I don't know what the right word is but the massive feeling upon reading the Wrestling Observer and the results of this years Hall of Fame was "huh"
None of the exciting Modern US/Canada candidates that entered the ballot got in, none of polarising candidates got in, ending with the advocates for CM Punk, Young Bucks and Roman Reigns pointing at each akin to the Spider-Man meme but instead of asking who they are, they just blame each other for not being inducted (I blame the Punk stans fwiw) and of course a Mexican act got in (Mexican Block doing Mexican Block things)
So let's dissect the results, Dave Meltzer’s reaction and look at the list of new members that will enter the ballot in 11 months time and in doing so we'll ask then answer the following questions.
How the heck did the Young Bucks not get inducted?
Why did Punk's numbers go up?
And Roman Reigns went into the 50%-60% club because?
Oh yeah, we'll also do a Nelson Muntz to the Steiners and specifically Rick.
Argentina Rocca and Miguel Perez (62%)
The top vote getters this year, it was a case of "finally" with the top drawing team in tag team history. They should have got in last year but as the saying goes "the point of mistakes is to learn from them" and on the second attempt Rocca and Perez are in thanks to a upsurge in votes from Active Professionals (9th from being outside the Top 30 last year)
Beauty Pair (63%)
The pair of Jackie Soto and Maki Ueda didn't need a second attempt as their 63% of the vote meant they were in on their first year. If you've read my review of the ballot, you'll know that Sato/Ueda are cast irons to get in. The Crash Gals era and the Four Queens era of AJW happened because of the foundations laid down by Beauty Pair. I hope that in the discourse to follow from fans of The Bucks, CM Punk and Roman Reigns that people don't do the "who are Beauty Pair" shtick because that will be a huge exposure of their knowledge.
Educating yourself is a wonderful thing if you can be bothered to do it.
Soto and Ueda’s first time on the ballot induction (the 19th act to get in on the first try) was helped by a 16th place in the Reporters poll, 6th in historians and 13th in Retired Pros and second in Active Performers with the team being one of nine to finish in the Top 30 in all four sections of voting.
Sgt Slaughter (62%)
So Slaughter finally got in on the 19th time of asking.
Best Box Office Attractions as per The Wrestling Observer (acts in bold in HOF pre-2023)
When you look at the above, Slaughter being inducted made all the sense in the world.
I think in recent years people just saw him as a guy who belonged, and the reality is in 1996 when I first did the Hall of Fame, Slaughter was on the list with Ole Anderson, Fabulous Moolah, Dick Murdoch, Wahoo McDaniel, Wilbur Snyder, Dos Caras and Edouard Carpentier that I was on the borderline with and thought that in time we’d do elections.
Ole, Moolah, Murdoch, Snyder have not been inducted and will probably never get in.
Slaughter’s votes came from a second place finish in Reporters (up from 10th last year) 13th in Historians, 1st in Active Pros (he wasn’t in the Top 30 last year)
Jack and Jerry Brisco
Of course the act that I forgot to write about in the 50%+ Club part of our Ballot Review were inducted in lol
While the easy joke to make is that Jerry got in because of his work in the Attitude Era (he really did carry Pat Patterson in that Evening Gown match) the team of Jack and Jerry were one of the best teams of the early 80s (I’d recommend a video on YouTube telling the story of their heel turn in Jim Crockett Promotions) Jack devoting his career post his heyday as NWA Worlds Champion to helping his brother is one of the most selfless acts in wrestling history and while people might say that them selling their stock in the Georgia territory to Vince McMahon might be one of the selfish, if you focus on the Briscos in-ring run as a tag team, they were contenders to be inducted and they were inducted with a ninth place in Reporters (up 6 places from last year) 9th in Historians (10th in 2022) with a 17th and 3rd in Active and Retired Pros.
The induction of The Briscos means that Jack along with Rocca are the second and third acts to get two inductions to the HOF.
