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The 2022 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Results Analysis

The ballots have been counted and the results have been published and we now have 8 new people in the Wrestling Observer Hall Of Fame and bar one (maybe two but we'll talk about that in due course) not many surprises came out of the ballot results of the 2022 edition so let's look at how the inductees got in plus those that nearly got in and the risers and fallers.

Mistico/Caristico (76% Last Year- 59.7%)

Considering that Mistico didn't get into the HOF because Dave Meltzer decided to stick to the spirit of the Baseball HOF and not round up Mistico’s percentage of 59.7 to the magic number of 60% it was not a surprise to see lucha’s biggest star of the 00s inducted into the HOF and as mentioned in my ballot review two months ago, Mistico 100% deserves his induction.

With Top 6 placings in all voting categories (Reporters, Historians, Active Wrestling Talent and Retired Wrestling Talent) with Retired Talent being the lowest placing in 6th with the next best placed active wrestler in the Retired Talent list being Edge and Randy Orton in 15th. Mistico's popularity was evident.

An interesting trivia fact regarding Mistico and his induction as per @luchablog. He got 74 votes in 2022. He also got 74 votes in 2021. Only change was a lot less people voted in the Mexican category.

Akira Taue/Toshiaki Kawada (New Entry)

Maybe the other can't miss induction in this year's ballot, the Holy Demon Army was easily the best shot of the batch of tag teams introduced to the ballot by Meltzer to be inducted. Their in-ring work cannot be disputed (watch the June 9 1995 tag match against Misawa and Kobashi everybody) and their drawing power is also not to be disputed with their multiple sell outs of Budokan Hall including June 9 which was seen as AJPW’s traditional biggest night of the year that wasn't a tournament final. Kawada/Taue would get Top 10 placings in all four categories with Retired Talent again ranking him the lowest of the four (ninth) with the pair being the fourth in tag teams in that particular ranking with the pair finishing first amongst Historians and Active Talent.

While many might see votes for Holy Demon Army as one for Akira Taue because of him being the only one of the Four Pillars not to be inducted into the Hall, looking at the criteria Taue and Kawada are perfect fits for the HOF

Kota Ibushi (65% Last Year- 54%)

Tetsuya Naito (63% Last Year- 38%)

Not going to lie, I am shocked that Ibushi got in. Even taking away whether he fits the criteria or not, Ibushi is the first modern active North American or Japan star to get in after a year where he did nothing in the ring.

If you look back at when Kenny Omega was inducted in 2020 it was on the back of a year when he took part in the match of the year at Revolution (Omega/Hangman Page vs Young Bucks) and a very stellar tag title reign with Hangman.

Of the other seven modern US/Canada/Japan inductees aged under 45 that were in their second or more year on the ballot, everyone bar Chris Jericho had done something of note in the 12 months between the year they were inducted and the previous year’s results.

  • AJ Styles (2017) ****¾ classic vs John Cena

  • Bryan Danielson (2016) Retired and got a retirement bump

  • Shinsuke Nakamura (2015) Two 9.50+ matches against Tanahashi and Ibushi

  • Brock Lesnar (2015) ****¾ Triple Threat match vs Seth Rollins and John Cena (the best WWE match since Money in The Bank 2011)

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi (2013) Three 9.50+ matches

  • John Cena (2012) Main evented the highest grossing PPV in wrestling history

And while Chris Jericho’s 2010 was ok, his induction of that year came two after his WOTY year of 2008.

While Kota’s resume is debatable and for the record, I’m in the no camp (read my article on the Japan ballot in the archives) and his membership of the fifties club the previous year shows that his backers were of a significant number, Ibushi’s path to inclusion is very unique in the history of the Hall of Fame.

When I wrote my ballot review, I not only said that I didn’t think that Tetsuya Naito wouldn’t break the 60% barrier (permission to tag Freezing Cold Takes on twitter) but that I didn't think he was worthy of breaking the 60% threshold. Then I went onto the Voices Of Wrestling Flagship show on their Patreon and the combo of Rich and Joe convinced me that Naito was HOF worthy.

