Like the new banner?
After two days using my standard APFYT Wrestling themed banner I thought perhaps the annual mania countdown deserved something a tad more unique and thematically appropriate (if you need a logo hire me).
Anyway, so today on the Mania countdown we’re going to discuss this year’s Hall of Fame class. Let’s be clear to start we’re NOT going to be discussing whether or not anyone being inducted has “earned” a spot in the Hall of Fame based on titles won or other such accomplishments as if this was a real sports Hall of Fame. That would just be silly. Hall of Fame inductee choices for WWE are purely political. That’s why Tammy “Sunny” Sytch is in WWE’s HoF despite never setting foot in a ring as an actual competitor but Chyna who legitimately blazed trails for other women is not. (Full disclosure, a later countdown piece WILL cover Chyna not being inducted separate from this one because my thoughts on that are a column all it’s own). No, here we’ll be discussing if they deserve to be inducted by WWE standards.
So let’s start with…
Goldberg is the Valedictorian of this year’s class, the headliner, the main event of the evening. WWE’s main criteria for deciding who gets a Hall of Fame nod, (discounting the Warrior award which is pure brownie point sucking up), generally isn’t how many titles anyone has won or even if they had their best successes IN the WWE, but how entertaining they’ve been, how much fans loved them, and how memorable their careers were. So with Goldberg let’s introduce the format with which we’ll be addressing each inductee.
Why Are They Being Inducted?
Do The Fans Care?
Do They Deserve The Nod?
Does Penny Approve?
Each inductee gets an answer to each of these questions. So how does Bill rank?
Why Are They Being Inducted? – Goldberg is being inducted because even today he’s still a huge draw. His brief return run from Survivor Series 2016 to Wrestlemania 33, while certainly not technically impressive by a longshot, and dripping with bad booking issues such as how Kevin Owens was served to him like cheap take-out to set up the Goldberg Lesnar Mania rematch, drew eyes to the product and made money. The ‘E NEEDS a star with drawing power and an eternal fanbase that never forgets them to headline the show, ESPECIALLY in recent years as each year’s class feels more and more like 50% filler. Goldberg is going in because even today he draws money.
Do The Fans Care? – They do. The bulk of the fanbase LOVES Goldberg. He’s like Hogan; he’s NEVER been anything special in the ring and when he has to work anything longer than a squash match his opponent needs to carry him, but also like Hogan he just has that intangible, inexplicable “IT” factor that just makes the fans glom onto him in droves. There will ALWAYS be guys in wrestling that a scant few smarter fans like me look at and just think “yeah and?” but who the majority of the fans are just utterly hypnotized by, who just click with the bulk of the audience in a way no one can explain. So yes, the fans care and are happy about this.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – By WWE Standards yes. Goldberg draws money, end of story. He has NEVER lost his mystique, and while the percentage of fans like me who were never sold on him is slightly bigger now than it was in his prime, the majority of fans still pay money to see him when he shows up. Simply put, Goldberg deserves this induction because he draws money, and that is one of WWE’s main factors in deciding it’s headliners.
Does Penny Approve? – Nah brah. Goldberg has NEVER done anything to make me invested in him as a wrestler or a character. I’ll probably turn the show off when it gets to be his turn on stage. The man just bores me. More power to those who find him entertaining, but I just don’t.
Why Are They Being Inducted? – The Dudley Boys are probably one of THE most long-lived decorated tag teams in the history of wrestling. They’ve won EVERY major North American tag title of the past 30 years, not that it’s a statistic WWE considers, but it does add to the reason they’re worth getting the nod; They quite simply ALWAYS pop the crowd. These two can go anywhere on the planet to wrestle and the moment Bubba shoves Devon and says his name, whatever audience they’re in front of knows exactly what to say. No matter where they go or who they face or whether they’re playing heel or face, they NEVER fail to get the crowd hyped. You put the Dudleyz in a curtain jerker and you’re guaranteed a lively rowdy energized crowd for the next few matches, because the Dudleys ALWAYS pop the crowd. And WWE is rewarding them for years of consistently doing just that.
