In the intricately scripted world of professional wrestling, most fans know to never take anything WWE tells them at face value. Even if it’s happening outside of “kayfabe,” on WWE.com, a podcast, or some other unofficial media, there’s always a chance wrestlers are lying about minor details regarding their lives or careers. Sometimes, it’s minor issues like being offered title reigns that never came to pass, while in other instances, Hulk Hogan claims André the Giant died a few days after WrestleMania III.
On top of these career related issues, some wrestlers will even lie about their family trees, claiming people they are in absolutely no way related to are cousins, siblings, and even “identical” twins. This gets all the more confusing for the fact many of these family ties do exist within the WWE Universe, thanks to Vince McMahon’s penchant for nepotism and promoting legacy performers. In some cases, all a top superstar has to make them special is their bloodline, but that’s often all Vince cares about.
It’s no wonder, then, that so many of them would lie about their family names. Oddly enough, a few of the fake relatives look and act more alike than the real ones, making it extra hard to tell which is which. To separate reality from fiction, keep reading for 15 wrestling family relationships that were real and 15 that were completely made up.
30 MADE UP: The Boulder Brothers
If there’s any one WWE superstar a budding pro wrestler would want to be related to, it’s Hulk Hogan. Well, so long as he’s not facing any controversies about his racial comments. Even then, the name “Hogan” holds a great deal of weight in sports entertainment, for jump starting the rise of Vince McMahon’s company and spreading Hulkamania worldwide. Surprisingly, it was before any of this happened that Hogan’s former best friend Ed Leslie attempted to siphon his fame and charisma by masquerading as the Hulkster’s brother.
Their exact personas would change from company to company, but Terry/Hulk and Ed/Dizzy would always share the last name and debut as tag team partners. According to Jerry Lawler, they would even try to sell themselves as such in real life to promoters, apparently so the more talented Hogan would ensure his best buddy stayed employed. By the time they hit it big in WWE, the jig was pretty much up, but Hogan continued including a paycheck for Brutus Beefcake/The Booty Man/The Disciple/etc. as an unspoken condition before signing any contracts for decades to come. Eventually, various stressors would lead to their friendship falling apart and the two becoming minor enemies, but luckily for Beefcake, it wasn’t until after their careers were over, so he didn’t need Hogan anymore.
29 REAL: The Bella Twins
Determined to achieve some sort of fame at all costs, had Vince McMahon not taken an interest in The Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie would have found some other entertainment mogul who would. Of course, McMahon did take interest, and a significant one at that, quickly signing the women to developmental contracts despite the fact neither of them officially made the cut in the 2006 Diva Search. Luckily, the two developed into decent wrestlers from there, or at least strong enough personalities that they could mask their mediocre skills with the dramatic flair only a true total diva could possess.
It should be no surprise the Bella Twins had exactly the sort of charisma required to become stars, since as noted, it’s what they had dreamed of doing their entire lives. Said lives began on November 21, 1983, when Nikki was born 16 minutes before Brie. The two have pretty much been inseparable their entire lives, always taking the same classes in school and supporting one another as they sought out a Hollywood agent and looked for fame. The togetherness continued in the ring, where each woman would help the other to at least one reign as WWE Divas Champion. They also continued living together in their adult lives until Brie got married and Nikki started dating John Cena. After they break up, they could even wind up roommates once again.
28 MADE UP: The Godwinns
Before we even get into this one, let’s point out that in addition to The Godwinns specifically, the entire concept of “wrestling hillbillies” may as well be placed on this list, considering Vince McMahon always seems to imply their related in one way or another. For Phineas I. and Henry O, the two were first called cousins and then brothers. Proving the point extended beyond their family, the duo was once managed by Hillbilly Jim, who had his own vast country-fried empire including Cousin Luke and Uncle Elmer, another family that was entirely fictional. Not to be outdone, the Godwinns also had a fictional uncle named Cletus, who was less than 8 years older than either of his alleged nephews.
For as much grief as WWE gets over these silly and absurd gimmicks, McMahon really does seem to love them, always rewarding the lovable goofballs with loads of positive attention. In this regard, the Godwinns actually outdid Hillbilly Jim’s clan, twice winning the WWE Tag Team Championship. Then again, they only held the belts for a grand total of 9 days, so these minor victories didn’t exactly make the family proud. Once the brief reign of the Godwinns was over, WWE admitted the ruse and repackaged the team as the suit wearing Southern Justice, individually using their real names.
