WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016: Sting

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Sting

Class of 2016

The Icon, The Franchise, The Vigilante, The Face of WCW

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Hall of Fame Rating

9 out of 10

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Survivor Series 2014. In a moment anticipated for years, Sting made his debut in a WWE ring. It was 13 years in the making since the death of WCW. One can even consider it to be 25 years in the making. Everyone came to WWE, except Sting.  Sting in WWE was a surreal moment for sure.  What made his entry in a WWE ring even stranger is that he’s always been the star of the “other” company, whether NWA, WCW or TNA. Sting, a main event talent around the world, was finally becoming part of the WWEized reality of professional wrestling. The other promotions’ guy was now a WWE guy…kinda.

Throughout his long and storied career, Sting has been in the main event, hovered near the main event, or been a franchise player. In WCW, he became the “face of the company” starting back in the early 90s. By the time WCW went out of business, there were few who had the longevity, name recognition or gravitas in WCW that was enjoyed by the Icon.

In TNA, Sting took on that role as well. He became a corner-stone of the organization when he joined in 2006/2007. He quickly became the elder statesmen, the good hand and the first TNA Hall of Famer in an organization which at its best…floundered.

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One could easily say that despite “never making it to the big time” (aka the WWE…at least according to the WWE), it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. Sting easily could have joined the E in the 80s during his run as Surfer Sting (in fact there was some talk of bringing him in during 1988-1989 time period…at least according to Hulk Hogan….) and again upon the dissolving of WCW. Sting was very blunt as to why he didn’t join the company in 2001 during an interview with TNA

And Sting was right. If he had joined in 2001-2004, he would have been treated as lesser talent like many of his WCW brethren: DDP became the Stalker (huh) losing in a match to the Undertaker’s wife. Booker T went from the 5 time WCW champion to fighting Edge over a hair care product commercial (huh). Scott Steiner went from Big Poppa Pump to Triple H’s bitch and the list goes on and on. IF WWE were good at business and able to put personal feelings, and resentments aside, WCW would probably exist today, under the WWE banner. But Vince McMahon and company have never actually done what’s best for business, as much as what they feel. Just look at Roman Reigns….

Biggest flop since Lex Luger

Biggest flop since Lex Luger

So when Sting arrives in WWE, he is 55/56 years old, much too old to be a full-time performer. He is treated, like the Undertaker, Triple H and other main event players of yesteryear, as an attraction. That was a good choice and a smart way to use Sting. All seemed like it was leading to Sting having his Wrestlemania moment. And then at Wrestlemania 31, this happened….

Sting lost…to Triple H… in order to protect Triple H? Triple H has a history of making WCW talents feel lesser and that was the story WWE told.  Sting was the last bastion of WCW that Triple H needed to beat. I’m so glad Sting waited 14 years to get buried….

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Triple H did it to Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash and even Goldberg. He now proved he was better than Sting. Good for you Triple H.

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Thanks. Its great to be me

Sting’s WWE record is 2-2, with two wins on the same episode of RAW (and one being a DQ victory over Big Show). At PPV, Sting’s WWE record is 0-2. And now he’s hurt and now he will retire. And that’s that. All in all, not a great run with the organization. And funnily, even since joining WWE, nothing has really changed for Sting. He is still the guy from the other company and now that’s he going into the Hall of Fame- he will be immortalized as that-the big name from WCW.

For those not in the know, Sting did not began his career in WCW. He began it in a tag team with this man…

UltimateWarriorYeahhh

As one half of the Blade Runners, Sting, despite his greenness showcased that he was clay to be molded. Both Warrior and Sting proved the old adage of the “Shawn Michaels of a team” wrong and had great success as singles stars.

bladerunners

Funnily, Sting and Warrior, in the late 80s/early 90s played the same role in their respective organizations. They both were the second tier star (after Flair/Hogan) who came into their own through their energy, character and passion. While Sting became a much better in ring performer than Warrior, it can be argued that he didn’t reach the pinnacle of popularity Warrior had in 1990/1991. And yet Sting did have something else Warrior did not have, longevity.

And Killer Hair

And Killer Hair

In WCW, Sting never fully reached that high Echelon marker in his time as Surfer Sting. He certainly held the world title and did serve as baby face for the company during 1990-1991, but WCW never fully believed in the Sting’s type of “WWE style” wrestler. He was for lack of a better word, a sports entertainer, in a company of wrestlers.

