Over the years, there have been plenty of second generation wrestlers to join the WWE, many of which have gone on to accomplish great things while others just faded away from the spotlight. Being the kid of a wrestler gives you a great opportunity to break into the industry since you already have one foot in the door.
Just like any other industry, connections are extremely important in wrestling and it’s the reason plenty of wrestlers were hired in the first place. But genetics mean very little when it comes to professional wrestling; being a great performer and entertainer doesn’t guarantee that your kid is going to be one as well.
We have seen plenty of Superstars strive to create their own legacy, such as Randy Orton, who is a third generation wrestler that surpassed his grandfather and Hall of Famer father. But for every Orton, there are plenty of names who simply try to get over through their family name. While fans might be more interested in following their career than that of someone with no background, they must impress in order to permanently gain their attention.
In recent times, we have witnessed plenty of second generation wrestlers come into the WWE, but very few of them managed to stick around while others were either released or simply quit the business. With today’s list, we look at 8 pathetic second generation wrestlers who failed to follow the footsteps of their dads and 7 others who made us proud by achieving tremendous success in the industry.
15. Pathetic: David Sammartino
David Sammartino is a second generation wrestler who tried to piggyback off his father’s legacy only to fall flat at the end. While Bruno Sammartino was the biggest start in wrestling until the 80s, holding the WWE title for 11 years, his son didn’t come close to following his footsteps.
When he was introduced to fans, he was accompanied by his father to help him get over and it worked to an extent. But if Bruno wasn’t around, fans didn’t seem to care too much. Following some disputes with the company, David left the WWE numerous times only to be re-signed. There was eventually a major dispute between them and he wasn’t seen since then.
14. Made Us Proud: Cody Rhodes
The legendary Dusty had a tremendous impact on the wrestling business, as we all learned when he passed away in 2015. From co-workers to fans, he was a remarkable figure who left his mark in more ways than one. His older son Goldust has had impressive longevity with a career spanning 20 years, but he has always been limited by his gimmick.
As for his younger son, Cody Rhodes, most would agree that he is the one carrying the torch from Dusty. He had a decent run with the WWE where he won numerous mid-card titles until he left the company in 2016. Since then, he has embarked on a new journey with Ring of Honor where he is currently the World Heavyweight Champion.
Cody has significantly improved since leaving WWE, and he is probably going to be back soon with the company. Although he wasn’t able to reach main event status in his first run, there is no doubt that Rhodes would be more than capable in his second one.
13. Pathetic: Manu
Trained by his father Afa Anoaʻi, Manu had the potential to succeed in the wrestling business but his career was cut almost immediately. While his father was being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, Manu was preparing to make his on-screen debut.
He was put in a great position after teaming up with fellow second and third generation wrestlers in Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and Randy Orton but he was kicked out of the group soon afterward.
While Orton claims that Manu was released from the company due to attitude problems, many wrestling sites claim that the company was very critical about his physical appearance and asked him to lose weight. It appears that WWE gave up on him quickly as they changed their original plans to have him booted out of the storyline before being released from the company.
12. Made Us Proud: Eddie Guerrero
There is a reason why Eddie Guerrero is one of the most beloved wrestlers of all-time. He was a complete talent who could do it all from in-ring skills to promos. Guerrero was as versatile as it gets in the ring, he could wrestle bigger bodies like Brock Lesnar, technical wrestlers like Kurt Angle and highflyers such as Rey Mysterio. The son of Gory Guerrero, who is one of the most influential figures in wrestling, Eddie managed to live up to the legacy of the family.
He passed away during the prime of his career in 2005, and he could have likely achieved even more. Despite only capturing the WWE title once, he’s still considered by many of his peers and fans to be the greatest of all-time. Many of today’s Superstars have listed him as their influence to get into wrestling, which says plenty about the impact Eddie left.
11. Pathetic: Tamina
While several wrestling legends have had several kids who followed their footsteps in the industry, there is usually at least one who manages to succeed. Such wasn’t the case for Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka whose kids have failed to leave a mark, including current WWE Superstar Tamina who is on the SmackDown roster.
With women’s wrestling being at its peak right now, Tamina should have achieved more than she has. While most of the women are currently shining one way or another, most people believe that Tamina is only there due to her family background. While her father was a pioneer who introduced the world to a new style of wrestling, she is far off from matching him.
10. Made Us Proud: Roman Reigns
While not all fans might approve of Roman Reigns, he has already accomplished so much in a short period of time. The son of Sika Anoa’i, Reigns is probably the most accomplished wrestler of his generation. He has beaten some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Undertaker, Triple H, and John Cena.
It’s understandable as to why some fans may not approve of the Superstar, he did get pushed too fast and tends to dominate most of his opponents. But it doesn’t seem like WWE will be changing its investment anytime soon, as he will likely remain the face of the company for years to come.
9. Pathetic: David Flair
While Charlotte has lived up to the legacy of her family, her brother David has failed to reach those same expectations. Although he briefly wrestled for WWE and TNA, David is mostly remembered for his time in WCW during its late years before it was bought out.
He won the WCW United States Championship and Tag Team titles, so at least he did enter the history books. But he also earned a reputation as a failed second generation wrestler, which is deserved since he was actually given several opportunities to flourish.
David Flair has become an example that talent can’t be passed down through genetics. Ric Flair was an all-around performer in the ring and as an entertainer, while David lacked in both departments. His matches were disastrous most of the time while his personality is the opposite of his father. If you were too young to have seen David Flair in his wrestling days, his infamous match against El Dandy will give you an idea.
