WWE Hall of Fame 2019: 5 Superstars who should be inducted into the "Legacy Wing"

Who will be inducted into the
Who will be inducted into the "Legacy Wing" of the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame?
Paul Benson

The WWE Hall of Fame was established back in 1993, originally as a way to honor the recently deceased Andre "The Giant."

There was no ceremony, just a video package to commemorate the legendary figure. A ceremony took place the following year and in 1995 and 1996 before the Hall of Fame was scrapped in favor of the "Slammy Awards", WWE's tongue in cheek parody of the Oscars.

To mark the twentieth anniversary of Wrestlemania, WWE exhumed the Hall of Fame from the scrap heap and made a herculean effort to induct a wealth of worthy inductees, such as Harley Race, Bobby Heenan, Sergeant Slaughter, and Greg Valentine.

In 2016, WWE quietly added the "Legacy Award" to it's WWE Hall of Fame class. This was a way to honor long deceased stars who had played a big role in the early years of professional wrestling. Among the inaugural inductees were Lou Thesz, one of the biggest stars of the 1940s and 1950s, Pat O'Connor, who was the first ever AWA World Champion in 1960, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, who managed Thesz and was a huge star himself in the 1920s and 30s, and Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt, two pioneers of the early 20th century.

This was a wonderful way to recognize the long history of professional wrestling regardless of the company, without spending time during the main ceremony enshrining stars with whom the majority of WWE's fanbase would be unfamiliar with.

In 2017 and 2018, WWE inducted slightly more contemporary stars as part of the rechristened, "Legacy Wing", including former WWWF Champion, Stan Stasiak, Rikidōzan, El Santo and Lord Alfred Hayes.

This would seemingly open the door for more deceased stars of the more recent eras of pro-wrestling to be inducted alongside the pioneers of the early part of the 20th century.

This slideshow looks at five names who should be recognized in the 2019 Legacy Wing.

#5. Giant Baba

Vince McMahon and Giant Baba circa early 1980s
Vince McMahon and Giant Baba circa early 1980s

The Godfather of All Japan Pro Wrestling, Giant Baba is one of the best-known faces in the history of Japanese wrestling.

He co-founded the promotion in 1972 and served as it's booker, promoter, president and trainer from its inception until his death in January 1999 at the age of 61 from cancer. All Japan provided legitimate competition for the established New Japan Pro Wrestling and for a period of time was the premier wrestling promotion in Japan.

Prior to 1972, Baba was already a legend for his in-ring career which saw him win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on three occasions between 1974 and 1980.

Standing just under seven feet tall, Baba was an attraction wherever he wrestled the world over. Baba is renowned as the "friendly giant"; one of wrestling's good guys and is more than deserving of the Hall of Fame honor.

In truth, it is somewhat surprising it has not happened already. It likely will in 2019.


#4. Brian Pillman

Brian Pillman circa 1997
Brian Pillman circa 1997

Brian Pillman would be by far the most contemporary member of the "Legacy Wing" should he be inducted but perhaps, this would be the most effective way of honoring him.

Pillman only wrestled for WWE sporadically between 1996 and 1997, before his untimely death on October 5, 1997, from Atherosclerotic heart disease.

In truth, Pillman had been a dead man walking for over a year prior to his death, following a horrific car accident, that left his left ankle fused into a walking position. In constant agony and with children to support, meaning he had to keep working, Pillman took an incredible amount of pain medication to get him through the day.

Finally, at the age of just 35, his heart could take no more. The tragic circumstances of his death have meant despite his fame, he has not been at the front of the queue for Hall of Fame induction.

However, WWE recognizes his legacy, given that they released a compilation DVD and an accompanying documentary of his life and career in 2006.

He is more than deserving of induction. He was a pioneer of WCW's Cruiserweight division when he contested stunning aerial bouts with the likes of Jushin "Thunder" Liger in the late 1980s and early 1990s before he formed the legendary tag team, with the future Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1993.

However, Pillman is most famous for his "Loose Cannon" persona which he adopted in 1995 to set him apart from the crowd. Standing only five feet 10 inches, which at that time was too small for a headliner, Pillman conceived a character that was so chaotic, that members of WCW's roster and fans watching, could not tell whether Pillman was veering off script or not.

So groundbreaking was the character, that Pillman became the talk of the wrestling world. He convinced WCW boss, Eric Bischoff to legitimately fire him to play up the illusion that he was a wrestler that was out of control and then showed up on rival ECW's wrestling shows, before using his now free agent status to sign a lucrative deal with WWE.