The one real stunner of the seven inductees, Tomohiro Ishii’s percentage shot up from 38% to above the 60% threshold becoming one of eight to get inducted after a vote share of less than 40% the previous year (Atlantis- 2012-38%, Alfonso Morales- 2011- 27%, Eddie Guerrero- 2005- 34%, El Satanico- 15%- 2000, Mark Lewin- 2016- 34%, Masa Chono- 2003- 35%, Minoru Suzuki- 2016- 37%, Paul Heyman- 2004- 39%)
Ishii’s entry into the Hall of Fame is a win for those who value in-ring as a big factor for induction. His 142 matches with a 8.00+ rating is third only behind Bryan Danielson and Will Ospreay. But with no real drawing in the main event picture in Japan to rely on, many thought it would be difficult for Ishii to get in but after a top spot in Reporters after 19th the previous year looks like it got Ishii in especially considering that the 2 of the other 3 voting categories didn’t have “The Stone Pitbull” in their Top 30 which shows how far ahead he was from everyone else in Reporters.
Another interesting aspect to the induction of Tomohiro Ishii is how it affects the 2023 Wrestler of the Year Award in the Observer Awards. Debate has intensified in discords about whether Will Ospreay can be a worthy winner of the Flair/Thesz Award with just the fact that Will has the best in-ring work of the year (maybe to the point that he’s lapped the field). Ishii becoming a HOF’er with maybe just in-ring work to point to is potentially a good comparison for people to make regarding Ospreay winning the 2023 WOTY.
With 8th in Reporters and 5th in Historians, the judgement to make is The Mexican Block are doing Mexican Block things again. This is the 6th consecutive year that a Mexican act has been inducted into the HOF with the only other streak of more than 2 years being from the Japan section which has been from 2019. Blue Panther’s induction after two previous times on the ballot makes Panther the first person to be inducted in what is their third time on the ballot.
Compare Panther’s numbers in 2018 when he left the ballot after failing to get over 50% after being on the ballot for 15 years as per the rules, Panther finished 4th in Reporters in 2018 but was 4 places worst off this year. But with the 5th in Historians coming this year after being outside the Top 30 in that category in 2018 and also a 5th place in Active Pros in 2023 compared to also being outside the Top 30 in 2018, it saw Blue Panther get the votes to be inducted.
I’m guessing Bryan Danielson stopped talking about flaccid penises for long enough to convince people to vote for Panther.
With this, qualification for Euro 2024 and gold in the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships, what a year for Scottish sport (Josh Kerr being 50/1 for SPOTY is ridiculous)
George Kidd’s induction came from Reporters (21st) and Historians (2nd) with similar placing from last year but also with a 21st place coming from Active Performers compared to not making the Top 30 last year in that category probably being the factor that pushed Kidd over the 60% line.
It should be noted that one of the great things about the Hall of Fame is that wrestlers largely forgotten by everyone, whether because they were from long ago, or because they were in countries that no longer have that kind of wrestling tradition, are brought back to life by historians. I never imagined Kidd could ever get in, but year after year his numbers improved. He was clearly deserving and his inclusion is one of the most rewarding things about studying history of those types of wrestlers.
I kind of had a similar reaction when Martin Scorcese won Best Director in the Academy Awards with The Departed.
THE 50%+ CLUB
It kind of feels that it is who didn’t get in that has dominated the discourse since the results were announced. So let’s look at those who got 50%-59% of the vote.
I joked on a group chat that with the late release of the HOF edition of the Observer that I'd have to do the fist bump when I read that Matt and Nick got in on the bus home from the "shoot job". Instead, my fellow passengers were wondering why some bloke said a little loudly "what the f***" on the 73 bus at 13:45.
With my Young Bucks fan hat on, I was surprised, dismayed and perplexed with this result. The Young Bucks with their in-ring work being the best ever done by a tag team, their domination over the tag division in awards and their merch and box office sales make Matt and Nick HOF calibre so why did they not get in on the first try.
The Young Bucks on their first ballot came in at 55 percent. It was notable in that many people expected they’d get in easily, and have said that for years, based on longevity as a top tag team and multiple tag team of the year awards. In the 43 year history of our awards, no tag team has had as many points for tag team of the year- Meltzer
You mean this Dave?