27 REAL: The Knight Family
Given which member of the family became most famous, it might be more evocative for WWE fans to refer to this family as the Paige family. Technically speaking, it should be the Bevis family, though none of the members have used their real names inside the squared circle as of yet. However, we’ve gone with the Knights due to where it all began, which is with British independent wrestler Ricky Knight. Along with his wife and Paige’s mother Sweet Saraya, Knight owns his own promotion in England, World Association of Wrestling, where most of the family got their starts in the ring. In addition to Paige, the Knights are also the parents of Zack Zodiac and Zebra Kid, who occasionally team together as the UK Hooligans.
Unfortunately, aside from Paige, few members of the family have managed to achieve all that much success. Aside from the Raven-Haired Renegade, the most successful family member is likely Sweet Saraya, who quietly helped set the tone for the women’s wrestling revolution with strong performances in Shimmer Women’s Athletes and Shine Wrestling, two all-female promotions where she and her daughter both won plenty of gold. Of course, none of it compared to Paige’s two WWE Diva’s Championship, or her iconic status as the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion.
26 MADE UP: The Major Brothers
Should it prove particularly successful, a fake wrestling family can exist for decades and decades, branching out in new and elaborately fictional ways every couple of years. Other times, fans could miss the whole thing if they blinked, with all involved parties immediately moving on to a different gimmick that made no mention of the past. That latter scenario was the case with The Major Brothers, Brian and Brett, better known as Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. Sharing long blonde hair and a general party boy demeanor, the two masqueraded as brothers for barely six months in WWE’s ECW revival.
From there, they were traded to SmackDown, where they were renamed to their more popular personas as members of Edge and Vickie Guerrero’s Familia. Neither man in the duo is all that successful today, but their team did manage to earn a small modicum of success when they defeated John Morrison and The Miz for the WWE Tag Team Championships at The Great American Bash 2008. After losing the belts, the duo were drafted to separate brands and faded apart, rarely interacting from there. Outside of one night only reunions, WWE rarely suggests they have anything in common whatsoever except, perhaps, extremely long losing streaks. Had only the two been real brothers, Vince McMahon’s penchant for nepotism might have helped them out.
25 REAL: The Rhodes Family
Of the many complaints Cody Rhodes had during his tenure with the WWE Universe, the one that made the least sense was the company’s refusal to book an extended program between himself and his brother, Goldust. Whether it happened at a WrestleMania or not, the brothers had trained together and idolized one another their entire lives, and had specifically dreamed of getting to wrestle on a major stage. While that didn’t quite pan out for them, WWE did at least acknowledge their real life connection, also bringing their father, the iconic Dusty Rhodes, into the mix to show how important their family dynasty had been.
Together, Cody and Goldust twice won the WWE Tag Team Championship and participated in a major main event feud against Triple H’s Authority and The Shield. Unfortunately, their fortunes immediately fizzled out when it was over, and Cody felt the family name was no longer being respected. Goldust was presumably used to degradation after nearly 20 years with his bizarre gimmick, but Cody couldn’t handle it much longer, choosing to walk out on WWE in 2016. Although his brother didn’t stand by him physically, given how close and supportive the two have always been to one another, chances are he understands and respects the decision.
24 MADE UP: The Burchill Family
Even when a family is completely and totally fake, there are certain paths decent WWE fans would prefer Vince McMahon never go down with the subject. For example, the mere fact to wrestlers aren’t really brother and sister doesn’t make it any less disturbing to suggest they are by having them regularly get uncomfortably close. That seemed to be where McMahon was going with Paul and Katie Lea Burchill, a short-lived sibling duo known for the catchphrase “whatever Katie wants, Katie gets.” Apparently, this could have included brotherly love, but thankfully, good taste prevailed and WWE dropped the idea.
