Wrestling History Lesson: Sibling Rivalries in Sports Entertainment | Smark Out Moment

Wrestling History Lesson: Sibling Rivalries in Sports Entertainment

Posted by Callum Wiggins Sunday, August 31, 2014
Wrestling Divas Nikki Brie Sexy Feud
SummerSlam 2014 witnessed a moment that will stand the test of time in the memories of wrestling fans. A wrestling family, or perhaps more appropriately a dynasty, was torn asunder by the betrayal of one sister to another. These stories where the blood that siblings share boils over into unbound hatred often lead to some of the grittiest and emotional segments in the history of the industry. As a brother myself, I can only imagine the sheer pain and anguish that could lead to two siblings having such bitter animosity towards the other. And when an esteemed wrestling lineage such as The Bella Twins are the pair involved in such a personal feud, you know that tears will be flowing from the eyes of the fans. However, in this particular example, it will be due to the quality of their acting, and desperate screams for them to leave and never return.

Granted, this feud has certainly not gotten off to an emphatic start. Far from it. The constant screeching into the microphone, wooden expressions and lines such as "I wish you'd died in the womb" have surprisingly not endeared this feud to the fans. On the contrary, the terrible performance coupled with cringe-worthy material has already made the feuding Bella Twins the least anticipated feature in WWE currently.

WWE Superstars Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso entranceBut, such a feud has been based upon historically epic feuds between family members that have captured the imaginations of wrestling fans. And, if this latest attempt is good for nothing else (and trust me, it isn't), then at least it presents an opportunity to explore the rich history of sibling rivalries in the history of wrestling.

More often than not, when members of the same family are in the wrestling business, they are paired together from the outset. These sibling partnerships have included The Brisco Brothers, The Steiners, Harlem Heat, The Hardy Boyz, and most recently the Usos. It looks to exploit the natural chemistry and bond between the siblings from likely wrestling together from a young age. Often these teams will endure, occasionally separating for singles runs, but allowing for reunions along the way. But, another rout is also frequently taken, which is when there is a determination to find out which sibling is better.

An early example of such sibling rivalry was the basis of an entire wrestling promotion, International Championship Wrestling. ICW was run by Angelo Poffo, and his two sons, Randy and Lanny Poffo, would consistently feud over the company's Heavyweight Championship. The two would later enter WWE as Randy Savage and The Genius, but this competition between the brothers allowed them to get noticed in their bid for the big time.

WWE sibling rivalry Hart Family WWFThough the Poffos' feud would revolve around championship gold, later rivalries between brothers would cut deeper than this. One of the biggest feuds of the early 1990s was between Bret Hart and his younger brother Owen. Owen had grown jealous of his brother's remarkable success and popularity. He felt as though he was being held back due to Bret, and following an unsuccessful challenge for the Tag Team Championships, this frustration spilled over into an assault by the younger brother. This set in motion one of the most intense and exciting feuds of 1994.

The pair would meet at WrestleMania X, in a match still considered to this day as the greatest opening contest in the event's celebrated history. Owen would get the upset victory, but Hart ended the night on top by winning the WWF Championship. The personal feud thus became even hotter with the introduction of the title, with Owen winning the King of the Ring to get his chance at the gold. Bret retained however against his younger brother at SummerSlam inside a steel cage in a 5-star rated bout. Owen would get the last laugh however, as he cost Bret the title in a Submission match against Bob Backlund, before the pair went their separate ways.

The Hart brothers' feud demonstrated how good storytelling could make bad blood between siblings the most compelling rivalries in wrestling. So, it was unsurprising that WCW would use similar tactics in hope of reaching the same heights. What was even more unsurprising was their attempts came up short. Their most prevalent sibling feud was between the Steiner Brothers, Scott and Rick.

Genetic Freak Steroids RickScott had increased his muscle mass (I'm sure through legitimate means), and began to take charge in the brothers' tag team matches, sometimes not even tagging in Rick. Though the pair were still winning matches, and were Tag Team Champions, it was clear that Scott saw himself as the superior brother. This came to a head at Superbrawl VIII, as Scott turned on Rick by nailing him with a powerbomb, and handing the Outsiders their title belts. Scott would then join the nWo, dye his hair blonde and "develop" his muscle mass even further.

The Steiner brothers would continue to feud, fighting to a No Contest at Fall Brawl 1998. However, an injury to Rick damaged the intensity of the feud, as well as the prolonged presence of the other nWo members took away from the personal nature of a sibling rivalry. Scott would move onto feuds for World Championships in the last years of WCW, whilst Rick would find a new partner, in the form of the shapely Judy Bagwell.

