The WWE Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1993 with the inaugural induction of Andre the Giant. Since then, 129 men and women (mostly men) have been inducted, with another eight or so rumored to enter this year. Some inductions have been controversial, but by and large they earned their place in history through years of hard work and dedication to the wrestling industry.
That said, the WWE Hall of Fame is still a work in progress. Seven to ten names going in per year, one might think perhaps all of the important names would get covered by now, but then again there are those pesky controversial entrants taking up a heck of a lot of space. Your personal opinion may differ on whether or not these are indeed the most worthy names still snubbed, but at the very least we think everyone can agree these next 20 names are at least as Hall of Fame worthy as the Bushwhackers. Most of them are even bigger than Greg Valentine.
20. Mike McGuirk – Trailblazer For Women
Mike McGuirk is probably the most obscure name on this list, and one that many fans completely forget when thinking about WWE history. However, she’s also pretty important, as the first female to work for the WWE in an on-air, non-wrestling, non-managerial role. She started as a ring announcer, while also handling interviews and occasional color commentary duties on minor TV shows. Realizing there were virtually no women on WWE television, McGuirk sold herself to Vince McMahon on the premise there are indeed female wrestling fans out there, and they like seeing themselves represented on camera like anybody else. Without McGuirk speaking up, women like Lillian Garcia, Renee Young and JoJo Offerman probably wouldn’t even have received job interviews. Although McGuirk’s tenure was ultimately short lived and fairly unmemorable outside of a few good Bobby Heenan jokes, she’s always claimed to be on good terms with the company and was a definite trailblazer, so hopefully one day her significance will outweigh her obscurity.
19. Raven – ECW Legend
Only two former ECW World Champions are in the WWE Hall of Fame (and one has been removed from the web site). On one level, this isn’t that surprising, since ECW wasn’t quite on the same plane as WCW or WWE, influential as they were. At the same time, the biggest stars of ECW all pass the Koko B. Ware test, so at least a few more former champions should probably be represented. Our pick for most deserving ECW alumnus is Raven. Raven was a 2-time ECW World Champion and, perhaps more importantly, one of the main creative forces behind ECW during its peak. His feud with Tommy Dreamer is viewed on the same caliber as legendary feuds such as Austin-McMahon or Flair-Rhodes, and that was all based on Raven talking in the ring and writing with Paul Heyman behind the scenes.
Partially due to writers ignoring him, Raven’s success started to decline by the time he reached WWE. He does, however, hold the record for the most titles ever won by a single person, with 27 WWE Hardcore title reigns.
18. Miss Elizabeth – The First Lady of Wrestling
For many years, the most notable snub in the WWE Hall of Fame was “Macho Man” Randy Savage. After Savage was finally inducted in 2015, attention shifted to his ex-wife, Miss Elizabeth. Elizabeth primarily managed Savage throughout her career, but she also spent time with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. As if managing three of the biggest names in history wasn’t enough, Elizabeth was one of the very first female managers in WWE. While there were a few female wrestlers at the time, Elizabeth was considered the First Lady of Wrestling for her style, class, and general grace. The tragic circumstances of her death remain difficult for fans to think about, which is likely the only thing stopping Elizabeth from a well-deserved induction.
17. Davey Boy Smith – Most Successful Englishman in WWE
While some in the UK might argue for Mick McManus or Billy Robinson, as far as WWE is concerned, the most successful English wrestler in history was probably Davey Boy Smith. Davey first came to prominence as a member of The British Bulldogs, teaming with his cousin the Dynamite Kid, who could be worthy of induction himself, if not for his despicable personal life. After Dynamite retired, Davey took up the Bulldog moniker as a solo act, eventually becoming the first Brit to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Davey won the title at SummerSlam 1992 by defeating Bret Hart in his native England in front of 80,000 fans, one of the largest crowds in WWE history. Headlining that show alone is more than enough to make Davey Boy worthy of induction.
16. Jim Johnston – The True One Man Band of WWE
A car crash followed by a dance beat. “If ya smellll—.” A lifting, shooting guitar riff. Sheer, unstable madness. Or maybe just the sound glass makes when it shatters. These iconic noises all signaled our favorite superstars walking to the ring, and they had something else in common, too: they are all the starting notes of songs written, performed and produced by Jim Johnston. Johnston has worked for WWE over three decades, and has been in charge of nearly every single piece of music that has been used in any of their programming. Obviously, WWE occasionally reaches out to bigger musicians for help in this arena, but even in those cases, Jim Johnston is the one who does the reaching. To understand his dedication to his craft, all you need to do is read him describe how he created the iconic glass shattering that introduces Stone Cold: “[the] glass break ended up being a combination of three different glass breaks, someone falling downstairs and a car crash all mixed together.”
