Class of 2007
AWA ‘s Ric Flair. The Vocabulary.
Hall of Fame Rating
7 out of 10
Nick Bockwinkel is one the great forgotten talents. He was the total package in many ways. He could talk. He could wrestle and he could entertain. This is why he has been called “the last great old school wrestler”.
When I say old school wrestler, I am referring to a style which disappeared in the 1980s. It was a product of the territory days. A major talent in an territory, heel or face, would become the star. But only for that small group of people. There was also a surefire grit and realness to the complete kayfabe style. Take a look at Bockwinkel, he is incredibly believable in his promo work.
He is believeable. No superhero need apply in the 1970s/early 80s AWA. He comes across as not a character, but Nick Bockwinkel the man. Its hard to try to imagine what modern wrestlers would be in 1970s world.
Different era aside, Bockwinkel was a real promo man. He had the ability to use words that no one in their right mind knew and come across believable. It is very clear in the clip below that Stanley Blackburn was in fact guilty of obduro relclacitrance. (LOOK IT UP!)
Notice the quietness of Bockwinkel’s promo. Even when filled with anger, he speaks with a calmness which is both menacing and yet eerily direct. Jake the Snake Roberts was famous for his quiet and striking promo work. Bockwinkel did it first. (Nothing ever original in wrestling)
Take a look at his main contemporaries. Bockwinkel became AWA World Champion in 1975. The champion in WWWF was Bruno Sammartino. The NWA champion was Terry Funk, in his actually a wrestler phase. Both men were good at very specific things. Sammartino was the entertainer. Funk was the wrestler. Bockwinkel was actually both. He has more in common with Ric Flair than he does Harley Race.
SO why is Bockwinkel not remembered more fondly? Simple. The AWA lost. It closed its doors. It ceased to be. And he went down with the ship. Bockwinkel was old school and old school meant loyal.
Gagne leaned on Nick throughout the 80s to be his rock. The AWA struggled from one champion to another. Whether it was Rick Martel, Stan Hansen or Curt Hennig, the title always came back to Nick Bockwinkel. His career suffered because of it. In the tail end of his career, when he could have jumped to NWA or even WWF, Bockwinkel stayed put. And therefore faded into obscurity.
Verne Gagne was the first non-WWE wrestler to go into the Hall in 2006. As a continuation, they inducted one of its greatest main event talents the following year. (And another in Mad Dog Vachon in 2010)
This can be seen both as an olive branch to the greats of old and a cementing of the legitimacy of the WWE Hall of Fame. If all wrestlers are eligible, Nick Bockwinkel is necessary.
Opens Door For?
The previously mentioned Mad Dog Vachon as well as Gordon Solie, Abdullah the Butcher and all other non-WWE performers.
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Can’t say his name. Worry his speech would be too intelligent for modern viewers.
Spoiler alert, it wasn’t