The WWE Hall of Fame can be an extremely controversial topic among passionate pro wrestling fans. Great debates can spark up about which pro wrestling superstars do deserve or don’t deserve induction in the WWE Hall of Fame. Criteria such as longevity, drawing power, and title reigns might furiously be debated while a designated person searches the Internet to confirm various facts being used as evidence to support or sink a potential induction. Fans might also debate over a wrestler’s lack of wrestling for WWE during their career. And then there is the great debate over wrestlers that have already been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Should midcard wrestlers and jobbers being recognized? Should wrestlers from other wrestling promotions be considered? Who should be in and who should be out? What makes this debate so interesting is that pro wrestling is not your typical sport supported by statistics. Pro wrestling is sports entertainment, which is a completely different animal. One can look no further than the WWE Hall of Fame celebrity wing to see just how different an animal it really is. Let’s take a look at ten wrestlers who should be in the WWE Hall of Fame and… five who shouldn’t.
14 Should: Steiner Brothers
The Steiner Brothers were a dominant tag team from 1989 to the mid 1990s. Rick and Scott Steiner were also one of the most physical and decorated teams of that time period. The Steiners used a great mix of amateur mat wrestling, power wrestling, and unique athleticism to shock and awe opponents in addition to keeping fans on the edge of their seats. Their trophy case includes seven WCW Tag Team Championships, two IWGP Tag Team Championships, two WWE Tag Team Championships, and the WCW United States Tag Team Championship. The Steiners also had great rivalries with tag teams such as the Road Warriors, Lex Luger & Sting, Kensuke Sasaki & Hiroshi Hase, and Money Inc. How The Steiner Brothers are not already in the WWE Hall of Fame is a bit puzzling given that their resume screams that they are one of the all time great pro wrestling tag teams.
13 Should: Jushin Thunder Liger
If WWE truly wants to continue recognizing the best from around the world then they need to induct New Japan Pro Wrestling legend Jushin Thunder Liger into the WWE Hall of Fame. Liger was an 11 time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, which really speaks for itself in terms of qualifying him for induction. He had epic battles over the belt with top junior heavyweights such as Pegasus Kid aka Chris Benoit, Ultimo Dragon, and Koji Kanemoto aka Tiger Mask III. In addition to his dominance in Japan, Liger also won titles in Mexico and the United States. Most American wrestling fans remember him for his various stints with WCW throughout the 1990s. He briefly held the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship and had a great rivalry with Brian Pillman. Liger was not only one of the top junior heavyweights in the world during the 1990s but he also helped put junior heavyweight wrestling on the map in America.
12 Shouldn't: The Godfather
Charles Wright was a very good big man that portrayed the character of The Godfather during WWE’s Attitude Era. The controversial and popular character was a wrestling pimp complete with a “hoe train” that would often be offered to opponents to do what they please with in exchange for “taking the night off.” Although The Godfather briefly held the WWE Intercontinental Championship, he never made it outside the midcard. There’s no questioning the popularity of the character but it is reasonable to question The Godfather’s actual impact on the Attitude Era. The Godfather might be best described as an Attitude Era afterthought. For example, a casual wrestling fans might remember the Attitude Era as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, The Undertaker, and some riske characters like a pimp and a porn star that they can’t remember the names of. An afterthought shouldn’t be enough for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
11 Should: Vader
Vader is the interesting case of a wrestler that dominated everywhere in the world except WWE. Vader is a two time All Japan Triple Crown Champion, three time Catch Wrestling Association Champion, three time New Japan Pro Wrestling IWGP Champion, three time WCW Champion, and one time Universal Wrestling Association Champion. He is famous for holding three world titles at the same time on three different continents (CWA in Germany, IWGP in Japan, and UWA in Mexico). However, during his stay in WWE from 1996 to 1998 and despite having main event feuds with The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart, Vader failed to capture any WWE gold. Should this be enough to keep him out of the WWE Hall of Fame? 2007 WWE Hall of Fame inductee and four-time AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel never had a WWE run and isn’t nearly as internationally decorated as Vader. It is clear as day that Vader belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame.
