Chair Shots Wrestlemania Preview (Part 1): How Important is the 2014 Hall of Fame Class?
Mar 25, 2014 - 10:14:31 AM
Welcome back faithful readers to the column that’s shagging Daphne in the back of the Mystery Machine- Chair Shots! As I sit here listening to The Late Shift on LOP Radio (blogtalkradio.com/lordsofpain) and taking in all of the events of Raw last night, I started thinking about how epic the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame class is. Not to take away from previous Hall of Fame inductees, but this year is stacked almost from top to bottom with deserving and entertaining personalities that make this perhaps the best class since the inception of the Hall. In past years, you would get one or two top stars and then some lesser names rounding out the class. This year couldn’t be more different. Out of the 7 names being inducted, 6 of those 7 have left a stamp on the world of professional wrestling in such a way that having them all in the same class is almost insanity. So where does each stack up in terms of importance to the business? I’m going to break it down from my point of view, so there will be a bit of personal bias in my rankings. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know my love for a certain wrestler, so with that being said, let’s start at #7
#7- Carlos Colon
I’ll be perfectly honest with you dear readers; I’ve no love for Carlos Colon. If you’re at all familiar with the story of Bruiser Brody and the events surrounding his death, you know that Carlos Colon testified AGAINST Bruiser Brody and helped the man that killed him basically get away with murder. Now I know you can put some of the blame on the other wrestlers who did NOT testify in the case, despite their firsthand knowledge of the case, but Colon’s testimony basically unlocked the handcuffs of Jose Gonzalez.
In terms of inductions, this one may be more political than anything. Colon’s ties to the WWE are minimal at best, but Vince is interested in getting his hands on Colon’s video library, so I’m sure this was part of the deal to acquire it. It is only fitting that Carlito, Primo and Epico will be inducting Colon in the Hall of Fame, but I wonder what reception Colon will receive from longtime fans who know the history of Brody’s death. Personally, this one has zero interest for me, so we’ll leave it at that.
#6- Mr. T
The latest induction into the Celebrity Wing of the Hall is long overdue. If any celebrity epitomizes the role of the non-wrestling celebrity in the lore of the WWE, it’s Mr. T. This is a man that was involved in the Main Event of the very first Wrestlemania, so how can you NOT put him in the Hall? The fact that it’s taken so long basically falls on the fact that it took T this long to agree to being inducted. Most celebrities who work with the WWE or any wrestling federation do their business, collect their paycheck and leave. But it takes a real fan of the business to make their appearances count for something. Not only did T help cement the legacy of Wrestlemania, but he continued to come back for numerous appearances after that.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, it took this long to get him there. A lot of that seemed to stem from the real life heat between Mr. T and Roddy Piper. It’s pretty common knowledge that Piper disliked T’s involvement in the business, claiming that non-wrestlers had no business having that big a role when they hadn’t busted their asses earning their way in professional wrestling. I hope T’s induction means that he and Piper have smoothed things over, as even Piper himself would have a hard time denying Mr. T’s importance in the history of Wrestlemania. And if anybody has a problem with his induction, I pity the fool!
The Fabulous Moolah, Wendi Richter, Mae Young, Sensational Sherri, Trish Stratus; that’s a pretty stellar group of women’s wrestlers right there. To be added to that group means you’ve really left your mark on the world of women’s wrestling. Without a doubt, Lita has left that mark. In fact, in my opinion, Lita may be the LAST female wrestler to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame for quite a long time. From day one I was a Lita mark. She showed up, oddly enough with little fanfare, accompanying Essa Rios to the ring for his matches. Their connection was minimal at best, and it wasn’t long before Lita was getting bigger pops than Rios was.
From there the character of Lita started to take shape. She was the alternative rocker chick with an edge. From her long red hair, to her always present thong popping out over her pants, Lita became something new in the world of women’s wrestling. She was taking risks that no other female wrestler had taken before, and her matches with Trish Stratus became legendary. In fact, Lita and Trish were the only women ever to close an episode of Monday Night Raw in a contest that signals the very best of women’s wrestling. In today’s world of Total Divas and insanely untalented in-ring talent, Lita should be applauded for what she brought to the table. I’m thrilled at her induction, and saddened that it may be YEARS before we see another female inducted into the Hall.
#4- Razor Ramon
As I begin typing this section, I’m listening to YourAyatollah doing his Razor Ramon impression. Pretty damn good Steve and a perfect backdrop for me as I get to a very deserving inductee. The fact that I have Razor Ramon at #4 shows you how stacked this class is. But it brings up a really interesting question that I agree with Steve about and was the first thing that came to my mind upon the announcement. Why is it Razor Ramon being inducted, and not Scott Hall? I can only think that in the coming years we will see the NWO inducted as a group, thus celebrating the large part of Scott’s career outside of the Razor Ramon character. And if that is the case, I’m perfectly fine with that because the NWO certainly deserve their place in the Hall of Fame.
