Bruno Sammartino passes away

Bruno Sammartino has passed away at the age of 82. Although it is obvious he had a long and storied life, and had been on good terms with the WWE for 5 years, it always hurts when a legend of his magnitude dies. I think about when Randy Savage or Warrior died, and the shock felt for a person who realistically, I didn’t even know. Still it felt like I did. Bruno. damn….

Bruno Sammartino is the first head of the Mount Rushmore of WWE (with Hogan, Stone Cold and Cena). His championship reign of 8 years will never be matched. His hold over s territory, with fan fervor and love was unprecedented. No one in the history of the business held a title as long as Bruno Sammartino.

I started this blog back in 2013, partly because WWE had announced Bruno was going into the Hall of Fame. This one makes me sad. Bruno- riposare in pace.

Some Bruno highlights.

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WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Booker T

bookert3

Booker T

Class of 2013

5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time WCW World Heavweight Champion, Good Hand

booker t2

Hall of Fame Rating

8 out of 10

Legend

Booker T’s inclusion makes a statement. He is the latest (and most likely last) inductee into the 2013 Class, making it without a weak link. It is super strong. Booker himself is an obvious candidate. He is a rarity in the history of professional wrestling. He is one of only a handful of African American wrestlers. He also survived and flourished in the very varied atmospheres of WCW and WWE. But where is Booker’s lastly legacy?

WCW produced and showcased many great talents. Their money alone allowed for the best luchador, Japanese, Cruiserweights and Tag Teams. Booker began his tenure with Harlem Heat (with brother Stevie Ray) They were one of the last successful long term tag teams. Their chemistry and longevity was Legion of Doom worthy.

Booker T’s WCW run can be sumarized in title reigns. He held bunches and bunches of titles. It says a lot about a talent who keeps getting handed gold. Its a faith in their abilities. Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston are two modern examples of that type. But Booker did something which perhaps seemed impossible, he won the big one.

WCW in late 1999 and early 2000 attempted to rebrand. As Bischoff, Russo and others traded control, the “younger” market was targeted.

And we all know that young people are incredibly racist

Booker T was given a run during the peak of Jeff Jarrett’s many title reigns. And he ended up holding it again and again throughout 2000 and 2001. Booker T was even the last WCW Champion on the last WCW Nitro.

Booker’s title reigns matter. He is one of only a handful African American World Champions. He was WCW’s 2nd (after Ron Simmons) and he flourished in that roll. Booker T became one of only a dozen men or so to be made main eventers by WCW.

And then the WWE happened. Booker T decided to join the organization immediately after the acquisition. (Most likely why he was given the belt over not joining Scott Steiner) and proceeded to slowly flop. Booker T wasn’t really given a chance. He was a WCW guy and was treated as such. Sting explains well the perception of Booker T’s entrance here.

He also had THAT terrible match against Buff Bagwell.

In 2001 Booker T went from main eventer and World Champion to afterthought. He lost all the time. Even in his high profile matches (against Austin or Rock) it was obvious that according to WWE, Booker wasn’t as good as the home grown.

He then was buried. His match at Wrestlemania in 2002 was over a fictional Japanese toothpaste commercial.

The point is Booker T should never have succeeded in WWE. The WWE didn’t make it easy for ex-WCW stars. They were treated differently, never really pushed and made to see that the WWE was in charge of them. Most didn’t succeed (DDP, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, etc) but that few that were able to take the licks, were eventually rewarded. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Booker T were all successful. Because they wanted to be and didn’t have an ego about it.

That is the essense of Booker T’s greatness, he succeeded in two organizations were the chips were against him. His race, and the switch of organizations would have kept down many people but didn’t Booker T.

Or these guys....Wait

Or these guys….Wait

Now I will say this. Booker T has been part of some of the worst or silliest angles in WWE’s 2000s. He fought and lost to Boogeyman, the aformentioned fight over being in a Japanese commerical and most tragically his loss to Triple H at Wrestlemania 19. The angle was kinda racist.

And the face Booker T didn’t get his revenge and lost cleanly to the heel.

