Class of 2015
Attitude Era Samoan, Dancing Man
Hall of Fame Rating
4 out of 10
2015 started with a bang as The Macho Man Randy Savage was announced for the WWE Hall of Fame. It was a moment where those who celebrate wrestling and its history (this blog included) finally could let out a collective sigh of relief. Macho Man, like Warrior and Bruno before him, was getting his just recognition.
The last few years, the WWE has upped the quality of induction candidates. In the 2013 Class, the weak link was the celebrity (as it almost always is) and in 2014, Carlos Colon and Lita were passable as they are still beloved by many for what they accomplished.
2015 has proven to be a different story. The weak link has already been taken up by Celebrity Inductee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose inclusion is absurd. (See my rant on that subject here). Unfortunately, we now have a situation which hasn’t existed since 2011, two lackluster inductees.
Enter Rikishi. Rikishi is fine. He was entertaining…. for what he was. And what he was can be best summarized by this:
LARGE MAN DANCING! Its comedy. And Rikishi did it first and best. Unfortunately, the dancing man character has become a main staple of WWE’s gimmick catalog and has been done again….
Now, there is nothing wrong with dancing in a wrestling ring. There is nothing wrong in being a comedy character. Santino Marella, had a long and fun career for almost 10 years in that role. However, dancing and comedy does not make a Hall of Fame Career. Gimmicks, matches, feuds and storytelling must be part of the person’s body of work. In most of those categories, Rikishi is very lacking.
Rikishi’s is in the Hall of Fame because he is Samoan and his kids work for the WWE. Plain and simple. WWE loves to harp on legacies, likely due to the owner’s obsession with his own.
Rikishi is a member of the Anoa’i Family, which includes some very worthy Hall of Famers including Peter Maivia, The Wild Samoans and Yokozuna. Vince cannot create more Samoans, so that means that it is Rikishi’s turn. Agree or disagree about the actual importance of the Anoa’i Family (without the Rock, they would be a much less important wrestling family), this is what WWE likes to do.
WWE also likes to induct fathers and family members of current superstars. It is why Bob Orton joined in 2005 and even why Mil Mascaras became a Hall of Famer in 2012 (Alberto Del Rio’s Uncle). This is why WWE’s Hall of fame is different than any other Hall. Inclusion is not based on a voting system; inductees are rewarded for longevity or for gimmicked popularity.
Cut to Rikishi. Apart from dancing, he is also known for this:
His entire induction video is basically a celebration of dancing and stinkfaces. You know, SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT. The entertainment is what’s important to Vince & co. Sports Entertainment. Not Wrestling.
I ask myself sometimes if I really need to accept this. Do I have to accept that WWE shits upon its own legacy by celebrating base wrestlers, gimmicks instead of actual men, or uninspired performers? Why do they do this?
Fine. If I am going to continue to write a blog about the WWE Hall of Fame, I must accept that Vince McMahon and his corporate team don’t understand what a Hall of Fame is supposed to be. Fine. Fine.
For shits and giggles, let’s take a look at the career of Rikishi. He had a long stay with the WWF/WWE. Half of his career there was spent jumping gimmicks. In fact, he may be one of the very few to have 4 completely different characters in one organization. In 1992, Rikishi, then known as Fatu debuted as part of the Headshrinkers, a totally not racist update to the Wild Samoans. He was pared with his Samoan Swat Team partner and real life cousin Samu.
They did have some success in 1993-1994, swapping titles back and forth with an out-of-place Steiner Brothers (Seriously, Rikishi is in the Hall of Fame before the Steiners) before Samu left, Fatu was stuck with Sionne (a reformed and returning Barbarian) and slowly faded into obscurity.
As all his relatives and partners left, the WWF decided it would be a great idea to turn Fatu face and have him make a difference for low-income kids by wearing bright colors. 1995 gave us the birth of Making A Difference Fatu.
Without any shock from anyone, the gimmick failed and Fatu, instead of leaving the organization, allowed himself to get repackaged again as another race. Thus gave us 1996 and The Sultan!
Fatu had limited success as this character (even with both Bob Backlund and Iron Sheik as managers) ,and although he did have a Wrestlemania match against the struggling Rocky Maivia for the IC Title in 1997., he faded out within a year.
Which will bring us to Rikishi. Rikishi or as he debuted, Rikishi Phatu (see its Fatu but cool!)….
…..which was a fine midcard performer who wasn’t going to have any great success. His path changed suddenly when Too Cool (NEVER GOING INTO THE HALL OF FAME), coerced him to dance. The rest they say is history….
But I think that’s the point. Rikishi would never have gotten over without the dancing and the stinkface. He had really nothing to contribute other than being Samoan and kinda big. That’s it. The dancing made him. The stinkface made him. And he NEVER got bigger or better than those two things.
The few attempts at legitimizing Rikishi fell flat on their faces.
He was a one time IC Title holder (when that belt changed hands every week) and a one time tag holder with Scotty 2 Hotty (when Brian Christopher left)
AND THAT”S IT. Rikishi has no other accomplishments.
I change my mind, I do not accept that Vince McMahon just adds nonsense people to the Hall of Fame. So on behalf of myself and those reading this blog…..
Macho Man Randy Savage is dead. He may be the headliner of this class and it appears to offset that sadness, that WWE is sticking with happy go lucky inductees. Rikishi, Arnold and likely the Bushwhackers will follow with that pattern.
Its bad booking. Its bad news. And once again…..
Oh and his kids can induct him. Prepare yourself for this moment on the Hall of Fame Stage:
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.
It’s a joke. Rikishi is not a Hall of Famer. He will never been in any other Hall of Fame (Pro Wrestling, Wrestling Observer etc). Doesn’t deserve it. Doesn’t belong.