Pro-wrestling is a hard business at times, but it certainly helps when one has a family member or two that can show them the ropes (both literally and figuratively). It also doesn’t hurt to have a successful relative who can help introduce you to the right people. The previously mentioned examples are just a few of the reasons wrestling has produced so many influential families over the years.
These families have had a major impact as promoters, performers, and just about everything in between. To help illustrate the point further, let's take a look at 10 families who have had a major impact on the sport of pro wrestling.
10 The McMahons
When discussing influential wrestling families, the McMahons are the perfect place to start. After all, Vince McMahon and company are easily the most powerful group in professional wrestling. As owners of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the McMahon have the power to make or break the biggest stars in all of sports entertainment.
The McMahon Dynasty started with Vince McMahon's grandfather, wrestling promoter Jess McMahon, and has been handed down through the generations. However, it was Vince McMahon himself who introduced wrestling to a national audience and turned the activity into a global phenomenon. His children Shane and Stephanie will inherit WWE at some point, which means the family will control wrestling’s largest and most successful promotion for the foreseeable future.
9 The Harts
When it comes to legendary wrestling families, particularly in Canada, it doesn't get much bigger than the Harts. As both wrestlers and promoters, the Harts have been major players in the industry for several generations.
The Hart dynasty began with Stu Hart, who had success as a wrestler, promoter, and trainer. His promotion, Stampede Wrestling, lasted from 1967 to 1984 and served as a proving group for many wrestlers who would go on to become stars in WWE. He also trained several wrestling legends in the famous Hart Dungeon, including his own children Bret and Owen Hart – both of whom went on to have outstanding careers. Big name performers like The British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart also married into the family, adding to list of top wrestlers who are associated with the dynasty.
8 Anoaʻi Family
In terms of sheer number, the Anoa’i family has produced more wrestling stars than any other. In fact, the Samoan dynasty's many accomplishments warrant a separate article. However, in the interest of time management, we’ll just stick to the greatest hits for now.
The most successful member of the group is none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – a multi-time world champ and one of the biggest stars the sports has ever seen. The Rock set a new standard for promos in the industry. The family also produced two other world champs: Roman Reigns and Yokozuna. Other noteworthy members include the Wild Samoans, The Usos, and Rikishi.
7 The Von Erichs
Sadly, when folks discuss the Von Erichs today, they generally focus on the many tragedies the family faced. However, at the height of their popularity, the Von Erichs were major players in the wrestling industry – particularly in the state of Texas.
The family patriarch was Fritz Von Erich. While he was a successful wrestler, Fritz is best known as the promoter who ran World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), one of the top regional organizations from 1966 to 1988. During that span, he established his sons - David, Kerry, Mike, and Kevin - as major stars. In fact, Kerry Von Erich would later go on to capture the WWE Intercontinental Championship. The family helped put wrestling on the map in the state of Texas – a region that produced some of the sport’s biggest stars.
6 The Flairs
When your family has produced arguably the greatest male and the female professional wrestler of all-time, they have to be considered influential. While there aren’t as many Flairs in the business as some of the other families on our list, they have certainly made their presence felt.
Ric Flair is a 16-time world champ, who is widely considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. His outstanding ring work and skill on the mic has influenced many of today's top stars. His daughter, Charlotte Flair, is also one of the best in the business. The Queen, at just 33 years of age, has already won the women’s title 9-times. Ric Flair's sons, Reid and David Flair, were also pro wrestlers.
5 The Jarretts
Like many families on our list, the Jarretts have had success as both promoters and wrestlers. Most fans associate the group with the father and son duo of Jerry and Jeff Jarrett, but Eddie Marlin (Jeff’s grandfather and Jerry’s father-in-law) was also a successful wrestler/promoter in his own right.
As a promoter, Jerry Jarrett founded (or been involved with) several different promotions over the years. This list includes Continental Wrestling Association (CWA), United States Wrestling Association (USA), and Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA). The latter, Jerry co-founded with his son. These promotions helped launch the career of today's top performers and Hall of Famers. Of course, Jeff Jarrett also had a Hall of a Fame wrestling career, having performed in both WWE and WCW.
4 The Guerreros
A member of the Guerrero family has been involved in professional wrestling since 1937, the year patriarch Gory Guerrero made his in-ring debut. Since that time, members of the clan have performed in just about every major wrestling organization on the planet.
Gory Guerrero, who is considered a Lucha libre pioneer, had 4 wrestler songs: Chavo Sr., Mando, Hector, and of course Eddie. The patriarch is also credited with inventing the Camel Clutch – a very popular wrestling hold. Eddie Guerrero was a WrestleMania headliner, former world champ, and one of the most beloved wrestlers of his generation. While Eddie Guerrero is by far the most famous member, his older brothers also had outstanding careers in their own right. Gory Guerrero’s grandson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., also had a successful run in WWE.
3 The Rhodes
The Rhodes family has already had a major impact on the sport of wrestling, and their stock is still rising. The prominent members include Dusty Rhodes and his two sons, Cody and Dustin (aka Goldust).
Dusty Rhodes was a 3-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and one of biggest stars of the 1970s and 80s. For years, the Rhodes family patriarch wowed fans with his exceptional mic work and over the top personality. He was also a booker who is credited with popularizing the “Dusty Finish," which meant a match result would get overturned due to some sort of technicality.
Goldust had an outstanding run with WWE during the Attitude Era and beyond. Moreover, Dusty's youngest offspring, Cody Rhodes, is one of the main figures behind the new upstart promotion AEW.
2 The Windhams
The Windham/Rotundo family doesn’t get the same kind of recognition as the McMahons or the Harts. However, the clan has been consistently producing top tier pro wrestlers for around three generations.
The dynasty began with Blackjack Mulligan, a rugged cowboy who captured the WWE tag titles as a member of The Blackjacks. His son Barry Windham was a member of the Four Horsemen and also had an outstanding career. The Windham’s have given sports entertainment some of it’s most memorable characters including Mulligan's son-in-law, I.R.S. (Mike Rotundo) and his grandson Bray Wyatt (whose real name is Windam Rotundo). Other notable members include Kendall Windam and Bo Dallas.
1 The Hennings
The Henning family is yet another wrestling line that has produced 3 generations of stars. There has been a Henning involved in pro wrestling since around 1956.
The wrestling patriarch, Larry “The Axe” Henning, rose to prominence in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in the 1960s. The 300-plus pound star earned his nickname by dropping a devastating elbow on his opponents. His son, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning, is the most recognized member of the clan. Curt Henning is widely regarded as one of the greatest in-ring performers of his era and helped elevate the level of prestige associated with the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Mr. Perfect’s son, Curtis Axel, has also had a noteworthy run in WWE.