The Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Perhaps there is no wing so universally loathed by its respective sports’ fans than that one. And while most wrestling fans agree that perhaps a wing honoring the many celebrities that have helped promote professional wrestling in mainstream culture, the abundance of weak inductees (Drew Carey, Kid Rock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bob Eucker) has cast what could be a sincere “Thank You” award into an easy cash grab. But surprisingly, there are still 10 names that are very worthwhile of giving the Celebrity Wing some prestige and relevance, but for some reason they still have not been inducted. But considering many of the legends not yet inducted in the actual wrestling wings, it’s hardly surprising.
His 2018 tour of the US indie scene notwithstanding, David Arquette is a lifelong wrestling fan who created one of the most memorable (and universally loathed) moments in WCW history, when he defeated Eric Bischoff for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on WCW Thursday Thunder in April of 2000, before losing it to Jeff Jarrett at WCW Slamboree in May. Since then he’s also appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw in 2010, in a handicap match with Alex Riley against Randy Orton. Not to mention his fun and inspiring run on the indie scene in 2018, Arquette would be a fun choice.
For 60 years, Steve Allen was one of America’s top comedians and talk show hosts. He was the first host of The Tonight Show, from 1954 to 1957. But in 1949, Steve Allen was hired to be a TV announcer for pro wrestling on television in California.
He would return to his wrestling roots in 1990 at WrestleMania VI in Toronto, where he did a vignette with The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov), and also narrated A&E’s 1999 documentary, The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling.
While you may thinking dissing Schwarzenegger while applauding Sylvester Stallone may seem more like 80s action hero bias, Stallone was actually a far bigger benefactor than Arnold was throughout his career. Rocky was inspired by real-life boxer Chuck Wepner, a bum of a fighter who was the ultimate underdog. Wepner would go on to box Andre the Giant in the undercard of the famed Muhammad Ali against NJPW founder Antonio Inoki, a match that would inspire the Rocky vs Thunder Lips scene in Rocky III (and push Hulk Hogan into the mainstream). Stallone’s follow up to Rocky was Paradise Alley, an open love letter to pro wrestling based around the early 1940s days of the sport where carny style matches were still being held in bars. His 1987 arm wrestling film, Over The Top, featured Terry Funk, and his Expendables film featured “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Even his mom was into the sport, being a recurring character in the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW).
Ok, granted, former NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor only had one memorable WWE moment, but so did other WWE Hall of Fame celebrity inductees Bob Eucker and William “Refridgerator” Perry. But Lawrence Taylor headlined WrestleMania. WrestleMania XI in 1995 to be exact, against Bam Bam Bigelow. That sure beats most celebrity inductees credentials.
Speaking of one moment events, 70s and 80s shock rock master Alice Cooper had a pretty big moment as the valet for Jake “The Snake” Roberts during his WrestleMania III match against The Honky Tonk Man. Cooper recalls the magnitude of WrestleMania III in an interview with WrestleNewz in 2013. “I had performed in front of big audiences, but nothing like WrestleMania III. It was terrifying,” Cooper told WrestleNewz. “I remember telling Jake as we were riding that little ring on wheels down the aisle, ‘This isn’t my audience, my audience isn’t as crazy as this.’ It was one of the most terrifying things in the world — 90,000 people, wrestling fans, 60,000 of them were blue-haired ladies going nuts and screaming for blood.”
Ok, so he wasn’t a WWE celebrity, but “The Worm” Dennis Rodman became one of “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan’s most memorable sidekicks in the nWo in WCW, his new era version of Mr. T. The Bad Boy from the NBA’s Detroit Pistons (then with the Chicago Bulls) became one of Hogan’s entourage in the nWo and eventually wrestled in several matches for WCW alongside Hogan, against The Giant (Big Show) & Lex Luger in 1997 on Nitro and WCW Bash At The Beach ’97, against Diamond Dallas Page & Utah Jazz‘ Karl Malone at WCW Bash At The Beach ’98 and finally against Randy Savage in a hardcore singles match at WCW Road Wild ‘99. And hey, they’ve already got Donald Trump in there – it would help with North Korea relations for Collision in Korea II.
Sadly, the First Lady of Soul passed away in 2018 following a battle against cancer, but if you’re going to induct Kid Rock for a few musical moments, then Aretha Franklin absolutely deserves to be in there. She sang “America, The Beautiful” at both WrestleMania III and WrestleMania 23 in her home city of Detroit, Michigan. I’ll take Aretha’s worst over “American Bad Ass” any day.
Although he really had nothing to do with the WWE, Andy Kaufman‘s role in pro wrestling was enormous in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jerry Jarrett and Jerry “The King” Lawler‘s Continental Wrestling Association (CWA). After touring the territories as the Women’s Wrestling Champion of the World in intergender matches, Kaufman got involved in an internationally famous angle with Lawler in CWA that crossed into pop culture’s zeitgeist following a 1982 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.
A lifelong wrestling fan, arguably the greatest boxing champion of all time was inspired by pro wrestling’s Gorgeous George. During the 1970s, Ali crossed over into the world of pro wrestling, and trained alongside WWWF’s Gorilla Monsoon and was managed by “Classie” Freddie Blassie en route to his 1976 showdown against New Japan’s Antonio Inoki. Although the match was a dud, it helped bring pro wrestling into the mainstream again in the 1970s. At the first WrestleMania in 1985, Ali served as the special ring enforcer in the main event, between Hulk Hogan & Mr. T against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
80s rock star Cyndi Lauper is arguably a bigger catalyst for the 1980s Rock N’ Wrestling Era than even Hulk Hogan himself. While Hogan carried that Era into prosperities never before seen, it was Lauper’s work alongside Wendi Richter, at the genesis of MTV in the United States, that officially put the WWF on the pop culture radar in 1984. After casting Captain Lou Albano in her breakout hit video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, Lauper repaid the favor to Albano by coming to the WWF where she allied with aspring women’s star Wendi Richter in her battles against WWF Women’s Champion The Fabulous Moolah. RIchter, guided by Lauper, headlined 1984’s The Brawl To End It All on MTV, where Richter won the title from Moolah. It was on that buzz created by Lauper that the WWF used to catapult into WrestleMania in 1985 (which Lauper also attended), creating the dynasty that exists today.
And in today’s age of a Women’s Revolution, perhaps the woman who first said “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, instead of “Girls Just Wanna Have Bra & Panties Matches”, should finally get her due.