15. Carlos Cabrera – Loyal For Decades, Voice of WWE to Millions
A good portion of WWE fans have probably only heard Carlos Cabrera talk for ten minutes or less, and they had no idea what he was saying. However, to millions of Latin fans around the world, Cabrera is their version of Jim Ross, with the longevity of Michael Cole. Cabrera has been the lead play-by-play commentator for WWE’s Spanish announce team since the early 1990’s. He has also probably suffered more broken workspaces than any other human history, but that’s beside the point. More importantly, the Spanish team doesn’t separate by brand, so that means Carlos has called almost every single WWE broadcast since 1993—Raw, SmackDown, Pay-Per-Views, ECW, NXT. He also co-hosted the web series WWE En Español for nearly ten years, alongside his various broadcast colleagues. Cabrera still works for the company, so perhaps WWE is waiting for him to retire before bestowing him the honor. It wouldn’t be unprecedented to reward an announcer while they still worked for the company, though, and we feel honoring Carlos could go a long way for WWE’s foreign relations. Maybe it’ll make up for all the broken tables, too.
14. Georg Hackenschmidt – Wrestling’s First World Champion
It was virtually impossible for Georg Hackenschmidt to wrestle for WWE, although with a body like his, you know Vince McMahon or Triple H would hire him in a heartbeat. Hackenschmidt came to fame wrestling around the turn of the 20th century, and in 1905 became the first man ever proclaimed a World Champion in professional wrestling. Hackenschmidt held the title for three years, defending it around the world at a time when wrestling was arguably the most popular sport throughout Europe. Hackenschmidt finally lost the title to Frank Gotch, with whom he would engage in what is considered possibly the first true feud in pro wrestling. Obviously, Hackenschmidt retired long before WWE existed, but in the very least, Jim Ross mentioned him on WWE television several times when the WCW and WWE World titles were to be unified. Another mention by the Hall of Fame could cement his legacy forever.
13. Cyndi Lauper – Most Important Celebrity in WrestleMania History
The highly controversial celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame has eight (or, if the rumors are true about 2016, nine) inductees, and they are all men. That may not be surprising considering professional wrestling has been a predominantly male sport, but it’s pretty suspect considering arguably the most important celebrity to be involved with WWE was a woman. Some might claim Mike Tyson had a bigger impact in 1998, and that may but true, but it’s still undeniable Cyndi Lauper launched the Rock and Wrestling Connection that caused WWE to explode in the 1980’s. By appearing on Piper’s Pit to start a feud with Captain Lou Albano, Lauper gave WWE overwhelming mainstream attention, leading to a longtime partnership with MTV. The feud continued to the first WrestleMania, where Lauper appeared alongside former WWE Women’s Champion and Hall of Famer Wendi Richter. Decades later, Lauper appeared on Raw for the first time in 2012, showing the relationship between her and the company is still positive, making the snub all the more confusing.
12. Chyna – Most Successful Female in WWE History
Now that Sunny broke down the barriers and became the first WWE Hall of Famer to appear in adult films, isn’t it about time they stopped kidding themselves and just induct Chyna already? Yes, she posed in Playboy and has starred in a few adult films of her own, but she is also the only woman ever to hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Chyna is also the first female to compete in the Royal Rumble or enter the King of the Ring tournament. She’s done a pretty great job of burning her bridges with every important company executive, and Triple H has even publicly commented on her chances of being inducted (highly unlikely), but we still think she absolutely deserves consideration. Regardless of what came afterwards, Chyna reached a level of success beyond any other woman in WWE history, and deserves to be remembered for it.
11. Demolition – Most Dominant Tag Team in WWE History
Here comes the Ax! Here comes the Smasher! And sure, Crush too, why not? Demolition were 3-time WWE World Tag Team Champions, twice with Ax and Smash and once with all three using the Freebird Rule. The Ax and Smash version of the team hold the record for the longest continuous tag title reign in WWE history. Although it’s true the team were blatant Road Warriors rip-offs, they were extremely popular at the time, and their longevity and success as a tag team proves it. All three members of the team have significant though not necessarily Hall of Fame worthy solo careers as well, and inducting them all as a team would be a solid way to honor all of their careers and acknowledge one of the greatest tag teams in history.
