The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class is shaping up to be one of the very best in history.
Headlined by the long overdue induction of Bruno Sammartino, this year’s class will also feature one of staples of the Attitude Era in Mick Foley, a guy who accomplished just about everything in Booker T, arguably the greatest Diva ever in Trish Stratus, an underrated Bob Bachlund and a man with quite a history at WrestleMania, Donald Trump.
The 2013 class may, in fact, have surpassed the 2005 class as the greatest class ever. Yep, it’s about as loaded as it could get.
Or is it?
Because many Hall of Fame classes have featured six or more inductees (not including celebrities), some fans are expecting the already loaded 2013 class to get even better with at least one more inductee. The debate continues, however, over who those inductees should be.
Being that a tag team or family has been inducted into the Hall almost every year since 2006 (The Four Horsemen in 2012, The Road Warriors in 2011, The Von Erichs in 2009, etc.), that trend should continue this year. A group such as The Fabulous Freebirds would be a great addition to this class, and its induction into the Hall is more than deserved.
Who shouldn’t be inducted this year, though, is an entirely different discussion.
Most of the names that are brought up as possible Hall of Fame inductees are certainly deserving, but being that this class is loaded with talent and star power, the WWE has to make the right choice if it chooses to induct another star.
One name that continues to be brought up is Paul Bearer, whose shocking death earlier this month has left many wanting to see him included this year.
I’d hold off on Bearer’s induction this year—and no, not because he doesn't deserve it. Waiting on Bearer’s induction is something that should be done simply because the timing (despite what many will say) isn't right.
Although Bearer’s recent death has earned him a lot of support for being inducted in this year’s class, you have to think that some fans won’t react kindly to him being inducted in 2013. Although many would view his induction as a great sign of respect, others would sadly view it as a publicity ploy to capitalize on his death.
Whether you agree with this or not (I don’t), the fact of the matter is that some people will say that it’s distasteful to induct Bearer “because he just died” when there was nothing to suggest that he was going to be inducted beforehand.
I’m not sure the WWE wants to look like it’s taking advantage of Bearer’s death, because the sad part is that some people will think that’s true. There’s an easy way to avoid that, though: Induct him at a later date.
Many can agree that it would be more than fitting for Bearer to go in alongside one of or both of the two men he managed throughout his storied career, Kane and Undertaker. Being inducted with Kane and/or Undertaker, likely within the next few years, would be a great way to honor these three men together—much like the WWE has done with other groups and families.
While Bearer is a lock to go into the Hall of Fame one day, the WWE is best served holding off on that induction for another year when he could go in with his “sons” Undertaker and Kane—which I’m sure some who knew Bearer will tell you is the way he would want to go in anyway.
After all, the WWE is already, in a way, honoring Bearer by essentially making him the focal point of The Undertaker's WrestleMania feud with CM Punk. It, of course, was Punk's shocking interruption of Undertaker's celebration of Bearer's life that has added a new level to this rivalry.
Punk has since taken Bearer's urn and continues to disrespect it, getting under Undertaker's skin in the process. It has added a nice touch to this feud that some think is a little classless, but in reality, is probably something that Bearer wouldn't mind and is viewed by those within the WWE as a way to honor his legacy.
Keeping his name alive is something the WWE should obviously do, but inducting him into the Hall of Fame this year probably wasn't in the company's plans a few weeks ago. It shouldn't be now, or else it sets a precedent for any major star that dies unexpectedly to go into the Hall the year that he dies—something that may not make the WWE look so good.
Of course, we can all agree that Bearer is one of the greatest managers ever and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more so than just about anybody who's already in it.
But Bearer should be inducted alongside the two men he managed to create one of the most star-studded Hall of Fame classes in WWE history—not this year.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!