The world of professional wrestling is expansive to say the least. How many new wrestlers come through NXT alone on a yearly basis? Most of those are eventually called up to WWE’s main roster and then another crop of athletes begins to cycle through. It’s a never ending process as the machine keeps chugging along, as is necessary to avoid the product running dry – WWE produces up to ten or more hours of new content every single week of the year, so to keep things fresh, a constant flow of new faces are needed.
We watch hours and hours of wrestling television each week and we’re bound to start feeling as if we know some of these competitors; they become almost like family. But some of these wrestlers actually are family, at least among themselves. With so many bodies circulating through NXT and WWE at any given moment, let alone the independent scene, plenty of them are bound to be related. Wrestling is full of relations like Dusty Rhodes and his sons Cody and Goldust, or Ric Flair and his daughter Charlotte. One of the most common familial relationships found among pro wrestlers is that of cousins.
It shouldn’t need to be said, if one knows anything about great wrestling lineages, that a conversation like this is dominated by one family tree in particular. Sure, there are wrestling families aplenty, such as the McMahons and the Harts, but the Anoa’i dynasty is truly magnificent to behold. Today, let’s take a look at fifteen collections of professional wrestlers who are cousins in real life, including some Samoan connections you may not have previously made.
14 Primo And Epico
Let’s start with an easy one. For years, Primo and Epico have been referred to as cousins on television, but some fans may not know that they really are legitimately related.
Primo found success alongside his brother, former Intercontinental Champion Carlito, when they won the WWE Tag Team Championship together. But after Carlito was released from WWE, Primo began teaming with his real life cousin Epico in 2011. Primo and Epico won also won the WWE Tag Team Championship, successfully defending the titles on the WrestleMania XXVIII pre-show against The Usos and the team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd.
Once their popularity began to fade, Primo and Epico started to serve as enhancement talents and were rarely used on television. They were repackaged in 2013 as Los Matadores, now going by the names Fernando and Diego, but failed to gain any steam. As a result, 2016 has seen the team return to using their original ring names with a slightly updated gimmick. Hopefully the upcoming WWE brand split helps these cousins see a surge in momentum.
13 Yokozuna And The Tonga Kid
The massive Yokozuna, who was sometimes billed at a weight of six hundred pounds, was one of the most iconic WWE Champions in history. Known as residing in “The Land of the Rising Sun,” it’s easy to see why many members of the WWE Universe might be unaware that Yokozuna is a member of the extensive Anoa’i wrestling family, as most wrestlers from that lineage were promoted in WWE with obvious Samoan gimmicks, not Japanese ones. But Yokozuna certainly made a name for himself on his own merits as one of the most instantly recognizable stars of the 1990s.
Yokozuna’s cousin, The Tonga Kid, on the other hand, was one of those members of the Anoa’i dynasty who was booked to take advantage of his heritage. He teamed with the legendary King Tonga, better known as Meng or Haku, and at one time the team was managed by WWE Hall of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
12 David Hart Smith And Natalya
Natalya is a WWE mainstay, having become one of the most respected female performers in the entire wrestling industry. She’s the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and, in recent times, has wrestled some of WWE’s best women’s matches, particularly against Charlotte. In 2010 Natalya had one of her most memorable runs as part of the New Hart Foundation with her long time boyfriend and now husband Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith (or DH Smith).
You may remember that Natalya had her sole WWE title reign as a part of The Hart Foundation, as this is the point in time when she became the Divas Champion. Kidd and Smith also had a successful run with the WWE Tag Team Championship, as you probably know. But did you know that David Hart Smith and Natalya are actually cousins? Not only that, they share the same Hall of Fame uncle: Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
11 Rosey And The Usos
WWE’s current product has made it abundantly clear that Jimmy and Jey Uso are the cousins of Roman Reigns, but what’s less clear is that Roman Reigns’ brother is former WWE Superstar Rosey, who is obviously also the cousin of the Uso brothers.
Rosey made his debut in 2002 alongside Jamal as 3 Minute Warning, enforcers for then Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. Bischoff would often give anyone who crossed him “three minutes” to get out of his way, only to call in Rosey and Jamal within seconds to run them down. The team may be most remembered for when they crashed the fake wedding of tag team Billy & Chuck and attacked Stephanie McMahon, who was there to witness.
Later, Rosey would team with The Hurricane, Shane Helms’ superhero persona, and become a “Superhero In Training,” or “S.H.I.T.” Very clever, WWE.
