WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Mr. T

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Mr. T

Class of 2014: Celebrity Inductee

 Pittier of Fools; Top  Five Most Important Celebrities in Wrestling History

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Hall of Fame Ranking

6 out of 10

Influential

In the history of WWE, there have been tons of celebrities. The Hall of Fame is littered with examples of one and done celebrity contributions (See William Perry). If a celebrity wing has to exist, none of these belong in the WWE Hall of Fame. There is a select group of true impact-full  outside figures. In WWE, the top  three are Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper and Mike Tyson (Andy Kaufman takes Tyson’s place if we count other promotions). Mr. T takes the top spot. He brought Wrestlemania to the next level.

It is simple. In 1985, Mr. T was hot stuff. Keep in mind, the landscape of the 1980s in entertainment was drastically different than today. Even with the advent of cable television, most had 35 channels maximum. Television was smaller, it hadn’t grown to the monstrosity it is today. Today, everyone is a star.

Meet these people... who are famous for...Fuckall...

Meet these people… who are famous for…Fuckall…

In 1985, Mr. T was in the middle of starring in the hit television show The A-Team with legit actor George Peppard, and Battlestar Galactica star Dirk Benedict. It was a legit gig. Comparable today might be working on House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. On top of that Mr. T, had finished up a breakout role in Rocky III as Clubber Lang and was riding high on his quest to super stardom. This is the man who had his own children’s cereal.

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Where the prize is more Mr. T

Mr T was  major popular star of a hit television show coming into the WWE and not only appearing, not only participating in an angle, but learning to and actually wrestling. (And not in the Seth Green  “Isn’t this funny”, kind of way) He actually fought and did a hip toss and a bodyslam.  When Mr. T did these things, he represented legitimization of wrestling as a form of entertainment. Hulk Hogan is credited (with the brain power of Vince McMahon) as being the face of the mainstream coming of age of wrestling. While Hogan is the face, the usher was Mr. T. Because of Mr. T, Hulk Hogan appeared on late night, he appeared on Saturday Night Live and he choked out Richard Beltzer.

It is common knowledge that Vince McMahon leveraged his home on Wrestlemania 1. The concept was to take the supershow, something which had been done for a couple of years in the form of Starrcade, and add glamour, glitz and legitimacy . In McMahon eyes, legitimacy meant celebrity and mainstream attention. His vision was to bring the eyes of the media on pro wrestling. And McMahon paid for that through his teeth.

Wrestlemania 1 had a ton of celebrities and those guys aren’t cheap. On top of Mr. T was Muhammad Ali, who had a special affinity for wrestling paychecks as he even appeared in Mid South seconding the Snow-Man. For real.

Add in Liberace, The Rockettes, Cyndi Lauper, and many many more and Vince bet it all on this show. This is why T’s participation is so key. The show needed the face of WWE to be Hulk Hogan and Celebrity. Mr. T made Hulk Hogan a celebrity to the point that even  today is the one wrestler that everyone, young or old, rich or poor knows. This is thanks to the doors opened by Mr. T.

The best part of his participation in the event is that Mr. T is one of only a few guys (back to that list again) who didn’t feel above the frey. When Floyd Mayweather wrestled, it was a gimmick, he didn’t even care. When Jeremy Piven jumped off the top rope we received Summer Fest. There is an unmistakable air about celebrities on WWE programming that almost says ” I know I’m better than this”. T was different. He joined the storyline. He complimented and become engulfed in a storyline, where he got beat up, allowed the heels to get heat and came back. He understood (or at least was willing to go along with) the way the business works. Vince took an idea which was perfected by Andy Kaufman (only celebrity willing to play heel) and WWFized it. T wasn’t a villain, but he was a representation of our hero. And he was good at it.

Mr. T’s character was perfect for Pro Wrestling. He is an absolute ridiculous caricature of a person. Him along with many others are the encapsulation of the 1980s. Ridiculous was king in the 80s. In the recent 80s Radio Shack commerical (with Hulk Hogan) the only missing element was Mr. T.