Surprisingly, for all the controversy the gimmick would bring, the performers involved seemed to think it was a pretty solid idea. While Paul’s reception was only slightly positive, Katie was actually extremely stoked about the gimmick, noting most TV shows with sister-brother love storylines get the performers an incredible amount of attention. That may be true, but WWE doesn’t have the same atmosphere as The Crow, a movie with half-sibling villains Top Dollar and Myca, who Katie thought would be a great basis for their characters if they developed. That said, it’s valid to ask if this whole embarrassing affair was better or worse than pretending to be a pirate, a question only Paul himself could answer.
23 REAL: The Flair Family
Every second or third generation superstar on this half of the list tends to have pretty big shoes to fill when entering the wrestling business, and few can live up to their parent or otherwise older relative’s legacy. Initially, many people assumed this would have to include Charlotte Flair as she attempted to follow in her father Ric’s footsteps, especially after the abject failure of her half brother David when trying to do the same. Shattering these fears, Charlotte instantly proved to be ten times the performer her brother could ever be, and as time went on, it seemed she might even be able to stand next to the old man in the Hall of Fame one day.
It’s going to take Charlotte some time to match her father’s 16 World Championships, but she’s already well on her way as the most decorated female performer in modern history. Charlotte’s also matching the Nature Boy’s penchant for making history, and according to him, she’s even doing a better job of it than he ever did, simply by spearheading the women’s revolution and acting as a role model to female wrestling fans everywhere. It’s almost enough to cancel out David’s lack of success and further Vince McMahon’s theory that talent runs in the family.
22 MADE UP: The Basham Brothers
Truth be told, it’s hard to blame WWE for trying to pretend Doug and Danny Basham were billed as nearly identical twin brothers despite the fact they weren’t actually related in any way. Had they been presented as two different superstars, fans probably would have had trouble telling them apart, since they were almost entirely nondescript as individuals. All the two had was their resemblance to one another, which they someone rode to two reigns as WWE Tag Team Champions, once defeating the legendary Eddie Guerrero to win the belts.
So interchangeable were Doug and Danny that when WWE decided to bring the duo back after a brief hiatus, they were put in helmets and bodysuits as Paul Heyman’s personal security while he opened the ECW brand. Chances are no one even noticed when Danny was injured and replaced by Derek Neikirk, since few people had recognize who they were to begin with. After WWE gave up on the team, TNA did as they are wont to do and tried picking up the pieces, repackaging them as Basham and Damaja. Despite no longer sharing a name, they were still implied to be relatives, but this time around, it wasn’t nearly enough for them to achieve significant success of any kind.
21 REAL: Harlem Heat
While fans of the WWE Universe exclusively may be aware of Booker T’s former tag team with his real-life brother Stevie Ray, one can’t know the full story unless they watched the duo in WCW. Working for Ted Turner, Harlem Heat was without a doubt one of the top units in wrestling history, winning a grand total of 10 WCW Tag Team Championships, a record no other act could even come close to matching. WCW was hardly the brothers’ first rodeo, as they had already begun honing their craft together as the Ebony Experience by working for Global Force Wrestling in Texas.
Although they trained together, came to fame together, and achieved their earliest successes as a unit, one thing that has always marred Harlem Heat’s reputation is the vast talent differential most fans see in the family’s members. Booker T is a five time, five time, five time, five time, five time WCW Champion, in addition to countless other accolades, while Stevie never found any fame outside of his younger brother’s shadow. From day one, critics noticed Booker did all the hard lifting in matches and Stevie merely looked tough, showing WCW was as quick to push people based on nepotism and family relations as their rivals in WWE. Of course, for a star like Booker, it may have been worth it.
20 MADE UP: The Benjamin Family
No matter how outrageously fake a wrestling family may be, if WWE or whatever company presenting the idea plays it right, there’s at least a small chance some fans will believe it on face value. Well, with one particularly outrageous example, anyway. For no particular reason, just when it looked like Shelton Benjamin was about to break through to the main event, Vince McMahon decided to turn the immensely talented athlete into a full-on comedy character by introducing his overbearing “Mama” to mess up his matches. As if that wasn’t a bad idea already, McMahon insured everyone would no how absurd it was from day one by hiring well known actress and stand-up comedienne Thea Vidale to play the role.
