The most popular time to be a wrestling fan out of the year, to the diehard WWE audience, WrestleMania season is as much a time for celebrating the past as it is a culmination of present storylines. This is especially true two nights prior to the Showcase of Immortals, when WWE takes it’s annual trip to the Hall of Fame and inducts anywhere from 5 to 20 new members.
Originally created in 1993 to honor the recently deceased André the Giant, it took a few years for the Hall of Fame to go from a loving tribute to a select few athletes into an honor any former superstars could potentially receive. Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame lost an incredible amount of prestige along the way, when it became clear literally any retired wrestlers had a chance of getting inducted.
While the vast majority of wrestlers in the WWE Hall of Fame completely deserve to be there, the reality is that a good portion of them didn’t contribute anything of note to the wrestling industry. Ultimately, it’s Vince McMahon’s decision alone that decides who should or shouldn’t get inducted, and based on that criteria, everyone in the Hall of Fame can rest easy that they’ll never get removed. However, if the company wants people to take the idea seriously, they should keep reading for 12 wrestlers who don’t deserve to be in the WWE Hall of Fame, and 9 that desperately need to take their spots.
21 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Hillbilly Jim
At this point, it feels like a bizarrely undeserving talent gets inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame every year, and in 2018, that slot went to Hillbilly Jim. No matter how funny Vince McMahon thought it was for a man in overalls to do a hoe down prior to a wrestling match, an athlete needs a little bit more than that to be a well-rounded performer. Unable to grappler in the traditional sense and without any talent on the microphone, Jim never won a single title in his long association with WWE. Sure, his gimmick was memorable enough that fans of the Hulkamania era still remember him, but they don’t remember him winning matches or having any good feuds, because he never did those things. All Jim has with WWE is longevity, sticking around long enough to transition into managing and mild duties behind the scenes, not that he was good at either of those things.
20 NEEDS INDUCTION: Sable
Say what one might about Sable’s overall passion for pro wrestling, but there’s no denying she was amongst the most sports entertainers of the Attitude Era. This was a bit surprising, considering Sable was actually never trained to be a wrestler, simply entering the business to spend more time with her husband Marc Mero. Immediately after she started appearing with Mero on screen, she eclipsed him in popularity, and her fame kept growing to a point where WWE revived the Women’s Championship basically just to give it to her. On the downside, the relationship between WWE and Sable quickly fell apart, leading to a massive sexual harassment lawsuit after she left the company. Things were very quickly patched up after the case was settled, and the only step left for Vince McMahon to prove bygones are truly bygones is to induct Sable into the Hall of Fame for putting female wrestling back in the spotlight.
19 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Rikishi
Always bucking to nepotism over actual respect for wrestling talents, by 2015, it wasn’t particularly surprising a performer like Rikishi would get inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. Sure, he wasn’t that good of a wrestler, but he did become extremely popular for a few short months, and he has a whole lot of relatives in the business, which was really all that mattered in the long run. In fairness, Rikishi’s career also lasted a little bit longer than usual for a person his size, bringing him multiple reigns as World Tag Team Champion and one brief and forgettable run with the Intercontinental Championship. However, his attempt at becoming a true main event star barely lasted three months, with Rikishi completely blowing his one chance in the spotlight. With far more failures than successes in his overall career, it’s simply hard to justify Rikishi as a Hall of Famer.
18 NEEDS INDUCTION: Eric Bischoff
As the one man who came closer than any other to taking Vince McMahon down, it’ll probably be a long time before Eric Bischoff gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Of course, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t deserve the honor for that exact same reason. Although Ted Turner was technically the owner of WCW, it was primarily Bischoff who ran the show during the Monday Night Wars. His new innovations in producing Nitro were what made WCW so popular, and WWE had to match many of Bischoff’s ideas in order to stay relevant. The same was true of Bischoff’s brilliant vision as a writer, with WWE still ripping off some of his ideas to this day. Nonetheless, while McMahon ultimately forgave Bischoff to the extent he could offer him a job, his pride is still too strong to reward his real life arch rival all that much.