Mr. T also did one other thing that very few celebrities do. He continued with the organization for many years. The very next year, Mr. T took his rivalry with Roddy Piper to the next level in a one on one…boxing match? In a move which worked for none, the match ended in a DQ finish due to a body slam…

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Mr. T was such a character that he continued with WWE sporadically until 1987 when T wanted too much money for his level of stardom at the time. And that was that. Its always about the bucks and T’s induction might be related to a good payday. Regardless of why, he is inclusion is a must and a welcome, overdue move on the part of WWE. The fans are happy about this one.

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Why 2014?

The money. T is in need of cash due to his legal troubles with his son. Plain and simple, WWE is smart. With, the 30th anniversary (29th damn it!)  Mr. T appeared in the Wrestlemania 1 main event. Hogan is back and now so is Mr. T. Regardless of why, his inclusion is welcome and awesome. 

Opens Door For?

 The other Top Three celebrities.. Next should be Cyndi Lauper and Andy Kaufman.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Mr. T might fight Roddy Piper as they legitimately don’t like each other.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Paul Bearer

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Paul Bearer

Class of 2014

Undertaker’s Manager

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Hall of Fame Rating

6 out of 10

Influential

Each year during the Hall of Fame announcements, fans wait with bated breath to see which of their heroes; superstars from the past will have their moment to be celebrated. It’s always exciting to see the returns of the past stars and hear them accept their place in history. Unfortunately, that will not be the case with William Moody aka Paul Bearer.

The posthumous induction can be great if it’s a star has been deceased for many years like Gorgeous George or Gordon Solie. In those cases, it is a testament to their legacy. With Paul Bearer, it’s the opposite. Its tragic. Bearer died just one year ago. He, like Macho Man, died during the time period that the Hall of Fame was active. They could have given speeches if WWE had inducted them earlier, instead of Koko B Ware or Bullet Bob Armstrong.

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Who is this man and why is he is my living room?

Moody is rumored to have wanted to go in with the Undertaker, which is all well and good, except for the fact that he didn’t make it to see the induction. There might have been dozens of spots where Paul Bearer could have fit in before; a moot point now. If he had lived, a concurrent induction with Undertaker would have made sense. They were completely inter twinned.

Paul Bearer and the Undertaker are the best manager and client duo. One made sense due to the other and vice versa. Without Paul Bearer, it is questionable whether The Undertaker could have maintained through his first through years from villain to anti-hero. Imagine if he had stayed with Brother Love?  Brother Love and the Undertaker?! Might as well have a giant chicken with an African Tribesman stereotype.

Worse than these two combined.

Oh

Paul Bearer was the Undertaker’s manager. He was not his own being. Bobby the Brain Heenan, added great  heat to all of his charges, but  isn’t thought of as solely the manager of Andre the Giant or Haku.

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Haku, future Never Going To Be in the Hall of Famer Coming Soon!

Paul was brought it to be the mouthpiece, yes, but in a kayfabe character driven way. Paul Bearer was the Undertaker’s manager, named after another “aspect” of the gimmick. An undertaker and a pall bearer are both mortician terms.(Something the real William Moody actually has a licence in, which has got to be the most ridiculous coincidence in wrestling history).

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Bearer was not the first manager specially tooled for a wrestler’s gimmick, but he definitely was the best. Another well know is example is Kamala’s “manager”, Kim Chee:

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Not very effective and not very tasty

The WWF Kim Chee was about as ridiculous as soup managing Kamala. Kim Chee was a white man in a mask from Africa who found Kamala and brought him back yet didn’t talk and looked like this.

Brooklyn Brawler on Safari

Brooklyn Brawler on Safari

And that is why managers were never really made around characters. It generally was too much of a stretch. Who goes with Jake the Snake? A snake charmer? Who goes with King Kong Bundy? A really small lady? Package deals didn’t work and WWF knew it.

And the reason that this one worked? William Moody. Moody can easily be considered to be one of the top three managers of 1990s WWF. He knew the art of managing and had a plentiful background managing in the territory system, specifically WCCW as Percy Pringle III (a Bobby Heenan/JJ Dillon type)

Bearer’s function in the early days of the Undertaker was dualistic. He was the mouth piece, but not because Taker couldn’t talk. He spoke so Taker didn’t have to. He created the mystique of the Undertaker. He was the fancy packaging which make the Undertaker desirable.

