One of the appeals behind good professional wrestling is the emotion on display. Wrestlers are generally strong and tough fighters, but they’re also emotional people who wear their hearts on their sleeves, and few subjects inspire emotional people to action more powerfully than their families. Throughout wrestling’s long history, superstars have been using their actual families in their storylines to bring some real life flavor to their gimmicks and feuds.
Occasionally, this happens because everybody in the family is already in the wrestling business. The children of wrestlers occasionally take it upon themselves to step into the ring, and their famous family wanted to give them a boost early in their career. That isn’t what this list is about. This list is about the times when wrestlers dragged their families into the ring despite the fact they were anything but trained professionals. Many of these wrestlers chose to employ their young, preteen children in order to garner sympathy and support. Others used their real wives to make fans hate their opponents when they took things too far. Keep reading and learn about 15 wrestlers who brought their families with them into their violent, crazy world.
15. Cactus Jack – His Son Was Threatened
Most of the wrestlers on this list had their families physically enter a wrestling ring for one reason or another, but all Cactus Jack had to do was mention his son during a promo, and his son became one of the most notable names in wrestling history. In 1995, Cactus Jack was already on his way to becoming the epitome of hardcore during his stay in ECW. In the midst of a feud with The Sandman, a fan in the crowd brought a sign that read “Cane Dewey.” Cactus saw the sign and used it to write one of his most passionate and fondly remembered speeches, damning the crowd for implying the Sandman should attack Foley’s then 3-year-old son. Although Dewey himself never appeared in ECW, the Sandman’s son must have been paying attention to the whole ordeal…
14. The Sandman – His Son Worshipped Raven
The Sandman is best remembered as the beer swilling, cane swinging Hardcore Icon of ECW. He started out as a heel with a surfing gimmick, but gradually he acted more and more like himself, and by the time ECW started gaining traction he was the avatar and representative of their crazy, drunken fan base. This naturally made him extremely popular. In order to humanize the crazy hardcore freak, when The Sandman engaged in a feud with Raven throughout the majority of 1996, Raven started things off with a massive blow to The Sandman’s ego: he convinced The Sandman’s 7-year-old son Tyler to denounce his father and worship Raven instead. Tyler was The Sandman’s real son, and both Sandman and Raven would later jokingly admit the kid played his part even better than the adults. The storyline resolved with the happy ending of Tyler joining the bWo and eventually reconciling with his father, but Raven still managed to win the majority of the battles in the ring.
13. Hulk Hogan – His Son Picked His Ring Gear
Hulk Hogan brought his entire family into the national spotlight when he starred in a reality show called Hogan Knows Best on VH1, but he had actually been bringing his son Nick along with him to select episodes of Nitro since at least 1996. Nick’s first several appearances were extremely minor and didn’t exactly amount to much, with him simply sitting in his dad’s lap or hanging out with The Outsiders during the early days of the nWo. Just a few years later Nick would actually play his first major role, acting as the catalyst for Hogan to return to his classic red and yellow American Made persona in WCW in September of 1999. Nick’s personal life seriously went off the rails as he grew into adulthood, but fans of WCW got to see him as the little Hulkster he once was.
12. The Undertaker – His Wife Was Stalked
WWE will try to tell you that Paul Bearer was the Undertaker’s father and Kane is his brother, but obviously neither of those things are true. What is true was that in 2001, The Undertaker brought his actual wife Sara into the ring for an almost universally maligned angle. Sara obviously had no training as a performer or as a wrestler, but it was decided the best way to introduce WCW legend “Diamond” Dallas Page was for him to stalk the Dead Man’s wife. In a sense it worked, in that it made Undertaker mad enough to “make DDP famous,” but fans really didn’t like the fact such a stupid storyline was being used to bring the two main event superstars together. The fact Sara wasn’t a great actress really didn’t help things.