Which, coincidentially was against all of the basic patterns and practices of how to book wrestling and will forever be known as “Triple H was a Dick Manuever”

Smug Face McGee

Smug Face McGee

Booker T still had his good moments. He won the IC, US and World Heavyweight Titles and by his depature in 2007 had regained his nominal credibility. He bowed out (due to a wellness violation) and eventually reappeared in TNA.

Booker is one of the few talents who have left WWE, went to TNA and come back. Superstars like Gail Kim, Jeff Hardy and Chrisitan have all attempted and succeeded to one level or another. But Booker was different. His returning was a homecoming. He didn’t come to be a regular wrestler. He came to be with his wrestling family. And although he is constantly messing up at any or all talking job he has, Booker is beloved.

Check out the Awesome Bookamania below.

Why 2013?

Booker’s inclusion this year has multiple reasons and also multiple concerns.

The logic is solid. Booker T is a former WCW star, not a active wrestler and reaching his 50s. He is older than Sold Cold when he went in. He is also African American, which WWE likes to include one inductee who is not white in each Hall of Fame Class.

Still it seems too early for his induction. The main reason is Booker isn’t really officially retired. He last wrestled last year at Wrestlemania 28. And although he isn’t a current star, Booker seems like a person who should have been held. They should have waited. It is also possible that Booker replaced a declining Kamala, as many rumors have circulated that Kamala was asked. (In these cases, WWE normally inducts a WWE regular like Ross & Lawler in 07)

That aside Booker T also does something to this Hall of Fame Class. He makes it the first in history to have no weak links. Even 2005 had Bob Orton ( reverse nepotism) Every inductee in the 2013 is a former World Champion or Donald Trump. That alone is impressive and makes me okay with his induction.

It also sends out the message that the Hall of Fame is serious again. Good job Triple H.

Opens Door For?

Ruthless Aggression Stars. Booker main run was 2000-2006 so others from that time period. Also, look for other returning superstars like Kevin Nash and eventually Kurt Angle to go it

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

His youth or perhaps saving him for the Mick Foley position in another class.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Who’s Left to Announce, and More!!

The WWE Hall of Fame Class is shaping up to be one of the best in the history. The upper class of the Hall has been bedazzled with Bruno Sammartino and Mick Foley. The mid-card of the class is standing strong with Bob Backlund and Trish Stratus. Even the celebrity inductee is a good choice (in comparison to other potential celebrities only. Donald Trump is the quintessential Celebrity inductee. Things are looking great. We hope.

fingerscrossed

Generally speaking, the Hall of Fame Classes are  7 individual inductees (which sometimes include families, stables and tag teams). Last year, 2012’s class was only six inductees but included the 5 inductee group of the Four Horsemen. 2013’s class could have anywhere from one to three more inductees, depending on what the WWE wants. The “new” induction process (herein called Triple H’s way) seems to only favor the actually worthy inductees. So far, there has been no one who was questionable ( Tony Atlas), dumb (Pete Rose) or offensive (Drew Carey). Let’s take a look at some recently rumored names and follow up on some old rumored names.

booker t

Booker T

This is a new one. Last week, many of the dirt sheets were reporting that a “Hall of Fame video package” was done for the bookman, Booker T. This report seems to signify the likelihood of Books’ induction. Considering similar reports came out about Donald Trump, I would take this report at face value. If the WWE is serious with keeping with worthy inductees only, Booker T makes sense. Plus he’s was regularly booked as from  Harlem, NY (Houston, TX is his hometown)

No one would disagree that Booker T is a worthy inductee, but personally, I always prefer the inductees to be at least retired to be eligible for induction. Booker, although technically not a full time wrestler, is still on television. He’s there every week, in a position which doesn’t suit him whatsoever.

Still there is no denying that Booker should be in the Hall of Fame. But this year? I hate to say it, but 2013 is a waste for Booker T. He isn’t necessary  He could easily be in any class as the 2nd of 3rd most important inductee (like Bob Backlund this year) A problem WWE is always running into is not enough big names. Booker T is well known and on television now. Which means like Edge, he is a bigger deal than he might be if not recently on TV. (I’ll deal with Edge when I do his induction) But Booker has the same issue Edge did. Its too soon. Booker needs to be held off until he first actually retires, and second until he leaves the company for a short while.