35,000 people paid money to watch Naito win the IWGP Heavyweight Title (and I took the day off work to watch it on a laptop) now of course that didn’t happen and while Naito long-term was hurt with his 2020 title win being two years too late imho it shows how big of a draw Naito was in that time. His merchandise numbers are incredible, the comparisons between Naito and John Cena go way beyond the rejection they suffered from fanbases when pushed early to the main event scene. Along ith Bullet Club, the pair are the biggest merchandise shifters in the last 15 years. But like Ibushi, Naito’s induction is unique in the history of the HOF.

Only eight before Naito have been inducted when the previous year they got under a 40% vote share with Naito joining Atlantis (who was going on a famous run in his 30th anniversary tour), Alfonso Morales, El Satanico (because Mexican block), Hiroshi Tanahashi (incredible 2013) Masa Chono, Mark Lewin, Minoru Suzuki (incredible 2017) and Paul Heyman (who was inducted the same year as Brock Lesnar)

It’s probably with stats like that as to why I raised my eyebrows when I read over my lunch that Naito and Ibushi had got in because their path to induction was different. Now I’m just going to check twitter to see if they’re having a normal one right now.

Los Villanos 63% New Entry

You get the feeling that Los Villanos getting in is the product of the Mexican block of the HOF voting circle doing Mexican block things which to be fair is the point of the Mexican block of the HOF voting circle. The representation of the lucha scene would be much smaller in the HOF if it wasn’t for that block.

The family of villains finished in the top 10 of 3 of the 4 voting categories with Retired Talent seeing them outside the Top 30

If you were to analyse the history of the Villanos and remember, all five of the group (which never teamed together at any point) have to be considered for the vote, no particular pairing out of the five are HOF worthy. According to luchablog and his video on YouTube which analyses the Mexico portion of the ballot, the combination of I/IV/V and III/IV/V gets close but Villano II “drastically lowers the standard”. A good comparison would be that Villano II is the Chris Von Erich of the Villanos. Also, I'll be honest, if you told 11 year old me when watching Nitro that IV and V were future hall of famers, I'd have laughed.

Rollerball Mark Rocco (62% Last year- 58%)

Rocco was the beneficiary of a “death bump” in 2020 when he received a 54% vote share, up 19% from the previous year but unlike many others that fell back to their regular number, Rocco stayed in the fifties club actually increasing his number to 58 before breaking the ceiling to hit 62%.

So why has Rocco stayed the course when others who received the death bump didn’t? After dying during the pandemic after a battle with dementia and an excellent obituary from Dave Meltzer, Rollerball’s career was looked at closer than it was when he was alive with Rocco ranking amongst Reporters and Active Workers going from 9th and 10th in 2019 to 3rd and 4th the next year and this year Rocco ranked at 6th with reporters, 7th with active workers and now 8th with retired wrestlers, an increase from 17th in that category in 2020.

I wrote in my ballot review that Rocco was the perfect fit for the pioneer criteria that is in the instructions that come with the ballot paper, his matches with Fuji Yamada in the UK before he went back to Japan to become Jushin Liger and against Tiger Mask in the Black Tiger gimmick helped usher in a faster style of work. I wrote that Rocco would have been a perfect fit in our current world of wrestling with AEW, NXT and PWG around and now Rocco will get his name amongst the greatest in the HOF.

The Fifties Club

Eight wrestlers/teams would end up in the 50-59% range. With three of the new teams added to the ballot being amongst them.

Argentina Perez and Miguel Perez were the closest to 60% being 3% off the magic number. Seen by many as a sure-fire pick for getting in, the pair would also see detractors point out that Rocca was the sole reason for the teams drawing power which was amongst the greatest of its era and one of the best drawing teams ever. Maybe like many other teams that were introduced to the ballot this year that already had one team member in the Hall, it was a referendum on the other team member and Perez didn't pass the test for a few.

