Saturday, May 18, 2024
Editorial35 Wrestlers, Managers & Factions Not in WWE's Hall of Fame

35 Wrestlers, Managers & Factions Not in WWE’s Hall of Fame

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Hi folks! Been a while. As we head towards Wrestlemania, I felt the need to conjure up a list of men & women who have yet to be honored by their peers in the WWE Hall of Fame. It was difficult pinning down who I wanted to include, so here’s some criteria:

  • Wrestlers like The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show and others were not included as their status is unknown. They will likely be inducted the same, or following year of their retirement matches.
  • There’s many old school names I did not include as they’ll likely become “legacy” inductees. Looking at previous inductions like Lou Thesz, WWE tends to focus on traditional wrestlers who were made elsewhere; unlike Bruno Sammartino, who played a huge part in WWE history.
  • Wrestlers with highly controversial deaths are not included as it would not be morally acceptable for WWE to celebrate their careers.

To stop this getting out of hand I rounded it out at 35. Did I miss any obvious names? Feel free to share your picks in the comments, and I’ll let you know if they were considered.

1. AJ Lee

We start with the youngest. AJ Lee made a name for herself being a personality first and a wrestler second. Despite being a regular in NXT, her main roster debut kept her as far away from the Divas division as possible. Instead, she was managing Dolph Ziggler, and kissing guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, and Kane; Vince even appointed her the General Manager of Raw. By the time she was ready to wrestle, AJ had established a “crazy” (don’t say it in front of her!) character with a wicked mean streak.

It wasn’t long before she became one of the most dominant Divas Champions in the titles history. In fact, she can be given a little credit for helping to spark WWE’s Women Revolution by publicly calling out Stephanie McMahon on Twitter about equal opportunities. As a catalyst for change, AJ poked a big hole in Stephanie’s logic. Several years later, Vince McMahon finally came around to the idea of using women as “superstars”, handing them opportunities to show they could be just as entertaining as any man.

Her early retirement came as a shock considering how young she was, and still is. She’d had enough of being treated as second rate, despite being the Divas Champion. The relationship between CM Punk, AJ and WWE may never be repaired .. but you know what? We’ve seen it before. It depends on if they can negotiate with WWE again, but my feeling is they’re done with that chapter for a long while. Maybe when they’re old and need the extra money?

2. Bam Bam Bigelow

One of the best, most athletic big men in the history of wrestling .. is still not in the WWE Hall of Fame. Fans have been asking about Bam Bam for years, but nothing’s moved on the subject. Is it because he didn’t win anything memorable in WWE? He did manage to win a Slammy Award and main event Wrestlemania .. is that not enough? It’s hard to pinpoint the reason why, but something tells me WWE will figure it out eventually.

He helped break down the belief that super heavyweights could not be as athletic as a light/cruiserweight. I’m beginning to wonder if WWE will wait long enough to quietly add him in as a “legacy” inductee in a few years.

3. Brian Pillman

One of the greatest characters ever. The “loose cannon” Brian Pillman brought controversy to the WWF in a time when it really needed some edge. His “gun segment” with Stone Cold Steve Austin is still fondly remembered by many. However, because those segments aren’t really suitable for present day WWE, they’re rarely mentioned. Not only that, but they don’t want to bring up the fact they used Melanie Pillman’s grief (after losing her husband) as a selling point for Monday Night Raw. In bad taste, Vince McMahon repeatedly plugged the fact they’ll be getting words with his widow.

Melanie appeared in no fit state to be answering questions on live TV, as she explained her feelings only days after Brian’s heart attack. And what happened to all the money WWE sent to her? To support his family? Her daughter Brittany claims her mother spent it all on drugs. This is why WWE is unlikely to induct him soon, at least til one of his daughters decides it’s time to do it without Melanie’s involvement.

4. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake

The man of many gimmicks is known to most as “The Barber”. We know he got preferential treatment due to his relationship with Hulk Hogan, but he sure did make The Barber gimmick memorable. He’s likely not been inducted due to his lack of singles success, despite having some high-profile feuds in the late 80’s. I think it’s only a matter of time til we see “The Mega-Maniacs” reunite on the HOF stage. It gives WWE a reason to call Hogan.

