Laughable WWE Hall needs major overhaul
By Rennie Detore
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Vince McMahon's idea to incorporate a WWE Hall of Fame began as a
respectable notion and has evolved into a laughable entity.
Andre the Giant became the inaugural member of the WWE Hall of Fame in
1993. After that, the list loses its credibility.
WWE introduced the Hall of Fame Class of 1994, which included eight
inductees but only three deserving members: Gorilla Monsoon (for
announcing), "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and "Classy" Freddie Blassie.
WWE added two more groups in 1995 and 1996, then suddenly forgot about
it for eight years.
Stars such as Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd and George
"The Animal" Steele are only a few of the questionable names
"enshrined" in a Hall of Fame that also includes banished baseball
legend Pete Rose.
Could Alice Cooper, who appeared at "Wrestlemania III," or Ricky
Schroeder ("Wrestlemania II) be far behind?
Putting Steele in the WWE Hall of Fame would be like putting William
"Refrigerator" Perry in the NFL Hall of Fame.
The hairy, bald-headed Steele sported a green tongue and talked to a
stuffed animal he called "Mine."
He remains a historically colorful character but offered little to
professional wrestling other than mid-match snacking on turnbuckles or
a lust for Miss Elizabeth.
Perry, a charismatic showman, is remembered more as the fat defensive
guy who occasionally scored offensive touchdowns.
And what makes Snuka any different than Jake "The Snake" Roberts?
Neither held a title with the company. They still remain memorable
personas that don't warrant much recognition that goes beyond an
action figure or ice cream bar.
The Hall of Fame is comparable to the WWE cruiserweight division in
that they are only recognized sporadically, usually out of convenience
or boredom, and rarely seen as legitimate.
Now, McMahon wants that to change.
McMahon resurrected the forgotten "Hall" idea this past March prior to
"Wrestlemania XX." He put together a cute little banquet and showed
clips during the pay-per-view broadcast. He even managed to offer a
list of inductees that wasn't terrible.
Still, the addition of Rose comes across as more of a joke on the
company than humorous to the mainstream public or long-time fans.
A few of the wrestlers, too, didn't merit much recognition.
Junk Yard Dog and Big John Studd, two 2004 honorees, fall into the
same category as Snuka and Steele -- personas not backed by
The WWE Hall of Fame should be comprised of wrestlers who not only
were world champions but also showcased drawing power in marquee main
They should be superstars that defined WWE, the industry or a specific
era, making professional wrestling impossible to exist without them.
Where are the world champions such as Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Randy
Savage or Bob Backlund? More recent exiled stars like Mick Foley and
Steve Austin certainly deserve the notoriety.
McMahon met with former WWE champion Bruno Sammartino before the July
26 "Raw" in Pittsburgh in an attempt to ease the tension between the
two that has remained for nearly 20 years.
McMahon wants Sammartino in the Hall of Fame and also would like the
two-time heavyweight champion to participate in WWE's forthcoming "WWE
24/7," a channel devoted to the history of the business.
McMahon's attempt to court a scorned Sammartino, perhaps, shows that
the WWE kingpin really is trying to offer a sincere gesture to the
McMahon now must do the same with Hart, Savage, Backlund and Hogan and
hope that those superstars are receptive.
As it stands, the Hall of Fame reads like a glorified gimmicks battle
royal void of several top draws and notable competitors.
When fans think of professional wrestling, they think of Hogan,
Austin, Hart, Foley. Instead, they've gotten Dogs, Cats, Animals,
Hammers and Studds.