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10 Fathers & Sons Who Won The Same Championship Belts

There is a lot of pressure on second-generation wrestlers. Just look at those who failed immensely to follow in the footsteps of their fathers: David Sammartino, Erik Watts, and Manu are just some of the examples of this trend. There are those however that managed to match their fathers, at least in the field of capturing the same championship belts. So, here are the fathers and their sons who captured the accolade of winning the same championships. 

Blackjack Mulligan/Barry Windham – NWA World Tag Team Titles

Blackjack Mulligan, won his first of what would be his only NWA World Tag Team titles alongside Ric Flair in August 1979. Whilst in Mid-Atlantic, Blackjack and “The Nature Boy” won the tag straps from fellow claw hold expert Baron Von Raschke and future “No. 1” Paul Jones. They would lose them back 14 days later. 

Mulligan and Flair interviewed on Mid-Atlantic TV.
(Photo courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Gateway)

Barry Windham would have more success with four different title reigns with four different partners. Alongside talents as diverse as Curt Hennig, Lex Luger, and Dustin Rhodes in NWA/WCW, Windham held the tag straps for a combined four months. As a reliable mid-card talent, described his father’s tag partner as “one of the greatest of all time”, he was a solid hand to hold the tag straps even for a short period. Fun fact: All of Windham’s reigns except the one with Dustin saw him lose the titles from the team he originally won them from. 

Barry and Dustin, holding the tag titles, are interviewed by a Cleopatra-esque Missy Hyatt.
(Photo courtesy of WWE Network News)

Both Windham and Mulligan also both won the WWF World Tag Team championship belts during brief stints there. Mulligan teamed with long-time partner Blackjack Lanza in 1975 whilst Barry won his with brother-in-law Mike Rotunda a decade later, holding it twice in 1985. 

Both men too held the United States title; Mulligan was a four-time champion as Barry had a solitary but high-caliber reign. Both are within the top 20 longest combined US titleholders. Yet Windham is not the only Horsemen to be part of a father-son duo who both won the United States title, speaking of… 

Ric Flair/David Flair – WCW United States Title

It may not be surprising but WCW’s US title scene in 1999 was a clusterf*ck of madness. Case in point: David Flair was champion. 

Scott Hall was vacated of the belt by president Ric Flair so a title tournament was held, won by Scott Steiner. On the July 5th Nitro, Flair both stripped Steiner (no, obviously not like that) and gifted the belt to David, giving him a title win by default. Hang your head in shame as the rosy-cheeked youngster who looked more amateur parkour skater than wrestler got pinfall wins to retain the belt over Bobby Eaton, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit. “The Crippler” would eventually get the belt after just over a month. 

Flair, with Ric and Asya, walks to the ring with a smug expression and the US belt on his shoulder.

Father Ric is, of course, heralded for his 16(+) world title reigns but less is said of his time as US champion. In fact, “The Dirtiest Player In The Game” holds a record for the most reigns with six. He too has the second-longest combined reign of all time at 773 days, behind Lex Luger.  

So why are these not brought up? Well, five were before his first world title reign. Instead, “Naitch” performed his way up the card in US title programs with the likes of Ricky Steamboat and Greg Valentine. Flair also won the title for a forgotten run in 1996 during which time he main evented various WCW supercards. 

Flair stands by the ropes displaying his US title.
(Photo courtesy of Pro Wrestling Stories) — PERMISSION: Granted from the creator.

Johnny Valentine/Greg Valentine – WCW United States Title

Johnny Valentine was the second-ever US champion, wrestling the title away from inaugural holder Harley Race in July 1975. What was likely supposed to be a lengthy reign due to Valentine being an “incredible magnitude wherever he went” in the words of PWTorch’s Mike Sempervive, only lasted three months after the career-ending events of the infamous 1975 plane crash. In this, Valentine broke his back, forcing an early exit from the industry in a wrestling capacity.  

During his time, he did manage various defenses including against not insignificant opponents such as Race, Wahoo McDaniel, and Ken Patera. A tournament was held after vacation for the new champion; Terry Funk won. 

Valentine being interviewed in Mid-Atlantic.
Mid-Atlantic title pictured.

Son Greg “The Hammer” won the title for the first time two years later in 1980. Although unrecognized by the WWE, the win was a culmination of a big feud with Ric Flair that involved betrayal and a legitimate broken nose after a cane shot. In 1982, Valentine again won the belt after beating Wahoo McDaniel, about five years after the famous “I Broke Wahoo’s Leg” angle.  

After losing it to Roddy Piper, Greg regained the title four months later via referee stoppage after Piper started bleeding from the ear. The attack legitimately led to Piper permanently losing 75% of hearing in that ear. Valentine later recalled: “He took a blade and just cut his ear right in half. Blood was everywhere, and I’m hitting him with the belt. It just looked horrible. It looked hideous.”   

Valentine, in a purple robe, wielding the US title.

Valentine reigned and held the belt for over seven months, losing a memorable non-title Dog Collar match at Starrcade. He eventually lost the strap to “Dirty” Dick Slater in December 1983, shortly after departing for the WWF. 

