Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WWE's Hall of Fame Class of 2014---and who should follow in future years

On April 5 in New Orleans, WWE will induct 7 new members into its Hall of Fame, with the entire ceremony airing on their new online network. Let's take a look at the inductees:

Celebrity Wing:

Mr. T: All of the other participants in the first Wrestlemania main event, save maybe for the Rockettes and the late Liberace, are already in, so why not Mr. T? In the space of a few short years, T went from being an ordinary nightclub bouncer who was introduced to network television audiences on NBC's The Big Event to cultural icon. Sylvester Stallone cast T in "Rocky III", which also happened to include a cameo by Hulk Hogan, and the rest is history. T appeared in the first 2 Wrestlemanias.

Posthumous selection:

Paul Bearer: Around this same time last year, Bearer (William Moody) passed away, and his death was weaved into the Undertaker-CM Punk storyline. That made his selection a slam dunk pick. Bearer was known to fans in Texas & Florida as spoiled rich boy Percival Pringle III, and although Pringle became a babyface at the end of his World Class run, Moody will forever be known for his Gomez Addams-esque persona, based in part on his real life former occupation as a mortician.

Women's division:

Lita: In her 7 years with the company (1999-2006), the Xtreme Diva captivated audiences with her daredevil stunts during Hardy Boyz matches, but then turned her back on the fans when she aligned with Edge toward the end of her run.

80's icons:

The Ultimate Warrior: The former James Hellwig debuted in World Class as the Dingo Warrior, ironically managed by Percy Pringle at one point before turning babyface, a role he'd play for the rest of his career. Incoherent promos aside, he was good in quick bursts, such as TV squashes, and enjoyed a 9 month run as World Wrestling Federation champion (1990-1).

Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Cable viewers first saw him on WTBS as part of Paul Ellering's original Legion of Doom with the Road Warriors and the late Buzz Sawyer. Roberts then gravitated to World Class, then Mid-South, but when he came up north in 1986, the karate gi he favored was gone, replaced with a traditional pair of trunks & boots. Didn't matter. He invented the DDT as a killer finisher, but a lot of today's wrestlers use it as a transitional move. One of the best promo artists of his time. Of all time, for that matter.

Carlos Colon: What Jerry Lawler is to his home city of Memphis, Colon is and has been to Puerto Rico for about the same length of time. While Colon appeared in 1 Royal Rumble, his sons, Carly (Carlito) & Eddie (now Fernando of Los Matadores), and nephew Orlando (Diego of Los Matadores), have made the Colon name just as important to WWE audiences as the McMahons or Harts.

90's icon:

Razor Ramon: Why isn't Scott Hall going in under his own name? Because Vince McMahon figures on enshrining him twice, the second time as part of the NWO (which would make Hogan a 2-time inductee as well), down the road, but rightfully, Hall should go as himself regardless now. To start with his faux Cubano persona, brought with him up from WCW in 1992, means McMahon will ignore Hall's AWA success with the late Curt Hennig and his first WCW run (1990-2), culminating with the Diamond Studd, the precursor to Ramon. You can bet Diamond Dallas Page, who has been mentoring Hall & Roberts, will be on hand, and likely induct one of them.

So when does the NWO go in? I'd guess in 2016, to mark the gimmick's 20th anniversary, and that would get two more Kliq members, Kevin Nash & Sean "123 Kid/Syxx/X-Pac" Waltman, into the Hall, leaving Triple H as the only one not yet in, unless he goes in next year. Hogan & Hall would join Ric Flair as the only 2-time inductees if this happens. There are others still waiting to be called, including:

*The Fabulous Freebirds: It's a crime that Michael Hayes, the lone surviving Freebird, hasn't yet gotten in, along with his late partners, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts, if not also Jim Garvin. Yes, the 'Birds had only a cup of coffee working for McMahon in 1985, but if other Mid-South stalwarts like Roberts, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and the late Junkyard Dog are already in, why not the 'Birds?

*Jim Cornette: So what if he has burned his bridges with WWE? Cornette's body of work cannot be denied.

*"Macho Man" Randy Savage & Owen Hart: Two posthumous entries that should've gone in already. Hart's widow reportedly has settled issues with WWE, but there is also the urban legend surrounding Savage and a supposed---and inappropriate at the time---dalliance with Stephanie McMahon, presumably while she was in high school, that is holding back the former WWF & WCW champion from getting in. Triple H may have to work another miracle behind the scenes to get this one done.

*Larry Zbyzsko: His former mentor and nemesis, Bruno Sammartino, went in last year, so it makes sense if Zbyzsko, a former AWA champion, eventually goes in, considering the years he spent in the 3WF in the late 70's, and contemporaries from that era are already in (Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Tony Atlas).

What do you think?

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