Regardless of what you, as a fan, think of the WWE Hall of Fame, it is certainly a big deal for the company. It's also a great honor to those inducted -- even for Drew Carey, I'm sure. The induction ceremony the night before WrestleMania (or, in the case of 2017, two nights before the event) has been an annual tradition since 2004, and the inductions themselves began in 1993, after the death of Andre the Giant. What I'm saying is, the thing's kind of a big deal.
Unlike, say, the Rock and Roll, Baseball, or Insurance Halls of Fame, the WWE Hall of Fame doesn't have an actual museum. There have been talks for years about building one, possibly in Orlando near the performance center but, so far, no dice. The farthest they've come is the memorabilia that was on display at the now-defunct WWE New York restaurant (as well as those showcased during their Fan Axxess events).
But, just for grins, let's say the WWE has broken ground on a new Hall of Fame and museum, set to open by WrestleMania. Of course like any good hall, plaques honoring the inductees would be present, as well as plenty of multimedia activities. But, what about items of historical significance? Which ones should be included?
Well, we recently huddled around a bottle of Jack Daniels and a laptop playing the WWE Network and came up with a list of 20 things we'd put in the Hall of Fame. We've strayed away from ring gear for the most part, as the trunks, robes and boots of inductees are a given, though there were a couple of exceptions. Also, this is only a list of only 20, so there's going to be tons of items we missed. We have a comments section right over there, however, so go ahead and let us know what you would add that does not appear on this list.
And now, onto the list!
20 All of Kane’s Masks
Kane's mask is a little more significant than those of most other masked wrestlers, as his mask is intrinsically linked with his character. After all, it was to cover the hideous burns and scars he suffered as a child! Interestingly enough, as his character changed, so did his masks. Oh, and it also turned out that he didn't actually have scars in the first place. Which kind of makes you wonder why he went back to wearing a mask in the... you know what? I'm not even going to go there.
19 The Undertaker’s “symbol”
Speaking of Kane, his "half-brother" The Undertaker has plenty of items that would make fine additions to our hypothetical museum. His numerous caskets, his punchin' gloves (he's the best pure striker in the WWE, don'tchaknow!), or even his motorcycle. If we had to pick one, however, it would be the giant symbol that the leader of the Ministry of Darkness carried with him. You know, the one he tied Stephanie McMahon to it during his attempt to marry her, and strapped Steve Austin to it and hung it in the air (it was totally not a crucifix, you guys).
18 The ring bell from the Montreal Screwjob
"Ring the damn bell!"
With these words, Vince McMahon caused what many consider the most controversial moment in wrestling history. This real life act of heel-ishness (I guess that's a word) led to the creation of one of the great all-time on-screen heels, Mr. McMahon. And it was all kicked off by a ring bell going ding.
17 Replicas of all championship belts WWE has the rights to
16 The cattle prod used on Goldberg
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Even though they own them, WWE never hesitates to take a cheap shots at their former competition. After all, as great as they were for a while, WCW did a lot of dumb stuff (in the interest of fairness, we have to mention that everything the WWE has ever done has been incredible and not stupid at all, no sir, not at all, uh uh). One example of WCW's worst ideas was ending Bill Goldberg's World Title reign and historic winning streak with a loss to Kevin Nash... via a cattle prod/stun gun blast from Scott Hall. Which, come to think of it, wasn't even nearly half as stupid as what happened with the title afterward.
15 The Iron Sheik’s Persian meels
So, for the uninitiated, this is a Persian meel. They're big, they're heavy and they take a tough guy to lift then, much less swing them around. The Iron Sheik, however, was a big tough man. During interviews, Sheiky Baby would swing these bad boys around nearly effortlessly and challenged others to do the same.
This was part of the set-up to make the Sheik appear like a threat to then-champion Bob Backlund. After Sheik won the belt, it made it even all the more impressive when Hulk Hogan won the belt from him. If there's going to be an exhibit dedicated to the Rise of Hulkamania, these clubs have to be included.
14 The Jeep from the DX invasion of Nitro
Whenever the WWE has one of their Attitude Era nostalgia trips, they always include the moment where D-Generation X drove a jeep to the nearby arena where WCW was also holding a show. All things considered, they should bring it up because it was an awesome moment. It might seem stupid and childish now, and that's because it was, but so was pretty much 90% of the Attitude Era, so shut up. It made for great television and showed the lengths that the WWE was willing to go to get a leg up on WCW.
