This year’s Hall of Fame class is among the greatest ever inducted, full of some of the best wrestlers in the history of the sport.
Any wrestler can become a star. Some become legends. But only a select few can call themselves one of the all-time greats.
What makes this year’s class stand out from the others are the wrestlers themselves.
Among the inductees are the longest and second-longest reigning champion in WWE history, the woman with more championships than any other Diva, and the man who brought hardcore to the mainstream, had a title created for him and became a three-time WWE champion.
These four inductees are a breath of fresh air, since the WWE Hall of Fame is one that doesn't seem to always have its head on straight.
Already in the Hall are legends among legends. Performers like Bobby Heenan, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Buddy Rogers and Harley Race help to balance out the ratio between wrestler and celebrity.
Because for every Ric Flair or Bret Hart they induct, they also bring in Bob Uecker or Drew Carey. Granted, the WWE is about entertainment a bit more than wrestling; celebrities have played a large role in events, such as Mike Tyson.
But for the Hall of Fame to be a legitimate thing, it needs more wrestlers and performers who set records or changed the face of the sport. The performers being inducted this year can say they are the best. No one else in the WWE reigned longer, held more titles or created a new division like these four did.
The newest class will make the Hall of Fame shine because what they did was more than being popular.
Hardcore legend Mick Foley was the first inductee announced this year. The three-time WWE champion thrilled audiences with his reckless style, always willing to put his body on the line.
Not only did Foley help mainstream hardcore wrestling for WWE fans, but also he was the first Hardcore champion. He didn't win the belt; he was given the belt after Mr. McMahon himself created it for him.
He held the belt for less than a month, but the men who came after him are some of the WWE’s most well-known grapplers: Big Bossman, Kane, Hardcore Holly and Al Snow. An entire division in the WWE sprung up around his style.
The second inductee this year, Trish Stratus, held more titles than any other woman in the history of the organization. WWE.com even goes so far as to call her perhaps the greatest Diva to ever step into one of their rings.
This is what makes Stratus a great choice to enter the Hall: If greatness can be judged by titles won then she is the all-time greatest women’s wrestler.
If it’s beating the best wrestlers around, she did that too, scoring victories over Lita, Molly Holly and Victoria, to name a few.
Stratus helped change the way the WWE looked at the women of the sport. They were held on the same pedestal as the men. The women even main-evented Raw during Stratus' watch in a title bout between Stratus and Lita.
Bob Backlund, as inductee No. 3 is the second-longest reigning WWE champion of all time. Backlund was a true innovator, battling the champions from other organizations, including Ric Flair and Nick Bockwinkle.
His stamina is one for the ages. Consider, in the 1993 Royal Rumble, he returned from a near 10-year absence from the WWE. He had only wrestled a handful of matches around the world in that time. But at the 1993 event he entered No. 2, lasted over an hour and was one of the final three men in the ring.
It has to be taken into consideration that the length of a wrestler’s reign is indicative of the company’s confidence in their ability to draw. Backlund held the strap for nearly six years, longer than every other wrestler ever, except for one.
That one man is the fourth inductee, Bruno Sammartino, The Living Legend.
The man WWE.com calls both its first superhero and its "most beloved competitor" was the second man to hold the WWE (then WWWF) championship. With that win, and the nearly eight long years he held the strap, he became the face of the company, the ideal of what every WWE champion that followed would need to live up to so they could be equally great.
He sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times and was so popular he helped to push the WWE into national recognition. No other wrestler can say they did what Sammartino did.
These four wrestlers pushed beyond the norm and in the process went beyond stardom. They went beyond being merely legends. They became that handful of performers who are the all-time greats.
Their induction makes the Hall of Fame that much better.