We’re in the middle of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2019 announcements. The Honky Tonk Man will finally find his place into it, a long overdue inclusion for the longest running Intercontinental Champion. Some fans don’t understand why WWE choose Torrie Wilson when many other talented female wrestlers could become Hall of Famers. The wrestling fan definitely wants to see his favourites wrestlers, the ones that made him thrill or relate to a special moment of his own life.
The SteelChair Mag team decided to share with you their Hall of Fame choices, wrestlers they think earned a place into Wrestling History. They are trailblazers their own way, wrestlers who have been an inspiration for the current generation. Wherever they come from, train, or work with, they were in WWE at some point. And they are a massive part of the history of the company. Let’s find out our writers’ choices.
James Truepenny – Aja Kong
Aja Kong is still a bulldozer of a pro wrestler. Selfless in her ability to make new stars, and good enough not to lose her aura in the process, she is a vital cog in the Joshi machine and will be for AEW. But that’s not the whole story of Kong. As the daughter of a mixed-race couple, she was an outsider who should not have done what she did. She rose from the iconic AJW Dojo Class of ’86 battling Xenophobia without complaint. She is as much of a groundbreaker as Ernie Ladd, Bobo Brazil or Rocky Johnson who are in the Hall of Fame for those very reasons. She also shone in the toughest era of women’s wrestling ever. While her WWE run was short, she was a pioneer who recast the monster heel role for all wrestlers and she deserves a Hall of Fame ring.
Tom Beasley – William Regal
William Regal is probably the greatest in-ring performer never to hold a world championship in the WWE. A veteran of the submission-based British style that has influenced the likes of Pete Dunne, there’s no denying his in-ring prowess. His career in WWE, though, allowed him to showcase a whole new side of his abilities – that of a clown. Regal was one of the most reliable comedic performers in the company during the noughties, capable of turning his hand at whatever the storyline demanded. Since retiring from the ring, Regal has begun to receive the reactions he is owed. As the beloved General Manager of NXT, he feels like a truly modern authority figure. He appears only when relevant, rather than to deliver 20 minutes of scripted verbiage every week. When he intervenes, it’s vital and authoritative. His Hall of Fame ring must be on the way soon.
Laura Mauro – Crash Holly
Weighing in at allegedly well over 400lb, ‘Super Heavyweight’ Crash Holly made a bona fide legend of the now-defunct Hardcore division. Pioneering the massively entertaining 24/7 Defence rule, the Houdini of Hardcore defended his title in locations as diverse as an airport, his hotel room and Fun Time USA. His untimely death in 2003 at just 32 years old robbed the world of pro-wrestling of one of its most legitimately entertaining and innovative comedy stars – under his influence, WWE’s Hardcore Division flourished, and it has never been quite the same since. With no less than 22 Hardcore Championship reigns under his belt, a posthumous place in the Hall of Fame is surely Crash Holly’s due.
Another man who made WCW a hot commodity was Vader. A juggernaut who could pummel you down then wow you with his athleticism. He was one of the original hybrid athletes and also known backstage as one of the nicest guys from all accounts. He had a plethora of classic matches around the world alongside the likes of Antonio Inoki, Cactus Jack and Ric Flair. He captured the two biggest titles in WCW and would have probably done the same in WWE had circumstances been better. When he died the news hit harder than one of his strikes and it’s kind of surprising that he hasn’t been inducted since. It would be a shame if he never was as Vader had an iconic look and an iconic move-set. For the Hall of Fame, it’s time, it’s time, it’s Vader time!
Steph Franchomme – Tommy Dreamer
Every year, someone is thanked by the new Hall of Famers. This man is Tommy Dreamer. He’s helped all along his 30-year career hundreds of young talents, confirmed Superstars and even Hall of Famer. The man has truly been a gift to the professional wrestling industry. Over the course of his career, he’s always put the fans first and he has always done what is truly best for business. Dreamer has worked with just about any promotion that will have him, and he continues to do everything in his power to make sure that he’s doing his part to help the business evolve. Dreamer is a giver and that’s been evident from his contributions to the industry both inside and outside the ring.
There’s a reason why Tommy Dreamer can work with several different companies while simultaneously running his own promotion, House of Hardcore, and the reason is that he just loves the business and he’s easy to work with. Tommy Dreamer has won titles, he was a part of some of ECW’s biggest angles and he’s wrestled at WrestleMania, but that’s never been what wrestling is about for Dreamer. For Dreamer, wrestling is about building a community and giving something to the fans. He won the world title twice, and the Hardcore Championship a whopping 14 times. He’s the Innovator of Violence, for God’s sake.
Tom Beasley – Rob Van Dam
When I started watching wrestling as a kid in the early noughties, RVD was one of the most unique performers on that roster. Whether it was his flurries of kicks, the impossible athleticism of his Five-Star Frog Splash or his willingness to boot a chair into someone’s face, his matches were always impressive spectacles. When he finally won the WWE Championship amid the chaos of ECW One Night Stand in 2006, he found himself the conquering hero as John Cena played heel for probably the only time since his rise to the top of sports entertainment. His return runs have been lacklustre, to say the least, but there’s still always a thrill to seeing RVD work. With Matt Riddle now flying the flag for, let’s say, ‘chemically relaxed’ performers in WWE today, the time is right to welcome “The Whole F’n Show” into the Hall of Fame.