13 John Cena’s Vanilla Ice Halloween costume
After over a decade of being in WWE, and being the top guy in the company for most of that time, you'd be forgiven (well, not by everybody but by some people) if you thought that John Cena was immediately pushed. The truth is... well... they tried that, actually, or close to it. He debuted during an open challenge made by Kurt Angle, nearly won and even gained the respect of The Undertaker backstage. Nevertheless, fans weren't really getting into him and he was getting pretty close to heading into Damien Sandow territory ("What's Ron Gena doing in the Impact Zone?!")
Seizing his opportunity on a Halloween edition of SmackDown, John Cena dressed as 90s era Vanilla Ice and rapped his little heart out in front of Stephanie McMahon. This, in turn, led to his "Doctor Of Thuganomics" persona which in turn led to the most popular overtly "good guy" character since Hulk Hogan.
12 A collection of iconic t-shirts
Wrestling t-shirts are cool. Shut up, yes they are... well, they haven't always been. Usually, shirts were an impulse buy at live events, not unlike those big foam fingers. Early on, wrestling companies didn't really care what they looked like, as long as it had a picture of a wrestler and fans shelled out $30 or more for it. Then came the 90s, with Steve Austin's "Austin 3:16" shirt and WCW's nWo shirt (both the black & white and red & black varieties) and also some pretty cool ones with Sting on them.
11 The Shockmaster's helmet
Vince McMahon once said - and I'm probably paraphrasing here - that "nothing can go wrong" on live TV. I'm also pretty certain that he said this well before The Shockmaster's "grand" debut prior to WCW's Clash of the Champions in 1993. Because, if he had seen it before making his "nothing can go wrong" claim, I'm pretty sure the word "almost" would be put in front of that statement.
The background isn't all that important, but the gist is that Sting, Davey Boy Smith, and Dustin Rhodes were introducing their mystery partner for their match against Vader, Sid Vicious and Harlem Heat. Sting tells the world, on the set of Ric Flair's talk show, that their partner is none other than the SHOCKMASTER!
10 Andre the Giant’s ring gear from WrestleMania III
I mentioned that ring gear of current inductees won't be included in this list, save for some exceptions...this is one of them.
Fans today are used to giants. They've seen The Big Show, The Great Khali and Braun Strowman and they think they know what a wrestling "giant" is. What people tend to forget is that Andre wasn't just big - he kept getting bigger and bigger. It's part of what led to his death in 1993.
A WWE Hall of Fame museum doesn't just need Andre's singlet and boots as artifacts, it needs them to remind fans how friggin' huge this great showman and even greater human being actually was.
9 A replica Piper’s Pit set
In-ring pro wrestling "talk shows" are a dime a dozen these days. Take a current star who is even remotely good on the microphone (like, say, The Miz) and have them cut a promo with someone in a current program. Yawn. Seen it.
(Seriously though, Miz, love your show. CALL ME.)
But, in the 1980s, the late Roddy Piper's interview segment, Piper's Pit, wasn't a scripted angle. Piper and his "guest" went out there and things just happened. From Frankie Williams getting beaten up for insisting he was from Columbus, OH (he totally wasn't from Columbus, OH) to Kid Haiti getting his head shaved because he liked Mr. T, to I dunno, something with Jimmy Snuka that no one ever talks about (that doesn't involve manslaughter), no one knew what to expect on The Pit.
8 Foreign Objects
Some of the best wrestlers in the world didn't just strut to the ring with a winning smile and a funky outfit. I mean, some did but others brought various trademark objects with them. Here's just a list of some of the inanimate objects that deserve their own display in the hall.
- Guitars - The Honky Tonk Man, Jeff Jarrett, Van Hammer, and Man Mountain Rock/Max Payne all brought this classic instrument to the ring to entertain fans and beat up foes.
- Sting's baseball bat, Jim Duggan's 2x4, and Triple H's sledgehammer were used over the years to either even the odds against their enemies or get one over on them.
- Paul E. Dangerously's mobile phone, Jim Cornette's tennis racket, and Jimmy Hart's megaphone are some of the classic foreign objects used by some great managers over the years.
- Because they could also be used as a murder weapon, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake never used his hedge clippers/barber shears during a match, but they certainly gave Brother Bruti's opponents a new look after the match!
