With this year’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony right around the corner, here’s a look at 10 names that should be in and aren’t.
It’s that time of year again, folks. It’s WrestleMania week, and with that comes a number of big events.
There’s obviously the greatest spectacle in professional wrestling as “The Showcase of the Immortals” comes our way on Sunday night with WrestleMania 34 offering a number of high-profile matches on the books. We’ve got the dream match with Shinsuke Nakamura battling AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. Say that sentence three years ago and people laugh in your face. There’s the WrestleMania rematch as Roman Reigns once again takes on Brock Lesnar, this time for the WWE Universal Championship — and this time there’s no chance of a Money in the Bank cash-in. There’s Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair for the RAW Women’s Championship in a match that could steal the show, and so many other great bouts on the card.
Before that, we’ll get NXT TakeOver on Saturday night with five great matches on the card, including what should be a phenomenal Ladder Match for the inaugural NXT North American Championship. Before the two shows, however, we of course have the yearly tradition of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Goldberg is the headliner this time around, and he’s joined in the Class of 2018 by Mark Henry, Jeff Jarrett, The Dudley Boyz, Ivory, Hillbilly Jim, Kid Rock in the celebrity wing and Jarius “JJ” Robertson, who is the 2018 recipient of the Warrior Award.
But as per usual, the ceremony brings up the annual argument: Who still isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame and should be? Now, I’m not going to get into the guys and gals that we know are going to get in at some point. There’s no sense in wasting an entry here on The Undertaker or The Rock or Chris Jericho. These are going to happen and it’s just a matter of when. However, there are some names that we thought we’d see in by now and it just hasn’t happened. That’s what I want to hit today. And I’m sure I’m going to leave out a few that you may think deserve induction.
For example, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart isn’t in and probably should be. Bam Bam Bigelow isn’t in and probably should be. Brian Pillman isn’t in for some reason. Christian hasn’t yet joined Edge, but I put him on that list that will likely get in over the next year or two so that’s why you won’t see him here. Some of the ECW guys probably deserve a spot. Then there are women like Victoria or Molly Holly or Michelle McCool (who I think should go in the same year ‘Taker does). I could go on with a list of about 50 but here are 10 that just came to me right off the top of my head, so we’ll go with these for today and then I’ll wait for you to chime in at the end with people I missed.
So without further ado, here are 10 names that should be in the WWE Hall of Fame and aren’t.
There are some out there that may not think that Lex Luger deserves induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. I’ll admit to never having been much of a fan of the guy, but if Koko B. Ware and Hillbilly Jim can make it in, I think there’s room for a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time WCW World Television Champion, a five-time United States Champion and a three-time tag champ.
For more than a decade, Luger was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world and just the second person to win the WCW Triple Crown. He was also a member of The Four Horsemen for a couple of years in the late ’80s, which at the time was a pretty big deal. After multiple championships in WCW, Luger signed with Vince McMahon’s bodybuilding enterprise, the WBF, which didn’t go very well, and after recovering from a motorcycle accident, Luger joined WWE as a wrestler in early 1993.
Originally dubbed “The Narcissist,” Luger picked up some nice wins early on, including a victory over Mr. Perfect at WrestleMania IX, but after Hulk Hogan left the company, Vince turned to Luger to be the new hero of WWE. He dressed in red, white and blue and rode “The Lex Express” all over the country in the summer of ’93 after slamming Yokozuna on an aircraft carrier, which led to some WWE Championship matches, which Lex would usually win by disqualification, which kept him from ever holding the title.
After a couple of years in WWE, Lex went back to WCW and played a huge role on the very first episode of Monday Nitro as he appeared during the main event, just one day after working his final night in WWE at a house show. It was a complete shock to the wrestling world and a move that is still talked about today. Luger went on to find more success in WCW, including beating Hulk Hogan clean for the title in 1997. When WCW folded in 2001, Luger didn’t make the jump to WWE but did rejoin the company as an advisor and still helps with the Wellness Policy from time to time.
There are a lot of people out there who believe Luger’s use of steroids is one reason he hasn’t yet been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, while others believe it’s due to his role in the death of our next entry.
This one is LONG overdue. Much like Macho Man Randy Savage going into the WWE Hall of Fame way after he should have — Savage was inducted almost four years after he died — the fact that his ex-valet and real-life ex-wife, Miss Elizabeth, is a travesty.
From the time she first arrived in WWE when Savage was in the process of choosing a manager, Elizabeth was captivating. She was beautiful and classy and was the exact opposite of Savage, which is what made things perfect. When Macho Man was the biggest heel in the world, she was still right there with him. I’ll go ahead and say it. Randy Savage, as talented as he was, would not have been as big of a star had she not been beside him. Yeah, that’s right.
