The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2023 on Thursday, March 16.
And it’s pretty Gorgeous.
With his beautiful locks and his Georgie pins, Gorgeous George was arguably the biggest wrestling star ever at one point, thanks to the arrival of television. As George Wagner, he was a pretty routine wrestler, but inspired by other earlier gimmicks, like Lord Lansdowne, he changed it up and became a star.
Contrasting the Gorgeous One in the Posthumous Post-1925-North America category is the clean-cut All-American Verne Gagne, who was a legit amateur wrestler and football player turned wrestling superstar. Years later, he started the American Wrestling Association.
Their contemporaries in the Posthumous Post 1925-International category are Japanese great Mitsuharu Misawa, who died tragically in the ring in 2009, and famed British tough guy Bert Assirati.
It’s in the Living-International category where things get Great.
Keiji Muto — who wrestled in North American as The Great Muta — is being inducted, the announcement coming just days after the news of his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, and a little less than a month since his retirement.
The incomparable Kenta Kobashi, one of the Four Pillars of All-Japan Pro Wrestling, is the other Living-International inductee.
The Living-North America category members have some history.
Bret “Hitman” Hart was a multi-time WWF champion with tag team, World and Intercontinental title reigns. During his run as WWF champion, he feuded with a returning Bob Backlund, who had been WWWF World champion in the 1970s, and had returned as a totally different character.
Former Women’s World champion June Byers is the sole inductee in the Women’s category.
The IPWHF has made an effort to go back to the early days of worked pro wrestling, and the four inductees into the Pre-1925 category reflect that.
Posthumous Pre-1925-International category are Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler and weightlifter Georg Lurich, who was one of George Hackenschmidt’s early trainers, and Tom Connor, a catch-as-catch-can expert out of Lancashire, England.
Dan McLeod is one of two Posthumous Pre-1925-North America inductees. “He’s a bit of a mystery man, as it hasn’t been fully established whether he was born in Scotland, Canada or Illinois. Whatever the case, he was working as a miner in Nanaimo, British Columbia when he entered the wild and wooly world of pro wrestling,” reads the IPWHF note.
The life of Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Doc” Roller, however, is far better doc-umented, as he was indeed a medical doctor, as well as a football player.
The IPWHF is based out of Albany, New York, and has a permanent home in the MVP Arena. The tradition induction weekend is in August.
The candidates were chosen by the IPWHF voting pool, headed by the ballot committee comprised of Mark S. Hewitt, Don Luce, Nathan Hatton, Phil Lions and Tim Hornbaker.