There is a lot of talk about the genetic relationship between human beings and apes, with scientists frequently pointing out the fact that we share over 98% of our DNA with those adorable little – occasionally huge and terrifying – fuzzy creatures. But a shockingly small amount of attention is paid to the relationship between human beings and other human beings. Did you know that some genealogy enthusiasts speculate that all human beings on the planet are, at the very least, 16th cousins? Furthermore, it is said that Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan was so adept at spreading his seed that 1 in every 200 men shares his DNA (but that’s another story for another article).
Those who want proof of the aforementioned 16th cousin theory need to look no further than WWE. It seems that everybody in the world of professional wrestling is related, from father and son duos such as “Cowboy” Bob Orton and current WWE Champion Randy Orton, to uncle and nephew pairings such as the late Eddie Guerrero and former WWE Superstar Chavo Guerrero.
Professional wrestling has also welcomed hundreds of teams of cousins into its elbow-padded arms, with WWE’s history littered with cousin connections that many fans are not even aware of. We’re going to be looking at some of them today.
Here are 15 WWE Superstars you didn’t know were cousins.
15 Jerry Lawler/The Honky Tonk Man
In the world of professional wrestling, it is relatively common knowledge that Brian Christopher, who competed in WWE during the Attitude Era as Grand Master Sexay, is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler. The King’s kinship with former WWE Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man, however, is less well-documented.
Although the Tennessee natives were quite close during the early days of their careers, Lawler and The Honky Tonk Man’s relationship has been strained for years, if sources close to the Lawler family are to be believed. Following The King’s on-air heart attack in 2012, Honky took to Facebook to voice his support for his cousin and claimed that while they did not exactly see eye-to-eye on certain professional matters, their personal relationship had been strengthening. Of course, Honky went right back to ragging on The King in shoot interviews the moment it became clear he wasn’t going to die.
14 Natalya/Teddy Hart
Up until Charlotte Flair’s recent move to the blue brand, Natalya was the most skilled competitor in the SmackDown Women’s division. Of course, Natalya’s status as a women’s wrestling goddess should come as no surprise to the fans, who are frequently reminded by WWE commentators that she is the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and the niece of multi-time WWE Champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
While WWE is quick to bring attention to Natalya’s relation to WWE legends, it has not been so eager to shine a light on her relationship with Teddy Hart, the disgraced former WWE Superstar. Teddy, the oldest male grandchild of Stu and Helen Hart, was released from his WWE contract due to behavior problems a decade ago and went on to experience a number of legal issues, including accusations of sexual assault against two women.
13 Horace Hogan/Mike Awesome
Michael Allen Bollea, better known by his ring name Horace Hogan, owes pretty much every ounce of his fame to his famous uncle, WWE Hall of Famer and casual racist Hulk Hogan. Hogan (Horace, that is), experienced the majority of his “success” during the late 1990s when he was signed to WCW. He was briefly employed by WWE in 2002, but Vince McMahon eventually came to his senses, as he sometimes does.
As well as being the nephew of Hulk Hogan, Michael Allen Bollea is the cousin of Mike Awesome. Awesome was synonymous with Extreme Championship Wrestling before he made the controversial decision to join his cousin in WCW. He made a number of appearances in WWE and TNA before tragically taking his own life in 2007.
12 Billy Kidman/Mikey Batts
Billy Kidman was one of the most revered stars of WCW’s much-lauded Cruiserweight division. While working for Ted Turner’s rasslin’ company, he held the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on three separate occasions. He also became one-half of the WCW Tag Team Champions, alongside Rey Mysterio. Kidman later moved to WWE, where he captured the WWE Cruiserweight Championship before retiring from the ring to work behind the scenes.
While Kidman experienced a great deal of success in his time as an active competitor, the same cannot be said for his cousin, Mikey Batts. Batts was a familiar face on the independent wrestling scene before signing a developmental deal with WWE in 2005. During his time with WWE, Batts performed in Deep South Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and even made an appearance on Velocity, but never really made it to the main roster. After leaving WWE, Batts embarked on an even less successful career as a mixed martial artist. Despite being related to a fairly prominent member of WWE’s production staff, Batts is today reduced to working as a referee for various independent promotions across America.