She became the centerpiece of so many storylines in which Savage was involved. There was George “The Animal” Steele’s infatuation with her. There’s that iconic image of her on Randy’s shoulder after he won the title at WrestleMania IV. She was the reason The Mega-Powers exploded before WrestleMania V, which is still to this day my favorite storyline of all time. There was the emotional reunion at WrestleMania VII that made grown men cry. There was Ric Flair using her to anger Savage before their WWE Championship match at WrestleMania VIII. The list goes on and on.
Her time in WCW wasn’t nearly as good as her time in WWE, but she was still around and even once again managed Hogan and Savage for a short time. She would later join up with Lex Luger and that certainly didn’t end well. She left WCW in 2000 but was still with Luger in real life. There was an unfortunate domestic incident (perhaps another reason Luger hasn’t gotten in), and Liz unfortunately turned to drugs and died of an overdose in 2003. It was a sad day in the wrestling world, but after 15 years, it’s time that “The First Lady of Wrestling” comes home.
And if you’re looking for proof that a non-wrestler with some controversy surrounding her can get into the WWE Hall of Fame, look no further than Sunny.
Some would say that the reason Vader isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame is because the majority of his success came outside WWE. Okay, I can handle that. Then why is Sting in? Perhaps Vader isn’t quite on Sting’s level, but there’s no denying that Leon White made an impact in the world of professional wrestling. Nick Bockwinkel was inducted in 2007, and I think Vader had a better career than he did.
After a few years in AWA, Vader made the jump to New Japan Pro Wrestling and found great success there, becoming the first non-Japanese wrestler to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a title he would hold on three separate occasions, which was a very big deal back then.
While in New Japan, Vader also worked for WCW on occasion, and after leaving Japan in 1992, he focused in on WCW and became a big star there as well. He feuded with most of the big stars in the company and won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship three times. He also went on to hold the United States Championship before heading back to Japan for a short time in 1996 and eventually signed with WWE.
While Vader was a good draw for the company, he never became the big star he was in Japan and WCW. He was still a name and feuded with the likes of Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Mankind and Kane. The booking for Vader was just never done correctly in WWE, and he left the company in 1998.
From there, Vader appeared in various federations over the years, including stops in Japan and TNA. He’s made sporadic appearances in WWE, even beating Heath Slater in a match in 2012. He also inducted Stan Hansen into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016, and is often shown at the ceremony, still wearing his mask. Let’s hope that one day he can wear it on the stage as an inductee.
The British Bulldog
You could probably go ahead and slap an “s” on the end of The British Bulldog and I’d be okay with that as well, as Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid were one of the best tag teams in WWE in the 1980s. Beyond that, however, Davey Boy went on to have a great singles career and won every major championship that WWE has to offer besides the WWE Championship.
The problem WWE might have with Davey Boy Smith is the fact that his death is tied to steroid use. That’s certainly not the image they want, so The British Bulldog kind of gets left out in the cold for now, which is unfortunate. Over four runs in the span of 15 years, Davey Boy Smith left his mark in WWE. He and Dynamite Kid worked the best match at WrestleMania 2, winning their first and surprisingly only World Tag Team Championship. Both left WWE in 1988 after a backstage incident, but Davey Boy would return a couple of years later as singles star and kept The British Bulldog name for himself.
Davey Boy dominated the mid-card and in 1992, he and Bret Hart tore the house down in the main event of SummerSlam, which was held in Smith’s home country of England at famed Wembley Stadium, and he won the Intercontinental Championship. However, the run wouldn’t last as Davey Boy was released after receiving shipments of HGH from England.
After a run in WCW, Davey Boy returned to WWE in 1994 and teamed with Lex Luger as The Allied Powers but that wouldn’t last long. Smith found more success when he joined up with Owen Hart to win the tag titles and then became the first-ever holder of the WWE European Championship in 1997, a title he would hold twice. After another small stint in WCW, Davey Boy came back to WWE and won the Hardcore Championship twice.
Davey Boy Smith died in 2002, but his son carries on his legacy and would be a prime candidate to induct his father into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The New Age Outlaws
If you’re noticing that the picture above isn’t just of Billy Gunn and Road Dogg, there’s a reason for that. Given the criteria that WWE has used in the past, one could say that X-Pac deserves induction to the WWE Hall of Fame as well. He was, after all, a part of both DX and the nWo and was a two-time European Champion, a two-time Light Heavyweight Champion, a four-time tag champ and the Cruiserweight Champion, not to mention a couple of titles in WCW. But that’s not the focus here. I haven’t done a tag team yet, and one of the biggest tag teams in one of wrestling’s biggest eras was The New Age Outlaws.
