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WWE Hall of Fame 2016 inductees: Sting headlines this year's class

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Since WrestleMania is in Texas this year, there are some important Southern wrestling icons being inducted. And the main attraction of this year's class is the man they call Sting.

The WWE Hall of Fame was established way back in 1993. Though there is not yet a physical location for the Hall, induction remains one of the most prestigious honors a professional wrestler can earn in the course of their career. Since 2004, there has been an induction ceremony each year during WrestleMania weekend.

On Saturday, the evening before WrestleMania 32, WWE will induct six more extremely worthy individuals from pro wrestling's past, as well as honor their annual celebrity inductee and present the second Warrior Award. Here's the rundown of everyone who is going in and what their career accomplishments look like, if you happen to be unfamiliar with them.

Saturday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network. Red carpet coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET.

Warrior Award recipient: Joan Lunden

The Warrior Award was established last year in tribute to the late Ultimate Warrior. WWE presents the award to people who best embody the spirit of what the Ultimate Warrior represented. Last year, the award posthumously went to superfan Connor Michalek. This year, former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden will receive the honor.

In 2014, Lunden was diagnosed with breast cancer and has publicly chronicled her battle with the disease, helping raise awareness and provide hope and support to others.

Celebrity inductee: Snoop Dogg

Yes, the WWE Hall of Fame includes a celebrity wing. Pete Rose was the first inductee in 2004, followed by sporadic other inductees. But since 2010, a new celebrity has gone into this distinct wing of the Hall every year. This year's celebrity inductee was just announced this week and it is the one and only Snoop Dogg.

Snoop, whose cousin Sasha Banks is one of the most lauded wrestlers in the world right now and will be competing for the Divas Championship at WrestleMania 32 on Sunday, has arguably been involved in more WWE hijinks than any other celebrity Hall of Fame inductee to date. He has been a guest on RAW several times over the years, has guest-hosted RAW and was also involved in both WrestleMania XXIV and WrestleMania XXVII.

And now, on to the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2016!

The Godfather

Charles Wright has been known by many names over the course of his career: The Soul Taker, Papa Shango, Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, Kama Mustafa and the Godfather. But it's arguably his best-known character that is being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Godfather. During the "Attitude Era," the Godfather and his "Ho Train" were a weekly fixture on WWE programming, constantly generating some of the biggest reactions from fans every time he appeared.

The character will still pop up for a guest appearance or cameo every now and then. Wright himself is only partially retired, still taking the occasional booking on the independent circuit. He is a former two-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion and has held both the tag team and Intercontinental titles in the WWE.

The Godfather will be inducted by his longtime friends JBL and Hall of Famer Ron Simmons, perhaps better known as the tag team APA.


Another performer who is best-known for her time in the WWE during the Attitude Era, Jacqueline is one of the most accomplished women's wrestlers of all time -- and one of the most groundbreaking.

The Texas native started her career in 1988 and a decade later became the first African-American WWE women's champion. She had a lengthy feud with Sable and was the source of much of the in-ring talent within the women's division during the Attitude Era.

Over the course of her career, she has held the WWE Women's Championship twice, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship once and was an astounding 14-time USWA Women's Champion (when she was known as "Miss Texas").

In addition to being a wrestler, she was also a fixture as a manager for years, managing Harlem Heat in WCW, Mark Henry in WWE and Beer Money in TNA. She will be inducted by tag team legends the Dudley Boyz.

The Fabulous Freebirds

The Freebirds, consisting of Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts and later Jimmy Garvin, were a pro wrestling and pop culture phenomenon throughout the early part of the 1980s.

Perhaps their most well-known run was in Texas' World Class Championship Wrestling, where the dastardly villains -- who played up an infuriating-to-Southerners mix of flamboyance and "Confederate pride" -- ran roughshod over the promotion and ran up against the beloved do-gooders of the Von Erich clan.

