We've talked before about the Top 50 Wrestling Families. Factoring in siblings, cousins, children, uncles, aunts, spouses and other relations, there are no shortage of real-life relatives in the squared circle.
This list? Well, it's a little different.
This week, we're looking at wrestling "families" that aren't related by blood (or at least, not in the way that they've been promoted). Since the dawn of professional wrestling, promoters have created ficticious brothers, sisters, parents and other relations to either bolster a character's backstory or give them some much needed backup in the ring.
In compiling a list of the Top 50 Phony Families, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:
How prominent was this group in wrestling history?
How many members of the family are included?
Was there a lot of work required by a promotion to present them as legitimate relatives?
Did the phony family storyline do anything to further a wrestler's career?
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Paul and Katie Lea Burchill
When Paul Burchill (Paul Birchall) and Katie Lea Burchill (Katarina Waters) first appeared together in WWE's developmental system, they teased a romantic storyline.... awkward considering they claimed to be brother and sister when they made it to the main roster in 2008, even teaming up together.
Davey RIch & The Rich Brothers
An unusual situation here, as Tommy Rich (Tom Richardson) and Johnny Rich (presumably John Richardson) are legitimate brothers who competed together in the NWA during the mid-1980's. Years later, Davey Rich (David Haskins) was billed as another brother and teamed with Johnny in the NWA.
Shelton Benjamin & His Mama
Shelton Benjamin had done reasonably well for himself in WWE, even pinning Triple H, but his career began to slump by 2005 as racked up losses on Raw. It took the arrival of his "mama" (actress Thea Vidale) to turn Benjamin's career around, turning him heel and giving him a doting mom for fans to boo.
Eric Bischoff & Eugene
In 2004, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff complained that his nephew Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) was joining the company and placed him under the care of William Regal. Eventually, Eugene saw through what his Uncle Eric was doing and the two had a Loser Must Shave Their Head match on PPV.
Bobby Lashley & Lana
While the marriage between Rusev and Lana (Catherine Joy Perry) is certainly legitimate, their divorce in 2019 was not. As a result, Lana's subseqent marriage to Bobby Lashley on Raw was completely based on storyline -- they aren't husband and wife.
Rosita & Sarita
Sarita (Sarah Stock) helped form the Mexican America faction in TNA, along with her cousin Rosita (Thea Trinidad, a/k/a Zelina Vega) as well as faction members Hernandez and Anarquia. Together, the storyline cousins held the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship.
Bob & Kerry Brown
Here's another family pairing from the Stampede territory, and this one has a twist: they're actually blood relatives. Bulldog Bob Brown was a Canadian wrestling veteran (not to be confused with a certain Canadian Bulldog) who managed and teamed with son Kerry. Only Kerry was actually Bob's nephew!
What is it with Stampede Wrestling and Phony Families? Gama Singh (Gadowar Singh Sahota) was a Calgary fixture in the mid-1980s, and soon recruited family members Makhan Singh (Mike Shaw, a/k/a Bastion Booger) and Vulcan Singh (Gary Albright) to wreak havoc on the Harts and other Stampede babyfaces.
Bully Ray & The Hogans
In 2012, Bully Ray (Mark Lomonaco) found himself romantically involved with Brooke Hogan (Brooke Bollea), which put him at odds with father-in-law Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea). Of course, the couple's wedding was ultimately a ruse for Bully Ray to turn heel and lead Aces & Eights.
Jack Swagger & Jack Swagger Sr.
When Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) became World Champion in 2010, he enlisted the aid of his father Jack Swagger Sr. (Jimmy Golden) to be in his corner for title defenses. Wrestling fans may remember Golden from his role in The Stud Stable in Continental Wrestling, or later as Bunkhouse Buck in WCW.
Skip & Zip
When The Bodydonnas debuted in the WWF in 1995, the members were Skip (Chris Candito) and Sunny (Tammy Fytch). A year later, Skip was paired with the similar-looking Zip (Tom Prichard) and the two won the WWF Tag Team Titles. It was explained in WWF publications that the two were brothers-in-law.