Ok, I feel like Kamala Khan when she found out that Captain Marvel had been to her house in The Marvels right now.
They actually may have done better last year, given they had something of a cold year this year as far as titles and such, and AEW declined in popularity. Normally I’d view 55 percent as being people who will eventually get in, but the Bucks also have people who won’t vote for them for a number of reasons, perhaps the biggest being the idea that they don’t belong because they never worked on top in WWE.
There is something to bits of what Dave wrote. Of the modern day talents in the last decade that got voted in, it’s been key events that got them the necessary votes, from Danielson retiring to Omega having a fun 2020 as a wrestler (including the MOTY that year) and Matt and Nick’s 2023 as a tag team was quiet compared to other years.
The 13th place amongst Actives (which I thought would be higher) and 15th in Historians were topped by the third place amongst Reporters. It was Retired Performers that saw The Bucks struggle with no inclusion in the Top 30 in that category.
With Dave’s hint that people believe that wrestlers don’t belong in the Hall if they haven’t been at the top in WWE, if you look at the Top 30 of Retired Performers, there are no current performers that were in a long main event run in a non-WWE company but not in WWE and 3 of the Top 10 are wrestlers that worked or will work in WWE in 2023.
Yes folks, Randy Orton did finish 1st in Retired Performers. Guess he is a Wrestlers Wrestlers after all
We'll never know but I’m very fascinated to see what percentage of Retired/Active Performers have wrestled for WWE solely and had their wrestling education solely on WWE.
People have theorised, that people who are Pro-Punk were the deciding factor in Bucks being shy of 60%. The 13th position in Active Performers was a surprise considering that the Bucks are their peers but maybe the real reason comes from the feeling from some that they are not going to vote for an active wrestler who still has many years of their career in front of them.
The flaw in this argument is that wrestlers that have cases to be in the Top 10 of All Time like Ric Flair under the 5-year after retirement rule that the NFL and MLB Hall of Fame have when it comes to ballots wouldn’t have been on the ballot until 2015, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada especially, will not be on the ballot for awhile and in a world where wrestlers retire but don’t actually retire, you can’t treat wrestlers by rule similarly to NFL and MLB when it comes to retirement.
Maybe the reason why The Young Bucks didn’t get in on the first go is the Nakamura Effect. Voted in in 2015 on his first year on the ballot, to say Shinsuke Nakamura’s WWE run is not Hall of Fame worthy is an understatement and maybe that Shinsuke getting voted in way too early has affected how people think about other active wrestlers on the ballot these days.
Since 2018, only 6 wrestlers that are full-time active have been inducted. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada are contenders to be wrestling’s Rushmore, Mistico got inducted on the basis on his box office numbers in the 00’s and Kota Ibushi got in because people think he is on the 19th hole of his career. Only Tetsuya Naito and Ishii are the debateable inclusions and in Naito’s case his 2023 G1 finals weekend might have got him in this year anyway. Also, if you’re looking at the above names, they have one thing in common. None of them are in the Modern US/Canada section of the ballot. In fact, AJ Styles in 2017 is the last guy from Modern US/Canada to be inducted and it could be debated that it was his time in NJPW that got him inducted. From 2013 to 2016, just three Modern US/Canada acts got voted in (Sting, Brock Lesnar, Bryan Danielson)
So maybe, The Young Bucks are victims of circumstance out of their control. So, if you are a fellow Superkick Partier, you might have to be patient to be able to throw a celebration for Matt and Nick. But precedent tells us that they will get in with 11 of the 14 acts that got in the fifties with their vote share percentage in their first year on the ballot eventually getting in and the majority of those being inducted within 3 years (those 3 that didn't get inducted are Masa Saito, Kiyoshi Tamura and Kinji Shibuya with Saito having the most bizarre candidacy in HOF history, Tamura being a victim of his shootstyle being out of vogue the longer he was on the ballot and Shibuya first year having a death bump on his vote)
Los Hermanos Dinamita was supposed to be the Mexican Block’s inductee. With getting so close last year like Mistico did in 2022, LHD was primed to get in like Mistico did last year but Blue Panther got in instead.
