The WWE Hall of Fame was first established in 1993 following the death of WWE Hall of Fame. Over the years, wrestlers, celebrities and other figures have received inductions for their contributions to WWE or wrestling as a whole. Initially, a Superstar would generally expect their induction to come following the end of their in-ring careers or if they have passed away. However, this seems to have changed in recent years.
In 2023, Rey Mysterio made headlines following the announcement of his induction into that year’s Hall of Fame class. Unlike his fellow Hall of Famers, the master of the 619 remains a full-time member of WWE’s active roster. Mysterio himself was apprehensive about his induction and received assurances that he did not need to step aside from active competition.
Aside from Rey Mysterio’s induction as an active Superstar, we have seen a noticeable number of WWE Hall of Famers returning in major roles to WWE TV. This raises the question as to whether or not WWE should continue inducting Superstars into the Hall of Fame before they decide to hang up their boots. Let’s explore a few reasons why this could be the case and what this could mean going forward.
Should Active Wrestlers Enter the WWE Hall of Fame?
WWE Hall of Famers Are Returning In Major Roles
As mentioned earlier, there has been a noticeable increase in Hall of Famers coming back to WWE. These are not counting one-off appearances or a sporadic match but rather an extended run on TV. Aside from Rey Mysterio, Hall of Famers, Edge and Trish Stratus have been working semi-regular schedules as in-ring performers. Two-time Hall of Famer Booker T, is also a weekly fixture on WWE TV as the color commentator of NXT.
In the past few years, other Hall of Famers such as Beth Phoenix, Kurt Angle, Lita and Goldberg have also returned to a WWE ring, the latter two even winning championships. The likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and the Road Dogg, who have all been inducted as part of DX also continue to appear frequently in non-wrestling roles.
It goes to show that a number of existing Hall of Famers are deciding to show that they aren’t quite ready to call it quits just yet. Perhaps, this would serve to help shift the perception that the WWE Hall of Fame is a wrestler’s last hurrah to just another phase in the career of an especially tenured Superstar.
Today’s Wrestlers Have Far Longer Careers
Another interesting trend in WWE and the world of a wrestling as a whole, is the increase in the longevity of a wrestler’s career. A good example in WWE is Kevin Owens. At 39, Owens is now the same age as Stone Cold Steve Austin when he first retired in 2003. Unlike The Rattlesnake however, Owens continues to work an active schedule and seems nowhere close to calling it a career.
Healthier lifestyle choices, awareness of certain risks and significant improvements in medical technology have allowed wrestlers to enjoy longer, more sustainable careers. In fact, many wrestlers who were previously forced into retirement have also been able to safely resume their careers thanks to these developments.
On top of that, the emergence of the internet and social media has allowed for many wrestlers to get their first break at a much younger age. This earlier start date and a much later retirement date allows the opportunity for many wrestlers to embark on Hall of Fame worthy careers long before they hang up their boots.
That brings us to our next and final point.
There Are A Number Of Hall Of Fame Worthy Veterans On WWE’s Active Roster
Looking at WWE’s roster today, there are a noticeable amount of superstars who have enjoyed long and decorated tenures with the company and continue to work a full-time schedule. Superstars such as Shelton Benjamin, The Miz, and Dolph Ziggler among others come to mind.
With their WWE runs approaching or having already passed the 20-year mark, these three men have won numerous championships, participated in main event level programs and created all manner of memorable moments to warrant an induction into the Hall of Fame. Despite their reputations as seasoned veterans, all three have wrestled as recently as the May 15 2023 episode of Raw and it’s apparent that they’re not stopping anytime soon.
Randy Orton, who is currently on the shelf with an injury is also another example. Recognized as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, The Viper is a guaranteed a future spot in the Hall of Famer. The 43 year old star had previously stated that he has no intention of stepping away from the ring and felt that he could carry on as a full-time wrestler for at least another decade. Should Orton be cleared to return to the ring, a Hall of Fame induction could serve as an ideal “welcome back” gift rather than a bittersweet farewell to a legend who feels like he still has more to give.
WWE is indeed changing with the times and perhaps the Hall of Fame should too. With the state of wrestling today allowing for earlier exposure and longer careers, it is likely that we will see the stars of today continuing to perform at a high level even into the next generation of wrestlers.
The WWE Hall of Fame should no longer just be a place where we honor WWE’s past but should also pay tribute to those who continue to stick around to help create the superstars of tomorrow. Call them veterans, legends, or another synonym there are currently (with more coming in the future) a number of iconic superstars who deserve to be recognized while still having plenty left in the tank.
Rey Mysterio, Edge and many of these earlier mentioned legends have proven that the Hall of Fame isn’t an automatic write-off to one’s career. With many wrestlers soon to follow in their example, now’s as good a time as any to see an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame not as a retirement gift but rather as a well deserved promotion
Photo Credits: WWE. Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.