As of March 1, WWE has yet to name an inductee for its 2023 Hall of Fame class.
Usually by now, we have heard at least a couple of the entrants’ names broadcast on WWE television; but with a pending sale, shifts in management and very intense storylines occupying time among officials, it’s forgivable that no one has gotten the invite to join the hallowed hall.
So now is as perfect a time as any for some armchair balloting and put forth names that should go in this year.
I’m not here to debate or answer to anyone’s pitchforks about the Hall’s validity. I’ve spoken to enough talents over the years or heard enough stories about how thankful the Legends are that their legacies are being remembered to know that the slagger opinion is secondary.
To start building the class, I established some ground rules for myself, in part based on the unofficial traditional makeup of each class. I set forth on choosing one inductee from each of the following groups:
- Male wrestler
- Female wrestler
- Tag Team
- Posthumous induction
- International superstar
- Manager or other non-wrestling personality
I chose to forego the Warrior Award winner, because quite frankly that is an open field that has greater expanse than I could ever dream up. I also chose to leave aside a celebrity inductee as the category has been here-and-there over the last few years (though I’ll say that Cyndi Lauper is a must-induct, perhaps for WM40).
Here we go:
Male Wrestler – Rick Martel
This one continues to surprise me, given how integral Rick Martel was as a member of the WWE and AWA rosters.
Martel held the WWE Tag Team Championship on multiple occasions, first with Tony Garea and later with Tito Santana as part of Strike Force. He also spent time with Tom Zenk in the CanAm Connection in WWE, but ultimately gained his biggest footing with the Stamford, CT headquartered league as “The Model.” Martel showed incredible charisma in this role while embarking on a memorable feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Outside of WWE, Martel held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, the WCW Television Championship and other titles in his remarkable career.
Female Wrestler – Victoria
This one was the easiest choice for me. Yes, there are many women not yet in the Hall who are deserving of their spot, but Lisa Marie Varon — who wrestled as Victoria and Tara — tops the list for me.
Victoria was a two-time WWE Women’s Champion and one of the key villains as WWE transitioned from the Attitude Era to the Ruthless Aggression Era. She was incredibly athletic, had strong chemistry and, most of all, could easily play the heel or the face.
Leaving aside the recent return to action with Impact, Victoria officially retired in recent years and appears to be on good terms with WWE after appearing at the Royal Rumble in 2022.
Tag Team – The Rockers
When you talk about tandems that inspired generations of superstars, you have to include Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty in the conversation.
The owners of two AWA World Tag Team Championships and a phantom WWE World Tag Team Championship, The Rockers blew away most of their competition with innovative offence that hadn’t been seen much, if at all, in North America. Long before Sweet Chin Music, both Jannetty and Michaels were delivering Superkicks like there was no tomorrow, while introducing other offence like the Rocker Dropper (better known as the Famouser) and their double flying fists finisher.
Yes, Michaels is already honored twice, but The Rockers deserve their very own spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Posthumous induction – Bam Bam Bigelow
I had to double-check this one, but sure enough, the Bammer isn’t in the Hall.
Bigelow was one of the most agile big men of his or any era. His ability to fly like a man half his size was eye-popping and he caught the attention of fans throughout the 1980s and ’90s. His unique look, which combined his famous head tattoo with fiery gear made him stand out, while his rough-and-tumble persona added to his bad-assery.
While Bigelow never won a championship in WWE, he headlined WrestleMania 11 against Lawrence Taylor, was an ECW World Heavyweight and Television champ, captured WCW’s Hardcore and Tag Team championships and, unbeknownst to me, also won gold in New Japan.
International Superstar – The Great Muta
If you don’t know about Muta or Keiji Muto, then you need to start studying your Japanese wrestling — or just go read our recent story on his career.
Arguably the greatest superstar to cross the Pacific Ocean and have a lengthy run on North American shores, Muta terrorized WCW for ages. His bouts with the likes of Sting are the stuff of legend and his Moonsault was the most picture-perfect iteration in history.
Muta’s list of accomplishments is long and far-spread, but the highlights include the NWA Television Championship, the WCW Tag Team Championship, three Triple Crown Championships in All-Japan, four IWGP World Championships with New Japan, and just about every other conceivable honor in his homeland.
Muta’s recent retirement only adds reason for his induction this year.
Non-wrestling personality or Manager – Lilian Garcia
This was a toss-up between Garcia and Tony Chimel for me, but Garcia gets my nod.
Garcia, also a recording artist, started her WWE career during the Attitude Era, handling in-ring introductions and the occasional backstage interview. She also, off camera, led the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” at most WWE events, including at Tribute to the Troops. Garcia occasionally got involved in storylines such as with Viscera, and was often the butt of jokes from The Rock, but she took it all in good stride and seemed to enjoy these extra-curricular moments that you just don’t see anymore on WWE TV.
So there you are folks, my picks for the 2023 WWE Hall of Fame. Agree? Disagree? Leave us your thoughts.
We’ll be tuning in for the ceremony on Friday, March 31, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
TOP PHOTO: The Undertaker was the last inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2022. WWE photo