The WWE Hall of Fame is a source of some debate in wrestling. Many say it’s somewhat of a joke, honoring folks more off their fame than any actual in-ring success and that the Wrestling Observer’s Hall is far more important. Those in the HOF, however, contend it really is a great honor that they enjoy. That includes a few who had slammed it in the past but turned their feelings around once they were invited to join. WWE has been credited with honoring wrestlers whose actual work with the company was limited but had much better legacies with other promotions. Given that WWE has so much past wrestling archives under their power, they have a larger responsibility to present history in a good way. They do their best as every year has a few stars brought into the HOF that most agree deserve it.
But a lot of others don’t. We’re not mentioning the “celebrity” wing as that’s a whole other issue. Instead, it’s obvious a lot of actual wrestlers in the HOF just don’t merit inclusion by any means. Some are just off some minor fame, others a favor to families while others are just confusing. They weren’t major stars even in their own time, a few with no titles whatsoever and thus putting them in the Hall just makes no sense. It’s a reason it’s harder for fans to take WWE’s Hall seriously given how so many deserving guys are snubbed while lesser workers are in there. Here are 10 notable legends who should be in the HOF and 10 members who don’t deserve their place to show how mixed the HOF standards can be.
20 Belong: The Steiner Brothers
Here’s an obvious reason why two guys aren’t in the HOF. Scott Steiner has made it clear he hates the whole thing and refuses to let them be inducted. It’s a shame his relationship with the company is blocking it as the Steiners both deserve inclusion.
Younger fans don’t realize how incredibly gifted in the ring Scott was, pulling off moves no one had ever seen before.
He and brother Rick were an incredible team, holding the WCW, U.S. and WWE tag team titles several times amid classic feuds with the top teams of the time. That’s not to mention the singles success for both men, especially Scott as a multi-time WCW champion. Given that Scott is on bad terms with WWE, the company is likewise wary but in terms of legacy, the Steiners really do deserve it.
19 Doesn't Belong: Jacqueline
Her status as the first black WWE Women’s champion seems to be the main reason Jacqueline is in the HOF. That was a good moment and worthy of some attention. Sadly, it ignores how Jacqueline was known as a mediocre worker whose promos were often very poor. She exemplified the period when female wrestlers in WWE were more about looks than actual in-ring talent.
That’s not to mention stuff like the Pretty Mean Sisters, very bad costume matches and even a reign as Cruiserweight champion which made the belt more of a joke. It looked like WWE just wanted to honor some workers from the past in some way but Jacqueline’s accolades didn’t exactly merit her being in that spot.
18 Belongs: William Regal
The fact he still works with WWE as NXT Commissioner might be putting this off. But William Regal does deserve merit thanks to his absolutely great ring work. He broke out huge in 1990s WCW, a multiple TV champion and terrific as a heel worker. His WWE stints included European, IC and multiple tag team champion and great promo work.
Regal is also well-regarded as a trainer and his work in NXT has been key to helping a lot of younger guys get over. He would be a worthy member of the Hall and a great way for WWE to honor a long-time loyal worker and behind the scenes face.
17 Doesn't Belong: Nikolai Volkoff
While he was a notable star in his time, Nikolai was hardly a truly stellar athlete. He could be tough but often unmotivated and wasn’t a good singles worker.
He broke out with the gimmick of always singing the Soviet national anthem for easy heat.
He and The Iron Sheik worked well together, including winning the tag titles but Volkoff was lost when Sheik was fired in 1987.
A face turn didn’t get him over nor his terrible time with Ted DiBiase’s Corporation. While Volkoff was a good guy behind the scenes, his overall career didn’t merit HOF status and more based on his character than his real legacy.
16 Belongs: Chyna
The reasons for her long-time snubbing were obvious as Chyna and WWE didn’t get along well. That was due to her ugly exit after she found out Triple H and Stephanie were a couple. Her sad life afterward also worked against her. But Joanie Laurer was a breakout in her time, this Amazonian woman smashing up guys easily and breaking out huge. She set a new standard for what females in WWE could be, paving the way for a stronger type of “Diva.” She even won the IC title for a historic turn.
Again, her personal life works against her but her passing has reminded fans just how important Chyna was in her time and should have earned her a HOF spot.
