WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017: Legacy Inductees Good or Bad?

Rumors have circulated from Dave Meltzer, which have announced the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Legacy inductees. This marks the second year in a row where WWE have added many deceased trailblazers from the actual golden era (before 1970s) in a short compact, non celebratory way  in a group.

Hey look, Lou Thesz got 15 seconds! Woot! 15 Seconds!

I fully support Thesz, Hackenschmidt, Gotch, Burke and all the others joining the Hall of Fame. They all deserve to be in any legitimate wrestling Hall of Fame and frankly, are in all other wrestling Hall of Fames. Their inclusion (likely there is Triple H’s influence here), is a good step and its a legitimizing step. The WWE Hall of Fame is saying: “WE are THE Wrestling Hall of Fame, just now we call it “sports entertainment.”

All the good about these inductions aside, the WWE did this very poorly last year. Firstly, they didn’t announce it ahead of time (something they are guilty of so far this year as well.) and its inclusion came out the day before the ceremony because of a t-shirt.  A t-shirt.

This T-shirt

These legends of the ring, combined, are some of the biggest box office draws in history. Yet, they weren’t shown that respect. The video lasts about 3 minutes. We saw more time being given to Snoop Dog, a celebrity whose inclusion, falls into the ‘bonkers celebrity division”, populated previously by Drew Carey, Arnold Schwarzenegger and William Perry.

I was surprised last year that Legacy inductees are included in the Hall (as Warrior Award nominees are not included on actual list), yet WWE.com proves it with profiles on their website. These inductees, despite their brief mention, are full-fledged members. So let’s take a look at another group on WWE Legacy inductees who are now going to be in the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.

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Luther Lindsay

Hall of Fame Ranking:

6 out of 10

Influential

Luther Lindsay was the one on this list that I knew absolutely nothing about. The name didn’t even ring a bell.

Lindsay, according to Wikipedia, was a regional talent throughout the late 50s, the 60s, and the 70s until 1971 where he had a heart attack in the ring, dying.

Lindsay existed in the world of regional wrestling, a product of the early territories.  His only attachment to the WWE was a brief run for Capitol Wrestling Federation, owned by Jess McMahon. Yes, Vince McMahon’s grandfather.

So why did I rate Luther, the wrestler I didn’t know, whose career was cut short, so high?

Well, its simple. Luther Lindsay, was a successful regional wrestler, in the 1950s and 1960s. That was tough for an African-American star. It took strength and perseverance for Lindsay to succeed and not only that, but challenge Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Well historically unknown addition.

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Haystacks Calhoun

Hall of Fame Rating

6 out of 10

Influential

Haystacks Calhoun would already be in the WWE Hall of Fame, if he had lived until the 1990s. WWF, at the time began its Hall of Fame in 1993 (with Andre) and 1994 properly, with its first ceremony.  Calhoun fits the mold of who was included in those classes. Baron Mikel Scicluna and Johnny Rodz got in due to many long time WWWF stars being deceased. Calhoun might have gotten in regardless, if WWE had continued the Hall between 1997-2003, something unlikely due to the Monday Night Wars, Attitude Era and whatever the Invasion was.

Calhoun was one of the first very successful big men for the WWWF. He was huge, and an attraction. He is even a former WWWF Tag Team Championship. Not bad for a guy who’s gimmick was as a fat farmer.

Think of him as a more successful Uncle Elmer.

But better.

Haystacks attraction status is real and was at the time memorable, ala Andre the Giant. Easy choice, easy inductee.

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Farmer Burns

Hall of Fame Ranking

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

Farmer Burns inclusion is fun, but kind of silly. You see, there was a time in wrestling when everyone thought wrestling was real. It was kayfabe era. It began in the time when professional wrestling changed from being actual fighting like boxing, to being a predetermined “sport” . Farmer Martin Burns comes from the legit sport era.

Like Ed “Strangler” Lewis, and George Hackensmidt, Burns was a legit wrestler. Yes, apparently people used to pay to see this?

Anyhow, the irony aside, WWE seems to want to include all wrestlers and Farmer Burns is in all other main wrestling Hall of Fames.