Surprisingly, Shelton’s “Mama” technically helped out his career in the sense she interfered in the match where he won the Intercontinental Championship for the second time by defeating Ric Flair. Mama also helped Benjamin win several matches before that point by faking heart attacks, proving there was still plenty of way for this idea to go before truly hitting the bottom. Thankfully, shortly after Benjamin picked up the gold, he announced Mama needed surgery due to all the fake heart attacks, and she was never seen nor heard from again.
19 REAL: The Hart Family
Arguably the most respected pro wrestling dynasty of its size, the Harts were collectively amongst the best wrestlers there are, were, or ever will be. Of course, everything has to start somewhere, and with the Hart legacy, the beginning is patriarch Stu Hart. Originally a great wrestler in his own right, Stu is better known today for his prowess as a trainer, instructing all of his sons, nephews, and nieces on their first headlocks. He also taught superstars like Chris Jericho, “Superstar” Billy Graham, and Mark Henry, all of whom went on to become WWE Champions.
When not training, Stu spent his time operating Stampede Wrestling, one of the most successful Canadian wrestling promotions in history, promoting his many relatives as top stars. While WWE fans are surely most familiar with Stu’s sons Bret and Owen, he and his wife Helen had six other sons who wrestled, as well, named Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Dean, and Ross. Many of his daughters also married wrestlers, with his most noted son-in-laws Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart. This also makes Stu grandfather to Natalya Neidhart, further extending the family legacy to the modern WWE Universe. There’s also Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Teddy Hart making the family proud around the world in Japan and Mexico, respectively.
18 MADE UP: The Valiant Brothers
Leave it to Vince McMahon to celebrate the reality he created way before acknowledging the real deal. 12 years prior to The Brisco Brothers becoming the first real family in the WWE Hall of Fame, Jimmy and Johnny Valiant beat them to the punch. Granted, although the two were not related in any way, it’s hard to deny they deserved induction. For 14 years, the duo held the record as the longest WWE Tag Team Championships at 370 days, a feat that has since been bested only by Demolition and The New Day.
Coincidentally, all three of these teams would also experience moments when they had three members. The Valiants originated the trend in the late 1970s after Johnny had retired to become a manager. Suddenly, a journeyman NWA wrestler named The Stomper became Jerry Valiant, dying his hair bleach blonde to match the family theme. Unfortunately, Jerry didn’t have his fake brothers flair nor charisma, making their reign significantly shorter than the first. Johnny V went on to manage several other teams to glory, while Jimmy Valiant redefined himself as the “Boogie Woogie Man” and became a massive star in independent companies and the NWA for his fan-friendly antics. As for Jerry? Well, there’s a reason he was snubbed when his “brothers” became Hall of Famers.
17 REAL: The Steiner Brothers
Turns out Scott Steiner may not have been exaggerating when he talked about being a “Genetic Freak.” If genealogy had nothing to do with it, his real brother Rick Steiner wouldn’t have been able to boast a similar claim. Granted, he went with “Dog-Faced Gremlin” inside the ring, but it wouldn’t be wrong to call him big, buff, and dangerous, either. On top of their intimidating appearances, the Steiner Brothers shared an incredible talent for technical wrestling, at least during the beginning of their careers. Scott in particular was a wonder to watch every time he hit the ring, innovating new variations of suplexes and acrobatic maneuvers like the Frankensteiner long before it was commonplace.
Originally, the Steiner Brothers used their similarities to earn recognition as perhaps the greatest brotherly tag team in the sports history. Together, they were the first duo to win the WWE, WCW, and IWGP Tag Team Championships, and they’re still the only set of actual siblings to have pulled that off. As time went on, Scott’s superior talent and unhinged microphone work made him stand out as the true star, leading to a long reign as WCW World Champion, but Rick was never that far behind him, holding the company’s United States and Television titles as his brother shot up the card.
16 MADE UP: The Holly Cousins
Typically, when wrestlers get introduced as members of the same fictional family, they tend to either stick together for quick some time or eventually change their names to ditch the association. That isn’t quite what happened with the Holly cousins, as Hardcore and Molly both stuck around the WWE Universe for years long after they parted ways. The only difference is that their missing link Crash wasn’t around anymore, sadly having passed away shortly after his release in 2003. Still, there were two more years after that when both Hardcore and Molly had prominent roles on the WWE roster without ever crossing paths.
