Class of 2014: Celebrity Inductee
Pittier of Fools; Top Five Most Important Celebrities in Wrestling History
Hall of Fame Ranking
6 out of 10
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.