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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2017 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Mr. Perfect
By Ray Hagan
Mar 28, 2017 - 7:40:48 AM

Mr. Perfect
Class of 2017

How do you write an induction for the most Perfect Superstar ever created? How do you choose from so many of the great moments? It's not easy to do so though I’ll highlight a few of my favorites. The opportunity to pay tribute to one of the greatest stars of my lifetime is a huge honor for me. His induction into the LOP Hall of Fame is well deserved. While no words I can say will ever do the justice that watching the man perform will do, I’m surely going to try.

Prior to becoming The Perfect One, Curt Hennig had a memorable career in AWA and a cup of coffee with the WWF in the early 80s; it was his return to the WWF late in the decade where he became Mr. Perfect. While he’d been an AWA World Champion, it was under the guise of Mr. Perfect that he’d become a household name the world over. There's an art to being a great heel, and to his credit Mr. Perfect had that art down like few ever have. From the towel that seemed to serve no purpose to the smarmy and always perfectly-executed smack of his gum pre-match. He let you know that he was not just better than you, or better than his opponent. No, he was, in fact, absolutely perfect.

One of the things that many tend to forget, myself included, was that Mr. Perfect won his first Intercontinental Championship thanks to the fallout of WrestleMania VI where The Ultimate Warrior was forced to vacate the title after defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship. Mr. Perfect would hold that title for 126 days before giving way to a brief run for the Texas Tornado. His second reign was much lengthier, lasting 280 days, and in the end it was significantly more important in my mind. It was his SummerSlam classic against Bret Hart that saw him arguably "make" the singles career of a man who would go on to become one of the WWE's most legendary and iconic performers in his own right.

Despite being saddled with the ridiculous "Coach" manager after Bobby Heenan left managing Mr. Perfect was as hated as ever heading into SummerSlam. The match was a defining one for me as a fan. The norm at the time was the Hogan style, and to have something else was pretty incredible for me. The match is not remembered with the fondness of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat to the general public, but for me it was every bit as powerful. I was 12 at the time and was just starting to understand how strongly a great match could resonate with me. When Bret Hart kicked out of the Perfect-Plex, I was simultaneously crestfallen and exhilarated. I was a huge fan of Mr. Perfect at the time and I loved his run as the Intercontinental Champion. I always hoped that it was going to be a step on the ladder to the top. The idea that someone could kick out of that move was unheard of to me, and when Bret slapped the Sharpshooter on Mr. Perfect to win the title...I became a fan of Bret Hart instead of him being just the guy with the cool sunglasses from the tag team. I have Mr. Perfect to thank for that.

Isn't that part of what makes a wrestler great? It's not just about the legacy they leave for themselves, but the legacy that they help create with others. Without that match who knows if Bret ever would have become the star that he eventually did? Thanks to Mr. Perfect we never have to wonder. Mr. Perfect is known as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time and with good reason. But this match is one of the biggest reasons to me. We’ve made a big deal about Shawn Michaels doing the honors for Steve Austin at WrestleMania with a back that would take him away from the ring; Mr. Perfect did the same thing years before for Hart without the same notoriety.

After that back injury sidelined our inductee, he decided to become the Perfect Commentator, and carried Vince McMahon (actually a pretty underrated announcer) through show after show. He was the "Executive Consultant" for Ric Flair while crushing it on commentary, but the allure of the ring brought him back, surprisingly as a foil to the man he'd helped lead to the WWF Title, Ric Flair. This face turn is one of my favorite of all-time and speaks to just how versatile Mr. Perfect was as a performer. To take a gimmick that was so inherently loathsome as the embodiment of perfection, and make fans cheer? That's impressive. Though when you have dastardly heels Ric Flair and Razor Ramon and the incredible Bobby Heenan as part of the equation it makes it perhaps slightly easier. No matter how you slice it though, the turn was absolutely perfectly executed, and one of my favorite turns of all time.

Perfect would go on to have varying amounts of success for the rest of his WWF tenure before going to WCW and revitalizing his career rising from the ashes yet again. He also showed in 2002 that despite not having been seen in a WWF ring in over six years the fans hadn’t forgotten him. He made an appearance at the Royal Rumble that year and was so popular that he was brought back on as a full time wrestler with the company for another five months.

What made Mr. Perfect so special to me weren’t the various titles, it wasn’t the brilliant vignettes that accompanied the character’s inception, and it wasn’t even the way that he was widely regarded as one of the best locker room guys ever. For me what makes Mr. Perfect so special is that he was one of the major influences in my fandom. If he were still with us, it would be a tremendous honor to thank him for all he had done in the ring to change my perception of what wrestling was all about.

He made me a smark before I knew that was a thing.

I had been a little Hulkamaniac. I cheered for the good guys. But when this man came along and showed Wade Boggs how to hit a baseball...well...I started rooting for the bad guy. When I saw him in the ring with his remarkable skill and fluidity and his trademark Perfect-Plex, I was sold. I know that I’m not the only one who was won over by his exceptional combination of charisma and athleticism.

His innate ability to take the crowd into the palm of his hand, his unique moveset and his passion for wrestling were just some of the things that drew me to Mr. Perfect. But more than anything the second generation star had a certain je ne sais quoi, the undeniable “it factor” that makes someone larger than life. We often hear in wrestling and in professional sports about how someone was a natural at their craft. Mr. Perfect was exactly that.

Whether you know Curt Hennig as a superstar, as a commentator, as an executive consultant, as a champion or just as a professional wrestler, we all know him by one word above all others…perfect. It is my incredible honor to induct 2017 LOP Hall of Famer…Mr. Perfect.