It is with great sadness that I write that wrestling’s greatest manager, Bobby “the brain” Heenan has passed away at 73 (or 72 technically)
For any fans of the Golden Era of WWF in the mid and late 1980s, Bobby Heenan is one of the most important and well known elements of that group. He’d be put on the same level of importance as Roddy Piper, & Ted Dibiase as one of the biggest heel acts in the company.
Heenan had the gift of gab, and used it both in his managing as well as during his lengthy term as a color commentator in WWF (with Gorilla Monsoon) and in WCW. I will always remember how Bobby Heenan spoiled Hulk Hogan’s heel turn. “Who’s side is he on:?!” Classic.
Its a sad day in wrestling, however i am happy that Bobby Heenan is no longer suffering. Heenan has had a series of surgeries after his throat cancer and jaw replacement. In recent years, Bobby lost his ability to speak, a great tragedy on top of the many this man suffered. RIP Bobby.
I feel like every year, there are at least one to two inductees that boggle the mind. And there is a very present reason for this. WWE follows a format. It is as follows: One Headliner, One main eventer/well liked/well known talent, one tag team or group, one deceased, one ethnic minority and one woman. Some years, WWE will shift from this group, adding two or three “others”, which have given us inductions like Nick Bockwinkle and Larry Zybszko.
This format is what ruins the WWE Hall of Fame. This paint by numbers approach gives us our inductee today, 2017 WWE Hall of Famer, Beth Phoenix?
Me too Kevin Sorbo
Many critics of the Hall of Fame like to talk about how WWE has a headliner problem. “There just aren’t enough big names left.” I don’t agree. In the next few years, Goldberg, Undertaker, The Rock and Daniel Bryan will each headline a class. Add Batista, Chris Jericho and even Triple H and we are in 2024. WWE does have one major problem with running out of inductees. They are running out of living women to induct.
Skipping Chyna, Miss Elizabeth and Luna Vachon, all deceased- who after Trish, Lita, Madusa and Jacqueline is there to go in? Ivory? Victoria? Molly Holly? Bull Nakano? WWE’s issue with trying to include a woman every year is that there just aren’t enough women wrestlers who have made an impact in American wrestling. Mildred Burke was women’s champ for 20 years; The Fabulous Moolah for 40 years Why? Because up until very recently, women’s wrestling was more of an attraction than a main focus.
For each Charlotte or Sasha Banks today, there were dozens of untalented “divas” who belonged no where near the ring. Candice Michelle or Cherry ring a bell? So, if outside of Lita and Trish, there are no other big names, what do you do?
Well if you are the WWE, you find a lady on good terms with the organization and is ‘notable’. As that could mean anyone, why not Beth Phoenix. (Plus she is Edge’s wife)
Beth Phoenix can be summarized by one word: fine. She was a women’s champion on three occasions, and had a long…wait no..short 6 year wrestling career. The bar must be pretty low for this 36 year old (and now officially youngest inductee in history) to make it to the Hallowed hall while Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Cornette wait.
Well let’s look at the hallowed career and judge ourselves.
A few positives for Beth Phoenix. She had a killer song
She looked muscular in the time of models. She could work around all her competitors.
Anyone think Maria, Melina, Candice Michelle or Kelly Kelly were a legitimate threat to Beth Phoenix? No? Well all of them beat Phoenix at different points. Why? because WWE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH WOMEN!
Because of this factor. I have a challenge for you dear reader. Can you answer these three questions?
Name a great Beth Phoenix match?
What specifically is she known for?
Name Beth Phoenix’s most memorable feud?
The answers of these questions are unknown. The closest I can answer is
3 minutes in Royal Rumble 2010
Partnership with Santino was all Santino Marella (much like his time with Maria and Kozlov- Santino makes people better)
Beth Phoenix’s inclusion is a joke. A WWE joke. She wrestled from 2006-2012, most of which was highlighted by the retiring of Trish and Lita, the burial of Mickie James, the Undertaker’s wife being champion too much and models playing wrestler.
