André the Giant was the WWE Hall of Fame’s inaugural inductee on March 22, 1993. Since "The Eighth Wonder of the World’s” induction nearly a quarter-century ago, 152 individuals have been immortalized for their achievements as professional wrestlers in the squared circle. In addition to iconic grapplers, nine celebrities and three Warrior Awards winners have been enshrined for their work in Vince McMahon’s soap opera. Hence, a total of 164 people are presently WWE Hall of Famers.
Sports entertainment superstars like Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Fabulous Moolah, Bruno Sammartino, The Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and WWE founder and longtime promoter Vincent J. McMahon were obvious selections for the hall. Conversely, the inductions of other performance athletes has been questionable. To list a few examples, solid sports entertainers Koko B. Ware, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Sunny should never be mentioned alongside legends like Flair, Hogan and Austin. In actuality, The Birdman, Duggan and Sunny should be in the hall of relatively engaging.
The 2018 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled to occur on the Friday before WrestleMania 34 on April 8, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Rock, The Undertaker, Sable, Demolition and The Honky Tonk Man are early favorites for induction next spring. With such a potentially star-studded class upcoming, let’s look at 15 wrestlers that should never have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It should be noted we won't be including celebrities on this list, otherwise we'd have another 10 names to go through. Everyone knows the celebrity wing is just a gimmick, so let's stick with the actual wrestlers.
15 BIG JOHN STUDD
Big John Studd, who died from liver cancer and Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 47 in March 1995, was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. The 6-foot-10, 365-pound Studd was trained by Killer Kowalski and he debuted as a professional in Los Angeles’ independent wrestling circuit in January 1972. Later that year, in mid-1972, Studd joined McMahon’s promotion as a vile heel who was managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Studd decimated his opponents and relished watching them vacate the ring on a gurney.
The mammoth Studd finally met his physical equal in André the Giant. Studd lost to the 7-foot-4, 520-pound Frenchman in a “Body Slam Challenge” match for $15,000 at the original WrestleMania. While Studd was a memorable character, he wasn’t an icon in the wrestling industry.
14 ‘COWBOY’ BOB ORTON JR.
"Cowboy" Bob Orton learned the business under the tutelage of Hiro Matsuda, Eddie Graham and Jack Brisco and he premiered as a grappler in 1972. Nicknamed “Ace,” the 6-foot-1, 242-pound Orton is primarily known for his work in the NWA and WWE. Following a second stint in the NWA, Orton returned to the WWF to work as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper’s bodyguard. Orton wore a cast on his “broken” left forearm and used the hardened wraps to assault Piper’s adversaries. Orton and Piper were classic villains and they were booked to lose to babyfaces Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at WrestleMania I in 1985.
While “Ace” had a solid gimmick as Piper’s muscle, Orton was essentially a silent character who benefited from the infamous Scotsman’s antics. "Cowboy" Bob Orton should not be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
13 JUNKYARD DOG
The Junkyard Dog, born Sylvester Ritter in Wadesboro, North Carolina, was a standout football player at Fayetteville State University. Shortly after retiring from the gridiron, the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Junkyard Dog entered a wrestling ring for the first time as a professional in 1977. JYD was an absolute powerhouse who effortlessly body slammed behemoths like the One Man Gang, Kamala, and King Kong Bundy. To complement his astounding strength, the Junkyard Dog was an exceptionally charismatic figure who was beloved by audiences across the globe.
JYD tragically died in a single-car accident after falling asleep at the wheel in June 1998. Nearly six years following his untimely death, The Junkyard Dog was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in March 2004. Although a legitimate force, the JYD was never a great performer.
12 ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER
Despite never competing for Vince McMahon’s promotion, Abdullah the Butcher was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2011. A 6-foot, 330-pound hardcore phenomenon, Abdullah the Butcher was notorious for blading to create bloodbaths in the squared circle. Fellow wrestling star “Superstar” Billy Graham was disgusted when the massive Canadian was inducted. Graham questioned Abdullah the Butcher’s talent and claimed he spread the Hepatitis C virus to colleagues while gushing blood in the ring.
“For decades, Larry Shreve has played the blood-lusting Abdullah the Butcher, a maniac psychotic enough to qualify as a Canadian-born Hitler, another Fuehrer,” said Graham. “The Butcher, who is Hepatitis C positive, is currently facing allegations of negligence, assault and battery in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice stemming from an unsanitary blade assault in a 2007 professional wrestling match.”
