The WWE Hall of Fame is not like that of other sports. There is no voting process, and the selections are made, for the most part, based on the whims of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. As such, talents such as Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and the Road Warriors get in years after they probably should have, while performers like the Steiner Brothers and the Rock, for reasons unknown to fans, have not gotten in yet. Either way, the basis for induction seems to lie within the heart and mind of Vince McMahon.
Each year, as WrestleMania draws near, fans begin to speculate on which individuals, teams and celebrities will gain induction that year, and each year, there are some correct and some incorrect guesses. When the selections are finally revealed, what usually follows is lively debate regarding whether or not an inductee actually deserved to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Many inductees deserve to be in, and perhaps could have been inducted sooner, while others leave fans scratching their heads and wondering how a particular talent was inducted, especially if someone more talented is omitted.
With this in mind, this list looks back at the last two Hall of Fame classes, and evaluates the Hall of Fame worthiness of the wrestlers, tag team and celebrities who were inducted as part of the WWE Hall of Fame classes of 2015 and 2016.
15 Snoop Dogg (2016)
As mentioned, inductions are based on the whims of Vince McMahon, and the celebrity wing of the Hall is the clearest indication of it. The other condition under which people are inducted into the Hall is based on availability, and Snoop Dogg’s induction encompasses both of those conditions. He was eventually going to be inducted because he is a big wrestling fan, has appeared on WWE television several times, and is Sasha Banks’ cousin. Beyond that, he truly does not deserve to be in.
Snoop Dogg’s induction came about because WWE was not able to nail down Regis Philbin, who served as a guest commentator at WrestleMania VII. Otherwise, Snoop would have had to wait until a later date for his induction. However, being Sasha’s cousin is not enough to deserve induction into the Hall of Fame. Just as Hugh Jackman does not deserve to be in for punching Dolph Ziggler, Snoop just has not done enough to merit induction.
Verdict: Not Worthy
14 The Fabulous Freebirds (2016)
If the Von Erichs deserved to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, then so do the Freebirds. No great hero can be made without a great antagonist, and just as Roddy Piper was for Hulk Hogan, the Freebirds were that for the Von Erichs. The Freebirds team of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, holds the record for the longest single reign with the World Class Six-Man Tag Team Titles, and only Kevin and Kerry individually have had more reigns with that title than each member of the Birds.
Since the group went in as a team and not as individuals, then the accomplishments of Michael Hayes in WCW, and Terry Gordy as the first UWF Champion, in addition to all that Gordy achieved in Japan, are just extra. Based solely on their work with the Von Erichs, the Birds deserve to be in as much as Roddy Piper does, and this does not include the fact that the Birds pioneered the use of three-man teams in professional wrestling.
13 Stan Hansen (2016)
Stan “The Lariat” Hansen developed a reputation during his brief tenure in the WWF for toughness based on the story that he broke Bruno Sammartino’s neck with a clothesline. Hansen signed with the AWA and ended the third longest AWA World Championship reign by defeating Rick Martel. Hansen then went to Jim Crockett Promotions and ended Lex Luger’s US Title reign, which was and still is the longest ever title reign, NWA, WCW or WWE, for the United States Championship. In between, Hansen was one of the top American stars in Japan, feuding with Big Van Vader, while teaming with Bruiser Brody.
Stan Hansen is the inductee who has little to no real connection to WWE, and who modern fans know very little about. However, he has had a career that deserves induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was one of the toughest, meanest wrestlers in the business, and he has worked with the top champions in every organization in which he has worked.
12 Jacqueline (2016)
Jacqueline Moore has made a lot of history during her career, and as such, she deserves to be in any wrestling Hall of Fame that exists. Unfortunately, she just doesn’t get recognized for all that she has done. In the USWA, she was a 14-time Women’s Champion, and the next closest number of reigns was five. She was also the longest reigning champion, with a reign 82 days longer than the second longest. While competing in the USWA, she became the first female included in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated yearly top 500 listing.
In WWE, she became the first African-American Women’s Champion, and at a point when WWE was starting to run out of ideas for Jackie, she became the first woman to win the Cruiserweight Championship. Jacqueline is a revolutionary woman in professional wrestling, and deserves every accolade that she has received. As such, she became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and it was well deserved.
11 Big Boss Man (2016)
Ray Traylor, The Big Boss Man, was a great hand who performed well in a number of roles. He worked as Jim Cornette’s bodyguard under the guise of Big Bubba Rogers, and won Bill Watts’ UWF Championship. Then as Bossman, he did a lot of really good things in WWE and WCW with The Corporation, The Twin Towers and the Dungeon of Doom. He was even a member of the NWO briefly before becoming one of that group’s biggest opponents. However, if Halls of Fame are supposed to represent the best of the best in their industry, neither Ray Traylor nor the Big Bossman qualify.