Positioned in all 4 voting categories but dropping in all four, LHD might have been the biggest victim of the rules that saw voters only able to vote for a max of three of a section (3/9 in Mexico’s case) and while they might be favourites to continue the streak of Lucha stars to be voted in, all bets are off with Lucha talent and the HOF.
Maybe Cien Caras will never get in.
Paul Orndorff saw his votes rise in Retired Performers (7th from 25th last year) while the other three categories stayed static and with a 5% rise from last year and with the other member of the 80’s that was in the 50%+ club Sgt. Slaughter now inducted, Orndorff might be the main beneficiary next year.
I wrote in my ballot review that Bobby Davis was unfortunately trending downwards but with his vote going up 7% from 2022, I am happy to admit that I was wrong.
With both Active and Retired Performers voting more for Bobby, and with Davis being one of eight to get into the Top 30 in all four voting groups and six of the eight casting above 50%, Bobby Davis is actually trending upwards as he should be.
Another of the polarising acts in the discussions, either Roman Reigns was the architect of the “third boom period” or the biggest cog of the WWE machine who was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The 21% increase in vote share believe the former apparently especially in Performers both Active and Retired. With a placing of 7th and 4th respectively after placing outside the Top 30 last year in not only both those categories but in Reporters and Historians which also saw growth with a 20th and 8th place in those two groups respectively after also not being in the Top 30 in those groups as well.
Roman Reigns might have actually got above 60% had that awful Summerslam match not happened and the injury time off that resulted from it but if that was the last thing on some voters minds (tbf the LA Knight didn’t help for later voters) then maybe some people would have been put off voting for “The Tribal Chief”. If Roman has a 2024 that is successful, Roman Reigns being an Observer Hall of Famer might be a thing which I thought I’d never say in 2017.
The Highest Risers
Shingo Takagi being the second biggest riser comes from a very interesting 2023 which came off the back of a 2022 which saw him elevate the KOPW Title.
A 16th in Reporters is Shingo’s only positioning in any of the Top 30’s so while he’s trending upwards, Shingo will need more help from other voting categories to get over the 60 line. The fact that he isn’t in the Top 30 in Active is very surprising at first glance but maybe no so much when you analyse the Active Performers rankings.
Otto Wanz might have been the biggest beneficiary in the International Section of the ballot with the new rules of max picks per section. Its Performers that were loving Austria’s greatest ever wrestler before Gunther/WALTER came along with 24th in Active and 20th in Retired after failing to get into the Top 30 of not just those two categories but also Historians and Reporters last year.
I’m guessing that a portion of the Performers voting were booked by Wanz back in the day.
The Big Daddy, Jackie Pallo and Kendo Nagasaki rises came from being in peril from being relegated from the ballot from the 15/50 rule where they needed 50% of the share after being on the ballot for 15 or more years.
While Sgt. Slaughter would not just stay above 50% but get inducted, it was from a position of being just shy of the 60% threshold as to why. The three Brits that made up the rest of the 15/50 club wouldn’t be so lucky.
I’m guessing that the recent induction of Mike Tenay into the IMPACT/TNA Hall of Fame and the resulting nostalgia that came with it might have swayed people into voting for The Professor with a 4th place in Active Performers after being outside the Top 30 in that category. I’m guessing a lot of those Active Performers grew up on TNA. (1998 Mike Tenay was better than TNA Tenay)
The Biggest Fallers
Unsurprisingly, The Steiners didn’t get inducted. The comments from Rick Steiner towards Gisele Shaw at WrestleCon drew so much distaste from people in wrestling and the fallout saw Rick disciplined by society and while whether or not a pair of wrestlers will be in a Wrestling Hall of Fame is a small thing in the fight against LGBT hate, the fact that Rick and Scott Steiner’s vote share was cut in half in what is one of the largest downfalls of a vote share in the history of the Observer Hall of Fame is very reassuring for people who are allies of the LGBT community.
My main takeaway without wanting to get political is that all talk from certain politicians that is anti-LGBT and specifically anti-trans may not be the vote winner they think it is. Maybe the majority of the public care about fiscal matters more than anything else and people are happy to let people live their lives and are happy with the freedom of choice that entails.