Along the course of their decades-long career, the Freebirds also popularized the concept of wrestlers using entrance music (usually coming out to -- what else -- Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird") and invented something called "The Freebird Rule." This made-up bit of malarkey stated that any two members of their stable could defend the two-man tag team belts at any time, regardless of what combination officially won the straps. That rule has been invoked by heels ever since -- and is currently being used by current WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day, who will induct the Freebirds on Saturday.

Big Boss Man

The late Ray Traylor is now known by his contemporaries and longtime WWE fans as one of the best and perhaps most underrated big men in pro wrestling history. Traylor, a former prison guard, began wrestling in 1985 under the name Big Bubba Rogers, working for Jim Crockett Promotions and other territories.

When he made the leap to the World Wrestling Federation in 1988, company owner Vince McMahon thought Traylor's past as a prison guard was too good a gimmick to pass up and the character of the Big Boss Man was born. Originally an over-the-top evil caricature of a Cobb County prison guard, Boss Man was an adversary for Hulk Hogan during the peak of Hulkamania. He also formed a villainous tag team known as the Twin Towers with fellow big man Akeem.

After turning on Akeem and his manager slick in 1990, Boss Man started a nearly three-year run as one of the top baby faces in the WWF. He slimmed down and had a prolonged, classic feud with Bobby Heenan's Heenan Family. Traylor left WWF in 1993 and spent time in All Japan Pro Wrestling before landing in WCW.

In WCW, he wrestled as "The Boss," The Guardian Angel, Big Bubba Rogers and Ray Traylor. He stayed in the company until 1998 and was a member of both the Dungeon of Doom and the nWo. He returned to WWF in 1998 and aligned himself with Mr. McMahon's Corporation, returning to the Big Boss Man name but with a new all-black riot police look. He remained in the company through their transition to WWE and wrestled his last match for the company in 2002. He is a former WWE Tag Team Champion and a four-time WWE Hardcore Champion.

Traylor died of a heart attack on Sept. 22, 2004. He will be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame by his former manager, "The Doctor of Style," Slick.

Stan Hansen

The big Texan known as "The Lariat" is one of the most feared monsters in the history of pro wrestling. He first gained national notoriety when he broke WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino's neck in a match in 1976. One of the most hard-hitting wrestlers ever, he terrorized just about every promotion in the world throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

While he was a heel world title challenger in most North American promotions and territories, it was in Japan that he really became a legend. His brutal style made him a sensation in both All Japan and New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he reigned as one of the most fearsome and respected foreigners of all time. He took over as the AJPW booker after founder Giant Baba died in 1999.

During his career, Hansen held every heavyweight title and distinction AJPW had to offer. He was also AWA World Heavyweight Champion. He was also involved in three different five-star matches as rated by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Fellow Japanese gaijin legend Vader will induct Hansen into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night.


From 1987 until the promotion folded in 2001, the man they call Sting was the undisputed face of WCW. He first rose to the main event as a bleached-blonde smiling baby face and eternal enemy of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. Sting would later become the linchpin of the company during their biggest boom period, when he ascended to the rafters as the Crow-influenced anti-nWo vigilante.

WWE opted not to bring Sting in when they bought out WCW, nor when his WCW contract expired. Sting instead went to TNA in 2003 and stayed there more or less full-time until 2014.

WWE finally signed Sting to a contract in early 2014. Sting's first WWE match took place at WrestleMania 31 last year, where he lost to Triple H. In September, Sting suffered a serious neck injury in a world title match against Seth Rollins at the Night of Champions pay-per-view. Sting had surgery to repair cervical spinal stenosis and there are rumors that he may officially announce his retirement from wrestling during Saturday's induction ceremony.

Sting is a former NWA Television and two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a former six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion and a WCW World Tag team and United States Champion. He is also a four-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion and has been in two Wrestling Observer five-star matches.

Sting will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by none other than his most famous rival, two-time WWE Hall of Famer and 16-time world champion Ric Flair.

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