Welcome to the Hall, Farmer Martin Burns, a man who could kick everyone’s ass.

Except Haku

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Dr. Jerry Graham

Hall of Fame Ranking

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

Dr. Jerry Graham fits into the group of former WWWF golden stars who likely would have eventually made it in at some point. His inclusion here, is more surprising to me, as I always assumed that men like Graham would get proper inductions. It’s almost like using the Legacy Award to induct Lord Alfred Hayes or Ivan Koloff.

Graham had a career with the WWWF. He was a 9 time tag team champion, many of those with Eddie Graham, current WWE Hall of Famer. He is also mostly known for his time with WWWF, making him an easy induction.

Jerry Graham is just as much an originator of the Graham family name, one of the most copied “family names” in wrestling.

Hey, Superstar Billy Graham is supposed to be related to this guy.

He’s not.

Jerry Graham is a welcome addition. (Looks like I’m likely this Legacy Class)

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Judy Grable

Hall of Fame Ranking

4 out of 10

Fine

Judy Grable was a semi-successful women’s wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s. She was trained  by the first female inductee, The Fabulous Moolah and did have a long career, lasting for almost 20 years in the profession.

The issue at hand is that women’s wrestling, for the most part, in the 50s and 60s was an attraction, not treated as legitimate as their male counterparts.

This is why Mildred Burke and Fabulous Moolah remained the champions for so long. Those were the stars. Grable helped, but has been largely forgotten since.

Grable was her generations Velvet Mcintyre

Who? Who? Who?

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June Byers

Hall of Fame Ranking

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

June Byers was a big deal in her time. She held the Women’s World Title for 10 years, broaching the time period between long time champion Mildred Burke and future long time champion Fabulous Moolah.

After a supposed “shoot” fight with Mildred Burke, where Byers was  declared women’s world champion, Byers defended the title all across the NWA. She was her generation’s female Gene Kiniski, a solid worker, who was over with the crowd enough to bring her “attraction” status to its height.

The historically important women should be in the Hall of Fame. Mildred Burke was last year, so June Byers was the next logically missing female.

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Rikidozan

Hall of Fame Ranking

8 out of 10

Legend

Rikidozan should be inducted on his own. He is that important. A Korean born wrestler, Rikidozan is credited with bringing wrestling to Japan.

I’ll say that again, without Rikidozan, there is no Antonio Inoki, no Tatsumi Fujinami, no Giant Baba. Those three are considered to be there of the biggest stars in Japanese wrestling history. Rikidozan still drawfs many of them, as he trained them. (Inoki and Baba). Rikidozan is also one of the few men to defeat Lou Thesz legitimately during his prime. He defeated Thesz for the NWA International Title in 1958.

He is also credited with opening the first Japanese promotion with the JWA, Japanese Pro Wrestling Alliance.

If he hadn’t been murdered by the Japanese mafia in 1963, it is likely Rikidozan would be remembered as even more of a force in wrestling.

He is a legend who every major wrestling fan should look up and enjoy.

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Toots Mondt

Hall of Fame Ranking

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

Toots Mondt was both Jess and Vince McMahon Sr.’s partner in the Capitol Wrestling and WWWF until his death.

Although he was a well known wrestler in his time, his force as a promoter is what he is best known for.

He’s the one in between those you know

He is a strange inclusion here, as it was likely in the 1990s that Toots would have been included on his own. He opens the possibility than Jess McMahon, Jack Tunney, Bob Giegel, or Leroy McGuirk among others.

Mondt is credited with helping to create such huge stars as Bruno Sammartino, Antonio Rocca and Stu Hart. He’s the man who helped bring the generation which gave us Vince McMahon Jr and WWF 1980s.

Here’s Bruno on Toots Mondt.

This legacy class, like last years is a welcome addition. If WWE continues this, it is likely within 5 years that WWE will be able to consider itself the real, true and full wrestling Hall of Fame. Now, if they could only open a building somewhere…

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017: Ravishing Rick Rude

Rick Rude1

Ravishing Rick Rude

Class of 2017

What A Real Man Looks Like, Mustachioed Masterpiece

rick-rude

Hall of Fame Ranking

8 out of 10

Legend

Ravishing Rick Rude is going into the Hall of Fame. FINALLY!

