The wrestling industry’s like one big family, and if you look at the number of family connections that people have with each other, you can say it is quite literally a family.
It’s a tough life for a wrestler – it’s certainly not all glitz and glamor. The majority of a wrestler’s year is spent on the road traveling to and from events, so it can be difficult meeting someone, starting a relationship and making it work. Not many would understand the life a wrestler leads – well, they might understand but most would eventually go on to resent it. But who would understand the life of a wrestler? A fellow wrestler. Being around each other at the same events, leading the same sort of lifestyle – it’s easy for paths to cross. That’s why there’s plenty of hook-ups and more substantial relationships between wrestlers within the industry. Wrestling couples get married, have kids, and the kids grow up and want to emulate their parents. Meanwhile the parents have brothers and sisters, they might introduce them to friends in the industry, and hey presto, another relationship starts and the family tree begins to get even bigger. There are consequently tons of connections – family ties between this wrestler and that one; these are 15 family ties you probably weren’t aware of.
15 John Laurinaitis – Daniel Bryan
Current WWE senior producer, John Laurinaitis, had a decent in-ring career. A lot of his family members are also in the industry; his older brother, Joe, is known as Road Warrior Animal of The Road Warriors, and Marcus, known as The Terminator also took to the ring in the 90s. There are plenty of connections there, but in May of last year, there was a new addition to the Laurinaitis family – well, new additions. Laurinaitis got married to a woman called Kathy Colace who’s the mom of Nikki and Brie Bella. Since Brie’s married to Daniel Bryan, this makes Daniel and John in-laws.
It'd be interesting to see how things pan out with John Cena and Nikki Bella. It’s common knowledge that they’re dating and they’ve been dating for many years – it’s just a case of when John pops the question. Cena and Laurinaitis have had their run-ins in the past, so them being in-laws would certainly contribute to this already quite weird wrestling family dynamic.
14 Greg Valentine – Brian Knobbs
Greg Valentine rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during his time in the industry, but no one can argue with the fact that – after amassing over 40 championships, that he’s a deserved Hall of Famer and one of the best wrestlers to have stepped foot in the ring.
Brian Knobbs wasn’t too bad himself. He found success mainly in the tag team divisions of various promotions with his partner in crime, Jerry Sags, as members of The Nasty Boys.
Neither of the two have yet officially retired, although decades of in-ring action have certainly taken their toll, meaning their appearances are becoming increasingly sporadic.
So, how are these two wrestling superstars connected? Apart from their similar attitudes, blonde hair and tubby frames, they’re in-laws. Knobbs is married to Greg Valentine’s wife’s sister, making the two brothers in-law.
13 The Sheik - Sabu
Looking at their similarly brutal styles and ring attire, many would suspect there was some kind of connection between The Sheik and Sabu. Those suspicions would be right, as the original Sheik was Sabu's uncle. While The Sheik was plying his trade in the Detroit, Michicag area, Sabu would learn his reckless style from his uncle. Sabu would train with Rob Van Dam under his uncle and would learn the business the hard way, making his name in Japanese death matches before making his way to ECW.
Sabu teamed with his uncle in several matches, including a Ring of Fire Deathmatch against Atsushi Onita and Tarzan Goto. After going through rigors like that, it's no wonder Sabu was eventually known as the suicidal, homicidal, genocidal, death defying maniac.
12 The Rock – Rikishi
Talking of huge wrestling families, if the Harts are the biggest, the Anoaʻi family certainly isn’t too far behind.
There are a ton of connections within this family and trying to get to grips with all of them would be like trying to unravel a tangled ball of string – it’d be mightily confusing and time-consuming. But here it goes; both Rikishi and The Rock are members of this prominent wrestling family and therefore have family ties to one another – here’s how.
Peter Maivia was a "blood brother" of Amituanai Anoa'i, the father of the Wild Samoans, so he was considered a member of the Anoa’i family. Peter’s daughter began dating Rocky Johnson, they got married and had a son Dwayne Johnson.
I’ve talked about the Wild Samoans, and Rikishi’s a direct blood relative of theirs. He’s their nephew, and this means that Rikishi and The Rock have family ties; they may not be blood related, but go back a few generations and that’s where the connection between The Rock’s grandad and Rikishi’s great uncle was established.
