My thoughts on the WWE Hall of Fame…

Posted: January 24, 2012 by Kick Out At 2! in Shane D
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s that wonderful time of year again where we start down the Road to Wrestlemania, and with Mania comes the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Every year, though, there seems to be some controversy over some inductee.  The biggest seemed to come last year with Drew Carrey and everyone talking about how much of a joke that it was that he got into the HOF.  Sometimes that controversy comes from someone getting inducted “too early” as I have heard a few times with Edge this year, or even someone getting inducted twice, like Ric Flair will have this March.  This lead me to thinking, exactly what should the HOF be and who should be allowed into it’s “hallowed halls?”

In my mind, for starters, anyone who has held a Championship in the WWE/WWF/WWWF is eligible and should be included (with exceptions that I’ll get to later).  Championships are basically the only stats that we have in wrestling, so these have to be taken into consideration.  At the WWE’s discretion I would say that they could feel free to add in any champions from WCW, ECW, AWA, WCCW, or any of the companies that they have “acquired” over the last few years, as in most ways, it’s not just the WWE Hall of Fame, but essentially Wrestling’s Hall of Fame.  I feel that WWE does a good job of this already, inducting people like Abdullah the Butcher, Verne Gagne and Mil Mascaras into the Hall of Fame, and I’m certain that they will continue to do this.  I’m almost certain we’ll see Sting in there, despite the fact that he never stepped foot in a WWE ring, just because he’s too big of a personality to not induct.  Plus, WWE owns all of the footage of him in WCW, so they can make a ton of money off of the inevitable DVD releases that would come with it, not to mention the possibility of Sting action figures, etc.

Secondly, anyone who has made a major impact in wrestling, whether they’ve won a championship or not.  If not for the Intercontinental run around Wrestlemania VIII, Roddy Piper wouldn’t have been a contender just based on being a champion, however to say that Piper shouldn’t have ever been inducted is akin to lunacy.  This is where promoters and managers would come into play as well.  In my mind, someone like Paul Heyman is destined to be in the WWE HOF because of the role that he played in wrestling during the 90s in ECW.  This is also where you could start to factor in other people from other promotions, or guys that made a bigger impact in, say, ECW or WCW than they did in WWE, like DDP or Taz.

Now, for celebrities…for the most part, I don’t care much for the celebrity wing of the HOF.  I understand that celebrities have been a big part of the WWE over the last thirty years or so, but in a lot of ways, I always overlook their inclusion as they’re almost always terrible skits or little run-ins with no further meaning.  Like, Drew Carrey in the HOF last year.  I’d say that a lot of current viewers were left scratching their heads as to why he would ever be considered, since his entire “run” in the WWE consisted of about three hours.  Now, someone like Andy Kaufman, that’s a bit different, but still…the celebs are in there to get outside media coverage.  There’s a reason out of 3 televised inductions last year that Drew was one of them…got to get him on TV and get that media coverage.  I’d like to see it done incredibly sparingly though.  Since we got Carrey last year, I’d rather not see another celeb for a few years.  Maybe at WM 30 or so…

A big thing with the HOF is that, at the moment, it exists solely in the mind of Vince McMahon.  There’s no actual building where there can be plaques or statues or whatever devoted to the inductees.  I’ve heard that this is something that may change, as WWE has been entertaining bids from potential cities to house a WWE HOF building.  One of the forerunners, at least the last time that I heard any news, was Orlando, and as someone who makes it towards Florida multiple times a year, I’d love to see this happen.  An actual HOF building would be a big thing for the WWE if done correctly.  In a lot of ways, I’m basically imagining Fan Axxess on a grand scale.  Huge setups, tons of old costumes and displays of the championship belts.  Maybe a setup for some of the now defunct companies, like WCW.  Couple that with an arena that could sit a few thousand people with a ring in it and hold some events there, or hold their press conferences there…it could be something cool.

Thing is, when it comes to the HOF, I really don’t believe there should be many restrictions.  Sure, someone like Mordachi or Nathan Jones, who’s entire stay in the WWE could be summed up in a matter of months, shouldn’t be in, but other than that, basically anyone who’s ever been a “name” in the WWE, or wrestling in general, should be in.  You see this with this year’s inductees in Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.  World Champions?  No.  Neither guy really ever raised above the mid-card, but both are instrumental in the history of wrestling.  They were founding members of the 4 Horsemen, multiple time tag team champions in multiple organizations, and both highly respected wrestlers by their peers and their fans.  They made an impact and a name for themselves, and deserve to be recognized for it.  As long as that model is followed, I have no problems.

Now, my caveat…my exception to the rule I have set forth:  One of the things that I see on the Internet and in different forums all the time is this one question…

Should Chris Benoit ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame?

The answer, plain and simply, is no.

This is the first time that I’ve written about Benoit on this site, and for good reason.  Benoit was my favorite wrestler.  I started getting behind him in 1996, and from then on, he was my guy.  My first order on Ebay ever was a “Best of Benoit in Japan” VHS tape that I poured over multiple times.  I had action figures, DVDs…anything I could get my hands on.

