Hey Bro! We're In the WWE: A Quick History Of Siblings In Pro Wrestling
Brothers have been widely discussed over the past couple weeks, mainly because the Harbaugh brothers faced off in the Super Bowl, which everyone knows big brother John won (!). The brothers trend continued over in college football on Wednesday as it held it's annual National Signing Day. The nation's No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI here forth) to attend Ole Miss and join big brother, Denzel. Right down I-95, in College Park, brothers were too the story. Three-star CB recruit Jarrett Ross sent his NLI to Maryland and will join RB Brandon Ross this fall. And after flipping from Ohio State to Maryland in the eleventh hour, WR Taivon Jacobs faxed his NLI to Randy Edsall and will be teammates with older brother Levern come September.
Also: I saw one of those "share this if..." posts today stating that this week was actually Brothers Week. I don't know how accurate that is, but I'm using it because it helps with the theme of this post. That all got me thinking about some sets of brothers to step into a WWE ring in some capacity. I figured using only blood brothers would be the call, so that effectively eliminates billed brothers like Undertaker and Kane, the Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian. Without further ado, a short list of WWE kinship.
Bret and Owen Hart
The Hart family has been given the moniker of the "first family of wrestling," which is why I decided to list them first. Bret, a 2006 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, succeeded little brother Owen in his career in almost every way. Bret was "the guy" during the mid 1990s, helping to carry the weight of the WWE's "New Generation" venture. But before Bret was pushed to the forefront of the WWE, he and Owen were a tag-team throughout late 1993 and into the 1994 Royal Rumble. Things began to unravel amongst the brothers Hart, and Owen became a heel at the '94 Rumble when he kicked Bret's injured leg after losing a tag-team championship match to The Quebeccers. This led to a brother vs. brother match at WrestleMania X, which Owen won. Bret would leave Madison Square Garden that night as the WWE Champion.
The two feuded during the spring and summer of 1994, culminating in a WWE Championship Steel Cage match at Summerslam '94. Bret won that match and both Harts went on their own paths over the next few years before reuniting in the summer of 1997 and forming the new Hart Foundation with brother-in-laws British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart, as well as John Harbaugh's college roommate Brian Pillman. The Montreal Screwjob at the 1997 Survivor Series sent Bret on his way to WCW, while Owen remained with the WWE until he tragically fell to his death on May 23, 1999 at the Over The Edge pay-per-view.
Owen never won the WWE Championship, but held the Intercontinental, Europeon and Tag-Team titles on numerous occasions. It would have interesting to see how he would have contributed to the WWE had his accident not occured. Bret had the more storied career being a five-time WWE Champion, but I think Owen deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Jeff and Matt Hardy
The Hardy Boyz officially joined the WWE in late 1998 but became a company fixture in 1999 when they competed against Edge and Christian in the first-ever Tag-Team Ladder match at No Mercy '99. Jeff and Matt were often labled as "Team Xtreme" and always lived up to that designation. Jeff was the daredevil; he would often lunge himself off 20-foot ladders and steel cages, whereas Matt would stay mostly grounded in their matches.
The Hardys, along with billed brothers Edge and Christian and the Dudley Boyz, helped revolutionize the Ladder match and were all pioneers of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs concept. When the brand extension took place in the spring of 2002, Matt and Jeff were split up as a tag-team. Jeff would compete on Raw and Matt on SmackDown. Jeff would get his taste in the main event when he faced off against the Undertaker in July 2002 in a classic Ladder match for the WWE Championship in which Jeff nearly won. Jeff would leave the company in 2003 after some drug-related issues and Matt would have a decent run as mid-carder until he was ultimately released in April 2005. He would return that summer and Jeff came back the next summer. The two reunited as a tag-team late in 2006 and would go on to stay as a team during the early part of 2007.
