WWE Hall of Fame: The 20 Most Deserving Inductees Overall

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2012

WWE Hall of Fame: The 20 Most Deserving Inductees Overall

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    The WWE Hall of Fame. Induction here is the most prestigious honor in the company and one of the most prestigious honors in professional wrestling.

    The Hall marks the men who have made such an impact upon the company that they have influenced the way the whole company has evolved and changed over the years.

    The prestige of being inducted into the Hall is something that is never questioned, though some of the choices made by WWE to choose who gets into the Hall of Fame have been consistently questioned.

    In fact, when most hear about the Hall of Fame up to its actual airing, we rarely hear about who deserved to get in but rather who didn't and who should have been.

    For all the mistakes and snubs over the years, the WWE Hall of Fame is a great foundation that has held some of the greatest stars of all time. So many great stars are WWE Hall of Famers.

    When you look at a top list of stars who changed the WWE, many—if not most—of them lie in the Hall of Fame. Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin....

    All of these names are those of legends and icons in the sport that have changed the WWE fundamentally.

    The following are the 20 most deserving Hall of Famers in the WWE. Note that this does not include any of this year's stars, as they are not official members of the Hall of Fame until inducted. The list is in alphabetical order, as rating would be ridiculous in such a case.

Andre the Giant

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    The greatest big man wrestler ever is a huge title, but Andre the Giant is one of the few men who could truly be in the discussion for it.

    Andre is the original Hall of Famer, and he was one half of one of the greatest moments in WWE history when Hogan body slammed Andre at WrestleMania III.

    Andre was one of the biggest draws for WWE and for professional wrestling in general.

    If those aren't all accomplishments enough, many forget just how agile this giant once was.

    Andre was great in the ring earlier in his career. Before coming to the WWE, he had competed in many great matches where his size added to the spectacle of the brilliant display he was capable of. Of course, later in his life, he became to slow down.

    That was due to the same disease that would eventually kill him in one of the first truly saddening moments in wrestling history.

    Andre helped begin the phenomenon that was WWE, and he did it while being the first great spectacle.

"Superstar" Billy Graham

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    Superstar Billy Graham wasn't known for winning a whole lot of gold though he was the last star to hold the WWWF Heavyweight Championship before it was changed to the WWF Heavyweight Championship (later to become the WWE Title we now know) and stands as having the single longest heel title reign in WWE history.

    Graham was never about being the top star. He was always the heel. He was the star that made the faces look good, and he was the man who could still look credible taking the title away from a legend like Bruno Sammartino.

    What Graham brought to the table was an intangible at the time. He was the prototype heel. Graham was the future of professional wrestling. He was the heart of the future as a whole.

    Superstar Billy Graham was known for being flashy and colorful while having a bodybuilder physique. He would inspire many who followed him ranging from Jesse Ventura to Hulk Hogan to Triple H.

    In a time where wrestling came first, Graham brought the personality and the flash. He was ahead of his time and ahead of his era.

    Without Graham, most of the stars we know today would not have found their inspiration. Graham was the impact that caused the WWE to become what it did.

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

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    The greatest manager ever.

    While some others could cling to that title, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan has historically stolen that title away from anyone else.

    Heenan was the prototype that everyone comes back to when they think of a manager.

    Heenan took all past ideas of what a manager was an developed them into an idealized image that he took upon himself.

    Heenan was legendary, iconic, and those who he trained became great themselves.

    Names like Ric Flair, Curt Hennig, Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, Paul Orndorff, and Harley Race all worked under Heenan's management at one time of another. Now many are looked back upon as some of the greatest to ever step into a WWE ring.

    As an added bonus, Heenan is one of the most entertaining commentators of all time making heel commentary an art form that none have matched since (though many try *cough* Michael Cole *cough*).

    He was one of the greatest performers to never actually become a wrestler and elevated the programming for a decade.

Bret Hart

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    Bret Hart's inclusion doesn't take much explaining.

    After Hogan aged out of the spotlight, a new era needed to come. One that could bring a new light to a company that was in sore need of a star.

    Hart became that star. He carried the company mostly on his own for a while before Shawn Michaels came up to try and help even try to run things on his own.

    Hart was one of the greatest technical wrestlers on history putting on showstopping matches with everyone and anyone he faced.

    His memorable matches are still legendary to this day. His contests with his brother Owen. His feud with Jerry Lawler. His phenomenal main event bout against the British Bulldog. His unbelievable Submission match against Stone Cold Steve Austin. And of course, Hart's many encounters with his greatest rival in the company Shawn Michaels.