Sgt Slaughter once again fell shy of making it but under the rules of the HOF but stays in the ballot avoiding falling under 50% having been on the ballot for more than 15 years unlike Rocky Johnson and Enrique Torres who are off the ballot having spent a decade and a half on the ballot and receiving less than a 50% vote share, Torres actually falling to 42% from 52%. Slaughter's popularity has always come from Historians and Reporters and this year it was the same with Top 10 placings in both but it would be active talent that would deny Slaughter.

Los Hermanos Dinamita have probably confirmed their induction for next year with their debut number of 57%. Only one Mexican act have polled at over 55% and not got inducted (Cien Caras 2016- 58%). It was actually active talent that LHD had the biggest success vote wise with a 4th place finish.

Jack and Jerry Brisco and The British Bulldogs were the other two new teams to get into the fifties club. The Briscos and their longevity and counted for them with Dave Meltzer interestingly talking about whether The Bulldogs should be in the Japan section of the ballot. FWIW, the Bulldogs box office in 1986 when their were drawing great numbers when main eventing house shows make them great candidates in the Historical US/Canada section. The Briscos were most popular with Historians and retired worrkers with The Bulldogs more popular with active workers.

The Steiners rose up to the fifties with a 12% rise, one of the highest risers in this year's results. The best American team of the nineties with their WON awards rankings in the early 90s amongst the best in the awards history in the Best Tag Team Award would be popular with today's workers with a 3rd place in active workers but not even a Top 30 placing amongst retirees.

George Kidd, who is one of Dave Meltzer’s favourites to get induction to the point if Kidd gets eliminated from the ballot, Dave will probably put him in the HOF under the veterans committee selection rule similar to baseball which has one sitting member, Dave Meltzer. For the record Lou Daro and Johnny Doyle were inducted this year without being on the ballot. But with Rollerball Rocco being inducted the chances of Kidd getting in has increased especially with Kidd being the only other Brit in the International section to get into The Top 30 amongst Historians in 11th, two places behind Rocco.

Paul Orndorff was the second highest riser in this year's ballot belying any thoughts that the death bounce to 35% last year would level out this year. Paul wouldn't get a Top 10 placing in any voting category with 11th and 12th in Reporters and Historians respectively being Mr Wonderful's best placings.

With Slaughter being the HOF’s version of Sunderland FC, desperately trying to avoid elimination from the ballot under 15/50 rule, the Briscos, The Bulldogs and Rocca/Perez’s voting trends unknown for the moment, if I was to bet on who is most likely to be inducted the Steiners, George Kidd and Paul Orndorff would be the acts I would bet on to be voted in next year.

The 15/50 Club

The 15/50 Club sees those that are under threat of exclusion from the ballot on account of being on the ballot for 15 or more years and receiving less than 50% of votes. Should any of the following four receive less than 50% next year then they will be off the ballot the following year.

The most interesting name of the four is Big Daddy. A decisive figure in British wrestling, despite @allan_cheapshot’s campaigning Big Daddy’s vote percentage has decreased year on year since the pandemic with Meltzer revealing on WOR that it was more Americans voted for Daddy than British voters that

In my section about the International vote, I discussed the merits of Jackie Pallo and his inclusion, a bigger mainstream attraction than Daddy it could be argued, there is an argument that if you vote Big Daddy, you have to vote in Pallo because their merits are identical so it's ironic that they are both at 35% and with both facing elimination from the ballot at the same time, it would be ironic if they are both axed at the same time.

Neither Daddy or Pallo are in the Top 20 of any voting category with Jackie's best placing being in Historians in 23rd. Big Daddy doesnt't even feature in any Top 30's

Highest Risers not to be inducted

Jose Tarres would be the highest riser not to be inducted in this year's ballot which was as much of a surprise as Morocco’s run in the FIFA World Cup. Jose Tarres is the biggest star to come out of Spain with his popularity akin to the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and Francisco Gento who were the biggest stars in Spanish football at the time Tarres wrestled. His upsurge in popularity in this year's poll was coming mainly from historians with Jose finishing 18th in that category.