It’s really not all that surprising that Hardcore and Molly had nothing to do with one another, because all they had in common was blonde hair and a name. Molly also shared Crash’s comedic optimism, which was originally used as a contrast to Hardcore’s stern and angry demeanor. By the time Crash was gone, Molly had developed as a character too much to be the silly country gal she debuted as, so the comedy team wouldn’t have worked anymore. Not that the split stopped any of them from being successful, as each Holly has a fair amount of WWE gold on their resume individually, in addition to one reign as Tag Team Champions.
15 REAL: The Anoa’i Family
Larger than almost any other family real or fake family on this list combined, by the time we’re done listing all the members, we’ll almost be out of space to write about them. Nonetheless, here we go: the Anoa’i family begins with the Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika. Their sons are Samu, Manu, LA Smooth, Rosey, and Roman Reigns. Nephews include the Tonga Kid, Umaga, Sean Maluta, and Rikishi. The current generation continues the Anoai’s reign with grandnephews Jimmy and Jey Uso. Though technically unrelated, the Samoans also consider “High Chief” Peter Maivia to be their uncle, meaning Rocky Johnson is a distant cousin, and The Rock a nephew. Finally, Nia Jax is The Great One’s cousin, extending the family even further.
Like many family dynasties this large, Afa and Sika have also been training most of their relatives from the start of their careers. It’s also clear Vince McMahon has taken a serious liking to them, always pushing anyone in the bloodline to championship success as soon as he possibly can. This all started with the Samoans as well, when Captain Lou Albano led them to three WWE Tag Team Championships. Of course, in this regard, no one in the family can beat The Rock, who has eight WWE Championships to his name and more blockbuster Hollywood hits than we can count.
14 MADE UP: The Garvin Family
This next one is a little bit confusing, and could theoretically end up on either half of the list. The catch is that while Ron and Jimmy Garvin are actually related, the two are not at all brothers, which is how the NWA always promoted them. In fact, Jimmy is Ron’s stepson, which is why the younger Garvin was able to start his career at the young age of 16. Initially, Jimmy would manage Ron as he teamed with Terry Garvin, who justifies their placement on this side of the list by being completely unrelated to the two. There’s also Jimmy’s cousin, Sunshine, who also wasn’t related to either of the others.
Despite the confusing (un)reality of their family tree, the Garvins pretty much all managed to achieve a good deal of success together and separately. Okay, so Sunshine just managed Jimmy and a few other minor stars, but every male Garvin found a decent amount of championship success. In addition to many regional tag team titles they won together, Ron is a former NWA Champion, while Terry found a second career as a WWE road agent until a well known sex scandal led to his demise. Thus far, though, Jimmy is the only member of the family to become a WWE Hall of Famer, as one fourth of the legendary Fabulous Freebirds.
13 REAL: The Armstrong Family
As this list would suggest, it’s typical for real second or third generation superstars in professional wrestling to get significant pushes at the onset of their career simply because of their parentage. Proving this isn’t always the case, the children of “Bullet” Bob Armstrong unfortunately have experienced such blasé careers the family has been considered “cursed.” This wasn’t the case for the Bullet, though, as he was a massive star in Southern territories from the 1970s to ‘90s, at one point being a regular challenger to the NWA Championship. Countless territories did make him their World Champion, and after his retirement, he was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame by his sons.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t change the fact the Armstrong brothers didn’t come close to their dad’s fame. Scott and Steve had trouble standing out, rarely reaching a higher status than low level jobbers. That said, Scott did achieve success later on as a WWE referee. Brad Armstrong was heavily lauded for his skills, but this only fleetingly translated to fame at the beginning of his career, and he eventually joined Scott and Steve as jobbers to the stars. The one standout in the bunch is Brian, better known as the Road Dogg, a former WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion who has since become a top producer for the company.
12 MADE UP: The Koloff Family
In addition to not actually being related, believe it or not, the NWA’s feared “Russians” Ivan and Nikita Koloff weren’t actually from the Soviet Union, either. Uncle Ivan was born in the Great White North of Canada, while Nikita is just a regular guy from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite these differences, it could be argued Ivan was more of a mentor to Nikita than some actual fathers or uncles on the other half of this list were to their successors. When Nikita first arrived in the NWA, he barely had any experience in the ring whatsoever, and was basically instructed to just do whatever Ivan told him, advice he seems to have followed.