It is obvious that the Undertaker’s success as a supernatural character for 24 years is a exception to the rule. None of Vince’s ridiculous creations of the early 1990s lasted more than a year or two. Taker was different, because he modified and changed.

This led to a breakup between Bearer and Taker. The Undertaker started to reach an apex in 1996. He fought a monster, conquered them, and moved on. How many Kamalas or King Kong Bundys could Undertaker fight before no one cared. Enter Mankind. Mick Foley, whom we all know is an amazing talent, was booked not only as Taker’s greatest advisory, but he was given a great gift-Paul Bearer.

Paul Bearer turning against the Undertaker was brilliant in story. It helped bolster Mankind’s credibility and kept the Undertaker going with his feud with Bearer (through Vader, Mankind and Terry Gordy’s Executioner)  It showed another side to Paul Bearer which should have let him become more Percy Pringle style manager for years to come.

Yet that didn’t happen. Bearer without the Undertaker managing Vader felt forced. Moody, for all his talent, struggled to get Bearer over a legitimate advisory to anyone but The Undertaker. IT was believable that Bearer would turn, just not that Vader would want anything to do with him. It was strange and didn’t work.

Without the Undertaker, Bearer seemed flat. His legacy was in jeopardy.  Cue the introduction of the second longest running character in the history of WWE, Kane. And the best part is, Kane doesn’t work without Paul Bearer. His story of being Paul Bearer’s son and BOOM- Immediate legitimization.  It builds on the mystique. With the addition of Undertaker’s brother, Paul Bearer  never branched out again, he never left the “supernatural” section on the WWF stage.  Paul Bearer needed the Undertaker even if Taker didn’t need Bearer.

After the year 2000, Moody took time off to deal with his blooming health issues (and weight) At his highest weight, he weighed as much a Rikishi, but without the muscle.

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And this is where the tragedy starts to take hold. Even with WWF/WWE moving away from managers, Paul Bearer was a beloved character. He was brought back periodically as needed throughout the 2000s, but he would have been around more if Moody was healthy. His time with the E was cut short, yet he still remains within the top 10 managers in WWE history. 

It is also likely that his constant problems with weight had a factor in his early death of 58. Rest in Peace, Mr. Moody.

Why 2014?

He died last year. Similar to Eddie Guerrero, this is a tribute induction to someone the organization did not expect to die. His induction was being held until Undertaker’s retirement. Its only a shame we don’t get to hear him say “OHHHH YES!”

Opens Door For?

90s managers. Almost all managers get in the Hall of Fame, due to their continued and important presence on the screen. We had the last of the major 80s managers with the inclusion of JJ Dillon. Expect Jim Cornette and Paul Heyman eventually.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Irony. The dead man inducts a dead man who played a pall bearer but really was a mortician.

Paul Bearer Confirmed for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014

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Paul Bearer’s induction is one which has been rumored since his death prior to Wrestlemania 29 last year. His announcement is no surprise and while his inclusion is both necessary and welcome, he sadly suffers from the post humanous sadness that exists for all dead performers, especially recently deceased performers.

We all want Bearer in the Hall but that fact he won’t be there to accept his award, is a bummer. He won’t say “OHHHH YESSSS!!!”

He won’t tell his stories about being Percy Pringle in WCCW, or what is was like to turn on the Undertaker. Like Eddie Guerrero in 2006 and Mr. Perfect in 2007, the induction will probably seem sad.

The one exciting factor is that the Undertaker is likely to appear for the first time at a WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. Undertaker, since the end of Biker Taker, has existed in a kayfabe all his own. He doesn’t do media, he doesn’t talk out of character. His is the Undertaker. Taker’s heartfelt speech for his former longtime manager should be a highlight on a Class already filled with highlights.

I am going to release a full Paul Bearer post later in the week. In the meantime enjoy Paul Bearer’s Funeral Parlor, the most ridiculous of the early 1990s talk shows…