10 Should: Tiger Mask
Satoru Sayama was the original Tiger Mask back in the early 1980s. Tiger Mask was one of the innovators of the highflying style mixed with martial arts in the junior heavyweight division. Through a working agreement between New Japan Pro Wrestling and WWE, Tiger Mask brought his innovative style to the United States where WWE used him as a special attraction. His unique style was unlike anything seen before in WWE and inspired a generation of high flyers that would mix the martial arts into their repertoire. It is easy to see the Japanese superstar’s influence in American stars such as X-Pac, Rob Van Dam, and AJ Styles. Tiger Mask was also a two-time WWE Junior Heavyweight Champion and two-time NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion. He had rivalries with some of the top junior heavyweights in the world at that time such as Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Chris Adams, and Les Thornton. Although his run on top was cut short by injuries and his love/hate relationship with the pro wrestling business, there is no denying his impact on pro wrestling. Tiger Mask is more than deserving of a place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
9 Shouldn't: Johnny Rodz
The “Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz was actually quite predictable over his 20 year WWE career that began in 1965. In his role as jobber to the stars, Rodz usually lost his matches. There is no question that Rodz was a solid wrestler or he wouldn’t have stuck around WWE for as long as he did. However, should sticking around for a long time at the bottom of the card qualify a wrestler for the WWE Hall of Fame? WWE thought so when they inducted him in 1996. Rodz never rose above jobber status, never won any titles, and only received a handful of title shots in his long stay with WWE. Rodz was terrific in his role as enhancement talent but his resume should not have qualified him for the WWE Hall of Fame.
8 Should: Demolition
Demolition is one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history and more than deserving of induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Ax and Smash were three time WWE Tag Team Champions with their combined reigns lasting 698 days. Their first reign as champions, which lasted 478 days, was a record only broken recently by The New Day. Demolition dominated a solid WWE Tag Team Division from 1988 to 1990. It is a bit puzzling that Demolition hasn’t already been inducted. However, Demolition’s relationship with WWE has run hot and usually extremely cold over the years. Ax aka Bill Eadie has had an especially difficult relationship with WWE. Eadie sued WWE in the 1990s over the right to the Demolition gimmick after WWE sent him legal notice to stop using it. More recently, both Eadie and Smash aka Barry Darsow were named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against WWE over head injuries. Never say never, but it doesn’t look like Demolition will get the hall call anytime soon.
7 Should: Davey Boy Smith
The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith had four stints with WWE from 1985 to 2000 totaling nearly ten years. In his WWE career, Smith won every major title available with the exception of the WWE Championship. He captured three WWE Tag Team Championships, two European Championships, two Hardcore Championships, and one Intercontinental Championship. Smith’s IC title win over Bret Hart was the main event of SummerSlam 1992 held at Wembley Stadium in London, England. He was key to WWE establishing itself in the United Kingdom. His British Bulldogs tag team along with Dynamite Kid is considered one of the great and innovative WWE tag teams of the 1980s. He also formed a very formidable tag team in the mid 1990s with Owen Hart. Despite not winning a world title during his career, Smith had great rivalries with Diesel, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels over the WWE Champion in addition to also taking Vader to the limit in their feud over the WCW Championship. The British Bulldog’s resume more than qualifies him for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Rikishi Fatu was a pretty good big man and tag team wrestler that seldom broke out of the midcard. His tag team with Samu known as The Headshrinkers aka Samoan Swat Team had longevity. However, they are rarely brought up in the conversation of all time great tag teams. The Headshrinkers won one WWE Tag Team Championship but should have been much more dominant in a weak mid 1990s tag team division inhabited by the likes of the Quebecers and Men on a Mission. As for his solo career, outside of a featured feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2000, Fatu was a midcard guy. He also had a forgettable two-week run with the Intercontinental Championship. Fatu was a solid and entertaining midcard wrestler at best. However, should solid and entertaining midcard wrestlers be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame? Considering the list of much more accomplished big men that are currently not in the WWE Hall of Fame then maybe the answer should be no.