Rick Rude was the first predictive article as part of my “Future Hall of Famer” series from 4 years ago. I knew it would happen, and am pleased to be correct.

In wrestling, we always talk about the total package. A superstar who can speak, get a reaction, is either hated or loved, has charisma, has the look and can put on an entertaining match. These men are few and far between. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair are all main event prime examples of that. And most total packages, make it to the main event.

lex-luger-pec-flex-o

Not that kind of Total Package

It would have been hard to ignore Shawn Michaels, but it is possible. Case and point, Ravishing Rick Rude.

To say that Rick Rude is underrated is in itself an understatement. Rick Rude had all the elements. It is undeniable that he was word champion material and theoretically if he had not gotten injured in 1992, he would have been . ( I do not count the weird bastardized WCW International Championship, something it ran concurrently with the WCW Title)

Rude is the product of the 1980s. This was  one of the pinnacles of wrestling. It is after all considered to be the Golden Era of modern day wrestling. The territory system combined with competition between WWF/NWA/World Class/AWA gave us seasoned wrestlers with character, ability and charisma. Rude represents this. . And if you look at his work, it is obvious what he had.

The man could talk. Talking is a skill set that most performers, heel or face today, simply don’t have. A modern comparison to Rude is John Morrison, who talked with the charisma of an accountant referencing tax law.

And nonsensical

And nonsensical

However, this idea that everyone in the 70s and 80s knew how to talk is absurd. Managers’ prevalence existed for the sole reason that most performers didn’t know how to speak. And this is during the time when your promo put assess in the seats.

And Rude could do that. His entire WWF and WCW gimmick was based on a heel insulting the audience for being so damn fine. Now, he wouldn’t be the first to endow himself with physical superiority in wrestling (everyone to some degree does that), his biggest difference was he was threatening to steal the fans women and looked like he could. physical looks really only began to take form in the 80s (and became very overblown due to steroids) Still Rude had to the look and the charisma.

Both of these factors are needed for a main event performer, but that’s not it. A all around performer like Michaels or Flair had to be able to get into the psyche of the audience. The audience had to revile them. Rick Rude during his WCW stint had what I consider to be one of the best heel reactions at an event. Take a look.

That is heel heat. Ric Flair never got that heat. (John Cena does)

izzard

Main events also need to be able to wrestle well or to create stories with their matches (We all know Hogan & Warrior couldn’t wrestle) Rude was more than capable in this field. He was one of the top three “heels who sell” in the late 80s (Dibiase, Perfect & Rude) He made the Ultimate Warrior look like a million dollars.

Feud wise, Rude also was incredibly engaging and entertaining with his work with Jake Roberts. Who can forget Jake Roberts’ wife, Cheryl on Rick Rude tights. This feud, if you haven’t watched it, is everything that is great about professional wrestling. It was the perfect mixture of Rick Rude characters with a popular number 3 baby face which got both more over in the process. It is these types of feuds which WWE is missing today.

So how does a man who can talk, who can wrestle, who plays his role and makes the crowd hate him not become a world champion?

Well in the 1980s, it was completely possible. Dibiase, Piper & Perfect never attained the gold in the WWF. No heel did (except Sgt. Slaughter). Which is why Rude left WWF. He knew what he had, and what he could offer and decided to try to become a main event star down south (back to his roots as well in Texas/WCCW). And the funny thing is Rude did actually succeed in WCW in breaking through the glass ceiling. He held the US Heavyweight and the International Heavyweight Champion.

What's That?

What’s That?

The original Big Gold Belt which lasted for a very short period of time in between Ric Flair leaving for WWF and 1992.  And rick Rude had that belt. He reached a pinnacle which would have lead to other pinnacles and maybe even an eventual return to WWF if he had not gotten injured in 1992.

Rude’s career trajectory was looking high until this match

Rude got a serious back injury. (yet finished the match) The type which ends your career. And it did. Rick Rude never wrestled for a major promotion again in his life. Like Magnum TA before him, this was a tragedy. Rick Rude was in his prime when he was injured.

