WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004: Junkyard Dog


Junkyard Dog

Class of 2004

Rock’n Wrestling Superstar; Grabs Them Cakes


Hall of Fame Rating

5 out of 10


Simply put, I dislike the Junkyard Dog. It’s not that he is particular offensive, especially considering his era. Instead, it is that he had almost absolutely nothing to offer to wrestling, but got over anyway. He was a one trick pony at best. His one trick was charisma (kinda). Now many wrestling fans, experts and professionals alike will tout charisma as one of the most if not the most important aspect of a professional wrestler.  Charisma is the unteachable; encapsulates the IT Factor.

 The belief is that no matter how good you are in ring, if you are boring….

Meet Lance Storm

Meet Lance Storm

…..no one wants to watch you.

I tend to ascribe to Bret Hart’s philosophy, that a wrestler’s worth can be split into three sections, namely In Ring Ability, Charisma and Look.

So, with that in mind let’s take a look at the Junkyard Dog.

Let’s start with his greatest and only attribute, charisma. JYD, started off his career around the territories and ended up quickly in Mid South. Mid South was owned and run by another WWE Hall of Famer, Cowboy Bill Watts. Watts had a few things he was known for. He was a drinker, he was a hot head and he was good ol boy from Texas. He took one look at Sylvester Ritter (JYD real name) and said “You look like trash” and coined the name the Junkyard Dog.

Now, this was originally designed to be a golden era version of Santino, a lower card wrestler who didn’t do anything and lost all the time. Who would you cheer for a guy who literally brings trash in a barrel to the ring?

The answer is the fanbase of early 1980s Mid South. This character got over and go over a lot. People in the south for the first time in its history cheered a black babyface and JYD ascended into the semi-main event.

Ritter was a trail blazer in that regard. He did play a very second largest babyface role in the South….in the early 80s. Both Ritter and Watts deserve credit for trying something new. (Also Ernie Ladd who was doing some of the booking at the time). It was revolutionary and was most definitely against the grain of the time and the norms found in their Southern location.


JYD’s Fanbase?

So why did the Junkyard Dog get over? Your guess is as good as mine. Watts, not a terrible businessman by territory owner standards, saw that the fans took a likeing to JYD and decided to push him. This novel approach has never been done again.

Right Cesaro?

Right Cesaro?

And push him they did. JYD, leaning solely on his fun and unusual cadence, references to literally being a dog and bouncing around became one of the biggest things in Mid South. He became big enough that Vince McMahon came knocking.

In WWF, JYD used his only asset to his advantage as well, getting over with the children who were being overly marketed to in the Rock’n Wrestling ERA. JYD was a doll, appeared in the Saturday morning cartoon and danced with children. He was the perfect real life cartoon character. JYD’s contribution ends here.  When you are a one trick pony, you can only go so far. So if on Bret Hart’s scale JYD is a 6 in charisma. How is he on the other two?

In the looks department, JYD struggles. He looked like a barrel chested man (common in the 70s and 80s) who thought he was a dog, complete with dog chain, tearing things apart, literal junkyard garbage and barking. He looked ridiculous. Not more ridiculous than let’s say the Bushwhackers, 2015’s Hall of Fame malaise, but ridiculous none the less.

There is also another point. Taking an Africian American man, and turning him into a literal dog-man is kinda racist. It would never fly today. Can you imagine if Titus O’Neill instead of doing is bark taunt, was JYD Jr, wearing a dog chain and rolling around the ring. Oh how the sponsers would cry!

Sponsors as represented by Crying Man Big Show

Sponsors as represented by Crying Man Big Show

Later in his career, especially once he left WWF in 1988, JYD toned down the barking and all the silliest parts of his gimmick. What was he left with then?

Out of Shape Man with a Dog Chain....Yup

Out of Shape Man with a Dog Chain….Yup

JYD would definitely be a one or two in the look category, whether it was his out of shape, beer drinker body or his bothersome racist gimmick.

Bret’s third criteria is an easy one for this blog and you my dear reader. WRESTLING ABILITY!!!! Now, correctly  many of my favorite stars, Warrior and Hulk Hogan included, would be low scorers in this department. Simply put, technically they weren’t great. Yet both look like Flairs or Briscos (Jack not Gerry) compared to JYD.

