There have been many conversations about which former professional wrestling talents do and which do not belong in the WWE Hall of Fame. While these conversations can create many differing opinions, usually, the individuals involved in the debate can agree that the former stars have all had careers that merit consideration. However, what is interesting is looking forward instead of backwards. Many other sports look at players and designate certain individuals as future Hall of Fame inductees. The 2017 NBA Finals was possibly contested with six future Basketball Hall of Famers; two for the Cavaliers and four for the Warriors. Professional wrestling is much the same as some performers have careers that indicate to the powers that be that these people someday deserve to be immortalized.
Figuring out what qualifies a professional wrestling talent for the Hall of Fame can differ from person to person. Some people might look at title victories while others might consider the talent’s contributions to the business. Booker T is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the history of the business, while “Mean” Gene Okerlund is in the WWE Hall of Fame because of his contributions as a ring announcer, an interviewer, and an overall character. That said, here is a list of 15 current WWE Talents who seemingly will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame someday.
15 Daniel Bryan
“The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, considered the best wrestler in the world long before he showed up in WWE, came to the company in 2009 after working for various companies. Once in WWE, he rocketed to the top of the card, appearing in main events against John Cena and Triple H. As Daniel Bryan, he displayed the skill that had him lauded as the best wrestler in the world, but his popularity, especially in the face of authority figures who felt that he was a mid-carder at best, is what made him a memorable figure for the company.
Bryan’s “Yes” movement spread across a variety of sports and entertainment mediums, but Bryan’s Hall of Fame résumé is far greater than his popularity. During his time as an active wrestler in WWE, Bryan captured four World titles, and wore the US Championship, the Intercontinental (IC) Title and the Tag Titles once each, giving him a WWE Triple Crown and Grand Slam. In addition, Bryan captured the Money in the Bank briefcase, and main evented WrestleMania XXX. In a short amount of time, Daniel Bryan has had a career that is more than Hall of Fame worthy.
14 The Big Show
The Big Show has the unique advantage of having worked for WCW and WWE, and for being a star in both companies. Show’s time in WCW considerably increases his already impressive Hall of Fame credentials. In WCW, Paul Wight, as The Giant, captured the WCW World Title twice, wore the tag titles three times, and won one of WCW’s 60-Man Battle Royals. Giant captured his first World title in his first WCW match, but this was just the start of Wight’s career.
In WWE, as The Big Show, Wight has literally done everything. He is a four-time World Champion, an eight-time tag champion, a three-time Hardcore Champion, and he has held the US and IC titles once each. Aside from his championships, Big Show has shown the ability to perform in a number of styles. He has been a vicious heel, a humble babyface, he has done comedy, and he has even done wrestler impressions. Show is an all-around performer, and whether or not he had ever won any titles, his abilities as a performer would carry him into the HOF.
Some fans feel that Sheamus has only accomplished what he has because of his relationship with Triple H, but Sheamus has done a lot in his brief career, and it would not have been possible if the company did not feel that he was a capable performer. Sheamus is the first Irish-born WWE Champion, and he won his first World Title in the third shortest amount of time following his debut with the company. Sheamus also won that title from John Cena, which makes the accomplishment even more significant.
To date, Sheamus is a four-time former World Champion, and is one of only two performers who have captured the King of the Ring, won the Money in the Bank ladder match and briefcase, and has won the Royal Rumble. The other performer is Edge, who has already been inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. Sheamus, with his partner Cesaro, also ended the longest tag title reign in company history by defeating The New Day for the titles. Though he has been on the main roster for less than ten years, Sheamus has already put together a Hall of Fame career.
12 Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair has on been on the WWE main roster for one year, but she has already made a significant impact on professional wrestling and on WWE. Charlotte is the top female wrestler in the business, and has dominated the division in WWE since she started with the company. The daughter of the Nature Boy was the final Divas Champion, and the first holder of the newly reinstated Women’s Title, which is now the Raw Women’s Title.
Overall, Charlotte is listed as a one-time Divas Champion and a four-time Women’s champion. The combined length of her Divas Title rein and her first Women’s Title reigns (which ran without a break) is 309 days, which is longer than Nikki Bella’s “record” Diva’s Title reign by eight days, and is the tenth longest reign of any women’s title in the company’s history. In one year, Charlotte has done more than most women in their entire careers, and she is only going to accomplish more as long as she continues in the business.