10. Tommy Young – Greatest Referee of All Time
This one is a pretty unlikely wildcard, but nonetheless, let’s hear it for the noble referee. Even the biggest wrestling fans in history would probably be hard pressed to name more than 5 truly noteworthy referees. It’s their job to blend in and not take too much attention away from the wrestlers, while secretly performing time keeping duties most fans don’t even know about. Tommy Young was the first referee to really break that mold, while refereeing for the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1980’s. Tommy’s facial expressions and energy surpassed any referee before him, and when he was the referee, matches felt more important by association. Tommy eventually became Ric Flair’s personal referee, perhaps a surprising move by the Nature Boy considering Tommy was also one of the first refs to truly fight back against heels’ attempts at cheating. Even today, Young remains one of only a handful to actually be interviewed as part of a storyline.
9. Eric Bischoff – Vince McMahon’s Biggest Enemy
It seems very unlikely WWE will put the man who tried to put them out of business into their Hall of Fame, but if it truly is a compendium of wrestling’s most important names, Eric Bischoff needs to be there. Bischoff was Executive Vice President of WCW during the Monday Night Wars, and therefore basically the man in charge of the only company to kick Vince McMahon’s ass. Though his tactics were often dirty and controversial, Bischoff is the reason WCW Monday Nitro had better ratings than Raw for almost two years. As a direct consequence of that, he’s also the reason Vince started going into creative overdrive and fighting back, launching the Attitude Era and bringing WWE to brand new heights. Not only is Bischoff enormously influential, he also basically invented the evil boss character a full year before McMahon started using it, and Sleazy E played the role just as well as Vinnie Mac. The less said about his announcing career the better, but as a performer and promoter Bischoff is an all time great.
8. El Santo – Most Popular Mexican Wrestler of All Time
There are three names in Mexican wrestling considered the pinnacle of the sport: Blue Demon, Mil Máscaras, and El Santo. Máscaras is the only Mexican legend currently inducted, and granted, he is the only one to have wrestled for WWE. However, Santo deserves special mention for truly transcending wrestling in a manner only the Rock and Hulk Hogan can really compare to: he was a Mexican movie star. While some of Hogan’s film roles alluded to his wrestling career, and Dwayne Johnson typically plays an ass-kicker, Santo appeared in films as El Santo, a wrestler by day and a superhero by night. Santo also appeared in a variety of comic books and has been the basis for several cartoon characters.
7. Genichiro Tenryu – Japanese Legend With WWE Ties
WWE has made a pattern in recent years of honoring huge foreign stars who only hold a tenuous connection to Vince McMahon, and we feel Genichiro Tenryu should be the next such star honored. Tenryu is one of the biggest and most successful stars in the history of Japanese wrestling, and he even spent a few cups of coffee in WWE, appearing at WrestleMania VII and competing in two Royal Rumbles. His true fame came in Japan, where he is a former IWGP Champion and 3-time All Japan Triple Crown Champion. Tenryu is not only known for his title victories, but for his incredible longevity as a high-level worker: he wrestled his first match in the mid 1970’s and was still wrestling matches considered amongst the best ever into the 2000’s.
6. The Great Muta – Greatest Foreign Star in the History of American Wrestling
Keiji Mutoh, also known as the Great Muta, never worked for Vince McMahon, in part because he mostly wrestled in his native Japan. These two facts somehow haven’t prevented people from claiming Muta is the most important wrestler in American wrestling history to remain snubbed by WWE’s Hall of Fame. His success in his homeland is far more vast, but Muta is also a former NWA World Champion, WCW Television Champion and WCW Tag Team Champion. Muta regularly competed for WCW from the late 1980’s until the mid 1990’s, and even continued making sporadic appearances until 2000. In Japan, he is a former IWGP and Triple Crown Champion, and is considered one of the biggest legends in the history of NJPW. Mutoh still wrestles and recently made a few appearances with Total Nonstop Action, so this induction might still be a few years away, but we’re sure it’s bound to happen before long.
5. The Steiner Brothers – Greatest Tag Team of All Time
Rick and Scott Steiner might have stuck around the wrestling world long enough to become self-parodies, but at their peak, there’s almost no question they were the greatest tag team of all time. The brothers debuted in the late 1980’s and wrestled in virtually every major wrestling company to exist in their lifetimes: WWE, NWA, WCW, NJPW, ECW and TNA. They also had successful solo careers, with Rick and Scott simultaneously holding the US and World title respectively, during the dying days of WCW. WWE may be ignoring the Steiners in an attempt to distance themselves from Scott’s short, embarrassing run with the company in 2003.