15 Doesn't Belong: Koko B. Ware
Here’s another baffling case of a guy in the HOF. Koko B. Ware had been a good worker in Memphis and Mid-South, a great high flyer and often a heel. In 1986, he joined WWE with his wild dancing and his pet parrot Frankie. He did some decent work and had a tag team with Owen Hart but his small size meant he wasn’t getting much headway back then.
It was his dancing that got attention and he usually came up short against major stars to the point that he fell to jobber status. He had no major titles and thus putting him in the HOF is one of the odder moves WWE has made as he frankly doesn’t deserve it.
14 Belongs: Ivan Koloff
Here’s a guy you’re amazed hasn’t gotten into the Hall yet. Ivan Koloff was one of the most celebrated foreign heels ever (he was actually from Montreal) who was a genius riling up fans with his antics.
He made history by winning the WWWF title off of Bruno Sammartino, ending Bruno’s record seven-year reign.
He also had major success in the NWA and Jim Crockett as tag team champion and his promos were always a treat to watch. His passing in 2017 should be pushing him to be entered in as a terrific heel of his period and his historic win off of Bruno alone merits consideration.
13 Doesn't Belong: Johnny Rodz
The early years of the HOF were filled with guys most modern fans had never heard of and not as many huge stars. Johnny Rodz was a backstage agent for WWE at the time and a long-time trainer and his entry was mostly just to fill a spot in 1996. Frankly, he was never a huge star and while some of the guys he trained were Tazz and The Dudley Boyz, they were still unknown back when he was inducted. Really, this was just a “placeholder” bit back then, not a truly HOF worthy entry and Rodz was taking up a spot of a more worthy candidate.
12 Belong: The Midnight Express
If the Rock ‘n Roll Express are in the Hall, then their long-time rivals deserve it too. It would be a big deal as the first Express of Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey were a top unit, winning tag titles in the Mid-South area and then the NWA. When Condrey left in 1987, Stan Lane came in and many will hold this Express was even better. They held the NWA and US tag titles while having sensational feuds with every team of the time and doing great with them.
It would be great to get all the various Express members together and showcase how they were one of the best teams of their, or any, time and deserving of induction.
11 Don't Belong: The Bushwhackers
In their early years as The Sheepherders, Luke and Butch were a fantastic team. They tore up Mid-South and UWF with battles so bloody ECW fans would wince. When they joined WWE, they were transformed into The Bushwhackers, a pair of goofballs who did whacky promos and licked the heads of fans.
They were a comedy duo, never a serious tag team contender and often used for funny skits on TV rather than any real matches.
Their place in the Hall was weird given so many far more deserving tag teams are snubbed and showcases how some workers may be rewarded more for loyalty than real impact.
10 Belongs: Jim Cornette
“The Louisville Slugger” is well known for his motor mouth and insight to wrestling. Cornette is famous for slamming WWE a lot and his opinions on modern wrestling firing up various podcasts and radio interviews. Famous for his terrific promos and commentary, Cornette was one of the best managers of all time. True, The Midnight Express were his main guys but he also led Yokozuna, The Heavenly Bodies, Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith and more.
His tennis racket was a great gimmick as was his motor mouth that got fans going wonderfully. Cornette has been open to working with WWE and a place in the Hall would be great. If nothing else, the speech would be fantastic.
9 Doesn't Belong: Arnold Skaaland
Vince McMahon always seemed to have a soft spot for Arnold Skaaland. The guy had been an okay worker in his time, “The Golden Boy” was known for his skills and speed. He wasn’t a huge star really as his only title was being given one half of the tag belts and that was a brief reign. He became better known for managing Bob Backlund, something many fans today don’t even remember.
It shows how the early HOF classes in 1994 was working hard to find faces to fill it up as Skaaland’s legacy hardly adds up to “legend” and not as deserving as a lot of other managers.
8 Belong: The British Bulldogs
This is rather surprising given how Bret and Vince have made up and there’s a good family influence in WWE. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid were a fantastic pair, pulling off moves few could imagine. They broke out big in Stampede before moving to WWE and becoming a huge hit. Their feuds with the Hart Foundation and other teams were terrific to watch as they were genius working tag matches.
Davey Boy also had major success as a singles star as IC champion and his great teaming with Owen Hart.
While Dynamite is known for a harsh attitude, his actual legacy as a worker should merit inclusion as should Davey Boy to give the Bulldogs their due for younger fans.
