Superstar Trek: The Next Generation

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“The mat. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the multigenerational wrestler. Their on-going mission, to explore new worlds, to seek out new opponents, and new civilizations, to boldly go where their forebearers have gone before.”

Professional wrestling is driven by a lot of things. Passion, intensity, performance, money, athleticism. But one thing that has enraptured wrestling fans for generations are those performers who come from a wrestling lineage. Notorious family lines like the McMahons, the Funks, the Harts, los Guerreros, and the Anoi’a have produced multi generations of wrestling Superstars, in the WWE and beyond.

And while WWE employs many multigenerational performers on their roster, such as 3rd Generation grapplers Randy Orton, Natalya, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, plus 2nd Generation grapplers like the Charlotte Flair, Shining Stars, Goldust and Carmella, there is a veritable ocean of multigenerational wrestlers toiling in the independent scene, just waiting for their chance to catch on full time with a larger company like WWE, Impact Wrestling or NJPW.

Here’s a look at many of the new faces on the indie scene who are working on the family trade – some are well established indie darlings (the Command section), some are either stagnating or rising stars (the Landing Party section), while others are green recruits still learning the ins and outs of the ring (the Ensigns). This list does not include anyone currently wrestling full-time with WWE or Impact Wrestling. Not all indie promotions are listed, as many compete for dozens of indies per year. Those listed are primary major promotions they have performed with recently. Many may have had tryout matches or enhancement matches for WWE, NXT, or Impact Wrestling.

COMMAND

Tessa Blanchard, Shimmer, Shine, Queens of Combat

Photo: SHINE

21 years old, Charlotte, North Carolina
Family: Joe Blanchard (Grandfather), Tully Blanchard (Father), Magnum TA (Stepfather)
Trained by: Tully Blanchard, George South, Magnum TA
Championships: Shimmer Tag Team Champion (current, with Vanessa Kraven)

She’s one of the top women on the indie circuit, she’s dating one of the top men in the indie circuit (Ricochet, both of whom are roommates of WWE Superstar Apollo Crews), her dad is one of the original Four Horsemen (Tully Blanchard) and her step-dad was one of the NWA’s biggest rising stars of the 1980’s, Magnum TA. She’s had a few NXT tryout matches, but her schedule on the indie circuit is keeping her more than busy right now.

Rachael Ellering, Shine, Queens of Combat

Photo: SHINE

24 years old, Sauk Center, Minnesota
Family: Paul Ellering (Father)
Trained by: Lance Storm
Championships: WrestleCircus Lady of the Ring Championship

While her father, WWE Hall of Fame manager Paul Ellering guides Authors of Pain to NXT Tag Team gold in NXT, Rachael is authoring her own career that is taking off dramatically. She’s still got some work to do in comparison to a lot of the top women’s stars in the indies right now, but she’s improving at a rapid pace. She’s already had matches with NXT and Impact Wrestling, but she continues to hone her craft on the independent circuit. She’s only going to get better too.

David Finlay, NJPW

Photo: NJPW

24 years old, Achim, Germany
Family: Fit Finlay (Father), David Finlay Sr. (Grandfather)
Trained by: Fit Finlay
Championships: NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team (w/ Ricochet & Satoshi Kojima)

Fit Finlay’s son has become a breakout star with NJPW in the past year, emerging as a fierce combatant who can work with the roughest to the most athletic. He’s still young and with his dad working behind the scenes with WWE, it’s only a matter of time before the Machine comes looking.

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa), NJPW

Photo: NJPW

Tama: 34 years old, Tonga; Roa: 33 years old, Kissimmee, Florida
Family: Haku/Meng (Father)
Trained by: The Dudley Boyz, Ricky Santana, Haku
Championships: IWGP Tag Team Champions (x2), WrestleCircus Big Top Tag Team Championship (current)

Tama Tonga is one of the original Bullet Club members and bringing in his brother to tag with has been a solid move career wise. They had a rough start together, but they’ve since become a decent tag team that makes waves in Japan and North America.

King Maxel

Photo: Hardy’s Twitter

1.5 years old, Cameron, North Carolina
F
amily: Matt Hardy (Father), Reby Sky (Mother), Jeff Hardy (Uncle), Senor Benjamin (Grandfather)
Trained by: Matt Hardy

Probably won’t see this kid in a WWE ring despite “wrestling” for Impact Wrestling last year, but he’s already perhaps one of the most famous 2nd generation wrestlers in the world right now.

