Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All they need now is a building.....

I refer to the WWE Hall of Fame. It has become an annual tradition around Wrestlemania in recent years for Vince McMahon to recognize the accomplishments of not only his own former employees, but people who never worked a nano-second for him. Unfortunately, unlike the Halls of Fame for baseball, basketball, and even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, McMahon hasn't yet gotten the inspiration or initiative to build an actual Hall of Fame building for his shrine, perhaps thinking he doesn't need one, but in the minds of many, they won't accept his Hall of Fame as legitimate until he does.

Pro wrestling does have a Hall of Fame here in upstate New York, but they forego the pomp & circumstance and attendant publicity is minimal. I'm not sure they'd ever induct McMahon, if they haven't already.

The WWE's Hall of Fame class of 2010 is taking shape, with the induction gala scheduled for March 27 in Phoenix. The inductees:

Antonio Inoki: The Japanese legend is best remembered here in the United States for his famous boxer vs. wrestler bout with Muhammad Ali in 1976, which went to a draw (predictably).

Gorgeous George: The "Sensation of the Nation" was the first wrestler to become a national television star, and one would've thought George would've already been in this Hall, but his is a welcome inclusion.

Wendi Richter: 80's fans will remember her two title runs and her association with singer Cyndi Lauper. Richter fell out of favor with McMahon and was screwed out of the women's title in the fall of '85, then went to the AWA to finish her career.

Ted DiBiase: "The Million Dollar Man", whose son, Ted, Jr., is a current WWE star, tried to buy the then-WWF title from the late Andre the Giant in February 1988, only to be thwarted by then-figurehead President Jack Tunney. DiBiase would win a couple of tag titles in the 90's, and later trade in his tights & boots for a Bible and a preacher's pulpit.

Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon: Better known for his success in the AWA than in the then-WWWF, Vachon is recognized as one of the most brutal heels in the history of the business. Sadly, I never saw him on TV in his prime, but his brother, Paul, aka "Butcher", was a WWWF mainstay during the 70's.

Stu Hart: Patriarch of the Hart wrestling family. Vince McMahon teased that Hart would be inducted, then dissed Stu's son Bret by reneging, only to have Stone Cold Steve Austin make the announcement on Monday Night Raw last night.

Bob Uecker: The former ballplayer-turned-actor (ex-Mr. Belvedere)-turned-broadcaster (long the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers) is being inducted in the celebrity wing, having done skits at Wrestlemania 3. His induction will be made official with another ex-ballplayer, Pete Rose, hosting Raw on March 22, though the local papers in Milwaukee have already leaked out the information as of March 13. Rose, by the way, is also in the WWE Hall as a sort of consolation prize due to his exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame. For once, Uecker can say he's sitting in the front row and mean it.

The WWE Hall, however, won't be complete until Vince McMahon resolves lingering grudges with other greats of the past like Randy Savage (who was rumored for this year, but may be in down the road) or Bruno Sammartino (who reportedly has said he'd never accept induction). If McMahon really wants his Hall to mean something, he has to check his ego and reconcile all past issues, and that may be what is really keeping him from retiring, for all we know.

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