WWE Hall Of Fame Inductions That Caused Major Controversy

The WWE Hall of Fame is a controversial concept in itself, with no physical building anywhere in the world to honor the 239 inductees, even though the tradition was established 30 years ago, in 1993, ahead of WrestleMania 9. As of last year, 127 individual wrestlers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Forty-six of those are legacy inductees and 18 groups, with 51 wrestlers among them, have been inducted. There are 13 celebrities, including notable controversial figures in the Celebrity Wing of the Hall of Fame. Since its inception in 2015, nine people have been honored with WWE's Warrior Award, with the most recent being referee Tim White, who was honored posthumously.


With WrestleMania 40 and the 2024 Hall of Fame Ceremony emanating from Philadelphia, the home of Extreme Championship Wrestling, WWE announced at the beginning of March that Paul Heyman will be heading into the Hall of Fame. Another potentially controversial induction would be Sabu, whom many fans are clamoring for. As of this writing, WWE has not yet announced its full 2024 induction class. Throughout the years, there have been several inductions into the Hall of Fame that have caused controversy in the wrestling world and among fans alike. We're taking a look at them as we move into WrestleMania season.


The Ultimate Warrior had previously been shunned so much by the WWE, that the company released a DVD titled "The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior." Fences were mended between Warrior and the company, however, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 by Linda McMahon. His induction following his previously tumultuous relationship with the company brought up reminders of all his bad behaviors in previous years. Warrior was notoriously difficult to work with in the 1980s and early 1990s, which led to the star being fired following SummerSlam 1991 after demanding a ton of money from Vince McMahon. He was fired two more times in his career, with the third coming in 1996 after he had missed a series of shows.


Perhaps the most notable instance of Warrior behaving badly that fans would recognize today, would be his homophobic comments. Warrior infamously spoke badly, and publicly, about the LGBTQ+ community, even going as far as ranting about gay intercourse causing the apocalypse. A VICE Sports report in October of 2017 resurfaced both racist and homophobic comments made by Warrior on a conservative blog he ran in the 2000s. He wrote posts insulting Hurricane Katrina victims, disrespected Martin Luther King Day, and even wrote a heartless post about fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Heenan after he was diagnosed with throat cancer.

Shockingly, just days after his induction, Warrior passed away. He collapsed while walking with his wife and was rushed to the hospital. His death was confirmed to have been caused by a massive heart attack. His legacy lives on through his wife, Dana Warrior, and through the Warrior Award presented by WWE at every Hall of Fame induction since it was created in 2015. The award is given to anyone in the wrestling world who has "exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior," according to WWE.



John Bradshaw Layfield, known to fans as JBL, had a controversial induction into the Hall of Fame, due to reports of bullying backstage in WWE. It's a rumor that has been ongoing throughout the years, even after the former APA member received the honor in 2020. JBL participated in the "Wrestler's Court" alongside the Undertaker, dishing out often ridiculous punishments to anyone they thought broke etiquette backstage and in the locker room. JBL is also infamous for legitimately beating up The Blue Meanie during a brawl between WWE and ECW stars during ECW One Night Stand in 2005. The shoot fight was apparently over comments Meanie had made about JBL online. JBL has also admitted to bullying and hazing The Miz, even once saying he would "make no apologies about it whatsoever."


The most recent, and possibly the most well-known, instance of JBL's bullying was his treatment of fellow then-WWE commentator Mauro Ranallo, who has been public about his battles with bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts. JBL was publicly critical of Ranallo on an episode of a WWE Network show in March of 2017. He even mocked Ranallo's popular catchphrase "mama mia!" Following the public bullying incident, Ranallo took a leave of absence from the company before ultimately leaving WWE. Ranallo spoke out and said JBL's mocking didn't cause him to leave, but fans still hold the cowboy-hatted heel accountable.


Despite WWE knowing about the potential involvement of Jimmy Snuka in the death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983, the company inducted the high-flyer into the Hall of Fame in 1996. While Snuka wasn't charged at the time of his induction, the suspicions surrounding Argentino's death remained. Argentino was found injured in a hotel room on May 10, 1983, after Snuka returned to the room following a wrestling event nearby. Argentino was struggling to breathe and oozing fluid from her nose and mouth. Snuka called for an ambulance, but his 23-year-old girlfriend died within hours. Snuka told investigators she had slipped and hit her head, and he was initially cooperative with the investigation.


