With WrestleMania season still a few months away, there is already talk about who should go into the WWE Hall of Fame in the Class of 2016. Once I started going through the number of wrestlers NOT in the WWE Hall of Fame, I couldn’t just narrow down the choices to only ten.
Last week I did 30 through 21, so this week I’ll begin with 20 and counting down to 11. So here is my second batch of performers who should definitely be in the WWE Hall of Fame…
20. “Adorable” Adrian Adonis
Some may scoff at the thought of “The Adorable One” going into the Hall, but stay with me here. This man is a former AWA tag team champion (the bad-ass East West Connection with Jesse “The Body” Ventura), a former WWE tag team champion (the North South Connection with Dick Murdoch), and took on one of the most polarizing gimmicks of the entire 1980’s with such gusto that he ended up hosting his own segment on WWE television called “The Flower Shop”. He was noted with having the worst gimmick in 1986 and 1987 by the readers of the Wrestling Observer, but let’s face it…any man who could admit to being gay on WWE television (though it was totally kayfabed) and wear pink ring attire, scarves, leg warmers, dresses, hats, and clownish amounts of eye shadow and rouge at a time where homophobia was running rampant is deserving of recognition. Highlights of this run included a massively hyped WrestleMania III match against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. When looking back, you can see just how different the world was in the 1980’s as there is no way Piper could have gotten away today with the blatant homophobia that displayed then (to the cheers of the crowd, no less). Adonis ran with the gimmick, though, and to this day he is well remembered for it and also his ability to move around the ring in spite of his size.
Let’s be honest…Sid Vicious/Sid Justice/Sycho Sid was never the most mobile performer in the world. But he didn’t just rely on his incredible size (6’9”, 300lbs of solid muscle) to make a name for himself. Many a muscle-head has debuted and left over the years, yet Sid found a way to stay relevant up until the time of his horrific leg injury during the main event match of the WCW Sin PPV in 2001. He is a former United States champion, WCW World heavyweight champion (twice), and WWE World heavyweight champion (twice). It’s hard to argue that a man who won four world titles during his career doesn’t deserve to be entered into the Hall of Fame. No, he wasn’t the best technical wrestler in the world. No, he wasn’t the best promo in the world. But for about a decade, Sid made sure that people knew his catchphrase…that “Sid rules the world”. He also appeared on WWE television back in 2012, so the thought is that he’s on positive ground with the company.
Ray Traylor has been described as one of the nicest men behind the scenes of almost any wrestler I’ve ever read about. I remember reading about him initially in the Apter mags when he won the UWF heavyweight title from One Man Gang (who was on his way to the World Wrestling Federation) under the gimmick of Jim Cornette’s bodyguard, “Big” Bubba Rogers. He was heavily pushed in spite of his lack of experience in the NWA, battling Dusty Rhodes on top of many cards (I remember seeing him involved in a WarGames: The Match Beyond at some point, as well). He was brought into WWE in 1988 and used his legitimate background of being a former prison guard as his gimmick. He had feuds with top babyfaces Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage before joining up with Akeem to form The Twin Towers, which was a tag team that never won gold but was constantly used on top of cards. He went to WCW where they had zero idea on how to use him (gimmicks included The Guardian Angel and as Bubba Rogers again…who became a member of the nWo). He had one more run in WWE as Big Boss Man, which lasted another five years. He had some memorable moments including feeding Al Snow’s dog to him in a meat dish (seriously), the Kennel From Hell match against Snow, and then dragging WWE champion Big Show around a cemetery while holding onto the casket of his dead father. He ended up being a one-time WWE tag team champion (with Ken Shamrock) and a 4-time WWE Hardcore champion, along with being one of the most memorable characters in WWE history.
Say what you want about his in-ring skills, but Page entered wrestling at a VERY late age and ended up on top of the mountain. He began in the business as a manager in the AWA in 1988 when he was 33 years old, creating The Diamond Exchange with wrestlers such as Curt Hennig, Col. DeBeers, Badd Company (Paul Diamond & Pat Tanaka), and Madusa Micelli. Page came to WCW in 1991 as a manager to the Fabulous Freebirds and led them to the NWA tag team titles. He began to do more training for in-ring competition and debuted as the tag team partner of The Diamond Studd (aka Scott Hall). He created The Diamond Mine and added Scotty Flamingo (aka Raven) and Vinnie Vegas (aka Kevin Nash) to his stable. After getting injured, he returned to WCW as a singles wrestler in 1994 with his wife, The Diamond Doll (aka Kimberly Page). He continued to work his ass off and ended up becoming WCW Television Champion in 1995. While some people claim his friendship with Eric Bischoff helped him become successful, there is no denying that (a) he improved every single time he entered the ring and (b) he got over because people saw the hard work he was putting into everything he did. He ended up being WCW tag team champion (four times), WCW United States champion (twice), and WCW World heavyweight champion (three times). He was part of a WCW faction with good friends Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow called The Jersey Triad. Once WCW was purchase by WWE, he went on to win the WWE European champion and won the WWE tag team titles with his good friend Kanyon in 2001. You cannot deny the success that Page had and to do it at such a late age is even more impressive.