10 Mike Awesome And Horace Hogan
Plenty of people in the WWE Universe will remember the late Mike Awesome fondly as one of the greatest ECW performers ever, winning the ECW Tag Team Championship as well as the ECW World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions.He was also known for having successes in both WCW and WWE, where he won the Hardcore Championship, in the early 2000s. But just who the hell is Horace Hogan?
Horace Hogan is the real life cousin of Mike Awesome and legitimate nephew of WWE Hall of Famer and wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, and the latter relationship was worked into storylines in World Championship Wrestling during the “Monday night wars” in the late ‘90s. Though Horace would briefly compete in both ECW and WWE (in 1993 he was known as The Predator), his WCW stint was the most notable time in his professional wrestling career, as he was tied to Hulk and the legendary New World Order.
9 Rikishi and Manu
The WWE Hall of Famer we remember as Rikishi has a storied history with the biggest wrestling company in the world. He debuted for WWE in 1992 as one half of The Headshrinkers, alongside his partner and cousin Samu. The team competed for several years and eventually, in 1999, Rikishi Fatu was born and partnered with Scotty 2 Hotty and Grand Master Sexay. The trio, known as Too Cool, would dance before and after matches and it would be Rikishi’s defining run in the business.
As a member of the Anoa’i dynasty, Rikishi obviously has plenty of family in professional wrestling. One of his cousins, Manu, may be remembered for his brief WWE run where he teamed with Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr., in 2008 in the group known as The Legacy. His stint with the company didn’t last long and as he was soon released, allegedly due to attitude problems.
8 Naomi and Tamina Snuka
This one is stretching things just a bit, as this is a relation by marriage. Tamina Snuka started with WWE in 2010 and had big shoes to fill as the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. She feuded with Natalya and later aligned herself with Divas Champion AJ Lee. Early in her career, she also managed her cousins Jimmy and Jey Uso, which is where the connection between Tamina and Naomi can be made.
Naomi, who got started on an all-female season of NXT, now competes regularly in WWE’s women’s division. In 2014, she married Jimmy Uso, making her the cousin-in-law of Tamina Snuka. In 2015, this relation started being used in storylines as the two women began teaming up and referring to themselves as “family.” For a time, they were joined by popular female Superstar Sasha Banks and known as Team BAD. Banks has since left the team and both Naomi and Tamina have been dealing with recent injuries.
7 Rocky Johnson and Sika
As the Anoa’i family continues to dominate the list, we turn to The Wild Samoans. Afa and Sika are a legendary tag team, having been three time WWE Tag Team Champions. They were iconic heels in the 1990s and, in fact, were real life brothers. Each of them has sons well known in the wrestling world, namely Sika’s son and three-time WWE Champion Roman Reigns. Sika has been referenced on WWE television a handful of times in recent storylines involving Reigns.
And then we have Rocky Johnson, Sika’s cousin by marriage. Johnson is a WWE Hall of Famer and the father of a man we all know as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Rocky was notably part of a tag team with Tony Atlas, a team that actually defeated The Wild Samoans in 1983 for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Sika and Rocky Johnson’s relationship as cousins-in-law is obviously how the connection is made between their sons The Rock and Roman Reigns, whose family relation has been made very public by WWE.
6 The Undertaker And Imposter Undertaker
Mark Calaway, known and revered all over the world as The Undertaker, is probably the most respected performer in all of professional wrestling. For nearly twenty years he’s been at the top of WWE’s food chain, but most fans agree his first few years were the creepiest. The Undertaker played a sort of undead mortician and he really looked the part. In 1994, the WWE Universe was still in awe of his eerie presence when the company decided to bring in an impostor and have the “Dead Man” fight himself.
The fake Undertaker was played by a wrestler, who is actually a cousin of Calaway, named Brian Lee, who later would compete in ECW and again in WWE under the name Chainz. Lee’s time as the impostor Undertaker, though, is legendary whether or not it was seen as a good decision at the time. The two versions of the Undertaker wrestled at SummerSlam that year, with the real Undertaker winning.
5 Deuce And The Usos
A lot is made of Jimmy and Jey Uso being cousins of Roman Reigns on WWE television these days. The twin brothers, who are two-time WWE Tag Team Champions and have played a big hand in revitalizing the tag team division, are also the sons of WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi and part of that same infamous Samoan lineage. But were you aware that one of their many family members in the wrestling industry is their cousin and former WWE Superstar Deuce?
