The WWE Hall of Fame is generally held the night before WrestleMania, but recent events have had an effect on dozens of shows and events – including WrestleMania 36. Once scheduled to be in Tampa, FL, WWE effectively moved all television across the way to their performance center in Orlando and held matches without a live audience. With the 2020 inductees already announced, it's time to look ahead to 2021 and some names that are due for some serious consideration: Jim Johnston, Andy Kaufman, and The Great Muta.
3 Possible WWE Hall of Fame 2021 Inductees
Jim Johnston: One of WWE's most important components is the music. From 1985, Jim Johnston provided the bulk of the wrestlers' themes. Those familiar with the likes of The Ultimate Warrior, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, The Undertaker, Kane, The Rock, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin know his work.
From the high-speed rock riff of the Warrior to the funeral organ and gong combo of the Undertaker, Johnston provided the signature sounds of your childhood. In addition to wrestler themes, he composed much of the company's pay-per-view, TV themes, and WWE Studios projects. After three decades of service, the company released him from his contract.
Johnston's induction to the company's hall of fame is long overdue. Paul "Triple H" Levesque needs to start recognizing those who help build this company behind the scenes like Johnston, Mike McGuirk, Joey Styles, Earl and Dave Hebner, Tim White, and Mike Chioda.
Andy Kaufman: WWE introduced its celebrity wing of the hall of fame to recognize non-wrestlers putting mainstream attention to the company. While there are those who deserve the recognition like Mr. T or Cyndi Lauper, who helped make WrestleMania a success, there are headscratchers like Drew Carey and Pete Rose. It's the latter two that ruins any respectability for a company that wants to be part of the mainstream.
WWE inducted those who haven't made their reputation with them like Lou Thesz, Mil Máscaras, and Antonio Inoki. Perhaps it's time they extend that to celebrities as well. Andy Kaufman's feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler was one of the most memorable in the industry.
Those familiar with Lawler's earlier years with WWE, he played a dual role of color commentator and heel wrestler. When he wrestled for Continental Wrestling Association, he was one of the company's top faces. Kaufman came in as a heel taunting crowds proclaiming his dominance as the best intergender wrestler in history. Lawler stepped in after having enough of Kaufman's misogynistic rants to confront him.
One night after Kaufman ran several times, Lawler finally baited him to giving him a headlock and promised to restrain himself by placing his hands behind his back. After signaling to the crowd while Kaufman applied the hold, Lawler moved his arms to deliver a belly-to-back suplex.
Their feud garnered the attention of NBC who booked the two on Late Night with David Letterman. Like one of his avant-garde performances, Kaufman launched into a profanity-laced tirade against Lawler while profusely apologizing to the audience after Lawler stood up and slapped him off his chair.
What's confusing about Kaufman's omission is WWE promoted his biopic Man on the Moon (1999) on their programming. Lawler played himself and his long-time broadcast partner Jim Ross took on the role of commentator Gordon Solie. While we may never know what Kaufman would say in his induction speech with his premature death in 1984, he was part of one of the biggest moments in professional wrestling history.
The Great Muta: Keiji Mutoh (aka The Great Muta ) is one of the most decorated wrestlers who never wrestled for Vince McMahon. With a career spanning 36 years, Muta spent the bulk of his career in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. He currently runs Wrestle-1, which initially consisted of many former AJPW talent.
Muta held numerous titles through his long career becoming IWGP Heavyweight Championship four times, IWGP Tag Team Champion six times and NWA World Heavyweight Championship one time in NJPW. He was the NWA World TV Champion and WCW World Tag Team Champion during his WCW run. At AJPW, he held the F-1 Tag Championship two times, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship three times, and the World Tag Team Championship five times.