5. CM Punk

Similar to AJ, except CM Punk left on harsher terms. The law suit with WWE doctor Christopher Amann is well-documented. After his critical comments on how he was treated, it feels very unlikely we’ll see a collaboration. But stranger things have happened, and if anything were to happen it would come down to money. The return of CM Punk is something Vince would splash the cash for. But I wouldn’t get any hopes, as Punk’s likely moved on for good. His career is Hall of Fame worthy, but the choice to return is his alone.

6. Christian

He’s joked about (not) getting inducted for a few years now. Think it’s great how Edge makes fun of him with a running gag on the E & C show. As a former World Champion, ECW Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and tag team champion .. the spot is waiting for him.

Seems strange how he’s been retired a while, is actively used for shows on the network .. yet WWE hasn’t given him the green light? Maybe they just like seeing Captain Charisma suffer? It’s gotta’ happen soon .. possibly after “One. More. Match!” For those with the benefit of flash photography.

7. Dean Malenko

What a legend. One of the best pure “wrestlers” I’ve ever had the joy to watch. The Man of 1000 holds is synonymous with WCW’s Cruiserweight division, and WWE mainstay since 2000. And although 1997 sported many huge superstars in the feuding WWF vs. WCW, he was named the best wrestler of the year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Daniel Bryan cites Malenko as his number one guy growing up. He brought technical wrestling to another level, inspiring many of the greatest wrestlers of this generation.

His post-wrestling career has been quietly prosperous too, as he remains one of WWE’s longest serving producers. Something tells me he probably doesn’t want an induction til he retires from backstage duties. When it happens .. expect many tributes from wrestlers and fans around the world.

8. Demolition

The former, longest running tag team champions remain blacklisted from the WWE Hall of Fame. Although WWE used their name to sell The New Day breaking their record, the induction remains to be seen. But WWE does not always play well with those who sue .. and that’s what happened.

Demolition were part of a class action lawsuit in 2016, which accused WWE of concealing potential brain injuries brought on by repeated head trauma (CTE). The case was thrown out late last year, but yeah .. it feels unlikelyt in the short-term.

9. Earthquake

A big rival of Hulk Hogan in the early 90’s, and one of a few listed giants yet to be inducted. As a former professional sumo, Earthquake used his size to literally squash his opponents. Aside from feuding with Hogan, he’s known for partnering with Typhoon as one-half of The Natural Disasters; who once claimed the WWF Tag Team titles. Sadly, his life was taken too soon due to bladder cancer in 2006.

WWE paid tribute to him on an episode of Raw, and he has since been included as a playable character in some video games. There doesn’t appear to be any controversy blocking an induction, so it may be a matter of time til Earthquake takes an extra large seat in the Hall of Fame.

10. Eric Bischoff

The mastermind of WCW is bound to be inducted soon. Not just because of what he did for WCW, but because he saw past the defeat (by joining the enemy) and used his skills to manage Raw post-Attitude Era. As a corrupt heel authority figure, he gave babyface wrestlers many obstacles to overcome. Competing with Stephanie McMahon’s Smackdown brand, and interacting with Stone Cold Steve Austin were among some of his best highlights.

Bischoff’s book “Controversy Creates Cash” is fitting of his mindset that any publicity is good publicity. He was willing to do almost anything to make money, and WWE will recognize everything he’s done as a businessman and on-air personality when the time is right. Expect Hulk Hogan to do the honours.

11. Haku

A reliable upper mid-carder for the WWF in the late 80’s worked against all the biggest names. He was also the tag team partner of Andre The Giant in Bobby Heenan’s Colossal Connection. After leaving WWF, he has enjoyed stints in WCW, the independent scene, and more recently New Japan Pro Wrestling. WWE signed his son, but “Camacho” didn’t do well and was released in 2014.

Although I have no reason to believe there’s any bad blood between Haku and WWE, the fact his sons Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa are doing really well in NJPW (as the Guerillas of Destiny) means it wouldn’t be right to go to WWE and put the spotlight on himself. Haku is in Japan to help his sons careers for the foreseeable future.

