There’s a lengthy tradition of brother tag teams in pro wrestling. It makes sense. Tag team partners often dress like and even look alike, whether it’s jacked badass style of The Road Warriors, the long haired speedy little guys known as The Rockers, or Cryme Tyme—a pair of athletic black men in jeans and Lugz boots. What better way of portraying that two guys are on the same page than to put brothers on the same team, or to at least to bill unrelated men who look enough alike as brothers?
A tag team of brothers suggests more than superficial similarities. In terms of storylines, a sibling bond implies a level of loyalty and camaraderie—there’s no need to explain why they have each other’s backs or how they’ve learned to work in tandem so well. These are connections and a brand of cooperation born out of a lifetime of experience together. Moreover, if a team were to split up, the drama is instantly higher if they weren’t just professional athletes working together, but brothers severing their bond.
Pro wrestling has seen its share of real life brothers tag up, but because the storyline works so well, fans have also encountered their share faux-brother pairings, drawn together because the guys sort of look alike, or for the purposes of convenient storytelling. Some of those fictional family connections have been brilliant—even career-defining. Others have fallen flat.
This column looks back at twenty brother tag teams with a twist—ten of them were real-life brother pairs; ten of them were not actually related.
19 Real Brothers: The Steiner Brothers
While there have been kayfabe brothers who looked more alike, The Steiners all but celebrated their different looks. Rick was bearded, kept his hair cropped short, and wore traditional amateur wrestling ear guards. Scott had flowing long hair and no facial hair—the cleaner cut of the two. From a superficial perspective, the only commonality for these guys was that they each wore singlets.
The Steiners were more recognizable as brothers based on their shared in-ring style. They each used power-intensive offense, and were each heavy on the amateur technique they each picked up through their legit careers in amateur wrestling. Together, they assembled quite a legacy across the wrestling world, featured in WCW, WWE, ECW, and throughout Japan. They even had a brief reunion years later in TNA.
The two showed their real-life brotherly bonds most of all in Scott’s selflessness. According to a variety of sources, Scott had the opportunity to pursue a singles career from early on. He turned down the chance for the better part of a decade out of loyalty to his brother and the team, before finally giving it a go and breaking out as a main event star in the late 1990s.
18 Faux Brothers: The Beverly Brothers
After working elsewhere as The Minnesota Wrecking Crew II and The Destruction Crew, WWE recast the veteran team of long blond-haired bruisers as The Beverly Brothers. The catch: they weren’t actually brothers.
Beau and Blake, as they were billed, looked enough alike to pass as kin, but did not actually share any relation. Still, they were an effective tag team for their depth of experience working as a unit. WWE clearly didn’t have any big plans for them, but filled an important role as a lower card team, helping to familiarize the WWE audience with teams like The Legion of Doom and The Steiner Brothers before they advanced to the tag title picture.
After some time apart, the guys would add a brief epilogue to their team’s history as a jobber team for WCW.
17 Real Brothers: Bret and Owen Hart
Today, Bret and Owen Hart are remembered as one of the best pairs of brothers to ever grace the squared circle. They formed a tag team in the WWE for a brief period from 1993 to 1994.
Interestingly, art imitated reality, as Bret’s kayfabe motivations to team with his younger brother were to squelch intrafamily jealousies, and give his brother a hand advancing in his career. While the animosities were not real, the angle the two worked together succeeded in advancing Owen from a forgettable lower carder to one of WWE’s biggest stars. The team reached its peak in the brothers’ final match together, challenging The Quebecers for the Tag Team Championship at Royal Rumble 1994. Owen blamed Bret when their team came up short launching a rivalry that would see them go one-on-one at WrestleMania, then fight for the world title at SummerSlam. Bret was already a main event level talent going into this extended angle, but it made a huge difference for Owen. From the point they started teaming, through their feud, Owen became one of WWE’s top stars straight up to his untimely passing.
16 Faux Brothers: The Dudley Boyz
It may be no surprise to fans that D-Von and Bubba Ray aren’t blood relatives—it’s a tough sell to believe that this black man and pasty white man would actually come from the same family. Just the same, they were drawn together out of a clever storyline contrivance. In ECW, the two of them and a slew of other wrestlers were branded as half brothers—off spring of a fictitious journeyman wrestler Big Daddy Dudley.
