Any time a second generation pro wrestler follows in his or her parent’s footsteps, the older parties are bound to be extremely proud of their child’s accomplishments. Of course, that feeling will considerably swell should the kid actually turn out to be good at sports entertainment. The greatest joy likely comes in cases when the child clearly surpasses their forbearer, achieving more in the business than their elders ever could. In some cases, it doesn’t go quite that far, but there’s still a great deal of familial pride when father and son (or some other pair of blood relatives) make it clear they’re professional equals.
To this day, no set of direct relatives have both won the WWE World Championship. However, virtually every title in the industry has been kept in one family or another. Perhaps because of how varied the title history is, the WWE Tag Team Championships are by far the most represented belt in this area. Of course, there have also been countless real life brotherly duos to win the gold, yet for the purposes of this list, we’re only considering relatives who pulled off the accomplishments separately. That said, instances where siblings won other belts will be acknowledged.
Ultimately, championship reigns in wrestling are all predetermined, so wearing familiar gold around one’s waist doesn’t always mean a wrestler is upholding their family legacy. It’s one of the most tangible ways to judge such a thing, though, and it’s a rare enough accomplishment that any family to achieve it deserves some sense of acknowledgement. Keep reading to learn about 15 wrestlers who won the same titles as their family members.
15 Ted DiBiase, Jr. and Sr. Were Both WWE Tag Team Champions
If there’s any family in wrestling that could have bought their way to the gold, it’s the DiBiase’s. In fact, not only did both Ted DiBiase, Sr. and the son who shares his name both win the WWE Tag Team Championships, but they’re also noteworthy for having both won the Million Dollar Championship.
Of course, they also created that second belt, so it isn’t quite the same, but all that mattered to them was wearing another shiny piece of jewelry.
Unsurprisingly given the length of DiBiase, Jr.’s career, the elder Million Dollar Man was ultimately more decorated as a performer. Technically, DiBiase, Sr. has two reigns with the Million Dollar Championship to his name, plus three stints with the Tag Team titles, all with taxman Irwin R. Shyster as his partner. Sixteen full years after Money, Inc. lost their gold for the last time, DiBiase’s son won his first of two doubles championships, both with Cody Rhodes as his partner. Fittingly for this least, that duo called themselves The Legacy, noting that both of their father’s were acclaimed as legends of the business. While Cody is still going strong today and trying to make Dusty Rhodes proud, DiBiase, Jr. ultimately decided that unlike his father, the wrestling business wasn’t for him, leaving the business behind in his early 30s.
14 Afa, Sika, Samu, Fatu, and Rosey Were All WWE Tag Team Champions
For decades now, the Isle of Samoa has been well-known for producing legendary wrestlers, and the story begins with The Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika. Throughout the 1970s, the duo toured every territory of note in Canada and the United States, finally finding a steady home in the WWE Universe. Under the direction of Captain Lou Albano, the Wild Samoans were always the scariest and most violent duo around, a reputation they used to win three WWE Tag Team Championships and eventually enter the Hall of Fame. Vast and expansive as their family legacy would become from there, only two of their many relatives in the business would directly copy the achievement.
First up was Afa’s son Samu, who held the titles for four months as The Headshrinkers alongside his cousin, Fatu. Just over a decade later, their other cousin, Sika’s son Rosey, accomplished the same feat as a Superhero In Training with The Hurricane.
Impressive as all of this is, the Anoa’i family has actually achieved much greater things outside of the tag team division, with Rosey’s brother Roman Reigns upping their father’s feat with four reigns as WWE Champion thus far. Yet another cousin was slightly behind Roman with two such reigns in Yokozuna, and the family’s blood brother The Rock eclipses them all even further.
13 Chavo Guerrero, Jr. and Sr. Were Both WWE Cruiserweight Champions
With their incredible reach across two countries and three generations, Los Guerreros had more opportunities for family members to win the same title than almost any other. Rest assured, on a territorial level, Chavo, Hector, and Mando all won countless solo and tag team titles both together and separately, and there was plenty of overlap along the way. When it comes to the WWE Universe, however, this particular situation only happened once, and in reverse of what would be considered the usual order. Perhaps more shocking than that, it’s also the only example on this list where one relative won a solo championship from their own flesh and blood.
Ironically, the only reason Chavo Guerrero, Sr. came out of retirement in 2004 was to help his son, Chavo, Jr. Contrary to that goal, he actually ended up taking away his offspring’s Cruiserweight Championship in a triple threat match and holding it for nearly a full month.