Asuka, like Charlotte, has only been a part of WWE for a short time. However, while Charlotte spent about one year with NXT before venturing to the main roster, Asuka is nearing the end of her second year with NXT. What qualifies Asuka for this list is how dominant she has been with NXT, and how that bodes well for her eventual call up to the main roster.
As of this writing, Askua’s NXT Women’s Title reign has lasted for over 400 days, which makes it the longest active title reign in the company, and is also the longest active reign of any champion of any of the major wrestling companies (WWE, TNA, NJPW, ROH, LU). Also, if Asuka is able to retain her title until the next NXT Takeover event, her reign will be over 500 days, and will become the third longest reign of any women’s title in the WWE history, and like Charlotte, Asuka’s career with the company is just getting started.
10 Michael Cole
Some will see this entry and will feel as if Michael Cole has no place in the WWE Hall of Fame, while others will see this and will agree that Cole deserves to be immortalized alongside the greats in the history of the company. In truth, if Gene Okerlund, Howard Finkel and Jim Ross are Hall of Famers, then so too is Michael Cole. Cole has been with WWE for almost 20 years, and has been a lead announcer for nearly that entire run.
Cole was first brought into the spotlight as the replacement for Jim Ross after Ross suffered his attack of Bell’s Palsey. Cole then served 10 years as the SmackDown play-by-play announcer, and was then moved to Raw, where he has been ever since. Cole is universally recognized as the voice of WWE, and, at times, he has been presented as a character involved in storylines with the company. Cole is still a relatively young man, so he should be with the company for years to come, which would further cement his legacy as an announcer.
9 Kofi Kingston
The New Day recently set a record for the longest tag team title reign in WWE history, and Kofi Kingston was a large part of the team’s success. However, Kofi’s career is much more than his work with the New Day, and unbeknownst to most, Kofi has put together a career that could result in induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. His New Day teammates do not yet have the credentials that Kofi has, but Kofi’s accomplishments are surprisingly impressive.
In Kofi’s first match on the Raw roster, following a brief stint in WWE’s ECW, Kofi won the IC title, the first of Kofi’s many title reigns. In total, Kofi captured the Intercontinental Title four times, the US title three times, and the tag titles five times; twice with the New Day and three other times with three different partners. Though Kofi has not won the World Title, many other Hall of Fame inductees have also not won it, and Kofi has accomplished more than many of them.
8 The Miz
Many fans and wrestlers saw Mike Mizanin a reality show guy who thought that professional wrestling was just a way to make a buck on the way to Hollywood, but The Miz worked hard and became one of the top professional wrestlers of the last ten years. Miz was offered a contract after finishing second on Tough Enough, and once he reached the main roster, he steadily rose up the card to becoming one of the best and most dependable performers in the company.
Miz won the World Title and successfully defended it against John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII. In addition, Miz is a two-time US Champion, a six-time tag champion and a seven time IC Champion. Miz’ seven IC Title reigns is the second most in WWE History behind Chris Jericho’s nine. On top of all of that, Miz has also become WWE’s go-to star for WWE Studios films. Though The Miz was not taken seriously at the beginning of his career, he is now a serious contender for the WWE Hall of Fame.
7 Mickie James
Mickie James has recently returned to WWE after a stint in TNA, where she was a three-time TNA Knockouts Champion. Before leaving WWE for TNA, Mickie was a six-time former WWE Women’s/Divas Champion, which are the second most reigns in the company’s history. Trish Stratus had seven reigns with the WWE Women’s Title, and between WWE and TNA, Gail Kim had seven reigns as well (6 in TNA and 1 in WWE), but between the two companies, Mickie James has nine total reigns, which is the most of any woman in professional wrestling.
Mickie James returned to WWE to help in the development of the new crop of women who are now performing for the company. If Mickie never wins another title while with the company, her accomplishments are more than Hall-worthy, as she was a large part of the Post-Attitude Ruthless Aggression Era in WWE, and the rise of women’s wrestling in the company.
6 The Bella Twins
The Bella Twins are considered the top women in WWE over the past few years (during the PG era). The ladies have essentially been positioned as the spokes models for the company, and are used to represent the company during its many public promotions. Aside from that, Nikki and Brie are among the top female wrestlers in the company, with a combined three Divas Championship reigns between them.