6 Should: The Honky Tonk Man
The Honky Tonk Man might just be the most underrated WWE heel of all time. HTM’s WWE Intercontinental Championship reign of 454 days is the longest in WWE history. Not only was his reign record breaking but, it was extremely significant and successful. His feud with Macho Man Randy Savage drew big television ratings and their house show title matches were often the main event, which drew big ticket sales as well. The feud also led to the formation of the Mega Powers (Savage and Hulk Hogan), which became the top angle for WrestleMania V. HTM also enjoyed a successful feud with Brutus the Barber Beefcake before dropping the strap to The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1988 in what might be the most famous IC title change in WWE history. The evil Elvis impersonator known as The Honky Tonk Man definitely deserves to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day.
5 Should: Bruiser Brody
Bruiser Brody was an extremely controversial and successful globe and territory trotting wrestling superstar during the 1970s and 1980s. Brody was a top draw just about everywhere he wrestled and was in great demand by promoters as a result. During his career he wrestled for World Class Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, AWA, NWA and even WWE among others. He wrestled many of the greats such as Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Antonio Inoki, and Dick the Bruiser in addition to having great rivalries with other big men such as Abdullah the Butcher, Kamala, and Giant Baba. Brody also formed successful tag teams with Stan Hansen, Jimmy Snuka, and Kerry Von Erich. If not for his untimely death in 1988, Brody may have been in line for a big money run with a return to WWE. A Hulk Hogan vs Bruiser Brody feud over the WWE Championship would have potentially been huge business. Bruiser Brody in the WWE Hall of Fame is a no brainer.
4 Shouldn't: Baron Mikel Scicluna
For the most part Baron Mikel Scicluna was a jobber to the stars during his nearly 20 year WWE career that started in 1965. Scicluna did manage to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship with his partner King Curtis. Scicluna had a bit more success as a tag team wrestler but did receive occasional shots at both the WWE Championship and Intercontinental Championship. There is no doubt that he was a very good heel and did a great job in his role of putting others over. However, should longevity in the role of a jobber qualify a wrestler for induction in the WWE Hall of Fame? Although it’s not as easy a question to answer when dealing with pro wrestling, Scicluna should not have a spot based on the traditional hall of fame concept.
3 Should: Great Muta
The Great Muta, despite never stepping foot in a WWE ring, should be considered for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Muta falls into a similar category with fellow countrymen Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fuginami although his peers did wrestle briefly for WWE. The three are known more for their contributions to pro wrestling in Japan. He is a four-time New Japan Pro Wrestling IWGP Champion, three-time All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Champion, and one time Wrestle-1 Champion. However, Muta is well known to American fans due to multiple runs with WCW in the 1980s and 1990s. His rivalry with Sting over the NWA Television Championship is legendary. Muta’s unique ring style and persona made him a top star in both the United States and Japan. If he would have decided to wrestle only in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s then there’s no telling how much he would have accomplished in WCW and maybe even WWE. Muta not only deserves consideration; he definitely deserves induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
2 Should: Owen Hart
There is no question that Owen Hart deserves to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. Hart won every major title offered in WWE with the exception of the WWE Championship. He would have won that title too and probably many times over if not for his untimely death. Hart was a perfect blend of mat technician and highflyer. He had great matches against just about everyone he stepped in the ring with and his matches against his brother, Bret Hitman Hart, were instant classics. Unfortunately, Owen Hart’s inclusion in the WWE Hall of Fame may be out of WWE’s hands according to Bret Hart. The Hitman has said that his brother’s widow, Martha Hart, may be the obstacle to WWE inducting him. Martha Hart’s feelings on an induction are said to stem from the circumstances surrounding Hart’s accidental death at WWE’s Over the Edge pay per-view back in 1999.
1 Shouldn't: Koko B. Ware
Koko B. Ware was a very entertaining and talented wrestler best known for his time in WWE from 1986 to 1994. Ware’s dropkick from the top rope was a thing of beauty and he delivered a pretty mean brainbuster (which he renamed The Ghostbuster) as his finisher. However, for the most part, The Birdman was a jobber to the stars. Ware rarely received title shots and was also rarely involved in any angles. His best run was arguably when he formed High Energy with Owen Hart in 1992. The team was created out of the ashes of the New Foundation (Hart and Jim Niedhart) and surprisingly was much better. Hart and Ware had great chemistry and the team was extremely underrated. Should have years of jobbing and a little tag team success been enough for him to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame? The answer unfortunately is no.
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