Although not “Hitler,” Abdullah the Butcher was an unskilled lunatic in the ring.
11 BIG BOSS MAN
Born Ray Washington Traylor Jr., the Big Boss Man was employed in the early 1980s as a corrections officer in Cobb County, Georgia. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Traylor began training with Ted Allen and debuted in 1985 as Jim Cornette’s bodyguard in Jim Crockett Promotions. Following a feud with Dusty Rhodes and stint in the UWF, Traylor emerged with the WWE as Big Boss Man in June 1988. Managed by Slick, the fearsome Georgian became a loathed heel and featured attraction in McMahon’s company. After a successful, six-year run in the WWE, Traylor briefly worked in All Japan Pro Wrestling before returning to WCW as The Boss in December 1993.
Traylor suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 41 in September 2004. Approximately 12 years after passing away, Traylor was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. While fans can remember Bossman fondly, not many would exactly think 'hall of famer' when hearing his name.
10 THE BUSHWHACKERS
The Bushwhackers, comprised of Butch Miller and Luke Williams, enjoyed a 36-year career as a professional wrestling tag team. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound Miller and 6-foot, 247-pound Williams debuted in 1964 and performed for virtually every promotion until they mercifully retired as wrestlers in 2002. The Bushwhackers attained mainstream popularity when they joined WWE in December 1988.
Instead of being booked as legitimate contenders, the loony New Zealanders assumed a comical role that most fans never took seriously. The Bushwhackers left McMahon’s company in September 1996 and once again became journeymen in the world of professional wrestling. Miller and Williams were an unforgettable tandem in the squared circle. Nevertheless, considering that unforgettable isn’t synonymous with greatness, it’s difficult to claim The Bushwhackers are deserving WWE hall of famers.
Rikishi is a member of the storied Anoaʻi family of professional wrestlers. The 6-foot-1, 425-pound Rikishi, billed from The Isle of Samoa, initially grappled in 1985 for Dino Bravo’s Lutte Internationale outfit in Montreal. As is customary for many wrestlers, Rikishi competed for a slew of promotions before appearing in the WWE in 1992 as one-half of The Headshrinkers’ tag team. The Headshrinkers split in 1995 and Rikishi subsequently performed as a singles competitor who first went by the name Fatu and later The Sultan. Rikishi received his biggest push when he formed an alliance with Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty.
During this time, Rikishi became a glorified dancer who finished his opponents by using the notorious “Stink Face.” Somehow, this modest résumé led to Rikishi’s election into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2015. Rikishi still sporadically competes at the age of 51.
8 GREG ‘THE HAMMER’ VALENTINE
Born Jonathan Anthony Wisniski in Seattle, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine trained with Stu Hart and became a professional wrestler in July 1970. The 6-foot, 243-pound Valentine performed for numerous promotions before primarily working for the WWF from 1981 through 1994. After leaving McMahon’s company, “The Hammer” competed for WCW and multiple independent circuits. In a career that spanned over four decades, Valentine won belts as an individual scrapper and as part of tag teams. It’s impossible to bash a badass like Valentine who amassed in excess of 40 titles and began fighting during the Nixon administration.
Still, while “The Hammer” was a notable grappler, Valentine was never an indelible figure in the wrestling industry. He sure wasn't considered an icon in WWE. Hence, it’s easy to question Valentine’s place since 2004 in the WWE Hall of Fame.
7 JESSE ‘THE BODY’ VENTURA
Jesse “The Body” Ventura has experienced success as an actor, author, politician and professional wrestler. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Ventura, who became the 38th Governor of Minnesota in January 1999, debuted as a grappler in June 1974. Ventura’s character was a bullying bodybuilder who constantly said "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!" A Navy SEAL, “The Body” permanently shelved his boots in the mid-80s when doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs. However, outside of the squared circle, Ventura found his niche as a heel color commentator alongside Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon.
In contrast to other forgettable athletes on this list, Ventura left an enduring legacy. Unfortunately for “The Body,” Ventura was only a one-time AWA tag team champ who called action for less than five years. Such minimal achievements don’t warrant Ventura’s 2004 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
6 STAN HANSEN
Stan Hansen became a WWE Hall of Famer in April 2016. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Hansen played the role of a bellicose, stereotypical cowboy over the course of his 28-year career in the WWE, AWA, WCW and multiple Japanese promotions. Hansen’s infamous stiffness was a liability in the ring and he nearly blinded wrestling legend Big Van Vader during a February 1990 match at the Tokyo Dome. While exchanging blows, the reckless Texan inadvertently hit the 6-foot-5, 450-pound Vader in the eye with his thumb. In a scene out of a horror movie, Vader’s eye popped out of its socket and the bout was declared a no contest shortly thereafter.
