This was probably my least creative column title, but what do you want? They can’t all be zingers. Hello, I am James A. Sawyer and I am @todaysjimsawyer. Some of you… one of you… might’ve noticed I took a week off. Well, I’ve had some things a-transpirin’ and also, frankly, just didn’t have any ideas. Besides, this site has enough people covering weekly shows. My columns were always more philosophical or, what’s the word… oh yeah, pretentious in nature.
But I do like writing (semi)regularly, and it’s about that time again where the WWE trots out who is going into the Hall Of Fame. This is always kind of interesting because some of the selections are questionable (seriously? Koko B. Ware? Look, I liked High Energy as a young tyke, but dude…) and some are no doubt politically motivated (hence obvious candidate “Macho Man” Randy Savage being uninducted, even posthumously which is usually a no-brainer).
Over the past few years, the WWE has had some fairly recent retirees that have helped fill the ranks. Edge, HBK, Booker T and Mick Foley are all multiple-time champions, while also wrestling recently enough that it’s not just polite applause at the 78-year-old widow of “Battling” Jack MacGarnigle or whatever. This past year though, thank God no one on the current roster has either died or been injured, so they don’t get the automatic slot. There’s always that fear, though, that the more the years go by, the less of a pool of legends they’ll have to pull from.
This year, it seems like the big name initially is The Ultimate Warrior. I have no problem with that. Certainly when I was a kid he was a big deal, and I remember watching him absolutely crush Triple H in a Summerslam match that I’m sure makes Hunter wince with embarrassment. No one’s gonna argue he was the most consistent or coherent wrestler of all time, but he no doubt was a big part of the 1980s era.
Who else could they bring in? And preferably be recognizable and worthy? What about…
“Big Daddy Cool” Diesel
Guy was a former WWF champion, a tag champion, and helped almost kill the WWF/E with the nWo concept. I almost put Scott Hall and/or inducting the nWo as a group, but I think Scott’s recovery, while seemingly going well, is still too new to risk any unfortunate incidents. Maybe in a year or two. I still love you, Razor Ramon.
It’s weird to think that he’s not already in the Hall of Fame. I remember him vividly as a partner in heelery-and-offshore-accounts with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. He had a long career and now has two sons in the business that could induct him, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, not to mention Ted DiBiase himself if they didn’t want Wyatt to break character relatively soon into his run.
Is “schyster” an offensive term for my Jewish friends? I bet it is. Sounds like one of those things that you realize in retrospect and have to tell your announce team to ONLY mention him as “IRS” from now on. Also… why would he be allies with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase? The rich HATE paying taxes! Did they ever explain this? This is why I have insomnia…
This one could be an interesting induction. Obviously early on in her WWE career, she was in Team Extreme with the Hardy Boyz, neither of which are currently employed by the WWE and one of which is a prominent employee of TNA (regardless what that one commenter says). She also had an affair with Edge, and later dated current top guy CM Punk up until recently. Nevertheless, she was a legendary female wrestler who more than deserves to be in the HOF. She had enough matches and rivalries on her own to not have to have clips showing Jeff or Matt (not that Vince should care. TNA will never, ever, ever be a threat to them). Depending on if they’re still on good terms, Punk could induct her, or Edge. Trish Stratus could, too, if they want to avoid any kind of personal life gossip.
Man Lita had a cool theme song. And for the record, I think the only questionable thing she did was date Matt in the first place. Both Edge and CM Punk are step ups in that department. I’ve always had mad props for Lita, and you should listen to her episode of The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana. She traveled to Mexico in the pre-internet days by herself to get trained, and she quit the WWE because she didn’t love it anymore and she was bored. Now she does humanitarian type stuff in Central American countries and works with animals and has a punk band. Seriously, good for her.
The Honky Tonk Man
Another mystery as to his absence. The guy is the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion, up until one of the guaranteed 2014 Inductees beat him (Ultimate Warrior). He was a big part of the 1980s scene and a memorable character. Definitely should be in. I don’t know if Jerry Lawler and him are on good terms, or if there’s a family feud, because frankly a lot of the backstage gossip bores me and I don’t give a crap. So if Jerry won’t do it, have Ricky Steamboat or Santino Marella induct him. (Santino can play up the “Honk-a-Meter” thing)
You know, they tried to repackage Billy Gunn as RockaBilly before he was “Bad Ass,” but actually if they tried to do a rockabilly wrestler now, a real one who came to the ring with a Bettie Page-with-sleeve-tattoos lookalike I think it’d work. That’s a pretty big subculture. Hell, I used to get my hair cut in Kansas City by a rockabilly-themed place, (though I’ve never had a pompadour before). Chop Tops– Free plug from the good of my heart, since I don’t live there anymore and there’s nothing they can offer me from half a country over now.
