WWE Hall of Fame: Class of 2004

You didn’t miss 1997-2003.  They don’t exist.  Also I forgot the Valiant Brothers in the 96 class but they’ve been added at the end.This is the return of the Hall of Fame after an eight year absence.  It’s also the first year that the inductions were tied in to Wrestlemania, which was the perfect move for the ceremonies.  They never were really talked about, so putting them at Wrestlemania got them on the main stage for the first time ever.  Since there are a lot more people going in starting with these classes and some of them are better known, the statements about each will likely shrink a bit.  Let’s get to it.

 

Big John Studd

….for what?  Winning the second Royal Rumble?  I’d hardly call that a reason for putting him in the Hall.  Studd won a tag title back in the 70s under a mask, but other than that the guy doesn’t have any claims to fame in the company.  He was a pretty big star outside of WWF, but again I don’t know if he was a big enough deal to be in the Hall of Fame.  At the end of the day, he didn’t really do much other than job to Andre and Hogan about a million times.  If he’s in the Hall of Fame, it’s on one of the lowest levels you can be on.  I’d vote no here.

 

Don Muraco

I’m fine with this one.  Muraco was a very dominant heel back in the early 80s, winning two Intercontinental Titles when that meant a lot.  He spent the second most time ever as champion, second only to Pedro Morales.  He’s also an answer to another trivia question, as he won the first King of the Ring tournament.  Muraco was a shell of his great self by the time he turned face in late 87, which is a shame as he really was talented back in the day.  I’m fine with him going in.

 

Greg Valentine

You could nearly write the same paragraph here as was written about Muraco, with the only differences being Valentine won a tag title instead of another IC Title and never won the KOTR.  Valentine also had a great run in the NWA, winning nearly every major title other than the world title.  If you want to see an old school bloodbath, check out Valentine vs. Piper at the first Starrcade.  For it’s time, it’s an amazing brawl.  I have no problem with Valentine being in the Hall of Fame, but if you look up his stuff, get the matches before about 1987.  They’re WAY better.

 

Harley Race

This is a yes.  If you need to know who Harley Race is, watch some HHH matches and pretend it’s the 70s.  They’re practically the same guy.  If I remember right, when Race retired he was an 8 time world champion.  The second highest total at that time: three, by Lou Thesz.  Harley Race is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and has a legitimate argument for being the greatest of all time.  Race falls into the category of “guys you have to have in a wrestling Hall of Fame if you want people to care.”  As I said, this is a yes, period.

 

Jesse Ventura

If you have Gorilla Monsoon in the Hall of Fame, it would be a crime to not have Ventura in there as well.  These two were made to be commentary partners and they had the absolute best banter in the history of wrestling announcers.  Ventura wasn’t great in the ring by any stretch, but he more than made up for it on the microphone.  Oh and he was governor of Minnesota.  That has to be worth some points.  I’m fine with him being in the Hall of Fame, but only the WWF version.

 

Junkyard Dog

The JYD is one of those guys that got by almost entirely on charisma instead of skill.  By the time he got to the WWF he was a shell of his former self, but the fans still loved him no mater what.  He never accomplished that much on the main stage, but he was probably the biggest star ever in Mid-South, which was a pretty big deal back in the day.  This is one of those names that I wouldn’t go with personally, but I can see why he got in.  I’d probably vote no though, at least for the first few years.

 

Sgt. Slaughter

This is another name that wasn’t huge on the main stage but he was certainly big elsewhere, especially in the chin department.  Slaughter was a top star in the AWA and then won the WWF Title in a huge heel run in 1991.  He used the American military gimmick which is one of the tried and true gimmicks that almost never fails.  Slaughter was one of the top stars of the 1980s, and I have limited problems with him being in the Hall of Fame.  I’ll give him a pretty solid yes here.

 

Billy Graham

Here’s something you likely wouldn’t guess: Graham has the longest world title reign by a heel in WWF history.  On top of that, to call Graham influential is the understatement of the century.  Hogan used the boas and talked about having huge arms, Rhodes flat out stole some of Graham’s catchphrases, and Jesse Ventura made a running joke out of saying that Graham stole ideas from him.  Graham has since become something of a nut case, but to argue that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame is absurd.  This is probably the easiest layup of the year.

 

Tito Santana

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big Tito Santana fan.  The guy could flat out go in the ring and was basically the Kofi Kingston of his day: he won enough titles to be credible all the time, he almost never had a truly bad match, and he never was a serious threat to the world title.  Santana and Valentine had some of the best chemistry you’ll ever see, making their matches pure treats.  He had the same chemistry with Savage so the feuds flowed very well with them.  Santana certainly belongs in the Hall as he’s one of the most consistently solid workers in history.

 

Bobby Heenan

He’s the greatest manager of all time but he might have been funnier on commentary.  Think about this: the guy got a DVD released about him, and he was primarily a manager.  That sums up the easy yes pretty well.

 

Pete Rose

Yeah whatever.  The guy took some beatings over the years so why not.

 

This was a pretty solid return to the concept for the WWE, but the next year was when they started nailing the idea with headliners.  That’s probably what this class is missing most, but it’s certainly not bad.

4 comments

  1. SoM says:

    Harley Race was also one of the most legitimate tough guys in wrestling wasn’t he? Obviously he was no Haku but a large amount of wrestlers were afraid of him.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Very much so. Back int he day it was common to put the title on tough guys. Can you imagine someone trying to shoot on Terry Funk?

  2. Chrisman442000 says:

    Tito Santana gets in the HOF for being a ‘consistently solid worker’? I fail to see how this justifies his inclusion. Maybe I’m justr plain ignorant but this is a weak inclusion, you may as well put Greg Valenti…..oh.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Alright we’ll throw in that he won the King of the Ring, won the tag titles twice and held them for nearly a year combined, won the Intercontinental Title twice and held if for over a year combined, and was probably the second or third most popular star in the company for over a year.