11 Ric Flair – Bram
Ric Flair cultivated a legacy for himself over a career that spanned four decades and saw him rise to the top as one of the best wrestlers in history. He’s currently still involved with WWE, and probably always will be in some capacity or other, but rather than taking to the ring, today’s he’s content to cheer on his kids, namely David, who’s currently wrestling on the indies, and Ashley, who goes by the ring name Charlotte Flair. After Charlotte won the Divas Championship, Ric began appearing regularly on our screens – the enthusiastic dad who wanted to bask in the glory of his daughter’s successes. One thing that wasn’t a success in his daughter’s life was her marriage to Thomas Latimer, aka Bram. The two were only married for a couple of years, but there’s the family tie – Bram was once upon a time Ric Flair’s son-in-law.
10 The Honky Tonk Man – Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler’s as good as they come; wrestling in numerous different territories since 1970, Lawler’s amassed an astonishing 168 championships, and is still at the age of 67, doing his thing in the ring – he’s semi-retired and is balancing what’s left of his in-ring career with his commentating duties.
The Honky Tonk Man had more than a decent in-ring career too and is still going strong – well, reasonably strong at the age of 64 – on the independent circuit around the globe. Despite the number of championships they each have to their names, their careers have followed a somewhat similar path. Look at them both and you’ll be able to tell that they look pretty similar too. That’s because they’re blood-related; the two are first cousins.
9 Dusty Rhodes – Jerry Sags
I’ve already mentioned how Jerry Sags rose to fame as a member of The Nasty Boys. Together they ruled the roost in the tag team division in various different territories – together they were unstoppable on their way to titles and championships, but Jerry’s singles career was non-existent.
Dusty Rhodes achieved legendary status in the world of wrestling. He’s regarded to be one of the best and his name is currently being continued by his sons, Dustin and Cody, who are with WWE and TNA respectively.
How are Sags and Dusty related? He’s Dusty’s brother-in-law. Dusty’s wife’s sister, Laura, got hitched to Sags and they’re currently living happily together with their four kids out in Florida, right next to Sags’ best buddy, Brian Knobbs. Now that Dusty has passed on, it’d be interesting to know whether the two families still get together.
8 Bo Dallas/Bray Wyatt – Barry Windham
Barry and Kendall Windham had very different careers. Kendall Windham retired in 2002, and during his 18 years in the industry, he didn’t really have a great time of it. He won a few championships here and there with his brother, Barry Windham, but aside from those few accomplishments he enjoyed a less than remarkable career. His dad on the other hand, Blackjack Mulligan, was one of the best. Blackjack may have been a tad disappointed at the way Kendall’s career ended up, but Barry certainly made up for his bro’s lack of titles. Kendall’s nephews are also looking to follow suit.
Barry and Kendall’s sister is the mom of Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt and the two are currently going strong in WWE, with Bo looking for a real push and Bray looking to build on his recent success as WWE Champion.
7 Sam Houston – Jake Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was – and still is to some extent – one of the most iconic wrestlers around. Aside from his accomplishments in the ring – of which there were many – Jake’s brought something new to the ring, and that something was snakes, to go along with his slimy and untrustworthy wrestling personality. Jake’s best days are far behind him, but he’s remained in the limelight, mainly due to his addictions and various health problems and how he’s gone about addressing them.
Jake was an iconic superstar, but Sam Houston certainly isn’t of the same calibre, despite being of the same stock. It’s safe to say a lot of you probably aren’t even aware of who Sam Houston is; he’s not done anything of note in the ring to warrant attention or a fan base – his claim to fame is probably the fact that he’s Jake’s brother – well, half-brother.
6 Paige – Zak Zodiac
Paige is still a baby in the wrestling industry – based on her age and certainly not any lack of experience – but has already accomplished so much – she’s achieved more than most people would over their entire careers.
