WWE Hall of Fame 2013: Ranking the Best Candidates for Inductees at MSG
Photo from WWE.com
WWE's 2013 Hall of Fame class is will begin to take shape as we approach WrestleMania 29 and there is a glut of worthy legends that deserve to be added.
Mick Foley has already been selected as an inductee.
Until WWE makes more announcements regarding the 2013 Hall of Fame class, fans have to subsist on rumors. The list of those being whispered about includes Bob Backlund, DX, Kamala and King Kong Bundy.
In addition to those men there are former world champions, main-eventers and wrestlers who entertained us to no end who are inexplicably lacking a Hall of Fame ring on their finger.
Who among them most deserve to hear their name called on April 6 at Madison Square Garden?
The following candidates' Hall of Fame worthiness is based on their in-ring talent, the titles they amassed, the time they spent as the top dog in the company and how great of an impact they had on WWE and pro wrestling in general.
The Ultimate Warrior (photo from wwe.com)
The list of worthy candidates for the WWE Hall of Fame is a long one.
2013 could be the place for great tag teams such as British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Demolition and the trio of trios, Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz.
The late Owen Hart and Rick Rude have resumes that should garner them entry.
Former WWE champ Ultimate Warrior may eventually join men from the past like The Destroyer and managers like Jim Cornette.
With just a handful of entrants every year, it will take a frustratingly long time before we see the Hall of Fame house every worthy candidate. The men that made the list proper have an edge in impact on the product, championship accolades or in some cases, have a New York home-field advantage.
7. Jake Roberts
photo from wwe.com
If anyone were to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on just their mic work alone, it'd be Roddy Piper (already in) and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Roberts is a poet and an actor, a hypnotist drawing the audience in with his rough, hushed voice. His promos should serve as mandatory viewing for every wrestler in training.
He never won a title while with WWE, not because of talent but because men like Hulk Hogan dominated the top spot, leaving many upper mid-carders without the gold.
It's this lack of championships and lack of headlining opportunities that makes Roberts a less attractive candidate.
With the WWE Hall of Fame though, impact on fans and the company's history has just has much impact as title wins. If fans remember only a handful of stars from Roberts' era, "The Snake" will likely be among them.
His character and his ring skills made him an unforgettable performer.
6. Lou Thesz
photo from onlineworldofwrestling.com
As influential as Lou Thesz was on WWE's stars, he deserves to be on the top of that list.
Thesz' innovation in the ring alone should earn him the nod. No WWE superstar could use the Lou Thesz press, powerbomb or STF had Thesz not concocted them.
He used those moves on his way to winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship several times over. His championship wins include victories over legends Buddy Rogers and Gorgeous George.
Mike Mooneyham isn't the only writer to call Thesz "the best this profession has ever had to offer." Thesz is less attractive of a candidate because of his career predating WWE, but his unquestioned greatness puts him at least in the class of Gorgeous George and Verne Gagne, who have already earned their Hall of Fame nods.
5. The Fabulous Freebirds
photo from percypringle.com
If the WWE Hall of Fame were ever to open a physical location and construct a wing for the great tag teams, The Fabulous Freebirds should be just as prominent a part of it as The Road Warriors.
Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Jimmy Garvin and Buddy Roberts were flashy, arrogant and supremely entertaining tag team innovators.
The concept of a three-man (or more) team with interchanging members is a Freebirds creation. In fact, the name for the gimmick where any two members of a team could be chosen to defend their tag titles is dubbed "The Freebird Rule."
The birth of wrestling entrance music can be attributed to Hayes and gang as well. The Freebirds entered arenas to the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" before Hayes recorded the group's own theme, "Badstreet USA."
The Freebirds were also one half of wrestling's greatest feud. The Von Erich and The Freebirds created an intense heat night in and night out.
It was a well-crafted tension that went beyond their great matches; it captured the fans' attention like few stories in the sport have.