8. Made Us Proud: Bret Hart
With an impressive resume of 7 World titles, a Royal Rumble, and numerous mid-card titles to his name, Bret Hart is undoubtedly one of the greatest in wrestling history. He also has countless of classic matches from his early beginnings towards the later parts of his career, Bret is one of the few wrestlers who could carry any wrestler to a great match.
His father Stu Hart was a legend in his own right who became one of the most influential figures. Bret was one of the many wrestlers to be trained by Stu, helping launch their careers to achieve success beyond imagination.
Bret Hart was inducted into the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame, joined by a fellow second generation wrestler in Eddie Guerrero. After having been away for nearly a decade from the company, Bret buried the hatchet to make several appearances including an encounter with old rivals Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels.
7. Pathetic: Rene Dupree
Many fans may not be aware that Rene Dupree is a second generation Superstar, the son of retired wrestler and promoter Emile Dupree. While the latter is a respected figure who helped launch the career of several wrestlers, Rene has been forgotten by most fans.
He came into the WWE at a young age back in 2003 as part of La Resistance before he went on a solo run. During his time with the company, he became a two-time Tag Team Champion and even had a feud with younger John Cena, but even that didn’t exactly help him.
Fans may not remember much about Dupree aside from his dance trademark, which is probably not the greatest legacy to have for a pro-wrestler. Being only 33 years old, Dupree could have been in around for a long time but he never impressed with the WWE despite being given many chances.
6. Made Us Proud: Paige
One could argue that Paige started the Women’s Revolution in WWE. After an absence of 17 months, she made her long-awaited return this past Monday on Raw. Earlier this year, she was involved in a major scandal when inappropriate photos and videos leaked of Paige with Xavier Woods and Brad Maddox.
Many thought that WWE might not bring her back, but it’s clear that the company is still very high on her, and she will likely play a main role on the roster. During her run, she has won the WWE Divas Championship twice and was involved in some memorable matches.
Despite having been absent for nearly two years, she still has a strong fanbase that remained loyal to her. Not many people know that Paige is a second generational wrestler as she is the daughter of Ricky Knight who was a well-known figure in British wrestling.
5. Pathetic: Brian Christopher
There is no doubt that Too Cool had a memorable run during the Attitude Era, but Brian Christopher, also known as Grand Master Sexay, was basically third fiddle during their peak years. While Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi managed to have decent solo careers after the break up of Too Cool, Christopher failed to make any kind of impact without his partners.
He is the son of Jerry Lawler who obviously doesn’t need an introduction, and he probably expected his son to have a much better career as we all did. While plenty of wrestlers have left WWE to achieve success on the independent circuit, Christopher also failed to establish himself as a credible name.
4. Made Us Proud: Charlotte Flair
With the Women’s Revolution in full effect, Charlotte has played an integral part in establishing the division. Women were mostly booked as eye candy for years before several women changed the reputation of women’s wrestling. Charlotte has won the title several titles and engaged in some memorable feuds such as her battle against Sasha Banks. Not only did she headline Raw many times, but she also made history by being featured in the main event of a pay-per-view.
Charlotte lived up to her family name by carrying the legacy of her legendary father Ric Flair, which is quite the task since he is an all-time great. Ric managed her at some point to assist in furthering her career. Many consider Charlotte to be one of the better Superstars to debut in the last few years, and she has made an impact that most fans hadn’t expected.
3. Pathetic: Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak didn’t exactly follow in the footsteps of his father Stan who was the WWE Heavyweight Champion during the 70s. That’s not entirely true since Shawn did manage to hold 15 titles, except that it was the WWE Hardcore Championship which isn’t exactly the most prestigious.
He had two runs with the WWE starting in 1998 until he left in 2002, and most fans probably don’t remember a thing about him. He did have his run as Planet Stasiak which had some potential but that didn’t last too long before he was back to irrelevancy. To be fair to him, he was never booked well by the WWE, making it harder for him to get over. You can only achieve so much when you’re nicknamed “Meat.”
2. Made Us Proud: Randy Savage
Angelo Poffo was an important wrestling figured who fathered two future Superstars. While his younger son Lanny Poffo didn’t have a memorable run, to say the least, his old one, Randy Savage, became one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time.
During the late 80s, Hulk Hogan dominated the wrestling world and became a worldwide celebrity, but there was only one man who truly rivaled him: Randy Savage. To many wrestling fans, he was the best around since he was not only a great entertainer but an immensely talented wrestler.
Savage didn’t only live up to his father’s name but he even surpassed him to create his own legacy with several Superstars crediting him as their main influence. He has been an inspiration to some top names from the past couple years, such as CM Punk and Bayley who have paid tribute to him throughout their matches.
1. Pathetic: Garrett Bischoff
Like father, like son can be used to describe many of our entries, but it doesn’t apply to the case of Garrett Bischoff. While his father Eric is considered to a mastermind in wrestling, as well as a man who changed the industry in the ’90s, Garrett has had a forgettable wrestling career.
If it hadn’t been for Eric Bischoff, it’s very likely that WCW would have never been to the next level as he became the main driving force to defeat WWE for some years during the Monday Night Wars.
He was also great on the mic and knew how to work the crowds better than the majority of wrestling personalities. On the other hand, Garrett’s claim to fame was simply his last name as he never particularly impressed during his run with TNA. Garrett has already left wrestling and likely won’t be back in any ring.
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