She’s currently on a hiatus from in-ring competition, but aside from all of that it’s no surprise where she got and how far she climbed in such a short space of time, at the helm of the women’s division. As fans of hers we thank our lucky stars that her mindset changed as a kid from hating and being scared of wrestling to it being all she wanted to do. Paige grew up in a wrestling family, set her mind to following in the footsteps of her parents, and ended up reaching her goals and being mightily successful. Unsurprisingly, being the son of a couple of well-known wrestlers, Zak, Paige’s older brother, followed suit. He mainly wrestles in the UK and around Europe, not that he hasn’t tried to get signed by U.S. promotions; he and his sis went to the same WWE try-outs – Paige got signed, Zak didn’t, but if he takes the feedback he received constructively, we may see him in WWE in the future.
5 Mike Rotunda – Bray Wyatt/Bo Dallas
Mike Rotunda and Bray Wyatt belong to another pretty big wrestling family. I’ve already mentioned Bray and his brother, Bo Dallas, in this article and how they’re affiliated with the Windhams; Kendall’s sister, Stephanie, is their mom. But here come yet another wrestling family connection. Who’s Stephanie married to? Mike Rotunda. Yes, Mike’s Bo’s and Bray’s dad. That also means that the late great Blackjack Mulligan was his father-in-law, Barry and Kendall Windham are his brothers-in-law and that Sarah Bäckman – briefly involved in the industry – was his daughter-in-law. Mike married Stephanie – pretty much the only member of the Windham’s not have become involved in wrestling - and became a part of a legendary wrestling family in the process, a legacy his kids have carried on; the Rotundas – Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt – are a couple of the hottest entities in wrestling at the moment.
4 Cody Rhodes – The Shockmaster
The Shockmaster was and is a mountain of a man – pretty much like Dusty. He’s been retired for quite some time now – ever since WXO folded in 2001 – and isn’t really involved in the industry. He’s ploughed himself into his work as a safety manager for the building cleaning service company, Gaffin Industrial Services, and is today content just living life as a regular Joe. He may no longer be actively involved in anything wrestling-related, but he still has connections – family ties to the wrestling industry. His nephews, by way of marrying Dusty Rhodes’ sister, are Goldust and Cody Rhodes. As you’ve probably worked out from a previous entry, it also makes him and Jerry Sags brothers-in law. Uncle Fred and Uncle Sags – Cody’s got plenty of people he can call upon.
3 The Rock – Nia Jax
Nia Jax was a model and bodybuilder before getting picked up by WWE. It all happened pretty recently; she was signed by WWE in 2014 and began training at their developmental territory, NXT. She made her in-ring debut around a year later as Zada before changing her ring name to Nia Jax.
She’s still a rookie in terms of her wrestling experience, so it’s unreasonable to criticise the fact she’s won nowt, but she’s making strides and is already part of the main roster. Nia’s career is going from strength to strength, and one person who’s been watching her progression through the ranks with keen interest and has been cheering her on, is none other than Dwayne Johnson. Nia and Dwayne are cousins; her aunt is Ata Maivia-Johnson – Dwayne’s mom – which also makes Nia a member of the Anoaʻi family. For a woman who’s just starting out, The Rock isn’t a bad person to have in your corner!
2 Grizzly Smith – Jake Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts has a lot more wrestling connections that many of you are probably aware of. His isn’t the biggest wrestling family, but they’ve all been involved – Jake, his dad and his siblings – in wrestling at one point or another.
I’ve mentioned that Jake and Sam Houston are half-brothers. They have the same dad, Grizzly Smith, who was a fierce competitor during what seems like many moons ago in the 1960s. Unsurprisingly, as is the case with most children who have a wrestler as a parent, Jake and Sam wanted to follow in their father’s footsteps, and they did just that, as did their sister, Rockin' Robin. For a period of time in the 80s they all wrestled in WWE together, but it was only really Jake who kicked on and made his mark in wrestling history.
1 Mike Awesome - Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster’s someone who didn’t really have any family ties in the wrestling industry – he got to the top on his own and stood there alone – he didn’t have that family support within the wrestling industry like many on this list have had or still have today.
But seeing a family member do so well in the industry meant the youngsters in Hogan’s family wanted to follow suit. Hogan’s brother, Alan Bollea, was the man who was known as Horace Hogan’s dad, meaning The Hulkster is Horace’s uncle.
The late, Michael "Mike Awesome" Alfonso, was Horace’s cousin; the two were inseparable as kids and pushed each other to get into the industry, which they did, although neither got close to emulating Hulk Hogan’s successes – not many have done so.
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