If Rick Rude hadn’t gotten injured in 1994, he would have eventually succeeded in his quest to become the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He had the skill, the organization  believed in him and his trajectory was obvious.

For all injured wrestlers, the sudden end is painful and jolting. Modern fans only have to look at Edge to see a hefty example of sudden, changing and complete. Many, including Edge, went off into the sunset or some became announcers or agents and retired.

Rude didn’t do this. He succeeded still in his injury. He went and refound himself in ECW. Both s an announcer and on camera personality. However, his real contribution in the late 90s was the one of the top five events of the Monday Night Wars. He appeared on Nitro/RAW in the same night.

WWF brought Rude back in to be the enforcer for DX. His presence helped add credence and character to an already strong act in DX. Yet when Bret Hart was screwed by Vince, Rude jumped ship to WCW which gave us this interesting night.

Rude is also one of only two men to appear in DX and NWO, which for all intents and purposes are the WCW/WWF versions of the same idea.

Rude tragically died in 1999. He died during his training and rehabilitation to return to the ring. His great friend Curt Hennig returned after a similar injury (as did Shawn Michaels). Unfortunately, due to his 80s steroid and drug use, his body had weakened to the point where it couldn’t withhold the strain and he had a heart attack.

Who knows what kind of effect Rude may have had on WWF or WCW for years to come if he had returned in 1999/2000. Another tragic death of the list of deaths between 1998-today. The 80s gave us so much and sadly many of them were taken away, including the great Rick Rude.

Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Ravishing Rick Rude.

Why 2017?

Rick Rude is super past due in to be included in the Hall of Fame. (How were the Godfather, and the Big Boss Man in before this man)

WWE has been on a regular path of adding the glaring missing people, especially if they are deceased. 2015 gave us Randy Savage, 2016 gave us the Freebirds, 2017 gives us Rick Rude. Thank the lord!

 

Opens Door For?

Possibly anyone else who pissed off Vince McMahon during the Attitude Era? Jeff Jarrett? (Well, when he is dead)

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Uh, I guess Rick Rude made Vince McMahon angry 20 years ago. Maybe Vince couldn’t handle his manliness?

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017: Teddy Long

teddylong

Teddy Long

Class of 2017

Longest Tenured Smackdown GM; Consistently Employed

teddylong1

Hall of Fame Rating

4 out of 10

Fine

Hey look! Its Teddy Long! Holla Holla Holla!

teddylongdance

And he dances….like this…

rollingeyes

It wouldn’t be a WWE Hall of Fame Class without an inductee who just isn’t in the same league as the rest of the group. For every Ricky Steamboat, there is a Howard Finkel (2009); for every Antonio Inoki, a Bullet Bob Armstrong (2010); and for every Diamond Dallas Page, a Teddy Long.

We all remember Teddy Long. He was on WWE TV for many years. He was the long time role of face Smackdown General Manager. Up until today’s Daniel Bryan, WWE never really did Good Guy General Managers well. They were always kinda boring and just there. That’s why Teddy Long was perfect; he was kinda boring and just there.

Teddy Long...doing what he does best...

Teddy Long…doing what he does best…

Teddy Long career in wrestling began as a gofer for certain stars. The stories include that he was “get me that kid” guy, for such superstars as Abdullah the Butcher.

Forks! I need forks!

Forks! I need forks!

 

The wrestling business used to be very structured. In pro wrestling parlance, “dues” were needed to get you to the next level. As a wrestler, that includes doing the job for a couple of years. (Not a current thing- looking at you Roman Reigns)

In the non-wrestler role, many men went to ring crew to get themselves into the business. Long followed this path. He moved from ring crew to part time referee, working as the NWA needed him to, throughout the late 80s.  He even got to ref the NWA heavyweight match between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat…as a replacement.

The replacement might as well be Long’s nickname. Long had allies in NWA, including Kevin Sullivan and Eddie Gilbert (as well as Dusty Rhodes later). Due to this, Long was given a promotion from referee to manager. Generally speaking, refs don’t move up to different levels. This isn’t due to their lack of talent or caring, more so due to their lack of the dynamism. Long suffered from the same issue that Nick Patrick suffered when he turned heel in WCW. He just couldn’t be a believable bad guy.