Bobby Bruns in my opinion is the can’t miss candidate that is in fact missing from the HOF. The godfather of puro, without Bobby, Japan doesn’t become one of the world leaders in wrestling. His influence on this industry makes him a can’t miss and maybe with his rise of 12%, we might get some sanity and eventually get Bobby into the HOF. It is only in Reporters that Bruns has any joy with a meagre 30th in that category.

CIMA rose from 23% to 34% which was a surprise in my opinion. If we were to apply the “what have you done lately logic” to current active wrestlers under 45 then CIMA and his very weird last couple of years make his rise very unusual. Maybe his work as a trainer and his general involvement in Dragon Gate in the early days got him votes which is reflected in his 19th place in Active workers but you have a feeling unless something mad happens (and with CIMA, you can’t rule out something mad happening in the next 12 months) this might be his peak when it comes to vote share.

Ole Anderson fall of 26% was probably down to him being in the Historical US/Canada section of the ballot and the deluge of tag teams taking votes away from one of the OG’s of The Horseman (3 of the 6 biggest fallers came from the Historical section) or maybe a lot of people binge watched the second half of 1990 WCW and just thought nah.

Stanley Weston was another surprise faller with nothing really changing in his resume (unless people were offended by the magazine he invented, PWI putting Syuri as No.1 in the PWI 150). Surprisingly Reporters and Historians didn't come out to bat for Stanley with the highest placing being in 30th in the Historians list.

Cowboy Bob Ellis and Sputnik Monroe were the other two from Historical US/Canada to be amongst the biggest fallers with voters not buying their sell outs in Australia and their civil rights pioneering respectively with neither placing in the Top 30 of any category.

As I said on the Voices of Wrestling Patreon, Yoshiaki Fujiwara had an armbar, nothing much else to say.

Pirata Morgan (who in my research found out that he is the only wrestler to lose a shoot eye for an eye match) would probably be more served in being on the ballot as part of the Los Infernales trios team alongside MS-1 and Satanico. Whether they get to the 57% LHD did this year is another debate.

Any Other Business

As per the course on occasions like this, Twitter had a normal one in the 24 hours after the results were released with “CM Punk Twitter'' going insane at the idea that Naito and Ibushi got in ahead of their favourite wrestler acting like Peter Marsh on Come Dine With Me. Had the vote taken place in July/August maybe Punk gets above 60%, his final tally of 41% was a rise of 8% with all the controversy of the Gripebomb on September 4th to his name. I was partly expecting him to fall with active wrestlers especially punishing Punk for the events of All Out but a joint 27th in the ranking from that category was a rise from outside the Top 30 but saw him below Edge and Randy Orton. So, what next for Punk’s candidacy? If AEW’s PPV buy rates stagnate or drop along with the box office and tv ratings, it makes Punk’s year in AEW look even better and makes his case stronger.

Tomohiro Ishii stayed at 38% which in itself was a 1% increase on 2020. It feels like Ishii will be stuck in the higher 30s until 2034 when he enters the 15/50 club. The argument against Ishii is that he can’t be inducted into the HOF until he has a world title run in a big 3 company which will probably never happen. So unless an upsurge happens and surprisingly the most likely avenue you would think that upsurge would come from, the active workers actually hasn’t happened with Ishii ranking joint 27th amongst his peers, it feels very likely that Ishii will never get into the Hall

Edge’s 33% probably tells you that he is also never getting in also. The second act of his career has seen in-ring Edge being very good if maybe over-valued by some (yes I’m talking about Dave Meltzer) but with the box-office being very average and with the couple of months of Edge being the leader of Judgment Day which flopped maybe hindering his case it feels like Edge won’t get in especially with the Reporters and Historians vote being so low that he couldn't get into the Top 30.