7 Lawrence Taylor’s ring gear from WrestleMania XI
Nobody is calling Bam Bam Bigelow's Wrestlemania XI match with NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor a classic. OK, nobody other than Lawrence Taylor, anyway. Really when you look at the match from a certain angle - a pro athlete willing to stand up to one of the most dangerous big men in the sport of wrestling, on his home turf, because he felt disrespected - that's some interesting storytelling.
Mr. T was involved in the main event in the first WrestleMania, but Lawrence Taylor was the first non-wrestler to headline the show in a singles match. LT did alright... well alright enough. Match quality aside, it's a historical moment and, more importantly Taylor's ring gear was ridiculous.
6 The World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL
When Vince McMahon bought the WWE from his father in the early 1980s, he had some grand visions for the company. He didn't want to just make a nationwide wrestling company - he legitimately wanted to make an entertainment empire. Well, nowadays, he's gotten pretty close, with the WWE Network and WWE Films and, you know, the WWE.
But, not long ago, Vinny Mac saw the way to pop culture dominance through the world of bodybuilding. Thus, he created the World Bodybuilding Federation. Now, to be fair, as an actual endeavor, bodybuilding is really freakin' difficult, but as an entertainment platform, it's really freakin' boring. It died a merciful death in less than a year.
The XFL, on the other hand, was Vince's attempt to grab the attention of NFL fans during that league's offseason. They had money from both their recent IPO as well as from NBC, who aired some of the games. For a multitude of reasons that could take up an article of its own, the XFL failed.
5 Eddie Guerrero’s lowrider
Regardless of how his legacy was treated following his death in 2005, it was more than evident that Eddie Gurrero meant a lot to WWE. Not only was he one of the most entertaining performers on the roster, winning the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar in 2004, but was also set to win the title back just days after he eventually died. He was, and still is, an inspiration to both WWE stars and fans.
4 The original Gobbeldy Gooker costume
Okay, so... this is one of those "WWE makes light of something they did a long time ago" entries.Which is especially ironic considering the previous entry featured the brother of the man who was actually in the giant turkey costume at Survivor Series in 1990. Thank you, Hector Guerrero!
3 Bobby Heenan’s weasel costume
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is the greatest manager in the history of professional wrestling. Period. Oh, you have a compelling argument about why he ISN'T the greatest manager in the history...WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG! He's the greatest, you're the dumbest. Moving on.
The Brain has also been called The Weasel for decades and, in two distinct parts of his career, he's actually been forced to wear a costume that made him look like a weasel. The first time was in the early 1980s in the AWA, after losing a match against Greg Gagne (the son of AWA owner Verne Gagne) and then later, in the WWE against the Ultimate Warrior.
2 Jerry Lawler’s crown
Jerry "The King" Lawler was already a wrestler-turned-pop-culture oddity well before he joined WWE. Much has been written, filmed and talked about his relationship with entertainer Andy Kaufman. So when Lawler joined WWE shortly thereafter - especially after saying some disparaging things about Vince McMahon, people were shocked.
Jerry's already in the HOF, but his mention here is somewhat important. Lawler joining WWE is, in a lot of ways, symbolic of the last of the old school territories either buying in with Vince McMahon or going out of business. Lawler showing up on Prime Time Wrestling seemed like the final blow for the territory days and he still went on the have a Hall of Fame career in the WWE, even outside of his work in Memphis.
1 The many masks of Rey Mysterio
Finally... look, even if this museum is built tomorrow, we wouldn't see this until Rey's contract is up with Lucha Underground on the El Rey Network (and, by the way, Rey Mysterio's work with Lucha Underground on the El Rey Network is friggin' amazing). But, Rey's career in both WCW and WWE is legendary- as both an athlete and a showman. Yes, he's been booked in some silly angles (the angle over who gets custody of Rey's son comes to mind), but he also put on some of the best matches of his career there.
And that's why I put this last. I'd like to think that a building like this is probably a few years away. I'd like to think that at that time he would have already signed a Legends Contract with WWE, and they'd open the museum with an amazing display of Rey's masks and outfits - spanning from his WCW days to his incredible Avatar/Dark Knight ensembles from WrestleManias past.
What would you like to see in a WWE Hall of Fame/History museum?
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