Top Class: Ranking Every WWE Hall of Fame Induction Class

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Tis the season. The Road to WrestleMania. Where year long storylines come to fruition and new ones begin. But it’s also the time when WWE starts to slowly roll out its induction class of this year’s class for the WWE Hall of Fame. For many wrestling fans, the WWE Hall of Fame is a joke – a fictional bodiless entity that resides in Vince McMahon‘s mind only. But to be fair, in today’s digital age, it’s home on WWE.com is still a destination to peruse the Legends within, and it’s expanding body of entrants tell a far greater story of wrestling’s industry than just what the WWE has accomplished. But as we pointed out last year at this time, the WWE has covered far more historical eras and promotions than most people give it credit for.

“See Lou! I told ya you’d get in! Only 26 years after your retirement and 14 years after your death!”

Part of the problem is that people tend to compare the WWE Hall of Fame against existing pro sports hall of fame, such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Pro Hockey Hall of Fame or Pro Baseball Hall of Fame. The reality is though, that unlike those sports, professional wrestling cannot be quantified with titles or “records” in the same fashion. In real sports, championships are often the end result of hard work from the athletes – but in pro wrestling (especially in the pre-1990’s), championships only signified the top draws, not necessarily the hardest working. Rowdy Roddy Piper was a bigger force in the industry in the Randy Orton is, but the 12-time World Champion and third generation wrestler has twelve more world titles than Piper has. But before people criticize the WWE for not putting the belt on him, consider that in his 31 year wrestling career (not including his waning years as more of an ambassador), Piper only spent 11 years in the WWE (1983-1987, 1989-1996). So the AWA (2 years, 1973-1975), the NWA (10 years, 1973-1983) and WCW (4 years, 1996-2000) all never put the World title on him either. To be more accurate, the WWE Hall of Fame is actually more comparable to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s enshrined entertainers aren’t there because they were the best director or best actor, but because they entertained a lot of people during their careers and are remembered fondly for doing so. With that in mind, WWE’s selections make far more sense than crunching numbers and comparing Koko B. Ware’s selection to that of Joe Montana or Wayne Gretzky. Anyone who lived in the 80’s knows that Koko B. Ware was a hugely entertaining character in the Rock N’ Wrestling Era in the WWF, and his time prior in Mid-South Wrestling scored him heaps of championships. Also, Montana or Gretzky never had a music video like this!

With this year’s Class of 2017 inductees underway – with Kurt Angle, The Rock N’ Roll Express, Teddy Long and Diamond Dallas Page already officially announced – many fans are starting to use words like “best ever” for this class. All four announced inductees are certified Legends of the industry and deserving of a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame – imaginary or not. But is it the best individual class that we’ve seen enter the HOF? There have been 17 Induction Classes for the WWE Hall of Fame since its inaugural opening class in 1993 (there was an eight year hiatus between 1996 and 2004), with 147 individual performers being inducted. Here’s a look at the seventeen classes of inductees, from the least exciting class to the most interesting class.

Note: For the sake of each segment, Legacy refers to any early or pre-TV performers, inspired by the creation of the Legacy wing of the WWE Hall of Fame last year. Builders refers to behind the scenes performers, such as promoters. Announcers refers to commentators, play by play or ring announcers. And simply because they’re dumb, we’re not going to mention the Celebrity Wing.

(DISCLAIMER: This listing is purely a subjective opinion of the author. Let us know your own opinions of your favourite classes (or least favourite) and tell us why, in the comments section following the article. Also, the author would like to say he gets it that you probably think very differently. His list changed order at least 15 times in the three days it took to publish. And it will probably be different by the time you read this yourself.)

#17. Class of 1996 (4th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 9
Singles Performers, Male: 
Baron Mikel Scicluna, Cpt. Lou Albano, Jimmy Snuka, Johnny Rodz, Killer Kowalski, Pat Patterson
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: The Valiant Brothers (Johnny & Jimmy Valiant)
Legacy: none
Builders:
Vincent J. McMahon, Sr.
Announcers:
none

Unfortunately, a lot of WWE’s early icons and legends were either on bad terms with the company (such as Bruno Sammartino) or working for WCW (Hulk Hogan), so they were very limited with some of their early inductees. The first ever Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, who was also a backstage mastermind for much of the 1990’s, was a solid selection, as was legendary wrestler-turned-manager Captain Lou Albano. Killer Kowalski, the first Canadian to be inducted, is deservedly enshrined, as one of the WWWF’s top heels in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Vince Sr. was a no-brainer, as the founder of the WWE empire. But two career WWF jobbers – Scicluna and Rodz – were hardly heart racing selections. And while the Valiants were decent enough draws, they didn’t exactly create world wide applause with their announced selection in 1996. And while it was a deserved induction for “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, the past year and the legal issues that preceded his death last year has put a huge taint on his entire career.

