Pro wrestling is often a family business. The glitz and glamour associated with the athletic aspect gives anyone associated with the business the desire to try their luck. Most of us that grew up loving wrestling had dreams of being a professional wrestler, despite the reality saying otherwise. Imagine having a relative succeeding at it and the ability of knowing how great the life could be. Many wrestling families have multiple generations of stars making a profession out of wrestling. This leads to siblings and various forms of relatives working together. The rare relationships of cousins have become more prominent over the years.
Wrestling promotions will always discuss the relatives of a star if their parents or siblings wrestled successfully. That doesn’t always apply to cousins considering it is a more unique situation. We’ll look at some of the instances in wrestling history that remain relatively unknown. These wrestlers all have tried to be the best in their family. The pressure that comes with living up to a family name or keep up with relatives can add another dynamic to an already difficult business. The stories will all be revealed here as we look at the fifteen pairs of wrestlers you may not realize are actual cousins.
10 The Usos and The Rock
WWE shows their love of Roman Reigns with the parties associated with him here. The Rock is acknowledged as the cousin of Reigns to help the latter out. Reigns is also associated with Jimmy and Jey Uso as his cousins have had his back on WWE television for a few years now. The obvious relation here that Rock and Usos are cousins is not one WWE talks about much on the current product.
The Rock’s appearances are extremely rare, so it makes sense for him to not work in segments featuring the forgettable tag team. Most fans likely remain unaware of the relationship and it could benefit Rock and Usos if they were paired together more than being with Reigns. The Rock risks getting booed in segments with Reigns and fans have turned on the Usos for being associated with Reigns. Ditch Roman and everyone involved benefits here. The second cousins could likely provide entertaining content together.
9 Primo and Epico
The failing tag team currently known as The Shining Stars in WWE consists of cousins Primo and Epico. They have been in various gimmicks as a team over the past couple of years and it sadly never works out for them. Primo and Epico each have the ability to deliver good matches consistently but the fans just can’t get behind their non-existent personalities. Most fans assume they're brothers due to WWE rarely defining their relationship.
The majority of relatives to team together in wrestling are brothers but this is a rare case of cousins working together. Primo’s brother is former WWE star Carlito and they teamed together in the past before Carlito’s falling out with the company. Things don’t look optimistic for the future of Primo and Epico. The cousins have no momentum and the brand split has not been kind to them. WWE appreciates their lineage but the writing is on the wall for the cousins.
8 Tazz and Chris Chetti
Tazz had one of the more successful runs in ECW and could be argued as the most popular performer in the company’s history. Fans believed in his portrayal as an unstoppable monster despite being one of the smaller guys on the roster. One of the many things contributed to ECW from Tazz featured him being a head trainer as the ECW House of Hardcore training school for aspiring wrestlers. An aspiring young wrestler happened to be his cousin Chris Chetti.
The school rarely delivered stars for the ECW television product until Chetti received the rare opportunity. Many criticized him claiming his spot on the roster was due to nepotism but he did have a bit of talent. They were rarely mentioned being related until Tazz left ECW for WWE. Chetti actually received a bigger push when his cousin left the promotion. Unfortunately, he would never reach the level of his cousin and Tazz reigned supreme as the best wrestler in the family.
7 Manu and Rosey
The reason you likely have no idea Manu and Rosey are cousins is due to the lack of interest in both men. Fans have become accustomed to greatness associated with the Maivia/Anoa'i family tree but not everyone achieved great success. Rosey hoped to follow in the footsteps of his father Sika. The big man is most known for his time in 3 Minute Warning with another cousin Jamal. WWE gave them a credible push for a few months before giving up. Rosey later spent time as the flopping “Super Hero in Training” character alongside The Hurricane.
Manu somehow had a worse career in WWE. The big spot on WWE television saw him join the established Legacy faction with Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. Sadly, Manu never was able to stand out in the talented group and ended up getting released due to personal heat with Orton. The fact that two of the biggest WWE busts of the past fifteen years are cousins is almost impressive, especially comparing them to their more successful relatives.
