zero degrees of separation


    Why did Tom Zenk leave AWA?  The AWA champion was Larry Zbyszko.  And Larry was married to the boss's daughter.


    "Pro-wrestling is as difficult to break into as a high school clique. It is one of America's last "father and son" industries; an industry where it is definitely who you know, not what you know, that's important. Consider how many stars in the sport are second generation wrestlers: Curt Hennig, Greg Valentine, Greg Gagne, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, Kendall Windham, Randy Savage, Lanny Poffo, Ted DiBiase, Kerry Von Erich, Terry and Dory Funk, Eddie Gilbert, Jeff Jarrett, Owen Hart, Bret Hart, David Sammartino, and so on and on." 

    In wrestling, fathers look after their sons, cousins look after other cousins, uncles take care of nephews, brothers-in-law form clans or 'packs' to look after their interests, even next-door-neighbors, former employees and old friends get promoted - generally above the real talent.

    "Hulk Hogan's boyhood pals and former training partners are Ed Leslie (Brutus Beefcake) and Ray Fernandez (Hercules Hernandez)." And don't forget Hulk's brother Mike Boulder and his nephew Horace Boulder, and .....

    Larry Zbyszko was Bruno Sammartino's next door neighbor. Then he married the boss's (Verne Gagne's) daughter. No wonder Tom Zenk left AWA. All the best spots, including the AWA World Championship, were already reserved for either Verne's son (Greg Gagne) or son-in-law (Larry Zbyszko). 

    The following list is useful background reading if you want to know, for example  -
      • why it pays to be brother-in-law  to Bret Hart or one of Jerry Lawler's sons or cousins;  
      • what unites Mike Rotundo, Blackjack Mulligan, and Barry and Kendall Wyndham 
      • why The Wrecking Crew resemble The Road Warriors  
      • what Steve Austin and Chris Adams have in common 
      • who Tugboat, Jerry Saggs and Dustin Rhodes have to thank.

Ties of blood are one thing. Overlay this with ties of friendship (Flair and Anderson, Dallas Page and Eric Bischoff, Hennig and Rude, Fuller and Jarrett, etc., etc., ), plus personal and professional jealousies, and you begin to scratch the surface of a profession where sheer wrestling ability is often very low among the criteria for wrestler promotion.

Third Generation Second Generation  First Generation
Gino Brito, Jr. Gino Brito, Sr. Jack Britton
Doug Gilbert   
Eddie Gilbert 
Tommy Gilbert Arlie Gilbert
Chavito Guerrero Chavo Guerrero Salvador "Gory" Guerrero (*D) 
Vince McMahon Vincent J. McMahon (*D) Jess McMahon (*D)
Robert Fuller  
Ron Fuller
Buddy Fuller Roy Welch
Jimmy Golden Billy Golden  Roy Welch
Brad Anderson Gene Anderson (*D)  
Bryan Anderson Ole Anderson   
Brad Armstrong  
Brian Armstrong  
Scott Armstrong  
Steve Armstrong
Bob Armstrong  
Shawn Barr  
J.J. Funk  
The Juicer/Love Machine (*D)
Sandy Barr  
Tully Blanchard Joe Blanchard  
Maniac Matt Borne Tough Tony Borne  
Nick Bockwinkel Warren Bockwinkel(*D)   
Shaun Simpson  
Steve Simpson  
Stuart Simpson
Sammy Cohen  
Jim Crockett, Jr. Jim Crockett, Sr. (*D)  
Ted DiBiase  Iron Mike DiBiase (*D) (*S)  
Jamie Dundee Bill Dundee  
El Rey Misterio, Jr. El Rey Misterio   
Dory Funk, Jr.  
Terry Funk
Dory Funk, Sr. (*D)  
Greg Gagne Verne Gagne  
Mike Graham Eddie Graham (*D)  
Jimmy Garvin Ronnie Garvin (*S)  
|Juventud Guerrera Fuerza Guerrera  
Eddie Guerrero  
Hector Guerrero  
Mando Guerrero
Salvador "Gory" Guerrero (*D)  
Bret Hart  
Bruce Hart  
Owen Hart  
Ross Hart  
Smith Hart
Stu Hart   
Curt Hennig Larry Hennig  
Jeff Jarrett Jerry Jarrett  
Ricky Johnson  
Rocky Maivia 
Rocky Johnson  
Pat Tanaka Duke Keomuka (*D)  
Brian Christopher  
Kevin Christian
Jerry "the King" Lawler  
Joey Morella (*D) Gorilla Monsoon  
Ricky Morton Paul Morton  
Angelo Mosca, Jr. Angelo Mosca, Sr.  
Barry Windham  
Kendall Windham
Blackjack Mulligan  
Dick Murdoch Frankie Murdoch  
Larry Oliver Rip Oliver   
Barry O  
Bob Orton
Robert Orton, Sr.  
Barry Owens Don Owens  
Randy Savage  
Lanny Poffo
Angelo Poffo  
Scott Putski Ivan Putski   
Dustin Rhodes Dusty Rhodes  
Chris Youngblood  
Jay Youngblood (*D)  
Mark Younglood
Ricky Romero  
Armand Rougeau  
Jacques Rougeau  
Phillipe Rougeau  
Raymond Rougeau
Jacques Rougeau, Sr.  
David Sammartino Bruno Sammartino  
Iron Mike Sharpe Iron Mike Sharpe, Sr. (*D)  
Jumpin' Joe Savoldi Angelo Savoldi  
Sam Houston  
Jake "the Snake" Roberts  
Rockin' Robin Smith
Grizzly Smith  
Greg Valentine Johnny Valentine   
Chris Von Erich (*D)  
Kerry Von Erich (*D)  
David Von Erich (*D)  
Kevin Von Erich   
Mike Von Erich (*D) 
Fritz Von Erich (*D)   
Erik Watts Cowboy Bill Watts  