Brie Bella was the first to hold the title, which she did for 70 days. Nikki briefly held the title next, but her second reign was the longest reign in the brief history of the WWE Divas title. Since the title has been converted to the WWE Raw Women’s Title, the record will never be broken. Also, the twins are the stars of the TV shows Total Divas and Total Bellas, which has brought more eyes to the WWE product. If the Bella Twins do not make the Hall of Fame as a duo, Nikki will almost certainly get in alone.
5 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is considered one performer who could legitimately make a claim for a spot on the Mount Rushmore of professional wrestling. Not because of the number of titles that he has won, though he has captured his share and some, but because he is one of the greatest overall performers that the business has ever produced. Jericho can do evil heel, cowardly heel, serious baby face and comedic side kick. He as done it all in professional wrestling, and he seems to still be going strong.
It is well known that Jericho holds the record for WWE IC Titles at nine, and that he defeated the Rock and Stone Cold to become the first unified WWE Champion, but that is only part of his story. Jericho was an ECW TV Champion, a four-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion, and he has won every title that WWE has to offer. There is no doubt that Jericho will get into the Hall of Fame, it is more a question of when he will stop performing in order to be inducted, because he is still one of the best on the WWE roster.
4 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar might currently be a part-time WWE performer, but when wrestling insiders talk about a performer’s ability to “draw money”, few in the business do it better than “The Beast”. Brock got his start with Randy Orton, John Cena and Batista, and while all of them have become champions, Brock has transcended the sport like few others, and he has done this without making movies or appearing on daytime talk shows. Brock is just bigger than life, and is a definite future Hall of Famer.
Brock is a multi-time WWE World Champion, but his HOF candidacy goes beyond titles, as he has fewer championships that Orton, Cena or Batista. Brock is a transcendent star like The Rock and Steve Austin, such that people who are not fans of professional wrestling know who Brock Lesnar is, and even when he is not around, he generates more conversation among fans than do the full-time performers. Simply put, Brock is a star, and belongs in the Hall of Fame.
3 The Hardy Boyz
The Hardys recently returned to WWE, after a stint in the independents where they became one of the most talked about acts in wrestling. Prior to leaving WWE the first time, the team enjoyed six tag title reigns, and have captured the belts once again upon returning. Aside from Edge and Christian and the Dudleys, the Hardys are the most decorated tag team in the company’s history, and in addition, the brothers have several singles titles on their résumés, including Jeff’s four runs with the IC title.
Unfortunately, WWE will not count what the brothers did in other companies, but if these accomplishments were included, their HOF résumé would be unquestionable. Matt and Jeff combined for five Impact Wrestling World Titles, and they became the first team to hold the TNA and Ring of Honor tag titles simultaneously. Just as Harlem Heat, The Dudleys and Edge and Christian (as a team) deserved to be honored, the Hardys deserve to be honored individually and collectively.
2 Randy Orton
Randy Orton will definitely get into the WWE Hall of Fame, but, just like with Jericho, it is a matter of when he will stop wrestling in order to be inducted. Orton’s father has already been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Orton will soon join an elite group of second-generation WWE Hall of Famers. Orton is a 13-time World Champion, so just on the basis of that accomplishment, he is destined for enshrinement, but as with many others, there is much more to the story of Randy Orton’s wrestling career.
Orton is one of the few multi-time winners of the Royal Rumble, and was the youngest person to ever win the WWE World title until that record was broken by Brock Lesnar. Orton has also captured a number if other titles in WWE, and has starred in several WWE films. Because Orton is so young, barring something catastrophic happening to him, he should be around for quite a while, and should be able to further enhance his wrestling résumé.
1 John Cena
The question regarding John Cena is not if he is going to get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but more importantly, will he be the first active wrestler to be inducted into the Hall? While it is true that some Hall of Famers have participated in spot matches after induction, Cena could conceivably maintain a close to full-time schedule after being inducted into the Hall because there is no true point in waiting to do something this inevitable.
Cena is a 16-time World Champion, and being only 40 years old and working a reduced schedule, he could likely win several more. Cena has several US and tag title reigns to his credit, and, like a select few others, has had championship belts designed to match his characters. In addition to his film work for WWE Studios, he is the most active Make-a-Wish celebrity in history. Cena is a Hall of Fame wrestler, and it is only a matter of time before it is made official.