If there’s any one person in the wrestling world a newbie would want as their teacher, Uncle Ivan was definitely the guy. One of the greatest heels in WWE history, Ivan shocked the world by ending Bruno Sammartino’s 7 year reign as World Champion, leaving Madison Square Garden in terrified silence. Nikita never quite matched this feat, but he nonetheless did his “Uncle” proud, winning the NWA United States Championship and repeatedly challenging Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight title. The duo also won the NWA Tag Team belts together twice, and those were merely two of almost twenty regional tag titles Ivan would win with various partners.
11 REAL: La Familia Guerrero
Viva la raza! Long before Eddie Guerrero cheated his way into stealing the WWE Universe’s hearts, his father and older brothers were also becoming legends in their own right by doing essentially the same thing. The family patriarch, Gory Guerrero, was especially legendary, credited as a pioneer of lucha libre for his work in the 1940s and ‘50s. During this time, Gory regularly teamed with the iconic El Santo as La Pareja Atómica, while also appearing in a few of the actor/wrestler’s films. Depending on how one judges success, it could be said none of Gory’s sons quite matched his prowess, though Eddie certainly came close as a WWE Champion and extremely popular star.
This isn’t to say Eddie’s brothers Héctor, Chavo, and Mando weren’t pretty successful in their own rights. All three achieved decent fame in the territorial era, both as hated heels and beloved faces, playing lying, cheating, and stealing characters similar to the one Eddie later brought to international fame. Chavo in particular was a top name in many California promotions, and his son Chavo, Jr. was often standing Eddie as he rose to the top. Unfortunately, Eddie’s daughter Raquel Diaz didn’t quite follow the family’s legacy, only spending a few years in the industry before deciding to call it quits.
10 MADE UP: The Wyatt Family
Unlike every other name on this list, even brand new wrestling fans who take absolutely everything WWE tells them at face value should be well aware Bray Wyatt’s “family” wasn’t actually his family. Then again, it does get a little confusing in this regard, because Wyatt’s actual father is former WWE Tag Team Champion IRS, and his brother is Bo Dallas. However, none of them are in any way related to Luke Harper or Erick Rowan, who followed Bray around as his devoted Family for years. Now, the two continue the façade by calling one another Bludgeon “Brothers,” despite still clearly not being related in any way.
Truth be told, it could be argued the Wyatts don’t belong on this list because they’re so transparently fake. Especially after Braun Strowman, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan joined the team, no fan could possibly believe this “Family” was a family, nor were they ever promoted as such. The Wyatt Family is more of the cult-like variety, taking after real-life counterparts like Manson Family, which also wasn’t related. Nonetheless, it’s possible that someone tuning into WWE for the first time, or simply reading through a title history, might get a little confused. That’s definitely a possibility, since the Wyatts have always been plated in gold, a trend the Bludgeon Brothers are continuing as a duo.
9 REAL: The Orton Family
When Randy Orton’s time in the WWE Universe began, his primary modus operandi was “killing” various Legends. His prey included names like Shawn Michaels, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake Roberts, Dusty Rhodes, and Ric Flair, all of whom were either already in the WWE Hall of Fame or would get there extremely soon. Of course, at the same time Orton was putting an end to these icons with a swift and powerful RKO, he was also continuing the legacy of his family. Decades before Randy was a star, his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. was also a pretty big deal, standing in the corner of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff as they challenged Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at the first WrestleMania.
“Cowboy” Bob was Piper’s regular bodyguard in general, often getting involved in the Hot Rod’s biggest feuds. His father, Bob Orton, Sr., was also a superstar, winning a number of regional NWA titles and once challenging Bruno Sammartino for the WWE Championship. Unfortunately, Bob, Sr.’s other son Barry O wasn’t so lucky, rarely becoming more than a jobber to the stars. Although neither of the Bob’s would truly reach the peak of the industry, Randy has more than made up for it with his 13 World Championships, not to mention the countless other belts he’s held in his career.