Greg Valentine is the third-longest reigning champion in combined days of all time.  

Taz/Hook – FTW Title

Taz became the first ECW FTW (F*ck The World) champion in 1998, after gifting himself the belt at the It Ain’t Seinfeld event. Champion Shane Douglas would not defend against “The Human Suplex Machine” so Taz just created his own unsanctioned belt. When finally topping “The Franchise”, the belts were unified with Taz seeing 219 days with the FTW belt over two reigns. 

Taz holds up the FTW title at the ECW Arena.

The belt disappeared for over two decades with AEW revamping the old ECW strap, initially due to Jon Moxley’s inability to defend the AEW title – the same reason for the title’s introduction by the former Tazmaniac. 

Taz holds up the FTW title.
(Photo courtesy of WrestlingWorld)

Rocky Johnson/The Rock – WWF World Tag Team Titles

Rocky Johnson won his only WWF title in 1983. On the edition of Championship Wrestling, taped on November 15th in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At this event, Rocky Johnson teamed with tag partner and real-life nemesis Tony Atlas. The duo defeated The Wild Samoans for the championship belts after a misplaced chair shot. The reign would last five months for the first-ever African-American tag champions, ended by a team consisting of a legitimate, card-carrying Klu Klux Klan member in Dick Murdoch, and Adrian Adonis. 

An elated Johnson holds up a tag belt arm-in-arm with Tony Atlas.
(Photo courtesy of WWE.com)

In 1999, The Rock would follow his father and win his first tag title. In all, “The People’s Champion” would have five reigns yet is within the shortest combined champions. In fact, his longest reign was eight days with a combined total of 25 days. Yes, that is an average of five days per reign with the championship belts. 

The Rock’s first three were alongside Mankind in the Rock’n’Sock Connection, all within a month and a half with Vince Russo leaving the booking team just before the team’s final reign. December 2000 saw a totally forgettable one-day reign with The Undertaker whilst The Invasion saw a short-lived team featuring The Rock and Chris Jericho. 

The Rock and Mankind cut a promo with their belts.
(Photo courtesy of WhatCulture)

Although Rock had five times more reigns, Johnson had the championship belts for five times as long. 

Dusty Rhodes/Cody Rhodes – NWA World Heavyweight Title

When it comes to thinking of the greatest holders of the NWA title, “The American Dream” surely must be up there behind, perhaps, only Ric Flair and/or Harley Race. Yet in reality, Dusty’s five (sort of) reigns were really underwhelming. 

An exhausted Dusty wields the big gold belt iteration of the NWA title.

Starting with the ‘Dusty Finishes’ in which decisions were overturned, there were two occasions of this booking strategy. The first occasion was in 1982 when Dusty was suspended; he instead became the ‘mysterious’, masked Midnight Rider. When told he needed to vacate the belt he won from Ric Flair as masked wrestlers could not be NWA champions (what about Blue Demon, Jr.? I digress…). Unable to risk the ability of exposing his identity, he forfeited the belt back to “The Nature Boy”. He also won the belt at Starrcade 1985 but the decision was overturned and Dusty given a disqualification win – thus not winning the belt – after Rhodes was attacked mid-match when the referee was incapacitated. 

As for the three recognized wins, they were all short-lived. Rhodes first won the belt in 1979 beating Harley Race with his famous elbow drop in Tampa but lost the belt in Orlando five days later. For comparison, Race’s reign was 185x longer! His next reign saw him again pin Race, this time lasting 88 days. It is by far his lengthiest reign but not comparable to the usual length NWA titleholders normally held the belt. The reign saw him defeat some big stars but was littered with DQ or double DQ results. His final reign was in 1986 after beating Flair at The Great American Bash before losing it back two weeks later. 

Cody too saw limited success with the strap. Cody won the belt at All In, the precursor PPV to the creation of All Elite Wrestling. 50 days later at the 70th Anniversary NWA show, Nick Aldis regained the belt he had briefly lost in a two-out-of-three-falls match. As both IWGP US champion and Ring Of Honor Six-Man Tag Team champion, Cody had little chance to defend the belt in his time with it.  

Cody, cut open and crying, holds the NWA belt.
(Photo courtesy of Sportskeeda)

Davey Boy Smith/David Hart Smith – WWE World Tag Team Titles

In 2010, then-World Tag Team titleholders David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd unified their belts with the WWE Tag Team titles, ending the world belt’s lineage thus being the last champions.  

Hart holds aloft his title on the top rope as manager Natalya poses too.

The Hart Dynasty won the belts in April, during the stint Bret Hart returned as a TV presence, beating ShoMiz. The team would be champs for four months before unification.  

Prior to this, his father The British Bulldog had won the titles twice, for a combined 540 days. His first reign started at WrestleMania II, with Dynamite Kid in The British Bulldogs. The longest reign in over a decade, the British brutes were titleholders for nearly 300 days before an injury to Dynamite forced a title change and the Hart Foundation became champions. 

The Bulldogs are interviewed by Jesse Ventura with Matilda.

