Answer: They’ll give them out to just about anybody these days.
At least, it certainly seems that way in the case of the latter. Indeed, whilst pro wrestling’s most recognisable Hall of Fame has had its fair share of dubious entries in the past (Koko B. Ware anyone?), for the most part, the roll call of inductees has largely read as a who’s who of the great and the good.
Countless headliners, world champions and trailblazers alike have all been celebrated at WWE’s Hall of Fame ceremony -an annual Wrestlemania tradition since 2004 and a pre-PPV event for several years in the early 90s- and deservedly so.
Yet for every Buddy Rogers, Hulk Hogan or Shawn Michaels that collects a Hall of Fame ring, scores of other names are conspicuous by their absence among the list of pro wrestling’s elite, whilst others still elicit the kind of groans and complaints usually reserved for The Big Show’s bi-weekly face/heel turn.
That Rikishi and The Bushwhackers are getting the moment in the proverbial sun whilst the likes of Owen Hart, the British Bulldog and The Fabulous Freebirds are left out only serves to further infuriate the kind of die-hard WWE fans that swear blind the company has some kind of personal vendetta against them.
On the contrary, there is some argument for both Big ‘Kishi and the ‘Whackers going into this year’s class. Sure, the former’s most successful run was founded largely on rubbing his giant booty into the faces of unfortunate opponents in some kind of primitive, grotesque forerunner to the sacred art of Twerking. That said, let’s not forget that the former Sultan was insanely over during the Attitude Era, and if holding a couple of second-tier titles in the company is enough to warrant an induction, then this fan has no problem with Rikishi going in.
The case of The Bushwhackers is a little trickier to defend when you consider that their sole contribution to the WWE consisted largely of licking people’s heads and stopping Jameson from getting his head kicked in. Though they’ve always got their somewhat pioneering run as the barbaric Sheepherders to justify their inclusion.
What’s more, just because Luke and Butch are in, that’s not to say Owen and Davey Boy will be out forever. In all likelihood, such men will get their time to shine. After all, if the Bushwhackers are in there, it probably goes without saying that there’s a spot somewhere down the line for performers that are almost universally respected by their peers and fans alike.
Not that the New Zealand natives’ induction doesn’t pose another question, namely, that if the duo are deemed Hall of Fame worthy, then surely there’s room in there for other names that don’t necessarily make the list of surefire future inductees.
Like who? Well, consider the following:
Yes OK, so the I.R.S gimmick was a little silly even for its time, and came complete with possibly the worst wrestling theme music ever committed to record, but in this writer’s opinion, Captain Mike took the idea of a wrestling tax man, and somehow made it work.
No, he was never a headline attraction, but he did generate heat like nobody’s business, and overcame the confines of a dumb gimmick into a decent WWF run, complete with a few tag team title reigns alongside Class of 2010 Hall of Famer, Ted Dibiase.
What’s more, the guy could go in the ring. Watching pay per view events from the late 80s and early 90s, I don’t think I ever saw Rotunda put in a bad performance. Add in his appearance at the first Wrestlemania, a run with the varsity club, and his current contributions as a producer, and there’s a valid argument for putting the former Mr. Wallstreet in the Hall of Fame.
WWE are quick to point to the Monday Night Wars as the turning point of their company, the catalyst for the explosion of the Attitude Era and megabucks all round. It goes without saying that there’d be no Monday Night War without WCW’s success, and probably no success for WCW without former AWA announcer Eric Bischoff at the helm.
Isn’t being at least partly responsible for the biggest boom period in pro wrestling since the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling days enough to warrant a Hall of Fame ring?
Lending their vocals to the greatest theme song of all time is probably enough to get Jacques and Raymond inducted at some point or another. If it isn’t, consider that, though they hardly set the world on fire as a babyface team, when they eventually turned heel and declared themselves to be ‘All American Boys,’ few could match them in terms of outright entertainment value.
When that particular schtick had run its course, both men were able to form reasonable successful careers of their own, Jacques with a run as the hilarious Mountie (and later with The Quebecers), and Raymond as a staple of WWF television in his role as a presenter, commentator and backstage mic man.
Speaking of men with microphones…
Sure, Pettengill’s often corny approach and outdated references haven’t exactly earned him a lot of love from those who still remember the days of WWF Mania, but let’s face it, from 1993 – 1997, The Toddster was as much the face of the World Wrestling Federation as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels or Lex Luger (more of him later). The guy was everywhere, on pay per view, on TV, you name it, if you were watching WWF in the mid-90s, you were watching Todd Pettengill.
There’s a whole host of articles on the web discussing who should -and shouldn’t- be in the Hall of Fame, though for some bizarre reason, very few seem to mention Lex Luger. This is curious to say the least since, The Total Package was, well, the total package.
He may never have been The Man in the way that those promoting him would have liked, but Luger’s undoubted star presence made him a top level performer for the duration of his career, and whilst your writer is probably clutching at straws with some of the names on this particular list (Pettengill especially), is it such a stretch to envisage the Lex Express rolling into the Hall of Fame?