I did get political there didn’t I?
If you use 2023 as a case for not voting in The Young Bucks then I’m actually surprised that the Hardy Boys 2023 didn’t see them go under 10% and see them eliminated. Turning into enhancement talents for other tag teams, The Hardys have had a stinker of a 2023.
Again this particular act were only seeing votes on mass from Performers, ranking 22nd in both Active and Retired with a fall of 11 places in Active.
The hipsters pick, Cima didn’t get as much love from people who don’t release podcasts and write think pieces about the Hall of Fame with Cima not featuring in any Top 30’s this year after placing in the Active Performers and Reporters list last year.
The teams of Angel Blanco and Dr Wagner and Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood saw their vote share go down by 11% after a first year on the ballot as a part of the deluge of tag teams that entered the ballot in 2022.
With both teams having a member that is already in the HOF and two of ten with that characteristic to their act, comparing their numbers of those ten teams tells the following.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
CM Punk (44%)
The chances for Punk to get inducted into the HOF went down after Brawl Out and The Thriller In Gorilla. The arguments that Punk is a modern day great box office after The First Dance and his first match back drew such a great buy rate was diminished by the average ratings and gates of what was CM Punk’s show Collision in the two months that it was his show, a show so bad in those two months that watching The Singing Planet scene in The Marvels would feel like a palate cleanser.
Had the two events 51 weeks apart not happened, would Punk have got over the 60% line? I think so. But what happened happened and with the chances that CM never wrestles again being unlikely, what of Punk’s chances of being inducted.
Maybe the next year will see people look back at his resume and treat him like he’s never going to wrestle a match again and that his vote share goes up in a retirement bounce. In that case if Punk doesn’t get the extra 17%+ he needs next year then Punk will probably never get into the Observer HOF as his resume abates.
My take on whether Punk should be in the Hall of Fame is in the archive (spoiler alert, it’s no) but with upward trends in voting categories such as Retired Performers (17th this year from outside the Top 30 last year) and Active (up 17 places from 27th) with everything we know about 2023's Bummer of Punk, the chances of Punk being inducted next year are higher than some people might like them to be
Jon Moxley (13%)
The second audible “what the f***” of the ride home on the 73 bus on HOF results day came when I saw the 13% next to Jon Moxley’s name.
I didn’t think Jon Moxley would get in this year but a starting number of 13%?
The first impression on this is bleak but when you look at the history of the Observer HOF voting share, Moxley fans don’t need to panic.
Bill Miller, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, El Satanico, Ivan Koloff, Jerry Jarrett, Konnan, Kota Ibushi, Mark Lewin, Masa Chono, Masa Saito, Midnight Express, Sgt. Slaughter, Sting, Tetsuya Naito and The Assassins all got inducted despite their introductory year on the ballot ending in the 11-19% range with six of those seventeen having a momentous moment in their in-ring career in between their first year on the ballot and induction.
But Moxley needs more Top 10 WOTY years to increase his vote share or another year akin to 2022 to improve his number because the voters did not look at precedent (which is correct) and the piece of trivia that Mox is the only Flair/Thesz winner that has not been inducted.
Seth Rollins (Less than 10%)
While Mox did an Everton by escaping relegation (hang on, that’s not a good example is it?) Seth did a Norwich by getting relegated again after being on the ballot for the second time after demotion in 2020 after getting less than 10% that time as well.
