Thursday, March 31, 2016

WWE's Hall of Fame Class of 2016

On Saturday, WWE will hold its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, with an edited tape delay broadcast airing on USA Network one week from tonight at 10 pm (ET). This year's class:

Sting (real name: Steve Borden): Two years after his original tag team partner, the Ultimate Warrior, was inducted, Sting enters the Hall of Fame, becoming the first man to be inducted into both the TNA & WWE Halls of Fame. Expect the Dudley Boyz (Team 3D) to be next, as early as next year, in this writer's opinion. Yes, Sting fell victim to Vince McMahon's political agenda last year at Wrestlemania 31, and injuries have ensured that he won't compete this year---some say he's retiring---but his body of work over 30 years in the business can't be ignored. Which is what gets him in.

Stan Hansen: 40 years ago, a mere bodyslam broke the neck of fellow Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino. Hansen's feared clothesline, or lariat, was developed after that incident. And while he didn't wrestle for the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation after his feud with Sammartino ended later that year, he made a name for himself in the NWA, Japan, and AWA, winning the latter's championship in 1985 from Rick Martel.

Jacqueline Moore: Country singer Brenda Lee was billed as "Little Miss Dynamite". Actress-singer-comedienne Vicki Lawrence had the nickname, "Little Miss Fireball", when she entered a talent competition, where she was discovered by Carol Burnett. Jacqueline is both, wrapped in a feisty package of beauty and brawn. Holds the distinction of holding not only the WWE women's title, but also the cruiserweight championship, the only woman in WWE's short history with the cruiser belt to hold that title.

The Godfather (Charles Wright): He first entered the then-WWF as Papa Shango in 1992. Three gimmick changes later, the Godfather made "Pimpin' ain't easy!" a national catchphrase. Being buddies with the Undertaker doesn't hurt, as it was the Dead Man who had a hand in bringing Wright to WWF in 1992.

The Fabulous Freebirds: Vince McMahon had the chance the last time the big dance was in Texas to induct the ground-breaking tag team, but didn't. Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy passed away in the summer of 2001, and Buddy Roberts left us just a couple of years ago. Their sons will stand in with the sole remaining founder, Michael Hayes, and later partner Jimmy Garvin. With other premier tag teams of the 80's, such as the Four Horsemen, the Road Warriors, and the 'Birds' long-time rivals, the Von Erich brothers, already in, this makes sense, but why did McMahon wait 15 years?

The Big Boss Man (Raymond Traylor): The other posthumous induction this year is for the former real-life Georgia prison guard, who, as Bubba Rogers, won his only "world" title in the Universal Wrestling Federation before jumping to WWF and being repackaged. In his final stint during the attitude era, Traylor traded his prison blue uniform for a black outfit as he reverted to heel, a role he would play for the rest of his career.

In the Celebrity Wing:

Snoop Dogg (Calvin Broadus): A long time WWF/E fan, Snoop has appeared and peformed at past Wrestlemania events. His cousin is current "diva" Sasha Banks, who will challenge for the Divas title on Sunday.

The Warrior Award, named for the Ultimate Warrior, will be given to former newscaster Joan Lunden (ex-Good Morning, America), who is battling breast cancer.

The way the Sunday card is shaping up, it looks like the Hall of Fame class might actually be more interesting.....

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