Promoters may love to put two similar looking guys together and tell everyone that they’re brothers, but there have actually been a number of great brother tandems in wrestling history. Sometimes the brothers work together as a tag team, sometimes they’re lifelong rivals, and some others don’t even cross paths throughout their career. The one thing that all of these brothers have in common is a sense of sibling rivalry. Even if they don’t directly compare their career accomplishments as they go, fans will often do the work for them by keeping tabs on just who is having the better career.
It always seems to be the younger brother who gets all the attention in those instances. It may not be fair, but that’s just the way things go. The younger brother is always going to be compared to his older sibling. Some younger brothers take that natural law as a challenge and manage to greatly surpass whatever their older brothers accomplish. Some buckle under the pressure and forever live in the shadow of what their sibling achieved. It’s not always easy having an older brother, especially in the wrestling business, but these are the eight wrestlers who surpassed their older brother and seven who lived in their shadow.
17 15. Surpassed - Ron Bass (Don Bass)
In the early ‘70s, brothers Don Bass and Ron Bass began competing in the southern territories as part of a stable known as the Bass Family. The group was fairly successful, but nothing too special. When they went their separate ways, Don ended up floating around the tag team circuit for a while. He did beat Jerry Lawler in an AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship match but didn’t have much singles success outside of that.
His brother younger Ron, however, would go on to become a somewhat famous singles wrestler who successfully worked a cowboy gimmick in the NWA and WWE. He was never a major name necessarily, but it’s hard to argue that the brother who worked for years in the country’s two biggest promotions achieved more than his older sibling who never rose above the local territories.
16 Lived in the Shadow - John Laurinaitis (Road Warrior Animal)
There's a little room for debate on this one, but not much. For those who don't know, John Laurinaitis is the younger brother of Road Warrior Animal (Joseph Laurinaitis). Many fans might know John as the on-screen authority figure that once terrorized CM Punk and John Cena, but he was once a well-respected wrestler in Japan who is credited with inventing the Ace Crusher (RKO/Diamond Cutter). Still, John was a big deal in Japan.
As a member of the Road Warriors, his brother was a global star. The Road Warriors were on top of the American tag-team wrestling scene in America once upon a time, and they were arguably just as famous in Japan for their tough style of wrestling. John put together a more impressive singles career, but he never achieved the global recognition that his brother once enjoyed.
15 Surpassed - Jacques Rougeau (Raymond Rougeau)
For those fans who grew up on a steady diet of ‘80s WWE wrestling, the Rougeau Brothers were a tag-team staple. They weren’t quite on the same level as The Brainbusters or Demolition, but they were a team that could be relied on for some solid mid-card matches. The real life brother tandem of Jacques and Raymond eventually split in 1990 when Raymond retired from the business. Raymond would go on to become an announcer and occasional performer, while Jacques went on to become The Mountie, form The Quebecers, and even enjoy a run in WCW. Jacques may not have become a household name, but by sticking with the business, he managed to put together a career that car surpasses the achievements of his older brother and former partner.
14 Lived in the Shadow - Vic Steamboat (Ricky Steamboat)
Yes, Ricky Steamboat had a younger brother in the wrestling industry. Vic Steamboat began his wrestling career in 1986, quite a few years after Ricky entered the industry in 1976. Vic began his career in World Class Wrestling Association as a pretty unremarkable wrestler in a pretty unremarkable organization. He slowly made his way up the ranks of the territories and eventually became a local champion and a pretty decent wrestler. However, Vic’s career accomplishments aren’t really even in the same league as what Ricky Steamboat did. Vic’s late start certainly hindered his chances to match his brother’s accomplishments, but Vic just wasn’t really ever on the same skill level as his brother. Oddly enough, the two brothers paths almost never crossed during their careers.
