One of the oldest gimmicks that wrestling promotions have employed is claiming that a newcomer is related to a particular superstar wrestler, even when that isn’t really the case. World Wrestling Entertainment, the largest and most successful professional wrestling organization in the world, has made use of the trick on more than one occasion. Some of the claims that have been made involve fabricated brothers like Edge and Christian, the Great Khali and Ranjin Singh, and the Undertaker and Kane. Then there are the fake father-and-son relationships, including the hilarious storyline involving Hornswoggle supposedly being Vince McMahon‘s illegitimate son. There are, however, actual fathers and sons who have both made a living as professional wrestlers. In fact, many of the WWE’s wrestlers who descended from superstars have made it big themselves, as the following list will show.
Take note, though, that the list intentionally excludes Shane and Stephanie McMahon, even though they used to wrestle, as their father has on occasion. Their $25 million net worths would have easily qualified them to be on the list, but the few matches that their father featured in doesn’t really make him a full-fledged wrestler. Furthermore, the net worths of deceased wrestlers were based on estimated values upon their death, the values, in turn, adjusted for inflation.
10. Goldust / Net Worth: $2 Million
In January of 2013, Goldust, previously known as “Dustin Rhodes”, returned to WWE through the Royal Rumble after more than six months of absence from the organization. And who else to eliminate him from the Rumble but his real-life brother, Cody Rhodes? That storyline took a twist in September when Goldust reappeared to try and get his “fired” brother rehired through defeating Randy Orton. However, Goldust ended up losing, prompting the boys’ real-life father, Dusty Rhodes, to plead for his sons to get their jobs back. “The American Dream” was then knocked out by Big Show. Gripping stuff.
It’s fitting that it was through a family-themed storyline that Goldust made a return to WWE. After all, in real life, the influence of his father on his career is undeniable. Dusty’s yellow polka-dotted common-man character was considered very unconventional in his time. Similarly, Goldust’s sex-infused, blond-wigged persona is one of the strangest in the history of the WWE.
9. Curtis Axel / Net Worth: $2 Million
When Joseph Curtis “Joe” Hennig joined WWE in 2010, he was introduced as part of “The Nexus” under the ring name “Michael McGillicutty“. In 2013, however, his career was reignited when he began to be known as “Curtis Axel”, a name more fitting for a third-generation wrestler. “Curtis” was a tribute to his late father, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, who was a major star in the WWE. “Axel”, on the other hand, was included as a reference to Joseph’s grandfather, Larry “The Axe” Hennig, who was a wrestler in the 60s.
Curtis’s sister, Amy, is also a professional wrestler.
8. Jeff Jarrett / Net Worth: $2 Million
Jeff Jarrett is sometimes referred to as the first third-generation wrestler of WWE, but that isn’t exactly true. His father, Jerry Jarrett, was indeed a professional wrestler, having decided to wrestle in the 60s after initially serving as a referee. However, neither of Jerry’s parents were wrestlers, although his mother was a well-known ticket seller for wrestling events. What makes some people consider Jeff a third-generation wrestler is the fact that Jerry’s father-in-law, Eddie Marlin, was a wrestler.
Whatever the case, it can hardly be denied that Jeff Jarrett has made his mark in the wrestling world. Not only is he a 74-time champion in various organizations; he’s also a successful wrestling promoter and the founder of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) –ventures through which Jeff has augmented the fortune he has built as a professional wrestler.
7. Natalya / Net Worth: $2 Million
WWE diva Natalya is the only female wrestler to make it to this list, but she certainly deserves her spot. After all, she’s the first third-generation female wrestler in sports entertainment. Her father is Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, best known for being the tag team partner of Bret “The Hitman” Hart in the highly successful tag team “The Hart Foundation”. Natalya’s mother, meanwhile, is Ellie Hart, who is the daughter of Stu Hart, the patriarch of the famous Hart wrestling family.
In fact, Natalya received her formal professional training in the “Dungeon”, a wrestling organization managed by the Hart family. In so doing, Natalya became the first woman to have been trained in the prestigious stable.
6. Randy Orton / Net Worth: $6 Million
Randy Orton‘s haters often point out that his success was merely served to him on a silver platter. Such criticism is rooted in Randy’s impressive wrestling pedigree. His father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, is a WWE Hall of Famer, while Cowboy’s father, Bob Orton, Sr., was a multi-titled superstar in the NWA. This lineage has caused Randy’s critics to say that the twelve-time WWE World Champion wouldn’t have been pushed so hard had he not been a third-generation wrestler.
It doesn’t help either that Orton, who enlisted with the Marine Corps in 1998, was discharged for bad conduct and served thirty-eight days in military prison. Then there are the steroid-abuse allegations that are said to have nearly derailed the young superstar’s career. But in fairness to the Tennessee-born superstar, he has managed to overcome the trials he has faced throughout his career to become one of WWE’s most reliable and bankable superstars.
