Forgotten History: The WCW Hall Of Fame

Cardiff WandererCorrespondent IIApril 19, 2012

The WWE Hall Of Fame has become an important part of the WrestleMania weekend. Heroes from yesteryear are rewarded for their achievements, and the fans get one last chance to show their appreciation.

Back in 1993, WCW were the first company to put on a Hall of Fame ceremony.

Technically, the WWE Hall Of Fame is older. The WWE's first inductee, Andre The Giant, died in January 1993 and was inducted in the aftermath. The WWE wanted to honour his name so they created the Hall Of Fame.

WCW decided that an appropriate response was to create their own institution to rival the WWE's version. The first class was inducted at Slamboree '93.

The main ethos of the WCW Hall Of Fame was to celebrate talent from the NWA who had officially retired from the sport. Posthumous awards could also be awarded to those who had passed away.

The first class was headlined by long-time NWA champion Lou Thesz. A deserving entry having dominated wrestling for the middle part of the 20th century, Thesz has not been inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.  

Thesz's fellow inductees were long-time AWA wrestler and booker Verne Gagne (inducted to the WWE hall in 2006). Mr Wrestling II, who was a 10-time champion in Georgia Championship Wrestling during the 70's and early 80's, and a posthumous award for Eddie Graham.

Graham's induction had special merit for many of the wrestlers as he, like Andre, had passed away too early.

The success of the induction ceremony prompted the WCW to do it again at Slamboree '94.

This class had one standout candidate in Harley Race. The multiple-time NWA champion attended the ceremony to give the institution some legitimacy. 

Other inductees included '60s legend Dick The Bruiser, The Crusher and Ole Anderson. WCW also honoured Ernie Ladd, the first black person to be inducted to the Hall Of Fame, and Masked Assassin, who entered in his mask.

The WWE had seen the success of WCW's ceremony and had copied the idea. In 1994, they held the ceremony at the King Of The Ring tournament. This meant the WWE's Hall Of Fame were within the same month of each other.

One notable occurrence connecting the two Halls happened at this juncture. As noted, Ernie Ladd was inducted to the WCW Hall Of Fame in the May, but he would induct Bobo Brazil as the first black WWE Hall Of Fame inductee.

The favour would be returned the next year as Bobo Brazil inducted Ernie Ladd into the WWE Hall Of Fame.  This makes Ladd the only person to have been in both Halls Of Fame while they were both active.

The last WCW class came in 1995. Headlined by Dusty Rhodes, it looked like the event was about to go from strength to strength. Other inductees included Big John Studd, Terry Funk and Angelo Poffo, the father of Macho Man Randy Savage.

No one could have predicted the changes to the wrestling world at this point.

Nitro had debuted a few short weeks before and the NWO were unknowingly a few months into the future. When Slamboree '96 rolled around it was no longer appropriate to honour those who had gone before them. This was a wrestling world who were looking forward.

The Hall Of Fame wasn't officially closed, just ignored. The WWE's Hall Of Fame would go into hiatus a year later. The war had begun, so there was no room to be sentimental about the past.

WCW's Hall Of Fame was officially closed when WWE bought the rights to the company. After the dust had settled, the WWE reopened their Hall in 2004.

Two WCW Hall of Famers, Big John Studd and Harley Race, were inducted in that reopening class. Dusty Rhodes and Verne Gagne have been inducted subsequently.

This still means that there are only 5 of 17 people that are in both Halls Of Fame. Forgotten people from a time when the WWE did not rule the wrestling world.  A little slice of history that asks the question "what if" things had turned out differently.