WCW officials always preferred Ric Flair and his ilk; good performers in the ring. Flair served as the go to champion, holding the belt for the most part from 1986-1991, when he took it to WWF.

Sting, after becoming champion, was a victim of bad writing, bad storytelling and lack of clear opponents. I am hesitant to even mention some of the Wrestling Crap Sting was put through during his reign.

Okay, I mentioned it.  Still Sting, played the company guy and feuded with Vader, trading the US title with Rick Rude, hit Jake Roberts with a Coal Miners Glove and all in all was the solid face character up until 1994 when the landscape of WCW and Sting’s career changed.

In 1994, WCW got its biggest acquisition in history and brought Hulk Hogan to the organization. This changed everything for WCW. Gone were the wrestling days of WCW/NWA and the bizarre and terrible writing of 1992-1993 WCW. It was replaced with the Hulk Hogan show, featuring a group of extremely unworthy and terrible wrestlers jobbing to Hulk Hogan.

In that world, Sting was an after thought, as was Ric Flair. He pleasantly trucked along as tag partner of Lex Luger and did what was told. By 1996, while still beloved, it appeared Sting had peaked. He would remain an upper mid-card face who never quite made it in the main event long-term.

Then this happened

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In 1996, WCW- everyone was joining the NOW, it seemed a day couldn’t go by without some star, both large (Randy Savage) and small (Mike Rotunda) joining. Lex Luger accused Sting of turning his back on WCW and joining the NOW secretly, mostly due to the fact that Lex Luger isn’t very good at noticing fake Stings.

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Sting then said” Fuck ya’ll I’m going home” and had one of the greatest character changes and feud bookings in the history of professional wrestling. Sting became Crow Sting, a man who didn’t speak, carried a bat and was his own man.

Its easy to forget just how amazing it was when Sting finally used his bat on the Now. The build to Sting’s match with Hollywood Hogan at Starrcade 1997 was the best in the history of WCW. And they really didn’t pull it off. WCW, like current day WWE, was not good at the storytelling thing. Convoluted is a word and is what happened.

Sting’s win by cheating at Starrcade fizzled out his momentum and for the next few years, he fell back into doing whatever was asked of him, including joining the NOW Wolfpack for some reason, turning heel for some reason, and eventually having the final WCW match against his greatest rival, Ric Flair.

This easily could have been a career ender for Sting. He decided to wait out his Time Warner contract (as did Hall, Nash, Goldberg, Steiner and many others) and get paid for sitting home. Biggest difference is Sting didn’t go to the WWE once the money ran out. Instead he found god, and joined TNA.

Now, I don’t speak on TNA very often…because frankly it doesn’t matter. It is I think the only organization in history who has ever been able to squander not only Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Sting, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy but also its own homegrown talent. It’s just a poorly run place.

And Sting did very well there. He fell into his role, won the belt a bunch of times and that’s that. The reason I even mention TNA is it did help define and strengthen Sting as a performer, even if WWE will not admit it.

Sting added Joker Sting to his repertoire. It was a huge change to his character (and a basic direct copy of Heath Ledger’s Joker) and it worked. It, in my opinion, is one of the best things TNA has ever done.

And it funnily enough even came to WWE a little during Sting’s feud with Seth Rollins. Ah.. Joker Sting…

So what’s the conclusion here. There are some reports that Sting will retire live at the WWE Hall of Fame due to injuries sustained during his bout with Seth Rollins. Sting himself has said that those rumors are bunk, which probably means they are true.

Sting is, was and forever will be an amazing performer who changed himself in ways other main event talents have never been able to do. It’s a worthy headline induction.

sting-woo

 

 

Why 2016?

Who else could headline in 2016? WWE will have tons of headliners upcoming, just not right now.

Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Triple H, Batista and John Cena are all upcoming, but first they needed the greatest missing 80s and 90s star.

Plus Sting is 57 years old, semi-retired and now with WWE. The E is happy with his two matches on PPV and are transitioning to more of legend mode for Sting.

Opens Door For?

The rest of WCW- DDP, Lex Luger, and Vader should join.

Also, others from TNA- Kurt Angle I am looking at you.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Sting not wanting to go in due to continuing to wrestle. WWE really does hate WCW, mostly because they couldn’t make it work due to their general incompetence.

