Family feuds are as much a part of professional wrestling as steel chairs and easily distracted referees. Throughout the years, we’ve seen brother vs brother, brother vs sister, mother vs daughter, and pretty much any other combination of bloodline bad blood that you can think of.
In recent years, the father vs child rivalry has started to occur more and more on WWE programming. While it wasn’t all that frequent in the Attitude Era – mainly due to the fact most of the era’s stars were first generation – in the past twelve years, we have seen feuds between Stardust and Dusty Rhodes, Charlotte and Ric Flair, and the kayfabe pairing of Kane and Paul Bearer.
Backstage, however, daddy-offspring battles have been going on for decades. In the past, such genuine family drama went unknown to the fans; but in the age of the internet, reports of these strained relationships spread from website to website and across the entire Internet Wrestling Community.
Some wrestlers have embraced this, and have even taken to podcasts and YouTube to tell their stories. Others have refused to discuss their family lives, possibly because the wounds are still fresh or the issues have been resolved since their original reporting.
Here, we have prepared a list of fifteen WWE superstars, past and present, who hate – or have at some point hated – their fathers. In some cases, the cause of the rift between father and child is difficult to discern. In others, however, it is obvious, well-documented, and all too justifiable.
15. AJ Styles
AJ Styles appeared on The Stone Cold Podcast this past Monday to discuss his WWE experience thus far, his time in TNA, and the differences between the two companies. He also talked about his childhood and what it was like to grow up with a father who was an alcoholic.
AJ described his family as being “dirt poor” and said that he and his siblings would dread his father’s return from work, as he would usually stop at a bar on his way home. According to Styles, his father would turn violent when he drank, and get his frustrations out by beating his children.
The two-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion said that as a kid he promised himself he would learn from his father’s mistakes and be a great dad to his own children. If Styles family photos are anything to go by, The Phenomenal One has done just that.
Dustin Runnels has established himself as one of the most unique and captivating WWE superstars of all time. Most people put this down to the mentoring he received from his legendary father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. What many don’t realize, however, is that there was a period of five years during which Runnels and his father refused to speak to each other.
Just prior to his WWE debut, Goldust began to have problems with his father, who opposed his marriage to WWE valet Terri. This led to countless heated arguments between the Rhodes men until the two mutually severed their ties.
Dustin and Terri divorced in 1999, which eventually led to a reconciliation between father and son. By all accounts, Dustin and Dusty maintained a close and loving relationship until The Dream’s death in summer of last year.
13. Jimmy Uso
In another example of a woman coming between father and son, former WWE superstar Rikishi was not best pleased to learn of his son Jimmy Uso’s intention to marry non-Samoan Trinity McCray.
The entire messy situation was featured on the reality television series Total Divas, where it was also revealed that Jimmy Uso and his father rarely had any contact. Rikishi’s disapproval of his son’s marriage to a non-Samoan was so great that there was concern he would attempt to stop the wedding by turning Jimmy against his bride-to-be (or maybe by orchestrating one of his trademark hit-and-runs).
Edge is a legend in the world of professional wrestling. His rise to the top of the WWE mountain is one few expected when he first appeared as a brooding loner, entering through the crowd back in 1998. However, Edge’s success is even more surprising when you take into account what he had to endure prior to his WWE career.
The cards were stacked against Edge from very early on. The 11-time world champion never met his father, who walked out on his mother when she was still pregnant. Like most people in his situation, Edge has a long-held resentment for his father, and has made no attempts to contact him. In fact, the WWE Hall of Famer claims to have never even seen a photograph of the man.
11. David Sammartino
If there was ever a guy who had big boots to fill, it’s David Sammartino. The son of Bruno Sammartino, David had his work cut out for him if he was ever going to step out of the shadow of the longest reigning World Champion in WWE history.
The younger Sammartino was at odds with his father from the moment he decided to step into the squared-circle. Bruno made it clear that he wanted his son to pursue a different career, possibly one in education or law. The Living Legend ultimately gave in and offered to train his son himself in order to ensure he learned the right way to protect himself in the ring.
Things only got worse from here as David frequently challenged his father and his training methods. In a further act of rebellion, the second-generation superstar began to take steroids along with a number of other drugs, which is the absolute worst thing you can do if your father is Bruno Sammartino.