Dragon Lee, NJPW, CMLL, ROH

Photo: CMLL

21 years old, Tala, Mexico
Family: Arthur Munoz (Perrioth, Father), Mistico (Brother), Rush (Brother), Franco Colombo (Uncle)
Trained by: Perrioth, Alfredo Pineda, Franco Colombo, Perriothito
Championships: CMLL World Lightweight Champion (x2, current)

After taking the Dragon Lee mantle from his brother (who took over the Mistico mask when the other one went to become Sin Cara, who then lost Sin Cara to Hunico, but couldn’t get back Mistico…got all that?), Lee has become an absolute sensation the past few months, wowing audiences in NJPW as well as in the US with Ring of Honor.

Mistico, CMLL, NJPW

Photo: CMLL

24 years old, Tala, Mexico
Family: Arthur Munoz (Perrioth, Father), Dragon Lee (Brother), Rush (Brother), Franco Colombo (Uncle)
Trained by: Perrioth, Franco Colombo, Arkangel de la Muerte
Championships: CMLL World Welterweight Champion, CMLL World Trios Champion (x2, current)
NOTE: Not the Mistico who went to WWE to become Sin Cara and got released; that Mistico is now known as Caristico.

Penta El Zero M, PWG, The Crash, AAW

Photo: Lucha Underground

32 years old, Mexico City 
Family
: Fuego (Father), Rey Fenix (Brother)
Trained by: Cuchillo, Gran Apache, Skayde
Championships: AAA Latin America Championship, AAA World Mixed Tag Team Championship, AAA World Tag Team Championship, AAW Heavyweight Champion, Lucha Underground Championship, PWG World Tag Team Championship (w/ Rey Fenix, current)

As Pentagon Jr., he was one of the most captivating characters in wrestling, thanks to his exposure in the first three seasons of Lucha Underground. A controversial exit early this year and suddenly he’s got a new name. Alongside his brother Rey Fenix (another Lucha Underground/AAA defector), the two have expanded their presence in the North American and European indie scene. They recently ended the Young Bucks‘ 631-day reign as PWG World Tag Team Champions.

Rey Fenix, PWG, The Crash, AAW

Photo: Lucha Underground

26 years old, Mexico City 
Family
: Fuego (Father), Penta El Zero M (Brother)
Trained by: Cuchillo, Gran Apache, Skayde
Championships: AAA Fusion Championship, Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods Championship (x2), Lucha Underground Championship, Lucha Underground Trios Championship, PWG World Tag Team Championship (w/ Penta El Zero M, current)

While Pentagon Jr. got most of the fanfare, his younger brother Rey Fenix (formerly just Fenix) as collecting most of the hardware. An absolute stunning aerialist, he was one of the breakout stars from Lucha Underground’s first season, and he’s performed in Japan with Pro Wrestling NOAH as well as a lengthy tenure in AAA. He left AAA (and subsequently Lucha Underground) late last year, a few months prior to his brother’s departure.

Davey Boy Smith Jr., NJPW

Photo: NJPW

30 years old, Calgary, Alberta
Family: Stu Hart (Grandfather), “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (Father), Diana Hart (Mother), Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Uncle), Owen Hart (Uncle), Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart (Uncle), Natalya (Cousin), Teddy Hart (Cousin), Dynamite Doll (Cousin)
Trained by: Stu Hart, Bruce Hart, Davey Boy Smith
Championships: WWE World Tag Team Championship, IWGP Tag Team Championship (x2, Killer Elite Squad, w/ Lance Archer), GHC Tag Team Championship (x2, Killer Elite Squad, w/ Lance Archer)

After a brief stint in the WWE as David Hart Smith in the Hart Legacy with Tyson Kidd and Natalya, he rebranded himself as Davey Boy Smith Jr. and relocated to Japan, where he formed the Killer Elite Squad with Lance Archer. They’ve become one of Japan’s most dominant tag teams of the past few years and he’s never looked better.

