Wrestling has long been a family business. The old territories were filled with sons who took over for their fathers and often got a big push because of the connections. It’s clear many had great training to push themselves up and get a good start. However, others aren’t quite up to the standards of their parents and fade. Yet in some cases, the son can overcome the father in terms of great talent and drive. It’s not just fathers and sons as there are plenty of cases where one wrestler is far better than the others in his family and shines big time. There are plenty of examples but some just stand greater than others.
They can be sons who outshine the fathers or fathers who clearly didn't pass on the talent to their sons. But other cases can be siblings who are far better than their brothers or sisters or other members of their extended clans. Some are true mega-stars, others not as huge but clearly the superior to those in their family line. It shows how sometimes wrestling genes aren’t always equal and some workers just possess something better. Here are 20 wrestlers who were far superior to their family members and show the odd ways wrestling genes can shift about.
20 20. Natalya
We should be clear, this doesn't relate to Natalya's entire family, like her uncles Bret and Owen, but it does apply to her immediate family. While Jim Neidhart was a good worker with the Hart Foundation, he was clearly in the shadow of Bret and not that sensational on his own. But he was a member of the Hart clan by marriage so it was no surprise at least one of his kids would follow him into the business. It was Natalya who took to training with zeal.
19 19. Jake Roberts
18 18. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler had a rough start in WWE, starting as “Nicky” with The Spirit Squad although he showed skills and was sent to FCW for more training. Named Dolph Ziggler, Nemeth soon rose much higher, both as heel and face, with runs as IC, US and World champion and became one of the more popular guys on the roster. His brother, Randy Nemeth, was also hired, training in FCW and WWE seemed to have hopes for him joining Ziggler on the main roster.
17 17. Tully Blanchard
Blanchard’s father, Joe, had been the star of the American Wrestling Association and a top promoter although his fame outside the territory wasn’t that big. Tully naturally wanted to join the business and after training, joined the Southwest Championship Wrestling promotion Joe ran. Tully really hit the big time when he joined Jim Crockett Promotions, basically selling himself as a rich guy jerk. He was one of the first “cool heels". He was cocky and arrogant but backed his actions up in the ring.
16 16. Carlito
15 15. Curt Hennig
Hennig got a good start in wrestling as his father was Larry “the Axe” Hennig, a major star for the American Wrestling Association. Trained by his dad and Verne Gagne, Hennig rose up well as tag team champ and then turning heel for a good run as AWA World champion. But in WWE, he found his greatest success as he was suited for the role of “Mr. Perfect.” Any match with Hennig was terrific to watch, He was skilled and his arrogant promos were terrific. His runs as Intercontinental Champion were great as he had top matches with the best stars of the time and brought real prestige to the IC title. He was marred by a back injury but came back well and his WCW runs included being US champ and showing more of his great skills off.
14 14. David Von Erich
The Von Erich family name has become synonymous with tragedy. Of the five brothers who got into the business, only Kevin remains alive, with three of the others dying by their own hand. Drug use, the push of fame and Fritz refusing to see their issues all contributed to how these tragedies came about. The main three brothers were Kevin, Kerry and David. Kerry looked amazingly sculpted but was hurt by his addictions while Kevin had health issues.
13 13. Randy Savage
As the sons of Angelo Poffo, Randy and Lanny were pushed into the business although Randy had considered a career in baseball. They both had good physical skills but Randy just excelled far more. Better was that Randy was utterly sensational on the mic, his promos stunning to watch as he’d growl and boast of his greatness while backing it all up inside the ring. After time in Portland and Memphis, Savage moved to WWE and in no time was one of the biggest stars in the company. He had a long run as IC champ, a run as WWE champ and his time as the “Macho King” established him as a true legend.
12 12. Dustin Rhodes
Dusty Rhodes had more skill than fans gave him credit for as evidenced by his years of experience and ability to carry a 60-minute match. However, his ring skills were rough as was his chunky appearance. Dustin had a slow start but would soon showcase he was a much better worker than his father, faster and able to run well as US, TV and tag team champion in WCW. In WWE, he was ahead of his time creating the character of Goldust, rocking fans with this bizarre appearance, his promos strange yet you couldn’t look away from them.
11 11. Eddie Guerrero
The Guerrero clan was born for wrestling, Gory leading the way in the business, invented the Camel Clutch and a sensational Mexican star. This led to more of his family getting into the business like Chavo and others. Yet Eddie was something else, a truly gifted worker with his high flying and a sensational technical star. His feud with Rey Mysterio in WCW is still legendary although his personal problems would take a toll on him. In WWE, he hit rock bottom but then rebuilt his life, getting sober and soon winning fans over with his “Lie, Cheat, Steal” persona that made him more popular than ever.