17 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: The Godfather
With his greatest claim to fame getting fans to cheer in anticipation as he welcomed them on board the “Ho Train,” the most amazing thing about The Godfather’s Hall of Fame induction is that it happened in the PG era. A few decades earlier, during the Attitude Era, it made perfect sense his gimmick would make him a massive star. Unlike some other undeserving Hall of Famers, Godfather at least had the charisma and microphone presence to make this work, elevating him from a jokey character to the level of being a one time Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion. For all these positives, though, the fact remains the dude was merely a wrestling pimp. Some might try arguing he was also once a wrestling Voodoo priest and whatever Kama Mustafa was, but neither of these exactly sound like Hall of Fame caliber ideas, either.
16 NEEDS INDUCTION: Demolition
Given the way Vince McMahon has treated tag team wrestling throughout the years, it’s not all that surprising he would completely ignore one of the most dominant duos in his company’s history, Demolition. Despite being a blatant rip-off of The Road Warriors, the pair of Ax and Smash soon established themselves as fantastic talents in their own right, and achieved something greater than Hawk or Animal ever did by reigning as WWE Tag Team Champions for nearly 500 days. Both members of Demolition were also noteworthy stars for previous work in their own right, Ax as Masked Superstar and Smash as Krusher Kruschev in NWA. While neither of these gigs would be enough for Hall of Fame induction on their own, they would nicely compliment Ax and Smash’s success as a team in justifying their entry. Of course, having been amongst the few groups to topple André the Giant, it’s not like they needed anything more than the fact they were Demolition.
15 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: The Bushwhackers
Based on their WWE careers alone, Butch and Luke, the Bushwhackers, are arguably the least deserving entrants in the entire Hall of Fame. While the two worked for the company for over eight years and became relatively popular doing so, there’s no getting around the fact they were complete comedy characters in every sense of the phrase. The Bushwhackers rarely even challenged for the Tag Team Championships, content with simply licking one another’s heads, eating sardines, and “whacking” their arms around like goofballs. Surprisingly, before any of this could happen, the two were actually innovators of hardcore as The Sheepherders, wrestling violently bloody brawls throughout various NWA territories. However, WWE doesn’t even acknowledge any of this happened, so it can’t really be considered in relation to why their in the Hall of Fame. They got there purely through shedding their positive qualities for stupid jokes, and therefore they obviously don’t belong.
14 NEEDS INDUCTION: Owen Hart
Of all the names this list is going to suggest should be in the Hall of Fame, it must be acknowledge that Owen Hart is least likely to actually ever earn induction. In fairness to WWE, in this case, it isn’t Vince McMahon’s fault. The unlikely culprit blocking Owen’s induction is actually his widow, Martha Hart, who is understandably still bitter with WWE after all these years for indirectly causing her husband’s death. While it’s within Martha’s right to wish WWE should never promote Owen again in any way, it’s truly a shame for his fans, as Bret Hart’s younger brother was just as good if not better at grappling than the Hitman. Owen proved this by wrestling countless incredible matches throughout his career, and winning the Intercontinental, Tag Team, and European Championships for his efforts. There were also those two Slammy Awards, and quite frankly, his dedication to making fans remember them was Hall of Fame worthy in and of itself.
13 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Jacqueline
In many cases, a wrestler can be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame for one single moment of greatness. Indeed, with Jacqueline, one could easily argue the mere fact she was the first black WWE Women’s Champion was a major enough achievement that her honor was entirely deserved. On the other hand, Jacqueline never once wrestled a good match in her entire two decade career, and her promos tended to either confuse the audience or put them to sleep. The same logic is what destroyed her reign as the only woman to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in WWE, as all her victory really did was turn the belt into a stupid joke. Had a different, more talented woman managed to pull off these landmark achievements, she’d surely deserve induction. Unfortunately, Jacqueline was just so bad she could've won the World Championship and most critics would still think she didn’t belong in any Hall of Fame.
12 NEEDS INDUCTION: Miss Elizabeth
A woman standing by her man never seemed so elegant as when Miss Elizabeth was proudly supporting “Macho Man” Randy Savage through WWE and WCW. Compared to modern female wrestlers, it could be said Elizabeth didn’t actually do all that much, but that didn’t stop her from being immensely influential simply by appearing in main event angles. No other female before her had done so, and it would be years before another woman played anywhere near as an integral role as Elizabeth did when the Mega Powers exploded. Few ladies also got to hold the WWE Championship over their shoulders at the end of a WrestleMania, something Elizabeth achieved when Savage won the belt at the fourth annual event. Elizabeth additionally earns credit for being a solid manager who immensely boosted Savage’s character every step of the way, all adding up to a career everyone except Vince McMahon seems to agree is Hall of Fame worthy.