Billy Gunn and Road Dogg actually got together in a similar way that Sheamus and Cesaro did. They were booked in a program against one another, and when that wrapped up, they ended up teaming up and it saved both of their careers. They had instant chemistry and had a great feud with Mick Foley and Terry Funk before joining up with Triple H and the new DX the night after WrestleMania XIV.
From there, they went to a completely different level. They became one of the most popular attractions in WWE and went on to win the tag titles six times. Each also found some individual success as both won the Hardcore Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Billy Gunn also won the King of the Ring in 1999 and eventually became a 10-time tag champ. Including the wins with Bart Gunn prior to his time with Road Dogg, he also had the controversial Billy & Chuck gimmick going and won the titles twice there.
Over the years, The New Age Outlaws have reunited on special occasions like the 1000th episode of Monday Night RAW, the 25th Anniversary episode and even a very special appearance during the Triple H vs. Sting match at WrestleMania 31. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before they reunite on the WWE Hall of Fame stage.
This is a bit of a wild card entry, but I strongly believe that Dean Malenko deserves a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. He first made a name for himself in ECW and really wowed audiences with his series of matches with Eddie Guerrero, who joined him in WCW when Paul Heyman could essentially no longer afford either.
Chris Benoit, who will never get an induction no matter how many people call for it, also joined Malenko in WCW, and both made an immediate impact, even if they’d get buried after a while due to all of the attention received by the nWo. Nevertheless, Malenko continued to be one of the best pure wrestlers in the world and “The Man of 1,000 Holds” won the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, a title he would hold four times, less than a year after arriving to the company. He engaged in great feuds with Rey Mysterio and once again crossed paths with Eddie Guerrero, and the two now had a bigger stage on which to perform — and they made the most of it.
Malenko went to win the United States Championship and also held the tag titles with Benoit. After a while, bigger stories came calling, and Malenko became a part of the last rendition of The Four Horsemen, which led to him getting bigger matches on bigger stages and again, he continued to impress.
He and some of the others impressed so much that WWE came calling once contracts had expired, and Malenko, Guerrero, Benoit and Perry Saturn all jumped ship and showed up on an episode of Monday Night RAW in early 2000. His in-ring tenure in WWE didn’t last long, but he was able to secure the Light Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasions before quietly going away just before the Invasion storyline got going in 2001.
He still works for WWE in a backstage role and can still be seen occasionally on WWE programming, but one more night in the spotlight, namely the Hall of Fame stage, is something Dean Malenko richly deserves.
Go ahead and say what you will, but there’s no denying that Eric Bischoff changed the course of professional wrestling and is a big part of why it’s as successful as it is today. Did he make some mistakes in WCW? Of course he did, and he’s the first to admit that. But without him, there’s no nWo. And just on that note, who else would have had the guts to turn Hulk Hogan into a heel? A heel that just happened to be one of the best the industry has ever seen.
Without Eric Bischoff pushing for prime time programming, we never would have gotten Monday Nitro and the Monday Night War that came along with it. Without that show, Vince McMahon may have never taken a chance and changed his own programming to keep up. Without that, we don’t get the Attitude Era and everything that came out of it.
You have to give Bischoff credit for so many things, one of which is simply making a name for himself. After failing to get a job in WWE after Vince made him interview a broom, he went to WCW and started as a C-show announcer. He was essentially Sean Mooney in a lesser company. But he continued to do his job and work hard and soon found himself coming up with ideas for WCW, ideas that landed him the executive producer job, and he changed the landscape of WCW, making it real competition for Vince and WWE. Nitro beat RAW for 84 consecutive weeks in the ratings, and there was a real danger that WWE could go out of business.
That obviously didn’t happen and WWE won the war, but that didn’t mean Bischoff was going away. In one of the most shocking moves in history, Vince brought Bischoff into WWE to be the GM of RAW, and he did an outstanding job with that character and even let himself get thrown into a garbage truck when he got “fired” in 2005.
He returned to WWE a few times, a notable time coming at last year’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony when he inducted Diamond Dallas Page. Who do you think would be the one to induct Bischoff when and if he gets in?
This is just a no-brainer. Sure, Chyna has a checkered past, and her involvement with Triple H back in the day may be a bit of an issue, but there’s no question that the “Ninth Wonder of the World” deserves a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. With no disrespect to women like Jacqueline or Ivory, who is being inducted this year, Chyna had a better career than the two of them combined.