Snuka was arrested in Pennsylvania in 2015 and charged with third-degree murder after the case was reopened in 2014 and Argentino's autopsy report was revealed. At that time, a forensic pathologist said her death should be investigated as a homicide, as the autopsy revealed Argentino died of traumatic brain injuries sustained 12-24 hours before an ambulance was called. Snuka was quietly removed from the Hall of Fame by WWE in 2015, following his arrest. The former HOFer died in January 2017 of a terminal illness at the age of 73, after the charges had been dismissed due to his incompetence to stand trial.


The Fabulous Moolah emerged as a controversial figure in later years, following allegations of abuse and wrongdoing by multiple women in 2019. The allegations led to WWE changing the name of a battle royal, initially named after Moolah in her honor, at WrestleMania 34, after presenting sponsor Snickers threatened to back out due to the allegations. Claims on social media accused Moolah of stealing money, drugging, and prostituting female wrestlers who worked for her. Unsubstantiated allegations arose from the likes of Sherri Martel, Luna Vachon, and Sweet Georgia Brown about Moolah as a manager and trainer, as well as a performer at "Camp Moolah" in Columbia, South Carolina. Moolah would house her trainees at the "camp," and would collect outrageously high rent from the women.


Moolah was the first female inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995, where, unlike Snuka, she remains today, despite the controversies. Moolah died in November 2007 at the age of 84.


There was nothing controversial about Koko B. Ware as a person, per se, but his WWE Hall of Fame induction left many scratching their heads. Ware's claim to fame in the WWE was coming to the ring with his pet parakeet (whose name was Frankie) and skirting the line of enhancement talent in the company. Despite some fans believing more deserving stars should have been inducted, Koko B. Ware was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 by The Honkytonk Man.


The real-life James Ware Jr. lost in a squash match to Yokozuna on the premiere episode of "Monday Night Raw" in 1993, but he debuted for the company in August 1986 alongside his bird. In 1992, Ware teamed with Owen Hart to form the tag team known as High Energy. They appeared on only one pay-per-view, where they lost to the Headshrinkers at Survivor Series in 1992. His final appearance for WWE didn't come until October of 2005, when he was defeated by Rob Conway on an episode of "WWE Heat." Ware continued to wrestle in other promotions across the country until his retirement in 2019.


The controversial Pete Rose may not ever be able to enter Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame due to his past of betting on games, but he was inducted into the "celebrity wing" of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He was the first celebrity to ever be inducted. Rose appeared at WrestleMania 14, WrestleMania 15, and also at the event in 2000. He was a guest ring announcer at his first WrestleMania, where he also took a Tombstone Piledriver from Kane. The following year, he dressed as the San Diego Chicken and attacked Kane before his match, just to take another Tombstone for his troubles. At WrestleMania 2000, Rose was hit was a Stink Face, courtesy of Rikishi, who was teaming with Kane that night. Despite their years-long feud, Kane was the star to induct Rose into the Hall of Fame.



Another man who wasn't controversial as a person, James Dudley's induction into the Hall of Fame in 1994 just didn't make sense to some fans, and has been described as an "oddity." He began working in professional wrestling for Jess McMahon in the 1950s. Dudley is best known for being Vincent J. McMahon's personal limo driver and bodyguard, but he was also the first Black man to run a major United States arena, having been gifted management duties of Washington, D.C.'s Turner's Arena by McMahon.


Dudley also managed several wrestlers throughout his career, including Bobo Brazil. Following the elder McMahon's death, Vincent K. McMahon kept Dudley on the company's payroll, at the age of 74. His final on-screen appearance was in January 2002 on an episode of "WWE SmackDown," when he was pushed in a wheelchair by Stephanie McMahon in an attempt to get past arena security. Dudley died of natural causes in 2004, at 94 years old.


Abdullah The Butcher's induction to the Hall of Fame in 2011 actually caused a fellow legend to walk out of it. "Superstar" Billy Graham was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, but when Abdullah's induction was announced, Graham left in protest, apparently annoyed that the company was inducting a star that he claimed never worked there. Another reason for Graham's dispute was due to accusations Abdullah had infected wrestlers with Hepatitis C by sharing blades with other wrestlers or cutting others without them knowing first.


"It is a shameless organization to induct a bloodthirsty animal such as Abdullah the Butcher into their worthless and embarrassing Hall of Fame, and I want the name of Superstar Billy Graham to be no part of it," Graham said.

Abdullah responded to Graham, saying he loaned Graham money at one point and that Graham saying he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame was "wrong." Abdullah still called Graham a "nice guy," but said he "doesn't know what he's talking about" because Abdullah "drew money all over the world." Abdullah had a reputation for violent hardcore matches. He worked for Georgia Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and many more. He made his WCW debut in 1991 and feuded with Sting alongside Cactus Jack.