    While Hart was rarely great on the mic, he made up for it with great likability and charisma. WWE would never would have gotten where it is today without Hart carrying the company on his back for a time.

Dusty Rhodes

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    This may seem at first to be a strange pick.

    Dusty Rhodes was a phenomenal performer, but he was rarely given much to work with while he was in the WWE.

    But that is part of why he needs to be included here.

    Rhodes is the most charismatic star in pro wrestling history. Obviously somewhat debatable but Rhodes was one of the few men that could bring another level to what he did off his pure presence.

    Rhodes was also a phenomenal wrestler who had great matches with greats like Harley Race and Ric Flair.

    Rhodes however never won a championship in WWE, and he was at many times made to look like a joke. Even still, Rhodes persevered, helping the company succeed in every way.

    Rhodes still helps the company to this day, backstage and sometimes on commentary, while also bringing in two sons who have changed the company in their own right.

    Sometimes, WWE has to admit when they wasted true talent, and this was one of those times.

Fabulous Moolah

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    I would be remiss to not include the Fabulous Moolah on this list.

    Moolah is simply one of the greatest women to ever wrestle in any professional wrestling organization. She is certainly the greatest female wrestler in WWE's history.

    Moolah was a professional who helped raise the bar for all of women's wrestling. She trained, managed, and promoted for the company.

    She still stands as possibly the greatest female champion of all time with four WWE Women's Title reigns and five NWA World Women's Championship reigns. She held those titles for a considerable amount of time with her NWA Title reigns equaling 30 years of time holding the belts and her WWE Title time totaling to 29 years.

    She is a champion, a professional, and one of the most integral reasons why WWE women's wrestling ever existed.

    Without her, WWE would never have had the legacy of great female wrestlers that it has had.

"Mean" Gene Okerlund

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    Mean Gene Okerlund did it all. Well, except wrestle.

    Okerlund was one of few truly legendary announcers in WWE history. He also was a great commentator and a sure-fire interviewer.

    Okerlund made WWE shine in everything he did in the background.

    There will never be a greater announcer than Okerlund.

    There are very few if any that will ever be able to lay claim to being a better interviewer.

    Honestly, these are thankless jobs by mostly no names or commentator who WWE refuses to let commentate, but Okerlund was the interviewer. He was the announcer. He only commentated as secondary help.

    Announcers and interviewers are essential to the whole experience of professional wrestling, and Okerlund was the best.

Gordon Solie

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    Gordon Solie is a name that many seem to forget. It is a name that many young fans probably will never hear which is a real shame.

    Solie is possibly the greatest wresting commentator of all time. He coined legendary phrases that still are heard regularly in wrestling such as the crimson mask and Pier 6 brawl.

    He was the voice of professional wrestling for decades.

    Though he never actually commentated in the WWE, he helped inspire every commentator to follow. Most notably, Jim Ross heralds the man as the greatest of all time.

    Ross notably stated while inducting Solie in 2008 that it was his belief "that if I had not heard Gordon Solie in 1964 at the age of twelve... in all likelihood I would not have chosen my life's work to be a wrestling broadcaster."

    No commentator could get more visceral with a contest. Solie truly found the heart within the work regardless of how big or small the match was.

    He is an immortal commentary figure that will live on as long as he is remembered. He deserves that much.

Gorilla Monsoon

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    Gorilla Monsoon did it all.

    Moonson was a great heel for Bruno Sammartino to play off of during his reign. He became a fan favorite to help establish great heels like Billy Graham and Andre the Giant.

    Monsoon is still considered one of the greatest super-heavyweights of all time though he was never given any serious titles.

    Once he became a backstage manager though, that was when he truly found his place at the top of the company.

    Monsoon was a legendary help backstage even having a section backstage named after him (The Gorilla Position was the staging area just behind the entrance curtain). He would help to book and run the company behind the scenes while becoming one of the greatest commentators of all time.

    Monsoon took some time to work into his role as a babyface commentators, but once he and Jesse Ventura began to click  they were one of the greatest parings in wrestling history.

    Monsoon would also find phenomenal chemistry with Bobby Heenan, and Monsoon would become simply one of the most iconic to ever play the role.

    No man has fit into all the facets of WWE as well as Monsoon, and he deserved to be recognized for putting over the company for three decades.

Hulk Hogan

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    Does this even need saying?

    Hulk Hogan is the biggest star WWE has ever seen.

    He was charismatic, massively popular, and a true showman.

    While Hogan never really found himself in the ring, he still managed to captivate the audience with everything he did.