8 MADE UP: The Anderson Family
One of the telltale signs of a fake wrestling family is when companies have trouble remembering exactly how these people are supposed to be related. There’s no better example of this than the Anderson family, as there eventually came a point when the NWA just gave up and admitted part of what they faked. It all began with “brothers” Lars and Gene Anderson, who also originated the tag team name “Minnesota Wrecking Crew.” Gene’s actual last name was in fact Anderson, but he’s the only one of the bunch with any tie to a real Anderson family. To keep the illusions going, though, Gene introduced another brother named Ole when Lars decided to go solo.
A few years later, it only seemed logical to add another brother named Arn. Until, that is, they decided to start calling him a cousin, instead. Once fans began noticing their age difference, it switched again to nephew. As if the cat weren’t already out of the bag, the NWA basically made it impossible to believe anymore once they later claimed “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair was also technically an Anderson by way of being Arn’s cousin. Despite how complicated the web of lies is, it can’t be denied the members looked and wrestled very similarly, and each one of them saw their careers lined with gold.
7 REAL: The Brisco Brothers
Long before Vince McMahon made it vogue for wrestlers to lie about being related, iconic athletes Jack and Gerald Brisco gave a master class in why that sort of thing could be so advantageous. Separately, the two were amongst the greatest superstars of their era, with Jack in particular twice reigning as NWA World Champion for over a full year. During this time, both Briscos also extensively feuded with another real life brotherly tag team in Terry and Dory Funk, Jr. Both sets of brothers shared extremely similar characteristics with one another, making their encounters all feel like continuing versions of the same never ending, incredible match.
On top of the many singles titles they won separately, the Brisco Brothers were also perhaps the most decorated tag team of the territorial era, holding at least 23 Tag Team Championships together. Later in life, the brothers started working behind the scenes for WWE, and this time it was Gerald who stood out, as one of Vince McMahon’s top “Stooges” during the Attitude Era. All these accomplishments led to the Brisco Brothers becoming the first actual pair of brothers to concurrently get inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. Not to be one upped, their perennial rivals The Funks followed them into history the very next year.
6 MADE UP: The Brothers of Destruction
In all fairness to anyone repeatedly having their mind blown when reading this list, sometimes Vince McMahon and other wrestling promoters are pretty good at pulling the proverbial wool over the audience’s collective eyes. That said, there is absolutely nothing about the in-ring careers of Kane or The Undertaker that even slightly borders on the realistic, so hopefully there’s no one out there all that surprised by this one. From the second Undertaker debuted as an undead zombie, it was pretty clear nothing to follow would be even slightly real. Not that this stopped him from becoming one of the most iconic wrestlers in sports entertainment history, main eventing several WrestleMania’s and winning seven World Championships.
In that same vein, even the most gullible WWE fan around knew there was something fishy about Kane’s backstory upon his debut. The more WWE expanded on the Big Red Machine’s history, the less believable any of it was, especially after they started admitting parts of it were vastly exaggerated, to say the least. Nonetheless, Kane, too managed to become a massive star, winning two World Championships and basically every other title WWE has to offer many times over. On top of the massive solo success, the Brothers of Destruction also happen to have three reigns as Tag Team Champions together.
5 REAL: The Von Erich Family
Long before Vince McMahon was exploiting his children as WWE superstars, Fritz Von Erich originated the idea by pushing four of his five sons to early deaths. Okay, so it’s not fair to say Fritz killed them, but absolutely none of the boys wanted to be wrestlers, and he made them do that, and the pressure to perform gradually caused their lives to spiral out of control. Backing up to the beginning, the Von Erichs actually started out on the other half of this list simply as an evil German tag team comprising fake brothers Fritz and Waldo. Things started getting real after Waldo faded from the picture, when Fritz used his own World Class Championship Wrestling promotion to make his boys stars, for better or worse.
The first standout Von Erich boy was David, who nearly became NWA Champion before dying of a suspected drug overdose at the young age of 25. Mike died three years later, followed by Chris and then Kerry all in a five year span, and all due to suicide. The only survivor was Kevin Von Erich, who often formed tag teams with each of his brothers, leading to countless main events and championship reigns before they passed. Despite all the tragedy, the Von Erich legacy continues to this day with Kevin’s sons Ross and Marshall.