While most of the kayfabe Dudley family faded or moved on to other things, the family connection stuck for this tag team. What started as a silly plot contrivance became a reason for them to team up in not only ECW, but WWE, throughout Japan, and TNA to become one of the most decorated tag teams in wrestling history.
15 Real Brothers: Harlem Heat
Booker T and Stevie Ray are real-life brothers from Houston, Texas. They got their start on the Texas indie scene, but were quickly signed by WCW where they went from a green pairing with a menacing look to a legitimately excellent tag teams. Their run included seven tag titles over three years.
Booker T went on to become the more accomplished out of the pair—an eventual WCW main event star, and later a main event player in WWE. Stevie Ray had his opportunities as a high profile member of the nWo, but never quite had his brother’s athleticism or charisma to get over as more than a mid-card talent. Just the same, they remained connected, even revisiting their team briefly in 1999, and reuniting to wrestle together one last time in 2015 for an independent promotion that Booker T headed up.
14 Faux Brothers: The Brothers of Destruction
There may be no pair of storyline-only brothers with greater longevity or a more intricate kayfabe story than The Brothers of Destruction: The Undertaker and Kane.
The twosome started as rivals during the Attitude Era, with Kane as not only The Dead Man’s brother, but a monster who could match his physicality and who had a personal beef on account of an alleged childhood incident in which The Undertaker let his little brother burn. Within a few years, though, they were on the same side, and became a tag team to square off against Steve Austin and Triple H’s Two-Man Power Trip, and then to represent WWE against a variety of outsider tandems during the Invasion angle.
The Undertaker and Kane have been on-again off-again rivals ever since, but regardless remain intertwined as one of the most intimidating teams wrestling has ever seen.
13 Real Brothers: Ron and Don Harris
Though they first established themselves on a national platform as long-haired mountain men, The Blu Brothers, Ron and Don Harris would go on to play bikers as part of The Disciples of Apocalypse, before settling into a more clean-cut look as a menacing pair of big bald men in WCW and then TNA.
While it’s a trope in wrestling to have lookalikes—wrestlers who can trade out for one another without the referee noticing—the Harris brothers worked this device to perfection as real-life twins whom most fans really couldn’t tell apart. Ironically, even after their retirement from the ring in the early 2000s, the Harris boys remained linked to the business, serving in behind the scenes roles with TNA in its early years (including famously performing a lightning-quick repair job on a broken ring for one of TNA’s first televised shows) and as recently as last year when their company Aroluxe became financially intertwined with the ailing TNA’s business.
12 Faux Brothers: The Fabulous Fargos
While their legacy has faded a bit over the passage of time, wrestling historians and old timers remember The Fabulous Fargos as a hugely over, hugely influential heel crew. Whether it was the original pairing of Jackie and Don, or the team to proceed them of Jackie and Sonny, they were a success story throughout the south and even for a spell in the early days of WWE, where they reportedly headlined shows that sold out Madison Square Garden.
While Jackie and Sonny were real brothers, critical original team member, Don, was not related at all. He embraced the Fargo name, though, and did his part in garnering the team major heat through their heel antics, and bleached blond pretty boy looks. Years later, the crew would indoctrinate another kayfabe-only brother, Johnny Fargo, who would go on to great fame as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.
11 Real Brothers: The Von Erich Boys
The Von Erich brothers, and particularly David, Kerry, and Kevin, were the darlings of World Class Championship Wrestling—a regional promotion well ahead of its time that earned national TV deals and threatened become a true, sustained national promotion. The Von Erich boys were long-time, reliable, super-over main eventers who often as not teamed up with each other in different two- or three-man permutations. Part of the appeal? They were real-life brothers, born and raised in the local Dallas area.
Tragedy would hit the family time and again, in David’s untimely death, Kerry’s suicide, and early deaths of Mike, Chris, and forgotten child Jack Jr. who passed away as a six-year-old child. Thus, the family’s many teams, or prospective teams became afterthoughts in the wake of real life concerns. In time, the company sold off its assets, and only Kerry—before he passed—went on to enjoy success on a national scale as an NWA World Heavyweight Champion and star for WWE.