    Hogan created the WWE almost as much as Vince McMahon himself.

    Hogan was the cornerstone of the company for a decade, and the moments he was a part of always left a lasting impact that shaped the entire company.

    Without Hogan, WWE would have never lasted as long as it has.

Jim Ross

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    Jim Ross is the greatest commentator of all time.

    That is the truth and not many people can challenge him for that mantle.

    Ross began under Gorilla Monsoon and shaped himself after Gordon Solie. His ability to put over a match will never quite be seen again.

    For those reasons, of course JR deserved to be inducted, but he also had to deal with many horrible moments as well.

    Who knows why Vince McMahon would do it, but McMahon constantly used JR as a walking punchline. If there was a joke to be made about Ross, it usually came out in the WWE.

    With the torture JR had and still has to go through, I am surprised JR wasn't viciously roasted before his induction. Instead, JR was allowed to be inducted in peace for his commitment and ability.

"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka

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    Jimmy Snuka was the original high flier. He did things that no one had ever seen before in the 1980's even though this was the time that more and more WWE held onto the idea of big strong men who could grapple.

    It wasn't until the beginning of the '90s that cruiserweight wrestling and high flying became prevalent.

    Nowadays, we see guys like Evan Bourne, Jeff Hardy, and Justin Gabriel doing crazy and exciting jumps and flips all over the place, and that can all be traced back to Snuka.

    Snuka's Superfly Splash was something that just was not seen before. He could do it at any time, and it would always be monstrously over.

    In 1982, when Snuka jumped off the top of a steel cage to hit a Superfly Splash, it didn't matter that he missed. The jump alone was spectacular. Something that was absolutely mind-blowing to witness.

    There were no Swanton's off the scaffolding. No ladder match falls or Shooting Star Presses into a crowd of stars. No. No one had seen those moments yet. And they would never have seen them without Snuka.

    Snuka was a master in the ring and the original daredevil. Without him, many other stars would never have given us the crazy moments that they did.

Ric Flair

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    Ric Flair, the man, the greatest legend of all time.

    It seems like a stretch to some, but Flair can be argued to be the greatest superstar of all time especially looking at his accomplishments outside of the WWE.

    He is the one and the only 16-time World Champion.

    No one has met that met that mark before or after Flair.

    He is also one of the greatest wrestlers and mic workers in the company's history. No one could get such a variety of emotions out of their every promo. No one worked harder or better in their career.

    His list of Match of the Years is enormous. He has been named wrestler of the year many times. He has been one of the most hated and beloved stars to ever enter a professional wrestling ring.

    It also cannot be discounted how much Flair changed the business. His style and work noted to be based upon the great Buddy Rogers created the very foundation of what it means to be a heel.

    Flair created the cheating heel. He created the talkative and emotional heel. He was the Dirtiest Play on the Game, a Limousine Ridin', Jet Flying, Kiss Stealin', Wheelin' Dealin', Son of a Gun, and just the Nature Boy.

Ricky Steamboat

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    Ricky Steamboat: one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

    Steamboat never won a WWE World Title. He never saw himself at the top of the company, but he gave the WWE more moments than almost any star ever did.

    Steamboat's matches against Ric Flair and Randy Savage are some of the greatest matches of all time. Many consider the Savage/Steamboat match to be the greatest match ever.

    When a person talks about the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship, one name comes up more than any other: Ricky Steamboat. Many stars following Steamboat stated that it was their dream to hold the same belt that Steamboat did.

    Following the end of Steamboat's career, he has taken up the mantle in WWE's training ground: FCW. Steamboat is a key star in helping to bring up the future of the WWE to the main shows.

    Steamboat alongside Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart was one of the most important smaller stars in WWE history bringing a revolution to the company showing that stars did not always have to have the typical muscular, body builder physique to work.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper

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    Roddy Piper was one of the key players in putting over Hulk Hogan. Without him, arguably there may never have been Hulkamania.

    Every great hero needs a great villain, and even at its most invincible Piper could still get to Hogan.

    Piper was the great controversy creator. He could stir up heat in any way he wanted to.

    His Piper's Pit is still the greatest WWE talk show of all time and the template that will always remain for any WWE talk show.

    Piper was one of the greatest heels of all time. It didn't matter how many championships he won, and he didn't win many. Still, he became one of the greatest characters of all time.

    He is regarded to this day as one of the greatest stars in history to never win the World Title.

    That just shows how great he was.

    He was a heel that could make anyone want to see him beat up, and, at the same time, he was the beloved superstar who helped create a true legacy to follow.