12. IRS

A quality, comical heel character from the early 90’s stood tall with his tag team champion partner Ted DiBiase. Mike Rotunda was so into his character you could almost believe he was a tax collector. And his legacy continues on, through his sons Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas.

After retiring in 2004, Rotunda appeared sporadically on TV having spent much of his time working as a WWE producer. There’s no doubt the tax man is coming to collect on a WWE Hall of Fame ring one day .. but who will induct him? Bray? Bo? Both? We’ll see.

13. JBL (& APA)

I kind of want to see an APA induction more than a single ceremony for JBL .. but that’s just how much I loathed the character. We’ve heard a few controversial reports of John Layfield hazing talent, and it could perhaps be the only thing discouraging WWE from the idea. But if they were bothered by it, they wouldn’t use him in any capacity .. so we’ll likely get it in the next few years.

As the former, longest running WWE Champion in Smackdown history, and tag team champion with Faarooq, WWE has plenty to work with. I’d say my favourite JBL feud was with Eddie Guerrero.

14. Jim Cornette

One of the greatest managers of all time deserves his own tribute. He already inducted the Rock n’ Roll express, so we know WWE is confident he could do the job. It would be cool to see, but they used him in 2017 so I’m not expecting it again for a few years. Many wrestlers were elevated by his passion, and I’m sure he’ll get his day. Someone please remember not to invite Vince Russo.

15. Johnny Saint

I never would have considered a UK legend (and I’m British), but as he’s running the NXT UK brand it seems more likely. The “Original Man of a Thousand Holds” never got over in America, but his name became widely known to British fans on the show World Of Sport. As a multi-time Lightweight Champion, I’m sure Johnny Saint has plenty of stories he could share of the old days of professional wrestling.

16. King Kong Bundy

RIP. Much like Earthquake, Bundy was one of Hogan’s biggest opponents. They met in a steel cage in the main event of Wrestlemania II. He didn’t claim any titles, but did star in movies and TV shows at the height of his popularity. Bundy wrestled all over the world for the NWA, WCCW and AWA, but sadly passed away on March 4th. Expect an induction in 2020.

17. Lex Luger

Very popular at his peak. As a good friend of Sting, he was at his ceremony. As a former Rumble winner and two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, he has the accolades to justify his spot. However, the legal problems stemming from the accidental death of Miss Elizabeth makes it impossible for WWE to consider it.

18. Miss Elizabeth

Difficult to talk about. It’s understandable that her family would not be interested in making money from an induction, due to the circumstances of her death. It was an accidental overdose of Vodka with painkillers, which Lex Luger provided. While she’s worthy as arguably the most popular female star of the 80’s, it just wouldn’t be right.

Hall of Fame induction or not, we’ll always remember the good times we shared with her & “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

19. Molly Holly

Ahead of her time .. Molly Holly would fit so well in today’s Women’s Revolution. Always a consummate professional, it almost feels an injustice she sits on the sidelines. Her Wrestlemania moment was the hair vs. hair match; when her hair was completely shaven after losing to Victoria. I liked her as The Hurricane’s sidekick “Super Molly” more, but she played a wicked heel too. Can’t think of any reason not to induct her.

20. New World Order

99% positive it will happen. Even more so now Hollywood’s returned after getting over another controversy. All three are inducted for their singles careers in the WWF .. but The Four Horseman are in. D-Generation X is going in. And there’s a plan for a New World Order farewell tour, so it’s very possible WWE could plan to induct them as a group. Too sweet? nWo 4 Life. Think about the merchandising brother.

21. One Man Gang

One Man Gang was a force to be reckoned with in 1987, defeating many mid-carders while taking the fall for superstars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. But his career did not reach the same heights, as the WWF decided to change everything about him. Slick let everyone know he was returning to his roots, and Akeem the African Dream was born (when he’s clearly American).

