Family means the world to most people. People often say that friends may come and go, but family is forever. But what if family was something that wasn’t made a focal point of your life? In the careers of a number of different wrestlers, their relationship to one another was often kept quiet. The relationships of some wrestlers have become a focal point in storylines, but for others that isn’t the case.
For instance, when Michael Cole was feuding with Jerry Lawler, Lawler’s son Brian Christopher was brought in as a way to help further along the feud. We have had brothers feud with one another, and even children want to disown their own parents. And it has happened where a wrestler will not be billed as being related to another performer, and then eventually had their family history made a focal point. At one point Deuce of the tag team Deuce and Domino revealed himself to be Sim Snuka, the son of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
For performers that are related, and whose careers intersected with one another , presumably there was no mention of their relationship as a means of keeping kayfabe and allowing them to have their own separate identities. And this happens today with wrestlers; while we may know that Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt are brothers in real life, it would take a little away from their characters if that was something that became a focal part of a program. Here are the 10 wrestling families that were never acknowledged as being related on screen:
10. “Nasty Boy” Brian Knobbs & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Two of the toughest guys in the wrestling business would have to be Brian Knobbs, formerly of the tag team The Nasty Boys, and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Valentine initially rose to prominence after his brutal dog collar match against Roddy Piper, but then had several longstanding feuds during his career in the WWE. One such feud was against Tito Santana over the Intercontinental Championship, while another was against “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin.
Knobbs on the other hand has always been known as a tag team wrestler, earning numerous championships throughout his career. He and his partner Jerry Saggs were known for using the “Pit Stop” as their signature antic during their matches. But it’s more than likely that’s not what he did to entice Greg Valentine’s sister to enter into a relationship, and later marry him.
This of course makes Knobbs and Valentine brothers-in-law. We would be hard pressed to think of a time where these two were working with each other in a program in the WWF. Valentine’s time with the WWF/E was drawing to an end when Knobbs had just begun. Regardless of how tough either man was in the ring, their characters and looks certainly don’t scream that they are related.
9. The Undertaker & Michelle McCool
They often say opposites attract. When it comes to wrestling personalities, the personas these two presented couldn’t be any more different from one another.
Former WWE Divas champion, Michelle McCool rose to prominence as a character that could best be described as a “mean girl.” She was the quintessential bully during her time alongside Layla, and the two were affectionately known as Laycool. She thought she was better than the others, and carried herself with enough arrogance that this came across.
On the other hand, the Undertaker has had a legendary wrestling career, defeating several former champions and earning a name for himself for over a quarter of a century. When his career is over, fans will always remember The Phenom.
At one time both were competing for the WWE, and whether their off-screen relationship evolved after McCool’s career had ended really isn’t important. On screen, they were never suggested having even been seeing each other. In doing so we would have seen another side to the Undertaker character that would have taken away from the mystique of whom he is in the ring. Their marriage has lasted a few years now, and has never been mentioned on WWE television at any point.
8. Jerry “The King” Lawler & The Honky Tonk Man
If there were any two wrestlers that couldn’t be more different in the ring, it had to be Jerry “The King” Lawler and The Honky Tonk Man. Though their characters were often very different from one another, they were both successful heels during their careers.
Lawler is known to wrestling fans today, and for the better part of the last two decades, for his role as a color commentator on Monday Night Raw. However, Lawler was also known for his time in the USWA and how he helped make that promotion as prominent as it was.
In the mid- to late-1980s, The Honky Tonk Man earned a name for himself, becoming the Intercontinental Champion and arguably the “greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.” What wrestling fans may not be aware of is their relationship outside the ring with one another: the two are cousins.
On screen, their paths never crossed and their characters never faced one another. However, one has to wonder with Lawler’s “The King” persona and Honky’s “King of Rock n Roll” persona if they weren’t both in some way channeling a deep-rooted admiration for Elvis Presley.
7. Rikishi & Umaga
Finding two characters more different in personality than these two would be very difficult. While they didn’t cross paths in the WWE, both Rikishi and his younger brother Umaga were notable for their time there.
As many fans will remember, Rikishi was the hip hop loving, dancing member of the team Too Cool. He was beloved because his character was about as fun loving as it got, and didn’t completely change who he was even if at times he…did it for The Rock.
Umaga on the other hand initially competed under the name Jamal, as part of Eric Bischoff‘s 3 Minute Warning. When he returned to the WWE, he was known as “The Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga, and had a very savage and ferocious quality to his character. It was a character that was more in line with what The Wild Samoans Afa and Sika did years earlier.
Sadly, Umaga passed away, though he has had his memory immortalized on the faces of his nephews Jimmy and Jey Uso, as they wear face paint in his honor. Rikishi and Umaga couldn’t be more different in character, and their family lineage was never a focal point at any point in their careers, only being made known after Umaga’s passing.
6. Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Sam Houston & Rockin Robin
Grizzly Smith wrestled years ago, and had children that followed his family lineage: Smith’s sons and daughter carried on and became wrestlers as well. Despite a reportedly bad relationship with Smith his children Sam Houston, Rockin Robin and Jake “The Snake” Roberts became professional wrestlers. What is remarkable was during their time in the WWF together, they were ever identified as being related. While outside kayfabe their relationship is recognized, their on-screen characters were never mentioned in the same breath as one another.