Shawn Michaels

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    Shawn Michaels, HBK, the Showstopper, Mr. WrestleMania.

    Is there anyone that thinks Michaels shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame right now?

    This man has been heralded by many as the greatest wrestler of all time.

    Michaels has revolutionized the ladder match. He has brought WrestleMania to a whole new level. He has heralded in some of the biggest changes in WWE history, helping to lead one era, start another, and guide one more.

    Michaels has held every major title. He was the very first Grand Slam winner, and he never disappointed.

    Was Michaels ever successful at being the true number one guy? No, not really, but that is only because he was at his best when he was in the background, when he had to steal the spotlight not keep it.

    Michaels deserves to be the Hall of Fame because quite simply he is one of the greatest of all time. He personifies everything wrestling is suppose to be.

    He had heart. He had drive. He had the unbelievable natural ability that made him one of the best wrestlers ever. He had all the intangible and all the charisma in the world.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

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    Stone Cold Steve Austin, the man who lead the company through the greatest time in its entire run.

    While it took a while, when Austin arrived—and I mean truly arrived—in the WWE, the business that was WWE shattered in his presence.

    Austin came in and single-handledly changed everything the business knew and understood up to that point. They saw a grand and sudden change of the guard that created the biggest star since Hogan and arguably an even bigger star than Hogan.

    Austin brought Attitude to WWE. He made everything legal, and he caused WWE to be a show that you didn't just watch but one that you longed to watch. One that you waited with baited anticipation for each and every week.

    Sure, there were a lot of stars in WWE during this time, but nobody was Stone Cold Steve Austin.

    Austin had legendary matches, iconic feuds, and some of greatest promos of all time.

    Simply put, Stone Cold not only deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but he is entitled to be in the Hall of Fame.

    As John Cena says in the promo video here, "Anyone who has anything to do with any piece of this should know that Steve Austin should not only be in the Hall of Fame, if they're ever going to give someone their own wing, it should be Stone Cold Steve Austin."

The Road Warriors

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    What a rush

    The only tag team placed here deserves this spot more than any other tag team.

    The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal can be simply labeled the greatest tag team of all time.

    Sure, there are other great tag teams, but most would end up becoming a group of good singles competitors. The Road Warriors were once and always a tag team at heart.

    These two personified intimidation and power.

    In the ring, they had unparalleled power and chemistry with one another.

    On the mic, they kept that pure intensity and intimidation factor.

    No team ever better exemplified what it meant to be a true tag team.

    These two were unparalleled and remain the pinnacle example of great tag team wrestling. They represent every tag team that has been inducted and will be inducted in the future.

Vince McMahon Sr.

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    Where did all WWE start? In the Capitol Wrestling Corporation.

    One simple wrestling promotion that would grow to become the largest and grandest wrestling promotion in the world.

    This company at its start was a simple regional wrestling company like any other; however, when Vince McMahon Sr. came into control of this family business, he began to quickly expand it.

    McMahon changed the whole business making his company, while still regional, into one of the most profitable companies out there.

    McMahon's strong business sense and love for the business carried him through in created a mini juggernaut that he would hand over to his son Vincent Kennedy McMahon (he hated the Jr. title).

    We all know the story from there, but it all began with the father. The heart of the company at its best. On day Vince Sr. will be joined by his son in the Hall of Fame as these two owners helped pave the way for the company we now know as the WWE.

So Many Others

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    The fact is that this list is missing many notable stars. Everyone from Eddie Guerrero and Curt Hennig to Killer Kowalski and Jimmy Hart have legitimate and important claims to their place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

    These stars each changed the business in so many ways that it is hard to think where we would be without them.

    While there are still many spots that need to be filled, most notably Bruno Sammartino who will probably never be inducted due to his own personal preference to be excluded, the general idea of the Hall has been realized over the years with many, many great stars being inducted.

    So far the crop this year could almost all have been included in this list. Mil Mascaras is the first masked superstar to ever be inducted, and he is certainly one of the greatest masked wrestlers ever.

    Edge is one of the great modern wrestlers. That is just a fact. He has more championships in total than any other star in history, and that is thanks to Edge's enormous ability and drive in the ring and on the mic.

    The Four Horseman will always be one of the greatest stables of all time. That cannot be denied. They are the first full stable to ever be inducted.

    The Hall of Fame is and always should be considered a great honor in professional wrestling regardless of the politics. It is truly the Hall of the best of the best.

    Thank you for reading!

    Leave you thoughts and comments below.

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