 ‘

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2007: Dusty Rhodes

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Dusty Rhodes

Class of 2007

The American Dream, Son of a Plumber; Father of Wacky

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Hall of Fame Rating

9 out of 10

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The Common Man Boogie is the perfect theme for the American Dream Dusty Rhodes.  Whenever I think of Dusty Rhodes, this theme just pops into my head.  It encapsulates the energy, and power infectiously found in the man and in all incarnations of his face character.

Dancing!!!

Dancing!!!

Dusty,The Dream was not known for his in ring ability (only pass-able for his time period) Rhodes got over because of his character, which was stronger, better and more relatable than most stars of his generation.

Rhodes was so good, he was the first real doesn’t need the belt face in history. His status was that of an ICON, in the time period where ICONS were few and far between.

He did commercials, sold action figures and was a brand in a time before wrestling created brands. When did you ever see Harley Race, Bob Backlund or even Ric Flair do these? It was all Dusty Rhodes and his drawing power.

It is easy in the WWEized world of “sports entertainment” to miss the historical importance of a man like Dusty Rhodes. In land of territories or the world before WWF, Rhodes was a major star wherever he went. He even had a feud in 1970s WWWF, facing then champion Superstar Billy Graham in a series of matches where Rhodes’ sheer semi-national presence was on display.

WWE tends to miss or under report that in late 1970s, Dusty was huge. He was bigger than Backlund; Bigger than Ric Flair. He had a run with the NWA world heavyweight title, which although it didn’t last long, one of the first and best examples of the modern “face chase”. Rhodes perfected the chase, but wasn’t a good enough technical wrestler to be the 1970s NWA champion. He likely would have been a great WWWF champion or WWF champion if he had decided to pursue that. Rhodes instead choose to pursue the behind the scenes to make his mark on wrestling. In this area, the WWE rarely gives Dusty the credit he deserves.

If you need to find anything which showcased Rhodes at is his best, it has to be the WCW staple, War Games. In its time, War Games was considered to be one of the most deadly, intense and spectacular specialty matches. A 5 man team fought a 5 man team in the “match to end all matches”.li Its an awful shame that War Games has never appeared at a WWE event. Another case of Vince McMahon being uninterested in ideas which weren’t his (see Goldberg, NWO, literally anything WCW).

As a booker, Dusty Rhodes can be given some of the credit for the Four Horsemen, Lex Luger, Sting, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious and many other successful talents. He can also be blamed for one of the greatest terrible ideas. That’s right! Dusty Rhodes came up with the Shockmaster!

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Well, nobody is perfect….

At the tail end of his in ring career, Dusty had a falling out with the new owners of WCW (He was fired)Dusty finally looked north and jumped for his first full long-term stay with the WWF in 1989.

By the late 80s, Vince McMahon controlled most of wrestling. He had just put Verne Gagne and his AWA out of business. At the same time, WCW was struggling to compete, having issues deciding if it was a wrestling organization or if it was going to embrace the “sports entertainment” aspect fully. WWF could do whatever it wanted.

This is why it was surprising when Vince brought Dusty Rhodes in. Dusty remained Dusty. He wasn’t even changed character wise a  real deal. Vince was notorious for doing what he wanted and for putting people in their place once joining the WWF.

Really, this is what you do with Harley Race?

raceking

While being lucky enough to keep his name and general gimmick, Dusty Rhodes still had to be “punished”. He was saddled with something very notorious.

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Polka Dots!!!!!!

This was an insult. This was a way of putting Dusty in his place. This was all about control. Dusty can work for the WWF, but he has to look stupid.

That's a great idea

“He will be made a fool and prove once and for all that WWF s the best”

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You got it

 

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 oh honey, I’ll get over anyway

 

And he did. He did! Polka dotted and  saddled with Sapphire, a non wrestling “common woman”, Dusty still got over. IT is a testament to the charisma of Dusty Rhodes.

He is one of the greatest talents in the history of wrestling. Both for in ring and for his contributions to the business (or as he would say, to the Industry)

Dusty’s last great effect on the business of wrestling was with the developmental system and amazing wrestling brand, NXT.  His involvement as the head of NXT, head of promos at NXT, coach and GM cannot be understated. When he died, the NXT groups in particular came out to thank him. More than anything Dusty Rhodes will be remembered as a lover of the business.