Jeff's popularity began to swell and he was moved into the main event scene and eventually won the WWE Championship from Edge at Armageddon 2008. That set up Matt's heel turned spawned from jealousy and the brothers collided in an Extreme Rules match at WrestleMania XXV. Matt would be the victor but would eventually fade back to mediocrity as Jeff stayed in the spotlight. Jeff feuded with the CM Punk over the World Heavyweight Championship and left the company in September 2009. Matt was released from his contract in October 2010.
Dave and Earl Hebner
Depending on how often you watched the WWE, you may or may not recognize the aforementioned names. Earl was a long-time WWE referee and Dave worked with company briefly as an official but was largely used as an agent backstage. Dave and Earl — identical twins — were used in a storyline during the late 1980s where they played a pivotol role in allowing Andre The Giant to defeat Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. Dave was far more prevalent on TV in the 1980s than the 1990s, where Earl became a fixture in main event matches.
Earl was given the title of "Senior Referee" and officiated a multitude of WWE Championship matches. He was a firey official, often getting into the faces of the Superstars in the match when they would attempt to impose their will on him. He might be best known for his role as the official in the Montreal Screwjob match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Earl once competed in match at the July 2001 pay-per-view Invasion against Nick Patrick, the former senior referee for WCW.
Dave was sparingly seen on TV during the latter years of his WWE tenure, but both he and Earl were eventually released from the company in July 2005. What led to the twins' release? The two were illegally selling WWE merchandise without the company's consent. There's nothing worse than crooked official with an identically crooked twin brother.
Dustin and Cody Rhodes
Dustin, better known as Goldust in the WWE, and Cody really couldn't be any different. Sons of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, their careers are similar in terms of accomplishments but in different eras. Dustin began his Goldust gimmick in 1995, while Cody didn't get his WWE career going until 2008. The Goldust character raised a lot of eyebrows at first, but eventually fit right in with the Attitude Era. He oft took things farther than he should have. Notably, in 1996, he kissed Ahmed Johnson on the mouth on an episode of Raw and was stripped out of his gold-clad outfit at WrestleMania XII that left him in some oversized — and way too revealing — lingerie. Please, don't YouTube that.
Goldust was mostly a midcard wrestler that won the Intercontinental and Tag-Team championships on different occasions, but never was at the apex of the WWE. Cody, who is 15 years younger, has held the same championships over his short time in the WWE and also has yet to win a World Championship. Cody's character has been vastly different than that of Dustin's, but both have shown to have a darkside. Cody has worked mostly as a heel and Dustin had a few heel runs himself, but turned to more of a comedic babyface in the early 2000s and has remained that way when he is used on WWE TV.
Twitter followers began to lobby for a Cody Rhodes-Goldust match at WrestleMania XXVIII that never panned out. Goldust returned at this year's Royal Rumble only to be eliminated by his little brother. A WrestleMania match between the brothers is always a possibilty for this year, but to my knowledge, Dustin is not currently under contract with the WWE. That could all change though. With some of the other brothers listed, one seems to exceed the other in some capacity. Cody could easily succeed Dustin in terms of accomplishments as Dustin is in the November month of his career and Cody is getting ready to hit his prime.
Admittedly, this is just a breif sample of some of the brothers have came through the WWE. Joe (Road Warrior Animal) and John Lauranitis, Afa and Sika Anoa'i (The Wild Samoans), Tom (Bodydonna Zip) and Bruce (Brother Love) Prichard, Solofa (Rikishi) and Eddie (Umaga) Fatu and Rick and Scott Steiner are just a few other examples of brothers who have competed with or against each other while in the WWE. There are plenty others, but this blog would turn into a tome if I were enumerate them all, but I figured it would be neat to list a couple brothers past and present.
Quick note: Four matches have been announced thus far for WWE Elimination Chamber that takes place on February 17 in New Orleans. I would expect another match or two to be announced in the next week. But as the pay-per-view approaches, so too does WrestleMania. Surprises are at a premium this time of year for the WWE, so stay tuned.