Since the wrestling business began, it’s been easy to sell a new star by saying he’s related to someone famous. True, there are already plenty of famous wrestling families from the Rhodes to the Harts and more so you can find plenty of real relatives around. However, there are also cases where fans think someone is related but not. Ricky Blood wasn’t doing much on his own so they said he was the son of star Sam Steamboat and suddenly Ricky Steamboat was on the rise. Arn Anderson looks so much like Ole, it’s stunning he’s not related at all. And WWE spent years pushing Edge and Christian as brothers. It helps when they look alike, so they can make the connection more believable. However, in some cases, it fails as said “resemblance” doesn’t work out at all.
Indeed, it’s laughable how many times wrestling has tried to push “relatives” who bear little resemblance at all to each other so it ruins the illusion. Now and then, it’s obvious and even part of a joke but it’s funnier when it’s meant to be serious. From brothers to cousins to fathers and sons, wrestling has tried to sell guys as family when they clearly are not and it’s amazing how many big stars you’ll see in that position. Here are 15 cases of wrestling relatives who quite clearly were not related at all and how the attempts to sell them as family just led to more distraction than success.
15. Vince McMahon and Hornswoggle
Oh this one…A bad idea that just got worse. In 2007, Vince McMahon did the now infamous angle of him being “killed” in a limo explosion on screen. They even sold it as real with memory videos and tributes which fans found in poor taste. This backfired when the Benoit mess happened and thus Vince had to drop it. Instead, they brought up the idea of him having a secret son from the past. The plan was to have it be Kennedy but then he got suspended and thus a backup plan was needed.
The final solution was to have Hornswoggle be the secret son. To be fair, the moment was saved by Triple H howling hysterically as the leprechaun hugged Vince’s leg and Vince looked like he wanted to die on the spot. Fans of course couldn’t buy this at all despite how WWE kept selling it, complete with Vince pounding on his son. They finally gave it up with the reveal of Finlay being Hornswoggle’s dad (which was just as unbelievable) and shows just how terrible this all was.
14. The Dudley Boyz
This was obvious but clear as it was meant to be a big joke. The Dudleys were a bunch of guys in ECW with no connection brought together as a family. The idea was their dad was a traveling salesman having affairs on the road. So you had guys who were short, black, Italian, even a Native American called Dances With Dudleys. Before long, two stars emerged: The stuttering Bubba Ray and the tough D-Von. They clicked as a team, often aided by “runt brother” Spike and soon transforming into the hottest team around. For a decade and a half afterward, as the Dudleys or Team 3-D in TNA, they would hold a record number of tag team titles, establish themselves as stars and be part of some of the greatest ladder/table matches ever. Bubba Ray was also a good singles champion in TNA and both great workers yet having them continue to show themselves as brothers was laughable to say the least.
13. The Smoking Gunns
Frankly, it’s astounding it took until 1993 for WWE to seriously push a pair of cowboys as a tag team. Billy and Bart Gunn had the classic intro videos of going to “Wild West” towns in classic gunslinger outfits before going into the ring. They actually were a good team, skilled and fast with good double-team maneuvers and thus did a good job together. Even WWE had to notice, giving them several runs as tag champions and feuding with other top teams in a pretty good era for the division. The fact they had different hair colors should have been a tip-off to not really being brothers of course despite how WWE kept pushing them as such. Eventually, they split with Billy achieving fame with The New Age Outlaws and showing he was the better star of this “brother” team.
12. The Undertaker and Kane
WWE has done their best to protect The Undertaker over the years. They never mention his real name or have him do a lot of stuff out of character. Thus, it makes sense that fans can buy more readily how he and Kane are brothers. Of course, they’re not and in fact Glenn Jacobs fought Taker a few times as Isaac Yankem. Going over the entire ridiculous backstory of their “brotherhood” is nuts (a great bit in 2012 had Kane trying to explain it to laughter) but the two do have a great chemistry together. Often, it’s as enemies with epic battles as they know how to work but they’ve also been a terrific tag team. The “Brothers of Destruction” nickname just rolls off the tongue and fits them well so while not really brothers, it’s part of the act that’s made both men WWE legends.
