WWE

The other Hall of Fame: WCW's forgotten honor

In February 1993, the  WWE Hall of Fame was established to honor and immortalize the best WWE Superstars and Divas in history. The late, great Andre the Giant became the first inductee.

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.

RARE WCW HALL OF FAME PHOTOS

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.

WATCH WCW HALL OF FAME INDUCTONS

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.

The inaugural WCW Slamboree was held on May 23, 1993, from The Omni in Atlanta. Fittingly, the venue was integral in the evolution of NWA and WCW and a perfect home for the first “Legends Reunion.” In attendance were NWA and professional wrestling trendsetters, such as Ole Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, The Fabulous Moolah, Stu Hart, Magnum TA,  Mad Dog Vachon and Lou Thesz.

Hosted by legendary commentator Gordon Solie, the inaugural WCW Hall of Fame ceremony honored four outstanding individuals whose impact in sports-entertainment was immeasurable.

FORGOTTEN WCW HALL OF FAME PHOTOS

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.

WATCH WCW HALL OF FAME INDUCTONS

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.

The inaugural WCW Hall of Fame ceremony was very well-received by fans and competitors alike and WCW decided to host a second ceremony at the next Slamboree in 1994. The headliner of the second WCW Hall of Fame class was former eight-time NWA Heavyweight Champion and the first United States Champion, Harley Race.

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.

SEE PHOTOS OF THE WCW HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1994

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.

WATCH WCW HALL OF FAME INDUCTONS

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.

At  Slamboree 1995, WCW held what would be the final Hall of Fame ceremony. The final class was headlined by one of NWA’s most popular grapplers — Dusty Rhodes. The American Dream led a veritable “who’s who” of Hall of Fame inductees in 1995 that only further added to the esteem of the short-lived institution.

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.

WATCH WCW HALL OF FAME INDUCTONS

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.

By 1996, the landscape of sports-entertainment was drastically changing. The nWo was born, WWE’s Attitude Era was beginning to emerge and the Monday Night War was heating up. Although both WCW and WWE still honored their respective histories, both Hall of Fames were put on hiatus to focus on the coming television ratings battle.

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.

WCW HALL OF FAME PHOTOS

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.

WATCH WCW HALL OF FAME INDUCTONS

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.