#16. Class of 2011 (12th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 8
Singles Performers, Male: 
Shawn Michaels, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Abdullah The Butcher
Singles Performers, Female:
Sunny
Tag Team or Faction: The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom (Hawk, Animal and “Precious” Paul Ellering)
Legacy: none
Builders: 
Bob Armstrong
Announcers:
 none

The 2011 Class starts off with two Icons – “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and The Road Warriors – but then takes a significant downturn for huge star power. Sunny has become more of a punchline than a boyhood dream (though still deservedly an inductee for her impact in the 1990’s) and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, while deserving, would have been a nostalgic seal of approval if the #7 or #8 name on the list, but as the clean up hitter, he’s no Superstar Billy Graham. While there’s no denying he made an impact in the Southern United States for the NWA, the Armstrongs names are sadly a niche name for many. And what once was lauded in seeing hardcore wrestling pioneer Abdullah The Butcher enter the WWE Hall of Fame is now viewed with disdain after he was charged with spreading Hep-C to another wrestler by bleeding on him, knowing he was infected.

#15. Class of 2015 (16th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 8
Singles Performers, Male:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage, Rikishi, Larry Zybysko, Tatsumi Fujinami
Singles Performers, Female:
Alundra Blayze
Tag Team or Faction: 
The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch)
Legacy: none
Builders: 
Tatsumi Fujinami
Announcers: 
none

Having “Macho Man” Randy Savage headline and finally go into the WWE Hall of Fame was an out of the park moment. But it almost seemed like WWE was counting on that euphoria to cover the rest of the inductees. To be fair, Alundra Blayze, aka Madusa Micelli, is an outstanding choice. She was a trailblazer in the 1980’s and 1990’s and her moment of dropping the WWE Women’s title in the trash on WCW’s Nitro is iconic. Larry Zybysko was a solid worker in his day and Tatsumi Fujinami‘s career, both in the ring as a builder with NJPW, is nothing to laugh at. The Bushwhackers are more deserving as the Sheepherders, but their inclusion before more influential tag teams like the Freebirds, Hart Foundation or Rock N’ Roll Express was baffling. Rikishi was the recipient of the Koko B. Ware Participation Award. He was fun and all during his time, but I’m pretty sure he’s not going in for his days on the Samoan SWAT Team.

#14. Class of 2016 (17th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 16
Singles Performers, Male: 
Sting, The Godfather, Big Boss Man, Stan Hansen
Singles Performers, Female:
Jacqueline
Tag Team or Faction: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael PS Hayes, Buddy Roberts, Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy, ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin)
Legacy: Mildred Burke, Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis, Pat O’Connor, Lou Thesz, ‘Sailor’ Art Thomas
Builders: 
Ed Lewis, Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt
Announcers:
 none

Sting and The Fabulous Freebirds were the big guns for last year’s class, as well as finally seeing one of wrestling’s best big men, in North America and Japan, Stan Hansen. Godfather and Big Boss Man seemed to enter like they were crashing the party because they heard Michael Hayes was throwing a party. Jacqueline was a solid choice, but felt a little rushed considering all the women before her that may have been more deserving. The creation of the Legacy wing reeked of Triple H’s influence. Trips is a bona fide historian of the industry and he’s getting ready to open the gates on the legends of the early and pre-television era coming in once his father-in-law’s influence diminishes.

#13. Class of 2008 (9th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 8
Singles Performers, Male: 
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, “Soulman” Rocky Johnson
Singles Performers, Female: 
Mae Young
Tag Team or Faction: The Brisco Brothers (Jack & Jerry Brisco)
Legacy: Mae Young
Builders: 
Eddie Graham, Peter Maivia
Announcers:
 Gordon Solie