7 Doesn't Belong: The Godfather
On the one hand, you can credit Charles Wright with overcoming so many bad gimmicks like Papa Shango and Kama. However, that doesn’t make up for how his tenure in WWE was hardly Hall of Fame worthy. The Godfather was a nutty gimmick, complete with offering his ladies to opponents for a cheap win. True, fans got behind his dancing and promos and he even had a brief stint as Intercontinental Champion. However, it was always a wild gimmick of the Attitude Era as Wright himself wasn’t exactly the best worker. This was just WWE honoring a long-loyal guy rather than on his own merits as the train shouldn’t have run all the way to the HOF.
6 Belongs: Owen Hart
According to many reports, Vince has wanted to put Owen into the Hall for years with the full backing of Bret. The issue is that Owen’s widow still has issues with Vince and the WWE and as head of Owen’s estate, she's refused a HOF entry. It's a true shame as Owen deserves it. In many ways, he was Bret’s superior in the ring, a technical genius and a high-flyer. He was also much better on the mic and a terrific heel. He had runs as IC and tag team champion in WWE and was always a terrific performer. His tragic passing remains a sad moment for fans and fans have always wanted to see him honored. One can hope things turn around as an Owen HOF induction is all that remains to solidify his legacy.
5 Doesn't Belong: Rikishi
After years of failed gimmicks like The Sultan, Solfa Fatu hit it big as Rikishi. His goofy dancing and sticking his rear end in people’s faces made him a hit with fans. He even won the Intercontinental title, although a terrible heel turn marred his progress. But a Hall of Famer?
There’s no way he belongs with so many legends, with just one brief title run as he was more of a gimmick than anything else (and one you’d never see today).
It seemed his induction was more a favor to his sons, The Usos, than his own merits as the guy’s overall legacy is less than impressive.
4 Belongs: Vader
His recent passing just highlights how Vader deserved a place in the Hall. The monster worker was a breakout in the 1990s, a huge man who could take off the ropes with ease. He was big in Japan as a star and then dominated in WCW as champion with his feared power bomb. His WWE run was poor but still well-regarded as one of the toughest guys in the business.
True, Vader’s attitude rubbed folks the wrong way a lot and may have hurt his drive but he was still a fantastic star. Many had pressed him to be inducted when it was clear he was in declining health, so he could accept his own induction. His passing should be proof WWE needs to put him in as one of the best monster workers of his or any time.
3 Doesn't Belong: Hillbilly Jim
His entry was just odd really. The idea was Jim was a “fan” in the crowd who turned down a chance to train under Roddy Piper for Hulk Hogan. He then came out to help Hogan against some heels and was boosted by that appearance.
He was known for his “Country Boy” theme song and some dancing but was never a major star.
He never contended for titles and was usually utilized to fill the spot when somebody suddenly left the company. He stopped wrestling in 1990 and had a brief stint as “Prime Time Wrestling” host in 1992 and managing The Godwinns. Hardly what one would call a Hall of Fame career in the least and taking up a spot that should go to a far more deserving worker.
2 Belong: Demolition
The reasons are complex, having a lot to do with legal issues. At first, Ax and Smash were as blatant a rip-off as possible, a lame attempt to copy The Road Warriors. However, they soon revealed themselves to be superior to the LOD in terms of actual ring work. They held the record for the longest tag team title reign ever (before The New Day broke it) and this was at a time when WWE had a fantastic tag division. They fought and beat nearly every team of that time and were at the top for years.
Originally meant to be heels, they clicked so well with fans that they dominated as well as faces. While they would add Crush before splitting, the classic duo is still loved by fans and their place in the Hall of Fame is long overdue.
1 Doesn't Belong: Cowboy Bob Orton
It’s clear some guys in HOF are in there mostly as a favor to family. Bob Armstrong is a good example. Another would be “Cowboy” Bob Orton. He was a good worker in his time, some stuff in Mid-Atlantic and ICW. He came to fame in WWE as Roddy Piper’s flunky who always had a cast on his arm. However, Orton didn’t have much success in terms of titles and his promos a bit rough. He left WWE in 1989 and only returned to aid son Randy in 2005. It seemed Orton’s induction was more to please Randy (who’s far more deserving of a HOF spot down the road) than on his merits as a star.