THE LANDING PARTY

Afa Anoi’a Jr., WXW, WWC

Photo: WWE

32 years old, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Family: Afa Anoi’a (Father), Sika Anoi’a (Uncle), LA Smooth (Brother), Samu (Brother), Rikishi (Uncle), Umaga (Uncle), Roman Reigns (Cousin), The Usos (Cousins)
Trained by: Afa, LA Smooth, Samu
Championships: WWC Tag Team (x3), WXW Heavyweight, WXW Cruiserweight (x2), WXW Hardcore (x3), WXW Tag Team (x2)

WWE fans may recognize him as Manu, who was briefly aligned with Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr in Legacy (he only lasted a few segments), but Afa’s son is still going on the indie circuit. He performs with his family’s WXW promotion (not to be confused with Germany’s wXw).

Lance Anoi’a, WXW, House of Hardcore

Photo: WXW

25 years old, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Family: Afa Anoi’a (Grandfather), LA Smooth (Uncle), Samu (Father), Rikishi (Uncle), Umaga (Uncle), Roman Reigns (Cousin), The Usos (Cousins)
Trained by: Samu, Afa

The son of former WWE Superstar Samu of the Headshrinkers, Lance is more in lines with the Usos style of wrestling than his dad or uncle Rikishi. A young, athletic high flyer, he’s one of the stars of his family’s WXW in Florida.

‘Dynamite Doll’ Bronwyne Billington

Photo: The British Wrestling Revival

32 years old, Calgary, Alberta
Family: The Dynamite Kid (Father), Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Uncle), “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (Cousin), Davey Boy Smith Jr. (Cousin)

The daughter of former British Bulldog Tom ‘Dynamite Kid’ Billington, the Dynamite Doll was raised in Calgary alongside the Hart family (her mother, and Dynamite’s first wife, was the twin sister of Bret Hart‘s first wife, Julie). While most of the Hart family kids became wrestlers, Dynamite Doll is a manager (she manages her husband, indie wrestler Dan Myers).

‘American Tiger’ Colby Corino, PWF

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

20 years old, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Family: Steve Corino (Father), Allison Danger (Aunt)
Trained by: Brutal Bob Evans

The son of former ECW World Champion and Ring of Honor mainstay Steve Corino, he was involved in several ROH story lines as a teenager, brainwashed to become BJ Whitmer‘s “boy”. He’s no longer with ROH but is pursuing wrestling opportunities elsewhere around the globe.

Andy Dalton, Pro Wrestling NOAH, WrestleCircus

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

31 years old, San Antonio, Texas
Family: Frank Dalton (Father)
Trained by: Joey Corman, Samir

Frank Dalton was a wrestling star in the 1960’s, competing in the NWA Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling territory (he won the Louisiana State Heavyweight title in 1968) before it became Mid-South in 1979. Sadly, Dalton died in 1995 at the age of 54 to stoke. His son Andy Dalton has become a solid indie worker, who spent a great deal of time with Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan last year, as well as sporadic appearances for ROH and CZW.

Cody Hall

Photo: NJPW

25 years old, Miami, Florida
Family: Scott Hall (Father)
Trained by: Larry Zbyszko, Scott Hall, Chasyn Rance

Like his proud papa Scott Hall, Cody is a classic big man in every sense of the word. He’s still got some work to do, but learning from his dad is an invaluable education. He spent the past few years as part of the Bullet Club in NJPW, often as the enforcer for the Young Bucks, but he suffered a terrible injury late last year and missed some considerable time off. He’s back and wrestling again, but it appears he’s moved on from NJPW.

Teddy Hart

Photo: Rolling Stone

37 years old, Calgary, Alberta
Family
: Stu Hart (Grandfather), “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (Uncle), Diana Hart (Aunt), Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Uncle), Owen Hart (Uncle), Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart (Uncle), Natalya (Cousin), Davey Boy Smith Jr. (Cousin)
Trained by: Bruce Hart, Dory Funk Jr.

As a teenager, he was heralded as the most talented wrestler of the Hart bloodline ever and became the youngest person to ever sign with the WWE, at the age of 18. But years of unstable temperament, authority issues and questionable past-times has rendered him more of a novelty act now (though still immensely entertaining). In an industry that has it’s fair share of “should have beens”, Teddy Hart is definitely one of them.