81 Hall of Fame voters acknowledged Roman Reigns this year with The Tribal Chief getting a 31% vote share. Compare that to his first attempt on the ballot in which he got less than 10% meaning elimination. It shows that he is now a bigger star than he was pre-pandemic and that maybe he should have turned heel in 2015/2016 but what do I know. Interestingly enough, Roman did not get into the Top 30 of any of the categories.

Shingo Takagi’s 21% was also a surprise considering a) his work at Dragon Gate was among the best in the world at the time and b) his in-ring work during the pandemic has seen him as arguably NJPW’s best and CIMA who has faded from the wrestling landscape got 33% of the vote share

Becky Lynch would get 20% which wasn’t a surprise but also telling in what to expect from modern-day WWE lifers (not the case with Becky to be fair) that came through the WWE Performance Center or FCW. Speaking of which…..

Next Time on the Hall of Fame Ballot

The four newest additions to next year's ballot were announced with the results of the 2022 poll. They are Jon Moxley, Seth Rollins, Beauty Pair (Jackie Soto and Maki Ueda) and The Young Bucks. Oh boy, next years debate will be fun.

Only one wrestler that has won the Observer Wrestler of The Year has not made it into the HOF. That man is Jon Moxley. Now add to the equation that Mox is the odds on favourite to win this year's WOTY adding 2022 to his 2020 award and surely Jon Moxley is a surefire inductee? Maybe not yet though.

A comparison to be made could be in the shape of Chris Jericho who having won the 2008 Observer WOTY went from 12% and near elimination from the ballot to 52% in 2009 with Jericho going over the 60% mark the next year. Moxley should get in, too many precedents have been made for him not to be inducted but it might be later rather than sooner.

Seth Rollins and his case for induction is an interesting case study for the HOF and its future. Rollins isn't a WWE lifer with TAFKA Tyler Black having a run in ROH before heading to WWE with his stop off in FCW and NXT ironing out some of the flaws in his game but with over a decade in the "New York territory", Seth is now the next WWE wrestler that went through NXT to go on the ballot and so far it has been slight takings for those who have been on the ballot paper with Roman Reigns being the most successful at 31% and that's on his second go on the ballot with Becky Lynch getting 20% and Charlotte Flair going under 10% in her first year. Will the Observer HOF end up seeing WWE talent that went through their PC struggle to get inducted? Probably most likely not with more successful eras and better talent pools in various countries and promotions to compete with.

The Beauty Pair team of Jackie Soto and Maki Ueda are the only one of the four 2023 additions to the ballot that isn't a current talent. Soto and Ueda were the prototype of the dynamic babyface tag team in Joshi with Crash Gals and the Toyota/Yamada team following their success in the two boom periods in AJW. The one point of interest in Beauty Pair's success in the ballot is how low in proportion women are represented on the ballot with 10 of the 248 acts in the HOF being women and the latest addition of the Observer HOF being in 2006 when Aja Kong got inducted and where her induction percentage was 61, which is insane. Where Beauty Pair with their pioneer criteria and for the era how good workers are going to place will be interesting with the gender divide on the ballot and results so uneven.

The Young Bucks should get in. Only one wrestler/team who has won more than 3 of the major WON talents awards (Wrestler of the Year, Best High Flying, Tag Team of the Year, Best Brawler, Most Technical) that is eligible for the ballot has not got into the HOF. That person is Tomohiro Ishii. No team has the amount of high quality tag teams matches that the Bucks have had for such a prolonged time and in the box office, The Bucks have been successful. ROH struggled at the box office when The Bucks left to help form AEW. Matt and Nick should get in but Kenny Omega post his classic tetralogy with Kazuchika Okada and his box office numbers being so good spent 3 years on the ballot before induction in 2020 and even then all hell broke loose amongst those who aren't Omega fans (that was a fun day to find those whose wrestling IQ is below 80). The Bucks will get in but maybe like Moxley not straight away.


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