11. The Harris Brothers and Brian Lee
Brian Lee has a much underrated career in pro wrestling due to never having a noteworthy run with the bigger companies. The best work of Lee came in ECW, Smoky Mountain Wrestling and various other smaller promotions. Lee’s size and in-ring intensity made him one of the better big men in the industry. The problem is he had lackluster runs in WWE that prevented him from hitting his potential. Lee actually had the opportunity to work with his cousins in WWE on multiple occasions.
Ron and Don Harris are the most intimidating twin brothers in the world. They chose professional wrestling as the field to utilize their skills. The Harris twins were cousins of Lee and all three were members of the Disciples of Apocalypse. The family gene definitely sparked a group of ass kickers. Lee, Ron and Don were three of the last wrestlers you’d never want to meet in a dark alley. WWE didn’t find that as endearing and none of them would achieve much success.
6 Rocky Johnson and Sika
The most important pair of cousins on the list is Rocky Johnson and Sika. We have many selections on this list that all came under the merging of the two wrestling legends. Johnson’s Maivia side of the family tree gave us The Rock, possibly the biggest star in the history of pro wrestling. Sika’s son Roman Reigns has high hopes to reach the same level with WWE desperately wanting him to become the next top star.
Both older generations have created legacies for their future relatives to live up to. The history of Samoans thriving in pro wrestling went to another level when Johnson and Sika each achieved their successes in the WWE. It only made sense their sons would go on to become future world champions and the main eventers of various WrestleMania events. The foundation was laid when the two cousins left it all in the ring to better the futures of their families.
5 Natalya and David Hart Smith
The legendary Hart family may be the most popular one associated with the history of WWE. Most of their fame came from the brothers (Bret Hart and Owen Hart) and brothers-in-law (Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart) so the family tree of cousins aren’t as stacked as you’d assume. The next generation in the family created a couple of cousins to continue the tradition of wrestling continuing in the large family.
David Hart Smith and Natalya are cousins that made it to WWE together following in the footsteps of their dads. Neither of the two were actually kids of the Hart wrestlers but rather the wrestlers to marry into the family. David is the son Davey Boy Smith and Natalya is the daughter of Natalya. Despite none of his children becoming wrestlers, Bret Hart views his niece and nephew as kids of his own and offers advice any time they need it.
4 Tamina and Naomi
WWE pairing Tamina and Naomi on television seemed to come out of nowhere but it made perfect sense when you realize they are related. Naomi is the real life love interest of Jimmy Uso and the two married a couple of years ago. This made Tamina the cousin of Naomi by the marriage. Tamina is the cousin of the Usos and they debuted in the company. It only made sense Tamina would end up working with her new cousin years later.
The two had great chemistry in Team BAD along with Sasha Banks. Tamina doesn’t have the ability to thrive as a singles star, so the position of an enforcer suited her perfectly. Naomi is one of the most athletic female performers in WWE history. The booking of Naomi as a singles face with her own bodyguard helped elevate her. Without the pairing of the cousins, both could have been victims of the WWE releases.
7. Matt Bentley and Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is arguably the greatest performer in wrestling history. Matt Bentley is not. They’re still cousins! Bentley achieved his fame in TNA in tag team work and the X-Division. The talent was there and he presented himself like Michaels. That was the biggest problem. TNA tried to make him imitate Michaels on a few levels. The last thing a talent need is the booking team forcing him to live in the shadow of a relative.
HBK never did anything to express closeness to his cousin and wanted him to make it on his own. The two have not been linked together in any way aside from the information being leaked that they’re related. No one knows for sure if they’re close. Bentley’s career in wrestling went downhill and he was not able to bring more wrestling excellence to the family. The drastic difference in talent proved the ability to excel at a craft isn’t a hereditary trait.
3 Mike Awesome and Horace Hogan
One of the most likely cousin pairings in wrestling is Mike Awesome and Horace Hogan. The career of Awesome goes down among the most underrated of the era with outstanding matches in ECW and Japan promotions. Things were the complete opposite for Horace. As the real life nephew of Hulk Hogan, Horace was given a contract in WCW despite a lack of talent. The nepotism placed him in the New World Order as Hulkster’s crony.
