Pro Wrestling

10 Wrestlers Who Couldn’t Live Up To Their Heritage Source:

It’s only natural for children to want to follow in the footsteps of their parents, and nowhere is that more true than in pro wrestling. These days, second and third-generation wrestlers such as Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Cody Rhodes are plentiful, taking up their family legacies to varying degrees of success. But for some wrestlers, that stigma as a child of some of history’s most memorable performers is too great, and whether by bad luck, lack of talent, professional jealousy, or any number of factors, they never manage to escape the shadow of their heritage. Here are some of the biggest examples of the children of legendary wrestlers who just couldn’t find even a fraction of the success that their much more famous fathers did.

10. Richie Steamboat

This is possibly one of the more depressing tales, because Richie Steamboat actually had the skills to become a decent pro wrestler. Although it would have been hard to match the multiple accolades of his father, the legendary Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Richie was signed by WWE in 2009 after training for years in Japan, and was considered one of the hottest young prospects in the company. Steamboat rose quickly, first in FCW (where he was Tag Team Champion alongside future WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins), then in the re-branded NXT promotion, and was even an NXT Championship contender when the title was introduced. Steamboat was often rumored to be on the fast-track to a role on the main WWE roster, and was a featured performer for WWE’s developmental organization as late as 2012. Unfortunately, Richie suffered a serious back injury that ended up requiring career-ending surgery, and the world will never know if he could have made a run at matching some of his father’s greatest accomplishments. Source:

9. Shawn Stasiak

Stan “The Man” Stasiak was a solid but unspectacular Canadian wrestler for WWE back in the territory days, and actually was the fifth man to hold the then-WWWF Title, defeating Pedro Morales to the win the belt, then dropping it to Bruno Sammartino nine days later. It’s not the most star-studded resume for a wrestler, but getting to be World Champion, even in a transitional role, is something few can claim over their career. Stan’s son, Shawn, also tried his hand at professional wrestling, but suffered under several ridiculous gimmicks over his career in WWE and WCW, and never became much more than a minor footnote in professional wrestling. Shawn’s career “highlights” include a short run as “Meat”, an implied sex slave of a group of WWE Divas, ripping off Mr Perfect’s gimmick as part of WCW’s Natural Born Thrillers, and a final ignominious stay in WWE during the Invasion angle where he played “Planet Stasiak”, a deluded moron who ran into things accidentally. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that he asked for his release from WWE shortly after the Invasion angle ended, and retired to become a chiropractor. Source:

8. Lanny Poffo

Lanny Poffo was a decent wrestler who enjoyed writing poetry in real life. After beginning his career as the generic “Leaping” Lanny, Poffo would eventually find his calling in WWE as “The Genius”, one of many gimmicks over the years featuring a wrestler claiming to be more intelligent and therefore better than everyone else. At his highest point, The Genius paired with Mr Perfect in a feud with Hulk Hogan, and even holds a recorded victory over the Hulkster on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Granted, it was by count-out after Perfect knocked out Hogan outside the ring, but it still counted. In later years, Poffo would infamously sign a contract with WCW that saw them pay him for four years without once using him, which is a pretty sweet deal if you can get it. However, Poffo’s dubious claims to fame pale in comparison to those of his father, legendary wrestling promoter Angelo Poffo, or his brother, who you might know as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, a multiple time World Champion and one of the biggest stars in WWE and WCW history. Source:

7. Erik Watts

Depending on who you ask, Bill Watts is either one of the greatest wrestling minds in the history of the business, or a disgustingly cheap, ridiculously old-school jerk who absolutely nobody enjoyed working for. Both are probably true, to a certain extent, but when he was brought into WCW to run things in the early 90’s, two things would define his time in power: cutting costs to make WCW’s owners happy, and pushing the heck out of his son, Erik. Erik Watts was young, under-trained, and a fairly bad wrestler as a result, but that didn’t stop his father from giving him a decent run in WCW’s midcard, feuding with, among others, the legendary Arn Anderson. Watts is most notable for having one of the absolute worst dropkicks in the business, something which he was regularly mocked for by both wrestlers and fans. When Bill Watts was inevitably fired from WCW and got a job in WWE, he brought Erik along with him, where he managed to have even less success in a tag team called Tekno Team 2000 which was purported to be from the future, and which lasted only a handful of matches before Erik was mercifully released from his contract. Erik persevered, however, and while he would never evolve into anything resembling a good wrestler, he did remain in the business for many years, including a run in the early years of TNA that saw him become the company’s on-screen Director of Authority. Source:

6. Greg Gagne

While everyone else on this list had to deal with their parents being legendary performers in the ring or men with enormous backstage power, Greg Gagne had the worst of both worlds. His father, Verne, was one of the biggest names of his era, and also happened to own the American Wrestling Association (AWA), a Minnesota-based territory that at one time was considered one of the best and biggest in North America, featuring stars and future Hall of Famers like Nick Bockwinkel, Larry Zybysko, Curt Hennig, and a young Hulk Hogan. When WWE and WCW broke out of the territory system and became national promotions, the AWA was one of the last to fold under the pressure, suffering massive talent raids that crippled the organization. Greg was a decent wrestler suited to tag teams, although his father occasionally tried to push him all the way to the AWA World Title, only to be talked out of it and settle for having his son win the belt, only to have the victory overturned on technicalities. In fact, that reliance on “Dusty Finishes” (named for Dusty Rhodes, who is credited with invented the concept and then running it into the ground), and how poorly they were received by fans is one of several reasons why the AWA struggled to survive before ultimately collapsing. Without his father’s influence, it’s unlikely Greg would have amounted to much in wrestling, and once the AWA folded, he only made sporadic appearances with other promotions before retiring. Source:

