Professional wrestling has been filled with families and family feuds since its inception. Some of the greatest names in the business have come from families producing first, second and even third generation stars. The Funks, the Rhodes, the Poffos, the Von Erichs and many more have all been major stars in the squared circle. The greatest father-son duos have helped professional wrestling grow into the power it is today. Even the WWE was built by McMahon father-son duos; and even a father-daughter duo.
Just as there have been real families locking up in the ring, there have also been fake father-son wrestling duos. Kayfabe father-son duos have been a part of wrestling history for just as long as their real counterparts. The Von Erich family - WWE Hall of Famers - even had fictional family members in the form of Waldo and Lance Von Erich. Unlike the real family members, however, the audience didn't accept the fakes. It hurt the product, and proved wrestling fans had stronger ties to real wrestling families.
Wrestling father-son duos, both real and fake, have helped to change the wrestling business. Whether it has been winning World Championship belts, creating dynasties or building unstoppable wrestling promotions, father-son duos have been an important part of the industry.
Ric Flair has had one of the most legendary wrestling careers known to man. The nine-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and eight-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion may be a parody of himself today, but one time he was the best promo and wrestler in the world. His son David followed him into the ring, and in the 1990s was a rising star in WCW. David won both the WCW United States title and was one-half of the WCW Tag Team Champions with Crowbar. When WWE bought WCW in the early 2000s, David joined the company, but only made a mere two appearances. He was released in 2002. After some time in TNA in 2003, David hit the independent wrestling circuit. Currently, his father is a part of WWE while David's sister Charlotte has become a superstar.
In 2010, the great Jimmy Golden was tasked with portraying the father of Jack Swagger in the WWE. Golden had been an extremely successful wrestler throughout the 1970s and 1980s in the southeastern states and won numerous Tag Team titles with his real-life cousin Robert Fuller. Golden also worked as Bunkhouse Buck in WCW during the 1990s along with Fuller as his manager Col. Robert Parker. Golden didn't last long as Swagger's father in the WWE. The father and son pairing seemed a bit pointless, and most WWE fans will have forgotten about it, just they did any of Swagger's title reigns. While the duo wasn't anything special, it was great to see Golden back on national television after several years away from the cameras.
The Welch-Fuller family is one that many modern wrestling fans will have little knowledge about, but that is why Ron Welch has started his very own podcast to inform fans of the wrestling dynasty his family created. The Welch-Fuller family dates back to the days of professional wrestling being on the carnival circuit, and it was Ron and Robert's grandfather that created what we know as wrestling across the southern region of the United States. Their father, Buddy, continued what was passed down to him. The Fuller-Welch family and various other family members had a hand in creating or running wrestling companies across the country. Ron is well-known for creating the Continental territory, and running one of the hottest promotions in the '70s and '80s. After Vince McMahon started his nation expansion, Ron knew it was time to get out of wrestling, so he took his business expertise into the minor league hockey realm. In the late 1980s, Ron's Nashville-based minor league hockey team put the wheels in motion for today's Predators. His brother, Robert, went on to portray Col. Robert Parker in WCW in the 1990s. Both are known for being two of the best interviews, workers and minds in wrestling.
The writers of the WWE must have been out of bad ideas when they decided to make Kurt Angle the kayfabe father of wrestler Jason Jordan. Sure, the two resemble each other a bit and Jordan had a successful amateur career, but in the modern world with information at our fingertips, an angle like this (no pun in tended) is ridiculous. Like Angle, Jordan is quite the athlete and one day, he could achieve a single's title with the WWE. The storyline to make Jordan Angle's son should help him move into the major title picture. Although the reaction to the storyline was mixed, it makes the former tag team wrestler a bit more relevant to the Raw audience.
The Rock rose to prominence in the WWE in the mid to late 1990s. After capturing wrestling titles, the former Miami Hurricane defensive lineman turned his successful wrestling career into being the biggest film star on the planet. The Rock's father, Rocky Johnson, was a star during his heyday. The "Soulman" won a number of regional and World titles during his wrestling career. The agile and charismatic star was a fan favorite in WWE in 1983. Despite his great abilities and success in the ring, he will be best known for being the father of The Rock. In 2008, Johnson was inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat has been called the greatest babyface of all time. However, that may not have happened had he used his real name, Dick Blood. All jokes aside that come to mind, Ricky got his name thanks to his physical resemblance to former wrestler Sam Steamboat. It was said Ricky was Sam's son - although occasionally he was known as the elder Steamboat's nephew - by commentators. With a new name, great in ring ability and amazing look, Ricky Steamboat set the wrestling world on fire. Although his matches with Ric Flair often get spoken about at great length, it was his program with Randy Savage in 1986 and 1987 that really defined his career.
Bill Dundee was one of the biggest stars of the Memphis promotion owned by Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler in the 1970s and 1980s. The elder Dundee joined the circus as a teen in his native Scotland before relocating to Australia. It was there he got his break as a wrestler, and in 1974, moved to the United States. In the 1990s, Bill would be rechristened as Sir William, as he managed Lord Steven Regal in WCW. In 1988, Bill Dundee broke his son Jamie into the business as a teenager, and the younger Dundee would go onto success in the tag team PG-13 with partner Wolfie D. The pair would become Synonymous with the WWE's Nation of Domination during the 1990s as the hip-hop duo that sang the faction's entrance song.