All their characters were so distinctly different: Houston was advertised as having a cowboy gimmick, with Robin having a more rock n’ roll type personality. Jake, as many fans will recall, was much darker and more mysterious than his sister or brother. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t be identified as related given their very different personalities and on-screen personas. The three very different members of the Smith family were never advertised on-screen as being family members.
5. Mike Awesome & Horace Hogan
During their time in World Championship Wrestling, fans all knew about “That 70s Guy” “The Fat Chick Thrilla” Mike Awesome and about nWo member Horace Hogan. While Horace’s relationship to his uncle Hulk Hogan was often mentioned, his relationship with his cousin Mike that was not.
They were two very different characters that didn’t cross paths and were separated on screen for various reasons. Awesome had made a career for himself prior to coming to WCW: he was a former ECW World Champion that was established prior to coming into WCW. Hogan hadn’t built a career for himself up until that point, which meant that having him known as being Hulk’s nephew wasn’t going to be a problem. But Mike Awesome’s relationship with Horace never became a talking point. And whether it was intentional or not, avoiding any suggestion of a relationship to Hulk was probably best for all. The nWo was a big enough faction as it was and having more members involved really wouldn’t have helped either Awesome or Hogan.
4. “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr & Barry O
During their time competing for the WWF in the 1980s there two brothers never publicly acknowledged their relationship. They were second generation wrestlers, the sons of Bob Orton Sr, but their careers in the WWF couldn’t have been any more different.
Cowboy Bob Orton Jr was known as the bodyguard of Rowdy Roddy Piper. Wherever Piper went, he had “ace” by his side or watching his back. Barry Orton, however, wasn’t known by his name, but rather “Barry O.” If Barry was known for anything during his time in the company, it was that he was a prominently used enhancement talent that made others look great in the ring, selling his opposition’s offence a countless number of times.
Barry would often make an “O” shape with his arms that would be his signature way of acknowledging who he is. Barry may have had a minor push at some point during his career, but it was nothing substantial that fans may recall. While the brothers may have tagged occasionally with one another, they were not used together in a storyline at any point in their career.
3. Road Warrior Animal & Johnny Ace
Ever have a sibling that you just couldn’t wrap your head around? We all have probably seen siblings that are so different from one another that it surprises us when we find out they are from the same gene pool. The Laurinaitis brothers are two distinctly different individuals, from how they dress, to how they appeared in the ring, to how they were known to fans.
Joseph Laurinaitis was known the world over as Animal. He was one half of the legendary tag team The Road Warriors, or Legion of Doom. He wore a mohawk, facepaint and was built like a truck. If anything, people might assume his brother must have been his long-time partner, and not realize who his actual brother was.
John Laurinaitis was one half of the tag team The Dynamic Dudes, and known as Johnny Ace. Ace’s wrestling career was cut short unfortunately due to injuries, but he would go on to play a prominent role backstage. To see them together, many wouldn’t see any resemblance between one another. Ace usually had long blond hair and a slender physique, while his brother had a much larger frame and size about him.
2. Verne Gagne, Greg Gagne & Larry Zbyszko
A prominent feud that took place in the American Wrestling Association involved “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko and Greg Gagne. Gagne was the son of owner Verne Gagne, and often competed for the promotion’s championship. Zbyszko was a top heel for the company for many years. He often boasted of being the man that had retired Bruno Sammartino, his mentor.
The feud between the Gagne’s and Zbyszko worked so well for a number of reasons: they knew where each other was at all times; they knew what to anticipate from one another when they were in the ring or delivering a promo. However, the most prominent reason their working relationship was as effective as it was is probably because they were in-laws.
Greg and Larry were brothers in law, as Larry has been married to Greg’s sister Kathleen since 1988, and the two have children together. Often the best stories that are told are with the ones you trust, and in the case of the Gagnes and Zbyszko it would be hard to not trust the person you share a number of family dinners with. Zbyszko was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, while his father-in-law Verne was inducted in 2006.
1. Randy “Macho Man” Savage & “Leaping” Lanny Poffo
While it wasn’t a secret to many, the relationship between “Leaping” Lanny Poffo and “Macho Man” Randy Savage was never discussed on screen until after their careers were over. During Savage’s time in the WWF, his younger brother Lanny was there and competed under a different alias. While he was known for his leaping ability, Poffo also was popular for his poetic prowess and was a heel known as “The Genius.” In comparison, Savage couldn’t have been any more different from his brother’s on-screen character.
The fact they were related, when you consider how different they were portrayed on-screen, is pretty incredible actually. Savage carried with him all the pomp and pageantry that went into being the “Macho Man,” while Poffo was more often a corner man or someone that was relegated to being more of an undercard wrestler without as much attention brought to him.
It was also mentioned that Poffo was going to be in WCW when Savage was there, but unfortunately that never came to be. After Savage’s passing, Poffo proudly inducted his brother into the WWE Hall of Fame. While fans never got to see them perform together, one has to wonder how it would have worked if they were ever recognized on screen as brothers.