James Truepenny – Bull Nakano
Bull alongside Alundra Blayze put women’s wrestling back on the Titan Towers agenda in the early 90s. Their mini classics went against type in a time when women were meant to manage and not be heard that often. Before that, she was the Ace of All Japan Women as a technically adept monster with a startling presence that became her calling card. She started her journey at 15 years old and was main eventing before her 18th birthday. A unique look and devastating wrestling style gave her the total package. While she may not tick the boxes of the model employee, which is probably the reason why she’s not been inducted yet, but her influence on the WWE roster is tangible. The women’s revolution took its in-ring inspiration from Nakano’s generation of wrestlers, as it’s figurehead she deserves that honour.
John Dinsdale – The Great Muta
The Great Muta became a cult icon in WCW over the late 80s and early 90s. He was already legendary in Japan for his work in NJPW and AJPW so it only made sense that he would come over to America and wow audiences there too. Whilst never reaching the highest ranks in the company, he became the ultimate villain in a programme with Sting that pushed both of them to the moon. He had an iconic look, an exceptional move-set and an intimidating aura so rare in WCW at the time. WWE has started giving merit to WCW stars of the past so it’s time to induct one of the top legends of Japanese wrestling who managed to make a mark in America. Plus who wouldn’t want to see him poison mist whoever was brave enough to induct him?
Steph Franchomme – The British Bulldogs
The “Dynamite Kid” Tom Billington passed away in 2018, at only 60, 16 years after his cousin and Tag Team partner, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith. To say that there was nobody else like The British Bulldogs was no understatement. The Englishmen were performing dangerous high-flying moves, executing lightning fast snap suplexes and taking huge bumps all on a frame that was carrying fifty pounds more muscle than it probably should have.
The Dynamite Kid’s move set inspired the next generation of wrestlers and it would be unlikely to go to any independent show without finding a legion of Dynamite imitators. Regarded as one of the best British wrestlers of all-time, Davey Boy Smith was a national hero and was known across the world for his unique powerhouse and athletic style. Thanks to his son Harry, known as Davey Boy Smith Jr, his legend will never die. Bulldog’s acclaimed battles with WWE legends such as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels has seen him inspire a generation of wrestlers in the UK.
The British Bulldogs were one of the most exciting teams in the WWF/WWE history. For everything they have ever given in and out of the ring, an induction to the WWE Hall of Fame would be a small way to give them back.
Jozef Raczka – Tajiri
There are many names that will always come up when discussing the greatest Junior of all time: Jushin Thunder Liger, Rey Mysterio Jr, Dynamite Kid, but there’s one man who, to paraphrase Hamilton, not enough people give credit for how much credit he gave them and that man is Yoshihiro Tajiri.
An acolyte of The Great Muta, Tajiri is a 25-year veteran of the pre-determined arts having competed for All Japan, Big Japan, New Japan, WRESTLE-1, CMLL and held titles all over the world, including currently the GAORA TV Championship in All Japan. But none of that really plays into whether he’s worthy of Hall of Fame recognition but his WWE/ECW tenure speaks for itself: A United States Champion, an ECW TV Champion, a three-time tag team champion, a Light-Heavyweight and a three-time Cruiserweight champion, this is not a man who for the most part was given the big money slots but even if given three minutes with William Regal, he knew how to shine and how to make his opponent shine however briefly.
Of course, there is one other name that needs mentioning and that is Super Crazy. Tajiri and Super Crazy is one of the feuds that defined ECW, putting the variety of the Junior style on the map, working with perfect chemistry, the kind that only comes once in a generation, it was a feud worthy of passing on the proverbial torch of Dynamite Kid-Tiger Mask to. It carries on to this very day with them having singles encounters as recent as last week.
Tajiri participated in the Cruiserweight Classic putting in a good showing against Damien Slater in the first round before falling to Gran Metalik in the second, an encounter that recalled some of his Super Crazy classics. He was then going to be a part of 205 Live, appearing in the very early days of it before his age and knees got in the way of him being able to keep up with a WWE schedule again. A Hall of Fame slot would be a much more appropriate end to his WWE tenure, a reward for a long and hard-fought career, especially with his one-time manager Torrie Wilson going in already.
Go back and watch his matches with Super Crazy, his encounters with Regal, the ladder match with Team Angle where he won the tag titles with Eddie Guerrero through to a barn-burner of #DIY against him and Akira Tozawa, he’s always been good, he still is. This is a man who has been around the world and frequently given his best in the WWE’s particular squared circle and to have WWE’s favourite green mist spitting, buzzsaw kicking madman in the Hall of Fame is frankly the least he deserves. Plus he’ll be in town as he’s teaming up with his beloved Great Muta & Pentagon Junior to take on LAX & Low Ki at House of Glory: Culture Clash which, spoiler alert, will fucking rule.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE.com