Honky Tonk Man
Despite Lawler being the self-proclaimed King of Memphis and Honky Tonk Man being an impersonator of the actual King of Memphis, Elvis; neither of the two is actually from the Blues City. But the first cousins did come up together during the 1970s in Memphis before Honkytonk Man joined the WWE in the 80s while Lawler wrestled for multiple promotions. By the time Lawler joined the WWE in 1992; Honkytonk Man had already left but would return in 1997. Lawler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and HTM says that he was offered induction into the HOF in 2010 but had to decline due to a prior commitment. The WWE apparently didn’t like being declined as 7 years later they still haven’t enshrined HTM in their Hall of Fame.
Regardless, as the WWE’s longest-reigning Intercontinental champion (454 days), there is a good chance that the Honkytonk Man will be joining his cousin, Jerry Lawler, in the WWE Hall of Fame one day.
16 Brian Lee And The Harris Twins
Along with Crush of Demolition, Lee (pictured third) and his cousins, the Harris Twins, comprised the Disciples of Apocalypse during the WWE’s “gang wars” of 1997. They feuded with the Nation of Domination and Los Boricuas in a storyline that was dripping with stereotypes. Lee also played the role of the Fake Undertaker a few years earlier but contrary to popular belief, he didn’t play the role of the Fake Diesel (that was Glen Jacobs AKA Kane). The Harris Twins also competed as the Blu Brothers in WWE and the Bruise Brothers in ECW. Additionally, Don Harris and Brian Lee were tag team champs together in the USWA in between their stints in WWE. Lee is now retired and the Harris Twins work for a marketing and production company in Nashville.
15 Jake Roberts And Sam Houston
I was as shocked as anyone to learn that Jake the Snake had a half-brother wrestling in the WWE at the same time he was. Sam Houston didn’t get the same recognition as Roberts did as he was a jobber during the 1980s while Roberts had one of the most iconic gimmicks of all-time. The two even participated in a number of tag matches together though no one knew that they were even related. At one point Houston was married to the women’s wrestler Baby Doll which made her and Roberts in-laws before Houston and Baby Doll divorced. Speaking of women’s wrestlers, Rockin’ Robin was a performer for the WWE during the 1980s and she is the sister of Houston and the half-sister of Roberts. Who knew that Jake Roberts had two siblings that wrestled at the same time he did in the WWE!?
14 Bret Hart And Dynamite Kid
Unlike Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith, the Dynamite Kid wasn’t married to one of the Hart girls so he wasn’t ever a member of the Hart Family. But did you know that he was married to the sister of Bret Hart’s first wife, Julie? In fact, both Bret and Dynamite married their wives, who are sisters, in 1982 while both were in Stampede Wrestling. They would then jump ship to the WWE in 1984 when Vince McMahon acquired Stampede Wrestling. Both Bret and Dynamite would later divorce the sisters they married so they are technically no longer related by marriage. However, there is one last slight connection as Dynamite is first cousins with Davey Boy Smith who was married to Bret’s sister, Diana. While Bret has had some health issues including overcoming a stroke and prostate cancer, it pales in comparison to what Dynamite has been through. He is paralyzed due to injuries suffered in the ring and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He must be cared for at all time by his wife, Dot, who to the best of my knowledge, has no relation to the Hart Family.
13 Sean Maluta And Afa
If it seems like every wrestler with a drop of Samoan blood is related to the Anoa’i Family, it’s because they probably are. Sean Maluta isn’t the biggest of names but he appeared in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic, wrestled for NXT, and competed on 205 Live over the last two years. He is also the nephew of Afa who is among the first generation of Anoa’i wrestlers. Afa was one half of the Wild Samoans and he’s also the father of Samu and Manu. Maluta is Afa’s nephew by marriage so he shares blood with Samu and Manu (as well as their siblings) but not the rest of the Anoa’i clan including Roman Reigns and the Usos. Despite multiple appearances with the WWE, Maluta wrestles on the independent scene but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he became the latest Samoan wrestler to be called up to the main roster.
12 Dusty Rhodes And Jerry Sags
Dusty’s widow and Jerry Sags’ wife are sisters which make The American Dream and Sags brothers-in-law. Dusty’s widow is also the mother of Cody Rhodes but not the mother of Dustin Rhodes; thus, Sags is also an uncle to Cody but is not related to Dustin (unless a step-uncle is such a thing). In between the late 1980s thru the early 1990s, both Dusty and Sags went from WCW to WWF to WCW and in the case of Sags, back to the WWF. Dusty was actually a boss of Sags and the Nasty Boys while in WCW as Dusty was both a booker and a backstage producer. In 2005 Dusty rejoined WWE as part of their creative team and that helps explain how the Nasty Boys received one last run with the company in 2007. The Nasty Boys then retired in 2010 after getting the boot from TNA while The American Dream passed away from cancer in 2015.