The Fargo Brothers
Jackie Fargo (Henry Faggart) was a Memphis wrestling institution and mentor to Jerry Lawler. Throughout his career, he teamed up with brother Don Fargo (Don Kalt) and won numerous regional tag team championships.
Abyss, Judas Mesias & Father James Mitchell
In a Dollar Tree version of what another wrestling company had accomplished, Abyss (Chris Park) was managed by Jim Mitchell in TNA. After he turned face, it was revelaed that Abyss was Mitchell's son and inserted Abyss' half-brother Judas Mesias (Gilbert Cosme) into the situation.
Lita & Kane
In 2004, WWE Hall of Famer Lita (Amy Dumas) and Kane (Glen Jacobs) got married the old-fashioned way: she was forced to marry him after boyfriend Matt Hardy lost a Til Death Do Us Part Match at SummerSlam. The faux couple were even said to have a bun in the oven, until that no-good Gene Snitsky intervened.
Terry & Eddie Boulder
In the late 1970's, Terry Boulder (Terry Bollea) and Eddie Boulder (Ed Leslie) were starting in the business together in Southern promotions and were often billed as brothers, first using the surname Boulder and later, Hogan. They of course went on to become WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake.
Finlay & Hornswoggle
... Hornswoggle had been the son of Finlay (David Finlay Jr.) all along! Why they pretended not to be storyline father and son in the first place isn't exactly clear.... but this pairing at least made a little more sense than McMahon. Hornswoggle debuted in WWE as a second for Finlay.
The Valiant Brothers
Throughout the 1970s, WWE Hall of Famers Handsome Jimmy Valiant (James Fanning) and Luscious Johnny Valiant (John Sullivan) captured championship gold in the NWA, WWA and WWWF. A third brother, Gentleman Jerry Valiant (John Hill), joined the family in 1979.
Fritz & Waldo Von Erich
Fritz Von Erich had experience with another Phony Family member in the past. Waldo Von Erich (Walter Sieber) was Fritz's "brother" in the 1960s and 1970s as the two faux German wrestlers captured the NWA Tag Team Championship together. In reality, Waldo had been a Canadian wrestler.
The Beverly Brothers
In the late 1980s, The Destruction Crew of Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos were the most dominant team in the AWA. When later poached by the WWF, they were presented as Beau and Blake Beverly, two spoiled rich brothers from Shaker Heights, Ohio. They became ex-brothers when Beau retired.
The Smoking Gunns
Monty Sopp had previous experience pretending he had a brother in wrestling. In the mid-1990's, his Billy Gunn character was related to Bart Gunn (Mike Polchlopek). As The Smoking Gunns, the pair held the WWF World Tag Team Championship three times, before The Gunns went their separate ways.
Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, Cousin Luke & Cousin Junior
The Godwinns weren't the only Phony Family of hillbillies in the WWF. In the mid-1980s, WWE Hall of Famer Hillbilly Jim (Jim Morris) introduced his Uncle Elmer (Stan Frazier) and Cousin Luke (Gene Petit) into the company. When Luke left the WWF, he was quickly replaced by Cousin Junior (Larry Kean Jr.).
WWE Hall of Famers The Bushwhackers have long presented thmselves as zany cousins Butch (Bob Miller) and Luke (Brian Wickens). Before becoming related in the WWF, they teamed as Butch Miller and Luke Williams, The Sheepherders and before that, The Kiwis.
The Graham Brothers
WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Graham (Edward Gossett) was a popular wrestler and promoter in the Florida area. In the 1950s and 1960s, he teamed with brother Dr. Jerry Graham (Jerry Matthews). From there, brothers Luke Graham (James Johnston) and Superstar Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman) were introduced.
In the mid-1960s, Gene Anderson teamed up with his brother Lars Anderson (Larry Heiniemi). This later morphed into Gene teaming with another brother Ole Anderson (Alan Rogowski) as The Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Later, Ole took WWE Hall of Famer and "cousin" Arn Anderson (Marty Lunde) under his wing.