The controversy surrounding the induction of Bruno Sammartino to the Hall of Fame was just how long it took the longest reigning WWE Champion in history to get there. Sammartino was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 by Arnold Schwarzenegger.


The delay in his induction could have been due to the fact he cut ties with Vince McMahon and the WWF for various reasons, including how his son, David, was treated in the company. Sammartino also reportedly stood up to McMahon regarding steroid use in the company, which resulted in a confrontation between the two on the Larry King Show. Sammartino left the company in 1988 and headed for WCW. McMahon reportedly tried to bury the hatchet with Sammartino multiple times after 25 years, but the former champion reportedly kept telling his former boss "no," before finally agreeing to meet with him before his Hall of Fame induction.


Well deserving of being in the Hall of Fame, Molly Holly's induction did not come without controversy that angered her fans and upset the trailblazer for women's wrestling. The two-time WWE Women's Champion was reportedly initially given 15 minutes for her induction speech and worked with professional writers to make sure it was perfect. Holly claimed to have practiced her speech for over 60 hours before the induction ceremony. She explained on an episode of "Busted Open Radio" that a few days before the Hall of Fame ceremony, WWE officials told he she only had two minutes for her speech, rather than the hefty chunk of time she had previously been given. She compared it to her time wrestling in the company, when women's matches would be cut for time, or female wrestlers would have their match time drastically reduced.


"I cried for like four hours," Holly said on "Busted Open." Holly was able to share her entire Hall of Fame induction speech on WWE's YouTube channel, which she has since said she is grateful for.


The most controversial aspect about Chyna in the WWE Hall of Fame is the fact she has not been inducted as a singles star. "The Ninth Wonder of the World" has only been inducted as a member of D-Generation X, due in part to her past in the adult film industry and her departure from WWE after it was revealed her boyfriend Triple H was having an affair with Stephanie McMahon. "DX" was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019; Chyna died in 2016 after consuming alcohol and prescription drugs. She was the first woman to enter the Hall of Fame as part of a group. The other members of DX lauded Chyna during their Hall of Fame induction speeches, calling her the "biggest and best trailblazer" in the history of the industry, as well as "probably the most impactful woman to ever set foot in this ring." 


Despite her issues outside of the ring, fans of Chyna continue to clamor every year for her solo induction into the Hall of Fame.


Drew Carey's induction to the "celebrity wing" of the Hall of Fame in 2011 was also confusing to many WWE fans, as the funnyman only ever had one appearance in the company, during the 2001 Royal Rumble match. Carey appeared at the pay-per-view to meet with McMahon and promote his own stand-up comedy pay-per-view event. McMahon convinced Carey to enter the Rumble match, and he joined the bout at Number Six to an empty ring. Kane entered the match next. Carey attempted to win the "Big Red Machine" over with a handshake, then a wad of cash, and was saved by Raven entering the ring next. While Kane was distracted, Carey leaped over the top rope and eliminated himself from the match. Carey has not been seen in a WWE ring since, but was inducted into the esteemed Hall of Fame after only one time on screen.



The Great Khali was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021, surprising many WWE fans who weren't exactly fans of the former World Heavyweight Champion. Outside of the championship win, many thought Khali wasn't exactly Hall of Fame material due to his sub-par in-ring skills as well as his lack of skills on the mic, and that his induction was more of a political move. In 2021, WWE had been working to expand more into the market in India and reach over its 1.4 billion inhabitants, and many saw Khali's inclusion in the Hall of Fame as a play in that expansion.


Khali's full-time wrestling career ended in 2014, though he continued to make occasional appearances between 2017 and 2023. He founded his own wrestling promotion, India's largest, known as Continental Wrestling Entertainment, in 2015.


The main controversy surrounding Bret Hart's second induction into the Hall of Fame in 2019, as part of the Hart Foundation, wasn't due to his relationship with the company or McMahon following the infamous Montreal Screwjob. It was due to the fact the legend was attacked by a fan during the ceremony, which was one of the first presented live in front of fans following a show, broadcast from the ring. Security immediately swarmed the ring, alongside other wrestlers, to tackle the man, as the broadcast dipped to black for fans at home. Current AEW star Dax Hardwood, then known as Dash Wilder, was able to punch the attacker in the face as security dragged him off. Thankfully, Hart was not injured and was able to finish his speech.


Following the attack, Hart addressed the issue on an episode of his "Confessions of The Hitman" podcast. He explained the man, who was unknown to Hart, was a mixed martial artist who was allegedly suffering from mental health issues. Hart also said the man deserved all charges levied against him.