He left the company in 1991 due to his role fading with no title successes. Like Demolition, he was part of a class action lawsuit claiming the company withheld information about brain injuries brought on by repeated head trauma. He might have burned one too many bridges to be considered. The One Man Gang came so incredibly close to becoming a mega star at his peak, but the change of image killed his career..

22. Owen Hart

It is well-documented the reason Owen is not inducted is because his widow Martha Hart believes his legacy is better served in the Owen Hart Foundation charity. Also his induction means WWE makes money, and his family has every right to deny the company any chance of gaining something.

Mark Henry’s words during his Hall of Fame speech were powerful, he really wants to be able to celebrate his friends life .. but his family are adamant the charity is his legacy. I think their wishes should be respected.

23. Paul Heyman

The mad scientist of ECW is a guaranteed induction one day, and I can’t wait. Who better to tell stories? He’s loaded with “extreme” experiences. It would be a popular induction among fans and wrestlers, yet, I don’t think it’s happening til Brock Lesnar retires. WWE won’t induct him while Brock is part of WWE, because it takes attention away from The Beast.

A good manager does not put themselves over, so it wouldn’t be right. Still, Paul Heyman has been a valuable asset in every promotion he worked for, and his speech will be perfect in every way.

24. Rob Van Dam

He’s the coolest guy around. The Whole F’N show has been a fan favourite for years, mostly thanks to his ECW career; although his WWE tenure was very lucrative as well. He’s all about the money, so it’s definitely happening, it’s just a matter of when he retires. RVD returns to working for Impact Wrestling at the upcoming United We Stand PPV, where he will partner with Sabu against The Lucha Brothers Pentagon Jr and Fenix.

25. Sycho Sid

A former four-time World Heavyweight champion between WWE and WCW means he’s a likely candidate. He’s on good terms too, as we last saw Sid wrestle a WWE match in 2012 against Heath Slater, also including an appearance on Raw 1000. I believe he’s the only guy to have wrestled The Undertaker in the main event for the WWF/E Championship? Cannot find any reason he wouldn’t be in already.

26. Rick Martel

“The Model” Rick Martel had a good time of it from 1989-1995. He won three tag team titles, and had an impressive performance in the 1991 Royal Rumble; setting a record time of 53 minutes. He’s also known for his time in the AWA as the World Heavyweight Champion, and WCW as the Television Champion.

After fourteen years since his last video game appearance, Martel was added as a playable character in WWE2k18 and 19. Could this be a sign that Martel and WWE have come to an agreement?

27. Sable

One of the most popular women to ever step foot in a WWE ring. For anyone who wasn’t around at the time, Sable reached Stone Cold Steve Austin levels of popularity. She really helped the WWF in to the Attitude Era, steering the product in a frequently “hot” direction. Sable is a former Women’s Champion, and well .. if Torrie Wilson’s going in, then why not?

What has stopped her induction til now? Well .. it’s hard to say. There was a lawsuit for sexual harrassment in 1999, when Sable accused the WWF of telling her she had to get naked on television. It was eventually settled in court, and she left to do other projects. She returned in 2003 though, and left on good terms in 2004 to be with her family. She went on to marry Brock Lesnar in 2006, and remains happily so with two sons. So I can’t think of any reason not to, but it’s not like we’ve seen her much the past 15 years.

28. Tazz

He kinda flopped in his wrestling career in WWE, but he was a monster in ECW. And he helped Michael Cole in the early days of Smackdown on commentary. I can’t imagine what Smackdown would’ve been like without Cole & Taz at the table.

Of course, he did ditch WWE to jump ship to TNA .. which I’m sure didn’t sit well. But he left Impact Wrestling a few years ago, and he’s keeping himself busy with podcasts. They’d easily sell his ECW and commentary moments, and I’m positive he would jump at the opportunity.

29. Test

He was great, I was always a fan of Test. The storyline with Stephanie McMahon will always stick in my mind. Never seen anyone master a big boot as well as he did. Not only did he feature in some major storylines, he claimed the European, Intercontinental, Hardcore, and Tag Team titles. He was only one World title victory away from getting the Grand Slam.