5. Brian Christopher

To be fair to Brian Christopher, aka Grandmaster Sexay, he did find some success on his own without trading on his family name. In fact, during his time in WWE, both he and his father would adamantly deny being related, in what would become a running joke for anyone who knew the truth. He was one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions in Too Cool, who were at one time one of the most popular acts in the company (although he was also arguably the third-most popular guy in the stable, behind both Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty). But he simply could never escape the shadow of his father, the King of Memphis Wrestling, Jerry Lawler. It would be tough to fill the shoes of any half-way successful wrestler, but when your dad is one of the most decorated champions in wrestling history, one of the best color commentators in the sport (note for younger fans: we know it seems hard to believe these days, but Lawler used to be great before they ran Jim Ross out of town and he stopped caring), and a true living legend of the business, that’s nearly an impossible mountain to climb. Christopher remains part of the wrestling business, running his own independent shows, and has done a few cameo appearances in WWE in recent years, including re-uniting Too Cool as surprise opponents for The Ascension on NXT, when they were NXT Tag Team Champions. Source:

4. Jimmy Snuka Jr

As mediocre a wrestler as Tamina Snuka is, at least she’s found a role and some modicum of continued success in WWE. The same can not be said for her brother, Jimmy Snuka Jr. Originally, Jimmy debuted in WWE as “Deuce”, one half of the team of Deuce ‘n’ Domino, an 70’s throwback gimmick straight out of the popular musical Grease. While they did win the WWE Tag Team titles shortly after their debut, the team was short-lived overall, lasting just over a year before breaking up. Sortly afterwards, Deuce would move from Smackdown to Raw as part of the annual Draft, and re-debut as Sim Snuka, revealing his heritage as the son of Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka. A brief storyline ran where Snuka attemped to gain membership in Randy Orton’s Legacy faction, but he was denied and quickly shunted down the card. Snuka was released from WWE a few months later, after barely wrestling on television for most of that time period, and he has not wrestled anywhere of note since 2009. Source:

3. Ted DiBiase Jr

DiBiase was brought into WWE with all the potential in the world, and a ready-made character as the affluent son of the infamous “Million Dollar Man”. He was given a prime position as part of the Legacy stable, alongside Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. While part of that faction, plans were clearly afoot for DiBiase to emerge as a big star, and he was given the lead role in WWE Studios’ newest film The Marine 2 as preparation for his singles push. Unfortunately, DiBiase’s performance in the movie was bland and uninspiring, and while fans initially seemed receptive to DiBiase feuding with Orton, ultimately the decision was made to have Orton turn face while Rhodes and DiBiase went their separate ways as heels. Post-Legacy, DiBiase was given the actual Million Dollar Belt that had belonged to his father, as well as WWE Diva Maryse as a valet (and briefly, even his father’s former manager, Virgil). While the gimmick seemed tailor-made for him, DiBiase continued to lack a dynamic personality, and his lack of charisma in the role basically ended his push. He quietly turned face in an attempt to salvage his WWE career, coupled with a gimmick where he would throw “DiBiase Posse” tailgate parties before shows, but ultimately, a series of injuries would keep him off TV for an extended period of time. When his WWE contract expired, DiBiase chose not to continue as a pro wrestler, and quietly left the business, seemingly for good. Source:

2. David Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino has already gone down in history as one of the greatest wrestlers who ever existed. He held the WWWF Title, the direct precursor to the modern WWE World Heavyweight Title, for nearly eight years in a single reign. By comparison, all of John Cena’s World title reigns combined don’t even come close to that, and Bruno even got a second reign that lasted another three years, for a total of over 4,000 days as champion. Everyone in WWE would have a hard time following that, let alone Bruno’s son, but David Sammartino attempted to step into the squared circle himself. However, when he wasn’t associated with his father, David’s push would evaporate, and he quit and was re-hired by WWE several times in his early career. David was a mediocre wrestler who reportedly did not particularly enjoy working for Vince McMahon, and when Bruno left the company in an infamously acrimonious departure, David was fired a week later. He would try and catch on in several other promotions, including WCW, over the years, but never caught on in any significant fashion without the influence of Bruno behind him. He has been essentially retired since the late 90’s. Source:

1. David Flair

While Ric Flair’s daughter Charlotte has found a large measure of success in her young wrestling career, she isn’t the first Flair child to attempt to make it in professional wrestling. Ric’s son David never actually wanted to be a pro wrestler, but when WCW inserted Flair’s family into ongoing storylines, he decided to step into the ring and make a go of it. Unfortunately, he was everything that his father was not, a terrible wrestler (unsurprising, since he had no training at all) with the charisma of a cardboard box. WCW continued to push him as a big star, however, likely due to his father’s name, and he would win both the WCW United States and Tag Team Championships during his time with the company. David is often used as a symbol of how ridiculous WCW was at the end of the promotion’s life, but to his credit, he stuck it out and even earned himself a brief developmental deal with WWE after WCW folded. After giving a good, honest effort, capped by a brief run in TNA as part of a stable of angry second-generation wrestlers that contained several other entrants on this very list (Erik Watts and Brian Christopher) David Flair ultimately decided that pro wrestling wasn’t for him, and quietly retired from the business, aside from a few independent appearances. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.