His other run was alongside brother-in-law Owen Hart in from late 1996 to mid-1997. Again, one of the longest reigns in years, no reign would surpass this 246 days again in the title’s history. Bulldog even won the European title during the lengthy reign.  

Verne Gagne/Greg Gagne – AWA World Tag Team Titles

It may be a surprise for AWA fans to learn it took three years and a half as well as 13 holders of the AWA World Tag Team titles before he put it on himself. See, Verne has a reputation as a self-beneficial booker, perhaps more so than any other person as the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, and 14th world champion – even later holding it in his mid-50s – with an accumulative 4,677 days as champion. 

Verne had four different reigns with four different partners, the majority of which were extremely short-lived. These were alongside the virtually unknown Moose Evans, as well as more famous wrestlers in the forms of The Crusher, Billy Robinson, and Mad Dog Vachon (the latter of which lasted for 410 days). Vachon and Gagne were described as “Go[ing] together like fire and water. Pizza and mashed potatoes. Tequila and milk.” 

"Mean" Gene interviews Gagne and Vachon.
The team of Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon.

Greg also held the belts twice with High Flyers tag partner and future Killer Bee Jim Brunzell. Greg and “Jumpin’” Jim won the belts in July 1977 from Blackjack Lanza and Bobby Duncum. The team held the straps for over 14 months before an injury from a charity softball game forced a vacation to the iconic team of Ray “The Crippler” Stevens and Pat Patterson. In 1981, the team won the belts again, beating the East-West Connection for a two-year reign ended by The Sheiks, Jerry Blackwell, and Ken Patera. 

Brunzell and Gagne celebrate their tag title win.
Greg Gagne (right)

Curt Hennig/Curtis Axel – Intercontinental Title

Although Curt Hennig won many titles (AWA World Heavyweight title, United States title, WCW World Tag Team title…), he is most synonymous with the IC belt, which he held twice. 

The first reign started after winning a shoddily-booked eight-man tournament, winning in a legitimizing encounter with ex-titleholder Tito Santana. During this time, Perfect mixed it up in the world title too, helping The Ultimate Warrior, showing Perfect’s reliability to work with Warrior; the world champion was calledthe epitome of a guy…with no talent” by Jim Cornette. It lasted for a few months before a surprise loss to The Texas Tornado aka Kerry Von Erich. 

Mr Perfect with blue singlet wears the IC title.

After three months, Perfect regained the belt from Tornado, pinning Von Erich thanks to “The Million Dollar Man” after Perfect pinned Von Erich at Survivor Series – taped after but aired as if before. For 280 days, Perfect reigned as the top heel champion of the company, mixing it up with big draws such as The Big Boss Man and Roddy Piper. This was before a back injury forced time off but would not stop Perfect from having a barnstormer at SummerSlam 1991 against Bret Hart. 

What is less memorable is his son’s IC title reign. Curtis Axel underwent a revamp in 2013 from his original name Michael McGuillicutty. Named after his father and grandfather, he became managed by Paul Heyman and would quickly pick up big-time ‘wins’ prior to a sneaky IC title win. Axel defended against lower-mid-carders such as R-Truth before losing the title after five months in one of the worst reigns of the modern era with only a lukewarm push causing the run to flop and never reach his father’s success before falling down the card.  

Axel grins at his IC belt as Heyman stares.
(Photo courtesy of Fightful)

Ted DiBiase and Ted DiBiase, Jr. – WWF World Tag Team Titles

One of the finest all-round workers, Ted DiBiase had slid down the card from the main event to the tag mid-card by the early 90s. It was here however that he captured his most major non-personalized title in the WWF. He teamed with Irwin R. Schyster (IRS) to win the tag belts off-TV in 1992 as a way to protect the Legion Of Doom who disliked losing and also due to the fact Money Inc. had not yet been named or created on-screen. 

A backstage, green screen promo by DiBiase and IRS, who hold their belts.
(Photo courtesy of ‘Stephen Knox’ on Pinterest)

After six months, some of which were spent feuding with the newly-faced Natural Disaster, the duo lost the belts to Earthquake and Typhoon at a house show. Three months later, the belts were regained after Ted beat ‘Quake via technical knockout on Wrestling Challenge. This reign lasted 244 days and included a WrestleMania retention over Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake, obviously not cleanly because it is “c*nt Hogan” as OSW would say. After a loss to rivals The Steiner and The Smoking Guns at King Of The Ring 1993, The Steiners won the titles the next night at a house show. Two days later, Money Inc. regained them at yet another house show before yet another house show loss to The Steiners, with constant title changes likely an attempt to boost dwindling live ticket sales. 

In 2008, Ted DiBiase, Jr. won his first tag title when, in a swerve, he teamed with Cody Rhodes to turn on Hardcore Holly and crown a new title-wielding duo. Two and a half months later and after a bizarre defense over Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, the then-unnamed Legacy would lose the championship belts to the hodgepodge alliance of Batista and John Cena; they regained them a week later. In a further odd tandem, they lost to Kofi Kingston and CM Punk. 

DiBiase grins, holding up his tag title belt.
(Photo courtesy of Sportskeeda)

Both a father and son champion, that experience must be priceless. 

Written by Griffin Kaye

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