Ayako Hamada, AAA, Pro Wrestling WAVE

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

36 years old, Mexico City
Family: Gran Hamada (Father)
Trained by: Aja Kong, Gran Hamada, Mariko Yoshida, El Gran Apache
Championships: AAA Reina de Reinas Championship, WAVE Tag Team (x3), Shimmer Tag Team, TNA Knockouts Tag Team (x2)

Ayako’s father, Gran Hamada, was one of the first graduates of the NJPW Dojo in 1972, but with his small stature, he was sent to CMLL in Mexico (then EMLL), where he was the first Japanese wrestler to learn Lucha Libre. He remained in Mexico for decades and became one of their greatest performers. His daughter Ayako, a Japanese-Mexican Superstar, has been wrestling around the world since 1998, with stops all over Japan, Mexico and the United States. She had a brief run in Impact Wrestling as the Knockouts Tag Team Champion partner of Awesome Kong in 2009, before heading to work for Shimmer for the next few years. She’s spent the last five years or so working for Pro Wrestling WAVE in Japan, and recently returned home to Mexico and AAA, where she won the AAA Reina de Reinas Championship (Women’s title).

Amy Lee, WAW

Photo: The Barbwire Blog

23 years old, Norwich, England
Family: Karl Kramer (Father)
Trained by: Jason Cross, Karl Kramer, Ricky Knight, Saraya Knight

The daughter of English wrestling veteran Karl Kramer, Amy Lee is a rising star with World Association of Wrestling (WAW), the Norwich promotion run by Paige’s parents, Ricky and Saraya Knight.

Sean Maluta, WXW

Photo: WXW

28 years old, Staten Island, New York
Family: Afa Anoi’a (Uncle)
Trained by: Afa

Another of the Samoan family (he’s the nephew of Afa, on Afa’s wife’s side) and another stand out from WXW, Maluta gained some national recognition when he was chosen to participate in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic tournament last summer. Since then he’s made a few sporadic appearances on NXT in enhancement matches, but he’s still primarily plying his trade on the indie circuit.

‘Miss Natural’ Heather Patera, WLW

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

36 years old, Eldon, Missouri
Family: Ken Patera (Father)
Trained by: Harley Race, Ken Patera
Championships: WLW Ladies Championship (8x)

The daughter of former WWE Intercontinental Champion and US Olympic Weightlifter Ken Patera and trained by 7-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race, “The Natural” Heather Patera has been a staple on the indie circuit for over 15 years. An 8-time Ladies Champion for Race’s World League Wrestling (WLW) promotion, she was also part of Shimmer for years.

Samantha Starr

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

24 years old, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Family: Baby Doll (Mother), Sam Houston (Father), Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts (Uncle), Rockin’ Robin (Aunt), Grizzly Smith (Grandfather), Nick Roberts (Grandfather), Lorraine Johnson (Grandmother)

A relative newcomer who’s making strides, she’s a third generation wrestler from two wrestling families: the Smiths and the Roberts. Her mother was 80’s star Baby Doll, the valet for Tully Blanchard, who herself was the daughter of 50’s and 60’s Texas wrestler/promoter Nick Roberts and Lorraine Johnson, a star in the 50’s and 60’s with the NWA, AWA and Stampede Wrestling. Her father was former 80’s WWE Superstar “Young” Sam Houston, who is the brother of WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts and former WWE Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin, and the son of 60’s and 70’s villain Grizzly Smith. With all that wrestling DNA it’s no surprise that Samantha Starr has taken up the family tradition.

Lei’D Tapa, GFW

Photo: wmmarankings.com

34 years old, Charlotte, North Carolina
Family: The Barbarian (Uncle)
Trained by: George South, The Barbarian

Trained by her uncle, former WWE and WCW Superstar The Barbarian, Lei’D Tapa is best remembered for her stint with Impact Wrestling several years ago. She’s since been competing for GFW and other indies, although she recently had a WWE tryout.

Marshall & Ross Von Erich

Photo: GuideLive.com

Marshall: 24 years old; Ross: 28 years old; Marshall, Texas
Family: Kevin Von Erich (Father), Fritz Von Erich (Grandfather), Kerry Von Erich (Uncle), David Von Erich (Uncle), Mike Von Erich (Uncle), Chris Von Erich (Uncle), Lacey Von Erich (Cousin)
Trained by: Harley Race, Kevin Von Erich, NOAH Dojo

These two sons of Kevin Von Erich, the last surviving son of Fritz Von Erich, are starting to make waves on the Southern indie circuit and beyond. Their cousin Lacey Von Erich (daughter of the late Kerry Von Erich) may have gotten recognition first (she was an early recruit in WWE’s FCW in 2007 and was part of Impact Wrestling, winning the Knockouts Tag Team titles as part of the Beautiful People in 2010), but these Von Erich’s have adapted far better to the ring. The younger Marshall seems to be getting a large amount of the attention and seems more of a natural.