10 Faux Brothers: The Von Erich Patriarchs
The second generation of wrestling Von Erichs were wildly popular real-life brothers. Ironically, the preceding generation featured two other Von Erichs billed as brothers, who weren’t really related at all and who were widely hated heels.
Fritz and Waldo played brothers, and played Nazis as an easy-to-hate pair. The two had no true familial connection, but did both learn to wrestle together under the tutelage of Stu Hart and began their careers working under the Calgary patriarch’s Stampede Wrestling umbrella. They would ultimately go their separate ways, but maintain their shared kayfabe surname as Waldo went on to play an upper card heel in a variety of promotions, while Fritz worked in the AWA before settling to head up WCCW with his family in Dallas.
9 Real Brothers: The Hardy Boyz
Matt and Jeff Hardy grew up together in North Carolina with dreams of wrestling professionally. The two pursued their ambitions aggressively, starting as backyard wrestlers, and fudging their ages to work as jobbers for WWE when the promotion passed through the region.
These youthful aspirations would blossom into a life’s work, as the brothers wound up one of the greatest tag teams of all time in WWE, that has also had successful runs in TNA and a wide variety of independent promotions over the past 25 years.
The brothers are both known for their eccentricities. Younger brother Jeff enjoyed greater success as a singles star first, including world title reigns, and wrestling with his signature body paint and unorthodox style. Older brother Matt has caught up, both in terms of kayfabe accomplishments and reputation for being a little unhinged, including a recent TNA Championship reign and rolling out his “Broken” gimmick that has seen him reinvent not only his character but a large swath of TNA programming by hosting unconventional matches and even whole shows from his infamous compound back in Cameron, North Carolina.
8 Faux Brothers: Arn and Ole Anderson
This entry could be about any given combination of Anderson brothers or extended family, given that none of their extended ranks were actually related. I’m focusing, though, on the Minnesota Wrecking Crew that’s best remembered today, little doubt because their run was the most recent and because of their affiliation with The Four Horsemen. That’s Arn and Ole Anderson.
Superficially, the guys were easy to buy as relatives—burly, bearded men with a no-nonsense style in the ring. Indeed, after Lars and Gene Anderson established the family name, it became an easy vehicle for introducing new tag-team and mid-card talent with an immediate sense of gravitas. Arn and Ole were arguably the last successful Anderson pair. They won tag gold together and were effective enforcers and henchmen on behalf of their kayfabe cousin Ric Flair.
7 Real Brothers: The Briscos
Not be confused with the Briscoes of today’s ROH product, Jerry and Jack Brisco were a wildly successful tandem for over decade across different NWA territories, and particularly in the Mid-Atlantic. The majority of their run came as beloved faces, teaming off and on while each also pursued singles glory. Toward the end of their time together, though, the real-life brothers turned heel for what may have been their best work of all feuding with relative youngsters Ricky Steamboat, Mark Youngblood, and Wahoo McDaniel.
Jerry went on to a backstage role with WWE after he retired from the ring, besides working as an occasional on-screen personality. While Jack scarcely worked for WWE, he went into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside his brother in 2008.
6 Faux Brothers: The Major Brothers
It’s no secret now, but The Major Brothers who debuted on WWE’s ECW before moving to the SmackDown brand, are not actually brothers. In fact, once WWE decided to give the team a push, they dropped the pretense that they were brothers at all. The team was rebranded as The Edgeheads—Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder—who both had a passing hair resemblance to Edge when all three performers’ hair was long.
It’s funny to reflect on this team being pitched as brothers now. Ryder has gone on to a well-defined persona under his Long Islanded Iced-Z gimmick, while Hawkins left WWE for a couple years only to return as a lower card heel on the SmackDown brand. Regardless, neither are portrayed as having any connection now.
5 Real Brothers: The Rotunda Brothers
While their main roster personas have grown about as far apart as possible, the men beneath the Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas gimmicks are, in fact, real-life brothers, and both the sons of past WWE heel Irwin R. Schyster (AKA Mike Rotunda). They briefly formed a tag team in WWE’s pre-NXT developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, including two reigns as tag team champions under that brand.
Wyatt and Dallas ultimately moved in totally different directions as a swamp cult leader and faux-inspirational speaker, respectively. At this point, the most they have in common on air is that each seems to keep hitting glass ceilings—Wyatt’s never quite broken through as a main event star, and Dallas has never quite shored up his main roster spot above the lower card. Nonetheless, the former tag ream shares a bond that WWE would probably just as soon have all of us forget about.