Do The Fans Care? – You’re damn right they do. The Dudleyz have ALWAYS been a fan favourite even when they’re playing heel. This is the one induction this year that damn near EVERYONE has been clamoring for.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – Yes, they do. At least by WWE standards. And if real sport stats mattered by those standards to given how many titles they have on their resume. But there’s a caveat.
Does Penny Approve? – Yes and no. From a purely wrestling “do they draw eyes and make money” standpoint? Yes. They as a team fit what the Hall of Fame needs. But if they weren’t being inducted as a team? If this was just about the individuals? I’d be far less approving. Bubba has been caught more than once on fan phone cameras tossing out racial slurs at fans when he was Bully Ray in TNA. He has claimed that it was all part of his heel schtick to rile up fans, (basically insinuating that him saying ni**er to a fan at a house show is no different than an actor saying it in a movie as part of the story), and I’m deeply uncomfortable with that.
Why Are They Being Inducted? – Honestly no one is quite sure outside of WWE management. There are theories of course, and most likely there are political reasons. Vince would NEVER invite someone he hates as much as Jarrett back to the WWE let alone in the Hall of Fame unless he was getting something he wanted. There’s WAY too much bad blood between them otherwise. So I like so many others am completely baffled as to why he’s going in.
Do The Fans Care? – As far as I can tell? Not in the slightest. I have yet to see any WWE fans or Wrestling fan groups ANYWHERE on Social media happily raving “Holy shit they’re finally inducting Double J it’s so awesome!!!” If any fans on social media are talking about him at all, it’s usually just “meh” or “but why?”. The only positive reactions on social media are all coming from industry people, friends and co-workers. The general WWE audience doesn’t seem to much care at all.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – Not one little bit. Jarrett has NEVER been an entertaining performer. His work rate and ring work have never been more than above average. He’s NEVER drawn money, not even in his own company. The only thing of note Jarrett has EVER done that will truly leave a legacy is create TNA, and that DAMN sure doesn’t qualify him by WWE standards. There is NO good reason from ANY point of view for him to be inducted, and it once again begs the question; WHY???
Does Penny Approve? – Do you even need to ask?
Why Are They Being Inducted? – Because WWE needs to induct one woman every year to prove they’re TOTES not sexist and Chyna is never ever going to get the nod as long as Steph is breathing. And because for some reason other great female wrestlers in WWE history like Molly Holly or Jacqueline haven’t occurred to them. The most likely reason is that Ivory was a Champion in GLOW and they’re hoping to get some extra eyes from fans of the Netflix show.
Do The Fans Care? – Barely. The only thing most fans remember about Ivory was her dressing like a schoolmarm and following Stevie Richards around as they parodied the Parents Television council. I had to be reminded she was champion 3 times.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – No. A THOUSAND times no. Chyna did. And if not Chyna I can STILL think of a dozen women just off the top of my head who deserve it more than Ivory. She was a forgettable performer with okay skills most modern fans have never even heard of. And her attitude to wrestlers using drugs, (no not weed, weed isn’t a drug no matter what Republicans tell you and I’m okay with weed, I’m talking about roids and cocaine), is “Hey, as long as everyone is fired up and performing don’t ask don’t tell”.
Does Penny Approve? – HELL to the fucking NO. I want CHYNA. And since we can’t have Chyna I want damn near ANYONE else. Hell I’ll take a goddamned Bella Twin over Ivory.
Why Are They Being Inducted? – Every year has a nostalgia pick, usually from the 80’s boom period, whom fans still fondly remember and will pop for. Jim is this year’s Nostalgia pick.
Do The Fans Care? – More or less. Younger modern fans are less likely to know who he even is but they’re not who he’s being inducted for. The Nostalgia pick is to draw older fans back to the product. So new young fans probably don’t care, but older fans will smile remembering his cheerful happy energy and upbeat happy theme song.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – Sure why not? The Nostalgia pick is never about accomplishments or how much money they drew, but about how fondly they’re remembered by the older fans. Hillbilly Jim ALWAYS made fans smile, so he’s as good a choice for this slot as any.