His death came about due to an addiction to painkillers. He was also diagnosed with the brain disease CTE after his passing ten years ago. And he was only 33 .. it’s crazy. I’ve got no idea if it will ever happen, but as a fan .. I’d love to see it.

30. The British Bulldogs

It’s crazy how popular they were. Most definitely one of the best tag teams in the history of the business. Fans have been wanting it for the longest time, but Dynamite Kid wasn’t in a fit state to be traveling. And now he’s passed, and it perhaps opens the door for a family member to accept it .. but then there’s Davey Boy.

With his son Harry working New Japan and the UK scene after being released from WWE, it seems there’s little interest inducting arguably the most popular British wrestler of all time. I could do an article on their careers, but I’ll keep it brief by saying they really should be inducted singularly .. but I’d settle for putting them in as The British Bulldogs. As a UK fan it’s frustrating, but they’ll never be forgotten no matter what happens.

31. The Hart Foundation

RIP Jim Neidhart. The Hart Foundation is self explanatory really. As one of the best tag teams in WWE history, expect Natalya and possibly other Hart members to induct “The Anvil” along with “The Hitman” in 2020. For the longest time, it was impossible to imagine watching WWF without some version of The Hart Foundation.

32. The Steiner Brothers

Another epic tag team who are more than worthy. They won tag team titles all around the world, including two WWF titles. I don’t think the induction is impossible, but so long as Scott keeps working elsewhere .. WWE’s not considering it. Would be fun though, can you imagine the speech? Holla! If you hear me!

33. Vader

One of the biggest omissions from this years WWE Hall of Fame is former WCW Champion and Japanese sensation Big Van Vader. After going through complications with heart surgery, he sadly passed away in June last year. Just like Bam Bam Bigelow, he broke the mold by showing big men could be athletic too. What stopped him getting in? Will he go in next year? Vader will be a popular inclusion if/when it happens. RIP Leon White

34. Victoria

The Black Widow popped up from nowhere. I remember her debut, she was thrust in to the spotlight quickly, and she made it work. And Victoria will be honoured one day, possibly as early as next year. Why? Because she announced in January that 2019 will be her last year as a wrestler. What better way to end a career than to be inducted in 2020? Molly Holly could be there to induct her too. Victoria was a two-time women’s champion when bigger names like Trish Stratus and Lita were still active.

35. Vince McMahon

Sorry but I had to. What would a WWE Hall of Fame be without the man who created it? We all know he will never agree to go through with it. Vince McMahon is not the kind of guy to book an entire show around his own ego .. wait, isn’t that Monday Night Raw?

Seriously though, I’d be highly surprised if he decided the ceremony needed his induction. As morbid as it sounds, he will only be inducted posthumously. And without a doubt, he will be the main attraction. It’s impossible to imagine WWE without Vince. He’s the reason most of us are here, and no one is more deserving. Vince is god, whether you like it or not.

Conclusion

What I took from this is it’s not always simple to induct. Whether it be controversy, family wishes, heat, grief, lack of interest, or other factors, required criteria must be met before any deals can be made. In most cases it’s about biding time. In others, it’s about WWE not wanting to stack many big stars each year. Otherwise, they could run out of names to make future ceremonies attractive.

This is why the 2019 Hall of Fame is lacking, because they’re holding some back for 2020, 2021 and so on. Having to wait years to see some receive their tributes can be a little annoying, but there’s usually a reason. I don’t want to get started on the cheap celebrity inductions .. best off not going down that road. The Warrior Award on the other hand? It’s great. Their stories are always inspiring.

Even if guys like Owen Hart, British Bulldog or Brian Pillman never get inducted, it goes to show they’ll always be remembered. The internet pretty much ensures we can never forget, and tributes will never fade. An induction is quite the experience, but it’s not something we should be demanding, or demeaning. I believe we should try to be welcoming of anyone who earns their opportunity, as there’s many who will never get the chance. As always, thank you very much for reading. Cheers.


Disqus Honorable Mentions

This section was added after the original publication. Disqus commenters responded with the following omissions: The Midnight Express, Stacy Keibler, Too Cold Scorpio, Kamala, Slick, The Powers of Pain and William Regal.

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