Just who is Deuce? He was one half of the team Deuce & Domino, who dominated as WWE Tag Team Champions themselves for a while and famously feuded with Paul London and Brian Kendrick. After their run as a tag team came to an end, Deuce wrestled briefly under the name Sim Snuka. That’s right, he’s the son of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and brother to current WWE Superstar TaminaSnuka.
5. Matt Bentley And Shawn Michaels
Unless you watched a decent amount of TNA in the mid-2000s, you may have missed Matt Bentley. After occasionally serving as a “jobber” talent for WWE, Bentley joined TNA’s X Division, which is sort of like the company’s equivalent to a Cruiserweight division which doesn’t always enforce weight limits, making it more about the style of high-paced, high-risk offense. Bentley, who originally went by the name Michael Shane, was with the company from 2003 to 2007, when both the company and the X Division itself were at their respective peaks. During this time Bentley was a two time X Division Champion and was involved in many classic battles for the title, as well as being a member of several memorable tag teams.
One fact that kept creeping to the surface during Matt Bentley’s time in the limelight is that he was trained by WWE Hall of Famer “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, who also happens to be Bentley’s cousin. These days, Matt seems to be retired from professional wrestling.
4 Umaga And Roman Reigns
One more time to revisit the great Anoa’i family, Roman Reigns’ family relations to the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jimmy and Jey Uso have been made abundantly obvious through constant references on WWE television. The three time WWE Champion has certainly rounded up his share of controversy with WWE trying its hardest to push him as a fan favorite when the audience just does not want to accept him, but the WWE Universe knows the history his blood carries.
Whether the fans are aware of the Samoan blood line or not, though, it’s difficult to keep track of the extensive Anoa’i family tree. For instance, it might be interesting to note that Roman’s brother Rosey was a former WWE Superstar who competed in a tag team known as 3 Minute Warning with their cousin Jamal. Jamal then went on to a successful singles career as the “Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga.
3 Davey Boy Smith And Dynamite Kid
In the early years of the golden age after WrestleMania took pro wrestling into the mainstream spotlight, a sensational new tag team was sweeping through the WWE. Known as The British Bulldogs, Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid captured the WWE World Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 2 by defeating Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. This and future matches featuring The Bulldogs would go down in history as some of the best tag team matches WWE has ever seen. Unfortunately, Dynamite Kid suffered an injury that would lead to the British Bulldogs losing all momentum.
The Bulldogs were actually legitimate cousins. Smith also married into the famous Hart family and upon Dynamite Kid’s injury, he demanded that The Bulldogs lose the Tag Team titles to Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, The Hart Foundation.
2 The Honky Tonk Man and Jerry “The King” Lawler
Jerry “The King” Lawler’s legacy is legendary. Before coming to WWE in the early 1990s he had already built a career worthy of professional wrestling royalty, notable for multiple World Championships and a feud with comedian Andy Kaufman. But when Lawler began doing commentary for WWE he would embark upon the role for which he would be most known. His time beside “Good Ol'” Jim Ross during The Attitude Era in the late ‘90s is likely his most famous work.
Then there’s his cousin, WWE legend Honky The Tonk Man. The Elvis impersonator character was hugely successful in the 1980s and saw Honky Tonk Man have the longest Intercontinental Championship reign in history, a record still held today. He was also a part of a tag team with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine called Rhythm and Blues. He’s one of the era’s most iconic and identifiable names and faces, and some level of controversy surrounds his lack of induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
1 The Rock And Nia Jax
The Anoa’i dynasty has had more of an impact in building the professional wrestling industry than perhaps any other family. The McMahons created the great WWE empire and the Harts poured their souls into making something respectful out of the sport, but for the extensive Anoa’i family, wrestling is a way of life. It runs deep, as evidenced by the countless members of the family tree who have been consistently filling WWE’s roster with invaluable talent for decades.
One needs to look no further than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for an example of this influence. The Rock is one of the top five most famous wrestling names to ever live, having given the business years of unforgettable moments and matches. His praises need not be sung.
One of WWE’s most recent up and coming Superstars happens to be another one of The Rock’s cousins, and her name is Nia Jax. Nia has been dominant throughout her run in NXT and has since made the jump to RAW. She’s being credited with changing what it means to be a woman in WWE. If her family history is any indication, Nia Jax is destined for greatness.