The company had another opportunity to develop another rivalry between a pair of successful tag team partners. Harlem Heat were 10-time WCW Tag Team Champions, and appeared to have one of the strongest brotherly relationships in the business. Even when Stevie Ray left to join the nWo, Booker T refused to fight his brother. However, when a 'woman' came between them in Midnight, dissension between the pair reached its height. However, they were stuck in the period of ridiculous WCW storylines, which if you are wondering is any time after the nWo was first created. Instead of a bitter, personal dispute over jealousy or disrespect, they would feud over whether Booker T could keep the letter 'T' as part of his name. Predictably, this would prove shortlived, and Booker T headed towards a Hall of Fame career as a singles star.

Not to be outdone by their larger competitors, ECW would get in on the act with arguably the most violent and heated rivalry between brothers in wrestling history. Axl and Ian Rotten would make up the tandem of Bad Breed, but following a defeat to the Pitbulls at November to Remember, they were forced to disband. Both brother blamed each other for the loss, and in reality both were not on the best of terms. So, the best course of action was to channel this resentment into a feud, and naturally for the company, it was taken to the Extreme. A 'Double Tables' match was followed by a Hair vs. Hair bout. Their final contest was a 'Taipei Death Match', with Axl getting the final victory in a feud that spilled more blood then Ric Flair over the course of a year.

Hardy Boyz Fighting Sibling Brother RivalryPrior the Bella Twins' current spat, the most recent sibling rivalry in WWE was between Matt and Jeff Hardy in 2009, a feud that many suggest was missed potential. The tag team had been one of the most successful and popular pairings in WWE history, but it was always apparent who the crowd's favourite was. Jeff had been on an extremely successful singles run, which had culminated in him winning the WWE Championship. But, Matt cost him the title by smashing him in the head with a steel chair at the Royal Rumble, leading to a match between the pair at WrestleMania 25, which Matt won.

The two would continue to battle over the next month, Matt once again getting a victory in a Stretcher match on SmackDown, before Jeff would get a victory at Backlash. However, the feud would be cut short by drafting Matt to RAW for no real reason. This nonsensical decision, coupled with Matt's intestines exploding a few months later, would bring a premature ending to a personal rivalry with so much promise. Jeff's popularity was unparalleled, and Matt was becoming relevant again through his disdain with Jeff's success. A few more months of matches between the pair, perhaps with championship implications in the future, would have made this one of the best feuds of 2009. Instead, Jeff shared that honour with CM Punk, whilst Matt would slowly fade into the background again.

Phenom Demon Mask Brother Rivalry
The nature of the sibling feud and the investment that the crowd puts into such intimate tension has led to wrestling companies fabricate siblings in order to make ready feuds. The longest feud from these actions has undoubtedly been between the Undertaker and his estranged brother Kane. This supernatural rivalry stems from Kane being hideously burned in a house fire caused by the Undertaker, and the Demon has shared feuds with the Phenom from his debut in 1998 all the way to 2010. They have been vindictive rivals and cohesive partners, and their dysfunctional family has been an absorbing storyline for over a decade.

Another fake brother feud was between Edge and Christian, another one fueled by Christian's jealousy over Edge's popularity and success. Edge had recently won both the King of the Ring and the Intercontinental Championship, and the feud truly kicked off with Christian beating Edge for the aforementioned belt. The pair would for a short while channel their tag team chemistry into some excellent matches, including a Ladder Match at No Mercy 2001. However, by the climax of the WWF vs. Alliance feud, Edge had moved onto other singles feuds in a rise to the upper midcard, whilst Christian would continue to languish in the lower tiers before this feud had a chance to really shine.

Dustin Rhodes Stardust Sibling BrothersFinally, another potential brother vs. brother feud that has failed to escape speculation from the WWE Universe concerns the current partnership of Goldust and Stardust, or Dustin and Cody Rhodes. The pair have confronted each other in brief altercations in the past, such as in the 2009 and 2013 Royal Rumble matches. However, the two have yet to be featured in an extended feud. Could this be the latest in the long-running love affair wrestling has with having siblings beating the hell out of each other?

So, what lessons could Nikki and Brie take from these sibling rivalries with varying degrees of success? A good family feud can last on/off for years on end, and the best appear to go for a long time uninterrupted. Their needs to be personal touches throughout the storyline, with new, unexpected elements keeping the structure fresh and exciting. The reasons for the dissent also must be realistic and understandable, not inane drivel developed simply to get the siblings to fight once or twice. Real life family feuds can last for years with unending conflict and bitterness, and the art of wrestling should look to emulate this life. That is what grips the audience in this so-called Reality Era, and ensures true devotion in the outcome of this personal rivalry.

Will the Bella Twins be able to put such lessons into practice? No, they're just too bad at acting. But hopefully whoever follows their car crash of a feud will take on these tips and construct a new rival to the intensity of the Bret/Owen feud of 1994.

What are some of your favorite sibling rivalries from wrestling history? Are there any family members that you'd like to see face off that haven't yet? Leave us a comment below!

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Callum Wiggins hails from Essex in the United Kingdom. He recently graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and has been a fan of professional wrestling since 2002. Outside of wrestling, he is also a fan of Arsenal FC and enjoys video games, darts, and Formula One. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


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