5. Alberto del Rio / Net Worth: $6 Million
Some wrestling observers allege that while WWE has consistently marketed Alberto del Rio as a premier superstar, he hasn’t really clicked either as a face or as a heel. Furthermore, they say the only reason why del Rio remains a premier star in WWE is because he’s a second-generation wrestler, his father being the noted luchador Dos Caras. Well, a look at the fighting history of the Mexico-born grappler shows there might be some truth to the accusations hurled against him: before working for WWE, del Rio used the name “Dos Caras, Jr.” in wrestling promotions throughout Mexico and Japan.
Nevertheless, Alberto deserves some credit for remaining in the spotlight since his WWE debut in 2010. Already, he’s topped the 2011 Royal Rumble, won the 2011 “Money in the Bank” match, and is a two-time WWE Champion.
4. Eddie Guerrero / Net Worth Upon Death: $6.1 Million
The Guerrero wrestling family, also referred to as “Los Guerreros”, is one of the premier families of wrestling. The clan’s patriarch, Gory Guerrero, began wrestling in 1937 and became one of the premier Hispanic professional wrestlers of his time. Gory then married Herlinda Llanes whose three brothers were all professional wrestlers. Not unexpectedly, all four of Herlinda and Gory’s sons ended up becoming professional wrestlers themselves.
Among those four sons were Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero, Sr., who, aside from being the oldest Cruiserweight Champion in WWE history, also had a wrestler son, Chavo Guerrero, Jr.. In 2002, Chavo, Jr. and his uncle, Eddie, formed “Los Guerreros”, a tag team that had a policy of “Lie, Cheat and Steal” to win matches, and eventually, the WWE Tag Team Championship. Later the partnership split and Eddie went on to greater heights by becoming the WWE Champion and one of the organization’s most popular wrestlers. Sadly, in 2005, he died in his hotel at the age of 38 due to heart failure.
Today, the Guerrero legacy lives on with Eddie’s daughter, Shaul, who is wrestling under WWE’s developmental brand, NXT.
3. Randy Savage / Net Worth Upon Death: $8.2 Million
Several things about WWE superstar “Macho Man” Randy Savage‘s life are not widely known. One of them is that he was a St. Louis Cardinals catcher who was signed out of high school and played 289 games in four minor league seasons. It’s also not regularly mentioned that Savage’s father was a 50s and 60s professional wrestler, who set a world record by doing 6,033 sit-ups in four hours and ten minutes.
In the fall and winter of the baseball off-season of 1973, Randy broke into the wrestling business as “The Spider”, who was very similar to Spider-Man (interesting because Savage would later play Bonesaw McGraw in the 2002 film “Spider-Man”). That arachnid persona didn’t stick, however, and he later took on his more well-known wrestling name “Randy Savage”.
Savage died due to a sudden heart attack in 2011. He leaves behind him the legacy of being one of the most successful wrestlers of all time.
2. Bret Hart / Net Worth: $14 Million
Bret Hart is perhaps one of the most respected wrestlers in the world, owing in no small part to his technical mastery of wrestling. His talent has prompted his own peers to call him “the greatest pure wrestler to ever lace up in a pair of boots” and “the greatest technical wrestler in WWE history”. That shouldn’t surprise, however, since Bret Hart hails from the famous Hart family as the eighth child of wrestling patriarch Stu Hart.
Wrestling fans will remember Bret for his glorious exploits as a member of “The Hart Foundation” and as a multi-titled champion. Hidden in the shadows, however, is the suffering “The Hitman” had to undergo as a teenager whose father inflicted excruciating submission holds on him while uttering morbid, violent words — moments that often left Bret with broken blood vessels in his eyes. Nevertheless, in his 2007 autobiography, Hart mentioned that he still remembers his father’s otherwise pleasant demeanor.
1. The Rock / Net Worth: $85 Million
Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. “The Rock“, is a third-generation superstar by virtue of his father, Rocky Johnson, being a trailblazing wrestler in the 70s and 80s, and his grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, building a career that earned him a place in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. Before Dwayne entered the squared circle, though, he was first involved in American football. He was on the University of Miami’s national championship team and later played for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. Unfortunately, The Rock was cut two months into the 1995 season, and that’s when Dwayne decided to become a professional wrestler.
That turned out to be a terrific career decision as Johnson is known today as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time after seventeen WWE championship reigns, including eight terms as WWE Champion and two turns as World Champion of the WCW. His success in the ring has also allowed Dwayne to co-author a #1 best-selling autobiography, “The Rock Says”, and to star in several blockbusters like “The Scorpion King”, “The Game Plan” and some of the “The Fast and the Furious” sequels.