The Hall of Fame has always been a way to “catch up” with former stars. When a recent or current superstar is inducted, it feels unnecessary  So Booker goes in the Hall and now will be called Smackdown General Manager and WWE Hall of Famer every time he appears on the program, which is every week. I felt similar about 2007’s inductions of Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross. Both were on TV every week and that makes it feel less special. The Hall of Fame should always feel special for all inductees.

This gripe aside, Booker T was always going to get in. He would have ended up in there eventually and is a welcome choice. He would also be further proof that WWE is finally taking the Hall seriously.

One last point, WWE has a tendency to induct people who fit a certain mold. Almost every year, the class has one woman and one Africian-American. I blame this more than anything for the paltry inductions of Tony Atlas and Koko B. Ware. There just aren’t a load of super well known and successful African-American wrestlers. And most of them are already in the Hall. Eventually, if WWE keeps it up, Iceman Parson will end up in the Hall. This will also most likely put to rest the Kamala rumors, but I’ll deal with that below.

Can I go in?

Can I go in?

Chances of induction 8 out of 10

koloff

Ivan Koloff

I’ve been reporting rumors of Ivan Koloff for many weeks, but this week it was almost confirmed that he hasn’t been asked. Koloff posted on his facebook account, that he was “Not going to be inducting Bruno and would love the honor of induction himself” He also asked fans to “vote with the WWE” to tell them to induct him this year.

These words don’t seem like a man who is actually on the block for induction nor who has been contacted whatsoever. That is not unusual for the WWE. Many times they wait until the absolute last minute to solidify at least one inductee. Still with the new Triple H way, it is very possible that the class is set as of now.

The last report on Ivan also listed Kamala as a possibility. This potentially makes the report old and probably invalid. Although I think this would be a perfect choice, Koloff’s chances are looking slim.

Chances of induction: 4 out of 10

bearer

Paul Bearer

RIP Paul Bearer. He is a well deserving inductee  but after his death on Wednesday, reports are circulating that “some” are pushing for Bearer’s induction this year. This isn’t going to happen.

Considering the close proximity to Wrestlemania, 4 1/2 weeks away, the general grieving process of a family is much longer for a loved one. If this had happened in December or January I would expect that WWE would pull an Eddie Guerrero (induct someone at the next possible moment) but in this case it is too soon.

Expect Bearer to either be done next year or due to his deceased nature, held off until after the Undertaker, so that he can do the induction (my guess on WWE’s original plan)

Chances of induction 3 out of 10

If these names hold, it is possible we are looking at a 6-7 person class. As of late, updates have been done every other week. With four weeks remaining, two more inductees should be in the works.

Best Guesses:

Booker T alone

Booker T and Ivan Koloff

Booker T and suprise guy, like the Honky Tonk Man.

honky

An Inductee which I would mark out for

Names which aren’t going to happen this year

Kamala

Kamala

As I mentioned above, WWE has a tendency to do only one African American a year. Reportedly, Kamala was asked in January and there has been no real follow up on this. Since, Kamala has been advertised and booked on WrestleCon’s signings during Wrestlemania weekend. No one who will appear on WWE programming during the weekend is allowed to attend and participate in this event. Pretty much puts death to the Kamala rumors.

http://www.legendsofthering.com/LOTR-WRESTLECON.html

There may be many reasons for this. Perhaps reports of Kamala came from an unreliable source or perhaps Kamala turned down the honor. Kamala and the WWE have had a contentious relationship to say the least. Kamala has iterated many times his displeasure with the E”s payments to him in his three runs. Supposedly, Kamala was paid like a low-midcarder during his main event runs with Andre in 84, Hogan in 87 and Undertaker in 92. This factor alone, would make any man angry and resentful to the company which wants to honor him (for only 5,000 dollars as reported by Bruno)

Chances of induction 2 out of 10

Check back soon for more info on inductees and rumors circulating as well as a full review of the induction ceremony (I’m going!) coming on April 6th.