Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Are (Not) Family

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter
Photos are courtesy WWE

Wrestling is a family business.  The Von Erichs, the Harts, the McMahons.  They're just a few of the famous families of the squared circle.  And from time to time, some families have welcomed new members, but they weren't blood related.  This post looks at some of my favorites.

Rick Rude vs. Lance Von Erich
Regular readers know that the Von Erichs were always one of my favorites growing up.  In 1985, Lance Von Erich arrived in World Class to help his "cousins" do battle with the likes of the Fabulous Freebirds. Lance always reminded me of a hybrid of Kerry and Kevin.  While his physique wasn't as big as Kerry's, he had the build.  And he wrestled barefoot just like Kevin did.

Lance, Kevin and Kerry enjoyed some success as 6 man tag team champions.  He also had a stint as the TV champ in WCCW.  Eventually, he and the Dingo Warrior (now Ultimate Warrior) held the tag team titles.  I remember him challenging Rick Rude for the heavyweight title, but coming up short after some devious actions by Percy Pringle.  Lance eventually left the company because of a falling out with Uncle Fritz.  And while he kept the Von Erich moniker for a while, Fritz blasted Lance saying he wasn't related to his famous clan.

Lance Von Erich vs. Ric Flair
I liked Lance, and even at the time when I thought he was a Von Erich I still thought he was lacking something.  I don't think he even fully got over with the fans and we never saw much of him after he left WCCW and became the Fabulous Lance.  He probably should have and could have been more successful.  He was there at a time the Von Erichs were ailing.  Kerry nearly died in that motorcycle accident in 1986.  He rushed back too soon which of course only put added pressure on him and took a great toll on his health.  I think Lance found out it's hard being a Von Erich, especially when you're not really one.

Jimmy Jack Funk
Jesse Barr headed to the WWF in 1986 with a bullrope, Lone Ranger mask, and a cowboy hat.  He became Jimmy Jack Funk.  He was billed as Terry and Dory's long lost little brother from the Double Cross Ranch in Texas.  JJF was brought in as Terry was headed out.  Of course he was not a suitable replacement for the former NWA world heavyweight champion.  JJ and Dory teamed briefly until the elder Funk left the company.  The little brother was left on his own and floundered in the lower midcard.  Jimmy Jack was pretty much a WWF jobber before leaving New York and heading to World Class.  He was able to keep the Funk gimmick and had some success with the company.  Not really sure whatever became of him after that though.

The Hillbillies
Another family unit of the 1980's was the Hillbillies.  Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, and cousins Luke and Junior.  There was no relation with any of them, but they always had a good time in the ring.  The closet any of them came to gold in the ring was when Jim and Elmer challenged Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine for the WWF tag team titles.  The Hillbillies came up short.  And once Jim went on the shelf with injuries, the rest of the clan seemed to become nothing more than jobbers to the stars.  Elmer got hitched on Saturday Night's Main Event in what may have been his most memorable performance.  I'm pretty sure that was wrestling's first televised wedding too.  Nevertheless, these guys weren't really hillbillies and they weren't really kin folk either.

Edge & Christian
Some modern day versions of faux families include the WWE claiming Edge and Christian are/were brothers.  I can't remember if they ever came out and just said they were best friends or not.  Paul Bearer isn't really Kane's dad, nor is Kane really the Undertaker's half brother.  Finlay's son isn't Hornswoggle, and Andre the Giant was not the Giant's (Big Show) father.  And do I really need to get into the Dudley's family tree?

The Poffo Family (from TampaBay.com)
I'm not sure why wrestling companies like to make up family and add family members yet ignore others who are actually related.  Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo come to mind.  At least they were kept apart in the WWF.  Ray Gordy who wrestled at Jessie never mentioned his famous father Terry Gordy during his stint with WWE.  And I don't think the WWE ever acknowledged the fact that Honky Tonk Man and Jerry Lawler are cousins.

Who are your favorite phony wrestling families?  Post here or on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. HI,
    This is the former Lance Von Erich. The reason you didn't see anymore of me was because I was wrestling in South Africa. I started working for Sammy Cohen and that is where I really learned to wrestle. I got bigger than Kerry. I found his secret, if you know what I mean!
    I went on to work for Paul Lloyd. I put in health clubs in Jhb, Cape Town and Midrand. Everything has worked out well for me. I did get over with the the fans but Fritz did not want me to do anything to outshine the kids. I left because Kevin, Kerry, and Mike were always were to messed up to make the shows. I would work in the afternoon and be the first on the card, and then I would have to travel to another town to cover for one of the boys. I worked twice in one night and got paid the same. That's why I had left.
    I think it was a pretty good move to leave them, since most of World Class is dead or broke.

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  3. my Facebook is Bahamalancek@hotmail.com.

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