11 Cody Rhodes And Typhoon/Tugboat
Along with Jerry Sags, Fred Ottman AKA Tugboat AKA Typhoon AKA The Shockmaster is another one of the brothers-in-law of Dusty Rhodes. That makes him an uncle to Cody Rhodes who probably nearly died from laughter as an 8-year-old when he watched The Shockmaster make his infamous debut in WCW. Dusty Rhodes was the one who actually produced that segment and afterwards Ottman said “All Dusty could do was shake his head.” Ottman would retire from wrestling in 2001 which is 5 years before his nephew, Cody, made his professional debut. Cody has about as many family connections in the wrestling business as anyone as besides his dad and brother, both Ottman and Jerry Sags are uncles of his. Also, Cody’s godfather is Magnum T.A. who was a longtime partner of Dusty in NWA.
10 Nia Jax And The Rock
While The Rock is related to Tamina Snuka via a marriage of their relatives; Nia Jax is related to The Rock by blood. The mother of The Rock is also the aunt of Nia Jax which makes her and The Great One first cousins. If you follow The Rock’s social media accounts, you can often find him hanging out with or working out with Nia Jax who has a pretty good people’s eyebrow of her own. After playing basketball in college, Jax says she was inspired to become a professional wrestler after seeing The Rock take on John Cena at WrestleMania 28.
Even though Jax and Tamina Snuka are both the Rock’s cousins, it is not believed that Jax and Snuka are cousins themselves as they are related to The Rock through different sides of his family.
9 Daniel Bryan And John Laurinaitis
In a few months, everything that will be said about Bryan will also apply to John Cena as he too is marrying into the Bella Family. But as of now, Bryan and Laurinaitis are the only wrestlers that are a part of the family as Bryan is married to Brie Bella and Laurinaitis is married to the mother of the Bella Twins. Bryan, Cena, and Laurinaitis are often seen together on Total Divas/Bellas and the Bellas are ending up as the modern-day Hart Family! All that is missing is the Bella Twins’ brother marrying one of the WWE female wrestlers and as often as he hangs out with them; it’s certainly a possibility. Also, with John Laurinaitis’ brother being Road Warrior Animal, then does that make Animal the step-uncle-in-law of the Bella Twins, Bryan, and soon to be Cena? This is getting confusing…
8 Stan Stasiak And Meat
If you weren’t around for the Attitude Era, yes “Meat” was the actual wrestling name of Shawn Stasiak. He was essentially treated as a piece of meat by the PMS group of Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, and Ryan Shamrock. He would be fired in 1999 after secretly recording a conversation between Davey Boy Smith and Steve Blackman and would have a short run in WCW afterwards. Despite a horrible gimmick and a creepy personality, what many people didn’t realize about Meat was that his father, Stan, was a WWWF Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Pedro Morales in 1973 for the title but would lose it 9 days later to Bruno Sammartino. Thus, Stan Stasiak may have been the first transitional champion in WWE history. Stan would pass away in 2007 while Meat currently works as a chiropractor in Texas.
7 The Barbarian And Lei’D Tapa
The Barbarian (pictured right) was one of the first non-Samoan Polynesian wrestlers and he had several stints across the WWE and WCW during the 1990s. He is most notable for being a tag team wrestler and most often teamed with The Warlord or Haku/Meng. After leaving WCW in 2000, he started training wrestlers and one of his first students was his niece, Lei’D Tapa. She woul appear in TNA’s Knockout Division in 2013-2014 before being sent down to OVW. She then made a couple of one-off appearances for TNA again in 2015 before transitioning to Mixed Martial Arts. After a first round TKO loss, Tapa appears to have retired from participating in combat sports. Tapa has another famous family member but he’s not in the wrestling business as another one of her uncles is actor Harvey Jason who appeared in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Seinfeld.