It’s one of those cases where, to the best of my knowledge, the company isn’t really a big fan of the talent. Sure, the Steiner Brothers were two-time WWE tag team champions and Scott Steiner had his own singles run in WWE from 2002-2004, but they simply have not made many friends in the years since then. Scott Steiner, in particular, has burned more bridges behind the scenes than just about any other wrestler of the modern era. And Rick Steiner? While he hasn’t burned as many bridges, he hasn’t been exactly “glowing” with his talk of time with the company. But the fact of the matter is that they WERE two-time WWE tag team champions together, they were WCW United States tag team champions, WCW World tag team champions (SIX times!!), IWGP tag team champions (twice), and they were two-time Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year. Add to that the fact that Rick was NWA/WCW Television champion (three times) and WCW United States champion, and that Scott was a TNA tag team champion, WCW Television champion (twice), WCW United States champion (twice), WWC heavyweight champion, and WCW World heavyweight champion. It’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve a spot in the Hall.
To me, Rick Martel is one of the most under-appreciated stars in wrestling history. After wrestling around the world to learn his craft from his debut in 1972 through 1980, he went to WWE and won the tag team titles with Tony Garea on two separate occasions. He left in 1982 and joined the AWA, where he won the AWA World heavyweight championship (one of three “world” titles that were recognized in North America at the time, along with the WWE title and the NWA title). He held onto that title for almost 19 months (595 days!!), wrestling the likes of Ric Flair and Nick Bockwinkel during this record title reign. That in itself would be impressive enough, but he went back to WWE and formed the Can-Am Connection with Tom Zenk. Once Zenk left the company, Martel formed Strike Force with Tito Santana, capturing his second WWE tag team title by defeating The Hart Foundation. In his most memorable role, Martel turned heel on Santana and became Rick “The Model” Martel. This gimmick was super-over at the time and helped reboot his career, as he feuded with top babyfaces such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Tatanka, and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels before leaving in 1994 to pursue a career in real estate. Finally, he returned to wrestling in 1997 by coming to WCW and beating Booker T for the WCW Television championship. After such a storied career, why he isn’t already in the Hall of Fame is baffling to me.
As you are probably aware, Christian’s name is generally associated with his tag team partner, Edge. Most people see Edge as the more successful of the two individuals, but it’s quite easy to see that if you look at Christian’s resume on its own, you’ll see why he deserves to go into the Hall.
Let’s sit back and simply list his accomplishments:
- Two-time NWA World heavyweight champion (in TNA)
- ECW champion (twice)
- WWE Intercontinental champion (four times)
- WWE European champion
- WWE Hardcore champion
- WWE Light Heavyweight champion
- WWE tag team champion (NINE times)
- WWE World Heavyweight champion (twice).
Really…what else needs to be said?
Lex Luger is an individual that is probably not well-liked within WWE Management, but at some point his contributions to professional wrestling will need to be recognized. His drug use, multiple arrests, and involvement with “Miss Elizabeth” (aka Elizabeth Hulette) have gone to help ostracize him from the majority of the wrestling business. When you try to remove those blemishes from his record, the professional wrestling industry sees a Hall of Fame performer. Luger started his career in Florida after being trained by Hiro Matsuda (i.e. the man who trained Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff). To say that he was rushed into the spotlight would be an understatement, as he defeated legendary performer Wahoo McDaniel for the Southern Heavyweight Championship about two months after his in-ring debut. He was then rushed to being a member of the Four Horsemen in 1987, but at least he was able to learn from the best in the business during this time. In terms of wrestling legacy, Luger is a former Royal Rumble winner, a WCW Television champion (twice), NWA/WCW United States champion (five times), NWA/WCW World tag team champion (three times), and WCW World Heavyweight champion on two separate occasions. I am hoping that his recent years of atonement and the fact that he’s actually a downloadable character in WWE 2K15 mean that there’s hope that “The Total Package” will see the inside of the Hall at some point in the next few years.
Probably the most outspoken man in the history of professional wrestling, Honky Tonk Man has been widely considered “the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time”. As the years have gone by, though, fewer and fewer fans in the modern era believe this to be true. Having said that, HTM still stands as the top IC champ in my books. After being a journeyman for about a decade, HTM made his debut in the gimmick as a WWE babyface in 1986. Basically, the gimmick was that of an Elvis impersonator; what else needs to be said? It was silly and, quite frankly, should never have gotten over. But because he lived it, HTM became the most hated man in WWE. He won the Intercontinental title from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in 1987 and proceeded to defend it against all challengers (including Bruno Sammartino, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake) over the course of 454 days…still a WWE record. He eventually created a tag team called Rhythm & Bruise with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, but that really didn’t go too far. For no other reason than this gimmick is still remembered to this very day, HTM deserves his spot in the Hall.
This is one of those choices that will probably NEVER be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, though it’s hard to argue that it’s not deserved. This second-generation wrestler has won over 70 total championships in various promotions throughout his career. He had two memorable runs in WWE and two memorable runs in WCW before creating Total Nonstop Action in 2002. Some of his more important accolades were being the AWA Rookie of the Year in 1986, the USWA Heavyweight champion (four times), WWE European champion, WWE tag team champion, WWE Intercontinental champion (SIX times!), WCW United States champion (three times), and WCW World Heavyweight champion (four times). Between the way he left WWE to go to WCW the second time around (basically extorting the company in order to drop the Intercontinental title on his way out) and creating not one but TWO wrestling companies (TNA and Global Force Wrestling), it’s hard to imagine WWE opening up their doors to Jarrett any time soon.
But what are YOUR thoughts? I’ve still got 10 more to list next weekend but I’m curious about who YOU think should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!
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