10 10. Bray Wyatt
Fans still do a double take when they hear about this. Bo Dallas was a good NXT champion but hurt in WWE by the attempts to make him a “motivational” type although his new heel turn is helping. But fans are amazed to find out he and Bray Wyatt are brothers. Bray started off just as bad as “Husky Harris” and his time with The Nexus was limited. But a makeover transformed him into the bizarre character fans have taken to with his great promos, wild ring style and showcasing a strange appeal. It hasn’t led to gold yet but his segments are always a winner with fans and he’s proven himself a main eventer with his various feuds with stars like John Cena, Undertaker and others.
9 9. Jeff Hardy
True, his personal life can be a real mess. However, it’s clear Jeff is the better of the two Hardy Brothers in the ring. They came to WWE together, mostly used for filler bouts and jobber talent until they started to get a push in 1999. Soon, their double-team moves and high flying were winning fans as they won the tag titles several times. Their TLC battles are still the stuff of legend and when they moved to being singles workers, Jeff was clearly the favorite. While good technically and his high-flying moves astounding, it’s his daredevil spirit fans can never get enough of. This is a man who willingly leaps off 20 foot ladders through tables, going through brutal and bloody battles and comes back for more. It’s led to runs as the world champion in both WWE and TNA although his personal issues of drug use and arrests have hurt his standing with fans.
8 8. The Rock
The Anoa’i family is among the more famous of the various Samoan clans. Like others, they have an innate toughness and strength that’s carried them well into wrestling. The clan members have included Deuce, Rikishi, Rosey, Umaga, Yokozuna and Roman Reigns. Yet it’s obvious that Dwayne Johnson is the best of all of them. He was already skilled as a high-flyer when he entered WWE but was marred by the attempts to push him as a clean-cut babyface which audiences hated.
7 7. Booker T
6 6. Scott Steiner
Rick Steiner had been showing his stuff in the UWF and then WCW, winning the TV title and impressing with his skills. But when he joined with brother Scott, it was absolutely amazing how Scott was clearly the better of the two. Well-muscled, he was a strongman but backed it up with great high-flying skills and also a stunning mix of technical work. His Frankensteiner finisher was something never seen before in the U.S. and fans were rocked at how well he handled great matches.
5 5. Terry Funk
Dory Funk Sr. was a great worker who also pushed one of the best promotions in Texas that featured numerous young stars. Among them were his sons, Dory Jr. and Terry, the only two brothers to separately hold the NWA World title. Dory Jr. was a great worker, skilled and technical but Terry was easily his superior in many ways. Insanely tough and wild, Terry could put on a five star match one night, then a full-scale bloody brawl the next to incite a crowd to riot.
4 4. Owen Hart
It may seem easy to say Bret was the best of the Hart family. But Bret himself would say in interviews that when it came to pure talent, Owen was his superior. He too was a fantastic technical worker, trained by their dad in his legendary “Dungeon” and thus amazingly tough. However, Owen possessed a flying attack Bret didn’t, taking to the ropes with amazing leaping and fantastic speed. He should have gotten a bigger push when he joined WWE but was stuck with the Blue Blazer gimmick then bad tag teams like High Energy despite Bret trying to push him more.
3 3. Barry Windham
As the son of Blackjack Mulligan, Windham and brother Kendall both got the wrestling bug and were trained by their father. While Kendall was okay, it was clear Barry was the true star. Tall and lean, he was a skilled worker who shone wonderfully in the ring, taking off as a handsome presence as he and Mike Rotunda held the WWE tag team titles twice. In the NWA/WCW, Windham found further fame, especially when he turned into a great heel, winning the US title as part of The Four Horsemen.
2 2. Charlotte
It’s an amazing irony that for years, WCW tried to make David Flair a star but the son of the Nature Boy was a skinny and utterly terrible performer. It’s now clear it was Charlotte who inherited her dad’s gifts. Utterly gorgeous with lush blonde hair, she is a great ring technician who can push any match to a top one with her skill. More importantly, Charlotte is also fantastic on the mic, delivering good promos and easily sliding into her role as the arrogant heel.
1 1. Randy Orton
Orton is a unique thing in wrestling, a third-generation star who is clearly far, far better than his grandfather and father. Bob Orton and Bob Orton Jr. were good workers but pretty much just mid-card talent, Orton Jr best known as the cast-wearing lackey for Roddy Piper. Randy, however, has proven himself far better than his forbearers. He is a fantastic worker, battling through multiple injuries to become a multiple champion in WWE, his RKO is a sensational finisher that even inspired its own popular Internet meme.
Orton is a great heel and can work as a face, a main-eventer who’s done just about everything in the company. It’s obvious Bob Jr. is proud of his son as he should be, as he has given the Orton name more prominence than it ever had before.
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