Ric Flair‘s induction after suffering his career ending loss the same weekend was one of the WWE Hall of Fame’s most memorable moments. Mae Young was deservedly given her place in the history books – while most younger fans just remember her Attitude Granny Era, she was a huge travelling star in the early days of the sport. She was a Living Legend. The Brisco Brothers were studs, both individually and as a tag team unit – although Jack had far greater success as a singles star. Jerry still had a decent career, and continues to have an impact with the WWE today as a talent scout. Peter Maivia is absolutely deserving, from his stardom as a performer and promoter for the NWA Hawaii/Mid-Pacific territory, the gateway for much of the Samoan Dynasty. Eddie Graham‘s work with his own Championship Wrestling in Florida to President of the NWA during its boom in the 1970’s, he was also a stand out wrestler in his day. Gordon Solie is considered by most in the wrestling broadcast industry to be the Gold standard. But the addition of Rocky Johnson (The Rock’s father) alongside Peter Maivia (The Rock’s grandfather) felt like pandering to The Rock for some reason, like bait to lure him back. Johnson was a great worker, but was he really a Hall of Famer? Tough to say.

#12. Class of 1995 (3rd Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 7
Singles Performers, Male: 
“Big Cat” Ernie Ladd, George “The Animal” Steele, Ivan Putski, The Grand Wizard, Pedro Morales
Singles Performers, Female:
The Fabulous Moolah
Tag Team or Faction: none
Legacy: Antonino Rocca
Builders: 
none
Announcers:
 none

Again, another class where many potential inductees were working for other companies or where on bad terms. But even still, the filled in a lot of important names from the 70’s. Ernie Ladd was a huge success transitioning from the NFL to pro wrestling, becoming a huge star and Pedro Morales picked up the ball from Bruno Sammartino in the early 70’s and carried the company for years until Bruno returned. The Grand Wizard was one of the first iconic wrestling managers, through the 60’s and 70’s, guiding such Legends as Killer Kowalski, Superstar Billy Graham, Bruiser Brody, Sgt. Slaughter, Kamala, and Ox Baker. Antonino Rocca is one of the founding fathers of what would become the aerial style that most indie stars employ now. The Fabulous Moolah‘s remarkable career is growingly getting overshadowed by stories of her dark past and treatment of former students. Ivan Putski was a decent mid-card hero, but always felt like a smaller jacked up Bruno Sammartino rip-off.

#11. Class of 1994 (2nd Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 7
Singles Performers, Male: 
Arnold Skaaland, Bobo Brazil, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Chief Jay Strongbow, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Gorilla Monsoon
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: none
Builders: 
James Dudley
Announcers:
 Gorilla Monsoon

The inaugural WWE Champion, and original “Nature Boy”, Buddy Rogers finally enters the WWE Hall of Fame, as well as the first African-American World Champion Bobo Brazil. “Classy” Freddie Blassie was blessed with a classic (and frightening) villain career as a wrestler, followed by an equally memorable managerial run. Gorilla Monsoon is still considered by many to be original voice of the WWE and his behind the scenes involvement was essential during the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was a fantastic heel in the ring as well during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Speaking of legendary managers, Arnold Skaaland was another one. This man was the essential coach for the Good Guys in the WWE in the 1970’s, managing Bruno Sammartino, Andre The Giant and Bob Backlund. James Dudley was an odd choice. A former WWE building manager. Classy move of respect though. Chief Jay Strongbow had a solid career in the 1970’s, but he felt like the weak link in this class (it didn’t have the sentimental mystery of James Dudley).

#10. Class of 2012 (13th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 9
Singles Performers, Male: 
Edge, Ron Simmons, Yokozuna, Mil Máscaras
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, J.J. Dillon)
Builders:
none
Announcers:
 none

A solid round all the way through, with nine very deserving men enshrined. Ron Simmons was a huge impact in early WCW, becoming the first nationally recognized African-American World Champion, followed by an underrated run in the Nation of Domination, a resurgence in APA, and a comedic ride out with a DAMN. Mil Máscaras is Mexican Legend and Yokozuna was as frightening a heel as you could imagine in the early 90’s. His believability was his greatest asset and became the first true heel to have substantial World Champion runs in the WWE. Edge definitely had a WWE Hall of Fame worthy career, but it felt like a sentimental rush job because of his early retirement. I’m sure Adam Copeland would have understood if Rick Rude or Owen Hart got into the WWE Hall of Fame before him. But the coup de grace of the evening was arguably the most important faction in the history of the business, the Four Horsemen. Yes, it should have been Ole Anderson instead of Barry Windham, but we all know that Ole is so cantankerous and mad at Vince that it would never happen, even with “The Miracle Worker” Paul Leveque on the case. And Windham is definitely WWE Hall of Fame material. And there’s no Horsemen without Dillon. And for the last time, NO, Paul Roma should NOT have gone in.

