WWE’s Hall of Fame (HOF) honors the greatest wrestling stars from WWE and abroad, paying homage to those that shaped the business and dedicated their life to pro-wrestling.
Everyone from Koko B. Ware to Shawn Michaels to Randy Savage have been inducted, as well as celebrity figures that make up the celebrity wing. There have been disagreements amongst fans, observers, and talent themselves as to who deserves to be inducted, considering there are plenty of greats that have been left out.
It’s more than just picking names out of a hat, but WWE’s HOF isn’t as prestigious for some as opposed to others. The criteria seems biased, especially when you consider WWE legends like Vader and Rick Rude who had more success away from WWE, despite performing well under Vince McMahon. That is where politics come into play. You’d think performing for a rival company like TNA would seal one’s fate, yet as long as a wrestling figure dissociates themselves with rivals, it seems like fair game.
To make matters worse, there isn’t a Hall of Fame - it’s a simple ceremony every year that takes place the night before WrestleMania. There’s no building, monument, or hall whatsoever. When it comes to wrestlers, not all worthy candidates have found a place in WWE’s prestigious row, and it’s taken time for all-time greats like “Macho” Man Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, and Bruno Sammartino to be inducted each for various different reasons. Some wrestlers and celebrity figures already placed in the HOF don’t exactly belong there ahead of others, but maybe there’s a political agenda to be followed. That may be the reason superstars like Owen Hart, Lou Thesz, the British Bulldogs, and Demolition have yet to be included.
Some cases are different than others. WWE, on the other hand, doesn’t bend when it comes to conflict, which means plenty of noteworthy and accomplished pro-wrestling stars will be omitted until problems are resolved. Even then, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a place in the HOF reserved for them. Some wrestlers, unfortunately, may never be included, and that’s the issue some folks have when it comes to the HOF’s legitimacy.
Here are 15 wrestling stars that may never be inducted in WWE’s HOF:
15 Honky Tonk Man
Still a presence in the wrestling world and on the independent scene, Honky Tonk Man held the Intercontinental title longer than anyone else in WWE, clocking in at 454 days.
He isn’t shy to come clean about his past, nor does he pull any punches when talking about his peers in a derogatory manner. There are countless clips of Honky Tonk Man shooting on several wrestlers that aren’t suitable for work and you can even tell he’s feeling a bit faded in some of them.
There may be something else there, though, considering not even Jim Ross knows why he’s not yet in the HOF, but Honky Tonk Man did turn down an offer before, not to mention trashing the entire ceremony.
14 Alberto Del Rio
Looking back on Alberto Del Rio’s WWE career, he accomplished more than he’s been given credit for. Since appearing on WWE television in 2010, the current AAA and Lucha Underground competitor held four world titles and won the largest Royal Rumble match ever in 2011 (the one with 40 wrestlers). He also successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, which he won in 2011.
However, Del Rio’s WWE tenure came to an abrupt end when he attacked a social media manager after being the subject of a racist joke. You’ve got to credit Del Rio - who now wrestles under Alberto El Patron - for sticking up for himself and his heritage, even though it ultimately cost him his job. WWE may not be so kind in extending a hand to Del Rio and should the time ever come, the latter may not even reach out for it.
13 Earl Hebner
Wrestling’s most well known referee may be deserving of a spot in the HOF, but after getting caught for selling illegal WWE merchandise in 2005 (which resulted in his brother, Dave, being fired as well), he’s pretty much exiled from the promotion.
Hebner, who is the next inductee in TNA’s HOF, was at the center of the Montreal Screwjob in 1997 and truly became an important figure inside the squared circle after an episode of the Main Event, where he and his twin brother came to blows in the middle of a championship bout between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant.
Raven’s gimmick may go down as the most underrated in history, considering he came up with it himself while reflecting on his life and his accomplishments in pro-wrestling.
Like many other wrestling figures on the list, Raven doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind and he doesn’t even consider WWE to be wrestling anymore. He may have been one of ECW’s greatest attractions and the Hardcore champion with the most reigns (27), yet his accomplishments seem to be swept under the rug.