Brothers (not listed above) Relationship
Jack and Jerry Brisco brothers
Chris Champion and Mark Starr  brothers
Cole Twins - Kent and Keith brothers
Bobby and Jackie Fulton brothers
Tony Garea and Johnny Garcia  brothers
Rick and Robert Gibson  brothers
The Bruise Brothers - Ron and Don Harris  brothers
Bobby Heenan and Jerry Valiant brothers
Hulk Hogan and Mike Boulder brothers
Scott "Hogg" (*D) and Wild Bill Irwin brothers
Ricky and Rocky Johnson  brothers
Frenchy Martin and Rick Martel brothers
Al and Lou Perez brothers
Dr. Tom and Bruce (Brother Love) Pritchard brothers
Paul Orndorff and Terry Orndorff brothers
Johnny and Tommy Rich brothers
Jacques Sr. and Johnny Rougeau brothers
Brett Wayne and Buzz Sawyer (*D) brothers
Ricky "the Dragon" and Victor Steamboat  brothers
Rick and Scott Steiner brothers
LOD Animal, Johnny Ace, and Terminator/Fury of the Wrecking Crew  brothers

Tom wrestles Jerry 'Saggs' Saganowich, the brother-in-law of WCW booker Dusty Rhodes.
Cousins, Uncles, Etc. Relationship
Gino Brito and Dino Bravo cousins
Ted and Vic Christy and Bobby and Jerry Colt uncles and nephews
Hulk Hogan and Horace Boulder uncle and nephew
Jerry Lawler and The Honkytonk Man cousins
Ricky and Todd Morton cousins
The Sheik and Sabu  uncle and nephew



Brothers-in-law Mike Rotundo and Barry Wyndham.
Verne Gagne's son-in-law whips Bruno Sammartino's son.

Wrestling Inter-Marriage
Chris Adams and Toni Adams
Chris Adams and Jeanie Clark (divorced)
Steve Austin and Jeanie Clark
Bobby Eaton and Bill Dundee's daughter
Bret Hart and The Dynamite Kid married sisters
Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart's sister (divorced)
Davey Boy Smith and Bret Hart's sister (Diana)
Jerry Jarrett and Eddie Marlin's daughter
Dusty Rhodes, Tugboat, and Jerry Saggs -  brothers-in-law
Mike Rotundo and Blackjack Mulligan's daughter  - so Mike Rotundo becomes brother- in- law to Kendall and Barry Wyndham
Larry Zbyskzo and Cathy Gagne (Verne's daughter)
*D -- deceased

Select list from the original list compiled by Terry Baldridge, updated by Nick Simicich, and now maintained by Rick Duggan (

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