11. Andre and The Giant And Big Show
That Hulk Hogan signed off on this is annoying to so many people. For years, Andre the Giant was an icon in wrestling billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Even at the end of his life, he was a sight to enhance business and guys loved working on the same card as him. His passing in 1993 was sad after years of illness and Hogan had been one of his best friends. Which was why it was stunning that just two years after Andre’s death, Paul Wight was brought in with the idea of him being Andre’s son. True, they were both huge but Wight was far more agile than Andre ever was (even performing dropkicks) and able to carry himself well. But putting him as Andre’s son was in poor taste particularly as he had no facial resemblance and was American to boot. WWE’s lawyers were quick to threaten action so it was dropped but fans hated the idea of spitting on Andre’s legacy.
10. The Wizard and Kevin Sullivan
It’s hands down one of the craziest attempts at a heel stable ever. In 1995, Kevin Sullivan was well known for his nutty character of a devil worshipper, a great heel who could take a beating but come back for more. After a bad loss, Sullivan was suddenly shown running through a jungle and into a cave. There on an icy throne was a guy calling himself the Wizard who Sullivan addressed as his father. This was Curtis Ikeau, a veteran heel legendary for his bloody brawls to the point his head had more scars than a canyon.
This led to the creation of the Dungeon of Doom, a stable famous for its wild characters and bad matches. In interviews, Ikeau kept claiming to be Sullivan’s father despite how the man was from Hawaii and Sullivan was clearly as white as you could possibly get. The entire Dungeon is laughed at today but selling these two as father and son was among the worst bits.
9. Ryder and Hawkins
Long before their current fame, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins were just two guys in developmental. They gelled well as a team in OVW and so WWE decided to give them more of a shot. They were soon matched up with Edge as “La Famila,” backing him up during his time as major heel champion. With their new names, Ryder and Hawkins were sold as brothers backing up Edge and a run as tag team champions. While a good look together, the two were, like Edge and Christian, more obvious just friends than real brothers. They would split up, Ryder finding bigger fame before Hawkins left, bouncing around the indies and TNA but now back with WWE. So while both are successful, selling them as brothers was just a way to get them into fame rather than actually related ironically like their mentor.
8. Ric Flair and the Andersons
It was all too easy for folks to think Arn and Ole Anderson were related. The way Arn fit in with his beard and build, he looked perfect as an Anderson and so many fans surprised to find out he wasn’t really related to them at all. It was one of the most successful bits ever in convincing folks of a fake family being real. But Ric Flair being a “cousin” of the Andersons was something else. The bright blonde champion had almost nothing in common with the rough and tumble Andersons or their ways.
True, they got along great as friends and party animals along with terrific stars for Jim Crockett. But trying to sell Flair as somehow related to the Andersons was a goofy idea to the point that even they eventually gave up. It just shows how sometimes, even a huge star can’t be believable as some sort of wrestling relative and make it buyable for fans.
7. The Bashams
They sure had the look of brothers, if not twins. Doug and Danny Basham were built, bald and really had a great connection as a team. They shined in OVW first then in WWE including a run as tag champions. They didn’t get too much in terms of great matches or feuds but still did a decent job at a rough period for tag teams. As Doug Basham was his real name, many fans were ready to believe he and Danny were brothers. In reality, Danny was Daniel Holle, he and Doug meeting in OVW where the promoters realized how well they would click together. They kept up including working with JBL as his “Cabinet” and later a run in TNA. They sure had the look and the great build but the fact remains the Bashams weren’t really related which might have been more obvious had one looked a bit closer.