The Dudley Boyz
What began as a comedy act in the late-1990s turned into the most decorated tag team in wrestling history. The ECW storyline was that someone had fathered dozens of illegitimate children, including WWE Hall of Famers Bubba Ray Dudley (Mark LoMonaco) and D-Von Dudley (Devon Hughes).
The Dupps were a group whose relationship was never fully defined, but included members Bo Dupp, Jack Dupp, Fluff Dupp and Stan Dupp (get it?). They began as a comedy act during the final days of ECW, were briefly in WWE's developmental and enjoyed a run in the early PPV specials of TNA.
The Amazing Red & Crimson
Crimson (Tommy Mercer) debuted in TNA in 2010 as Little Red, supposedly the little brother of TNA staple The Amazing Red (Jonathan Figueora). After avenging Amazing Red's loss to Jeff Jarrett, the two brothers mostly went their separate ways within the company, and the relationship wasn't often brought up in TNA.
Jimmy Jack Funk & The Funk Brothers
Another situation where WWE Hall of Famers Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. were real-life brothers who had each captured the NWA World Championship. But in 1986, as Terry was preparing to make his exit from the WWF, Jimmy Jack Funk (Ferrin Barr Jr.) was brought in as the "disturbed" brother that wore a Lone Ranger mask.
Eric Young & ODB
In 2011, TNA's Eric Young (Jeremy Fritz) and ODB (Jessica Kresa) teamed up in s Wild Card tournament. While they didn't win, the two developed a relationship that led to the two capturing the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship - oh yeah, and them getting married.
The Basham Brothers
Doug Basham (Lyle Basham Jr.) began teaming with Damaja (Daniel Holle) in Ohio Valley Wrestling. When they came to WWE in 2003, Damaja changed his name to Danny Basham and the two became WWE Tag Team Champion and part of JBL's Cabinet faction. They also briefly appeared in TNA together.
J.R. & Athol Foley
No relation to Mick Foley (legitimately or otherwise) -- or Jim Ross, for that matter -- J.R. Foley appeared in Stampede Wrestling as the heel manager of Dynamite Kid and others. As J.R.'s character developed he introduced his son Athol, who was really British wrestler Bernie Wright.
Archie & Jeff Gouldie
Archie Gouldie was known in the Southern United States as The Mongolian Stomper, who later became Archie The Stomper Gouldie in the Stampede territory (there it is again!). Later, he introduced his son Jeff Gouldie (Tommy Lee Jones, and no, not the actor) as a foil in his feud with Bad News Allen.
Davey Boy & Johnny Smith
While Davey Boy Smith (David Smith) and Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) are legitimate first cousins (and both related to The Hart Family), "cousin" Johnny Smith was actually British wrestler John Hindley, who teamed with Davey Boy in (sigh) Stampede Wrestling, and later with Dynamite Kid in Japan.
Jos & Paul LeDuc
Jos LeDuc (Michel Pigeon) was a Canadian lumberjack character in the AWA, NWA, Puerto Rico and yes, Stampede Wrestling. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, Jos began teaming with brother Paul LeDuc (whose name was actually Paul LeDuc) in Florida and elsewhere.
Ken & Ryan Shamrock
Ken Shamrock was a UFC legend who had a run in the WWF during the late-1990's. In 1999, fans were introduced to her sister Ryan Shamrock (Alicia Webb), who ended up flirting with Shamrock rivals Val Venis, Billy Gunn and Goldust. Creepily, the siblings were dating in real life as the angle played out!
Jay & Jules Strongbow
Chief Jay Strongbow (Joe Scarpa) was a WWE Hall of Famer and a former WWF backstage agent. During the 1980s, he formed a tag team with his brother Jules Strongbow (Francis Huntington) and the two captured the WWF Tag Team Championship twice.
Axl & Ian Rotten
Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton) was establishing himself as a hardcore legend when he introduced his brother Ian Rotten (John Benson Williams) in 1993. Together, the two terrorized competitors in GWF and ECW. The brothers had one of the bloodiest matches in recent memory in their Taipei Death Match.