4 MADE UP: The Dudley Boyz
Real or fake, it could easily be argued the Dudley Boyz are the most successful family in wrestling history. No other tag team has achieved the prowess of Bubba Ray and D-Von, who won the WWE, WCW, ECW, NWA, TNA, and IWGP Tag Team Championships a grand total of 23 times. Interestingly enough, though, these two Dudleys didn’t start the “family” legacy. It actually begins with Dudley Dudley, Big Dick Dudley, and Little Snot Dudley, and Sign Guy Dudley, Dances With Dudley, and Chubby Dudley all joined well before Bubba. D-Von came later skill, and his whole deal was initially that he became the first Dudley to rebel against the family.
Soon after D-Von’s angry introduction, one final Dudley was introduced in the family “runt” Little Spike Dudley. Last but certainly not least, Spike is pretty much the only Dudley of note aside from Bubba and D-Von, having won a number of WWE titles himself, including the Hardcore, Cruiserweight, European, and Tag Team Championships, the latter of which with Tazz as his partner. Bubba and D-Von also have significant solo success, especially in TNA, where the former reigned as World Champion twice under the name Brother Ray. Even so, it’s as a duo that the two were inducted to both the WWE and TNA Halls of Fame.
3 REAL: The Hardy Boyz
While the vast majority of brotherly tag teams simply used their family name, Matt and Jeff Hardy were simply too unique to rely on these old standards. Flying off the top rope in daring fashion during Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches, Team Extreme entirely lived up to their description almost every time they appeared during the Attitude Era. On a good day, they both still can, which is why they’ve yet to stop winning the countless championships that paved their careers. Even if they couldn’t, given the Hardy Boyz past and the WWE Universe’s never ending love affair with nostalgia, female fans would still go crazy when they rip their shirts off.
For all the success they’ve achieved, it didn’t start easy for the Hardyz. The two made low key appearances in WWE for years as forgettable jobbers before finally catching their big break by winning the Tag Team Championships from the Acolytes, which at the time was considered a big fluke. Subsequent title reigns seemed progressive less lucky, and by the time they were both winning more singles gold than we can list, it was pretty clear these two weren’t simply flashes in the pan. Both Hardys have even won multiple World Championships in TNA, a feat Jeff already accomplished in WWE before they made the jump.
2 FAKE: Edge and Christian
Childhood friends turned “brothers,” Edge and Christian had a greater argument for calling one another a family than most teams on this half of the list. In addition to sharing long blonde hair and similar senses of humor, the two had truly known one another for most of their lives, which explains how they gelled so perfectly in the ring and on the microphone. The two started tagging together immediately after Ron Hutchinson trained them, becoming minor stars on the Canadian independent scene. Of course, those little glimmers of fame absolutely exploded when Edge and Christian joined the WWE Universe and defined tag team wrestling in the Attitude Era.
By winning the first two TLC matches and sharing seven Tag Team Championships reigns, it’s hard to think of a single duo that achieved more when the genre was at its peak. Edge and Christian’s success would also continue in spades long after the two split up, with both going on to become multiple time World Champions, not to mention winning virtually every other title in the company. That said, Edge was always slightly ahead of his fake brother, which is how he’s already in the WWE Hall of Fame, while Christian may well await induction forever, no matter how loudly fans claim he’s snubbed.
1 REAL: The McMahon Family
There’s simply no chance in hell any family in the WWE Universe will ever approach the fame, legacy, or success of the McMahon’s. This should go without saying, since Vince and his relatives will always be the primary penholders in the business, meaning they get to write history however they see fit. Naturally, a McMahon’s version of reality is extremely McMahon-heavy, so there will likely never be a day when the name fades from wrestling history. It all technically began with Vince’s grandfather, Jess, who promoted boxing and independent wrestling before forming the Capitol Wrestling Corporation with Toots Mondt. Jess died two years later and his son Vince, Sr. took over his stake in the company, ditching the CWC name to create the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
From that point, virtually anyone who has tuned into WWE for the past two decades should be able to tell the story. Vince, Sr. brought his WWWF to moderate regional fame before changing the name again to simply the WWF and then selling it to his son, Vince, Jr. The younger Vince McMahon then went on to revolutionize wrestling forever with the company he now calls the WWE Universe, still running the show with an iron fist to this day. Helping Vince out are his real children Shane and Stephanie, along with son-in-law Triple H.