Now that all the members are on good terms with the company and seem to be nice and sober, this year is as good as any to induct Triple H, HBK, X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws. Triple H is now the COO, HBK and the NAO have been on-air recently supporting him. And if they’re really planning on having some kind of match involving Punk and/or Bryan versus HBK and/or Triple H then this would even thematically make sense. You could have Vince induct them, playing up the fact that the rebels have now sold out to “the Man,” or have The Rock induct them as a way to get him involved with the show somehow.
The crowd was hot back then, but we live in a world without people saying “shiznit” and “dog-gy-style” now, and that’s a finer world to live in.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude
This guy was THE original heel for me. When I was growing up, there was NOBODY I wanted to punch in the face more than this guy. Whether he was menacing Sting, showing off custom airbrushed tights that he just knew would humiliate his opponents, Rick Rude played his role to a T. Definitely underrated, and someone who has some of their heel tactics used today, as well as someone who should have more of their tapes studied today, along with being somewhat recognizable to casual/lapsed fans. The guy died freakishly young at 40 almost 15(!) years ago. Sad to say had he managed to recover he might’ve had a late-career in-ring resurgence a la HBK. Put him in the HOF. Have Jake Roberts or DX induct him (especially if DX isn’t going in the same year).
God they need more crowd interactions nowadays. Everybody always talks about “cheap heat” but it’s not, it’s making yourself noticeable from the millions of other dudes in the back. Think about it, Edge & Christian’s 5-Second Poses, CM Punk’s SES public head shavings and proselytizing, fans want to be involved. They want to react, chant and cheer. Sigh…
Big Van Vader
Another guy that used to legit freak me out as a kid, and another headscratcher when it comes to HOF induction. This was one of the monster heels of WCW in the 1980s-90s. He was also criminally misused in the WWF. Hell, this super-heavyweight could both powerbomb anyone on the roster, as well as moonsault. Almost every fan that’s been watching for years knows who Vader is, hell even the (what I imagine to be) mostly new fans of RAW still remember him.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura*
This is a guy that Vince seems to have a weird relationship with, kinda like Roddy Piper. Sometimes they’ll be buddy-buddy and Ventura will come in and do something, other times Jesse will mention some little factoid that embarrasses the company. But you can’t deny his being one of the most reliable and notable gimmicks in wrestling (influenced by “Superstar” Billy Graham as he’d tell you himself), being a noted color commentator… oh, and a freakin’ governor of Minnesota. Plus…
If I had my way, William Regal would get one late-career run as a world champ, which he was probably the closest to when he was the King of the Ring in 2008 (winning in the finals cleanly over CM Punk). I had this whole storyline in my mind of him forming a stable with Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Santino called “The European Union.” Regal’s been a reliable hand for years, although curiously for such a good wrestler it seems he spent most of his WWF/E years as a general manager, which is kind of a waste while he was (and is) still in good enough shape to have a go in the ring. Nevertheless, he could easily go in the Hall of Fame, and who better to induct him than current white-hot superstar and former student Daniel Bryan?
Man alive, I started this column not knowing who I’d suggest, and ended up skipping some dudes for space reasons. I figure The Rock, Undertaker and Chris Jericho are all going to be the number one slot in separate years, and they deserve to be. Paul E. Dangerously is another good pick, too. Hell, his ideas helped keep the business relevant for the second boom period, let alone being the manager of the classic heel faction The Dangerous Alliance. (And did anyone else know that Paul E. Dangerously is only 48? Seriously. Good news is that he hasn’t really aged, bad news is I guess from 18 on he’s kinda looked 39.)
Anywho, feel free to share your thoughts below, even if they include vague physical threats or trolling. You know who I’m talking about.
*Someone in the comments pointed out that Jesse “The Body” Ventura is indeed in the Hall of Fame, inducted in 2004. That was during another extended break in my viewing, still, I should’ve known not to double-check facts using Wikipedia. My college professors were right not to let us use that as a valid source. Nevertheless, I shall leave the entry up there for humility reasons and for the kick-ass “Predator” clip.
Tags: Daniel Bryan, Hall Of Fame, The Ultimate Warrior, William Regal, WWE