I actually first saw Scott Hall in the AWA, teaming up with Curt Hennig. He was known as both Big Scott Hall, and Magnum Scott Hall, due in large part to his physical similarity at the time to the NWA’s Magnum T.A. From early on, you could see the talent that Hall possessed. His charisma was without question, and he could really go in the ring. It wasn’t until 4-5 years later did Scott Hall finally break into the big time when Razor Ramon debuted in the WWE. He was an instant success, and wrestled many fantastic matches that stand the test of time today, most notably his ladder matches with Shawn Michaels. The fact that Scott never had his shot at holding a World Championship is the only thing missing for me in his storied career.
#3- Paul Bearer
Would the Undertaker be what he is today without Paul Bearer? Think about that question for a minute and really ponder what Taker’s journey would have been like without Paul by his side. He brought an element to the Undertaker character that added levels of creepiness that the early Undertaker couldn’t have done on his own. I would go so far as to say that without Paul Bearer, The Undertaker might not have been the success that he became. There are very few people that have embraced a character like William Moody did with the Paul Bearer character.
But it wasn’t just Taker that Bearer’s brilliance aided. He brought us the character of Kane, introduced us to the madness of Mankind, and handled the Mastodon known as Vader. Would any of those characters be what they were WITHOUT the assistance of Paul Bearer? Hell, Kane may have never been around at all. The fact that we will never get to hear that high-pitched voice and see the fantastic character portrayal again live is a shame. Rest in Peace Paul Bearer and welcome to the Hall of Fame!
#2- Ultimate Warrior
What? How can you have the headliner of 2014 Hall of Fame class at #2? Well it’s my column dammit and I can do what I want. But I’m not going to take away anything from The Ultimate Warrior and his importance to the WWE. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the Warrior, I’m not stupid enough to disregard his impact to the world of professional wrestling. The Warrior brought something to the wrestling world that had never been seen before. He was chaotic, frantic, aggressive, and probably somewhat insane. For the 4+ years that he was in the WWE he created an entire Warrior Nation of fans.
My problem with The Ultimate Warrior was that he wasn’t ever a great in-ring performer. His matches were more based on momentum and mayhem then they were on solid in-ring ability. He never really brought a lot to the table in terms of in-ring work, and would never be the guy to give you a 5-star match. I also think the Warrior probably thinks he’s more important to the business than many people in the business think he is. If anybody believes their own hype, it’s the Ultimate Warrior. But like I said, I don’t begrudge his induction one bit. His speech should certainly be entertaining, but to me he doesn’t bring more to the table than my #1 selection.
#1- Jake “The Snake” Roberts
I absolutely LOVE Jake Roberts. He was, is, and always will be my favorite wrestler of all time. This year’s class has a bit of a theme going through it, and that is wrestlers who brought something to the table that had never been seen before. In today’s WWE, Triple H is known as the Cerebral Assassin, but in my mind the real Cerebral Assassin was Jake Roberts. He was dark, mysterious, scary, and a damn talented wrestler. In a profession where you normally hear wrestlers scream and yell to make a point, Jake was soft spoken in his promos. He used his words to make his point, not his volume, and there wasn’t anybody better on the stick at the time than Jake.
But you can’t deny what he brought in-ring as well. Jake created a move that is used by just about every wrestler today in the DDT, and even today he delivers it better than just about every wrestler in the business. His programs with Randy Savage, The Undertaker, Andre and more led to the fans beginning to support Jake Roberts to the point that a proposed program with Hulk Hogan was scrapped because Vince didn’t want the fans cheering for Jake. It’s a shame really, because Jake deserved to have a program for the WWE Championship, and he never once got that program.
Let’s face facts though; Jake’s biggest enemy in professional wrestling was himself. For everything that Jake did to himself, from the drugs and the alcohol and whatever other vices he dabbled in, Jake should probably be dead four times over. Somehow though he managed to pull himself up from the lowest place possible, and right now is in the best shape he’s been in years. I thank DDP for a lot of that. He believed in Jake when Jake didn’t believe in himself. It took that kind of unwavering support to allow Jake to believe he could get his life together again. When I watched “Beyond the Mat” many years ago I honestly cried at what my hero had become. Now the tears are tears of joy that Jake has given himself a new lease on life. For me, Jake is the star of this year’s class. Kudos Jake Roberts! I couldn’t be happier.
So what are your thoughts on this year’s Hall of Fame class readers? As usual, leave your thoughts, questions, comments, death threats, internet memes and double coupons in any of the available formats, and as always thanks for reading!
Coming up next week, I’ll be doing a week long Wrestlemania preview much like I did last year, and in mid-April you’ll see the return of DOA. If you missed it last year, check out the archives, it’s a crazy, crazy clusterfuck of madness.
Until next time,
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