11 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Beth Phoenix
Ten or twenty years down the line, there may be a time when Beth Phoenix could stand next to her husband Edge in the WWE Hall of Fame. That said, in an era when less than 10% of the honorary body is female, it doesn’t feel right for her to be one of those lucky few. Phoenix is notable as the youngest living Hall of Famer to earn induction, getting the nod less than five years after her career in the ring ended. Granted, her work was always solid, leading to three WWE Women’s Championships and one Diva’s Championships, yet the ink was still dry on her place in the record book when she got the Hall of Fame induction. Considering how many genuinely trailblazing women still haven’t been honored, it really doesn’t make sense that a merely competent performer of the modern era has.
10 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Ivan Putski
An entrant to the WWE Hall of Fame in only the institution’s third year, it’s really hard to understand what Ivan Putski did to deserve the honor. Aside from the fact Putski reigned as WWE Tag Team Champion with Tito Santana for a six months in the late ‘70s, he really didn’t accomplish anything of note in the business. Putski was also part of regular pose downs with fellow muscle men like Jesse Ventura and WWE Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham, but these programs largely bored everyone in the crowd who wasn’t named Vince McMahon. Considering neither of the men he feuded had even been inducted yet, it really doesn’t make sense why Putski was one of the first to earn the honor. The only logical explanation for Putski getting inducted is that his son Scott had signed with WWE right before it happened. With that in mind, the fact Scott’s career ultimately failed makes it clear the whole thing was pointless.
9 NEEDS INDUCTION: Davey Boy Smith
Believe it or not, as of 2018, there are still no inductees to the WWE Hall of Fame hailing from the United Kingdom. It’s not like Jolly Old England has lacked great pro wrestlers, as the country actually boasts an entire sports entertainment scene all it’s own, separate from the WWE Universe. Granted, it’s not odds aren’t high for British icons like Billy Robinson or Big Daddy getting honored any time soon, but as perhaps the most successful English wrestler in America, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith seriously needs induction already. Even if he weren’t the standout star of his country, Smith’s record speaks for itself, as he won virtually every championship in WWE except for the World title, which he also competed for on many occasions. Smith remained a top name in WWE or WCW for almost a full decade, and for this to still be ignored today just doesn’t make sense anymore.
8 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: James Dudley
From a historic standpoint, James Dudley is another name who could definitely deserve induction into some Hall of Fame on his merits, but that just wasn’t the case in WWE. Retrospectively, the company has attempted to frame his induction as an honor related to Dudley’s status as the first African American to promote a major wrestling arena in the United States. At the time, though, most critics believed he was only honored for having been Vince McMahon, Sr.’s limousine driver and close confidant throughout most of his life. The whole reason Dudley even earned the aforementioned honor of running an arena is that McMahon gave it to him as a reward for years of dedicated service. In essence, Dudley became a Hall of Famer because “Employee of the Month” wasn’t doing him justice. When it comes to contributing to actual wrestling, though, he really didn’t do anything.
7 NEEDS INDUCTION: Jim Cornette
An outspoken beacon of traditionalism in an ever-changing medium, critics of James E. Cornette argue he’s stuck in the past. The catch is that in Cornette’s mind, he’s merely harkening back to an era when he was arguably one of the most influential minds in the wrestling business. Before that could happen, Cornette was already well known as an incredible manager, leading multiple variations of the Midnight Express to numerous NWA Tag Team Championships. Cornette only grew from there, later co-managing Yokozuna to the WWE Championship to Mr. Fuji, all the while running his own promotion, Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Cornette’s work in SMW convinced Vince McMahon to hire him as a writer, where creative tendencies truly began to shine. Being an expert manager, promoter, or writer should all more than qualify someone for the Hall of Fame, and considering he’s all three, Cornette clearly should have been inducted some time ago.
6 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: “High Chief” Peter Maivia
Theoretically speaking, were the WWE Hall of Fame a genuine compendium of all wrestling history, there’s no reason “High Chief” Peter Maivia shouldn’t be considered for induction. In addition to being the grandfather of a major future superstar, Maivia was once a respected wrestler in his own right, one of the biggest stars in his native Samoa, and also a top name in Australia and New Zealand. As Maivia’s career wound down, he also spent a few years in WWE, where he was a rival to World Champions "Superstar" Billy Graham and Bob Backlund. All that said, this really just amounts to an average career for the era, and not one deserving of immediate, early recognition as an all time great. Quite frankly, the only reason Peter Maivia was inducted to the Hall of Fame is that he’s The Rock’s grandfather, and that single accomplishment just isn’t enough to justify his induction.
