The WWE Hall of Fame ceremony takes place every year during WrestleMania weekend. It used to take place on the Saturday night before WrestleMania, but this year they moved it to Friday night with Kurt Angle as the headliner because they wanted to put the NXT Takeover event the night before WrestleMania.
Every year the question comes up as fans are left to wonder who is going to be the headline name next year? It may seem early on this last day of August to think about it, but it’s really never too early. We figured it might as well be a good time to list five big names from WWE history and try to figure out who may be the headliner. Plus, in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer noted that Dave Bautista aka Batista is a possible headline name for Hall of Fame 2018 in New Orleans on Friday, April 6. Let’s begin the speculation with Batista.
As a six-time WWE World Champion, Batista is obviously the kind of name that should headline the WWE Hall of Fame. It seems like 2018 is the perfect time since he left WWE in 2014 while he was frustrated with his place in the company. Plus, he was on the brink of movie superstardom because Guardians of the Galaxy came out that year, it made around $1 billion dollars at the box office and he became a household name.
Since then, Batista has done other movies like Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Blade Runner 2049 to name a few.
Will Batista ever return to wrestling? Probably not. He’s 48 years old and with all of his movie commitments, most of the production companies won’t want him bumping in a wrestling ring and risking injury. That’s something The Rock has had to deal with in the past as well. I think it’s fair to say Batista won’t have another match in WWE again. Might as well put him in the Hall of Fame next year.
On another Batista note, check out Vince Mancini’s interview with “The Animal” posted here on UPROXX earlier today.
The end of WrestleMania 33 earlier this year saw Roman Reigns defeat The Undertaker in the main event of the show. After the match was over, The Undertaker left his hat, gloves and jacket in the ring as if he was saying goodbye. He kissed his family at ringside and then was lowered under the ramp as WrestleMania came to a close.
Did that finish mean that The Undertaker was officially retired from wrestling? You would think so, but this is The Undertaker, who is always subject to rumors of one more match even at 52 years of age. Let the man rest, people!
The Undertaker, who is a seven-time WWE World Champion, has not had much of a presence at the Hall of Fame during his career. When they have the Hall of Fame ceremony, he is not present in the crowd. I assume he’s backstage for that event, but maybe not every year. If he is inducted in the Hall of Fame, would he break character as The Undertaker and speak to the fans as Mark Calaway or will he do it in character? Maybe he doesn’t want to do it at all. We really don’t know because he keeps that stuff close to the vest.
I think in Undertaker’s case, he can go into the WWE Hall of Fame whenever he wants. Since he is a Texan, maybe he will want to wait for WWE to go back to Dallas or Houston and go into the Hall of Fame at that point. Whenever he goes in, it will be a huge moment and one of the most memorable Hall of Fame inductions ever.
It’s fair to assume that The Rock can go into WWE’s Hall of Fame whenever he wants. He’s a very busy man as a movie actor, television actor, producer and about a dozen other job titles you can associate with him. The last “match” he had was a quickie at WrestleMania 32 in 2016 when he beat Erick Rowan in an impromptu match where he took no bumps. His last real match was the main event of WrestleMania 29 in 2013 with John Cena.
After that match, The Rock sustained injuries and there have been several reports over the years about how Hollywood doesn’t want him wrestling again because as a major motion picture star, if he gets hurt in a match it would slow down production of a movie significantly.
The Rock is a ten-time WWE Champion (counting two WCW World Title reigns too) that headlined five WrestleManias and is arguably the biggest star in the history of WWE. Whenever he does something in the public eye, WWE brags about it because that’s where he got his big break. They should be proud of what he does because he is one of the best role models there is among celebrities today.
Like with The Undertaker, The Rock seems like the kind of guy that will go into the WWE Hall of Fame whenever he wants. Also, since WWE loves going to Florida so much, I think maybe The Rock would want to go into the Hall of Fame when they go to Florida again, preferably his hometown of Miami (where WrestleMania 28 was). It could be next year in New Orleans, but I think they will hold off on it for another year.
This one makes perfect sense because Daniel Bryan headlined WrestleMania 30 in 2014 in New Orleans. It was his only WrestleMania main event and it was one of the best endings to a WrestleMania ever as he won the WWE Title by beating Randy Orton and Batista in a triple threat match. Fast forward to February 9, 2016 when Bryan stood in a WWE ring to announce his retirement from wrestling due to a concussion. If Bryan is never going to wrestle again then inducting him in New Orleans is the right call.
The reason not to do it is because Bryan has made it clear that he wants to wrestle again by treating his concussions. Bryan’s WWE deal expires next year at around this time, so if WWE won’t let him wrestle again then he might go somewhere else (Ring of Honor? New Japan?) to continue wrestling. Bryan is only 36 years old and everybody else in this article is in their late 40s or early 50s, so it makes more sense for the older guys to go in first. Why rush it?
I think Bryan is a strong possibility for next year’s Hall of Fame, but there are better choices and his uncertain future about potentially wrestling again may also prevent it.
When Goldberg returned to WWE last year as part of the WWE 2K17 video game, it wasn’t expected that he was going to wrestle a few matches. Goldberg ended up beating Brock Lesnar in under two minutes at Survivor Series 2016. A few months later, Goldberg beat Kevin Owens for the Universal Title at Fastlane (in another quick match) and then Lesnar got his revenge by beating Goldberg for the Universal Title at WrestleMania 33 earlier this year. It was a cool comeback for Goldberg, who at 50 years old, showed he could still entertain wrestling fans as well as anybody in the last twenty years. Plus, he spent over a decade complaining about WWE, so it was good to see them mend those fences.
The case against Goldberg in WWE’s Hall of Fame is that he didn’t wrestle for that long. He wrestled for WCW from 1997 to 2000, had a one year run in WWE from 2003-04 and then about six months from the end of 2016 through WrestleMania in 2017. Add it all up and it’s about six years of in-ring action for him. The argument against that it is this is WWE’s Hall of Fame.
There are no rules in terms of what a wrestler has to do in his career to get in. Since Goldberg was the top guy and he’s won three different major WWE/WCW World Titles, it’s easy to see why he would qualify.
I think Goldberg has a very good chance of being in the WWE Hall of Fame at some point in the next few years. Do it while he’s fresh in people’s minds after his return to the company. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever wrestle again, so they might as well put him in the Hall of Fame soon.
All five of these men should be the headline name when they go in the WWE Hall of Fame, which shows WWE has several big names waiting in the wings to be the main attraction at the Hall of Fame. I think the Batista induction for 2018 makes the most sense. If he was asked, I would assume he would say yes even though his last run in WWE didn’t go as he intended. After him, Goldberg is a strong possibility because I believe he’s retired from the ring. The other three names all have reasons to hold off for a bit, so they are not my pick for Hall of Fame headline name in 2018.
I think it’s going to be Batista.