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The WWE Hall of Fame is a hall of fame which honors professional wrestlers and professional wrestling personalities maintained by WWE. Originally known as the WWF Hall of Fame, it was created in 1993, when André the Giant was posthumously inducted with a video package. The 1994 and 1995 ceremonies were held in conjunction with the annual King of the Ring pay-per-view events and the 1996 ceremony was held with the Survivor Series event. After an eight year hiatus, WWE relaunched the Hall of Fame in 2004 and has held the ceremonies in conjunction with WrestleMania ever since. Since 2005, portions of the induction ceremonies have aired on television and since 2014 the entire ceremonies have aired on the WWE Network.

As of 2019, there have been 204 inductees, with 113 wrestlers inducted individually, 37 Legacy Inductees, 15 group inductions (consisting of 43 wrestlers within those groups), 10 celebrities and five Warrior Award recipients, whilst 57 members have been inducted posthumously. Four wrestlers have been inducted twice (individually and as part of a tag team/group): Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, and Bret Hart.[1]

History


The WWF Hall of Fame was created in 1993. It was first announced on the March 22, 1993 episode of Monday Night Raw where André the Giant, who had died nearly two months prior, was announced as the sole inductee.[2][3][4] In the proceeding two years, induction ceremonies were held in conjunction with the annual King of the Ring pay-per-view events. The 1996 ceremony was held with the Survivor Series event, for the first time in front of a paying audience as well as the wrestlers, after which, the Hall of Fame went on hiatus.

WWE (WWF changed its name to WWE in 2002) relaunched the Hall of Fame in 2004 to coincide with WrestleMania XX.[5] This ceremony, like its predecessors, was not broadcast on television. However, it was released on DVD on June 1, 2004.[6] Beginning with the 2005 ceremony, an edited version of the Hall of Fame was broadcast on Spike TV (2005)[7] and on the USA Network (2006[8]–present[9]); these were aired on tape delay. Since 2005, the entire Hall of Fame ceremony has been packaged as part of the annual WrestleMania DVD release,[10] and from 2014, has been broadcast live on the WWE Network.[11] In 2015, historical WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies became available on the WWE Network.

Although a building has never been built to represent the Hall of Fame, WWE has looked into constructing a facility. In 2008, Shane McMahon, then-Executive Vice President of Global Media of WWE, stated that WWE had been storing wrestling memorabilia in a warehouse for years, with all items categorized and dated in case a facility is created.[12]

Specialty inductees


The "celebrity wing" of the Hall of Fame is dedicated to celebrities that have made memorable appearances on WWE programming, and/or have had longtime associations with WWE.

In 2015, WWE introduced the Warrior Award for those who have "exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior."[13]

While WWE promotes Warrior Award recipients as Hall of Fame inductees,[14][15] they are not included in the Hall of Fame section at WWE.com.[16] and an image gallery which shows "every WWE Hall of Famer ever" does not contain any recipient.[17]

The award was created following The Ultimate Warrior's death. During his April 2014 Hall of Fame speech shortly before his death, he proposed that there be a special category called the "Jimmy Miranda Award" for WWE's behind-the-scenes employees.[18][19] Miranda, who died in 2002, was part of the WWE merchandise department for more than 20 years[20] Former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts expressed disappointment at how WWE used portions of Warrior's Hall of Fame speech to promote the award, but left out Warrior's intentions of honoring WWE's off-screen employees[21][22] WWE responded, "It is offensive to suggest that WWE and its executives had anything but altruistic intentions in honoring Connor and his legacy with The Warrior Award", adding that "moving forward the award will be given annually to acknowledge other unsung heroes among WWE's employees and fans".[23] 2019's recipient, Sue Aitchison, is the only WWE employee to receive the award thus far.[24]

Traditionally, Dana Warrior (widow of The Ultimate Warrior) presents the award.

In 2016, WWE introduced a new category for the Hall of Fame called the "Legacy" wing. Inductees in this category are from several eras of wrestling history, going back to the early 20th century.[25] All but two inductees, Hisashi Shinma and MSG Network creator Joseph Cohen, have been inducted posthumously. Legacy inductees are recognized with a video package at the ceremonies.[26][27]

The Legacy wing also has some criticism around it, specifically regarding the abbreviated way of the inductions. Professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer said "this is the category they (WWE) use to honor people who, for whatever reason, they don't feel are marketable names to the modern audience to put in their actual Hall of Fame".[28] In contrast, long time pro wrestling promoter and manager Jim Cornette critiziced the fact that recognizable names like Jim Londos or El Santo were part of a video package.[29] Bruiser Brody's widow stated that she did not know her husband was going to be inducted into the 2019 class until the day of the event and that she was not invited to the ceremony.[30]

Classes


WWF Hall of Fame (1993) was the inaugural class of the WWE Hall of Fame. During the March 22, 1993 episode of Monday Night Raw a video package announcing André the Giant's induction was shown.[4] No ceremony took place, and André was inducted posthumously. In March 2015 a condensed version of the 1994 ceremony was added to the WWE Network.[31] Due to no original ceremony, the 1993 introduction of André was discussed by Gene Okerlund and Renee Young as part of the 1994 commentary.