10. Brian Christopher
Brian Christopher is best known for his time in WWE, where he performed under the monicker “Grandmaster Sexay.” Despite his decision not to use the family name, it’s common knowledge that Christopher is the son of Memphis wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler. Also common knowledge is the fact the that for years the two had a strained relationship.
Like many children of wrestling, Brian Christopher rarely saw his father when he was growing up. At one point, Christopher stated that he considered himself lucky if his dad was around more than a couple of times a year.
As a child, most of what Christopher knew about his father was picked up from watching him on television or reading about him and his exploits with younger women in the papers. It’s no surprise then that this led to the Grandmaster building up quite negative feelings towards his dear old dad, which he held onto for many years.
While most reports suggest the two are now on good terms, Christopher’s appearance on Raw a number of years ago – during which he launched into a scathing promo about his father – left many wondering if the two were still working through their problems.
9. Roddy Piper
As a teenager, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper hated his father. I’m not talking about that usual teenage angst with the loud music and the slamming doors; I mean Roddy Piper hated his father. In fact, the relationship between Piper and his father was so toxic that the young Roderick Toombs packed up his bags and left home at the tender age of 15.
Though Piper usually stopped short of explaining just what his father did, it must have been fairly terrible as he chose to spend the next couple of years moving from youth hostel to youth hostel rather than returning home. At one point, he even wound up living on an Indian Reservation, such was his determination to stay away from his dad.
Of course, Roddy went on to becoming one of the most deserving WWE superstars to never hold the title, and probably the greatest heel of all time. You have to wonder just how much of his father did Piper use when crafting his villainous persona.
Sean Waltman doesn’t paint the greatest picture of either of his parents. However, it is his father who caused the majority of his problems. Just like Edge’s dad, Waltman’s father created a whole lot of issues for his family by the effortless act of not being there.
X-Pac has stated in a number of interviews that he was pretty much left to fend for himself after the age of five, while his mother was out doing whatever she could to provide for her family. The lack of a male influence led to the boy idolizing any man who came into his life, praying they would assume the role of his father. Waltman’s unwavering trust in any adult male resulted in him being molested several times, something which he kept to himself until his late 20s.
Had X-Pac’s father been there for him, it’s likely the alcoholism and drug addiction, which led to his release from WWE, never would have occurred. With clear charisma and in-ring ability, it looks like the only thing X-Pac was lacking in order to become a major star was a father who cared about him.
The story of Chyna is one of professional wrestling’s greatest tragedies. She passed away in April of this year after a life that was plagued by alcoholism and drug abuse. Like X-Pac, these problems resulted in Chyna’s dismissal from WWE, but began long before she ever considered a career in the business.
Her parents divorced when she was little more than a baby, and her father was an alcoholic who once stabbed her mother with a kitchen knife. This alone is enough to justify Chyna’s disdain for her father, but there is, unfortunately, more to the story. Later in her life, she found herself $40,000 in debt after her father took out a multitude of student loans in her name without her knowledge.
It is unclear if Chyna and her father ever patched things up before her death, but it is highly unlikely. While the argument can be made that a lot of father’s on this list should be forgiven for their past misdeeds, Chyna’s father was a truly detestable man who deserves little pity.
6. “Superstar” Billy Graham
In his autobiography Tangled Ropes, “Superstar” Billy Graham reveals a number of shocking truths about professional wrestling and the lifestyle which comes along with it. There is no shortage of shocking tales in the book, but few can compare to the stories Graham shares about his father in the opening chapters.
Like many fathers of the 1950s, Billy Graham’s dad was a strict authoritarian who used beatings to keep his kids in line. Whenever Billy did something to upset his father, he would find himself being spanked or whipped with a force way beyond what anyone would consider acceptable.
As Graham’s dad got older, he began to favor using a belt rather than his fists as it required less effort and caused as much, if not more, damage. The violence persisted until Superstar, beginning to develop the strength which would make him famous, grabbed the belt from his father mid-beating and let him know he would no longer stand for such treatment.
5. Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon‘s issues with his father and his booking decisions have been a talking point for years. When Shane O’Mac resigned from WWE several years ago, he claimed his only reason for leaving was that he wanted to pursue a life outside of wrestling. However, the general consensus is that Vince’s oldest child was frustrated by the fact his father was planning to pass the business onto his daughter Stephanie and her husband (who may or may not be a doofus).
