On the Friday before WrestleMania, WWE came together with fans and superstars from across the eras to honor the Hall of Fame class of 2023. Joining the likes of Rey Mysterio, Stacy Keibler was inducted into the Hall of Fame as well. The news initially broke on People that Keibler would be inducted, and most people chose that moment to congratulate her. However, some shared a less favorable opinion, namely that the nomination was not deserved. Before diving in, though, it is essential to note that Stacy Keibler and all the inductees are fans and people. Of course, anyone can have an opinion, but the humanity at the center of these characters is far too often ignored in discussions like this.
It all started because I was a super fan ❤️ https://t.co/e8FbESsrZd
— Stacy Keibler (@StacyKeibler) March 27, 2023
So, Stacy Keibler in the WWE Hall of Fame became the most recent example of a seemingly annual debate talked about on this site just recently; what makes a wrestling legend? The answer then and now remains the same. It is it’s tough to tell. Describing a legend is almost impossible in generic terms. Typically you know one when you see one. So, with the “legs of WCW” being the most recent controversial inductee, let’s break down her career and compare it to a beloved contemporary of Keibler.
Stacy Keibler WWE Hall of Fame Career
Stacy Keibler competed in an era where women were not taken seriously as competitors. Starting as a dancer, working her way up to manager, and then competing in the ring. Like all of the women in wrestling, Stacy had to fit a particular role that made it hard to showcase their athleticism. Even the top stars of the women’s division, like Lita or Trish Stratus, were relegated to a supporting role. Despite this, she left a lasting impact on fans. Maybe it was her natural charisma or the hyper-sexualized character she had to play. A performer set up to be a blip in wrestling history became a featured part of the two biggest promotions ever.
Stacy was pivotal to the Invasion story and was able to play her role as both a face and a heel. Keibler’s run on Dancing with the Stars and subsequent acting and modeling career were some of the earliest successes a superstar had outside of wrestling since the 1980s. Her appearance on television and in magazines not only advanced her career but was a part of keeping wrestling in the mainstream media and cemented her status as a celebrity outside of the ring.
Throughout her wrestling career, though, she locked up with some of the best female wrestlers of the time, Lita, Trish, and Molly Holly. It is Molly Holly that draws the best comparison to Keibler. Inducted in 2021, Holly is a beloved and extraordinarily talented worker fan, and we were happy to see her inducted. She had a career spanning roughly the same period as Keibler but filled that time very differently. One became a pop culture icon, the other a well-respected former champion that inspired future generations. How do two incredibly different performers find themselves in the same position two years apart?
In-Ring Prowess or Star Power
Both women worked for WCW and then WWE, and each had the same constraints placed upon them that all women had to deal with in the early aughts. Both acts managed to forge a career in WWE despite those constraints. It was how the two managed to stand out that varied more than anything. Keibler relied on her appeal and signature style as a superstar. Molly Holly seemed determined to increase in-ring competition for women, even if it was just for five minutes a night.
Stacy Keibler’s charisma launched her to become a certified celebrity. Holly never left the industry behind and continued to improve women’s wrestling. Having left the competition around the same time, comparing the two directly serves as a test of sorts for fans. For some, the work that Molly Holly did in-ring is somehow lessened by a prototypical “Diva” being honored alongside her. Other fans see Keibler’s star power and remember her from her appearance in and out of WWE. Those fans remember Keibler more than the outcome of the brief matches allotted to the women then. Taking just a beat to reflect, though, and the need for deciding doesn’t hold up.
Why Should We Even Choose?
Stacy Keibler in the WWE Hall of Fame comes after a long entertainment career. Starting with the Baltimore Ravens and ending with an acting profile that included roles on shows like How I Met Your Mother or Dancing With the Stars. In between, Stacy became an icon in both WCW and WWE. Unfortunately, those points are ignored when the debate comes up about who is fit to be a legend. Instead, a small vocal fanbase trying to protect wrestling as a sport ignores the hard work of entertainers.
It is important to remember two things, though. First, sports entertainment is anything that leaves you entertained, and that is great! Even superb wrestlers like Molly Holly ran as Mighty Molly for a time. Comedy is fun, and it gives people a chance to laugh and unwind. Entertainment shouldn’t leave people angry, and too often, it does. Secondly, the success of wrestling as a popular media relies on the mainstream appeal of its stars, mainly WWE. The matches we love featuring talented performers like Molly Holly are often paid for by performers like Stacy Keibler. Personal preferences aside, the Hall of Fame is plenty big for both.
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