13 Surpassed - Dean Malenko (Joe Malenko)
Here’s another one from the school of “I didn’t know that he had a brother.” You’ve definitely heard of Dean Malenko even if you didn’t necessarily watch him in his prime. Malenko has never really been seen as a main eventer in the major promotions, but there was a time when he was considered to be one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. His career kind of fell of a bit in WWE, but at least he made it to the big leagues. Joe began his career in Japan alongside his brother Dean, but he didn’t join Dean in America at the time that Dean left. Joe would make some appearances in WCW as Dean’s older brother, but Dean’s older brother was really his greatest career achievement.
12 Lived in the Shadow - Bo Dallas (Bray Wyatt)
Too soon? These siblings may still have quite a few years left in the industry meaning that there is always time for the younger brother to make up a little ground. That said, there’s almost no way that Bo Dallas is going to actually going to surpass the career of his brother Bray Wyatt. Bo Dallas (real name Taylor Rotunda) started on about even footing with his brother Bray (Windham Rotunda) when the two were in FCW and NXT. Bo was even NXT champion. Since Bray made it to the main roster, however, the differences between the two have become pretty clear. Bray is enjoying WrestleMania championship matches while Bo is struggling to convince anyone to let him be on television. Bo may be out of WWE soon, and Bray may go into the Hall of Fame.
11 Surpassed - Terry Funk (Dory Funk Jr.)
There was a time when the Funk brothers were on completely even footing. The brothers' early careers look pretty similar to the casual observer, and the Funk brothers are still considered to be an all-time great tag team by older Japanese wrestling fans to this day. However, the two brothers' careers began to diverge a bit in the ‘80s as Terry Funk made a name for himself as more of a singles competitor in WWE and NWA, and Dory Funk Jr. failed to really distinguish himself as a true star. He gradually began to step away from the business around the same time that Terry was experiencing a career resurgence in ECW and Japan. These brothers may have started out on similar footing, but the younger Terry has most certainly eclipsed his older brother ever since.
10 Lived in Shadow - Gerry Brisco (Jack Brisco)
Ah, wrestling's original famous Brisco Brothers tag team. Actually, this one is a bit debatable. It’s probably safe to say that more wrestling fans are more familiar with Gerry Brisco than Jack Brisco. However, that’s likely due to the fact that Gerry Brisco enjoyed a late run as one of Vince McMahon’s stooges during the Attitude Era. If you take popularity out of the question and just look at in-ring accomplishments, younger brother Jack is almost unquestionably the better overall wrestler. Actually, Jack was considered by many to be one of the finest in-ring performers of his era. He wrestled all over the world and became a champion nearly everywhere that he went. Gerry, meanwhile, really kind of floundered after the Brisco Brothers tag team fell apart.
9 Surpassed - Sika Anoaʻi (Afa Anoaʻi)
Here's another one that is only true by the slimmest of margins, but is still true nonetheless. While most people know the name Anoa'i because of wrestlers like The Rock and Roman Reigns, there was a time when WWE fans only knew the Anoa'i family by the name of The Wild Samoans. Afa and Sika Anoa'i were one of the best tag teams of the '70s and continued their brilliant run into the '80s as WWE and NWA wrestlers. As good as they were as a team, though, tag teams eventually have to split up. Once that happened, Afa never really did much with his career. He lost his job with WWE in the mid-80s and only wrestled a few token matches in the '90s. Sika, however, stuck around the company for a bit longer and actually got a brief midcard push. Sika wasn't exactly a world champion, but he accomplished more than his brother did. overall.
8 Lived in the Shadow - Briley Pierce (Dolph Ziggler)
Who is Briley Pierce? Well, for those of you who followed FCW and the early stages of NXT, he was briefly there a few years ago and one look at him and you can see some similarities between he and Dolph Ziggler. Yes, Ziggler's kid brother was in developmental. Pierce was released in 2013 and has since wrestled on the indies. While his wrestling career isn't over, it's safe to say that Ryan Nemeth is not going to surpass his older brother Nick, who has been one of the better all-around performers in the WWE for the last seven years. Ziggler is a multi-time world champion and has wrestled just about everybody in the company. It's very unlikely his younger brother is ever going to reach those heights.
