That same year, rival organization WCW responded with the formation of their own Hall of Fame, which focused on the legends that competed in NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions — the organizations that ultimately paved the way for WCW.
Over the course of three years, the WCW Hall of Fame inducted 17 renowned competitors, including retired, semi-retired and posthumous honorees. WCW’s annual Slamboree event hosted the induction ceremony and also featured a “Legends Reunion” that honored NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions competitors.
WCW ended their inductions in 1995 and ignored the Hall of Fame for the remainder of the organizations’ existence. Here, WWEClassics.com shines a light on the iconic competitors who were once enshrined by WCW so that their legends live on.
Hosted by legendary commentator Gordon Solie, the inaugural WCW Hall of Fame ceremony honored four outstanding individuals whose impact in sports-entertainment was immeasurable.
The first class was headlined by three-time NWA Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz. The dangerous mat technician became the youngest World Champion in history when he captured the title at 21 and went on to carry the title for more than 10 years, spread out over four reigns. Widely considered one of the greatest and most influential professional wrestlers of all-time, Thesz’s induction immediately gave the WCW Hall of Fame a high level of credibility.
Joining Thesz as part of the first WCW Hall of Fame class were 10-time AWA Champion Verne Gagne and former President Jimmy Carter’s favorite wrestler, Mr. Wrestling II. Seven-time NWA Florida Tag Team Champion Eddie Graham was honored as the first posthumous inductee into the hall.
Both Gagne and Graham would later be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, further highlighting their contributions and respective legacies.
Race represented the epitome of what the WCW Hall of Fame was all about. Competing in NWA, AWA and WWE during his career, Race’s contributions to sports-entertainment were as important during his WCW Hall of Fame induction as they were a decade later during his WWE Hall of Fame induction. He is also the only Superstar to have been inducted into the WCW, WWE and NWA Hall of Fame.
In addition to Race, the class of 1994 also included original Four Hoursemen member Ole Anderson, trailblazer Ernie Ladd, three-time AWA World Champion The Crusher, The Masked Assassin and a posthumous induction for 11-time WWA World Champion Dick the Bruiser.
That same year, Ernie Ladd inducted Bobo Brazil into the WWE Hall of Fame and one year later, Brazil returned the favor when Ladd was inducted. Ladd’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995 made him the only inductee of both the WCW and WWE halls while both companies were active.
A former holder of every major NWA Championship, Dusty Rhodes was the ultimate do-gooder in the eyes of NWA fans as he battled the legendary Four Horsemen. In addition to Rhodes, Antonio Inoki, “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo, Terry Funk, Wahoo McDaniel and Big John Studd – posthumously – were also inducted.
Showing no signs of slowing down in spite of his newly minted Hall of Fame status, McDaniel also competed that evening at Slamboree, defeating Dick Murdoch in a Legends Match.
Also inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame was Gordon Solie. Often called “The Dean of Wrestling Announcers,” Solie became the only non-wrestler to be inducted into WCW’s Hall of Fame.
A prestigious and honorable institution, the WCW Hall of Fame never officially closed. Instead, it became an early casualty of the Monday Night War, forgotten long after WWE purchased WCW in 2001.
Nevertheless, the WWE Hall of Fame reopened in 2004 and WCW Hall of Famers Harley Race and Big John Studd were part of that class. Since then, Dusty Rhodes and Verne Gagne have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, joining Ernie Ladd, Race and Studd.
Although the WCW Hall of Fame is no longer in existence, its mission has been integrated into that of the WWE Hall of Fame, honoring the legendary competitors who paved the way for not only WWE, but all of sports-entertainment.