Hall of Fame

The WWE Hall of Fame is getting kind of full.  Since its reactivation in 2004, over 60 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Fame during the annual ceremonies on the eve of WrestleMania.  But as the Hall’s roster grows, the talent pool to draw from begins shrinking.  Koko B. Ware, Hall of Famer?  Really?

Despite its assumed prestige, the WWE Hall of Fame really doesn’t have much substance to it.  Sure, each inductee gets a ring (which is a hotly contested item in TNA) and a moment on stage at WrestleMania, but once it’s over, that’s it.  There is no actual physical Hall of Fame with images or memorabilia of wrestling lore.  There’s a page on WWE’s official website for the hall with profiles on the inductees, but that’s about it.

Perhaps it is for that reason that the WWE’s Hall of Fame is so disorganized.  The format is basically they announce a name on Raw or Smackdown, have them show up at the ceremony and give them a page on the website.  That’s well and good, I suppose, but there’s a format that could be used to not only better organize the setup, but also deepen the pool from which to select potential honorees.

The key is making categories for your inductions.  This was hinted at when Pete Rose was inducted back in 2004, calling it a “celebrity wing” of the Hall.  This can be expanded to 5 categories: wrestlers, tag teams/stables, promoters, supporters and families.  Let’s take a look at each one individually.

Wrestlers
This one is the most prominent and mostly self-explanatory.  If a wrestler had a serious impact on the business or were accepted by the fans (as a face or a heel) above the normal levels, then they can be inducted here.  Many candidates that would be expected to be inducted already have been, from legends like Andre the Giant, Bobo Brazil, Ernie Ladd and Buddy Rogers to newer stars like Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eddie Guerrero.  And as evidenced with certain entrants over the years, names are not limited to those who served in the WWE, opening the door for names like Sting should he be willing to accept the honor.  While inductees like Koko B. Ware may suggest that the pool is getting thin, there are still numerous names like Randy Savage, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and many others who will no doubt be interred.  But beyond that…

Tag Teams/Stables
Several tag teams have been inducted into the Hall of Fame – the Blackjacks and Briscoe Brothers come to mind – but the idea here is to separate the tag team itself from the individual performers who make it up.  For example, The Hart Foundation team of Bret Hart and Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart were of a level that I would consider Hall of Fame worthy.  The problem here is that individually, while Hart is certainly qualified to enter the Hall by himself, Neidhart is not.  Likewise, individually Animal and Hawk of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom didn’t do substantial impact, but together they are considered legends of the business.  So rather than inducting them individually, have the teams inducted as a unit, specifically marked as such.  Then for stars that went on to break out on their own later, you actually can dual-induct, therefore stretching out your talent pool.  Sure, Shawn Michaels deserves his spot in the Hall for his individual performances, but shouldn’t he also earn a spot alongside Marty Jannetty as The Rockers?

The same principle could hold true for stables like The Four Horsemen or the nWo, though in that case it would need to be determined just who amongst them would be honored.  Surely no one wants to let Paul Roma in the Hall of Fame, right?

Promoters
While not a usual term used today, during the territory period of wrestling, promoters were a huge deal.  These men were famous not for what they did in front of the crowd, but rather what they built behind it.

Supporters
Not every on-camera personality is specifically a wrestler.  Announcers, commentators, managers, referees and valets all play important and memorable roles in the spectacle of professional wrestling.  Hall of Famers include Howard Finkle, Gene Okerland, Jim Ross, Bobby “the Brain” Heenan and Sherri Martel, and there’s a much bigger pool to pull from.  Earl Hebner should likely have a spot in the Hall for all that he’s done over the years as a referee, as should Charles Robinson and Mike ChiodaPaul Bearer will likely be able to hold a spot, as will Jim Cornette and perhaps even Paul Heyman (as both a supporter and a promoter).  These people do their fair share of making the show work, and they deserve the credit of acknowledgement for their hard work.

Families
This past year, the famous Von Erich wrestling family was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.  While none of the individual members would likely be inducted on their own, as a family they were amongst the most renowned names in professional wrestling.  Likewise, wrestling families like The Harts and The Armstrongs have an argument to be inducted for their legacies and their respect amongst the wrestling world.  Surely, no one would think to induct the likes of Scott Armstrong or Keith Hart, but together, they make up an important and respected part of wrestling history.

Will changes like this ever be put into place for the WWE Hall of Fame?  Not a chance – but it would make a more organized and prestigious unit in this form.

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