WWF Hall of Fame (1994) was the event which featured introduction of the second class to the WWE Hall of Fame. The event was produced by the WWF on June 6, 1994 from the Omni Inner Harbor International Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. The event took place the same weekend as King of the Ring.

In March 2015 a condensed version of the ceremony was added to the WWE Network.[31] Due to the original ceremony only being partially recorded and not originally intended to air, Gene Okerlund and Renee Young host the program with added commentary.

WWF Hall of Fame (1995) was the event which featured the introduction of the third class to the WWE Hall of Fame. The event was produced by the WWF on June 24, 1995 from the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event took place the same weekend as King of the Ring.

In March 2015 a condensed version of the ceremony was added to the WWE Network.[31] Due to the original ceremony only being partially recorded and not originally intended to air, Gene Okerlund and Renee Young host the program with added commentary.

The 1995 class featured two posthumous inductees. Antonino Rocca was presented by his wife, and The Grand Wizard was represented by Bobby Harmon.

WWF Hall of Fame (1996) was the event which featured the introduction of the fourth class to the WWE Hall of Fame. The event was produced by the WWF on November 16, 1996 from the Marriott Marquis in New York City, New York. The event took place the same weekend as Survivor Series.

In March 2015 a condensed version of the ceremony was added to the WWE Network.[31] Due to the original ceremony only being partially recorded and not originally intended to air, Gene Okerlund and Renee Young host the program with added commentary.

Due to Vincent J. McMahon's passing in 1984, he was posthumously inducted by the McMahon family.

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Ceremony dates and locations


Reception


In 2012, The Post and Courier columnist Mike Mooneyham noted that the Hall has garnered criticism due to the inductions of questionable performers, and the omissions of major names within the industry.[216] Bob Backlund declined induction multiple times,[217] and The Ultimate Warrior wrote that he refused the honor in 2010;[218] they were eventually inducted in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Randy Savage was recognized as being noticeably absent;[219] Chris Jericho said that the Hall achieved a level of legitimacy by inducting him in 2015.[220] Slam Wrestling questioned how Koko B. Ware, who primarily wrestled in the undercard, was inducted but former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Ivan Koloff never was before his 2017 death.[221]

Bruno Sammartino, the longest reigning WWWF World Heavyweight Champion, was once critical of the Hall of Fame. Sammartino disapproved of celebrity inductees such as Pete Rose and William Perry, and said of the ceremony: "What's the point to a Hall of Fame? Is it a building I can actually go to? No. Give me a break".[222] Sammartino declined previous induction offers, before accepting in 2013. Paul Levesque (Triple H) said that it was important for Sammartino to be inducted from a "legitimacy standpoint" and ESPN said that his induction is an opportunity to legitimize the Hall of Fame.[223] After being announced as an inductee, Sammartino said he considered the Hall to be legitimate.[224]

Superstar Billy Graham publicly slammed the hall and demanded that WWE remove him from it, due to the 2011 induction of Abdullah the Butcher. Graham wrote: "It is a shameless organization to induct a bloodthirsty animal such as Abdullah the Butcher into their worthless and embarrassing Hall of Fame and I want the name of Superstar Billy Graham to be no part of it".[225] Sabu also criticized the Hall of Fame, saying "I'd only do it because I need the money... I don't consider it a real Hall of Fame."[226] In 2018, Bret Hart, who headlined the 2006 ceremony, criticized the omissions of several wrestlers, primarily Dynamite Kid and his brother Owen, as well as the inductions of the likes of The Rock 'n' Roll Express and The Fabulous Freebirds, who experienced little success in WWE. Hart said he would not go to another ceremony until WWE inducts "proper, deserving candidates".[227]

Others have offered praise for the Hall of Fame. World Wrestling Council promoter and 26-time WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion Carlos Colón Sr. said that his 2014 induction was a "realization of a dream".[228] 2015 Hall of Fame headliner Kevin Nash stated that two things in the professional wrestling business are real: "When you win your first championship and when you get inducted into the Hall of Fame." Nash claimed this is a sentiment to which colleague Ric Flair also subscribes.[229] During his 2013 induction, future U.S. president Donald Trump said that the honor meant more than "having the highest ratings in TV, being a best-selling author or getting a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame."[230]

Dave Scherer of PWInsider has questioned how WWE can sustain the 2004–present Hall of Fame model, due to legends being rapidly inducted. He wrote: "There are only so many people that they can have headline a class. They really need to make more new stars to ensure that they can keep filling arenas for the ceremony".[231]

See also


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