How could can she be? She’s better than Alicia Fox, but if Alicia Fox ever gets in the Hall of Fame, I will scream!!!
I’m tired of this old song and dance. WWE has to stop inducting people for the sake of it. No Godfather, No Bushwhackers, No Teddy Long and No Beth Phoenix
Because it was easy. She is the wife of Edge, retired and a woman. That’s it. That’s why.
Opens Door For?
Anyone who shows a modicome of wrestling ability in women’s wrestling- Kelly Kelly or Layla perhaps.
Or any woman who appears in Royal Rumble- Kharma is next!
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Miss Elizabeth, Luna Vachon, Chyna aren’t in. Also, please name something important Beth Phoenix did!
Rumors have circulated from Dave Meltzer, which have announced the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Legacy inductees. This marks the second year in a row where WWE have added many deceased trailblazers from the actual golden era (before 1970s) in a short compact, non celebratory way in a group.
I fully support Thesz, Hackenschmidt, Gotch, Burke and all the others joining the Hall of Fame. They all deserve to be in any legitimate wrestling Hall of Fame and frankly, are in all other wrestling Hall of Fames. Their inclusion (likely there is Triple H’s influence here), is a good step and its a legitimizing step. The WWE Hall of Fame is saying: “WE are THE Wrestling Hall of Fame, just now we call it “sports entertainment.”
All the good about these inductions aside, the WWE did this very poorly last year. Firstly, they didn’t announce it ahead of time (something they are guilty of so far this year as well.) and its inclusion came out the day before the ceremony because of a t-shirt. A t-shirt.
These legends of the ring, combined, are some of the biggest box office draws in history. Yet, they weren’t shown that respect. The video lasts about 3 minutes. We saw more time being given to Snoop Dog, a celebrity whose inclusion, falls into the ‘bonkers celebrity division”, populated previously by Drew Carey, Arnold Schwarzenegger and William Perry.
I was surprised last year that Legacy inductees are included in the Hall (as Warrior Award nominees are not included on actual list), yet WWE.com proves it with profiles on their website. These inductees, despite their brief mention, are full-fledged members. So let’s take a look at another group on WWE Legacy inductees who are now going to be in the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.
Luther Lindsay was the one on this list that I knew absolutely nothing about. The name didn’t even ring a bell.
Lindsay, according to Wikipedia, was a regional talent throughout the late 50s, the 60s, and the 70s until 1971 where he had a heart attack in the ring, dying.
Lindsay existed in the world of regional wrestling, a product of the early territories. His only attachment to the WWE was a brief run for Capitol Wrestling Federation, owned by Jess McMahon. Yes, Vince McMahon’s grandfather.
So why did I rate Luther, the wrestler I didn’t know, whose career was cut short, so high?
Well, its simple. Luther Lindsay, was a successful regional wrestler, in the 1950s and 1960s. That was tough for an African-American star. It took strength and perseverance for Lindsay to succeed and not only that, but challenge Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Haystacks Calhoun would already be in the WWE Hall of Fame, if he had lived until the 1990s. WWF, at the time began its Hall of Fame in 1993 (with Andre) and 1994 properly, with its first ceremony. Calhoun fits the mold of who was included in those classes. Baron Mikel Scicluna and Johnny Rodz got in due to many long time WWWF stars being deceased. Calhoun might have gotten in regardless, if WWE had continued the Hall between 1997-2003, something unlikely due to the Monday Night Wars, Attitude Era and whatever the Invasion was.
Calhoun was one of the first very successful big men for the WWWF. He was huge, and an attraction. He is even a former WWWF Tag Team Championship. Not bad for a guy who’s gimmick was as a fat farmer.
Think of him as a more successful Uncle Elmer.
Haystacks attraction status is real and was at the time memorable, ala Andre the Giant. Easy choice, easy inductee.