6 Carmella And Paul Van Dale
If Carmella is The Princess of Staten Island, then does that make her father, Paul, the King of Staten Island? Paul was nothing more than the king of getting squashed during his wrestling days as he was a jobber in WWE during the 1980s and 1990s. You can see him getting pinned after taking a diving splash from Shawn Michaels in this video. Van Dale also worked the independents during the 90s and Vince McMahon changed his name more times than he did Papa Shango’s. Van Dale was also known as Paul McDale, Pan Van Dam, Paul Van Dow, and Paul Vandello in his various WWE appearances. Although he earned a decent living as a jobber, his daughter has already surpassed him in accomplishments as she became the first winner of the female Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
5 Larry Zbyszko And Verne Gagne
The Living Legend is best known for his stint in the WWE in the 1970s and WCW in the 80s and 90s. But it was a voyage to the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1984 that earned Zbyszko a spot on this list. It was there where he met Kathleen Gagne who is the daughter of the founder of the AWA, Verne Gagne. Zbyszko and Kathleen would later marry which means Zbyszko would marry into the first family of the AWA, the Gagnes. Verne launched the careers of some of the greatest wrestlers of all-time with his Minnesota-based promotion including Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig, and Bob Backlund. For his contributions to the industry, Verne has been inducted into the WWE, WCW, and Pro Wrestling Halls of Fame, making him just one of 6 people with that honor. Verne also has a son, Greg, who battled his brother-in-law, Zbyszko, many times in the AWA and also served as a road agent for WWE.
4 Bray Wyatt/Bo Dallas And Barry Windham
Nephew Bray Wyatt is known as the Eater of Worlds while Uncle Barry Windham was once called “a 6’4” p---- magnet” by Ric Flair. They are linked by the fact that Wyatt’s father, Mike Rotunda/IRS is married to Windham’s sister. That also makes Windham the uncle to Bo Dallas but he’s not nearly as interesting as big brother Bray. Windham was a part of some of the most memorable tag teams and stables in wrestling history including the Four Horseman, the West Texas Rednecks, and the U.S. Express. He worked as a producer for WWE in 2007 to 2008 which is one year before his nephews made their pro debuts as The Rotundo Brothers. After overcoming a terrible Husky Harris gimmick, Bray has found his calling as the leader of the Wyatt Family and is portraying one of the best characters in wrestling when he’s not fooling around with backstage reporters.
3 Mike Awesome And Horace Hogan
At 6’6” 290 lbs, Awesome (middle) looked like the prototypical 1990s WWE wrestler but he made his mark in ECW as their two-time heavyweight champion. He then joined WCW in 2000 where his cousin, Horace Hogan (right), was also a wrestler. Horace is the nephew of Hulk Hogan but the Hulkster and Awesome are not related. However, Hulk Hogan’s influence within WCW may have actually hurt Awesome as right when he switched over from ECW; Hogan had the infamous on-air firing by Vince Russo at the 2000 Bash at the Beach. Awesome would later say in a shoot interview that after that ordeal, Vince Russo saddled him with terrible gimmicks just because he was related to a Hogan. Horace left WCW right after the Bash at the Beach and Russo had to take his disdain for Hulk Hogan out on someone, so he took it out on anyone who was close to Hogan. Awesome would leave WCW just a few months later but, unfortunately, he would commit suicide in 2007.
2 Greg Valentine And Brian Knobbs
Both the Nasty Boys and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine played promotion musical chairs during the 1990s by often jumping from WWF to WCW or vice versa; but they were together long enough for Brian Knobbs to meet Valentine’s sister, Toni. In 1994 Toni Valentine entered Nastyville by marrying Knobbs and, thus, making Greg Valentine and Knobbs brothers-in-law. The Nasty Boys were in WCW while Greg was in WWE at the time of the marriage but Greg would then switch sides just two years later.
Knobbs, and his partner Jerry Sags, have one of the most memorable tag team gimmicks in wrestling history, but Valentine has had far more of an accomplished career out of these in-laws. Valentine has had titles in nearly every promotion imaginable including being a 4-time United States champion, a one-time Intercontinental champion, and a tag team champion in both WWE and WCW. Both Knobbs and Valentine (along with seemingly every other retired wrestler) now reside in Tampa, Florida.
1 Roddy Piper And Bret Hart
Despite playing up his Scottish heritage for his whole career, Rowdy Roddy Piper was actually born in raised in Canada. The Hart Family, of course, is the preeminent wrestling family in Canada and according to Piper; he is related to the family. We don’t have the complete family tree on the Harts, but Piper said in his autobiography that he is a distant cousin to Bret Hart and Piper also infamously said that “Vince Russo killed my cousin, Owen.” The WWE also acknowledged this fact as it was used in a trivia question during a Raw in 2015. We do know that Bret and Piper were extremely close during their dozen years together in the WWE and Hart said that Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in the hospital after his stroke. They may be more like “blood brothers” like The Rock’s family is with the Anoa’i Family but that’s good enough to make it on this list.