11 Lex Luger
Lex Luger has just been announced as a playable character in WWE 2K16, which often leads to HOF inductions or WWE debuts.
Luger failed as a top guy in WWE during the early-1990s, which wasn’t entirely his fault. He was popular in Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, but never the go-to-guy. You could argue Luger was heavily overrated, yet that doesn’t stop one from joining the ranks. You’d think Vince McMahon would induct Luger for jumping ship to Nitro without telling him, since he inducted Alundra Blayze earlier this year.
Maybe his involvement in Miss Elizabeth’s death and the domestic violence charges still weigh heavily, but it’s probably due to the fact that Luger never really carried a company on his own (Plus, it’s not like WWE shies away from inducting those with a history of domestic violence).
10 Jeff Jarrett
Say what you will about Jeff Jarrett, but the Tennessee resident had a strong career that should have led him to the HOF. He’s held over a whopping 70 championships in the industry, wrestling for major promotions such as WWE, WCW, AAA and NJPW.
But considering he extorted McMahon in late 1999, it’s safe to say the Chairman still hates his guts. He literally publicly fired him on television on the last episode of Nitro. Either way, Jarrett is busy with Global Force Wrestling and TNA, which means WWE wouldn’t want to affiliate themselves with rival competitors.
Sable was the Attitude Era’s premiere Diva before Trish Stratus came along. The former Playboy star was one of the most popular women to have ever graced a wrestling ring, yet it’s unclear if the tumultuous relationship between her and WWE has gotten better over the years.
Sable, who is currently married to Brock Lesnar, filed a $110 million dollar lawsuit against WWE when she left in 1999, citing sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions. The WWE owner countered the lawsuit, claiming they owned rights to the Sable name, and a settlement was reached before she made her return in 2004.
On the other hand, she wasn’t always easy to work with, considering many of her peers thought she was a real-life Diva. It also seems like the last thing she wants to be involved with is wrestling, even though her husband is excelling at his job.
8 Eric Bischoff
The mastermind of WCW and the Monday Night War should already be in the HOF, yet for some reason, Eric Bischoff has been omitted all these years.
There’s no question WWE has booked itself to prevail over WCW (Triple H vs. Sting at WrestleMania 31) and it’s not like WWE loves to credit WCW for revolutionizing the business.
Bischoff was at the center of it all, using Ted Turner’s limitless bank account to start a war against WWE, and one he almost conquered had he been a little smarter. Bischoff was also a popular Raw General Manager, so it’s not like his talents were exclusive to WCW. He was a little hard to work with, though, and some still aren’t fond of him, citing his major ego.
7 AJ Lee
AJ Lee may be snubbed her whole life because she’s CM Punk’s wife.
Maybe that’s not being too kind to the retired wrestler, but Lee didn’t exactly back down from authority figures, and while she was with WWE, she didn’t exactly roll over and die for the company. She took lengthy breaks when she needed to, clashed with fellow workers, and it seemed as if Lee was disinterested in WWE during the later stages of her career.
And don’t forget Lee was truly the inspiration behind the “Give Divas A Chance” movement by publicly calling out her boss Stephanie McMahon on Twitter after she thought the Billion Dollar Princess was being hypocritical about encouraging women to “use their voice.”
Let’s see if Nikki Bella becomes the longest reigning Divas champion in a few days, a record Lee holds at the time of this publication.
6 Kurt Angle
There’s nobody more deserving of a HOF induction on this list than Kurt Angle.
The WWE Grand Slam champion held every major singles title in WWE, as well as the WCW and United States championships. He’s even won tag team gold and King of the Ring honors in 2000.
The Olympian’s accolades speak for themselves, having been one of the best wrestlers WWE ever signed. But Angle’s WWE departure wasn’t an amicable one, clashing with an irate Vince McMahon over being granted an early release.
It’s unclear whether his past substance abuse issues have anything to do with a potential inclusion or if he’s on good terms with WWE. Not long ago, there were rummages concerning Angle’s WWE return, and rumours were that Triple H was fond of bringing back the TNA star, while Vince McMahon declined his services (Angle has reiterated it’s where he wants to finish his career). Angle has since devoted his time to TNA, even though he’s apparently going to be stepping away from wrestling for a little while.