However, the aforementioned road accident in April 1996 scuppered any chance Pillman had of making it as a top level player in WWE, and Pillman's in ring career as a difference maker was effectively over.

The Pillman story is such a tragic one that it is perhaps understandable why a Hall of Fame berth has not yet been forthcoming. Therefore, the "Legacy Wing" would seem to be the most effective way to pay tribute to this legend.


#3. Ivan Koloff

Ivan Koloff with the WWWF Championship circa 1971
Ivan Koloff with the WWWF Championship circa 1971

It is an absolute travesty that Ivan Koloff does not have a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. Had he not passed away in February 2017, there is every likelihood that we would have been enshrined in the main ceremony in 2017 or 2018.

He is more than worthy. Koloff is most famous for being the man to end Bruno Sammartino's record-breaking seven-year reign with the WWWF Championship (the forerunner to the WWE Championship, currently held by Daniel Bryan).

On January 18, 1971, Koloff defeated Sammartino to lift the strap to the sound of stunned silence in Madison Square Garden. Sammartino famously stated that he believed he had gone deaf due to the lack of noise. Koloff's reign was a transitional one as he dropped the title to Pedro Morales the following month.

However, Koloff enjoyed a long career before and after his title run for an array of companies and was over everywhere he went.

This induction is long overdue and it should happen in 2019.


#2. The Dynamite Kid

The Dynamite Kid: One of the finest performers of the 1980s
The Dynamite Kid: One of the finest performers of the 1980s

The Dynamite Kid is the most recently deceased of the superstars on this list but that makes him no less deserving of a spot in the "Legacy Wing" of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Kid got his start in the wrestling business on the British circuit in the mid-1970s before finding fame working for the legendary Hart family's Stampede Wrestling at the end of the decade.

Incredibly agile and also very strong, Kid successfully merged styles from over the world to become one of the most influential wrestlers of his generation. Signing on with WWE in August 1984, Kid was soon teamed with his real-life cousin, Davey Boy Smith and the company billed the two Brits as The British Bulldogs.

Together they formed one of the best tag teams of the 1980s and captured the Tag Team Championships at Wrestlemania 2 in April 1986 and reigned until January 1987 when they dropped the belts to the Hart Foundation.

Kid's tenure with the company lasted until November 1988 when he and Smith left the company, mainly due to a backstage dispute Kid had with the Rougeau brothers that had turned worryingly violent.

The pair began wrestling for Giant Baba's All Japan promotion before Smith accepted an offer from WWE to return to the company as a singles performer in 1990. That drove a rift between the two men which lasted until Smith died in 2002.

Kid began struggling with a back injury stemming from years of chemically packing on an unnatural amount of muscle onto his five-foot-eight-inch frame and retired as a full-time performer in December 1991.

In 1997, Kid became confined to a wheelchair after he lost the use of his left leg. The Brit became bitter towards many in the wrestling business but stated he did not regret anything about his career, despite the quality of life being a significant struggle for him post-retirement.

Kid died on his 60th birthday on December 5, 2018. His is a tragic tale but his innovative move-set and matches influenced scores of wrestlers during the 1990s and 2000s. For that reason alone, he deserves to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Given the number of people in wrestling that he alienated in his later years, the Legacy Wing may be the most appropriate forum to recognize his legend.


#1. Bruiser Brody

Bruiser Brody: Legendary inside the ring and out
Bruiser Brody: Legendary inside the ring and out

Bruiser Brody is an icon to millions and thirty years after his demise is still widely discussed in pro-wrestling circles. An inspiration to generations of wrestlers, Brody popularised wild, hardcore brawling.

Mick Foley, Mike Knox, and Luke Harper are obvious superstars who were built in Brody's image and style. Brody is one of the most famous names that WWE are yet to induct into their Hall of Fame and the reason likely is the circumstances surrounding his tragic death.

Famed for his uncooperative approach in the ring, and an aversion to losing, Brody was confronted by fellow wrestler, Jorge "Invader" Gonzalez backstage on a Puerto Rican wrestling show in July 1988.

Only Gonzalez emerged from their conversation alive. Gonzalez had stabbed Brody in the stomach and Brody would later die from his injuries.

It is difficult to imagine the circumstances surrounding his demise being discussed on the Hall of Fame stage, as the event aspires to be an uplifting one. However, Brody's continued omission from the Hall of Fame devalues it completely. WWE should rectify this in 2019 and honor the deserving legend.

Edited by Lennard Surrao
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