11 Amazing Red/Thea Trinidad
The bulk of Amazing Red’s fame can be traced back to his time in TNA, where he held the TNA X Division Championship on three separate occasions. However, Red, real name Jonathan Figueroa, has also had some dealings with Vince McMahon and WWE. Most notably, he clashed with future WWE Champion and would-be UFC star CM Punk in a dark match prior to a 2005 SmackDown taping.
Red has a number of family members involved in the wrestling business, including Thea Trinidad. Like Red, Trinidad spent much of her career in TNA, where she performed in the Knockout’s division under the name Rosarita. Most recently, Trinidad has been seen on NXT, likely the result of her romantic relationship with current Monday Night Raw and 205 Live star Austin Aries.
10 Paul Orndorff/Shane Douglas
Despite being largely unknown by the majority of WWE’s current fanbase, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff played a pretty prominent role in the then World Wrestling Federation during the professional wrestling boom of the 1980s. He had multiple feuds with Hulk Hogan during the height of the Hulkster’s popularity, though constantly came out on the losing end, as was the style at the time.
Despite enjoying a pretty good relationship with WWE and even making an appearance for the company as recently as 2014, Orndorff was included in a 2016 class-action lawsuit seeking to hold WWE responsible for “long-term neurological injuries”. Joining Orndorff in the class-action lawsuit was his cousin, Shane Douglas, who had a brief stint with WWE in the 1990s before moving to ECW and later WCW.
9 Nia Jax/The Rock
Since the implosion of The Shield, WWE has been reminding fans that Roman Reigns is the cousin of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at every turn. The Rock was even deployed to the ring during the 2015 Royal Rumble in an ill-fated attempt to salvage the pay-per-view and ease the boos that were being directed towards Roman.
For whatever reason, WWE announcers and presenters have paid very little attention to the relationship between The Rock and Nia Jax, who is currently running roughshod through the Monday Night Raw Women’s roster. There are a number of theories as to why the company has avoided acknowledging Jax as The Rock’s cousin, with most people pointing to fact that Jax is portrayed as a heel and so being associated with such a popular character would be counterproductive.
8 Tazz/Chris Chetti
When Copiague, New York native Chris Chetti decided he wanted to get involved in the wacky world of professional wrestling, he had only to pick up the phone and call his cousin, Peter Senerchia, who had already established himself as a serious competitor under the name Tazz. Chetti was summoned to the House of Hardcore professional wrestling school, where he was trained by both his cousin and ECW legend Mikey Whipwreck.
Chetti’s relationship with Tazz proved useful again when it came to finding paying work in professional wrestling. He scored a job with ECW, where he went on to become a one-time ECW FTW Heavyweight Champion. Unfortunately, the Human Suplex Machine was unable to find his cousin employment with WWE after the fall of ECW and Chetti was left to flounder on the independent circuit while Tazz flourished as a wrestler and eventual commentator.
7 Bill Alfonso/David Canal
William Sierra spent a period of the 1990s working for Vince McMahon and was assigned the unenviable task of refereeing the infamous WrestleMania clash between The Undertaker and Giant Gonzalez. However, Sierra achieved his greatest fame portraying the character of Bill Alfonso, the manic, whistle-blowing manager who guided Rob Van Dam to the ECW World Television Championship, which he would hold on to longer than anybody else in the company’s history.
But William not is the only member of his family who managed to forge a career in the wrestling business. His cousin, David Canal, ruffled more than a few feathers when he began appearing as Fidel Sierra in WCW. Under the Fidel Sierra character, Canal had a controversial feud with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, which played on the rising tensions between Cuba and the United States of America and was another nail in the coffin of diplomacy in professional wrestling.