11. Kevin Steen – His Infant Son Pinned His Rival
Kevin Steen is better known today as Kevin Owens, but considering he dragged his infant baby into the ring while performing under his real name, that’s how we’ll refer to him. Steen was working for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2008, teaming with El Generico and feuding against Excalibur. Steen and Generico won a tag team tournament, after which Excalibur entered the ring and mocked Steen and his family, calling his son ugly. Steen responded by beating up Excalibur and carrying his baby into the ring, placing him on top of Excalibur, and counting the pin fall. At only 6-months-old, Owen Steen had entered a wrestling ring and earned a mock victory. Fans have since questioned if this was a fun family moment or serious child endangerment.
10. Torrie Wilson – Her Father Married Her Rival
At least half of these stories were viewed negatively at the time, but none of them come anywhere near the universal criticism received for Torrie Wilson’s angle with her father Al. In late 2002, Torrie introduced her father Al to the wrestling world, and Al immediately and strangely caught the eye of Dawn Marie. Dawn was always controversial and extremely attractive villain, and she chose to play with Wilson’s head by marrying and creating sex tapes with her father. The tapes they made got so steamy Dawn actually “killed” Al Wilson through their constant vigorous sex. No part of this ever gets mentioned on TV today, but there are probably a few divas with fathers hoping to relive the era.
9. Shane McMahon – His Sons Danced Him To The Ring
Shane-O-Mac is a McMahon, and therefore it is basically his duty to his family to ensure that his children eventually end up on television as much as he and his parents have. He still started things arguably a bit too early though, when he had his three young sons accompany him to the ring at WrestleMania 32. The oldest of Shane’s boys was 12 at the time, and the youngest was only 6, as they danced their way to the ring in front of 100,000 screaming fans. The McMahon children didn’t participate in their dad’s match and were only used to create a “WrestleMania moment” and give Shane an extra boost of sympathy, but we predict it won’t be too long until one of those boys winds up in the ring again.
8. Randy Anderson – His Family Tried To Save His Job
Randy Anderson is almost completely forgotten by the wrestling world today, along with a slew of other WCW staff members who only rarely got any screen time. Anderson was a WCW referee, and his facial expressions and sympathetic qualities led to him becoming the focus of a storyline in 1997. Eric Bischoff and the nWo were abusing their power, specifically targeting referees, and even more specifically firing Anderson for no particular reason. The week after being fired, Anderson appeared on Nitro with his wife and children. The family all begged Bischoff to give Anderson his job back. Although Bischoff said no, Anderson did eventually resume his duties, until he eventually had to retire due to testicular cancer. He passed away because of the disease in 2002.
7. Bret and Owen Hart – Their Mom Cost Bret His Title
In a sense, we admit it’s cheating to include the Hart family in this list in any way. Anyone with even the most fleeting relation to Stu Hart inevitably at least took a tour of his famous Dungeon. All of Stu’s sons became wrestlers, and most of his daughters married wrestlers, inexorably linking their bloodline with wrestling history. However, the one person who nobody ever expected to step into the ring was Stu’s wife, Helen. The matriarch of the Hart family would finally find her way into a wrestling ring twice, first in 1994 and again in 1997. In 97, she joined in the Hart family reunion that ended Canadian Stampede, but Helen’s inaugural appearance was far more noteworthy. At the 1994 Survivor Series, Helen was convinced by Owen to throw in the towel during Bret’s title defense against Bob Backlund, making Backlund the winner. Despite being the deciding factor in costing her son the title, Helen never actually gave an interview or stepped into the ring until the reunion a few years later.
6. Davey Boy Smith – His Wife Lied About Being Hit On
Diana Hart is obviously the sister of Bret and Owen Hart, but it was while she was married to Davey Boy and called Diana Hart-Smith that she started getting involved in the wrestling world. Like her mother Helen, Diana sat on the sidelines for years while the men in her family duked it out in the Dungeon. Diana made several appearances in WWE sitting in the crowd during her husband or brothers’ matches, but in 1996 she became the focal part of the feud between Davey Boy and Shawn Michaels. Diana accuses HBK of sexually assaulting her after a Pay-Per-View, and gave an interview in the ring during an episode of Raw. Diana disappeared from wrestling after her husband lost the feud.
