WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017 has a headliner problem. For many years, there has been talk that WWE will run out of inductees and specifically headliners as it has been going through superstars at a fever pitch. While I have disagreed in many regards in most years (Assuming Sting, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man and Mick Foley would join), 2017 seems poised to be the first class since 2010 (headlined by Ted Dibiase after the Warrior said no) without a legitimate headliner.
Going off the correct idea that WWE is a marketing giant and will not headline a class with a lesser talent at this point….
Here’s three possible headliners for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Daniel Bryan retiring in early 2016 was a great loss for the wrestling world. Bryan was a superstar of amazing potential who theoretically was only beginning to assume his role as a main event talent. He was a Bret Hart or a Shawn Michaels in the making. Unluckily, he was injury prone, specially when it came to concussions.
Concussions are not a thing to be treated lightly. During my own twenties, I had five concussions (due to maleficence mostly) and have suffered the consequences of confusion and spaciness subsequently. Daniel Bryan’s concussions?-Oh those are much worse. His style in the ring is one which has basically welcomed injury and concussions. Bryan jokes about the frequency of his head injuries, but he is likely at least 20 times concussed. Not a good thing.
WWE’s doctors would not clear Bryan and he decided to retire, mostly due to his contract which beholden him to appearing both on Total Divas and remaining “active” as needed. Bryan has been quoted as saying his life is worse for not wrestling. Ask the Funks how that feels. Those guys can’t remain retired in their 60s.
Bryan is still retired as far as WWE is concerned (although recent rumors suggest he might wrestle again) and therefore is a potential candidate for the Hall of Fame. WWE loves inducting recently retired headliners. Edge in 2012 (retired May 2011) and Shawn Michaels in 2011 (retired March 2010) were both cases of “fast tracked” headliners. Both were more a case of the easiest choice. Michaels and Edge were both still under contract at the time of their inductions. Bryan follows this mold.
Still, Bryan may come back. He may wrestle. The only active wrestler to be inducted was Ric Flair and he lost that privilege and “retired” (again only as WWE was concerned) a day later. Bryan will have this slot only if he is actually retired. If WWE bring Bryan back in a desperation play or just because Bryan needs it- Then Bryan is off the table.
I love the 2k video games for WWE. They are always a good mix of WWE, NXT and Legends making it a fun whos who of matches to play. They are also precursors of those who will return into the fold with the WWE. As an organization, WWE functions mostly as a marketing company for itself. Even more than the matches, WWE is, like almost all wrestling historically, good at making you come back to watch.
Shift to the video games. In the last five years, superstars and celebrities alike have been featured in pre orders and found their way either in the Hall of Fame (Ulltimate Warrior) or back on WWE programing (Sting). Cut to this year’s pre order. Goldberg is 49 years old. If he was to ever come back, this is his last shot. WWE knows that and he has the perfect in and the perfect opponent, Brock Lesnar.
Goldberg is an easy Hall of Famer if the organization is willing. He was a mega superstar. He dominated WCW in 1998-1999 and was the best home grown talent they had. His inclusion in WWE 2k17 is an easy door opener for his involvement in the WWE promotional machine and an eventual uber legends contract (ala Bruno and Ultimate Warrior) which brings him back into the fold. He makes a great headliner.
The issue is the rumors. Goldberg is coming back. He has been very vocal on twitter that he wishes to have his children see him wrestle. (Goldberg hasn’t performed regularly since 2004) and is a guarantee to pop ratings and PPV alike if brought back (Sting part 2). WWE isn’t stupid. They know there is a built in story around Goldberg. He is the only man who has never lost to Brock Lesnar. The storyline writes itself for Wrestlemania.
I for one believe Goldberg will wrestle at Wrestlemania 33. This likely disqualifies him from the Hall of Fame (again the Ric Flair rule). Without Goldberg or Bryan, this leaves only one man.
The Undertaker is 51 years old and says he is retired. Both of those facts lead to the obvious decision. 2017 will be the Taker’s last hurrah by joining the WWE Hall of Fame. The celebration will be great and the Taker will go out into the sunset.
The problem is that do we really believe that the Undertaker’s last match is going to be against Shane McMahon? Does anyone believe that? Apart from dying, this is unlikely. Again, WWE is a marketing machine and they will advertise the fuck (excuse me?) out of the Undertaker’s retirement, unless he is unwilling, Rumors have abounded that Taker has said he is done. History tells us he is done until he is offered the penultimate moment. Taker will be retired in a match. Plain and simple …he isn’t actually done.
I got in trouble predicting the Undertaker’s end in 2015. He lost the streak but has been back twice since. 2017 could be his end, against John Cena. Cena, being the greatest attraction of the last tweleve years, is an obvious choice to end the Taker. 2017 could be that year, but that obviously precludes Mark Calloway from joining the Hall this year. He has no way to talk and be the real man behind the mask until he is done. This will take 2017 out of the mix.
And this leaves……no one.
WWE has a 2017 headliner problem. Only solutions are no headliner, Triple H or perhaps a super team. Could the Hart Foundation, NWO or DX’s Hall of Fame induction be in the future?
Who do you think will headline the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017