A good career does not make for a Hall of Fame career. Bossman, as stated, was a good hand, but he wasn’t best of the best. He should be remembered, perhaps with a feature on the WWE Network, as many talents should, but he should not be in a wrestling Hall of Fame. He just didn’t do enough in his career, and unfortunately, he was already leaving the business when he passed away, so he would never have gotten the opportunity to do more in his in-ring career.
Verdict: Not Worthy
10 The Godfather (2016)
Placing the Godfather into the WWE Hall of Fame would be similar to placing Manute Bol into the basketball Hall of Fame. Manute Bol was a 7’7” player in the NBA who was nothing more than an attraction, as he had no real basketball skill except for blocking shots without jumping and hitting the occasional three-point shot. During the Attitude Era, The Godfather’s sole purpose was to bring half-naked women to the ring so that Jerry Lawler could act like a horny teenager. The Godfather does not belong in the WWE Hall of Fame.
On the other hand, Charles Wright, the performer who portrayed The Godfather, has a solid argument for induction. His work as Papa Shango with The Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior was stellar, as was his work as Kama, alone and with the Nation of Domination. As the Soultaker, he won the USWA World Title, and then won it again as Shango. His entire career might make him a Hall of Famer, but solely as The Godfather, he is no more than Manute Bol.
Verdict: Not Worthy
9 Sting (2016)
Sting was the headliner of the 2016 Hall of Fame class, and he should have gone in long before that. Sting was unwilling to sign with WWE after WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon, and he spent 11 years in Impact Wrestling and WWA, collecting six more World titles to go with the nine that he had already won in WCW. Sting’s induction made him the first wrestler to be inducted into the TNA and the WWE Hall of Fame, though Kurt Angle will follow him in the 2017 class. The Dudley Boyz, Gail Kim and Earl Hebner should follow at some point as well.
There is no doubt that Sting belongs in any and every Hall of Fame connected with professional wrestling. He was the franchise player in WCW, even though Ric Flair continuously carried the World Title. From his first main event match at the first Clash of Champions, to being in the last main event on WCW television against Ric Flair, Sting will go down as one of the best the business has ever seen.
8 Arnold Schwarzenegger (2015)
The former Governor of California is a huge wrestling fan, and has made many appearances on WWE television. Though he never wrestled in a match or participated in a storyline, Arnold made several in-ring appearances for the company, and is a favorite celebrity of the company. The WWE Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing includes many celebrities who have participated in WWE programming, and because of Arnold’s level of participation, he belongs in the Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing.
Arnold was the second of three celebrity inductees who did not participate in a match or take a bump from a wrestler (Bob Uecker and Snoop Dogg are the others, though Uecker was playfully choked by Andre the Giant, and Pete Rose was choke slammed by Kane on multiple occasions). By not participating in any physical interaction with a wrestler, many will feel that Arnold does not belong in the Hall, but because he is a true friend of the company, he truly does. Other celebrities will be judged by the ones who were inducted before them, but very few will be true fans as Arnold was.
7 The Bushwhackers (2015)
Luke Williams and Butch Miller, the Bushwhackers, were a comedy act in the WWF. They were in the company during Hulk-a-mania era when there were a lot of talents in the company with cartoon-like gimmicks. The Bushwhackers were an act that was created for the children, and much of what they did was child-like. Sadly, comedy acts do not win championships, nor do they make much of a lasting impact on the business.
The Bushwhackers did not win any championships in the WWF, and they were never considered contenders for the tag titles, nor were they separated in order that either man could win a singles title. The most memorable event in the WWF career of the Bushwhackers was when Luke Williams marched down to the ring for the 1991 Royal Rumble, entered the ring only to be grabbed by Earthquake, and immediately thrown out, after which he marched back to the backstage area. Though his four second tenure in the match lasted as the Royal Rumble futility record for only four years, it is remembered as the least effective time in the match. Unfortunately, this does not make the team worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.
Verdict: Not Worthy
6 Kevin Nash (2015)
One thing that is confusing is the fact that Scott Hall was inducted as Razor Ramon, which means that only his WWF, pre-Curtain Call career, which was Hall of Fame worthy, should have been considered, though WWE mentioned everything after the AWA. On the other hand, Kevin Nash was inducted under his real name, which means that his Diesel years should not have been included, but they were, which begs the question of why Hall could not have been inducted as Hall.
