Just like the wrestling world as a whole, this year’s inductees to the WWE Hall Of Fame are an eclectic mix of characters and pioneers. Although perhaps the smallest class to date, the far-reaching impact some of these Superstars have had on the industry makes it one of the most interesting. Andy Spoors takes a look at the achievements and accolades of each entrant and why they deserve their place in the (non-existent) hallowed halls of WWE’s Hall Of Fame…
The Attitude Era is beloved and fondly remembered for many reasons. Risqué content, over the top gimmicks and soap opera style storylines. One thing it isn’t known for, however, is an abundance of serious women’s wrestling.
Short matches are sprinkled throughout but few of the company’s female Superstars had much in the way of opportunities to put on clinics for the WWE Universe. One woman that helped begin to turn the tide of perceptions in the company was Molly Holly.
Introduced as the on-screen cousin of Bob and Crash Holly, Molly was given plenty of screen-time but not many opportunities to show fans what she could do in singles matches. An on-screen relationship with Spike Dudley led to a stint as Mighty Molly, the superhero sidekick of The Hurricane. An abrupt and drastic change to her appearance accompanied a new attitude.
Becoming a more serious character, Molly advocated serious matches instead of Bra & Panties or matches of a similar ilk. Leaving the company in a full-time capacity in 2005, Molly Holly has returned for sporadic appearances such as the Women’s Royal Rumble. The recent Icons documentary covering Beth Phoenix’s career also gave viewers an insight into how well-regarded Molly is behind the scenes, as well as influential for the Superstars of today.
Very few men or women in wrestling can say with 100% conviction that they not only made a difference in the industry but changed it forever. Eric Bischoff is one of those people. Moving from an announcer to Executive Producer of WCW in the space of two years, Bischoff began to gain influence and sway behind the scenes as well as a presence on camera.
Key decisions such as investing in production values and believable, reality-based storylines helped Bischoff and WCW establish a dominance in the industry, beating out WWE in ratings for 83 weeks in the Monday Night Wars.
Due to backstage politics and the resurgence of WWE in popularity, the ruin of WCW was fairly swift and led to Vince McMahon purchasing the company. After revelling in his attempts to put WWE out of business and mocking his rivals at every available opportunity, Bischoff appearing side by side with Vince McMahon was the last thing fans expected to see. But that was the exact sight that greeted the WWE Universe in 2002 as Bischoff became the Raw General Manager.
Always game to throw himself into his character, Bischoff etched himself into WWE history through his forward-thinking mentality and ‘controversy creates cash’ attitude. Tangibly fans can still see his impact today through his Elimination Chamber brainchild, but his legacy will always be linked to WCW and pushing WWE to be the best it possibly can be.
When you think of some of the most famous names in WWE history, Kane is probably high in the list of all-time best gimmicks the company has created. Clad in red and black, face covered by a mask, Kane could arguably boast the greatest debut in wrestling too.
In 1997, Kane literally tore the door off the cell during Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels’ Hell in a Cell match after months of teasing his arrival. Like something out of a horror movie, Kane instantly feuded with his brother Undertaker over the fire that killed their parents and scarred the former’s face.
The mask may have quickly become synonymous with his character, but Kane would eventually lose a match with the caveat that he must remove it if he was defeated. Rather than ruin the illusion, Kane became more psychotic and twisted, stalking Superstars and even electrocuting Shane McMahon by the testicles live on air.
The Big Red Monster could on occasion play nice with others, winning the Tag Team Championships 12 times with various different partners. Add in two world championships, the ECW championship, Intercontinental Championship, Hardcore Championship, 24/7 Championship and a Money In The Bank win, you soon begin to understand that Kane is a worthy inductee.
A surprising change of pace has seen the man behind the mask, Glenn Jacobs, move into the equally dramatic world of American politics, becoming the Mayor of Knox County in Tennessee. Able to switch from horror to comedy and everything in between, Kane rightly takes his place amongst some of the all-time greats.
The Great Khali
Like 2020’s divisive list, it just wouldn’t be the WWE Hall Of Fame without at least one contentious inductee. This year’s dubious accolade belongs to the giant seven-foot Superstar, The Great Khali.
Towering over almost every Superstar to ever step foot in a WWE ring, Khali is a one-time World Heavyweight Champion and a bona fide hero in his native India. Although his height made for an impressive visual, fans were left disappointed by his cumbersome style and limited move set in the ring.
Awkwardly booked storylines like the much-maligned Punjabi Prison match or his Punjabi Playboy persona (there’s a pattern here…) did little to help Khali. His drawing power has always been strong in India, a market that has become lucrative to WWE and is home to some of the most devout fans the company has.
Rob Van Dam
The rivalry between WWE and WCW in the 90s has been covered ad nauseum in documentaries and books. But away from the bright lights of arenas and stadiums, the gritty and hardcore forgotten brother to those companies, Extreme Championship Wrestling, carved its own pages into the wrestling history books in bingo halls and armouries.
One of the faces of ECW, was the ultra-cool and laid-back Rob Van Dam. When in the ring, RVD became laser focussed, flying from turnbuckles and using his educated feet with rapid kicks even his namesake Jean Claude would be proud of.
Highly decorated, RVD enjoyed a 700-day run as ECW Television Champion as well as two stints as ECW Tag Team Champion. His introduction to the WWE Universe came as part of the infamous and ill-fated Invasion angle.
One of the few to emerge with credit, RVD quickly established himself as a fan favourite also capturing a plethora of titles to add to his collection. Winning the WWE, ECW World Championship, Hardcore, Intercontinental, European and Tag Team Championships as well as the Money In The Bank contract, RVD the ‘Whole Damn Show’ continues to entertain fans around the world to this day.
An icon for his work both in and outside of a WWE ring, Rob Van Dam’s induction not only honours his career but also legitimises the work of the men and women involved in ECW’s glory days that went unseen by the masses.
Another inductee to the celebrity wing of the Hall Of Fame, everyone’s favourite Prince Of Darkness might not be the first person that springs to mind when recalling cameos in WWE.
Osbourne has, however, made several cameo appearances for WWE over the years, most notably at WrestleMania 2, where he and Captain Lou Albano managed The British Bulldogs in their WWF Tag Team Championship win over Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. Osbourne has also appeared on weekly episodic shows Raw and SmackDown.
Black Sabbath’s War Pigs also featured on the recent NXT Takeover: War Games event, further strengthening the bond between metal and wrestling.