The journey into the wrestling world is different for second generation wrestlers. As the children of wrestlers that made a living traveling via the art of professional wrestling, they have a little more knowledge and insight into the business. The second generation wrestlers also typically have an easier route into getting noticed. Connections land them opportunities, jobs and sometimes pushes. There are some flaws associated with being a second generation wrestler. Aside from the perks, they're under the microscope with larger expectations due to their last name. Many other wrestlers will look at them differently, demanding they prove themselves with their easier route into a deal.
Some of the absolute greatest wrestlers of all-time happened to be second generation wrestlers. Learning the business through their parents and picking up on the necessary intangibles can be the missing key talented wrestlers lack for many years. The advice and hereditary talent passed along gives them a great chance to make the most of the opportunity. Others have failed under the pressure to have horrible legacies following their parents’ footsteps. We’ll look at both sides with the eight best and seven worst second generation wrestlers in the history of the wrestling industry.
15 Best: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair has only been wrestling for a few years now, but she is already one of the most important female performers in WWE history. The daughter of Ric Flair underwent a great deal of pressure entering the business following the path of arguably the greatest in-ring performer of all-time. Charlotte’s brother David Flair flopped trying to get in the business during the days of WCW.
Luckily for Charlotte, she learned the business through the WWE’s Performance Center and it put her in a position to succeed on the main roster. Charlotte has made history along with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and others to push the women’s division to new heights. WWE has positioned Charlotte as the face of the division. Ric is extremely proud of Charlotte becoming an overall top star in the WWE landscape with many more years of excellence likely to follow.
14 Worst: Rene Dupree
WWE fans remember Rene Dupree for his time in the La Resistance tag team. Dupree was actually the son of Canadian wrestler and promoter Emile Dupree. WWE signed Rene at the young age of 20, so he could team with Sylvain Grenier to form the French tag team of La Resistance. They were pushed heavily for a few months with noteworthy feuds against The Dudleyz and the tag team of Rob Van Dam and Kane.
Dupree was eventually moved to SmackDown, leaving La Resistance in hopes of him blossoming into a singles star for the company. His lack of improvement and poor backstage reputation eventually led to his demise, as Dupree continued to become more and more irrelevant. WWE cut bait with him upon realizing the main event potential was just not there. Dupree continues to wrestle all over the world with little star power behind him.
13 Best: Owen Hart
The Hart family is synonymous with greatness in the wrestling industry and Owen Hart is a major reason why. WWE hired Owen following the success of his brother Bret Hart. All of the Hart boys learned in the storied “dungeon” of their father Stu Hart. The tough training instilled toughness in them, as Owen had a similar toughness to his brothers but his personality set him apart.
The comedic aspect of Owen’s character and his ability come across well as a heel made him a far bigger star than most expected. Of course, Owen also happened to be one of the best in-ring performers in the WWE. Hart delivered many classics throughout his career and possibly would have eventually won the WWE Championship if not for his tragic passing. Fans still remember Owen fondly and talk about his greatness to this day.
12 Worst: Sim Snuka
The controversial life of Jimmy Snuka continues to unfold, but he was a legend in the WWE for many years. Vince McMahon always treated him with respect for all of the work he did in the early stages of the company. Snuka diving off of a steel cage in Madison Square Garden is still a top moment in the history of the WWE.
It was clearly a favor to Superfly when WWE signed his son Sim Snuka to a contract. His disappointing wrestling skills were instantly noticeable during his first main roster run as Deuce, teaming with Domino in the "greaser gimmick." Many wrestlers to work with him bashed him in interviews years later, claiming he was one of the worst talents in the business. Sim playing a camera man during the WrestleMania XXV show and failing to do his job of catching The Undertaker’s ended up getting him in hot water. WWE released him and his career went down the toilet.
11 Best: Randy Orton
WWE saw something special in Cowboy Bob Orton’s son, Randy Orton, from day one and pushed him to become the youngest World Champion in company history. Orton received huge opportunities including being deemed “the future” in the Evolution faction, learning from legends like Triple H and Ric Flair. WWE did everything they could to present Orton like a star and he eventually was ready for the role.
Orton is a definite future Hall of Famer with all of his many accolades giving him quite the resume. WWE still holds Orton dearly as a valued member of the roster and there’s a chance he has a few more World Title reigns left in him. From The Legend Killer to The Apex Predator, Orton’s evolution in the WWE is one of the biggest successes for a second generation wrestler.
10 Worst: Brian Christopher
Jerry Lawler had a legendary career in the Memphis territories and achieved even more fame as a color commentator for the WWE. The King ended up helping his son Brian Christopher get a spot on the WWE roster. Christopher couldn’t cut the mustard and initially flopped as the top heel in WWE’s Light Heavyweight Division project.
A character change to Grand Master Sexay earned Christopher the greatest success of his career as a member of Too Cool with Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty. However, Christopher was the least important of the three. His matches still left a lot to be desired and the locker room hated him. WWE released him despite keeping the other two members towards the end of the Attitude Era. Christopher’s disappointing wrestling career continued with no success coming his way.
9 Best: Mr. Perfect
Mr. Perfect's in-ring work would make the top of any wrestling list. Mr. Perfect lived up to his name with impeccable performances and some of the best matches of all time. During that era of the WWE, work rate wasn’t viewed as important to guys like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, but Perfect showed the beauty of it through his performances. His influence has endured over the years and has even referenced by many of today’s stars.