Yet, both Warrior and Hogan understood the story of a match, which is a major part of in ring work. We tend to forget that up until the last 15 years, it was very uncommon to have tons of high spots, kicking out of finishers, reversal fests we see today. A good match was one which told a story. Hogan/Andre or Savage/Warrior did the trick. Both Warrior and Hogan understood this element and it would bump their “in ring” numbers up. JYD on the other hand…..

Here is an example of JYD storytelling

JYD proceeds to do nothing, headbutt, and lose to a belly to back suplex, then play sore loser. What a great match!

Now for those who might say, he was restrained by his character and the gimmick match- Sure.

Here’s JYD vs Ric Flair at Clash of Champions- noteworthy for its ability to make even Ric Flair look terrible.

Plainly Junkyard Dog fits into a similar category in the Hall of Fame as George Steele or Hacksaw Jim Duggan. They were memorable characters who did little else, and are flimsy in terms of “Hall of Fame Careers”

I’ll always remember JYD, even if what I remember is kinda embarrassing.

Sponsors as represented by Crying Man Big Show

It’s okay Big Show…

The Junkyard Dog’s career ended with a whimper. He was a product of territories and very limited, growing more and more limited as he got older. It is possible that had JYD been retiring before the end of the territories, he may have continued to work, similar to a Bobo Brazil or Thunderbolt Patterson. . Like many of the biggest stars in the 1980s, suffered from lack of place to go.

Junkyard died in a car accident in his 40s in 1998. You’ll see him on all the lists of the wrestlers who died young.


Why 2004?

2004 was the return of the WWE Hall of Fame. It was three years after WWE won the war against WCW and  their first class included only those who made a mark on 70s and 80s WWF. JYD was a crowd pleaser in his time with the E and served as both the Africian American inductee of the year and as one of the deceased,

With 11 inductees, 2004 was a year which hit on all the major and minor well known faces. If Santana, Race and Studd were going in, JYD made sense.


Opens Door For?

Ko Ko B. Ware and the Bushwhackers. Comedy characters with low win/loss record who kids always remember fondly.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Grab Them Cakes….a song so strange its either about the joys of diabetes or some kind of sexual inuendo. Certainly one of the weirdest songs on the WWF 1985 “The Wrestling Album”, Keep in mind  that’s an album which features a song where Captain Lou claims to be the creator of music while George the Animal Steele yells for ambiance.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1996: Superfly Jimmy Snuka


“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka

Class of 1996

Superfly, The Original “Benoit”


Hall of Fame Rating

5 out of 10


Jimmy Snuka is tainted. His legacy is tarnished. This is not due to his recent 3rd degree murder indictment for the 1983 murder of Nancy Argentino, Snuka’s former girlfriend. That is just another symptom of the problem. The indictment might have taken 32 years, but the problem since that night in 1983 is that Jimmy Snuka’s  actions led to her death and everyone knew it then as they know it now.

Obviously I am not talking about the fans. This was not public knowledge beyond the internal wrestling sanctum until much later, and even then it was rarely addressed in IWC, message boards and post forums. But the bookers knew and the wrestlers knew and it really did define Superfly Jimmy Snuka’s career.

On May 10th 1983, Jimmy Snuka may or may not (see did) have something to do with the death of his girlfriend. The police investigated it, and found they were unable to charge Jimmy Snuka despite the two dozen cuts and bruises, and an autopsy that said “likely mate abuse”. The pathologist said that Argentino’s death should be investigated as a homicide. When Snuka wasn’t charged, the case went cold and Jimmy Snuka was off the hook.

This is when Jimmy Snuka’s career took off in the WWF. Before the 1983, Snuka was a “wild Samoan” in WWF managed by Captain Lou Albano. Starting in 83, Snuka started doing the moves that no one else could do at the time. His Superfly splash made him stand out and made him a popular baby face for the pre-Hogan WWF.

What followed was a year of Snuka defining his career. Two moments would be shown often as highlights of not just Snuka’s career but WWE in general. The first was the famed Superfly splash from the top of the cage.

Don Muraco, also at his peak, was playing the cocky intercontinental champion and Snuka played the challenger. This was Snuka’s first and only attempt at championship gold in major organizations. It was his coming out party as a major talent and this moment  solidified him a potential main event star in pre-Hogan/beginning Hogan times. Snuka’s “spectacular” splash also became even more important due to Mick Foley. Foley was in attendance, and that coincidence has been documented over and over by the WWE  storytelling machine.