Should the WWE Cruiserweight title be considered a continuation of WCW’s version of the belt (which WWE says it is), then Chavo, Sr.’s brother Eddie can also be thrown in the mix as the first man in the family to win the belt. Either way, Chavo, Jr. won it in both company, thus making each of them fit the list.
12 Blackjack Mulligan and Barry Windham Were Both NWA United States Champions
To a relatively new fan looking at things retrospectively, Blackjack Mulligan may appear to have been just another cliché cowboy wrestler in an era that was overloaded with them. While that may be somewhat true in terms of his gimmick, Mulligan’s success inside the ring speaks for itself, as this cowboy happened to wear a whole lot of rhinestones around his waist. In the WWE Universe, Mulligan is mostly known for holding the Tag Team titles in the 1970s alongside Blackjack Lanza, with whom he later entered the Hall of Fame.
This is only part of the story, though, as he achieved even greater success in the NWA, where he won the four separate reigns with the United States title plus one Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair.
Of course, it doesn’t matter which of these belts we’re talking about, as Mulligan’s son Barry Windham also held them all. Except for the US belt, he also won the belts more frequently, starting with two reigns as WWE Tag Team Champion both with his brother-in-law Mike Rotunda. While he only won the NWA belts with Lex Luger, they’re considered part of the future WCW Tag Team title history as well, which Barry won with Dustin Rhodes, Curt Hennig, and his brother Kendall, adding another level to the family connection.
11 Rikishi And The Usos Were Both WWE Raw Tag Team Champions
As most wrestling fans are well aware, the Anoa’i family tree extends far beyond Afa, Sika, and their sons. There are also the Wild Samoans’ nephews, including fellow WWE Hall of Famer and highly decorated performer of the Attitude Era, Rikishi. Naturally, Rikishi’s sons Jimmy and Jey Uso are also part of the fold. Due to wrestling giving confusing names to titles, it initially may look like all three deserved mention with Afa, Sika, Samu, and Rosey, yet only Rikishi technically held the same WWE Tag Team Championship belts as the others.
In fact, Rikishi was Samu’s partner in the Headshrinkers, and he enjoyed another quick reign holding the belts with Rico as his unwanted teammate.
Nowadays, though, WWE has another doubles belt that Rikishi and his sons also held. Originally, what are now considered the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships were once SmackDown’s version of the titles as established in 2002. Shortly after the belts were created, Rikishi and his Too Cool buddy Scotty 2 Hotty reunited to win them. Almost a full decade later, Jimmy and Jey would follow in their father’s footsteps and earn the gold together as a team. Showing how far the family has come, at this point, combining the Uso’s Raw and SmackDown belts would actually beat their grandparents overall time as tag team champs.
10 Rick and Scott Steiner Were Both WCW United States Champions
Before earning placement on this list as solo stars, The Steiner Brothers were already amongst the most decorated and celebrated tag teams in wrestling history. Together, they won championships in WCW, NWA, WWE, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, always striking fear into the hearts of lesser teams while taking them to suplex city. Of course, the men from Minnesota eventually became even bigger stars when splitting up, specifically Scott Steiner, who topped his brother’s accomplishments by becoming WCW World Champion in dominant fashion. Granted, before that could happen, there was a whole lot of shared gold in their singles careers.
Even before the Steiners were at the peak of the tag division, Rick started the family’s collection by winning the NWA Television Championship in the late '80s.
After the team came and went, Scott matched his brother’s feat roughly 10 years later. The next solo titles would have far less time in between them, as Scott won the United States Championship shortly thereafter, followed by Rick doing the same only about two years later. By the time Rick held the US title, the brothers were actually on good terms once more, and in fact, they both had gold again, as this was the same era in which Scott won his World title.
9 Dusty and Dustin Rhodes Were Both WCW United States Champions
Contrary to what this list may be suggesting, some legends can never be surpassed. That may well be the case with “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and his sons Cody and Dustin, as neither boy has changed pop culture and pro wrestling quite in the same way as their old man, at least yet. While Cody is the one making a serious effort at doing so these days, it’s actually Dustin who has come much closer to pulling it off in the past, especially during the onset of his career.
Immediately booked as a star upon his debut in WCW, it was only a few short years into his career that Dustin matched his father’s accomplishments in the doubles division as a two-time Tag Team Champion.
Dustin won the belts with his father’s old friends Barry Windham and Ricky Steamboat, while Dusty held them back in the '70s and '80s with Dick Slater and Manny Fernandez. Dusty and Dustin also share a great accomplishment in the solo division, as both also held the NWA/WCW United States Championship. Thus far, neither Dustin nor Cody has managed to match Dusty’s three reigns as NWA World Champion, yet that may change soon when Cody challenges for the belt at the upcoming indy super show All In.
