On Saturday, the WWE opened the doors, if you will, to its Hall of Fame for its 2012 class. At present, there is no physical building to house the Hall, but the word is they are thinking of building one, which would, in fact, make a lot of sense, given the company's rich history, even if Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon selectively ignores said history. Here's a look at this year's class. The highlights of the ceremony air later tonight on USA Network.
Ron Simmons: An All-American linebacker at Florida State, Simmons turned from the gridiron to the squared circle when he was unable to make it in the NFL or even the CFL. He became the first African-American World champion when he dethroned Big Van Vader in 1992, and even though that title reign was short-lived, Simmons had etched his place in history. He jumped to WWE 4 years later, adopting the guise of Faarooq, and was attired in Roman gladiator gear. The gimmick was modified to modern times when he was given a stable, the Nation of Domination, a year later, but that gave way eventually to the Acolytes, later known as APA, in which he teamed with John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who inducted him into the Hall. The APA won 3 tag titles before Simmons retired from full-time competiton in 2004.
Yokozuna: Rodney Anoia wrestled under the name Kokina Maximus for the AWA before he signed with WWE in 1992, and won 2 WWE titles from 1993-4, winning the '93 Royal Rumble in impressive fashion. He passed away just a few years ago, and was inducted posthumously by Jey & Jimmy Uso, along with their father, Rikishi.
Mike Tyson: Already inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, Tyson, whose last WWE appearance was in 2010, appeared as a guest referee at Wrestlemania 14 in 1998. DeGeneration X (Shawn Michaels & Triple H) presented Tyson.
Mil Mascaras: Quite simply, the greatest masked wrestler of all time. Mascaras didn't spend a lot of time in WWE back in the day, but did appear for Eddie Einhorn's ill-fated IWA promotion in the 70's. Alberto Del Rio, Mascaras' nephew, was tapped to induct Mascaras, a consolation of sorts, as Del Rio, sidelined all winter due to a torn groin, wasn't able to compete at Wrestlemania.
Edge: Adam Copeland had a brief cup of coffee as a TV jobber in WCW before he signed with WWE in 1997 and entered their developmental program. As Edge, he debuted a number of months later, and racked up 11 (by their count) World or WWE titles over the course of 5 years (2006-11), this after 14 tag titles with 6 different partners. One of those former partners, childhood best pal Christian, was selected to induct the "Rated R Superstar", whose film debut, "Bending The Rules", is already out on DVD after a quickie, limited edition theatrical release.
The Four Horsemen: These bad guys were marketed as pro wrestling's answer to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack back in the 80's. Put it another way, they were cool way before the rise of the counter-culture throwbacks of the New World Order in WCW and DX in WWE. Ric Flair was inducted solo in 2008, leading everyone to believe he was finally going to retire, but nearly 2 years later, he signed with TNA after a tour of Australia with old rival Hulk Hogan. Tully Blanchard became a preacher. Arn Anderson is now an agent-producer for WWE after hanging up the tights more than a decade ago. Barry Windham was a tag champ with both WWE & WCW, and gets in because the original 4th Horseman, Ole Anderson, is not on good terms with WWE and likely never will be. Manager James J. Dillon rounds out the 5-man group that was inducted by their most famous adversary, Dusty Rhodes.
The USA broadcast will focus on Tyson, Edge, & the Horsemen, so you'll have to wait for the Wrestlemania DVD to see the whole thing, as they never release the Hall of Fame event as a separate DVD entity.
As per usual, there has been the hue & cry over the exclusion of the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and speculation as to why, usually centering around an urban legend having to do with Stephanie McMahon, which I don't buy into, and it may be more about Vince McMahon holding grudges for whatever reason. The same goes for 70's icons Bruno Sammartino & Bob Backlund, who represent a very different era, and have their reasons for not cooperating with McMahon. Everyone has their preferences for who should be next to go. As it is, WWE has already inducted most of the icons of the 80's, save for Savage.
What do you guys think? Who's next?