Not many are aware Horace also grew a relation to Awesome as his cousin. Fans wish Awesome was given the spot in the nWo and a bigger push in WCW similar to the subpar Horace. We also would have found more entertainment in Horace working for ECW as he likely would have been relegated to an enhancement talent getting beat up by the likes of New Jack. The unlikely pair of cousins both failed to make waves in WCW and could not add many great moments for the family business.
5. Roman Reigns and Rikishi
Another relation in the Samoan families of pro wrestling is Roman Reigns and Rikishi being cousins. Everyone knows Reigns is the cousin of the Usos but they are actually second cousins. Reigns is the first cousin of the Usos’ father Rikishi. Aside from The Rock, the popular belief would have Reigns and Rikishi as the two biggest stars of the Samoan heritage. Rikishi has gone to social media to defend Reigns against the backlash of fans upset with the latter’s current push.
No one would assume the two were related due to the differences in their physiques. Reigns has seen a push much bigger than Rikishi due to being jacked without the more round physical form. The age gap definitely makes it seem less likely they would have a relationship like most cousins. Reigns is closer to the Usos for that reason and Rikishi looks out for Reigns as an older relative.
2 Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid
The British Bulldogs are among the most entertaining in-ring tag teams in wrestling history. They delivered work rate that kept the fans into it during an era that relied more on gimmicks and characters. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid had the perfect styles to mesh together in making a legendary tag team. Smith had the power and Kid brought more of an aerial display. Both men could pull off the technical wrestling. Everyone was entertained by the pairing but very few realized they were cousins.
Before marrying into the Hart family by making Diana Hart his wife, Davey Boy already had the passion of wrestling in the family. Dynamite Kid also was close to the Hart family during his time in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion facing off in classic matches against Bret Hart. The close knit family connecting everyone showed just how small the world could be at times.
3. Nia Jax and The Rock
One of the more interesting aspects of the family lineage in WWE is figuring out which they choose to promote and which they hide on television. The Rock has been referenced as Roman Reigns’ cousin numerous times, and he was actually called upon to raise Roman’s hand after the 2015 Royal Rumble victory. WWE clearly wants us to appreciate Reigns more for being Rock’s cousin but the same doesn’t apply to Nia Jax.
The newest monster heel in the Raw women’s division has a bright future ahead of her with a huge push in motion. However, WWE has not discussed Jax’s relation to The Rock much and many wouldn’t know if not for internet reports. WWE 24 is the only official content that has gone into depth of the relationship between Rock and Jax. The company signed her mostly due to her ties to such a rich history in pro wrestling families and she has a lot to live up to.
1 The Undertaker and The Fake Undertaker (Brian Lee)
Does everyone remember that really terrible storyline about The Undertaker going missing in 1994? A group of heels worked together to destroy Undertaker at the Royal Rumble and he was out until SummerSlam. It was one of the few years without a WrestleMania appearance in the legendary career of The Deadman. WWE decided to have Ted DiBiase buy himself a fake version of Undertaker and pretended he was the real version.
Brian Lee played the imitation Undertaker. Most are aware of this, but very few know that Undertaker and Lee are cousins. The two had a terrible match at SummerSlam due to the story they were forced to tell. A slow, plodding match left no impact on the audience and Lee didn’t have another opportunity in WWE for years. Lee did get the chance to redeem himself years later in the Disciples of Apocalypse and you have to wonder if the relation to the influential Undertaker played a role in that.
1. Honky Tonk Man and Jerry Lawler
Two legends with storied careers being related usually means they have a noteworthy storyline together. That somehow never happened with wrestling’s cousins Jerry “The King” Lawler and Honky Tonk Man. Lawler dominated Memphis and Honky Tonk had a great run in WWE during the 80s. It was never meant to be. Lawler did come to WWE in the mid-90s with his primarily role being a broadcaster. The in-ring career of Honky Tonk was way past his prime and he transitioned into an announcer as well.
The two would have fun interactions on commentary once in a while with both playing the heel roles. That would be the extent of their on-screen relationship despite having a relation that went under the radar. Lawler still works as a broadcast in WWE today and Honky Tonk Man wrestles short matches at independent wrestling events. The unlikely cousins are wrestling royalty and still find ways to contribute to the business.