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And as the reason for this:

Finally, Dusty will always be remembered as the beginning of a dynasty….a dynasty of weird. Goldust was a groundbreaking talent in the mid 90s WWF. Dynamism did not fall far from the tree and Goldust has proved again and again to be the Dream’s more than capable son.

The Dream’s second son, Cody Rhodes has also become a premier and regular talent in the WWE. He too has recently taken a tilt towards the crazy as Stardust.

Two of the most dynamic, strange and best actors in wrestling. Following “the Dream to wrestling success.

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Dusty gave us fans so much. He was beloved and he will be missed.

 

Why 2007?

WWE has always had a headliner problem when it comes to Hall of Fame. After Bret Hart in 2006, they had three options: Macho Man. Warrior or Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes was the easiest to secure (as he worked for the company) Easy timing during the Johnny Ace led years of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Very deserved, but I will always be bitter of the headliners between 2007-2011. They were all in the way of us seeing Randy Savage get inducted in person.

Opens Door For?

The Four Horsemen, (2012), and eventually other NWA/WCW talents like Sting, DDP and Lex Luger. They like Rhodes had most of their success outside of the WWE.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

First headliner to have the majority of his career outside of the WWF. IF WWE decided to do a WWF/WWE only Hall of Fame, this wouldn’t have made sense.

 ‘

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Macho Man Randy Savage

RandySavage

Macho Man Randy Savage

Class of 2015

Number Two Draw of the 1980s WWF, OOOH YEA!!!!

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Hall of Fame Rating

9 out of 10

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When I was a child, I had three heroes, all wrestlers who exemplified what I wanted to be as an adult man. Hulk Hogan represented the good in the world, and inspired me to be a champion. The Ultimate Warrior was the best example of energy and passion that existed in my life. And Randy Savage was my inspiration. He represented creativity and embodied the nonsense that runs through my mind. If you, my faithful reader, has ever asked why I write a blog dedicated to the WWE Hall of Fame, this is why. Through these men, wrestling represented what I wanted to be, and as a child they helped define who I became.

The WWE Hall of Fame can be a beautiful thing. It is a chance for the fans to say thank you and to say goodbye to their heroes. When the Ultimate Warrior made his speech last year, I couldn’t help but smile. It was Warrior, back on TV in more advanced age, but yet the same, talking about that portion of his life which mattered so much to me. For Randy Savage, we will never have that moment.

The greatest tragedy of Macho Man Randy Savage is that he is going into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015. He, of course, deserves it, but that’s not the point. The idea of Randy Savage is joining the Hall of Fame, but the man is dead. He never saw this honor and never had the chance to be thanked. We never got to say goodbye to him.

This above all else makes me angry. WWE had many opportunities to do the induction, if only they could take the politics out of the Hall of Fame. ITS NOT WHAT IT IS ABOUT!!!

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 When the WWE Hall of Fame returned in 2004, no one took notice. It flew directly under the radar and wasn’t really even mentioned. That changed in 2005, when the greatest and most well known wrestler in history, Hulk Hogan was inducted. As far as I was concerned, next year in 2006, Macho Man Randy Savage should have gone in. WWE had it in their power to make it happen, and perhaps would have without the politics we will get ino later. 2006 instead was Bret Hart, a surprise for sure, and a well deserved headliner. 2007 was Dusty Rhodes, followed by Ric Flair in 2008 and Stone Cold in 2009.

That was the year they only let Austin talk for 10 minutes....

That was the year they only let Austin talk for 10 minutes….

Austin went in too early at the young age of 46. I remember questioning this. It was not whether Austin deserved induction (obviously did) , but more asking “Why Now?” Still, I shrugged and felt Macho Man would have his day. Time heals all wounds, right….

In 2010, an opportunity presented itself.  2010 had no headliner. Warrior was supposedly asked in a very disrespectful way by John Laurinaitis to headline that year. Warrior declined. Ted Dibiase ended up headlining  in the most wonky and lackluster class in history (until 2015). 2011 makes me bitter more than anything. The headliner was the recently retired Shawn Michaels. Like Austin before him, Michaels didn’t need to get in yet. He could have waited a few years as he was only retired for less than one whole year. It was the perfect year for the Macho Man.  All WWE had to do was contact the Macho Man. He had already begun to do video game and action figure advertisements for Macho Man products with the WWE.

