Professional wrestling has long been handed down between generations. Look at some of the big promoters … the Crocketts, Jarretts and McMahons … second, third and fourth generation respectively in the business. I’m a total mark and listen to a bunch of wrestling podcasts as a good mark does. Steve Austin, Jim Ross and Chris Jericho talk of how difficult it was to get into the business being an outsider, which is probably why I’m not writing for WWE or Lucha Underground. Some though had an inside track. Many of the children of wrestlers, growing up together inside the locker room, have gone on to star in the WWE. The Usos (sons of Rikishi), Bray Wyatt & Bo Dallas (sons of Mike Rotunda), Curtis Axel (son of Mr. Perfect) just to name a few. But remember that for every Charlotte, there’s a David Flair who just never lived up to Ric’s reputation.
Speaking of Charlotte, she’s an amazing performer, but her father is one of, if not the best professional wrestler of all time. While she may be the Divas champ she’s got a long way to go to even get near the 16-time World Champ. So this is all you’ll likely be reading about the stylin and profilin, limousine ridin, jet flyin … you get it. WOOOOO!
In some rare cases though, children outshine their parents even those that come from pretty well-known families. Vince McMahon has done way more with the WWE than his father ever dreamed of. I always love seeing how the younger generations will perform with the spotlight on them. You hear that name and instantly think of their famous parent and what they did in the ring. Sometimes it looks like people will take off and then they stall, but this list is dedicated to those who broke through the wall and forged their own path.
But enough of my blathering on like I’m some sort of wrestling historian (please think of me as a wrestling historian) and onto the Top 15 Wrestlers Surpassed by Their Kids!
15 "Bullet" Bob Armstrong
Some may disagree that any of his sons werebetter than “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, but the “Road Dogg” Jesse James was a major part of the Attitude Era as a member of Degeneration-X. Alongside Billy Gunn as the New Age Outlaws, James held the WWE World Tag Team titles five times between 1997 and 2000. The team also had a run with the WWE Tag Team title in 2014. James accomplished some things on his own as well holding the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight and Hardcore titles. Bullet Bob held some regional titles and is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, but never achieved the notoriety of “Road Dogg” who could end up being inducted into the Hall of Fame as well.
14 Saraya Knight
Yes, Saraya Knight is a fantastic wrestler and world champion who continues to compete around the globe, but her daughter Paige is on the road to mega stardom. Saraya placed third in the 2013 PWI Female 50. The following year Paige was number 1 when she reigned as the first NXT Women’s Champion and in her first of two runs with the WWE Divas Championship. She’s also gotten an amazing amount of exposure from the TV show Total Divas. Paige likely has a lot of years ahead of her and looks to be headed towards a storied career.
13 Jerry Jarrett
Jerry Jarrett didn’t shine all that much as a wrestler, but he definitely made a name for himself as a promoter in the south. His son Jeff has been wrestling for three decades and is known around the globe. Look, to be honest, I’m not really a fan of Jeff Jarrett, but perhaps that just shows he’s doing his job. Double-J made his name in the south before making it to the WWE in the 90s where he held the Intercontinental, European and Tag Team championship belts. He later held the WCW World Heavyweight title four times, but Jeff’s character was just so annoying. He was like the kid who’s always yelling so someone will pay attention to him. Vince McMahon has made it pretty clear that Jarrett will likely never be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but he’s done well nonetheless.
12 Joe Blanchard
Blanchard wrestled and promoted in the San Antonio area, but his greatest accomplishment may be as the father of the greatest Television Title holder in the history of professional wrestling, Tully Blanchard. Sure, there’s no way to quantify it as fact, but who’s disputing this? Watch his matches with Dusty Rhodes from 1985/86. Blanchard won every major title in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling outside of the Heavyweight title during the promotions 80’s heyday. He also held tag team gold with Arn Anderson in the NWA and WWE, the latter coming after defeating Demolition to end the longest reign in WWE tag title history. Was Joe a member of the Four Horsemen? Is Joe in the WWE and NWA Halls of Fame? Nope.
11 Dos Caras
Don’t get me wrong, Dos Caras is a legend in Mexico. He’s won a bunch of titles in a number of promotions, but his son, Alberto Del Rio is a superstar. The guy’s got the goods inside the ring and out. Vignettes introducing Del Rio to the WWE audience showed he could talk and once he stepped into the ring, we knew he could wrestle. Del Rio has won major titles in the U.S., Mexico and elsewhere. He’s a multi-time world champ in the WWE and has won the Money in the Bank and Royal Rumble matches. Del Rio riles up a crowd with his arrogance better than most and backs it up in the squared circle. Considering his accomplishments so far, one would assume Del Rio will be a Hall of Famer when all is said and done.
10 Mike DiBiase
Sure he’s never legitimately held a major heavyweight title, but mention the Million Dollar Man and people across the globe know who you’re talking about. Can’t say the same about his adopted father Iron Mike DiBiase or mother Helen Hild, both pro wrestlers. The younger DiBiase was a solid territory wrestler in the 70s and 80s also spending time with the WWE and All Japan Pro Wrestling. In 1985, DiBiase won the Real World Tag League tournament with Stan Hansen and the pair held the Pacific Wrestling Federation World Tag Team titles for nearly two years. During his second WWE run, the Million Dollar Man won the 1988 King of the Ring and held the World Tag Team title three times with I.R.S. And who didn’t love it when DiBiase would prove that everyone had a price?