5 Scott Steiner
Say what you will about Steiner’s WWE stint in 2002 to 2004, and most would agree that he looked absolutely terrible, but it’s not like he was never a part of the Steiner Brothers tag team that won the WCW, WWE and IWGP tag titles, or never was the polarizing figure that conquered WCW in the company’s final years.
Contrary to popular belief, Steiner was an exceptional wrestler who would perform a freakin’ Frankensteiner every night before he was too big to even bend down. He’s had some of the best tag team matches in wrestling history alongside his brother, Rick, which says something about the two being included as a team.
But Steiner really isn’t the PG figure WWE is looking for, based on his recent interviews and Twitter handle. That pretty much sums up why Steiner hasn’t been included, factored in with his strange behavior. He isn’t one to give a crap, either.
4 Jim Cornette
Bobby Heenan is undoubtedly the greatest manager of all time, but when you think of the next best heel manager, which name pops into your head first?
Maybe it’s Paul Heyman or Jimmy Hart. Some might say J.J. Dillon or Paul Bearer. Hey, what about that guy with the tennis racket?
Jim Cornette didn’t just accompany bad guys to the ring and be their mouthpiece; the Southerner was a promoter, booker, and creative writer who had a mind for the business unlike any other. Working for Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW, WWE, TNA and ROH, not to mention owning Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Cornette’s place in the HOF should already be reserved for 2016.
If there’s one thing to take away from Cornette, it’s that he’s brutally honest and he doesn’t really care about ramifications when it comes to his words. If you watch his shoot interviews, he goes on and on about WWE’s executive producer, Kevin Dunn, whom he despises with a passion. Cornette isn’t afraid to speak negatively about WWE, because at this point he’s not exactly affiliated with any promotion and he’s not shy to call it like he sees it.
If you’ve been following pro-wrestling news lately, you’ll know WWE has quite a turbulent relationship with Chyna.
The former D-Generation X member surely deserves a place in the HOF as arguably the greatest female competitor in wrestling history. She paved the way for numerous women in the business, but considering Chyna’s involvement in the adult entertainment industry and troubles with addiction, WWE isn’t going to honor her any time soon.
Stemming from a conversation on the Stone Cold Podcast, Triple H pretty much confirmed her being an adult film actress had sealed her fate. She’s been in the news lately because of the Roddy Piper funeral confrontation and a video of her manager’s phone call with WWE, which isn’t increasing her chances. It doesn’t look like WWE wants any communication of any kind with the Ninth Wonder of the World.
2 CM Punk
There’s no doubt CM Punk deserves to be in the HOF and WWE’s feelings should be mutual. But would the wrestler-turned-mixed martial artist even accept a invitation from the brass?
This one is peculiar because apart from a handful of candidates on the list (including Punk’s wife), most would presumably welcome an invitation with open arms. The former ROH star, though, may be too disgruntled with his former profession to even consider one.
The longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era is washing his hands clean from everything pro-wrestling related, even going so far to call the business “that phony world.” It’s not like Punk left on good terms, or at least terms he was comfortable with. He wasn’t buying what WWE was selling him, and long story short, Punk was fed up of broken promises and WWE’s reluctance to make him a top guy long-term.
There’s no point keeping your fingers crossed if you’ve listened to him speak on the Art of Wrestling podcast, and it’s safe to say we won’t see Punk affiliated with WWE for the foreseeable future due to his UFC plans.
1 Chris Benoit
When it comes to theses cases, maybe it’s best to say “never say never.” You could argue Savage or Warrior were never going into the HOF, or even the likes of Superstar Billy Graham and Verne Gagne, who both hated Vinnie Mac.
As for Chris Benoit, it’s safe to say “never say never.” The Canadian will never be inducted in the HOF.
WWE can’t put someone who murdered their wife and child in a group of elite wrestling stars. Surely, Benoit had unforgettable matches in WWE, WCW, and ECW, and maybe the promotion shouldn’t completely wipe away his existence. Maybe WWE should still honor him as the 2004 Royal Rumble winner, if anything.
But as for inducting Benoit in the HOF, it just isn’t right.