8 Mr. Perfect and Curtis Axel Were Both WWE Intercontinental Champions
Whoever said “nobody’s perfect” clearly never met Curt Hennig, a.k.a. Mr. Perfect. An absolute master of every sport imaginable, Perfect was obviously a natural at pro wrestling, which is how he experienced one of the longest winning streaks of his day. While that ultimately ended against Hulk Hogan’s buddy Brutus Beefcake, there was a silver lining, as Perfect soon won a consolation prize in the Intercontinental Championship. To this day, Perfect’s expert title defences and lengthy reign earn him consideration as one of the men best associated with the belt and what it means to the WWE Universe.
Unfortunately, the short stint experienced by Perfect’s son, Curtis Axel, didn’t go quite as well. Things started off well enough with Axel becoming a “Paul Heyman Guy” based on his family reputation, though Heyman himself would later admit the duo simply didn’t have any chemistry.
The same was true of Axel and most of his challengers, as he was never quite able to make a single defence up to his father’s caliber. Nonetheless, the two make for a very unique pair, as they’re the only father-son duo in history to both hold the Intercontinental gold. Axel’s career has been on a downslide ever since, but at least for one moment, he had a taste of his father’s perfection.
7 Ric and David Flair Were Both WCW United States Champions
Because it’s unlikely WWE will ever reverse their position on women wrestling men and challenging for inter-gender championships, Charlotte Flair will unfortunately never completely match her father Ric’s accomplishments in the sport. Surprisingly, the Nature Boy’s other child David actually came closer than she ever could, despite the fact critics were typically harsh in questioning his right to do so. Of course, it’s not like David was a 16-time World Champion across NWA, WCW, and WWE; he merely held the United States Championship once for about a month in 1999.
At the time, Ric was the onscreen WCW President, and he simply handed his son the belt after forcing Scott Steiner to vacate it.
Granted, if anyone had the right to act so fast and loose with the title, it was Ric, as he had also held it more times than any other wrestler with six reigns, five in NWA, and the last WCW. Ric and David additionally both held the NWA/WCW Tag Team Championships, the Nature Boy winning them twice with Greg Valentine and once with Blackjack Mulligan, and his son picking them up a single time as Crowbar’s partner. Those two brief title reigns were about it for David’s career, though, as he apparently didn’t have the same passion for wrestling as his father.
6 Bret and Owen Hart Were Both WWE Intercontinental Champions
At this point, no set of brothers has managed to both become the WWE World Champion, but not that long ago, there was a pair who came very close to achieving the feat. Truly keeping it in the family, they almost did so against one another, when Owen Hart repeatedly challenged his older brother Bret for the gold throughout 1994. During this time frame, Bret was clearly the top name in WWE, while Owen was an up and coming star looking for his big break.
The younger Hart never did quite match his sibling’s World Championship success, but he would eventually do everything else Bret did in WWE, and sometimes he did it better.
Long before Bret Hart was a World or even Intercontinental Champion, he got his start with WWE in the doubles division, twice winning the Tag Team titles with Jim Neidhart as the Hart Foundation. Shortly after his initial war with Bret ended, Owen rose through the ranks in similar fashion to his enemy, ultimately picking up four reigns with the belts, two with Davey Boy Smith and one each with Yokozuna and Jeff Jarrett. Along the way, Owen also earned two runs with the Intercontinental Championship, which Bret likewise held in his transition from a half of a standout tag team to a solo star.
5 Jeff and Matt Hardy Were Both WWE United States Champions
Together or separately, the Hardy Boyz have long been one of the most popular duos in the WWE Universe, or anywhere in sports entertainment for that matter. Chances are the real life brothers will forever be better remembered for their time in the doubles division than as solo stars, thanks to the fact the Boyz won seven Tag Team Championships in WWE and at least one in virtually every other company in which they wrestled.
That’s hardly it for their gold, however, as both before and after splitting up, Jeff and Matt experienced plenty of singles success.
Outside of the tag division, it all began when Matt Hardy won the Hardcore Championship for a few minutes in 2000. Jeff matched that feat the next year, instantly one-upping Matt by holding it three times (with two reigns lasting longer than 24 hours, no less). In similar fashion, before Jeff won the Hardcore title, Matt picked up the European gold, followed by Jeff doing the same not much longer. More recently, the brothers continued sharing success when Jeff won the United States Championship, which Matt previously held 10 years earlier. Outside of WWE, the Hardyz are also the only two siblings to both hold the TNA World Championship, though only Jeff has reached that height while working for the McMahons.
