It takes a special kind of athlete to be named to any sport’s Hall of Fame. Professional wrestling is similar, but requires different criteria than someone who is playing football or basketball. Wrestling requires being a technician who puts together memorable matches in front of various crowds. There are a few Hall of Fame locations for pro wrestling, including the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum located in Wichita Falls, Texas.
But it takes more than just in-ring talent to be inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Fame. In order to be considered a legend in WWE, a wrestler has to break out as a superstar in more ways than just through the action in the ring. These WWE superstars must have charisma that can entertain and excite the crowds as a face. Or, if you’re a villainous heel, they must be able to get the fans riled up and have the fans booing them.
The WWE Hall of Fame was designed to highlight the best of WWE’s superstars. The unfortunate thing is that there are plenty of names who deserve the recognition and are snubbed each year. This leads to looking at some of the most recent superstars since the beginning of the new millennium.
There are several world heavyweight champions who stand out, but that was during a time when being the world champion didn’t mean as much as before (two brands mean two world champions in WWE).
The following are the top 15 wrestlers since 2000 who likely won’t be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The WWE Hall of Fame features a number of goofy and unique gimmicks. Koko B. Ware is a perfect example of someone who was on the mid-card and still got a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. Among the numerous mid-card talents since 2000, Viscera is someone who will likely be left out of any voting ballot. It is a shame because he was certainly an above average big man in the ring.
But Viscera went from the hip-hop Mabel to a gothic giant in Viscera. He then transformed into the World’s Largest Love Machine before shaving his head, taking off his shirt (unfortunately) and being named Big Daddy V. Unlike other big men like Mark Henry, Viscera didn’t win any championships beyond the WWE Tag Team Championship and the Hardcore Championship once.
14 Wade Barrett
There can be a separate argument that claims Wade Barrett should have been a World Heavyweight Champion in the WWE. He had the look for a main event superstar. He also showed early on through the first season of NXT how good he was on the microphone. Barrett was even given a great debut storyline on the main roster in 2010 as the leader of the Nexus. That wasn’t the problem for Barrett.
Injuries negatively impacted what would have been a surefire Hall of Fame career. They often came at the worst time as he was being built up towards a main event push. Barrett should be happy with his run overall. He did win the Intercontinental Championship five times and was the 2015 King of the Ring. Barrett deserved better, but the bad news is that he won’t be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Lisa Marie Varon had some success when she competed as Victoria in the WWE from 2000 to 2009. She was a two-time WWE Women’s Champion during an era that featured some of the best women’s wrestling in the last 30 years. Her opponents included names like Trish Stratus, Lita and Mickie James. Victoria was at her best when she was slightly unstable as a heel.
But the WWE ruined her character by making her dance to techno music and pairing her in a team with Candice Michelle. The best thing Varon did was leave for TNA Wrestling, where she helped lead the women’s division with five reigns as the TNA Knockouts Champion. Victoria was a great WWE superstar, but might be lost in the shuffle among a number of great female talents since 2000.
12 Michelle McCool
Michelle McCool will be known not only for being a two-time WWE Women’s Champion, but also the first to be known as the WWE Divas Champion. The latter title is mostly associated with a terrible era in women’s wrestling in recent years that was ended with the Divas Revolution. McCool was someone who was better suited to be a managing valet in the WWE. Her in-ring abilities left a lot to be desired.
McCool was not really able to succeed as a standalone champion as they once had her share a championship with Layla in the Lay-Cool team. The only reason she might have a chance to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is because of the standing she has thanks to her marriage to The Undertaker.
11 Chavo Guerrero
While Eddie Guerrero was able to leave his mark on the WWE in a positive way before his death, not all Guerreros left the WWE in the best light. Chavo Guerrero is the type of wrestler who flourished within the Cruiserweight Division, but beyond the Cruiserweight Championship and his tag team with uncle Eddie, he was mostly a joke in the WWE. Obviously, the officials never viewed him that highly.
Exhibit A can be seen with his match against Kane at WrestleMania XXIV where he lost the ECW “World” Championship in less than 10 seconds. Then there was that storyline in which he was more like Elmer Fudd trying to capture Hornswoggle, who retired the Cruiserweight Championship. Chavo actually has less of a chance to get into the WWE Hall of Fame than Vickie, Eddie’s widowed wife, does.
10 Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is a great athlete who brought his abilities from amateur wrestling into the world of WWE. While he was never able to win a legitimate world championship during his time with the WWE (once again, the “WWECW” Championship doesn’t count), he was also a successful United States Champion early in his WWE career. Unfortunately, he didn’t really have a lot of big moments as a WWE superstar.
Other than sharing the ring with U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump to shave Vince McMahon’s head, Lashley doesn’t have a great moment in his legacy. He’s been able to do more outside of the WWE between his time in mixed martial arts and TNA Wrestling, neither of which would count towards his case for the WWE Hall of Fame.
9 Shelton Benjamin
There’s no denying that Shelton Benjamin was one of the greatest pure athletes to ever walk into the WWE Universe. The potential was there when he came into WWE’s developmental program around the same time as college teammate Brock Lesnar. Benjamin was a much different wrestler than Lesnar. He was an agile athlete who was able to wow crowds with his in-ring performance.
Benjamin found championship success as a mid-card superstar – three reigns as Intercontinental Champion and one as United States Champion. However, he didn’t have the necessary microphone skills to break through as the “Gold Standard.” His value took a big hit when the WWE had to bring in the Mama Benjamin to be a manager. If he was to return to the WWE at some point, it would take a lot to build himself as a credible WWE Hall of Fame candidate.