Nevertheless, a 6-time world champion and 12-time tag champion, and the man who defeated Goldberg to end Goldberg’s undefeated streak in WCW, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Nash was one of the most charismatic big men in the history of the business, as many giants struggle on the microphone but Nash was a natural. No matter what he is called; Diesel, Oz, Master Blaster Steel or Kevin Nash, he should be called Hall of Famer.
5 Tatsumi “The Dragon” Fujinami (2015)
Every year, WWE inducts a performer into the Hall of Fame who has little to no connection with the company. In 2015, that man was Tatsumi “The Dragon” Fujinami. The Dragon was an extraordinary wrestler, and was instrumental in helping to make wrestling in Japan a viable option for performers from all over the world. The Dragon Suplex and the Dragon Sleeper are so named because these moves were invented by Fujinami, and copied by wrestlers all over the world, and that level of innovation is indicative of this man’s career.
Fujinami had a short run in the WWWF, but he is one of the greatest Japanese wrestlers in history, even defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. However, if this is truly the WWE Hall of Fame, then Fujinami has no place in it, but in terms of his wrestling career, as a 6-time IWGP Champion and a former NWA Champion, he belongs in any Hall of Fame that exists.
4 Larry Zbyszko (2015)
“The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko is known more for his time, either as a former AWA Champion, or as an announcer and antagonist of the New World Order in WCW. Either way, modern WWE fans have no idea that Zbyszko headlined cards in a memorable feud against Bruno Sammartino. They have no idea that he was the top heel in the business for a period of time when he took credit for retiring both Bruno and Nick Bockwinkel, the top star in the AWA during the same era. Zbyszko was a star from the beginning of his career through to the end.
Zbyszko should have been in the Hall of Fame several years before he was finally inducted, but he also briefly crossed WWE and Vince McMahon, which delayed his induction until Vince could get over the dispute. Nevertheless, Zbyszko is as deserving a Hall of Fame inductee as anyone who has ever gotten into the Hall. “The Living Legend” belongs in the Hall of Fame.
3 Alundra Blayze (2015)
As Madusa, Debra Miceli was one of the top woman wrestlers in the world. However, when she arrived in the WWF, she became Alundra Blayze, and her time as Madusa was ignored. Fortunately for her, as Blayze, the company created a women’s division and she was champion three times. Sadly, she left the WWF with the title belt and threw it into a trash can on WCW television, and this did not endear her with Vince McMahon, which kept her out of the WWE Hall of Fame.
As Vince has been known to do, he buried the hatchet with Miceli after several years of stewing about the indiscretion, and he selected her for induction. Her induction coincided with the Women’s Revolution in WWE, but it should have happened years prior. Miceli’s career was hampered by the fact that WCW also created a women’s division for her, but mismanaged it and never put the title on her. Despite this, the fact that three separate companies (including the AWA) saw her as the centerpiece of their women’s divisions more than qualifies her for induction.
2 Rikishi (2015)
Rikishi performed in WWE under several names, including The Sultan and Fatu the Headshrinker. Before that, he worked in World Class and WCW as Fatu of the Samoan Swat Team. If he is judged on his entire career, his three WWE Tag titles, along with his three World Class Tag titles might qualify him, but because he went in as Rikishi, he is judged only on his WWE career, which takes away much of his success.
During the Attitude Era, and after the Invasion, titles changed frequently, and practically everyone who worked for WWE held a title at some point. As such, Rikishi had several title reigns that lasted 1-2 months and were uneventful. Based solely on his career as Rikishi, he truly does not deserve to be in the WWE Hall of Fame, since his claim to fame seems to be dancing and thrusting his behind into people’s faces. That just doesn’t seem to be enough to be considered a Hall of Famer.
Verdict: Not Worthy
1 Randy Savage (2015)
Nearly every year, since the Hall of Fame inductions became a regular occurrence in 2004, there has been a posthumous inductee; someone who was inducted after they have passed away. The 2015 posthumous inductee was also the headliner of the class in the person of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage passed away in 2011, and for years, Savage hadn’t gone in because he crossed Vince McMahon and signed with WCW while Vince was depending on Savage to be the color commentator for Monday Night Raw. In addition, Savage also had allegedly had a relationship with a very young Stephanie McMahon. For these reasons, it took a while for Vince to warm to the idea of inducting Randy.
However, Randy Savage is a six-time World Champion who main-evented cards against Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair and Jerry Lawler. Savage has been involved in some of the greatest matches and story lines in WWE history, and deserved to be inducted into any wrestling Hall of Fame that exists. Savage’s worthiness is without question, and his induction should have happened much sooner that it did.