Kevin & Evad Sullivan
Kevin Sullivan was a legendary wrestler, manager and booker in the NWA and elsewhere. In 1994, he revealed that his brother Dave Sullivan (Bill Danenhauer) was in WCW with him, although he went by the name Evad because he was apparently dyslexic. Kevin and Evad teamed and then feuded.
The Major Brothers
Brett Major (Matt Cardona) and Brian Major (Brian Myers) were billed as brothers when they competed on WWE's ECW and SmackDown brands in 2007. By the end of that year, the two were rebranded as disciples of Edge under the names of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins and would win the Raw Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania XXXV.
Vince McMahon & Hornswoggle
In 2007, it was revealed that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon had fathered an illegimate son and amazingly, it was someone on the WWE roster. After an exhaustive search, it was revealed that Hornswoggle (Dylan Postl) was Vince's little bastard. Of course, the father-son relationship didn't last long, because....
Dixie Carter & Ethan Carter III
In late-2013, heel TNA owner Dixie Carter announced she was bringing her nephew into the promotion and gave him special treatment. In reality, Ethan Carter III (Michael Hutter) had been a competitor in WWE as Derrick Bateman and later as EC3.
Lance Von Erich & The Von Erich Family
WWE Hall of Famers The Von Erichs were the first family of Texas in the 1980s. To capitalize on their popularity, father Fritz Von Erich (Jack Adkisson) introduced cousin Lance Von Erich (William Vaughan) to the fold in 1985. Later, when Lance left World Class, Fritz publicly denounced any family ties.
Edge & Vickie Guerrero
In 2007, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero (widowed wife of Eddie Guerrero) revealed that she had a romantic relationship with WWE Hall of Famer Edge (Adam Copeland) as the two plotted dominance of the brand together. They even had a wedding, although one where Edge was shown being unfaithful.
The James Gang
WWE Hall of Famers Road Dogg (Brian James) and Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) had a head-scratching family relationship in TNA when, following their successful WWF run as The New Age Outlaws, they suddenly became brothers B.G. James and Kip James, a/k/a The James Gang. in 2005.
Here's another case where we were introduced to wrestlers before they were billed as family members. In the early 1990s, Tex Slazenger (Dennis Knight) and Shanghai Pierce (Mark Canterbury) were a lower-card team in WCW. When they made it to the WWF, they were cousins Phineas I. and Henry O. Godwinn.
Hardcore Holly (Bob Howard) had been around the WWF for some time, but in 1999, we were introduced to his similar-looking yet smaller cousin Crash Holly (Mike Lockwood) as the two feuded and teamed simultaneously. Along came Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) to add another element to the cousins.
In the mid-1960s, Ronnie Garvin (Roger Barnes) and Terry Garvin (Terry Joyal) formed a very successful "brother" tag team in Canada and elsewhere. They were managed by another brother known as Jimmy Garvin (James Williams) -- who was in reality Ronnie's stepson.
Edge & Christian
From their WWF debuts in the late 1990s, WWE Hall of Famer Edge (Adam Copeland) and Christian (Jason Reso) were introduced as brothers, capturing the WWF Tag Team Championships an incredible seven times together. Later in their careers, their relationship was changed to "childhood best friends," which was legitimate.
Ivan Koloff (Oreal Perras) was a top Russian heel in the 1960s and 1970s, even upsetting Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship. By the 1980s, Ivan recruited "nephew" Nikita Koloff (Scott Simpson) into the fold, and the duo terrorized American babyfaces, even capturing the NWA Tag Team Championship twice.
The Undertaker, Kane & Paul Bearer
One of the most enduring storylines in WWE history centers around The Undertaker (Mark Calaway) and his bizarre family. Shortly after The Undertaker debuted in 1990, he was managed by WWE Hall of Famer Paul Bearer (William Moody). When the two split years later, Bearer introduced Undertaker's long-lost "brother" Kane (Glen Jacobs) to feud with The Dead Man. Later, Bearer revealed that he was also Kane's father, making the Phony Family complete.