7 Surpassed - Scott Steiner (Rick Steiner)
Unlike Harlem Heat, the distance between these two brothers isn’t quite as great as you might think. When the Steiner Brothers broke into wrestling, promoters were left in awe at the sight of these two legitimately talented amateur wrestlers who were real brothers to boot. They were a tag-team division dream. Even back in the duo’s early days, though, Scott Steiner was seen as the guy that would eventually break away from the tandem and enjoy a decent singles run. Rick was never really thought of as being the worse wrestler, but Scott could pull off a few more moves than Rick could, had a better look, and seemed to possess more charisma.
Of course, Scott later underwent a drastic physical transformation that rocketed him to the top of WCW’s main event and really distanced himself from his older brother.
5 Lived in the Shadow - Lanny Poffo (Randy Savage)
Well, this one is just a gimme. Randy and Lanny Poffo may be brothers who both enjoyed careers as professional wrestlers, but that's about where the similarities between the two end. Lanny Poffo is probably best remembered for his time in WWE as The Genius which, to be fair, was a pretty great gimmick that Lanny played extremely well. However, Lanny’s older brother Randy just so happens to be arguably the greatest professional wrestler that has ever lived. Macho Man Randy Savage would headline WrestleMania, win multiple world titles, challenge Hulk Hogan in global popularity, and earn the respect of generations of wrestling fans with his considerable talents. Lanny is a great guy and was a pretty good wrestler, but he had no chance of matching his brother’s professional accomplishments.
4 Surpassed - Robert Gibson (Ricky Gibson)
To be honest, Ricky Gibson is a generally underrated wrestler. In a time when most wrestlers didn't even think of climbing to the top rope, Ricky was one of the few to start figuring out ways to incorporate high-flying maneuvers into wrestling. He came up through the business the hard way and "learned the ropes" by taking whatever jobs came to him. At some point, he also trained his younger brother Robert. Once Robert got started with his own career, he almost immediately surpassed his older brother. As a memeber of the Rock 'N Roll Express, Ricky Gibson helped to forever change the way the wrestling world looked at tag team wrestling. The Rock 'N Roll Express were as big of a draw as Ric Flair was in his prime, and Robert was a key part of their success. As great as Ricky was - and he was great - Robert managed to do even greater things with what Ricky taught him.
3 Lived in the Shadow - Owen Hart (Bret Hart)
This is undoubtedly the toughest entry on this list, even though it is one that is hard to deny. Bret Hart wasn’t immediately thought of as a main eventer by WWE, but they always seemed to think he was capable of more than his brother Owen and usually gave Bret more opportunities. Bret deserved those opportunities, but Owen honestly was never really that far behind his brother in terms of in-ring skills and was often better in terms of charisma. Ironically, most people started to realize this when WWE ran an angle that involved Owen Hart lashing out against his brother - in kayfabe - for the perception that he did live in Bret’s shadow. Even if Owen was a greater talent overall, he was usually a step or two below Bret when it came to the spotlight.
2 Surpassed - Booker T (Stevie Ray)
This entry begins our homestretch run of younger brothers in brother tag teams who surpassed their older siblings, and this is by far the easiest call to make of the remaining group. Booker T (Booker T Huffman) and Stevie Ray (Lash Huffman) began their run as Harlem Heat at a time when WCW was really trying to find its identity. They helped to solidify the company’s tag team division and lasted through the company’s successful nWo era.
Even when the two were primarily thought of as a team, almost everybody seemed to know that Booker T was the real star. Stevie Ray was an awful in-ring wrestler who was borderline dangerous to work with. Booker T is a Hall of Fame champion and one of the best things about WCW during the company’s dying days. This is a no contest.