Sure, she only won the WWE Women’s Championship one time when she defeated Ivory at WrestleMania X-Seven in dominating fashion. But she never really needed to hold that title, because for the longest time, there was nobody on the roster that we believed could have truly taken her down. Was Sable going to ever beat Chyna? Come on, you’re dreaming if you think anyone would have bought that.
When she was first brought into DX, she was a sight to see. Just watching her whip Marlena (a.k.a. Terri Runnels) around was hilarious, and she was a real force. She had no problem mixing it up with the guys and getting involved in matches, and we actually believed it. She was a monster and would go on to make history. Not only was she the first-ever woman to compete in the Royal Rumble, but she also was the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring, and remains the only woman to ever capture the Intercontinental Championship. And she did it twice. Think about that. She held the Intercontinental Championship more times than the Women’s Championship. That’s groundbreaking stuff right there.
Chyna left WWE in 2002, and after years of substance abuse issues was found dead in her home in 2016. It has been nice to hear her name mentioned on WWE television, even recently by Stephanie McMahon, and after some time passes, I’m thinking she’ll finally get the recognition she deserves.
The induction of Demolition into the WWE Hall of Fame may never come, but it’s long overdue and it’s a shame it’s never happened. The reason I say it might never happen is that both Bill Eadie (Ax) and Barry Darsow (Smash) were both part of a class-action lawsuit against WWE that claimed the company knew about the long-term risks of brain injuries to wrestlers and concealed those risks. The courts recently ruled in favor of WWE, and I don’t see Ax and Smash being welcomed back into the fold so quickly, which is unfortunate.
Okay, so they might have been a bit of a ripoff of The Road Warriors (or Legion of Doom if you prefer that) with the face paint and the spikes and such, but they were a hit in WWE in the late 1980s. They won the World Tag Team Championships twice with just Ax and Smash, and again a third time when Crush joined the mix in 1990. Much like The New Day does, Demolition had the Freebird Rule going, which allowed any two of the three members to compete at any given time.
While Crush was technically a part of Demolition, the real team is Ax and Smash to me. They were a dominating force, and after defeating Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel) at WrestleMania IV, the duo held the tag titles for 478 days, which was a record until The New Day surpassed them in 2015, even if it’s not the same championship. In total, Demolition held the tag titles for a total of 698 days, which actually is still a WWE record … for now anyway. It shouldn’t be long until someone figures that out as well and throws the titles back on The New Day to take down that mark.
If Vince can get past the lawsuit and welcome back Demolition, the WWE Hall of Fame would be a bit more complete. After all, the freaking Bushwhackers are in there and Demolition isn’t. Tell me that’s not a little off.
Last but certainly not least, we come to Owen Hart. Even with the release of the Owen Hart DVD collection a few years back, there is still plenty of bad blood between Owen’s widow, Martha, and WWE, and that’s likely what is holding this induction up.
Easily one of the best in-ring performers in WWE history, Owen took whatever gimmick was given to him and tried to make the best of it. From his early days in WWE as The Blue Blazer, the gimmick that would ultimately make its way back around and cause the stunt that killed him at Over the Edge on May 23,1999, to The New Foundation to the very quick duo with Koko B. Ware, High Energy, to his feud with Bret to his partnerships with Yokozuna and The British Bulldog and back around to the new Hart Foundation, Owen just did what he was told and did it well. The thing with the Slammy Awards was absolute gold, and he never really needed a title to get over but still won his fair share.
He won the tag titles a total of four times with three separate partners (Yokozuna, The British Bulldog, Jeff Jarrett), the Intercontinental Championship twice, the European Championship once and won the 1994 King of the Ring, the same year he had all those great matches with Bret, including their fantastic opening bout at WrestleMania X.
Following his untimely death, the episode of Monday Night RAW the following night remains one of the most emotional and highly-watched episodes in history, as superstar after superstar told their Owen stories as the entire wrestling world shed tears. It was clear to see that he was one of the most highly-respected and well-liked people in the locker room. Not to mention loyal. After everything went down with the Montreal Screwjob, I’m sure it would have been very easy for him to follow his brother and jump ship to WCW. But he never did. He stayed the course and just did his job, even joining The Nation of Domination for a short time.
Owen was just so versatile and made anything he was doing entertaining. His induction into the WWE Hall of Fame has been a long time coming, and after nearly two decades since his death, this needs to happen.
So there you have it. Who’d I miss? Who do you feel deserves induction into the WWE Hall of Fame? Please feel free to join in the conversation in the comments section below.