#9. Class of 2010 (11th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 6
Singles Performers, Male: 
“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Antonio Inoki, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon
Singles Performers, Female:
Wendi Richter
Tag Team or Faction: none
Legacy: Gorgeous George
Builders:
Stu Hart, Antonio Inoki
Announcers:
 none

First glance, this Class seems underwhelming, until you really let the names sink into your brain. You suddenly realize that you may not have a MegaStar headliner like Ultimate Warrior or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the rest of the bill are all rock solid inductions. Ted DiBiase may be best remembered as The Million Dollar Man, but his best work was in Mid-South Wrestling (which you can see on the WWE Network!). Vastly underrated by a lot of people. Antonio Inoki was not only a legendary wrestler in the ring but founded NJPW. Wendi Richter was the woman the WWF needed to help kickstart the 80’s Rock N’ Wrestling Era. Maurice Vachon was a mean and nasty heel in the 1960’s and 1970’s (although it would have been nice to have seen the Vachon Family all go in at once, like the Von Erichs). Stu Hart‘s influence, as both the promoter for Canada’s Stampede Wrestling and the trainer to a family tree of some of the greatest performers from the 1960’s to today, is unquestionable. And Gorgeous George not only changed what a heel could do in professional wrestling – and get very rich doing it well – but influenced American pop culture itself. Iconic shakers from James Brown to Bob Dylan, Little Richard to Muhammad Ali, have all stated publicly the massive influence Gorgeous George had on their lives and careers. One of the most important performers in professional wrestling history, hands down.

#8. Class of 2007 (8th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 9
Singles Performers, Male: 
Dusty Rhodes, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Nick Bockwinkel, Mr. Fuji, The Sheik
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika)
Legacy: none
Builders:
The Sheik, Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes
Announcers:
 Jim Ross, Jerry “The King” Lawler

The 2nd straight AWA Class (following the 2006 acquisition by the WWE of the AWA library and the 1st AWA Class of Verne Gagne, Sherri Martel and Mene Gene Okerlund), featuring AWA icon Nick Bockwinkel and former AWA World Champion Curt Hennig, best known to most as Mr. Perfect in the WWE. Jerry Lawler also had strong runs in AWA, as well as ruling Memphis and feuding with Andy Kaufman. While he’s lost a lot of his lustre in today’s day and age, his work in the Attitude Era was pivotal. Mr. Fuji was one of the best tag team specialists in wrestling in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and most memorable managers of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Jim Ross is a broadcasting Legend. The original Sheik out of Detroit, Michigan was a hardcore original, who worked as Detroit’s NWA promoter as well and The Wild Samoans were Ground Zero for the Samoan Dynasty that has dominated pro wrestling for the last six decades. But this classes unanimous valedictorian would have to be “The American Dream” himself, Dusty Rhodes. The son of a plumber.

#7. Class of 2004 (5th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 6
Singles Performers, Male: 
Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Junkyard Dog, Sgt. Slaughter, Superstar Billy Graham, Tito Santana, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: none
Legacy: none
Builders:
none
Announcers:
 Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

This was the WWE’s first class after an eight year hiatus, so they had some catching up to do, especially from the 1980’s and late 70’s. But the class they threw together was a misfit ensemble action film of different characters who all had equal hands in shaping professional wrestling in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was one of the late 1970’s most flamboyant frontmen who transitioned that charisma into a legendary broadcast career. The Junkyard Dog ran the yard in Mid-South Wrestling before he grabbed them cakes in the WWF in the 1980’s as one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. Sgt. Slaughter was a legit bad-ass in the 1970’s and a goddamn GI Joe Action Figure in the 1980’s. He turned his back on the USA and became one of the 1990’s first truly great heels. Tito Santana was the king of the mid cards, with popular Intercontinental title runs, and still a household name in the 1980’s. One of the 1970’s most influential performers was Superstar Billy Graham, whose freakish physique and quick witted prose made him the heelest of the heel. But the diamond of this gem store is arguably the greatest manager of all time, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

 

#6. Class of 2009 (10th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 12
Singles Performers, Male: 
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat, Koko B. Ware
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: The Funks (Terry & Dory Funk Jr.), The Von Erich Family (Fritz, Kevin, Kerry, David, Mike and Chris)
Legacy: none
Builders: 
‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts, Fritz Von Erich
Announcers:
 none