5. Jake Roberts – His Wife Was Definitely Hit On
For every Sara Calaway and Diana Hart-Smith, there is Cheryl Roberts to prove bringing your wife into the ring can supply huge dividends for everyone involved. In 1988, “Ravishing” Rick Rude had just debuted in WWE, and was undergoing a gimmick that saw him pick the most beautiful woman in the front row and give her a ravishing kiss, called a Rude Awakening. One night on Superstars of Wrestling, the woman Rude selected was the wife of Jake Roberts. Cheryl Roberts refused the kiss, causing Rude and her husband to engage in a legendary feud. Throughout their battles, Rude would regularly wear tights with a picture of Cheryl drawn on his waist. While this might qualify as sexual harassment these days, at the time it was considered one of the most brilliant moves a heel had ever pulled.
4. Rey Mysterio – His Children Were Victimized
Rey Mysterio has brought both of his young children into WWE wrestling rings and made them the focus of major storylines. Maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising since Rey himself got his start as a wrestler when he was only 14. His son Dominick became involved with Rey’s feud against Eddie Guerrero in 2005, with Eddie claiming he was Dominick’s true father. Mysterio ultimately proved his paternity and Dominick left the WWE. Dominick returned a few years later, but this time his younger sister was the focal point. In 2010, Mysterio invited his family to the ring to celebrate Aaliyah Mysterio’s 9th birthday, only for CM Punk to interrupt. Punk menacingly sang “Happy Birthday” to her while Mysterio refused to fight him in front of his family.
3. Ricky Steamboat – His Family Stood By Him
The matches and feud between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat stand as arguably the greatest rivalry in the history of professional wrestling. They wrestled each other countless times for what must have felt like endless hours, but the three matches everyone remembers took place in 1989. Part of what made this feud so legendary was that Flair and Steamboat were polar opposites of one another in every way—while Flair would make increasingly grand entrances to the ring flocked by an ever-growing harem of women, Steamboat entered the ring carrying his young son and holding his wife’s hand. They got out of the ring before the bell rang and served mostly as set dressing to an already hot feud, but absolutely no one complains about this one, showing that perhaps the understated is better when it comes to bringing your family to work.
2. Ric Flair – His Son Fought His Boss
While the Ric Flair who faced Ricky Steamboat found himself surrounded by mysterious beautiful women, about 10 years later he had slightly mellowed down and started to raise a family of his own. Ric’s son David became a well-known name during the dying days of WCW, and his son Reid may well have followed in the family tradition had things in his life panned out differently. Reid still managed to make a few appearances in WCW, standing alongside his father and family friend Arn Anderson in their feud with Eric Bischoff. Reid was only 10-years old when he wrestled his first match, pinning Bischoff. He was obviously way too young to be a full-time, trained pro wrestler, but Reid actually did already have a minor amateur background, so it wasn’t completely outlandish for a child to beat a non-wrestling adult in a quick contest. Unfortunately, Reid never was able to transition into a real career as a wrestler, as he passed away due to a heroin overdose in 2013. That hasn’t stopped his family from mentioning him, though…
1. Charlotte – Her Dead Brother Was Insulted
Two years after Reid Flair passed away of a heroin overdose, his older sister Charlotte was gaining traction in the WWE women’s division. Charlotte had been connected to her father and her famous family since her debut, which was understandable, and it was effective as long as WWE kept the references to people who could actually step into the ring if called upon. Virtually everyone felt like they went way too far, however, when Charlotte’s rival Paige mocked the Flair’s by asking “Your brother didn’t have much fight in him, did he?” The reference to an untimely death of a close family member immediately brought WWE under fire, especially after Ric posted on social media that he wasn’t told about the comment, and it made both him and Reid’s mother feel extremely hurt.