Similar to a number of great talents who never reached their full potential, Carltio was someone who became his own worst enemy. While having all of the talent to be a main event superstar in the WWE, he only hurt himself when he refused to attend a rehabilitation center after a violation of the WWE Talent Wellness Program in 2010. Carltio also seems to be just fine focusing on his career in Puerto Rico.
There is an argument to be had for why Carltio should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. He was charismatic as the United States Champion and Intercontinental Champion. He also won tag team gold with his brother Primo. But once again, it feels like Carlito never took the necessary steps to make the transition into the upper levels of the WWE card.
7 Billy Gunn
There’s a lot of responsibility in being a trainer for the new generation of WWE superstars. Billy Gunn learned that when he was fired from his position at the WWE Performance Center after he failed a drug test at an external bodybuilding competition. It’s just not the sort of thing the WWE would want possibly leaving a negative impression on young superstars. Sadly, his termination may have left a big blow to his WWE Hall of Fame chances.
While he was part of the iconic D-Generation X faction, Gunn was more of a sidekick along with New Age Outlaws partner “Road Dogg” Jesse James. While Gunn finished his WWE career with 11 total tag team championships and one run as the Intercontinental Champion, he didn’t really do a lot as a singles wrestler to deserve being a standalone induction. Perhaps if WWE starts inducting other factions, a la the Four Horsemen, Gunn will indeed get one.
Montel Vontavious Porter is someone who was considered a likely candidate to return to the WWE as part of the recent brand extension. It made a lot of sense. As a former two-time United States Champion, MVP is a ring veteran who could have been a big part of helping put over the newer generation of WWE superstars. He also would have provided much needed depth for a brand like SmackDown Live.
But he declined the offer, which may have hurt his chances of a Hall of Fame induction. While he’s done so many good things wrestling in Mexico and Japan, he hasn’t accomplished enough to be at the WWE Hall of Fame level like some other great mid-card champions. It’s a shame considering how good he was as the confident superstar athletic character from 2006 to 2009.
5 Alberto Del Rio
Whenever professional wrestling superstars leave the WWE under bad terms, many people feel they are blacklisted. The funny thing about Alberto Del Rio is that he left the WWE in not-so-positive terms on two separate occasions. The first departure came in 2014 when Del Rio reportedly slapped a WWE employee backstage for making a racist joke. While many felt he was justified, employers don’t usually like their employees slapping each other outside of the ring.
In addition to that, Del Rio recently left the WWE after issues revolving his a violation of the Talent Wellness Program. Del Rio has also received heat for being considered a “bad influence” on WWE Superstar Paige. If it weren’t for these two situations, Del Rio would have been a candidate for the Hall of Fame after being a four-time heavyweight champion who had some of the best in-ring work in recent memory.
Sheamus is someone who might have the look of becoming a WWE main event superstar, but he just didn’t have the proper charisma to pull off the rest of his character. Other than being a big Irish guy who’s as pale as a ghost, there isn’t really much to the Sheamus character that makes him very memorable. Even the recent makeover that gave him the Mohawk and put jewelry in his beard failed to help him very much. Yet Sheamus has the distinction of being a four-time world champion.
Most of the time, his reigns were very disappointing. His first title win over John Cena in a tables match looked like a mistake. Another started with the terrible decision to have him beat Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds. His most recent run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion last year was part of the failed attempt to put Roman Reigns over as a face. Sheamus is someone who suffered from poor charisma and poor booking by the WWE.
3 Matt Hardy
While he might be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Hardy Boys tag team, Matt Hardy has a tougher case to get in by himself. While his brother Jeff was able to win three world championships in WWE to go along with winning every championship possible since the Attitude Era, Matt hasn’t truly had the same level of success as a singles superstar in the WWE. His best feud was with Edge back based on the love triangle with Lita.
Unlike his brother, Matt Hardy never won a world championship – the ECW Championship in WWE doesn’t count by the way. He has since found success in TNA Wrestling as Broken Matt Hardy. If he was to return with the gimmick to WWE, he might have a chance to make an argument, but that could be very unlikely.
This has less to do with whether Batista was worthy of the success he had in the WWE. He held six world championships during his time with the WWE, including four separate runs with WWE tag team gold. Part of the argument for not putting Batista in the WWE Hall of Fame is going back to the note about how the brand split had more championship opportunities. The titles were also bounced around often, which diminished the prestige of a title run during the 2000s.
It’s also worth noting how busy Batista is going to be over the next few years. With the success he’s had in Hollywood, he’s probably going to be very busy. He has also come across as someone who is only willing to make a WWE appearance if the money is right. That’s likely a side effect of being one of the main characters in the box office hit, Guardians of the Galaxy.
1 CM Punk
This one comes straight from the “No S*** Sherlock” category. CM Punk is likely the company's blacklist, so he'll likely never be considered for a return to the WWE. There are obviously a lot of reasons why CM Punk wouldn’t be welcomed back into the WWE. Despite the fact that he was one of the most decorated champions in WWE, including the longest reigning WWE Champion (434 days) in the modern era, his exit left bad feelings among WWE officials.
He felt he was disrespected and that the WWE brass were not giving the right superstars the big push. He let it all out in an interview with Colt Cabana on the Art of Wrestling podcast. Punk not only trashed the WWE, but he also questioned the expertise of the WWE medical staff. Punk is facing lawsuits from Dr. Chris Amann specifically. WWE seems to be supportive of their doctor.