6. The Wyatts
It’s ironic that many will be shocked Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas are brothers considering how they look almost nothing alike. The former Husky Harris did a great job as this cult leader with his twisted “family” who of course are not relatives of his at all. Yet they cling together very well with their freaky nature and bushy beards. Wyatt is convincing as their boss and they share characteristics of tough guys who back each other up. Braun Strowman has broken out from them and while he and Bray have some resemblance, you wouldn’t peg them for family. They stand up well as a good group and many complain they should have gotten a much better push from WWE (especially Bray) yet it’s obvious how it’s family in name only.
5. Dixie Carter and EC3
WWE really missed the boat on Michael Hutter. He had a shot in OVW and ECW, real promise but WWE just didn’t see any potential and cut him loose. Traveling to TNA, he was given the act of Ethan Carter III, the nephew of Dixie Carter who was trying to make herself the evil heel authority figure. That didn’t work out as Carter just wasn’t suited for the role. But EC3, after a rough start, more than made up for that. He was soon a great guy on the mic, a good heel champion and easily one of the best stars of the company. True, he and Carter bore no relation and it was obvious he shared none of her looks but still it helped EC3 become a big star. While he seems to be leaving Impact, he did a better job as an on-air Carter than the real one.
4. The Beverly Brothers
Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom were the last gasp of star power in the AWA. As the Destruction Crew, they were a top tag team holding the belts and had serious promise. In WWE, they thought they would get a good run and maybe even a title spot as well. Instead, they were made to bleach their hair and sell themselves as brothers from Beverly Hills. With Lanny “The Genius” Poffo as their manager, they had some decent shots but got lost amid the talent of the time as WWE decided The Natural Disasters and Money Inc were better bets for big tag teams. Of course, fans also couldn’t buy the Beverlys as really brothers as aside from the hair and outfits, there wasn’t much else in terms of a resemblance. They were soon cut and too bad as a good team but selling them as brothers a bad move.
3. Ivan and Nikita Koloff
For years, Ivan Koloff had been wrestling’s most dependable Russian heel, despite actually being born in Canada. With his bald head and burly demeanor, Ivan was a top guy for years, even beating Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title in a shocking move. In the 1980s, he still had heat to the point of introducing everyone to his nephew, Nikita, said to be a stellar Soviet athlete. In reality, he was Nelson Simpson from Minnesota. However, with his shaved head, he was impressive and backed it up with a great act, even going so far as to learn Russian phrases and never speaking without an accent in public.
They tried to be relatives but even the marks could tell something wasoff about this “family connection” given differences in sizes and looks. Still, it helped Nikita be a major star, especially with a face turn that led to huge business and thus a case of a fake relative helping out well.
2. Lance Von Erich And The Von Erichs
The Von Erich family is sadly less known for the great stars they were than the sad legacy of tragedy that’s followed them. Five of the six brothers would die at a young age, four by their own hand. They were overwhelmed by drug use and other issues and it got too much to handle. In 1986, Mike was a shell of himself after toxic shock syndrome while Kerry had his brutal motorcycle accident. So to help the promotion out, Fritz hired William Vaughn and introduced him as their “cousin” Lance. He had a good look but obviously not a Von Erich, no real resemblance to the brothers.
Back then, kayfabe was a serious thing and thus when it got out Vaughn was not a real Von Erich, it was a scandal and hurt the brand. Fritz went on camera to reveal it and fire Vaughn, a truly ugly affair that just added more grief to a family already filled with them.
1. Kurt Angle and Jason Jordan
It’s one of the most baffling plotlines WWE has done in a while. If they wanted to elevate Jason Jordan, fine. The guy has promise and could take off in the right circumstances. But having him be the secret son of Kurt Angle was not the way to go. The fact they barely bare any resemblance to each other doesn’t help at all and fans have not bought it one bit. Instead of helping Jordan, it’s held him back, exposing his push as overtly false and fans turning on him. It’s a shame as Jordan is a talented guy and had promise with another character. WWE still insists on pushing it despite how it’s clear Angle isn’t quite happy with it. It’s a dumb idea just made worse and one of the worst attempts at selling a new star.
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