Second generation wrestlers have a mixed bag of opportunities and pressure when making their start in the wrestling industry. The obvious positive is that they have a knowledge of the business already due to a parent along with a connection to get booked easier than the average newcomer. However, there is a great deal of pressure to come along with their careers. Fans and promoters will expect a somewhat similar level of success to their famous parent.
Many wrestlers have failed, but the ones that thrived created incredible legacies to add to both their name and their family name. We will look at the best of the best to enter the industry as a second-generation performer. These wrestlers overcame the pressure of having huge boots to fill as they made their own mark while honoring their family. This is the ranking of the top ten most successful second-generation wrestlers in wrestling history.
10 Dustin Rhodes
The road for Dustin Rhodes was not always easy as he struggled to follow in the footsteps of his father Dusty Rhodes early in his career. WCW tried to push him as The Natural which almost never works out to have a second-generation performer play a generic face.
WWE was where Dustin would make his bigger impact with the character of Goldust. Rhodes played it for over two decades leading up to his recent release. Dustin will have a chance to add more memorable moments to his career in AEW.
9 Owen Hart
The Hart family was responsible for many incredible wrestlers throughout the decades. Owen Hart was one of the most talented to enter the industry as a second-generation performer. Wrestling was in the family blood as his father Stu Hart had a great career before training all his sons.
Owen had a tremendous career as one of the top all-around performers in the industry. The ability to wrestle opponents of all styles and play different roles made him someone that was always doing good work. Owen’s unfortunate passing ended his career and life early, but he still made his mark as a wrestling legend.
8 Curt Hennig
Mr. Perfect aka Curt Hennig provided incredible matches throughout his career to develop a reputation as an elite in-ring performer. The second-generation star followed in the footsteps of his father Larry “The Axe” Hennig to make his own legacy in the industry.
Hennig was arguably the best worker on WWE’s roster having great matches against Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Texas Tornado. The WCW run added more moments to his career by joining the New World Order to have compelling feuds with Ric Flair and Diamond Dallas Page among others.
7 Rey Mysterio
The tradition of wrestling was in Rey Mysterio’s family long enough for him to start wrestling as a teenager. Mysterio learned from his uncle who served as a father figure. Rey Mysterio Sr. wrestled in Mexico and had a successful boxing career as well.
The name Rey Mysterio Jr. was selected to give honor his uncle and all his teaching to get Rey into the business. Mysterio dropped the Jr. part of his name when joining WWE but continued to honor the family. The legendary career of Rey makes him a top tier second-generation performer.
6 Terry Funk
The Funk family has been in the wrestling industry for many decades now. Dory Funk was the father of Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. each trying to make their own name in the wrestling industry. Terry broke out as the bigger star with impressive runs in WWE, WCW, ECW, NWA, CWA, All-Japan and a few other promotions.
The incredible work of Funk featured memorable feuds with Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes and countless others. Modern fans will most remember Funk for an incredible ECW Championship win on their first PPV. Funk had a legendary career that allowed him to create an all-time great legacy as a second-generation wrestler.
5 Randy Orton
Randy Orton was one of the few successful third-generation wrestler with the industry having a huge impact on his family. Randy’s dad Cowboy Bob Orton had a great WWE run and his dad Bob Orton Sr. was a legend as well. WWE welcomed Randy at a young age due to his look, potential and pedigree.
Orton is still having a great career in WWE today as a main eventer. The run of Orton has seen him thrive in the main event scene for over fifteen years now. WWE will easily induct Orton into the Hall of Fame one day as he’s among the most decorated stars in company history.
4 Eddie Guerrero
The Guerrero family had a strong passion for wrestling with quite a few members finding success. Eddie Guerrero is the most popular one after following in the footsteps of his father Gory Guerrero. The desire to wrestle would see Eddie travel all over the world making a name before landing in WCW.
Guerrero had a tremendous run as a cruiserweight for WCW. A jump to WWE would end up being the best change in his career. Eddie worked his way up the ladder with stellar matches and a lovable charismatic personality. Guerrero’s WWE Championship win is still among the most beloved moments in company history today.
3 Randy Savage
It is easy to forget Randy Savage was a second-generation wrestler since his dad was rarely mentioned by WWE. Angelo Poffo wrestled for most of his career which inspired his sons to join the business as well. Savage became a massive star for WWE when joining the company in the 80s.
The success of Savage would see him right behind Hulk Hogan as the faces of the company. Savage would deliver amazing results in the main event picture for WWE. Even WCW would benefit from him on the roster in the 90s. Savage’s legacy is strong today with wrestlers still honoring his career with special-made gear or by executing some of his moves.
2 Bret Hart
The most successful member of the Hart family to dominate the wrestling world was Bret Hart. Stu Hart taught Bret along with his other sons the fundamentals of the industry from training them in the Hart Dungeon to having them wrestle for his Stampede Wrestling promotion.
Bret was the first Hart to receive a strong push in WWE and delivered tremendous results. The success of Bret allowed Owen and some of his other brothers and brothers in law chances to work for WWE. Bret’s run as WWE Champion and face of the company in the 90s made him an all-time great wrestling icon.
1 The Rock
The Rock had one of the toughest journeys in wrestling when he was introduced a blue-chip prospect as the son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of Peter Maivia. WWE hoped fans would cheer him due to his association with such legends in his family. The fan base instead booed Rock during his first few months as a face.
A wise heel turn joining the Nation of Domination made Rock a top star with his incredible personality finally on display. Rock would never look back by becoming one of the most successful and beloved stars in wrestling history. The post-wrestling career as a Hollywood box office superstar is another bonus to put him over the top.