Then, he killed his family.

That, right there, erased everything he had ever done in wrestling, for me.  It did for a lot of people, as seen by WWE effectively erasing him from history, and I feel that this was the best possible response to the situation.  Some of the arguments I see for his inclusion are that we should reward his in-ring work and what he did for wrestling and essentially forget the rest, but honestly, what he did had a bigger detrimental effect on wrestling in general as to outweigh any good he ever did between the ropes.  So he had a few good matches…even great matches…but the man gave wrestling a black eye that it will honestly never recover from.  I don’t just not want him in the HOF, I fully support his blacklisting in the annuals of the WWE, because as a company that wants to go forward and wants to continue being able to offer it’s product, it cannot in any way honor this man.  That’s a big thing that I don’t understand why the people who want him included don’t get.  Could you imagine the media backlash that would come out if they inducted him?  Can you hear the boos that would resound through the arena when they played that spiffy video package essentially glorifying him and his career?  I sure can.  WWE would get raked over the coals for it, just as they did in the summer of 2007, and rightfully so.

So, in a lot of ways, that’s the sum of my argument.  The WWE HOF is a fictional building based around an entertainment form that isn’t a real sport.  Sure, there are people that are better than others at it, and those people should get in before others.  There are people who shouldn’t go in due to them never amounting to anything in the wrestling business, or for personal grudges or reasons that would prevent them from being in, but it should be open to basically anyone who’s ever made a name for themselves in wrestling.  With one exception.

Shane

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Comments
  1. vulgarwoman says:

    Wonderful post! I agree, I would love to see Sting and Paul Heyman in the Hall of Fame. I kind of think that the WWE HOF should be in Connecticut where their headquarters is…or maybe in a big wrestling city w/ a lot of wrestling history. Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Memphis, etc…

    As for Benoit, I disagree so hard. I hope to one day see him in the Hall of Fame though I doubt that will happen. This was not an evil man, he was a man who went insane. Steroids, depression, whatever it was. I think we make a huge mistake as human beings if we 1) demonize mental illness as we are often want to do and 2) fail to understand that human beings are multi-faceted as we are want to do. Things like this hurt us from a “being able to empathize with other human beings in order to create a better society” standpoint, rather than a business standpoint.

    So yeah, I totally get it’s a bad business move. But I feel it’s absolutely a right human move to not ignore this was a human being who lived and pretend as if he didn’t exist. Do you think the wrestlers in the back are doing that? I wonder why…

    The answer is not to ignore him, but use him as a teaching tool. It’s just a lesson for life: Pretending something doesn’t exist does not make it go away.

  2. RudoReels says:

    I’m fine with watching Benoit matches but I understand completely why some are not. I have not seen the WrestleMania 20 main event since he ‘passed,’ and that’s a PPV I’d seen like 5 times prior. Favorite event of all-time. But I can’t watch that main event. I can watch anything else, just not that. Should be be ‘forgotten?’ No, but they shouldn’t go out of their way to avoid him. It just calls MORE attention to it, to be honest. He should be approached in a completely objective manner, because facts are facts, he’s a former star, he’s a former champion, and the matches still happened.

    That being said, though, it’s certainly a fine line they have to walk regarding how to tip-toe around him. I think they’ve done an OK job. We will absolutely never see him in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think that his exclusion is that big of a deal, either. Besides, unless you’re putting the Dynamite Kid in first, Benoit barely has a place in the Hall. He was one of my all-time favorites but he wouldn’t have been the wrestler he was without the Dynamite Kid’s influence.

    I get excited for the Hall of Fame every year even though it’s mostly bull. I get excited for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I’m stoked for my favorite band (and Cliff Compton’s favorite band, too) getting inducted (Guns N’ Roses) EVEN THOUGH that’s just as much of a sham as the WWE Hall of Fame. I just like to see recognition given where due, so while the Hall of Fame may not be important to some, I can see it still being a small token of appreciation towards some, and that small token may go a long way for certain guys who get lost in the shuffle otherwise, despite their influence or accomplishments.

    If it were a completely objective Hall of Fame, Barry Horrowitz and The Brooklyn Brawler would have been one of the first inductees. Horrowitz & Lombardi put over so many wrestlers that they’re just as responsible for making the big stars as the stars were themselves. Also, if it were objective, and not a tool to drum up extra business, wrestlers would be inducted regardless of their consent or willingness to take part. (See: Sex Pistols)

    All things considered, though, it’s just as important to me, personally, as WrestleMania, because I like that sort of thing. And to use the Rock Hall analogy again, Flair getting his 2nd inducton is just like Rod Stewart getting a 2nd induction (Solo, Faces) or Clapton, Page, Beck, McCartney, Lennon, etc.

  3. […] was an excellent match from two always-solid performers who will undoubtedly have a place in the WWE Hall of Fame one day. Rey Mysterio can have a four-star match with virtually anyone, and John Layfield’s […]

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