The strongest argument against their induction is the lack of time they spent with WWE. Most of the titles they won, most of their sold-out matches happened with Dallas-area World Class Championship Wrestling.
photo from wwe.com
Shawn Michaels may soon join Ric Flair in the exclusive two-time WWE hall-of-famer club.
According to Wrestle Zone, D-Generation X are expected to be a big part of the 2013 class.
"WZ has learned from sources to expect DX to be inducted and for WWE to recognize Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Sean Waltman, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg at the ceremony."
The Attitude Era and WWE history as a whole would look far different without the crotch-chopping antics of Michaels and Co.
Their impact is not measured by titles alone, but the irreverent group did amass quite a collection of gold.
Road Dogg and Billy Gunn won the tag titles five times and the other members seemed to spend much of the late '90s with either the Hardcore Championship, Intercontinental Championship and WWE title.
More than their championship accomplishments, DX will be remembered as largely responsible for leading WWE out of an age of cartoony gimmicks to the in-your-face, sophomoric, edgy product it became.
3. Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund putting the squeeze on Bret Hart (photo credit: WWE)
Bob Backlund's Hall of Fame credentials includes a lengthy WWE title reign, being one of the best technical wrestlers the company has ever employed and a long list of classic matches.
WWE has reportedly approached Backlund about joining Mick Foley this April.
PWInsider writes, "The company wants to induct him into their Hall of Fame. Backlund was actually scheduled to be inducted in 2004 but pulled out. We are told that Backlund has not yet accepted the honor for 2013."
Backlund served as the bridge between Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan, between the black and white era to The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection era. He held the WWE Championship for most of the late '70s.
He is one of only seven men to hold that title for more than a year.
As he wrestled so often in the New York area, there is a beautiful symmetry about Backlund earning his Hall of Fame nod at Madison Square Garden.
2. Randy Savage
photo from wwe.com
The late Randy Savage should have been alongside Hulk Hogan in the WWE Hall of Fame a long time ago.
If winning the WWE title twice, winning the King of the Ring and being the greatest Intercontinental champ ever doesn't get you inducted, then the whole Hall of Fame needs to be scrapped and reconfigured.
Macho Man was the rare combination of in-ring and on-mic greatness.
He became one of WWE's most memorable characters by means of his glittery robes, husky voice and superior wrestling performances. Savage is often remembered for his classic battle with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, but his resume is bursting with other fantastic matches.
Next year's Hall of Fame ceremony would precede WrestleMania 30 offering an even bigger stage for WWE to induct Savage, but 2013 being held in Madison Square Garden makes it plenty big enough.
There is only one man more deserving of being a Hall of Fame inductee this year, a man that all but owned New York when it was WWE's home base.
1. Bruno Sammartino
photo from wwe.com
The WWE Hall of Fame will lack legitimacy until Bruno Sammartino is enshrined.
The fact that the ceremony will be held at Madison Square Garden makes WWE's first megastar the most worthy candidate.
When WWE was a New York-area company, before Raw, before pay-per-views, it was Sammartino who was the face of the company. He held the WWE title for an unfathomable 2,803 days.
After defeating Buddy Rogers in New York in 1963, The Italian Superman was not dethroned until 1971.
Fans filled arenas to watch him face Lou Thesz, Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and any other heels who dared to challenge him.
It hasn't been WWE unwilling to induct Sammartino, but Sammartino who has rejected enshrinement because of how he despises WWE's direction since his time and because of personal animosity toward Vince McMahon.
Speaking with Monday Night Mayhem (via Prowrestling.net) Sammartino referred to McMahon's company as that "garbage called WWE."
Triple H recently tried to convince Sammartino to change his mind, but according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Cageside Seats) “Sammartino turned him down, saying he's at the stage of life where he doesn't want to do anything that he will have regrets about doing, and if he accepted, he would have regrets."
It appears then that one of WWE's greats will never be a part of its Hall of Fame and so will remain forever the most deserving candidate not yet in.