That didn’t stop NWA/WCW from trying. Long was given WCW world champions Doom, The Skyscrapers (including Sid, and the Future Undertaker, Mean Mark Callous) among others. Long’s major issue was he just wasn’t that great at being a manager.

Yes, he was unlikable, but in 1990, heels were automatically booed. It was still a kayfabe given. Long was less on the level of Jim Cornette or Bobby Heenan and more on the level of Oliver Humperdink. Who is Oliver Humperdink?

A man who will never be in the Hall of Fame... Oliver Humperdink

A man who will never be in the Hall of Fame… Oliver Humperdink

Like Humperdink, Paul Jones, Sonny Onno or Harvey Whippleman, Teddy Long was an obvious 2nd tier manager. His promo skills were fairly lacking, something which in a managerial role, makes that performer useless and forgettable. Mean Mark, for instance didn’t need Teddy Long talking for him. Long was an accessory, and proof positive of WWE’s current belief that managers really aren’t needed.

Teddy Long was employed by WCW until 1996, even though his “memorable” management times stuck exclusively to 1990-1992. You see, Teddy Long was really good at keeping a job. In his wrestling career, he stayed with NWA/WCW from 1985-1996 and WWE from 1998-2014.

Longevity is in many ways looked at an asset. If you can stay with a company for a long time, you must be great. Right?

Not necessarily. Long’s longevity is due to being just nice enough to fly under the radar. He didn’t make problems and likely didn’t cost very much. Why not keep him around?

WWE brought Long back to his beginnings in 1998 as a referee. Long played this role for many years in WWE, doing a fine and extremely unmemorable job.

WWE promoted Long to manager in 2002, after the failed Invasion/WCW/ECW storyline and he proceeded to do exactly what he did in WCW, only worse. Long managed one of Mark Henry’s tenure’s in between injuries in the early 2000s as well as the easily forgettable Jazz and Rodney Mack.

Trust me you have no idea who Rodney Mack is.

Trust me you have no idea who Rodney Mack is.

 

 

After his less than memorable manger career ended in 2004 (and WWE mostly got rid of managers), Long was brought in as a Smackdown GM as a replacement for Kurt Angle. This is where most fans remember Long from. He “helmed” Smackdown from 2004-2007, ECW in 2008-2009, and Smackdown again from 2009-2012 .

 

Long was great as just being a means to an end. As a face general manager, the job mostly entailed giving heels a little bit of a hard time, something which in the grand scheme of general managers, is a fairly boring part of it.

Long’s most famous and well remembered contributions were making tag team matches or making a heel go one on one with the Undertaker.

 

And that’s about it.  Who remembers anything he did as ECW general manager?

giphy (3)

 

Or his relationship with Kristin Marhsall aka Mrs. Bobby Lashley?

shrug

Or his time as a maid with Vickie Guerrero?

enough

Or his…nope that’s about it.

Long is a longevity inductee. Howard Finkel, Johnny Rodz, Gerald Brisco and Mae Young, none of them particularly that interesting, all made the Hall of Fame due to being there for a long time….without much attention paid to them. Like your cousin who is real nice and you like but you can’t think of anything he does.

teddylonghof

Teddy Long..Ladies and Gentleman

Longevity gives us Finkel. And now it gives us Long.

whooptydoo

 

 

Why 2017?

Two major reasons. Teddy Long is old, so if they were going to do it, it should be soon. Wrestlers die and it always sucks to induct without the person (See Future Hall of Famer Ivan Koloff).

Most importantly, WWE likes to diversify their classes. One big issue is WWE and wrestling in general has been a white male sport mostly with a few hispanic, black and women performers thrown in until about 20 years ago. WWE is notorious for its lack of push to especially africian american performers. And they’ve kind of run out of people to induct and like the diversity element.

Teddy Long fits a slot.

Opens Door For?

Bob Holly. Longevity in the modern WWE. No one beats Bob Holly (except Henry and Taker)

Welcome to the Hall of Fame Hardcore…UGH

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Name me another Teddy Long moment i missed. There aren’t any.

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