Now that Shane has returned to the company, reports of his disdain for his father have surfaced once again. Tensions are said to be high between the two as Shane attempts to re-establish himself as a major player behind the scenes.
Many who have been backstage at recent WWE events have reported picking up on issues between Shane and Vince McMahon, with WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart claiming the negative energy when both men are in the same room is impossible to ignore.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows the McMahon family history. The McMahon men usually end up in some sort of power struggle as the young lion attempts to dethrone the one who came before him. Unfortunately for Shane, it doesn’t look like his dad is going anywhere anytime soon.
4. The Rock
When The Rock first showed up in the then-World Wrestling Federation, he went by the ring name “Rocky Maivia.” This was a tribute to his grandfather, Peter Miavia, and his father, Rocky Johnson. For this reason, many are surprised to learn that the relationship between Dwayne Johnson and his father is not a great one.
Much like Brian Christopher, the young Rock rarely saw his father when he was growing up. While his dad was away wrestling, Dwayne formed a strong bond with his mother, which he probably felt was interrupted any time his father returned home.
While he was on the road, Rocky Johnson entered into an affair with a female fan who believed he was single. This relationship went on for over two decades. When The Rock discovered his father’s infidelity, he was understandably furious, and gave much abuse not only to Rocky, but to the woman he believed was trying to destroy what little harmony there was in his home life.
The Rock’s strained relationship with his father continues to this day, and can be seen in the way he blatantly favors his mother, showering her with expensive gifts while rarely mentioning the man he took his name from.
3. Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose‘s childhood was far from idyllic. The boy, then known as Jonathan Good, spent much of his formative years being moved from house to house in the poorest areas of Cincinnati.
Little is known about Good’s relationship with his father, but the information which is available suggests the two have never been on the best terms. Ambrose has said he got into wrestling because he would watch it with his friend and his friend’s father, but has never mentioned spending any quality time with his own dad.
During their heated rivalry in early 2015, the maniacal Bray Wyatt frequently referenced Ambrose’s personal life in his promos, at one point asking the future world champion if his dad still sent him “postcards from prison.”
WWE has a long history of incorporating personal issues into their storylines, but the fact that Ambrose was so willing to let the company discuss his father’s legal troubles suggests he doesn’t care all that much about what people think of his old man.
2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts came dangerously close to becoming just another dead wrestler. In 2009, his alcoholism, combined with his drug use, led many to believe he would experience the same fate as Hawk, Bam Bam Bigelow and countless other former WWE superstars. In the recently released The Resurrection of Jake The Snake, Roberts reveals that his father is very much to blame for his demons.
According to Roberts, his father, also a professional wrestler, was an unpredictable man who was quick to use anger. While Jake’s dad was on the road, his step-mother would sexually abuse him, knowing the boy was far too frightened of his father to tell him what was going on.
Jake’s disdain for his father was so great that he entered professional wrestling simply because he wanted to be better than him. This is also the reason he started drinking regularly; he wanted to embarrass his party animal dad by drinking him under the table.
Jake’s hatred for his father left him with some pretty severe problems later on in life, but thanks to Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga, it seems the Snake has finally left them in the past. Here’s hoping he can also move on from his issues with his dad and finally get himself in WWE’s good books.
1. CM Punk
Unlike a lot of the wrestlers on this list, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion and current UFC fighter CM Punk has not shied away from discussing his problems with his father.
In his WWE produced documentary Best in the World, Punk reveals that his relationship with his parents was so bad when he was a teenager that he ran away from home and went to live with the family of his best friend.
Punk’s abhorrence of alcohol is in large part due to his father, who had a serious drinking problem. In his documentary, CM Punk recalls the time his father was late picking him up one evening because he had been drinking all day. When he finally arrived, the man was in no condition to drive, and put the life of his son in danger by trying to do so. To top it off, he spent the entirety of the car ride throwing up on himself, a sight which the young Punk would never forget.
In 2013, CM Punk’s relationship with his parents was put in the spotlight when they returned to his life and demanded money, threatening to reveal damaging information about his teenage years if he did not meet their demands. Punk stuck to his guns and refused to give them a penny, even taking out a restraining order to prevent them from contacting him further.