Farmer Burns inclusion is fun, but kind of silly. You see, there was a time in wrestling when everyone thought wrestling was real. It was kayfabe era. It began in the time when professional wrestling changed from being actual fighting like boxing, to being a predetermined “sport” . Farmer Martin Burns comes from the legit sport era.
Like Ed “Strangler” Lewis, and George Hackensmidt, Burns was a legit wrestler. Yes, apparently people used to pay to see this?
Anyhow, the irony aside, WWE seems to want to include all wrestlers and Farmer Burns is in all other main wrestling Hall of Fames.
Welcome to the Hall, Farmer Martin Burns, a man who could kick everyone’s ass.
Dr. Jerry Graham fits into the group of former WWWF golden stars who likely would have eventually made it in at some point. His inclusion here, is more surprising to me, as I always assumed that men like Graham would get proper inductions. It’s almost like using the Legacy Award to induct Lord Alfred Hayes or Ivan Koloff.
Graham had a career with the WWWF. He was a 9 time tag team champion, many of those with Eddie Graham, current WWE Hall of Famer. He is also mostly known for his time with WWWF, making him an easy induction.
Jerry Graham is just as much an originator of the Graham family name, one of the most copied “family names” in wrestling.
Hey, Superstar Billy Graham is supposed to be related to this guy.
Jerry Graham is a welcome addition. (Looks like I’m likely this Legacy Class)
Judy Grable was a semi-successful women’s wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s. She was trained by the first female inductee, The Fabulous Moolah and did have a long career, lasting for almost 20 years in the profession.
The issue at hand is that women’s wrestling, for the most part, in the 50s and 60s was an attraction, not treated as legitimate as their male counterparts.
This is why Mildred Burke and Fabulous Moolah remained the champions for so long. Those were the stars. Grable helped, but has been largely forgotten since.
June Byers was a big deal in her time. She held the Women’s World Title for 10 years, broaching the time period between long time champion Mildred Burke and future long time champion Fabulous Moolah.
After a supposed “shoot” fight with Mildred Burke, where Byers was declared women’s world champion, Byers defended the title all across the NWA. She was her generation’s female Gene Kiniski, a solid worker, who was over with the crowd enough to bring her “attraction” status to its height.
The historically important women should be in the Hall of Fame. Mildred Burke was last year, so June Byers was the next logically missing female.
Rikidozan should be inducted on his own. He is that important. A Korean born wrestler, Rikidozan is credited with bringing wrestling to Japan.
I’ll say that again, without Rikidozan, there is no Antonio Inoki, no Tatsumi Fujinami, no Giant Baba. Those three are considered to be there of the biggest stars in Japanese wrestling history. Rikidozan still drawfs many of them, as he trained them. (Inoki and Baba). Rikidozan is also one of the few men to defeat Lou Thesz legitimately during his prime. He defeated Thesz for the NWA International Title in 1958.
He is also credited with opening the first Japanese promotion with the JWA, Japanese Pro Wrestling Alliance.
If he hadn’t been murdered by the Japanese mafia in 1963, it is likely Rikidozan would be remembered as even more of a force in wrestling.
He is a legend who every major wrestling fan should look up and enjoy.
Toots Mondt was both Jess and Vince McMahon Sr.’s partner in the Capitol Wrestling and WWWF until his death.
Although he was a well known wrestler in his time, his force as a promoter is what he is best known for.
He’s the one in between those you know
He is a strange inclusion here, as it was likely in the 1990s that Toots would have been included on his own. He opens the possibility than Jess McMahon, Jack Tunney, Bob Giegel, or Leroy McGuirk among others.
Mondt is credited with helping to create such huge stars as Bruno Sammartino, Antonio Rocca and Stu Hart. He’s the man who helped bring the generation which gave us Vince McMahon Jr and WWF 1980s.
Here’s Bruno on Toots Mondt.
This legacy class, like last years is a welcome addition. If WWE continues this, it is likely within 5 years that WWE will be able to consider itself the real, true and full wrestling Hall of Fame. Now, if they could only open a building somewhere…