It couldn’t have escaped many fans’ attention this week to hear the first inductees for the WWE’s Hall of Fame class of 2019 will be Degeneration X. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Chyna and X Pac will be placed alongside legends of the past in the HoF. I have to say here that I agree with John Canton in that WWE should have a physical Hall of Fame that fans can visit. It’d be an awesome attraction and I’m sure the lines would be out the door. But, until that day, the Hall of Fame remains in the ether and alumni are remembered online or on videos from years gone by.
What do I take form this announcement? I agree with it. All of it. Let’s not kid ourselves and pretend that none of these stars deserve this honor. Shawn Michaels will join Ric Flair as being the only men to be inducted twice into the Hall of Fame (Flair once by himself, then as part of the Four Horsemen) and nobody can deny that the Heartbreak Kid isn’t one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Triple H will likely be a two-time inductee at some point, but I have a feeling he’ll have to be talked into accepting the honor for himself as he strikes me as the type of guy who would want to put others before him at this point in his career (just like Vince McMahon).
Then we have the New Age Outlaws; the “Road Dogg” Jessie James and the “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn. The tremendous intro and entrance music. The charismatic Road Dogg with his catchphrases and merch sales that fell behind only the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin during the Attitude Era. They’re six-time Tag Team Champions, have held the Hardcore Championship each (Road Dogg once, Billy twice), each man has held the Intercontinental Title once, and the duo were ranked #1 Tag Team of the year in PWI (1998). Billy Gunn also won the King of the Ring in 1999. It’s hard to imagine them as a heel team, but that’s how they started out, feuding with the Legion of Doom, before solidifying themselves as part of DX and becoming a part of one of the most famous and successful stables in all of professional wrestling.
X-Pac is next on the list, and recent interviews with him show how humbled and excited he was by the announcement. X-Pac (or Sean Waltman) always comes across as a measured, cool and intelligent guy in interviews. He tells of how hard he had to work in the business – especially with his smaller frame and being dwarfed by his teammates – but he also knows that hard work deserves recognition and he’s proud to be part of the induction. Waltman had a storied career and was very important in DX. His presence brought the stable more excitement as he would usually be lurking at the edges of the ring and the guy could trash talk really well too. He too won PWI Tag Team of the year (with Kane in 1999) and won many championships across a variety of brands in his pro wrestling career. He is the only man to have held the TNA X Division Championship, the WCW Cruiserweight Championship and the WWE(F) Light Heavyweight Championship.
Last, but by no means least, is Chyna, Joanie Laurer. I’m not going to whitewash her career here, and will acknowledge that she made some bad decisions towards the end of her all too short life, but I also won’t pretend that she wasn’t one of the most important and impactful women in the history of professional wrestling. Think what you want of her time after WWE, but the Hall of Fame is to recognize her accomplishments and achievements as a wrestler and she did a hell of lot. Recognized as the ‘Ninth Wonder of the World’ (the eighth was Andre the Giant), Chyna blazed a trail in wrestling unlike anyone before or since. In this past year, women’s wrestling has hit new heights due to the hard work and determination of a fantastic group of women in wrestling. Though their achievements are important today, it would be remiss to erase some facts from history and we should remember them. Chyna was the:
- First woman to enter a Royal Rumble match
- First women to participate in the King of the Ring Tournament
- First women to become #1 contender for the WWE Championship
- First woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship
Those reasons alone should be worthy of her being inducted alone into the Hall of Fame. I understand the concerns some have about her being put alongside the great names from the past, but let’s be honest here, she didn’t kill anyone. She didn’t cause harm to anyone else. She just made some bad choices. We shouldn’t judge Chyna for that and that alone. Remember her first months with DX and how important she was to the group? Remember her feuds with Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Title? Remember her playing ‘Mamacita’ to the much-loved Eddie Gurrero? That’s the Chyna we should remember and think fondly of. She deserves to be part of the ceremony and it’s sad that she won’t be there in person.
WWE has gone up in my estimation by bringing Chyna into the Hall of Fame. Even though some scoff at the wrestlers honored in a scripted show, it does mean a lot for the people involved and the pro wrestlers themselves see it as a great honor. I’ll believe their opinion over everyone else’s when I think about the Hall of Fame. It should be there to remember and honor those who gave the best years of their lives for our entertainment. I’m looking forward to the show and to see who else is to be inducted. As always, thanks for reading.