Okay, yes, this is that one. The one where Koko B. Ware got inducted. The man who became the benchmark punchline for any other wrestler to get inducted. “Well, if they’ll induct Koko B. Ware, they’ll induct anyone!” But the rest of the class are all clear cut no-brainers, not just for the WWE Hall of Fame, but any pro wrestling hall of fame.  The Funk Brothers, Terry and Dory Jr., are essential characters in the narrative of wrestling history. Ricky Steamboat was a stand out Superstar in the NWA, WWF and WCW. with an iconic match, versus Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania III, and an iconic feud, with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair in the NWA. Bill Watts, for all his faults, was a very influential promoter in the annals of sports entertainment, And while wrestling is full of tragic moments, like Owen Hart or Bruiser Brody‘s deaths, but there is no greater tragedy than the Von Erichs. A family destined for greatness, but worked like the Jackson 5 to their emotional and physical limits that resulted in nearly the entire clan’s untimely deaths. But a family of Champions nonetheless. But the night was not complete without the glass shattering induction of one of the industry’s most iconic personalities, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

#5. Class of 2005 (6th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 7
Singles Performers, Male: 
Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Cowboy “Ace” Bob Orton Jr., Jimmy Hart, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
Singles Performers, Female:
none
Tag Team or Faction: Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik
Legacy: none
Builders:
none
Announcers: 
none

It was the WrestleMania First Class for the 20th Anniversary of the Showcase of the Immortals. Nearly the entire main event of the first WrestleMania got inducted making their unity more symbolic and powerful. Had Orndorff or Orton had gone in any other year, they may have been after thoughts. But alongside Hogan and Piper, they were Superstars again. Hulk Hogan is an obvious choice and easily one of WWE’s Mount Rushmore facials. Love him or hate him, there wouldn’t be the industry we have today without him. Roddy Piper became the archetype for any lunatic psychopath heel to come. He proved that you didn’t need Championships to be over, to be at the top or to make money. Considered one of the greatest wrestlers to never wear a World Championship, he is still one of the most well known and beloved wrestlers of all time. “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart is one of the 1980’s most recognizable managers and while the Iron Sheik had a solid singles career in the 1970’s, his tag team with Soviet bad guy Nikolai Volkoff was the stuff of Legend.

#4. Class of 2006 (7th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 8
Singles Performers, Male: 
Bret “Hitman” Hart, Eddie Guerrero, Verne Gagne, “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas
Singles Performers, Female:
“Sensational” Sherri Martel
Tag Team or Faction: The Blackjacks (Blackjack Mulligan & Blackjack Lanza)
Legacy: none
Builders: 
Verne Gagne
Announcers: 
“Mean” Gene Okerlund

It was no surprise that AWA Icon Verne Gagne went into the Hall of Fame the same year he finally sold the entire AWA archive to Vince McMahon and the WWE. Not a bad parting gift. But there’s no denying that Gagne absolutely deserved it, as the founder of the AWA and one of the Mid-West’s most popular heroes for nearly three decades. Anyone who watched wrestling in the 1980’s has Gene Okerlund’s voice forever in their brain – it feels like home. Sherri Martel had a solid wrestling career in Gagne’s AWA, as well as memorable runs in the WWF and WCW of the early 90’s. The Blackjacks were one of the most feared heels of the 1970’s and early 80’s, with a viciousness that revolutionized the outlaw cowboy gimmick. The Mulligan-Windham family tree is another impressive cast of performers, and Blackjack (Robert Windham) Mulligan is the patriarch. Tony Atlas was a bit of a head scratcher, but hey, if Koko B. Ware is in it… Despite his recent auditions for Grumpiest Old Men, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart‘s career, as both a performer and an influence, is undeniable. He carried a lot of weight of the WWF in the early 90’s when all the big names left for WCW and he turned that coal into a diamond. But everyone’s heart beat for Eddie Guerrero that night, posthumously inducted after passing away several months earlier at the age of 38.

#3. Class of 2013 (14th Class)

Photo: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 5
Singles Performers, Male: 
Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Booker T
Singles Performers, Female:
Trish Stratus
Tag Team or Faction: none
Legacy:  none
Builders:
none
Announcers: 
none

While it was one of the WWE’s smallest classes at only five inductees, all of them were powerhouses of differing magnitudes and dynamics. Mick Foley was the mainstream face of hardcore wrestling, one of the most popular players from the Attitude Era, and one of the most beloved people in the industry. Booker T grabbed the horns during the collapse of WCW and emerged it’s brightest star, with a solid run in the WWE after. Trish Stratus became the face of women’s wrestling after the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Attitude Era’s, becoming WWE’s most decorated Women’s Champion of all time. Bob Backlund had the unenviable task of taking over from Bruno Sammartino as the company’s new face and his success was then overshadowed by the juggernaut of Hulkamania right after. The headliner was unquestionably the return of the prodigal grandfather, the cornerstone of the company’s first 15 years and one of the most popular wrestlers of all time. The homecoming of Bruno Sammartino.