5. Faux Brothers: Kevin and Dave Sullivan
In 1994, The Equalizer—a mid-card big man—had a run in with The Nasty Boys. As he began to turn face, he made mention that he was going to bring in his big brother for backup. Little did we know that his big bro and new tag team partner would turn out to be a man smaller in stature, but much with bigger star power and experience in the business—Kevin Sullivan. Despite their difference in physical size, the two did look reasonably like brothers, and immediately had a fun chemistry as Dave’s character grew goofier while Kevin’s got darker and more vicious. The dynamic hit a breaking point upon the arrival of Hulk Hogan in WCW. Dave was a big fan; Kevin, like so many heels before him, vowed to kill Hulkamania.
For the length of their storyline together, it was easy to give in to the illusion that Kevin and Dave Sullivan were real brothers. The case of brothers who love one another and stick with each other despite wildly different personalities spoke to any fan with a sibling. The Sullivan brotherhood was a work through-and-through, though. Dave would retire from the wrestling world altogether a couple years later, while Kevin would remain active in the ring for a time, before switching more fully to his backstage creative role.
4 Real Brothers: The Young Bucks
Matt and Nick Jackson (real last name Massie) were wrestling fanatics. After older brother Matt started wrestling, it was only a matter of time before Nick joined him in working the independent scene, where they found their identity as The Young Bucks—a high-flying, daredevil team with a penchant for superkicks.
While The Young Bucks haven’t worked with WWE beyond serving as local jobbers and getting a tryout match, they have thrived on pretty much every other major stage in the United States, including a great deal of success as a team for ROH, and a less successful run with TNA (where they purportedly weren’t very happy woring). The brothers have since carved a niche for themselves as part of The Bullet Club stable in New Japan—key figures in the group for over three years now.
3 Faux Brothers: The Basham Brothers
Doug and Danny Basham are best known as a brother tag team. They worked the length of their WWE careers as a tandem and then went on to a brief run as a tag team in TNA as well, though they weren’t explicitly identified as brothers there.
The Bashams aren’t actually related in any way. Just the same, WWE clung to that illusion, even as they adjusted the faux-brothers’ gimmicks over and over again. The team went from being vaguely S&M-themed (whipped by their leather-clad manager Shaniqua, using the finisher briefly referred to as The Ball and Gag), to playing JBL’s straight-laced, suit-wearing backup as part of the Cabinet stable, before donning riot gear as Paul Heyman’s security force in the early days of WWE’s ECW.
2 Real Brothers: The Wild Samoans
It’s a running joke that every Samoan wrestler is related. Part of the joke is that a large group of Samoan wresters refer to each other as brothers or cousins despite no actual biological connection. More significantly, though, the Anoa’i family actually is ridiculously prolific when it comes to churning out professional wrestlers. The family’s history in wrestling officially starts with Peter Maivia, but continues with his son Rocky Johnson, and his nephews, the real-life brother tag team of Afa and Sika, The Wild Samoans.
The Wild Samoans who were an iconic team across the country and particularly in WWE, who collected tag titles in more or less every territory they stopped through. Moreover, they would keep the ball rolling for wrestling in the family, and give way to to the success of men like The Rock, Yokozuna, Rikishi, and Umaga in the next generation of the family, not to mention contemporary stars like Roman Reigns and The Usos years later.
1 Faux Brothers: Edge and Christian
One of the signatures of WWE’s Attitude Era was the success of its tag team division. In retrospect, it’s conspicuous that the highest profile teams all centered around brothers. There were real life siblings Matt and Jeff Hardy. Then there were faux-half brothers The Dudleys. And then there were Edge and Christian.
Edge and Christian rose to fame first as dark, mysterious sidekicks to Gangrel, and later as a team that was wildly successful at delivering serious performances in the ring alongside their comedy-heavy routine on the mic. WWE billed the twosome as brothers from the get-go. After they each broke out as singles stars, though, andparticularly after they started working together as faces toward the end of Edge’s in-ring career, WWE let that premise fall away. The company instead recognized the two men for what they really were—childhood and friends and real-life best friends, who may have been as close as brothers, but were not really related.
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