But this didn’t happen and it is all one man’s fault:

This cocky son of a bitch

This cocky son of a bitch

Vince McMahon makes enemies with his former talent quite easily. The list has been long and plentiful, filled with some of the greatest talents in the history of Pro Wrestling. Triple H, since taking on his regins as Talent Relations Head has successfully attempted to right the wrongs of McMahon’s stubborness. Bruno Sammartino, The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan (again), Larry Zbyszko etc have all joined the Hall of Fame or returned to television. This is all in spite of Vince McMahon.

Why was the Macho Man persona non gratis with the WWE? First let me address the rumor and i mean THE rumor. The rumor is that Randy Savage, while still an employee (circa 1994),  slept with an underage Stephanie McMahon, something both illegal and the greatest betrayal of Vince McMahon’s trust. You see, Vince and Randy used to be close, very close. In fact upon Savage’s departure to WCW, Vince McMahon appeared on TV to wish Randy well, something which is bizarrely out of character for McMahon.

It appeared the Vince was okay with Savage’s departure, so what changed? It may be possible that the Stephanie rumors are true, or in more likelihood, Savage leaving festered within McMahon. Vince looked at it like a betrayal. Randy was a company man, a man up for anything (even becoming a commentator) and lived WWE. Vince trusted him and yet still lost him. It was an affront that Vince McMahon never got over. Randy Savage had turned their friendship into a business agreement and if that is the case than Vince never wanted to work with him again. And Vince has been quoted as saying “I never want to work with that man again” Was it a vendetta or a severe case of sour grapes? Only two men know and one is dead and the other isn’t talking. Their contention,which existed up until the day Randy Savage died,makes me wish Triple H had taken over the Hall of Fame sooner.

For any wrestling fan worth his weight, there is no question that Macho Man Randy Savage belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame. He belongs in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, even the Television Hall of Fame.

This man was pure gold, in the ring, on the microphone and such a larger than life persona.And that’s what this induction is missing in 2015. In 2015, we can celebrate only what Randy Savage was and what made him special:

We will have to remember his words, the magic which existed in his promos from memory only. We won’t get to hear a “OOOOH YEA” or some other ridiculous statement.

We won’t be able to hear him tell stories about his perfectionist attitude when it comes to matches. Ricky Steamboat has mentioned that their Wrestlemania 3 encounter was scripted to the move.And it was perfect. It was only something a talent like Randy Savage could perform.

We won’t hear about our favorite sales pitch.

We won’t be able to hear the story behind Elizabeth and how her inclusion gave him a specialness which no valet has succeeded in bringing before Savage or after him.

And most importantly, we won’t hear Randy Savage’s side of the story. Last year, the Ultimate Warrior spoke to all his fans and said “I’m a good person.” and we all knew it was true. Warrior spoke from the heart, from a feeling of love for his fans and for the business. Randy Savage had this too. He was a child of the business, a family business which he flourished in. We cannot hear the tales of his father Angelo, or the playful jabs at Lanny for the Genius character. Macho will never talk about his relationships with Hulk Hogan, or Vince McMahon. He won’t be able to talk about his “betrayal” or his status as the ultimate (no pun intended) prodigal son.

The speech Lanny Poffo will give will be fine. it will be a tribute. But that will be a small catharsis for what we are missing.

Overdue and tragic, welcome to the Hall of Fame Macho Man.

 

 

 

Why 2015?

Because the WWE made peace with Lanny Poffo. With Randy’s death, the caretaker of his legacy has become his much less successful younger brother. The Genius said for many years after Savage’s death, that Randy’s wishes were to have Randy, Lanny and Angelo Poffo go in together, ala the Von Erichs.

This very well could have been the case as Macho Man levied in WCW for Angelo to go in the WCW Hall of Fame even though he really didn’t deserve it.

Regardless, the fans wanted Randy Savage. WWE was able to offer enough money and be just convincing enough to get Lanny Poffo to relent. And with Savage having been deceased since 2011, Triple H spent time on those glaring missing elements who were alive (Sammartino & Warrior) before tackling Randy Savage. 2015 was that year

Opens Door For?

Never say Never. Excluding Chris Benoit, there is not a wrestler who deserves it (and does the murderer really deserve it) who will not eventually join the Hall of Fame. Owen Hart, Demolition, The Hardys, and more persona non gratis will eventually get in. Its just a matter of time.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Go fuck yourself. There are no reasons why Macho Man Randy Savage doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.