The WWE Hall of Fame, while not the only wrestling hall of fame in existence, is the most popular and most widely known. With a few notable exclusions, members of the WWE Hall of Fame are some of the legends of this great sport, ranging from recent inductees such as Edge to the greats of the past like Andre the Giant.
Each year, WWE introduces a new class into the Hall of Fame and every year fans debate over who should be inducted. WWE has done a very good job honoring the greats of professional wrestling and I expect them to continue that work in the coming years.
However, there are some notable oversights that have slipped past the WWE Hall of Fame for various reasons. These performers are well-deserving of the Hall-of-Fame honor, either for their contributions as a performer or as a backstage icon.
There would not have been a WWF Attitude without Extreme Championship Wrestling and there would not have been an Extreme Championship Wrestling without Paul Heyman.
Despite its pitiful resurrection a few years ago, ECW is remembered as a cultish, influential promotion that redefined professional wrestling in the 1990s.
Extreme Championship Wrestling evolved from an Eastern Pennsylvania regional promotion to the No. 3 wrestling organization in the country through the work of Heyman. Turning ECW into essentially the wrestling equivalent of grunge music, Heyman's liberal use of profanity, weapons and blood turned the wrestling world upside down in a short period of time.
Even though ECW's mismanagement and lack of funds caused it to go out of business, the promotion's impact on the wrestling world cannot be diminished or forgotten.
It's time to recognize the man behind the wresting revolution and honor Paul Heyman as a member of WWE's Hall of Fame.
The tragedy of Owen Hart is one of the saddest stories in professional wrestling. Hart was a truly talented individual who was lost during what should have been the prime of his career.
Owen deserves enshrinement in the Hall of Fame but not just because of his tragic death or the manner by which it occurred. Hart was a fantastic worker, someone who evolved from being a young, green kid in his father's Stampede promotion to one of the top wrestlers in the world in the World Wrestling Federation.
Hart won every major title in WWE except for the world title and also participated in the best opening match in WrestleMania history when he defeated his brother, Bret, at WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden.
Aside from being a great wrestler, Owen was a fantastic human being who was loved by almost everyone who worked with him and was a well-known family man. Hart is one of the rare good guys in professional wrestling and, if things can be worked out with his widow, he deserves his time in the spotlight.
Mick Foley is one of most unlikely superstars in wrestling history.
Foley was never in what you would call "bodybuilder shape." His look resembled that of a homeless man who had woken up on a park bench, and his various characters were 10 different types of strange.
However, Foley possessed an incredible amount of charisma that made audiences around the world hate him and also fall in love with him. His promos (especially in ECW) were fantastic, and his willingness to put his body on the line made him stand out in the 1990s.
Foley was a three-time holder of the world championship and has been tag-team champion eight times. His popularity in the late 1990s was unquestioned, as the audience reached out to Mrs. Foley's baby boy and he became a star. His Hell in the Cell match with the Undertaker will be talked about for years to come, and his world title victory over the Rock on Monday Night Raw made history.
It seems like only a matter of time before the Hardcore Legend takes his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Jake Roberts might never have been world champion, but "the Snake" was one of the best in-ring performers and masters of subtleties the business has ever seen. The funny thing is that while Jake Roberts never won one title during his time in the World Wrestling Federation, you could argue that his popularity rivaled that of those who won mutiple belts.
Jake's promo style made him stand out. While others were screaming and yelling, Roberts rarely lifted his voice above a whisper and made you hang on his every word. Roberts spoke intelligently and properly, adding a new dimension to his already crazed character.
In many ways, Jake was a precursor to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's character, because Roberts acted the same way if he was a heel or a babyface, his targets were the only thing that changed. Crowds loved Jake's use of snakes and the sight of Roberts forcing his pet cobra to bite Randy Savage's arm is something I will never get out of my head.
Although Jake has battled personal demons throughout his career, he still deserves to be recognized as one of the best our sport has ever seen.
With a ring career that has spanned almost 30 years, Bob Backlund has become almost forgetten in wrestling history, because he was the precursor to Hulkamania.
Make no mistake about it, Backlund was the man in professional wrestling for many years. He held the world title from February of 1978 until December of 1983, making Backlund second only to Bruno Sammartino for the longest WWE title reign.
Not only that, but Backlund experienced a career resurgence after returning from exile to the WWF in 1992. A heel turn in 1994 proved to be the magic formula as good-old-boy Bob Backlund turned into the dictionary-quoting, crazy old man, Mr. Backlund.
He actually succeeded in getting the cross-face chicken wing over a submission and became very over with the fans. He was so over in fact that he received a WWF world title shot against Bret "Hitman" Hart in the period when Hart seemed almost untouchable. In a shocker, Backlund defeated Bret Hart after a near 40-minute match at Survivor Series 1994 when Bret's mother, Helen, threw in the towel.
In kind of a funny story, on a episode of Legends of Wrestling on WWE's 24/7 network, Jim Ross states that Bob Backlund actually refused induction into the WWE Hall of Fame because he believes he has one more world title run in him before he retires for good.
Good luck, Bob.
Sting is a very interesting case for the WWE Hall of Fame, because he never worked for Vince McMahon at any point in his career. That's not to say WWE wasn't interested, because they most definitely were. As a matter of fact, WWE engaged in negotiations with Sting to wrestle the Undertaker at this past WrestleMania. Sting was tempted (as usual) but politely declined at the end.
That does change the fact that Sting has consistently been one of the top attractions in wrestling since his debut in the NWA back in 1987. Sting was made into a superstar through a feud with Ric Flair and never looked back after that.
Sting went on to become NWA world champion, a six-time WCW champion, a three-time tag champion and a two-time U.S. champion.
Sting has somewhat revitalized his career in TNA, working as "The Icon" and continuing a career that now spans four decades.
Make no mistake about it: Bruno Sammartino was the biggest draw in professional wrestling for a very, very long time.
Sammartino was the WWE World Champion for over 11 years and sold out Madison Square Garden more times than anyone could count. During his time as champion, Sammartino became a hero not only in his native Pittsburgh but also to Italians around the world. He was even granted an audience with the Pope in the early 1970s.
Sammartino lost his first title to Ivan Koloff in a match that stunned Madison Square Garden into literal silence. Fearing a riot, Koloff was actually not presented with the belt in the ring but in the locker room.
In 1973, Sammartino regained the title from Stan Stasiak and held it for four and a half years, selling out arenas across the world once again.
It is an absolute shame that Vince McMahon dislikes Bruno so much, because McMahon has essentially buried Sammartino in history and barely acknowledges that he even existed. Sammartino has been an outspoken critic of wrestling in recent years, stating that steriods and Vince Jr. have ruined the product that Vince Sr. started years ago.
There is no more obvious choice than this one right here.
Before I even get started, I understand there are plenty of rumors floating around out there as to why Savage isn't in the Hall of Fame. However, the real truth has never come out (and might never), so there's no reason to speculate.
Randy Savage, a two-time WWF World Champion and one of the best workers of all time, should be in the Hall of Fame today, tomorrow, next week and every single day after that.
The "Macho Man" started his WWE career in 1985, becoming one of the company's most fascinating characters and creating a dynamic with his manager, Elizabeth, that hasn't been seen since.
After having a great heel run and working the best match in WrestleMania history against Ricky Steamboat, Savage turned babyface and won his first world title in a tournament at WrestleMania IV.
Soon after, Savage and Hulk Hogan formed the Mega Powers, wrestling's most popular tag team, and the catalyst for Savage's later deranged heel turn.
Truly one of wrestling's most unique characters and performers, Randy Savage existed as one of the most hated and loved performers of our time.