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Brock Lesnar inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame

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Brock Lesnar, Shinsuke Nakamura, Perro Aguayo Jr., The Assassins (Jody Hamilton & Tom Renesto), Ivan Koloff, Carlos Colón and Eddie Quinn have all been inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame this week.

Brock Lesnar: Already a pro wrestling Hall of Famer!
Brock Lesnar: Already a pro wrestling Hall of Famer!
JP Yim/Getty Images

This week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter was highlighted by the results from this year's WON Hall of Fame voting, which is usually one of the most compelling issues of the calendar due to the biographies of those who were elected. In my opinion, this is the most prestigious pro wrestling Hall of Fame around, due to its historical and worldwide scope, and the fact that the voting panel includes an eclectic mix of reporters, historians, current and former wrestlers.

The inductees, all of whom needed over 60% of the votes in their historical / regional category, were:

  • Brock Lesnar (76%). He need no introduction to readers of Cageside Seats, who has a glittering list of achievements in three disciplines, amateur wrestling (NCAA Heavyweight Champion in 2000), mixed-martial-arts (UFC Heavyweight Champion and to this day the company's most successful pay-per-view draw) and pro wrestling (four time WWE Heavyweight Champion, one time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the person who broke The Undertaker's legendary streak). If you include his real sporting achievements, then he's a no-brainer pick. If you don't, then you can second guess the timing of this induction, but with him being WWE's current top and likely to headline the biggest WrestleMania of all time next year (from a live attendance / gate perspective), it's unlikely that anyone will look back and view this as a mistake.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura (73%). With Hiroshi Tanahashi, one of New Japan Pro Wrestling's top two stars of the last decade, leading him to three IWGP Heavyweight Championship reigns, five IWGP Intercontinental Championship reigns (a title he has helped turn into the second most prestigious belt in Japan), and eight Tokyo Dome main events. When he's at his best, Nakamura may be the best all-round performer in the business today. Once again, the argument can be made that he went in too soon, given that for many years New Japan struggled with him on top and only recently did he reach his full potential as a worker, especially as the only other first ballot Hall of Famers in the past decade were The Rock and John Cena, and he's clearly not at their level as a star. However, barring serious injury, he should remain in New Japan's top mix for many years to come and thus is also unlikely to be viewed as an error with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Perro Aguayo Jr. (72%). Pushed as a star from his very first match at the age of 15 due to his heritage (his father Perro Aguayo Sr. is one of the biggest legends in lucha libre history), Perrito was such a natural in the ring that he was one of the few sons of wrestling icons who lived up to the lofty billing, and by the time he turned 21 he was already being pushed as a young tecnico headliner for AAA. He became an even bigger attraction when he jumped ship to CMLL in 2003, turned rudo on El Hijo del Santo the next year and formed his own heel gang Los Perros Del Mal, which together with the rise of the charismatic babyface flier Mistico, sparked the company on fire and led to near record business at CMLL's 17,000+ seat home arena, Arena Mexico. Moreover, Aguayo Jr. was a merchandising phenomenon during the next four years with Los Perros Del Mal tees selling like hotcakes. However, his career faltered when he left CMLL to set up his own Los Perros Del Mal promotion in autumn 2008, which flopped largely due to lacking a television platform for his fledgling league. He was soon forced to return to AAA in the summer of 2010, but his health problems and personal demons during this period meant that this was a still a rocky patch for his career, despite being immediately pushed as the top rudo of the promotion. However, he eventually got back on track and seemed primed for another big run feuding with Rey Mysterio, Alberto El Patrón and Mysteziz this year before he passed away in a freak in-ring accident on March 21st, 2015. Clearly, his untimely death led to him going in this year, but overall he's a deserving inductee, although it's highly debatable whether he was the strongest candidate on the lucha section.
  • The Assassins, Jody Hamilton & Tom Renesto (65%). Arguably the best tag team of the 1960s and early 1970s, they held the tag team titles in numerous territories including Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Australia and Puerto Rico, and set attendance records in the Carolinas in a legendary feud with The Kentuckians (Luke Brown & Grizzly Smith). Given the unfortunate under-representation of tag teams in the WON Hall of Fame, they were a welcome addition.
  • Ivan Koloff (61%). A top heel draw from the late 1960s into the mid 1980s, The Russian Bear found success in every territory he went, especially New York as a rival to Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, but also Montreal, Toronto, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Georgia, Florida, Indianapolis and The Carolinas. The match where he ended Bruno's eight year streak as WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 18th, 1971, is the most famous of that era. His induction was way overdue. Speaking of which...
  • Carlos Colón (60%). The biggest star in Puerto Rican wrestling history, Colón was a cultural icon who drew numerous stadium crowds over 20,000+ at his drawing peak in the mid 1980s against Ric Flair, Harley Race, Abdullah The Butcher, Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody, and was also a great brawler. Probably the strongest candidate on the ballot.
Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn, who died in 1965 at the age of 59 shortly after retiring, was also inducted via fiat as an overlooked historical candidate.

The results for the rest of the U.S. and Canada modern section (both wrestlers and non-wrestlers) were as follows:
  • Gene Okerlund 58%
  • Daniel Bryan 54%
  • Bill Apter 52%
  • Sting 51%
  • Gary Hart 49%
  • Jerry Jarrett 48%
  • Edge 44%
  • Howard Finkel 42%
  • Jimmy Hart 36%
  • Don Owen 33%
  • Curt Hennig 30%
  • Junkyard Dog 29%
  • Sgt. Slaughter 23%
  • CM Punk 22%
  • Jim Crockett Jr. 20%
  • Dave Brown 18%
  • George Scott 17%
  • Randy Orton 15%
  • Ultimate Warrior 13%
  • Big Show and AJ Styles