Perfect was the son of Larry Hennig and carried on the family tradition with great pride. His body of work stands stronger today than ever before. Many of the current fan base views Mr. Perfect as arguably the greatest wrestler to never hold a World Championship in the WWE or WCW. Curtis Axel is having a tough time now as a second generation star following in the footsteps of his late father, as the legacy of Mr. Perfect doomed him.
8 Worst: Garett Bischoff
Eric Bischoff was not an in-ring performer, but he did wrestle on a few occasions. As the man in charge of WCW during the Monday Night Wars, Eric made a big name for himself. The TNA debut of Bischoff and Hulk Hogan was meant to create competition for the WWE again. Both men failed and made horrible decisions that allowed the company to stumble and reach new lows.
One of the more shameful moments saw Eric bring in his son, Garett Bischoff, as a wrestler. Eric and Hulk attempted to convince the fan base that Garett was the next big singles star in TNA. Fans reacted by booing him out of the building every single week. Garett had no in-ring skills and came off like the most generic wrestler possible. The TNA failure led to Garett leaving the company and ending his wrestling career.
7 Best: Eddie Guerrero
The legacy of Eddie Guerrero continues to grow with new fans being introduced to the work of the late legend through the WWE Network. Many of the current top stars name Guerrero as an influence for them when they were joining the business. Eddie grew up in the wrestling business as a member of the Guerrero family. As the son of Gory Guerrero, Eddie knew the tricks of the trade to implement in his game when coming over to the United States.
It wasn’t until he made the move to the WWE that Guerrero showed just how special of a talent he was. His ECW and WCW runs delivered an unparalleled work rate, but his character work in WWE took him to another level. You’d be hard pressed to find a moment as emotional as Guerrero defeating Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Championship at No Way Out in 2004.
6 Worst: Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak was signed with the hopes of blossoming into a big star with both the WWE and WCW. The son of former WWE Champion Stan Stasiak had a superior physique that led to Vince McMahon wanting to give him a chance. On three different stints, he failed each time with various gimmick. His Meat character stands out the most, as the horrible gimmick saw Shawn work as Terri Runnels’ sex slave.
Stasiak’s other tenures in the WWE featured him being a comedic jobber running into a wall and believing he was his own planet. WCW used him better in The Natural Born Thrillers, but he always appeared to be the worst of the faction of young noteworthy talent. Stasiak just didn’t have what was needed to succeed in wrestling and left for work in the medical field.
5 Best: Randy Savage
Anyone who watched him perform has a great opinion of the late Randy Savage as a wrestler. The legendary icon was the second biggest star in the WWE during their glory days, behind only Hulk Hogan. Savage succeeded under every possible scenario, as he was both a great face and heel. The comedic and serious sides of Savage were both impressive.
Macho Man perfectly captured all of the different things fans wanted out of wrestling and merged it for peak results. The diehard wrestling fans appreciate Savage more than the other top names of his time like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. As the son of Angelo Poffo, Savage was one of the first second generation wrestlers to truly make it into a top role in the business.
4 Worst: David Flair
Ric Flair’s daughter Charlotte Flair made the positive side of this list, but his son David Flair sadly had the opposite career. WCW signed David at a young age with no experience to appear on national television right away in a major storyline. David was doomed from the beginning and his inability to improve on the fly just turned an expected failure into a horrific disaster.
The second generation Flair looked like a fish out of water trying to wrestle with the stars of WCW. Ric is known for highly entertaining promos and hilarious character work. That didn’t pass along to David, as he just looked like someone from the crowd being picked for a dream job. Everything involving David led to terrible moments and it was deemed as one of the worst runs in wrestling history.
3 Best: The Rock
Wrestling was in The Rock’s bloodline as the son of Rocky Johnson and the grandson of Peter Maivia. WWE signed him with a huge push in mind coming off of his family ties. The original run went poorly due to the WWE presenting him as a white meat babyface, using his family’s name to try to get cheers. A character change into a charismatic heel changed his life forever.
The Rock went on to become one of the most popular stars in WWE history achieving every accolade possible. His charisma then translated to an acting career and he is currently one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. His career continues to reach new peaks with every movie. The Rock’s family has to be extremely proud of his wrestling career and him evolving into such a worldwide phenomenon.
2 Worst: Erik Watts
Bill Watts is remembered controversially for his time as a booker. His stint as head booker in WCW ended shamefully, as he was fired for making racist and homophobic comments. Before Bill would get fired, he used his time writing the show to book his son, Erik Watts. WCW hired him after just three months of training and pushed him instantly.
Fans rejected Erik due to the fact that he was horrible in every aspect of professional wrestling. The second generation Watts had no aptitude for the ring and it led to an embarrassing failure. There has never been such blatant nepotism in wrestling. The controversial firing of Bill Watts led to Erik losing his spot in WCW shortly after. Erik continued wrestling for many more years with no improvement or success ever coming his way.
1 Best: Bret Hart
No one has done more for his family name in the wrestling industry than Bret Hart. Bret started his career working for his father Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion with all of his brothers. Unlike his siblings, Bret showed more potential and was offered a contract with the WWE. His career boomed with huge success on the bigger stage.
WWE eventually trusted him enough to break the mold of all World Champions with bodybuilding physiques. Bret carried the title with great pride and delivered many of the greatest matches in WWE history. The Hart family legacy changed forever with Owen getting hired as a noteworthy talent and his brothers in law getting spots in the company, with The Dungeon being referenced as a place where stars were born. Bret’s success made the Harts iconic in wrestling history rather than one only remembered in Canada by diehard fans.