4 Blackjack Lanza and John Bradshaw Layfield Were Both WWE Tag Team Champions
In many respects, Blackjack Mulligan and his son Barry Windham were basically equals throughout their careers, as their entry on this list repeatedly made clear. Not so for Mulligan’s partner Blackjack Lanza and his nephew John Bradshaw Layfield, as the elder cowboy wasn’t nearly as big a name as his partner or relative. Outside of the one WWE Tag Team Championship reign that places him on this list, there was little gold in Lanza’s career of which to speak.
Comparatively, this makes JBL the clear winner in the family, as he held virtually every title WWE has to offer.
Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Bradshaw’s championship resume began with the WWE Tag Team titles, which he won for the first time in 1999 with Faarooq. Known as the Acolytes then the Acolyte Protection Agency, the duo ultimately won the gold three times, just barely topping the Blackjacks stint with the titles in terms of overall days. That was just the beginning, though, as Bradshaw soon followed this with a whopping 18 Hardcore title reigns, then the European and WWE World Championship later on. Reversing the usual order, the Intercontinental and US belts came next, thus completing his Grand Slam. The best Uncle Blackjack could do was challenge Pedro Morales for the company’s top prize, though he never won it.
3 Davey Boy Smith and David Hart Smith Were Both WWE Tag Team Champions
Bret and Owen Hart were hardly the only two members of their extended family to achieve greatness in the WWE Universe. Brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith likewise became a legend, having matched his ex-wife’s siblings with reigns as Intercontinental and European Champion in the solo division. When it comes to the Smith family specifically, though, it’s the WWE Tag Team titles that count, since Davey Boy and his son, David Hart, both managed to wear them during their careers. The family history began when Davey Boy and The Dynamite Kid picked up the belts, which they would coincidentally later lose to Bret and Jim Neidhart.
His next reign also stayed within the family, as Owen became his new partner in what was one of the Attitude Era’s greatest pairings.
Similarly respecting family lineage, David Hart Smith earned his one stint with the belts 13 years after his father’s second, alongside family friend Tyson Kidd. As if the familial link weren’t already obvious, the duo called themselves The Hart Dynasty. In addition to this WWE accomplishment, Davey Boy and his son also both wore the Stampede North American and International Tag Team Championships. Of course, this is hardly a surprise, as the Hart family own Stampede and have always been happy to let family members represent the company as its champions.
2 Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr. Were Both NWA World Champions
For all the talk WWE does about being a family company, only the TNA and NWA World Championships have been shared between direct relatives. Obviously, the NWA accomplishment came first, with a story that starts all the way back the late 1960s, well before WWE even existed long enough for such a thing to happen. By defeating Gene Kiniski, the legendary Dory Funk, Jr. picked up the 10-pounds of gold, which he went on to hold for an incredible four and a half years, the second reign in history at that point.
Two short years later, Terry matched his brother’s accomplishment, though his reign only lasted 424 days.
Of course, the way Terry and Dory’s career progressed from there, it was arguably the younger sibling who made a greater impact on the industry. Impressive as Dory’s lengthy NWA Championship reign was, Terry went on to define the concept of hardcore wrestling with his intense matches in Japan, ECW, and even WCW when they let him go crazy. The two have also won plenty of minor territorial titles as well with some overlap, not to mention a few dozen Tag Team Championships as partners. Oddly enough, the one place neither brother won any gold was the WWE Universe, but it may simply be a case of them clearly being busy elsewhere.
1 The Rock and Rocky Johnson Were Both WWE Tag Team Champions
Of all the sons, nephews, and other such relatives on this list, no younger relation has ever quite surpassed his forefather quite as completely as The Rock. Sure, other wrestlers won more championships than their elders or maybe held them longer, but Dwayne Johnson is the only one to star in multiple number one Hollywood blockbusters, while his father never even appeared in a single mainstream film — not that he ever tried to. He was far more focused on his wrestling career, yet this is another area in which the child outdid his old man.
In addition to countless territorial titles throughout the NWA, Rocky Johnson’s greatest accomplishment was arguably winning the WWE Tag Team Championships with Tony Atlas as Soul Patrol.
More impressive than just winning the belts is that Johnson and Atlas were the first black team to do so. Of course, not even this compares to The Rock’s accomplishments in Hollywood or wrestling. In addition to matching his father’s feat with five separate Tag Team Championships, three with Mankind and one each with Chris Jericho and The Undertaker, Rock also won eight WWE Championships. That’s not even mentioning the fact he also happened to be the Most Electrifying Man in All of Sports Entertainment.
References: wwe.com, thesportster.com