9 Larry “the Axe” Hennig
I seriously don’t think I’ve met a wrestling fan that doesn’t like Mr. Perfect. The elder Hennig may be most well-known for winning the AWA World Tag Team belts with Harley Race three times in the 60s. Performing alongside his father Larry, Curt got his start wrestling in the AWA. It wasn’t long before he was holding the promotion’s World Tag Team belts with Scott Hall and later the AWA World Heavyweight title. When he got to the WWE, Mr. Perfect shined in and out of the ring. His vignettes are legendary and his second run with the WWF Intercontinental Championship lasted nearly a year from 1990-91. In 2011, Hennig was named to the WWE Hall of Fame.
8 Grizzly Smith
If you’ve seen Beyond the Mat, you know that Grizzly’s relationship with his son Jake “the Snake” Roberts was complicated to say the least. Smith won some regional titles during his run, but never achieved national fame. Roberts never held a title during his run in the WWE, but is recognized as one of the best of his era, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. Chris Jericho and Diamond Dallas Page have spoken of how influential Roberts was as a master of in-ring psychology. Seriously, I’m not messing with anyone who carries around a snake in a bag or innovated the DDT.
7 Gory Guerrero
The patriarch of the Guerrero family was a star in his own right, but his sons cemented the name as legendary. All four Guerrero brothers are accomplished wrestlers, but there’s always one who stands out from the bunch and Eddie was that guy. Latino Heat should have been a megastar in WCW (alongside the rest of the cruiserweights) but it took a jump to the WWE to show everyone that he could be the man. Eddie is a WWE Grand Slam Champion holding the World Heavyweight title, Tag Team belt, Intercontinental, United States and European Championships. He held titles in WCW and ECW and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
6 Dory Funk Sr.
Dory Sr. did some wrestling and ran a promotion in Amarillo, Tx teaching his boys the ropes but didn’t do much outside regional work. His sons though are the only siblings to hold the NWA World Heavyweight title. Dory’s reign lasted more than four years after beating Gene Kiniski in 1969. Terry held the strap for 14 months from 1975-77. The duo won the first AJPW Real World Tag League tournament and claimed the title again two more times. The Funk’s had a short WWF run, winning the lead up match to Wrestlemania 2’s main event. Terry vs. Lawler in an empty arena from 1981 is completely brilliant insanity. The Funk’s vs. Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody is a must-watch. Terry was moonsaulting when he was like 100 years old. Both have been inducted into Halls of Fame around the globe. Seriously, it’s easier to speak of what the Funk’s didn’t accomplish.
5 Warren Bockwinkel
Thanks to ESPN Classic, I’ve been able to enjoy countless hours of AWA wrestling programming and the work of Warren’s son Nick Bockwinkel. Warren wrestled and trained Nick, but isn’t as regarded as his son who has been inducted to numerous Halls of Fame. Nick was a mainstay in the AWA, forming a legendary tag team with Ray “the Crippler” Stevens. The pair won the promotion’s World Tag Team Championship three times. Promoter Verne Gage is the only person to hold the AWA World Heavyweight title more than Nick who had four reigns with the strap. Gagne’s own son Greg held it a grand total of zero times.
4 Angelo Poffo
Angelo Poffo wrestled across the U.S. and won a number of regional titles from the 50s-80s. He’s even been inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame and Cauliflower Alley Club, but his son, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, stood out like no other. Who comes out dressed in hot pink tassels, speaking to the camera like a man possessed?! Macho’s delivery was captivating, all the way back to his days in Memphis, when he was a lunatic like Terry Funk trying to take down Jerry Lawler. He was a superstar in the WWE and WCW holding the top title in both promotions. Seriously, he’s another guy whose name you mention and everyone knows who he is.
3 Bob Orton Jr.
Don’t get me wrong, Cowboy Bob Orton was a fantastic wrestler, heavily involved in the WrestleMania I & II main events. He was the 1973 PWI Rookie of the Year and inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. But let’s be honest, his son Randy (the 2001 PWI Rookie of the Year) is a superstar. The dude has held the WWE World Heavyweight title eight times and the former World Heavyweight title four times. He’s won the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank Ladder Match. As a heel, almost nobody has been as good as Randy over the past decade. No doubt when the Viper hangs up his boots, he’ll be joining his father in the WWE Hall of Fame as one of the best ever.
2 Stu Hart
Hart is the patriarch of a wrestling dynasty, training his boys and others who reached the mountain top. Stu wasn’t much of a wrestler in his own right, but his sons Bret and Owen took the training and launched themselves into superstardom. The “Hitman” was the gem, a technical marvel. All you have to do is watch his rivalries with Steve Austin or Shawn Michaels. You could love or hate Bret in the blink of an eye. Bret won the WWF World Tag Team title twice as a member of the Hart Foundation. He’s a former Intercontinental champion, King of the Ring winner, two-time Royal Rumble winner and of course five-time WWF World Heavyweight champion, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
1 Rocky Johnson
Rocky Johnson held a number of regional titles as well as the WWF Tag Team Championship. He was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but come on. We’re talking about The Rock here. Did anyone expect Rocky Maivia to become the mega star he is? If someone said that guy was going to be a Hollywood star people would have said you were crazy. Since 2010 The Rock’s movies have grossed more than $1.5-billion. BILLION! He’s held the WWE World Heavyweight Title eight times in addition to the Intercontinental Championship, tag team titles and winning the Royal Rumble. He’s headlined a number of WrestleMania events. There’s really no arguing that The Rock surpassed his father by a mile.