Does Penny Approve? – Yes. Yes I do.
Why Are They Being Inducted? – Much like Hillbilly Jim being the obligatory annual Nostalgia Pick, Mark is the obligatory Longevity Thank You pick. If you’re unsure what that means, think of it as how Mick Foley in his first autobiography described his first world title win as being less about how much money he could draw than about being thanked/rewarded for being there and busting his ass. That’s why Henry is going in. He’s been steady with the WWE for over two bloody decades. He actually predates Tripsy. Both signed in ’95 but Mark came first. Mark stayed with the company even after other wrestlers legit broke his leg on tv to curb the ego he came in with. He never became a technical marvel, but he did become a steady hand the crowd generally liked who was loyal and could be counted on to fit anywhere on the card as needed, from a curtain jerking squash match to putting over someone being pushed to the top. This is his reward for those 2 plus decades of loyalty.
Do The Fans Care? – No one is popping champagne corks over it but no one is offended by it either. Most fans know exactly why he’s going in and they’re okay with it. If nothing else it will be a feel good moment for the night.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – For being a loyal steady hard worker for over two decades? I think that qualifies him for this year’s Thank You slot yes.
Does Penny Approve? – It honestly doesn’t bother me at all. Good for him.
Why Are They Being Inducted? – As with the other inductions, there’s a celebrity inducted every year. Never a wrestler, though occasionally who participate, the celebrity inductee is someone who is a fan of the WWE who got involved and contributed to the product in a way fans remember. On that criteria, we get Kid Rock, racist Trump supporting dipshit who got his ass handed to him at an awards show by Tommy Lee and is generally a pompous asshole who just incidentally makes catchy music you get stuck in your head that WWE has used as themes for wrestlers and PPVs. He’s being inducted both for all the music he’s contributed over the years and all the times he played live on Raw or Wrestlemania. He’s also being inducted so WWE can use American Badass again for Taker as the rumour is that Taker will be Biker Taker at Mania for his match against Cena which ONCE A-BLOODY-GAIN is “gonna be his last match EVAR!!!” (Seriously is ANYONE still buying that? Taker will stop doing Mania matches when he’s ACTUALLY dead.)
Do The Fans Care? – Those who are already Kid Rock fans? Yes. Those who are Trump supporters? Yes. Everyone else? Not so much. He can barely sing anymore as hoarse as his voice has gotten, the drugs have CLEARLY caught up to him, (seriously look at that crackhead smile), and everything he says these days consists of pimping Trump and being racist while desecrating the US flag by turning it into a prop as a poncho. Fan reaction is mixed at best.
Do They Deserve The Nod? – Purely by WWE standards yes. He’s a celebrity for good or ill and he’s contributed to the company repeatedly. By those standards he qualifies. I’ll leave it at that.
Does Penny Approve? – No. Not even a little bit. I know the primary reason to give him the nod is to use a song for Taker, but honestly all inducting Kid Rock REALLY does is show everyone that Vince is just like his bestest buddy Trumpster Fire and doesn’t actually care if someone is a flaming bigot if he can benefit from them, unless that bigot’s name is Hulk Hogan.
For this one I’m skipping the format I’ve used up until now, because honestly this offends me. Not the recipient, but the award itself. It’s SHAMELESSLY political, created using the name of a man who was more famous for his racist homophobic rants by the end of his life than for anything he did in wrestling. Warrior was a huge flaming bigot, a selfish asshole who put himself over and was a total shit to work with. WWE made peace with him to use him as both the Nostaligia and the Headliner inductions at that year’s Hall of Fame, and created this award the next year “in his memory”, but it was really a political act to earn the company feel-good brownie points every year. I’m sure this Jarrius kid is a brave, strong, wonderful soul who deserves praise and kindness for what he’s lived through, but he deserves better than to be used as a prop so the WWE can get free “aren’t we TOTES super compassionate” brownie points.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the hot talents around the world the WWE has repeatedly tried to sign but failed to, and whether or not those talents ever SHOULD be in WWE regardless of fan wishes.