The Giant (aka Paul "Big Show" Wight) made his WCW debut at Halloween Havoc 1995 winning the promotion's world title from Hulk Hogan. The 7ft tall monster was initially billed as the son of famed WWE wrestler Andre The Giant. The decision to link him with the former Eighth Wonder of the World was to make him a formidable challenger to Hogan. The rub didn't work and the entire idea of the father-son link was dropped quickly. The Giant would go on to win PWI's Rookie of the Year award in 1995 along with the magazine's Wrestler of the Year. Not a bad debut by the man who would later become the Big Show.
The Gagne family owned and ran the highly successful AWA throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Verne created the promotion after being one of the most popular wrestlers in the United States. The former amateur would hold the AWA World Heavyweight Championship 10 times. In 1968, the elder Gagne won the AWA title for a ninth time and held it for more than 2,000 days. He finally lost it in 1975 to Nick Bockwinkel. Greg was a stellar wrestler in his own right, but couldn't escape his father's shadow. The younger Gagne did win the AWA International Television Championship and Tag titles, but he couldn't win the promotion's top prize. Both Verne and Greg ran the company behind the scenes until its bankruptcy in 1991.
Paul Bearer was synonymous with the early years of The Undertaker. But according to the WWE origin story of the man from Death Valley, Bearer and The Undertaker had a relationship that started long before either joined the WWE. According to Bearer himself, the mortician had an affair with 'Taker's mother, and spawned Kane, the half-brother of the Undertaker. Convoluted? Yes. The entire angle screamed of Vince Russo as the Brothers of Destruction were birthed to wreak havoc. The duo won the WWE tag team titles twice and the WCW tag team titles once during their 20 years teaming up together. Bearer, real name William Moody, passed away in 2013 at the age of 58.
Dusty Rhodes is considered one of the greatest wrestlers and bookers in wrestling history. The son of a plumber won nearly every title belt under the son, including the NWA World Championship three times. He was also the man behind Jim Crockett Promotions during its success of the mid-1980s. Although better known today by his Goldust gimmick, Dustin Rhodes was once considered as a rising babyface under his father's tutelage. In 1990, Dustin debuted in the WWE as his dad's tag team partner against Ted DiBiase and Virgil. However, both father and son ended up in WCW not too long after. However, Dustin's biggest run in wrestling came in 1995 when he returned to the WWE as Goldust. The ambiguous performer was a shocking character - at the time - to many traditional wrestling fans, and many were surprised to see the younger Rhodes portraying the character. In 2017, Goldust is still going strong.
The Von Erichs were over like rover and the family ruled Texas like no one before or since. Father Fritz and his boys Kevin, David, Kerry, Mike and Chris were loved by wrestling fans all over. The same couldn't be said for their fake cousin Lance. The kayfabe cousin was said to be the offspring of Fritz's former tag team partner, and fake brother, Waldo. Although many fans knew Lance was actually a local kid named Kevin Vaughan, Fritz wanted to continue with the storyline. To many, it was an embarrassing move by the Von Erichs, and many fans began to see the family in a whole new light. Lance's arrival helped speed up the decline of the World Class Championship Wrestling promotion which was owned by the Von Erich family.
Although an accomplished wrestler, Angelo Poffo is best known as the father of Randy "Macho Man" Savage and "The Genius" Lanny Poffo. Angelo trained both of his sons to be professional wrestlers and used them as stars in his own International Championship Wrestling promotion. Savage would go onto great heights than Poffo's financially strapped company as WWE and WCW Champion. According to wrestling legend, WWE owner Vince McMahon omitted Poffo from a Battle Royal during a house show. That omission caused problems between both McMahon and Savage, and later helped influence the former WWE champion's departure from the company in 1994. Savage has gone down in wrestling history as one of the greatest of all-time. He will be forever remembered for his wild attitude, great promos and believable work.
Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley formed one of the most successful tag teams in modern wrestling history. But the half-brothers were a part of a much bigger clan at one time that featured a number of half-brothers in the original ECW. The family's patriarch, Big Daddy Dudley was known for his sexual proclivity. Touring the world as a wrestler, it was said he slept with women from all over the globe, hence the reason the Dudley clan is so diverse. The diversity led to the likes of Big Dick Dudley, Dances with Dudley, Spike Dudley and more to enter the world of professional wrestling. Although there were a number of Dudley offspring, Bubba Ray and D-Von became the biggest stars of the wrestling family.
Bill Watts was known as one of the most polarizing figures in the wrestling business. A great wrestler, mind and bully in the locker room, Bill Watts carved out one of the most successful territories with Mid-South Wrestling - later the UWF. Everything Bill was, Erik was not, as the younger Watts was thrust into the wrestling world after playing quarterback at the University of Louisville. In 1992, Erik was signed by WCW while it was under his father's leadership. Put into a role he was under qualified to be in, Erik was regurgitated by fans after being forced down their throats. The younger Watts would go onto compete in the squared circle through the early 2000s. Meanwhile, Bill Watts went into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 despite his outspoken past views on race, homosexuality and politics.