The final names for the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2019 have reportedly been confirmed per PWInsider, and at the risk of sounding like total smarks on our uptight comedy wrestling blog, the “legacy class” may be a better crop of nominees than the induction class itself.
To quote Bill Hanstock’s write-up of the 2017 legacy nominees …
The Legacy wing of the WWE Hall of Fame serves to honor the pre-television history of professional wrestling (or at least, the pre-modern era of professional wrestling), as a means both to pay tribute to the fact that the art form has been around and been extremely popular for well over 100 years, and to further legitimize the modern inductees that contemporary fans are familiar with.
That definition is getting a little more nebulous as we move forward. While past inductees have included Mildred Burke, Frank Gotch, Georg Hackenschmidt, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Pat O’Connor, Lou Thesz, and ‘Sailor’ Art Thomas, the new reported legacy inductions feature more than one star who competed in (and one who debuted in) the television era. Here’s what we’re being told:
The most famous name on the list is probably Bruiser Brody, the thinking man’s “monster” wrestler responsible for popularizing the “brawling” style in pro wrestling. The wildman held numerous championships in the National Wrestling Alliance, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Indianapolis’ World Wrestling Association before his untimely murder in a locker room in Puerto Rico in 1988. If you’re wondering why someone as important and notable as Brody would get a legacy induction, please reread the second half of that previous sentence.
The most recognizable name for modern fans is Luna Vachon, the women’s wrestling trailblazer from a famous wrestling family who brought her wild style to the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling in the ’90s. It’s strange that she’d go in as a legacy inductee and not get her own formal induction in a year when Torrie Wilson is going in as a standalone name, and especially considering she debuted in 1985 in the middle of the TV era boom, as opposed to someone like the Honky Tonk Man, who debuted in the 1970s. Luna deserved better!
Legendary jobber (also of the TV era) Special Delivery Jones is getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, which brings up the question: How is King Kong Bundy not in the Hall of Fame, but the guy he defeated in nine seconds at WrestleMania is?
Other names rounding out the list:
- Former United States Champion and football star, Choctaw-Chickasaw Native American wrestler Wahoo McDaniel. Wahoo was a fan favorite in Jim Crockett Promotions and competed from the early 60s until the mid-90s, where he was known for having some of the best chops in wrestling history.
- Professor Toru Tanaka, a 3-time WWWF World Tag Team Champion alongside Mr. Fuji who might be even better known for his post-wrestling filmography, which includes roles in The Running Man, 3 Ninjas, Darkman, and a role as Francis Buxton’s butler in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
- The “Ambling Alp” Primo Carnera, a wrestling star of the 1940s who was also a former heavyweight boxing champion, retiring with an 89–14 amidst accusations that he’d fixed fights for the mob
- Joseph Cohen, creator of the Madison Square Garden Network.
- Former WWF President Hisashi Shinma, the pre-Jack Tunney authority who gave Satoru Sayama the Tiger Mask gimmick, discovered Akira Maeda, formed the UWF, and put the WWF Championship on Antonio Inoki whether American audiences knew it or not
- Playboy Buddy Rose, who you might know from this:
That’s a hell of a class, isn’t it?