Hansen, a one-time AWA World Heavyweight champ and one-time NWA United States Heavyweight titleholder, was a middling performer who constantly endangered his peers.
Sunny, born Tamara Lynn Sytch in Matawan, New Jersey, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2011 because she’s deemed the promotion’s first Diva. Sunny, who was trained by Kevin Sullivan, Jim Cornette and her late boyfriend, Chris Candido, also worked for ECW, WCW and Ring of Honor. Prior to entering the wrestling business, Sunny was an exceedingly ambitious woman who enrolled in a pre-medical program at the University of Tennessee. Sunny ultimately decided against studying in Knoxville and instead toured with Candido in the now-defunct Smoky Mountain Wrestling company.
Sadly, as often happens to people involved in the wrestling business, Sunny succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction. While the WWE Hall of Fame wasn’t established for angels, Sunny has collected far more arrests than accolades in the ring. When you think of some names being left out of the hall of fame in part to their personal conduct outside of the ring, it's easy to question why Sunny got a pass.
4 ‘HACKSAW’ JIM DUGGAN
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was a standout athlete while attending high school in Glens Falls, New York. Despite his apparent athleticism, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Duggan looked slow and clumsy in the squared circle. Duggan, who was trained by Fritz Von Erich and debuted as a professional wrestler in 1979, was a one-time WCW United States Champion who won the maiden Royal Rumble contest in 1988. Duggan’s in-ring performances were never overly impressive. Instead, “Hacksaw” is strictly known for his American patriotism, “U-S-A” chants and carrying a piece of 2x4 lumber.
Duggan was certainly a noteworthy character during wrestling’s "golden age" in the 1980s. Still, Hacksaw was never an invaluable figure in Vince McMahon’s organization and his accomplishments weren’t worthy of an April 2011 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
3 THE GODFATHER
Born Charles Wright in Palo Alto, California, The Godfather was a tremendously controversial character during the WWE’s Attitude Era in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Godfather played a vibrant pimp who was escorted to the ring by a flock of scantily-clad prostitutes. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Wright, who also performed as Sir Charles, Papa Shango, Kama and Kama Mustafa, captured the Intercontinental title in April 1999 as The Godfather and later won the tag team championship alongside Bull Buchanan as The Goodfather in May 2001.
The Godfather’s dubious persona was shelved until the promotion’s creative team brought him back in 2002 as the founder of a legal escort agency. The Godfather was an indelible personality who was beloved by fans. Regardless, The Godfather was never a world-class wrestler.
2 THEODORE LONG
Theodore Long became a WWE Hall of Famer this spring. The 69-year-old Long debuted in 1985 as a referee in the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions. Following 11 years with the NWA/WCW, Long gained employment as a WWE referee in December 1998. The native Atlantan eventually became a heel who managed D'Lo Brown, Rodney Mack, Christopher Nowinski, Rosey, Mark Henry and Jazz. Long next played the role of SmackDown's general manager and he remains a periodic contributor to the company’s two programs.
While Long has enjoyed a diverse career, he is not a more decorated manager than Jim Cornette, Slick, Miss Elizabeth or Paul Heyman. WWE officials should have first honored Cornette, Slick, Elizabeth and Heyman and then considered electing Long into its hall of fame.
1 KOKO B. WARE
Known as “The Birdman,” Koko B. Ware’s April 2009 election into the WWE Hall of Fame is utterly baffling. The 5-foot-7, 229-pound Ware was a glorified jobber who gained fame for constantly smiling, dressing in colorful attire and walking to the squared circle with a South American parrot named Frankie. Granted, “The Birdman” captured a few NWA regional titles in the early 1980s. Still, a handful of meaningless belts notwithstanding, Ware never achieved anything remarkable in over 32 years in the business.
The likeable fan favorite, who finally retired as an active performer in 2010, is suing Vince McMahon for concussions he allegedly suffered while competing in the ring. It is borderline absurd that Koko B. Ware shares a place in the WWE Hall of Fame with superstars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin.