In a lot of ways, the WWE Hall of Fame represents the greatest collection of professional wrestlers possible as the likes of Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and so many others have been enshrined. At the same time, the WWE has used the Hall of Fame to embrace the world of entertainment as well.
Celebrity involvement has long been a huge part of the WWE's success. WrestleMania I wouldn't have been possible without it and there is no telling where the WWE would be today without WrestleMania. The WWE has maintained a great relationship with mainstream entertainers throughout the years and it has definitely paid dividends.
The so-called "celebrity wing" of the WWE Hall of Fame has been much maligned over the past few years, but there is no doubt that it has a place. With the inclusion of Donald Trump in the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class, five celebrities have been handed the ultimate honor in professional wrestling. Some of them are more deserving than others, but all of them have made an impact in some way.
Here is my ranking of the five WWE Hall of Fame celebrity inductees in order from the least deserving and impactful to the most.
It seemed like most of the WWE fanbase was perfectly fine with the first couple celebrity inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame, but things got a bit messy when Drew Carey was enshrined in 2011. There is no question that Carey has incredible credentials in the world of entertainment as he starred in The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway? and currently hosts The Price Is Right, but WWE Hall of Fame worthy he is not.
Carey's one WWE appearance came at the 2001 Royal Rumble. Carey was there to promote his shows but ended up hitting on Trish Stratus as Stephanie McMahon told him that she was available. Vince McMahon was dating Trish in a storyline at the time, though, so Vince got back at Carey by convincing him to enter the Rumble match.
Carey came in at No. 5 just as Jeff and Matt Hardy eliminated each other. The next entrant was Kane, who would go on to have one of the most dominant performances in Royal Rumble history. Raven saved Carey from sure destruction after Carey attempted to pay off Kane. Sensing that his odds of victory were slim at best, Carey eliminated himself from the match after just two minutes and 54 seconds.
Aside from those two minutes and 54 seconds, Carey has had essentially no involvement with the WWE over the years. His Rumble entry was memorable as he remains the only celebrity entrant of all time, but the fact that he never appeared at WrestleMania and hasn't done much for the company since then tells me that he wasn't particularly committed.
I have always enjoyed Carey as an actor and a comedian, but when it comes to the WWE, I don't view him as a deserving Hall of Famer when so many celebrities have played a bigger role before and after him.
Pete Rose is unquestionably one of the most controversial figures in the history of professional sports. Rose is Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader and a Cincinnati Reds legend, but he has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is because Rose is currently serving a lifetime ban from the MLB on the grounds that he bet on baseball while managing the Reds.
In order to give Rose a taste of what it feels like to be a Hall of Famer, he became the WWE's first celebrity inductee in 2004. Rose hasn't exactly played a huge part in the WWE over the years, but he did appear at WrestleMania XIV, XV and 2000. At each of those events he was attacked by Kane. Rose famously dressed as the San Diego Chicken at WrestleMania XV, but The Big Red Monster wasn't fooled as he hit Rose with a Tombstone.
Rose also served as a guest host on Raw in 2010 and was once again attacked by The Devil's Favorite Demon. The dynamic between Rose and Kane has been great over the years even if it has never been clear why Kane has targeted him. Rose's appearances have been brief, but all of them have been memorable, so I have no issue with his inclusion.
While Rose definitely made a horrible mistake when he bet on baseball and probably deserves the punishment he is currently serving, I feel like he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I'm a huge baseball fan and I've been to the Hall of Fame on multiple occasions. Not seeing the all-time hits leader's plaque on the wall simply feels like an injustice. Nothing can make up for the emptiness that Rose probably feels, but the WWE did a very cool thing when it inducted him into its Hall of Fame.
While Pete Rose is considered by many to be one of the greatest players in baseball history, Bob Uecker is probably one of the most nondescript. In six Major League seasons as a catcher, Uecker played for the Milwaukee Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Uecker was only a .200 career hitter, but he did win the World Series with the Cardinals in 1964. Uecker went on to much greater success after his playing career, though.
Uecker has been an announcer for the Brewers since 1971 and is viewed as one of the best ever in that regard. Uecker became well known through his appearances on The Tonight Show and various commercials, so the WWE enlisted him to be a guest announcer at WrestleMania III and IV. Uecker's signature sense of humor was on full display and wrestling fans still praise the work he did at those two huge events.
It can be argued that the signature moment in Uecker's entire broadcasting career came at WrestleMania IV while he was interviewing Andre The Giant. Andre placed his massive hand on Uecker's slight shoulder, which prompted Uecker to quip, "Get your foot off my shoulder." Andre then took his hands and feigned choking the much smaller Uecker. This is a segment that is still shown to this very day in WrestleMania video packages.
Uecker has accomplished a lot over the course of his life, and he has always been so talented as an announcer that I have no doubt that he could have been a full-time interviewer for the WWE if he wanted to be. That never came to fruition, but Uecker's two WrestleMania appearances were great, and I was glad to see him get recognized by the WWE as a Hall of Famer in 2010.
Back in 1998, "Iron" Mike Tyson was indeed the baddest man on the planet as his nickname suggested. The WWE employed someone at the same time who also believed he was deserving of that title, though, in the form of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Tyson made his first appearance at the 1998 Royal Rumble in a luxury box and cheered Austin on to victory in the Rumble match. It was later announced by Vince McMahon that the former World Heavyweight Champion boxer would serve as a ringside enforcer for the main event at WrestleMania XIV.
Despite Tyson's affinity for Austin, The Texas Rattlesnake started a brawl with Tyson and his entourage on an episode of Raw. It seemed as though then-WWE Champion Shawn Michaels and Triple H were prepared to do the same thing, but Tyson revealed that he was wearing a D-Generation X shirt. With Tyson and Triple H on his side heading into WrestleMania XIV, The Heartbreak Kid had a distinct advantage.
Despite Michaels' back injury, the match was a great, back-and-forth affair. The referee was knocked unconscious late in the bout, but Austin nailed Michaels with a Stone Cold Stunner. Tyson then surprisingly entered the ring and executed a quick three count. Austin won the match and celebrated with Tyson afterwards. Michaels attempted to confront Tyson, but the prize fighter knocked HBK out with one punch and draped an Austin 3:16 shirt over him.
Tyson was past his fighting prime at that point, but he made so many headlines outside the ring that he ended up being a huge attraction for the WWE. McMahon likely had to pay Tyson a huge amount of money to appear, but I'm sure he made it all back and much more from the pay-per-view buys. Tyson and Austin happened to be the perfect combination at that time and the WWE capitalized on it. Tyson has always been a guy with a personality tailor made for professional wrestling, so he's a WWE Hall of Famer in my book.
The latest addition to the WWE Hall of Fame's celebrity wing will officially be enshrined in Madison Square Garden on the night before WrestleMania XXIX. That inductee is, of course, Donald Trump. The longtime business man has always been a controversial figure, so he is a perfect fit for the WWE. Trump first partnered with Vince McMahon back in 1988 as Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J. hosted WrestleMania IV. Trump's venue held WrestleMania once again the following year, which is a distinction that has never been equaled.
That alone would have been enough to make Trump Hall of Fame worthy, but he followed it up with his involvement in WrestleMania 23. Trump and McMahon began a feud prior to the event and agreed upon a wager. Bobby Lashley wrestled on Trump's behalf and Umaga competed for McMahon in what was billed as the "Battle of the Billionaires." Lashley ultimately prevailed, so Trump earned the right to shave McMahon's head bald.
Trump "bought" the WWE from McMahon on an episode of Raw a few years later and promptly sold it back for much more than he purchased it for. That storyline only lasted a couple weeks, but it was yet another feather in Trump's cap in terms of his relationship with the WWE. Trump has always been brash and outspoken, which made him the perfect foil for McMahon over the years. His feud with Vince never reached an Austin vs. McMahon level, but it was certainly noteworthy.
Although Trump is a bit outrageous when it comes to some of his political beliefs and he has made a fool of himself in some cases, his contributions to the WWE are obvious. Not only did Trump host two WrestleManias, but he was a big part of another and has been a partner of the company for a very long time. Whether you love him or hate him, Trump has done more for the WWE than any other celebrity in the Hall of Fame.