#2. Class of 2014 (15th Class)

All photos: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 6
Singles Performers, Male: 
Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Paul Bearer, Carlos Colon, Razor Ramon
Singles Performers, Female:
Lita
Tag Team or Faction: none
Builders:
Carlos Colon
Announcers: 
none

This was a class was the fueled by emotions of all kinds. If Bruno reconciling the year before seemed miraculous, this year’s announcement of the kiss-and-make-up of the WWE and the Ultimate Warrior seemed to heal a lot of wounds around the world. Suddenly the nostalgic remembrance of all of us little Warriors came flooding back and it was cool to wear your Warrior shirt again. All of which was tragically taken away days later after his return to Raw. It was also a tale of two redemptions, as two notorious bad boys of the industry, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall, were both given the keys to the kingdom after years of doubt. But both, thanks to the help of 2017 Class Inductee Diamond Dallas Page, made astonishing turnarounds and took their spot with their peers. Roberts was a psychological mastermind and Scott Hall was one of the best big men in the game, both mentally and physically. Trish Stratus may have been the beauty of the new era of women’s wrestling, but the pizazz and athleticism was all Lita. She showed a woman could work even the most acrobatic of mens and do it with passion. Paul Bearer was an emotional induction, as he had passed away the year before, but his iconic role as the handler of “The Phenom” The Undertaker and Kane, plus his other work as Percy Pringle, are managerial masterpieces. The induction of Carlos Colon, the founder of WWC in Puerto Rico, raised eyebrows considering his role in the murder of Bruiser Brody, with many thinking it was a gateway to acquiring Colon’s WWC archive for the WWE Network.

#1. Class of 1993 (1st Class)

Photo: WWE.com

Total Inductees: 1
Singles Performers, Male: 
Andre The Giant

It was perhaps the most brilliant move that the WWE has ever done. In the very first class of the inaugural WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the WWE inducted simply one man: Andre The Giant. The entire WWE Hall of Fame is arguably a reaction to Andre’s passing, which happened months before in January of 1993. At the time, Andre was retired, but was starting to make appearances for WCW after leaving Vince and the WWF. But when Andre passed, Vince was quick to pay tribute to a man who had been a monumental part of his and his family’s lives throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was a perfect symbol to represent the true history of professional wrestling. Andre was never a World Champion (except for his brief few moments in the WWF before selling it to Ted DiBiase), but he was one of the industry’s biggest draws, in America, for the WWF, NWA and AWA, throughout Japan and Canada. There were better wrestlers, sure, but there were fewer personalities with his draw. In his final years, he turned his woes and dismantling body into a Frankenstein-esque villain who passed the torch to Hulk Hogan before riding off to the pasture due to injury. A man beloved the world over, who worked all the territories, and perhaps the single biggest name the industry has produced. If you wanted to tell the story of pro wrestling, starting with Andre The Giant wouldn’t be the worst place to start.

When you eliminate the Celebrity wing (and with only 9 of the 147 people in the WWE Hall of Fame, at 6% of the entrants, it’s quite easy to ignore), and go through the classes in hindsight, they somehow seem more appealing and agreeable. Perhaps we get so caught up in who we’d prefer to see in first that we overlook the actual worthiness of those who go in. Looking back – and not comparing to them to people I’d preferred at the time – many of the classes look more worthy than on first glance.

But with just over a month to go until we get the full Class of 2017 revealed to us, one thing for certain is this: the Class of ’17 has a good chance of being the best class ever, but they’ve got a lot of stiff competition. Tough to beat the 8th Wonder of the World.

So what were your most memorable Hall of Fame classes? Sound off below in the comments!

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I like that such a piece was done on the WWE HOF and the ranking of classes is a fun read but there was a lot of inaccuracies in this. You missed out a large amount of inductees from classes, where was Kevin Nash from 2015 and several guys from the 2004 class was completely missed like Greg Valentine, Don Muraco etc.

    • Dear God, how did I miss that. Thanks for the catch! Wow. I just looked at my notes and I had them listed too. Must have been a late night of reading. But thanks for that, I don’t know how I missed such big names 🙁

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