6 Brian Lee/The Undertaker
I’m sure I don’t have to remind any of you who The Undertaker is. You may, however, require a quick summary of the career of Brian Lee. Lee began wrestling professionally in 1988 for Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association. He later worked with the United States Wrestling Association and Smoky Mountain Wrestling before making his way to the then World Wrestling Federation, where he would appear not as Brian Lee - or Chainz, as he was later known - but as Ted DiBiase’s infamous imposter Undertaker.
Lee’s remarkable resemblance to The Undertaker was not a coincidence. He was, in reality, a cousin of Mark Calaway, the original Undertaker. The initial plan was for Vince McMahon to keep Calaway’s cousin engaged through 1994 for an extended feud with The Dead Man, but that all changed when the storyline was dropped after a lackluster match at that year’s SummerSlam pay-per-view.
5 Brian Lee/The Bruise Brothers
Shortly after his time in the World Wrestling Federation came to an end, Brian Lee made his return to the United States Wrestling Association. It was there that he began working with Ron and Don Harris, two real-life brothers from Florida who had carved out a nice career for themselves as The Bruise Brothers.
While Brian Lee hadn’t stepped into a wrestling ring with either of the Harris brothers prior to meeting them in the USWA, he was quite familiar with both of them. This is because Lee can count the former NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champions among his famous cousins. Lee would go on to capture the USWA World Tag Team Championships with Don Harris, while Ron would hold the same belts alongside Jimmy Harris (no relation).
4 Matt Bentley/Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. A former WWE Intercontinental Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, and straight up WWE Champion, Michaels was something special right up to the end of his days as an active competitor. It seems ring skills run in the family, as HBK’s cousin, Matt Bentley, has himself had a career that is far from undistinguished. Bentley has held a number of championships around the world, including the TNA X Division Championship, which he captured on two separate occasions.
Despite Michaels’ notoriously cozy relationship with Vince McMahon, Bentley never managed to score a full-time gig in WWE. He did compete in a number of squash matches for the company, but was never treated as a serious competitor and was certainly never acknowledged as a relation of The Heartbreak Kid.
3 Alberto Del Rio/Sicodelico Jr.
Alberto Del Rio's in-ring style during his much-criticized stints with WWE was so mundane and underwhelming that it is easy to forget he comes from a family that is pretty prominent in the world of Lucha libre.
Del Rio’s father, Dos Caras, captured multiple championships throughout Mexico and is recognized as one of the greatest professional wrestlers the country has ever produced. Del Rio’s cousin, Sicodelico Jr., is also held in high regard by fans of Lucha libre and was even signed up by WWE in the summer of 2009, around the same time Alberto Del Rio signed his first deal with the company. However, Sicodelico struggled to adapt to the American style and was released from his contract just before his cousin broke onto the main roster.
2 Roman Reigns/Yokozuna
I mentioned earlier that WWE loves talking about Roman Reigns’ Samoan heritage and reminding fans about his many famous uncles, cousins, and siblings. However, the company has somewhat held back on discussing his relationship with former WWE Champion Rodney Anoa’i, who competed for WWE during the 1990s under the name Yokozuna.
WWE’s reluctance to mention Yokozuna while detailing the family history of Roman Reigns is possibly an example of kayfabe – that rule that says wrestling should be believable – rearing its rarely seen head in the modern world. For those who do not remember, Yokozuna was portrayed as a towering anti-American heel from Japan, so acknowledging his Samoan roots on every episode of Monday Night Raw would kill the magic of watching old Yokozuna bouts on the WWE Network and tarnish the giant’s legacy.
1 Roddy Piper/Bret Hart
When Roddy Piper claimed to be a cousin of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, many were hesitant to believe him. After all, Piper was known for his tendency to make outrageous claims and proclamations. Several years later, however, Bret Hart himself confirmed that he and Hot Rod, who was a native of Canada, were indeed related.
After Piper’s untimely death in 2015, Hart once again acknowledged him as his cousin. “I can't find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away,” said The Hitman in a post uploaded to Facebook shortly after his cousin’s death.
He went on to say, “He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career.”