Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
In this latest Top Five we list 2nd and 3rd generation superstars that bettered the in-ring accomplishments of their parents and grandparents. It’s a follow up to last week’s. So, what wrestlers made a bigger name than their father and which even eclipsed their grandparents?
5. Barry Windham: While his run with the WWE never reached the heights many expected, Windham’s part in wrestling history certainly cannot be overlooked. A big part of WCW and NWA history, a member of the Four Horseman and a multiple champion, he may have followed his father into the WWE Hall of Fame but his in ring efforts better that of the former Blackjack.
4. Curt Hennig: Unfortunately for Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig, like many of the older generation mentioned today, his success in wrestling happened out with the WWF and outside of the glare of the millions of fans that would watch wrestling from the late 80s onwards. The same, however, can’t be said for his son Curt ‘Mr. Perfect’ Hennig who would compete in the WWF, WCW and WWF again until his untimely death. And what a superstar we were treated to. His Mr. Perfect gimmick suited him to a tee and even being thrown into various incarnations of the nWo didn’t lessen fans affections for him.
3. Macho Man Randy Savage: A huge star in the WWF during its 80s expansion and would go on to be a significant part of the WCW’s battle against the WWE during the Monday Night Wars. One thing is for sure, Savage didn’t need his father’s name to make it in wrestling as he had all the attributes needed to be a huge star. Who can forget his WrestleMania 3 bout against Ricky Steamboat or his fantastic feud against Hulk Hogan as the Mega Powers exploded? Or what about carrying The Ultimate Warrior to his finest match at WrestleMania 7?
2. Bret Hart: We’ve probably lost count of the number of wrestling stars that Stu Hart stretched in his basement but by far his biggest gift to the world of wrestling was his son Bret. A multiple time champion in WWE and WCW, he led to the WWF in the wake of the steroids scandal that forced a focus on less muscular performers and did his best to carry the weight of the company on his shoulders. A tag team specialist, a solid in-ring worker and involved in my favourite storyline in WWF history: America vs. Canada from 1997. He was always going to feature here.
1. The Rock: It was never going to be a list about wrestling siblings without mentioning the most successful part of the biggest wrestling family out there, was it? The Rock has not only eclipsed the expectations of fans when he first appeared on WWF TV as a bland babyface back in 1996, but the impressive achievements of both his father and grandfather in becoming one of the biggest names in wrestling history. A main player during the Attitude Era but still carrying so much drawing power due to his success outside of the ring as well. It’s difficult to think of anyone more suitable to top this list than The Rock.
5. Tully Blanchard: The son of great wrestler/promoter Joe Blanchard. Tully had a charisma and technical skill unmatched by many. Being a cornerstone of one of the most beloved/hated factions the Four Horsemen also doesn’t hurt one bit. Many may remember Tully as a tag team specialist with the likes of Gino Hernandez and Arn Anderson…but Tully had some classic singles feuds with Magnum TA and Dusty Rhodes as well.
4. Kerry Von Erich: This easily could have been reserved for Kerry’s older brother David who was on the path to being the break out Von Erich…but he tragically died before he realized all his dreams. Kerry won the NWA world title, WWF intercontinental title and countless regional titles. While Fritz Von Erich was a big star for his generation…Kerry certainly surpassed his dad and could have been even bigger if not for his own personal demons.
3. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts: The son of Grizzly Smith, Jake certainly carved his own niche in the business without relying on his father’s name. A star in every territory or promotion he ever worked in. Many consider Jake to be one of the true great ring psychologists to ever lace up a pair of boots.
2. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage: The Macho Man is another example of a wrestler who didn’t live off his father’s (Angelo Poffo) name to become a huge star. Randy won titles every where he wrestled and was a bigger star when the spotlight was at its brightest.
1. The Rock: It’s hard not to have the Dwayne the Rock Johnson other than number 1. Rocky Johnson had a great career no doubt…but his son completely eclipsed him on almost every level. Now a major movie and TV star…the Rock is truly an A lister.
5. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase: For me, Ted DiBiase was the premier bad guy when I was a kid. His portrayal of ‘The Million Dollar Man’ made him so easy to hate. Although never officially recognised as WWF Champion, he was so over and so highly regarded that he was never out of place amongst the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Andre The Giant. A solid worker in his own right, Ted’s adoptive father – ‘Iron’ Mike DiBiase – is unfortunately best known for suffering a fatal heart attack during a match against Harley Race in 1969. Keeping it in the family, Ted’s biological mother – and Mike’s wife – was also a wrestler, as are all three of Ted’s children. Most notable is former WWE Tag Team Champion Ted DiBiase Jr.
4. Randy Orton: My personal opinion of Randy Orton is that he is the generic base layer for a 21st century WWE wrestler, upon which one would add a gimmick and/or personality. A bit like what the Foo Fighters are too rock music. Despite this, his success in wrestling has by far eclipsed his more charismatic and memorable father, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton. Each to their own I guess…
3. Eddie Guerrero: Controversial, perhaps? Eddie’s father – Gory – was a huge star in Mexico and the famed patriarch of the Guerrero family. That said, the late great Eddie Guerrero became a worldwide star, WWE Champion and WWE Hall of Famer.
2. The Rock: How many people reading this are only aware of Rocky Johnson because he’s The Rock’s dad? I’d bet even fewer people would know about Peter Maivia had ‘The Great One’ stuck to football instead. That’s not a knock on The Rock’s father and grandfather, they were very notable stars in their day. However, neither are anywhere near the conversation for most famous wrestler ever, The Rock on the other hand – along with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin – most certainly is.
1. Vince McMahon: Is this cheating? Vince McMahon Jr. took over his father’s – Vince McMahon Sr. – regional wrestling promotion and proceeded to transform it into a worldwide brand so successful that most non-wrestling fans use the terms wrestling and WWE interchangeably. For all the faults one can pick in Vince Jr’s logic at times, you can’t argue with his success.
So those are our suggestions of stars that never reached the same heights as their parents or grandparents. Who would make your top five and did we miss anyone? As ever, leave your thoughts in the comments section.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.