Snuka’s second most important moment did not even happen in the ring. In a moment that would help to define another Hall of Famer, Roddy Piper hit Snuka with a coconut. Roddy Piper was one those talents ahead of his time.  The coconut was “attitude” enough to make it memorable for generations to come. In their feud, Snuka did help legetimize Piper as a top heel. He got through Snuka and was ready for Hogan come 1985.

This marks the end of Snuka’s run as a top player. In 1985, former girlfriend, Nancy Argentino’s parents won a $500,000 default judgment against Snuka in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. While this was a civil suit, it did have an effect on Snuka’s career. Similar to O.J. Simpson being forced to pay the Goldman family, Snuka’s judgement proved that he was financially liable (IE involved) in Argentino’s murder. Legally, he,although not convicted would be “accepted” as a cause of her murder. Snuka’s push collapsed under the weight of this judgement.

Snuka's career

Snuka’s career

At the first Wrestlemania, Snuka was relegated to the role of manager in the main event. While a decent position, it limited his exposure in the largest stage to that date for the WWF. Snuka proceeded to fade out of the limelight until leaving at the end of 1985. It is impossible to look at Snuka’s slide into obscurity and not see the Nancy Argentino case as the cuplrit. BTW,  Snuka appears not to have ever paid his judgement,  claiming financial inability to do so.

Jimmy Snuka’s career as a large player was dead in 1985.  1986 and on, Snuka bounced back and forth between the last few territories left in the late 80s but never reached the modicum of success he did in WWF. Even his return to the organization in 1989 was a flop. Snuka spent most of his time in the lower card, having his last memorable moment being the first victim of the Undertaker’s streak.

After his last run in the WWF, Snuka faded to wrestling in lower independents including the original ECW (Eastern Championship Wrestling), reuniting with Don Muraco.

This last hurrah did nothing to revitalize The Superfly’s career. The innovator of the flying splash ended his career more with a whimper than it did a splash.

On September 1, 2015, 32 years after the incident, Snuka was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for Argentino’s death.

Snuka’s legacy will be permanently damaged from this incident. It is the last nail in the coffin of a promising career ruined by anger, and bad real life moves.

I’ve rated Snuka fairly low in the Hall of Fame scale. I really see him as a memorable one or two trick pony. No actual success outside of the WWE.

Plus he actually probably killed that girl


Biggest question is if Jimmy Snuka in his current state is convicted, should he be permanently removed from the Hall of Fame? Why did WWE induct a would be murderer? Did everyone forget?

Tell me what you think.

Why 1996?

1996 was a particularly bad time for the WWE. They had just come off their worst year since Vince had taken over from his father (see Steroids)

1996 was the class of those Vince could get. WCW was taken many of their old stars, so WWF had their last class of  the 90s filled with friendly, old and harmless inductees. This gave us unknowns like Johnny Rodz, and Baron Michel Scicluna. Jimmy Snuka was a name to be included….as long as no one remembered the murder thing…

Opens Door For?

More Samoans. We may see Samu or Rosey or Tonga Kid eventually. Also opens the door for more character or gimmick induction. (Santino Marella Hall of Famer) Will be interesting to see if Val Venis eventually gets in. He is about the same level.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Murder. Yup Murder.

WWE 2k16 to feature The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015

In the last few years, I have gone back to at least playing the WWE wrestling games. The history modes featured in the last few games included Best of Wrestlemania, Best of the Attitude ERA and Path of the Ultimate Warrior, all fun modes.

This year 2k has raised the bar with a fun additional DLC mode, one which I had always thought would be fun.

Its the WWE Hall of Fame Mode, featuring matches which cover the Class of 2015.

Every WWE Hall of Famer (excluding Connor the Crusher, a child who never wrestled and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a celebrity who never wrestled)

This mode will feature:

‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts from Tuesday Night at Texas

Rikishi vs. The Rock from Summerslam 2000

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ric Flair from Superbrawl 1991

The Bushwhackers vs. The Natural Disasters from Summerslam 1991

Larry Zbysko/Arn Anderson vs Ricky Steamboat/Dustin Rhodes from Clash of Champions

The Outsiders vs. Harlem Heat from Halloween Havoc &

Alundra Blayze vs. Paige from nowhere. I am guessing they tried to get Bull Nakano or Bertha Faye and couldn’t secure the deal.

Its a fun mode and something I look forward to playing.

What do you think? Is this a welcome addition to the WWE video game series?