You have a funny feeling that it’ll need more than Seth going “Let’s be having ya” for him to ever get more than 10% let alone an induction should Big Dave give Seth another shot on the ballot
Jose Tarres (45%)
With not a single rating to his name on Cagematch, no Wikipedia entry on Jose and the fact that if you type in the word “Jose Tarres and Observer Hall of Fame into your Google search, Part 6 of my deep-dive into the 2023 Observer HOF ballot pops up when I barely mentioned the Spanish star, Jose Tarres is a name that doing research on is hard for casual fans. Even finding a picture of Jose was difficult and NGL I'm dreading that the above picture isn't actually Tarres and Cubs Fan (@luchablog) yells at me for showing the wrong picture of someone in one of my articles again
But despite this absence of Jose Tarres on a simple google search, the research is definitely being done as Jose for the second consecutive year has had a wealthy increase in their vote with a 4th place in Historians (up 14 places) and 21st in Reporters after being out of the Top 30 last year. Jose might need Active and Retired Performers to get him over the 60% and with a lack of footage outside the Pathe film loaded onto YouTube that features the Spaniard, the Active vote might not be coming and with Jose never having wrestled for WWE, the Retired Performers vote isn’t happening.
Bobby Bruns (44%)
We’re getting there folks.
With 44% to his name, a 6% increase, Bobby is getting closer to 60% with a second consecutive year seeing an increase in his vote share.
Are people actually reading my HOF Ballot columns and voting accordingly? I’ve always thought that I was just screaming into the abyss when doing these columns. If people are actually taking notice of me, can I just say that you shouldn’t watch the show Bodies on Netflix on account of that the final episode was really bad and makes the previous seven episodes (which were good) a waste of time. Sorry, back to the subject in hand.
Bruns trending upwards is good to see and with other figures from pre-1970 being inducted this year, a Bobby Bruns induction might happen after all. We just need votes from Reporters, Active Performers and Retired Performers but to be fair, I’m not expecting anything from the latter considering Bobby never wrestled for WWE.
Von Erich Brothers (David, Kevin, Kerry) (38%)
So, it was a case too soon for David, Kevin and Kerry and The Iron Claw getting The Von Erich boys an induction.
With a 17th place in Active and Historians and 28th in Reporters with only Retired Performers not having the trio in their Top 30 (probably because Kevin and David never wrestled for WWE), the trio’s numbers are trending up and with The Iron Claw having been released and actual Oscar buzz attached to the movie, it could lead to more people voting for The Von Erich’s and induction.
Mark and Jay Briscoe (38%)
Mark and Jay’s percentage in their first year was another of the surprises to many. Their 38% with a death bump after the tragic and untimely death of Jay might end up being their peak of the vote share. The 23rd and 30th in Reporters and Historians respectively from The Briscoes would be negated by a lack of Top 30 placing in both Active and Retired Performers.
The team, who placed second in my Tag Team of the Year stat that Dave Meltzer may or may not have mentioned in his write-up were the heart and soul of ROH throughout its history before it became the warm up/down act for Collision yet struggled with Performers. It’s almost as if they never wrestled for WWE and were punished for it by Retired Performers especially
Becky Lynch (22%)
At least Becky got more votes than correct answers on her appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy
Some people (mainly Mr. Meltzer) were surprised that Becky didn’t get more votes. Maybe Becky helping NXT’s ratings with her temporary run in the Orlando office of the WWE wheel wasn't noticed by voters or it really didn’t matter but with no other American woman close to induction bar June Byers and no-one from Joshi looking like they are going in in the next decade unless I’ve underestimated the likes of Asuka and Mayu Iwatani, let me ask you guys a questions and apologies for the trolling in the style of the question
This Joshi star in 2006 was the last woman to be inducted into the Observer Hall of Fame before Beauty Pair this year?
So with HOF season over (and sooner than usual) the focus very quickly shifted to the newbies that will be in next year’s ballot.
Added to next year’s ballot: Asuka/Kana WWE, Zane Bresloff, Psycho Clown, El Dandy, George Gordienko, Gran Hamada, Samoa Joe, Kento Miyahara, Cody Rhodes, Yoshihiro Takayama, Kevin Owens, Zack Sabre Jr., Mascarita Sagrada, Usos, Volador Jr., Koichi Yoshizawa, Bray Wyatt, Sami Zayn
Oh god, the Newbies to the Ballot part of my review of the ballot next year is going to be 5,500 words. Better tell my drinking buddy Tee that I’m going to be busy next October.
In summary, Bresloff is an interesting candidate. I'm fascinated by Miyahara, Owens and Zayn need to be talked about and we really shouldn't doubt El Dandy.