4. Rikidōzan – Most Important Wrestler in Japanese History
Rikidōzan never wrestled for WWE, but that’s mostly because it would have been impossible. He is, however, known as the Father of Puroresu, the Japanese style of professional wrestling. Rikidōzan spent several years as a sumo wrestler before switching to professional wrestling in 1950. He was a bona fide hero in Japan, defeating American wrestlers for the pride of the country (although he was actually Korean). Rikidōzan also competed around the world for the NWA, where he was usually a hated foreign heel, showing his versatility. In Japan, he was such a huge star, two of his matches remain amongst the highest rated programs ever to air on Japanese television. Rikidōzan was murdered by a member of the Yakuza in 1963, but one of his matches actually did get aired on WWE television, so it’s amazing his influence hasn’t made him a clear inductee yet. Who was the match against? Read on…
3. Lou Thesz – Arguably the Greatest Wrestler of All Time
It’s hard to definitively name the greatest athlete in the history of any particularly sport, but if someone tried to do that with professional wrestling, Lou Thesz would be an extremely tough name to argue. Thesz became the youngest ever World Champion in 1937 at the age of 21, and his success only skyrocketed from there. Though not a TV star like Gorgeous George or a regional hero like Antonino Rocca or Verne Gagne, Thesz toured all over the country unifying titles into what would become the NWA World Championship. Though Orville Brown is the first recognized champ, Thesz legitimized the title by holding and defending it for nearly seven years. He continued wrestling for decades, and was considered one of the greatest wrestlers alive as long as he did.
Although his biggest successes were pre-WWE’s takeover, WWE fans throughout the ages have plenty to remember Thesz by, as well. In the early 80’s, Thesz appeared on Tuesday Night Titans to be interviewed about his career. Brief clips of one of his most famous matches against Rikidōzan were also aired. Showing his old school babyface charm, Thesz even got to call Paul Orndorff “ostentatious.” Attitude Era fans surely remember Thesz as well, being the namesake and innovator of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s trademark move, the Lou Thesz Press. Modern fans, however, may not have anything to remember Thesz by, meaning a WWE Hall of Fame induction is practically a necessity.
2. Andy Kaufman – Greatest Celebrity Wrestler of All Time
The WWE Hall of Fame has a celebrity wing, which bothers certain wrestling fans who feel these celebrities often have an at best tenuous relationship to wrestling. There is at least one celebrity for whom nobody would make such a complaint, and bizarrely, he’s the one celebrity yet not inducted: Andy Kaufman. Kaufman was primarily an actor and comedian, or as he put it, “a song and dance man.” He was also a lifelong wrestling fan, and his goal in life was to be the world’s greatest heel. For a few years, feuding with Jerry Lawler in Memphis, Kaufman absolutely lived his dream.
Using his wealth and celebrity to mock the Southern fans, Kaufman created a wrestling persona still remembered to this day as one of the most hated in history. In addition to being a jerk and getting slapped by Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman, Andy started challenging women while making intensely sexist claims, which kind of ruined his career outside of wrestling with people who weren’t in on the act. Kaufman never let up, though, and his dedication to professional wrestling alone should have made him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame as soon as celebrities started getting inducted.
1. Toots Mondt – Co-Founder of WWE, Innovator of Modern Professional Wrestling
Jess McMahon and a partner founded the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1952. After Jess passed away, the man partnered with Jess’s son, Vince, who would rename the company the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Vince couldn’t decide on a champion to base their company around, until his partner suggested Bruno Sammartino. It wasn’t just a coincidence he made such a great pick; this former partner is also credited with essentially inventing the format of a modern wrestling show. The McMahon’s call it “sports entertainment,” but he called it “Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling,” and his name was Toots Mondt.
For whatever reason, WWE has a pretty consistent history of being rather unforthcoming with both information and respect in regards to Toots. Vince McMahon and his living relatives clearly like presenting the idea they created WWE entirely by themselves, but even ignoring that part of Mondt’s contributions, the man basically invented pro wrestling as it’s still known today way back in the 1920’s. Inducting Toots Mondt into the WWE Hall of Fame would finally acknowledge the true mastermind of professional wrestling, and that’s why it’s unlikely he’ll ever be inducted.