Prior to the first inductee of the 2013 Hall of Fame being announced, I wrote about which five superstars deserved a WWE Hall of Fame ring.
All five men I wrote about last year, The Ultimate Warrior, Steve Lombardi, The British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Randy Savage, weren’t inducted in 2013. In the 12 months that have passed since I wrote that article, some circumstances have changed. The Ultimate Warrior seems closer to an induction than ever, after putting his differences aside with the company, which led to his inclusion in the WWE 2K14 video game. As I believe he will be either a headline or co-headline induction, I can only see Steve Lombardi being inducted at the same time as him.
So now, I will look five other superstars, who I believe deserve an induction in 2014.
Last year saw the induction of one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time, Trish Stratus. One year on, and could it be time to induct, arguably, her greatest rival?
Arriving in late 1999 as the partner of Essa Rios, Lita sprung to the attention of the WWE Universe with high flying moves that she appeared to borrow from Rios. After the end of their on-screen relationship, she joined forces with Matt and Jeff Hardy to form Team Extreme.
As part of the high flying trio, Lita blurred the lines between Diva and Superstar, engaging in battles with male wrestlers on a regular basis. Her personal life was also sometimes played out on screen. Her relationship with Matt Hardy, and the subsequent break up of that relationship, due to a rumoured affair with Edge, saw her join forces with The Rated-R Superstar on-screen.
It was her partnership with Edge that saw Lita working near the top of the card for the last few years of her full time WWE career. It was a testament to her ability as a performer that she managed to help Edge attract the reactions from fans that he did, and her presence on the roster has been missed in the 6 years since she left. Her most recent official appearance on WWE programming was on Raw 1000 in 2012, where she defeated Heath Slater with the help of many WWE legends.
A Hall of Fame induction would be more than deserved for a woman who was a 4 time WWE Woman’s Champion, and a part of some many great moments in the prime of both The Hardy Boyz and Edge’s careers.
2) JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD
I doubt there were many people who thought that when The APA broke up in 2004, that Bradshaw would become a WWE Champion before the turn of the year. However, the rebranding of a man from a Texas Cowboy, to a hated Wall Street trader, saw JBL win the WWE Championship for the first and only time at The Great American Bash in 2004.
Before his singles success, Bradshaw made a name for himself as a successful tag team wrestler. Initially part of The New Blackjacks with Barry Windham, a short singles run was followed by his most successful and renowned tag team.
Joining forces with Faarooq, the two men became Hell’s Henchmen, and soon found themselves named as The Acolytes, and joined The Ministry of Darkness, led by The Undertaker. As part of The Acolytes, Bradshaw was a 3 time tag team champion.
After the break-up of the Ministry, Faarooq and Bradshaw re-branded themselves into the Acolyte Protection Agency, a cigar smoking, beer swigging group who would offer protective services for cash. Often showed backstage playing poker, the group were part of the tag team heyday of the early 2000′s alongside the likes of The Hardys, The Dudleys, Edge and Christian and The New Age Outlaws.
After brief reigns as European and Hardcore Champion, it wasn’t until June 2004 that JBL reached the pinnacle of Sports Entertainment. Defeating Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bull Rope match, Layfield embarked on a 280 day WWE Championship reign. That reign was ended by John Cena at Wrestlemania 21.
In the later years of his in-ring career, JBL won both the United States and Intercontinental Championships. At Wrestlemania 25, Layfield lost his IC title to Rey Mysterio in 21 seconds, which led to him promptly announcing his retirement.
Now renowned for his superb colour commentary, Layfield has also created a legacy with the Tribute to the Troops event. Could 2014 be the year that Layfield follows his fellow Acolyte Ron Simmons into the Hall of Fame?
3) LEX LUGER
A two time WCW World Heavyweight Champion and 5 time United States Champion, Lex Luger was at the forefront of professional wrestling for the majority of the 1990′s. A man who was able to perform effectively as both a face and a heel, Luger was one of a long line of former American Football players to make a successful transition into Sports Entertainment.
During his first run with WCW, he became a World Champion after turning heel under the instructions of Harley Race. After losing his title to Sting at Superbrawl II in 1992, Luger made the move to Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation. After a Motorcycle accident, the company was out of business, and Luger moved into the WWF as a narcissistic heel.
It was as a patriotic face that Luger had the majority of his success in the company. On Independence Day 1993, the then WWF Champion, Yokozuna, challenged anyone to try and bodyslam in a ring set up on the USS Intrepid. After many WWF and non-WWF athletes struggled to lift the champion, Luger entered the ring, and proceeded to body slam the near 600 lb beast.
Setting the wheels in motion of the Lex Express, Luger campaigned around America for a championship match against Yokozuna, a match that he won via DQ at Summerslam. At the start of 1994, Luger was declared the joint winner of the Royal Rumble alongside Bret Hart after both men were eliminated at the same time. This led to a second unsuccessful challenge for Yokozuna’s title, this time at Wrestlemania X at Madison Square Garden.
After returning to WCW in 1995, Luger would win his second WCW title against Hogan in 1997, before his in-ring career slowed when WWE took over WCW.
Now, 3 years after he started working with WWE again with their Wellness Policy, could the Lex Express ride into the WWE Hall of Fame?
4) BIG VAN VADER
Arguably the most agile big man in professional wrestling history, Vader was a star in every possible region of the globe in the 1980′s, 90′s and early 2000′s. Leon White began his career in the AWA in 1985 before moving to NJPW in 1987. Over a five year period with the company, Vader won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship twice, as well as having success in Europe, whilst also making his debut in WCW.
It was WCW where Vader went to on a full time basis in 1992. During a three year run, we won the WCW World Heavyweight Title three times, and engaged in numerous vicious feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Cactus Jack and Sting.
Vader’s WCW career ended in 1996 after a backstage brawl with Paul Orndorff, and after returning to New Japan to face Antonio Inoki, he headed to the WWF.
Vader never really reached the same heights in WWF that he had reached in WCW. Feuds with the likes of Kane, The Undertaker (over the WWF Championship), Goldust and Bret Hart.
However, unhappy with his newfound role of jobbing to the stars, Vader negotiated his own release and headed back to Japan before entering semi-retirement in 2003. The last time he was seen in a WWE ring was back in 2012, where he face Heath Slater on the June 11th episode of Raw, before returning on Raw 1000.
The fact that he never won championship gold in WWF/E should take away from the fact that, for the best part of 15 years, Vader was the most agile super-heavyweight in all of wrestling.
This may well be controversial, but you have to look at everything that Eric Bischoff accomplished. Starting off in the AWA sales department in the late 1980′s, Bischoff only became an on-air personality after the regular on air interviewer was arrested for DUI.
It was in 1991 that Bischoff started his successful career in WCW. Originally as an announcer, Bischoff worked his way through the company, firstly to Executive Producer, and ultimately, Executive Vice President.
Overseeing the most successful period of WCW’s history, Bischoff capitalised on the increasing number of free agents coming from WWF, signing proven stars such as Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Randy Savage. WCW were producing storylines that, for the early part of the Monday Night Wars, WWF were unable to match.
A number of major mistakes were made by Bischoff and other executives when it came to bookings and contracts, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he helped bring in a new era of Sports Entertainment.
When he appeared on Raw in 2002 as the General Manager of the show, people were shocked, and in the three years he appeared on Raw, he was consistently one of the best heels in the company.
There is no denying that Bischoff has special talent when it comes to Wrestling shows. He wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, and tried things in WCW that no one else would have dared dream about. That is why he should be in the WWE Hall of Fame.