Jesse Windham

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

26 years old, Sweetwater, Texas
Family
: Blackjack Mulligan (Grandfather), Barry Windham (Father), Mike Rotundo/IRS (Uncle), Bray Wyatt (Cousin), Bo Dallas (Cousin)
Trained by: Bob Keller

If Bray Wyatt every wants to legitimately expand his family further with actual blood relatives, his cousin Jesse Windham could be a prospect. The 26-year old son of WWE Hall of Famer and Four Horseman Barry Windham has been wrestling since he was a teenager.

Amber Young

Photo: Pro Wrestling Wiki

25 years old, Atlanta, Georgia
Family: David Young (Father)
Trained by: Shaun Rage

Her father was a TNA Original, “The Messiah of the Spinebuster” David Young, who appeared for Impact Wrestling from 2002 to 2007. Like her dad, she also uses the spinebuster (she refers to herself as “The Duchess of the Spinebuster”) and has worked for indie promotions like PWX, as well as alongside her boyfriend, rising indie star Anthony Henry.

ENSIGNS

Kayla Armstrong

Photo: Kayla Armstrong’s Twitter

22 years old
Family
: Scott Armstrong (Father), “Bullet” Bob Armstrong (Grandfather), “Road Dogg” Jesse James (Uncle), Brad Armstrong (Uncle)

Kayla began training for a career in pro wrestling a few years back, but it’s not entirely sure if she’s still continuing that path. With all of her connections in the WWE family wise, she’d get the best training.

Baby Beefcake

Photo: Baby Beefcake’s Twitter

21 years old
Family
: Brutus Beefcake (Father)
Training with: Jersey Championship Wrestling

Brutus Beefcake’s daughter recently entered the professional wrestling business, where she’s signed to Jersey Championship Wrestling, where she’s training at their school.

Brian Pillman Jr.

Photo: Brian Pillman Jr’s Twitter

23 years old, Edgewood, Kentucky
Family
: Brian Pillman (Father)
Training with: Lance Storm

The only son of the late Brian Pillman, Brian Jr. recently announced his desire to follow in his dad’s footsteps and started training in Calgary with Lance Storm.

Cedric Rougeau

24 years old, Montreal, Quebec
Family: Jacques Rougeau Sr. (Grandfather), Jacques Rougeau Jr./The Mountie (Father), Raymond Rougeau (Uncle)
Training with: Jacques Rougeau Jr.

This 6’6″ and 300+ lbs giant has had a few tryouts with the WWE over the past year or so, but so far nothing concrete has materialized. He still works the Canadian indie circuit, primarily on the East Coast and Quebec.

Austin Sopp

Photo: Austin Sopp’s Twitter

22 years old
Family: Billy Gunn (Father)
Training with: Billy Gunn

Billy Gunn’s youngest son, Austin, made his pro wrestling debut early this year.

Sean Studd

Photo: MCW

26 years old, Burke, Virginia
Family: Big John Studd (Father)
Trained by: Booker T

Booker T took the 6’10” son of WWE Legend Big John Studd and trained him to become a professional wrestler, making his debut only two years ago. Sadly, Sean never got to see his father wrestle live. Big John retired the year before Sean was born and passed away when Sean was only five.

Colt Toombs

Photo: Colt Toomb’s Twitter

26 years old, Portland, Oregon
Family: Rowdy Roddy Piper (Father)
Trained by: ‘The Grappler’ Len Denton

Originally an MMA fighter, Colt finally broke down and joined his father in pro wrestling, although he’s been somewhat quiet the past year or so since his father passed away.

Will they all make it to the WWE, Impact or beyond? Hard to say. Just because they have the genetics, doesn’t guarantee they have the same drive, passion or dedication. But the bloodlines are there. And their families will live on in the pro wrestling industry.

Know of any other multigenerational wrestlers that people should know about getting their breaks? Let us know in the comments below!

Main Photo/Graphic: David Silveira

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