5 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Johnny Rodz
Having the same simple job for a remarkably long time doesn’t necessarily mean a person is any good at it. Take for example Johnny Rodz, who wrestled for WWE as a jobber to the stars from the ‘60s up to the mid ‘80s. Throughout all this time, Rodz never once won a single championship, let alone came close to competing for them. Later on in life, Rodz did contribute to the business in his own way as a trainer, guiding future stars like Tazz, Tommy Dreamer, and The Dudley Boyz. While some of his students may actually deserve Hall of Fame induction, Rodz still doesn’t, and he especially didn’t back before any of them became stars, which was the case when he was honored. As a perennial jobber with no memorable moments to speak of, there’s really no explanation at all for why Vince McMahon decided to make him one of the first wrestlers in his Hall of Fame.
4 NEEDS INDUCTION: Ivan Koloff
Looking at the tenuous entries on the other half of this list, the mere fact Ivan Koloff was the third ever WWE Champion alone should be more than enough to qualify him for the Hall of Fame. That Koloff happened to take down the seven year reign of Bruno Sammartino when he won that title only further cements his case. On the downside, Koloff’s reign was remarkably short, only lasting twenty-one short days before being defeated by Pedro Morales. This doesn’t take much away from his career, though, as Koloff remained one of the top heels in WWE or the NWA for almost two decades after losing the gold. In addition to repeatedly attempting to regain his belt against Morales, Bob Backlund, “Superstar” Billy Graham, and Sammartino, Koloff found great success with a variety of different partners, winning the NWA Tag Team Championships five times. Both phases of his career are Hall of Fame worthy on their own, and put together, it makes no sense WWE continues to snub him.
3 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: The Fabulous Moolah
Before the era of “Me Too” and other social media movements focusing on sexual harassment, WWE had largely whitewashed The Fabulous Moolah’s checkered past to an extent she genuinely looked like a Hall of Famer. The way Vince McMahon told it, Moolah reigned fearlessly as WWE Women’s Champion for 27 years, standing above all other females in the industry as the peak of her sport. In reality, she was a ruthless businesswoman who refused to let any of her students become more famous than she was, let alone make an honest living. The worst rumors suggest Moolah also may have abused them in a much more serious way, but even focusing on Moolah’s wrestling practices alone, she was anything but legendary. On top of it all, she was absolutely terrible in the ring, explaining why no one took women’s wrestling seriously those 27 long years she was on top.
2 NEEDS INDUCTION: Chyna
Especially in an era of the women’s wrestling revolution, WWE has absolutely no excuse for continuing to deny Chyna entry to the Hall of Fame. Immediately upon arrival in the Attitude Era, the Ninth Wonder of the World was the most destructive female star wrestling had ever seen, standing toe to toe with men without batting an eye. In less than three years, she became the first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship, and that was after she had already made history as the first woman to challenge for the WWE World Championship and compete in the Royal Rumble. While her career fizzled out fairly quickly, no other female has quite achieved these heights, and the way things are going, it’s possible WWE will never allow a woman to do so again. Unfortunately, Chyna’s real life was less legendary, stained by a tumultuous relationship with Triple H and questionable second career, which is what WWE uses to justify ignoring her.
1 DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Koko B. Ware
Although Koko B. Ware wasn’t the first undeserving entrant into the WWE Hall of Fame, it was his induction that made people start noticing just how tenuous the qualifications for entry were becoming. Despite always standing out for his bright hair, colorful appearance, and always present friendly bird Frankie, Ware never rose above the level of a glorified midcarder. For the most part, he was just a jobber, falling victim to everyone from Randy Savage to Yokozuna. Even against these legends, Ware’s matches were dull and forgettable, showing just how little he could contribute to the sport when not showing off his bird. Ware never won a single championship in WWE, nor did anyone ever pine for the day he would challenge for one, as there was simply nothing special about him as an athlete. For almost everyone on the list, there’s some behind the scenes explanation for how they wound up in the Hall of Fame anyway, but for Ware, it’s a total mystery.