WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Tatsumi Fujinami

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Tatsumi Fujinami

Class of 2015

“Founding Father” of New Japan Pro Wrestling, 6 Time IWGP Heavyweight Champion

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Hall of Fame Rating

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

The 2015 Class has easily been one of the wildly all over the place classes in the history of the WWE Hall of Fame. In fact 2015’s class has been the most “Sports Entertainment” Class perhaps ever. Inductees like Rikishi, The Bushwhackers and Arnold Schwarzenegger have no place in a legitimate WRESTLING Hall of Fame. They are being inducted for one reason or another, but can be easily summarized as being “fun” or “popular”.

Known from now on a the Gallagher principle.

Known from now on a the Gallagher principle.

Once the Bushwhackers were announced, it look like 2015 would go down as one of the weakest classes in history. This all changed this past week, when WWE announced veteran the “Living Legend” Larry Zybszko and this man: Tatsumi Fujinami.

2015 has thrown away the playbook when it comes to inductees. The last few years, a headliner would be accompanied by a female star, a celebrity, a minority, a star from the Wrestlemania locale and finally another main event talent or semi main event talent. Fujinami doesn’t fall into any of these categories. Instead, he is an international star, something which the WWE Hall of Fame has mostly overlooked. Only Mil Mascaras and Fuujinami’s New Japan co-founder Antonio Inoki have joined the halls with a mostly international career.

Fujinami is the type of performer that would easily be included in any wrestling Hall of Fame (Wrestling Observer Inductee in 1996, when the Hall was founded) . He is a huge in an important foreign market and had runs in the US, hitting both of those boxes. However we, the IWC or US fans in the know, are less likely to know someone like Tatsumi Fujinami. The last time he wrestled in the USA on a regular was in the late 1970s. He was a WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion, a belt which most (even those in the “know”) didn’t even know existed.

That’s why I am boggled by his inclusion. What is the WWE trying to say with this class? That they support the best in international wrestling and also silly comedy acts at the same time? The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Everyone Gets IN!!!! . How is Fujinami in the same class as Rikishi?

Never Saw Fujinami doing anything like this....

Never Saw Fujinami doing anything like this….

Fujinami is a 6 time IGWP World Heavyweight Champion, a 1 Time NWA World Heavyweight Champion (unrecognized) and a “Founding Father” of New Japan Pro Wrestling.  He was the inventor of the Dragon Sleeper and the Dragon Suplex. Fujinami is Japanese wrestling to a tee. And in Japan that means something.

In Japan, pro wrestling is not a joke. Despite all of Vince McMahon’s claims of being “part of entertainment”, wrestling in the USA is still considered to be silly soap opera level stuff by main stream audiences.  Even at its height in the 1980s Rockin Wrestling or the 90s Attitude ERA, wrestling was never considered to be as important and its characters as popular as Fujinami was in Japan.

In his induction video, KENTA (now idiotically named Hideo Itami in  WWE) calls Fujinami Japan’s Hulk Hogan. I think that is incorrect. Antonio Inoki, the greatest and most well-known Japanese wrestler in history is most definitely (by character and also what he’s done with his fame) the Hulk Hogan of Japan. Fujinami is Japan’s Ric Flair.  He’s that good of a performer.

Like most Japanese Patriarchal wrestling figures, Fujinami continues to wrestle and will likely until he can’t physically do it anymore. There’s an old joke from my childhood which I remember, “If you want to live forever, be Japanese.” Here is Ric Flair at 60.

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Here is Fujinami. Doesn’t look 60 that’s for sure….

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The comparison between Flair and Fujinami is very apropos, as they wrestled in one of Fujinami’s biggest international moments, when in the Tokyo Dome, he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair. The title change is not recognized in the NWA history, as Fujinami’s victory was after a disqualifiable,offense had occurred. This “Dusty finish” allowed Fujinami to win in Japan and come back to the US and lose back to
Flair at Superbrawl.

Today Fujinami owns Dradition (originally MUGA with Osamu Nishimura). He continues the classic Japanese style of wrestling there today. He even won a championship belt at the age of 58, winning their version of the Tag Team Championship

Fujinami is a welcome induction and brings both gravitas and some wrestling cred to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

Weirdest Thing

On a side note, Fujinami’s popularity did during the 1980s lead to this fun and insane music video.

While ridiculous, and certainly more Wrestle Rock Rumble than Rockin Wrestling, it works because Fujinami is Japanese. And Japanese Pop Culture is insane…

What is this?

What is this?

Why 2015?

Because of Kenta. KENTA coming to the WWE is huge. He is so very over in Japan. Japanese wrestling in on fire, with the best faction since the NWO, the Bullet Club,

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The WWE likes jumping on bandwagons and protecting themselves from other promotions popularity.

Opens Door For?

Giant Baba, and other patriarchs of New Japan: Osamu Kido and Kotetsu Yamamoto

Perhaps even some big Mexican Lucha Libre stars like El Santo and Dos Caras (although Dos Caras is unlikely as he is Alberto Del Rio’s Dad)

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

95% of the audience has no idea who he is. Because Fujinami was included, the Brooklyn Brawler had to be left off. What a tragedy!!!

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: The Bushwhackers

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The Bushwhackers

Class of 2015

Ridiculous Tag Team, Licking Experts

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Hall of Fame Rating

2 out of 10

Undeserving

 When one thinks about the most memorable tag teams in the history of wrestling, there are many names that come to mind: The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express, Doom, The Steiner Brothers, Harlem Heat, The Dudley Boys, Demolition, The British Bulldogs, The Wild Samoans, The Blackjacks, Edge & Christian and many many more. One name which is NOT on that list is our newest inductees this week. Ladies and Gentlemen, here come WWE Hall of Famers the Bushwhackers!

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What the hell is the WWE thinking? Its not like the WWE Hall of Fame is the first Hall of Fame in the history of the world. Hall of Fames are not uncommon. Every sport has one. Television has one. Every university and college in the history of the world has one. What does each of those Halls of Fame have in common? They induct the best in their business. Induction is generally based on understood criterion and/or voted upon by both the organizers and fans of the Hall of Fame. WWE on that other hand, is totally and completely up to the whims of one man….

 

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This cocky son of a bitch

And a bunch of goobers….

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The WWE Writing Staff as Represented By the “Amazing” Staff of Mork and Mindy..

What is the logical explanation for this disjointed mess? Take a look at 2013 and 2014. Each class was headlined by a true superstar. Both Bruno and Warrior not only were the epitome of the word headliner; they were also long overdue. Randy Savage fits this criteria too. The difference this year is that Savage is surrounded by such poor compadres.  Three inductees (Rikishi, Arnold and the Bushwhackers) are not only weak but their presence hurts the overall presentation. And the Bushwhackers have to be the worst of the worst this year. In fact ,The Bushwhackers are the worst of the worst of almost any year. This is Ko Ko B. Ware level of bad.

KoKo B. Ware, making The Hall of Fame look bad since 2009

KoKo B. Ware:  Making The Hall of Fame look bad since 2009

Almost no one will disagree that The Bushwhackers would not be their first choice for induction. Worthy teams like Demolition, The Dudleys and The British Bulldogs stand still waiting for the call.  I’d like to mention briefly that The Bushwhackers did have many years as a hated heel team The Sheepherders. The Sheepherders were much better than the Bushwhackers, During the induction video , the Sheepherders are also mentioned briefly (to showcase the 26 Tag Team titles the Sheepherders won all around the world), but do not fool yourself in believing that this is who the WWE is inducting. They are inducting the Bushwhackers. Just watch this induction video. Look how silly and crazy the Bushwhackers are?!

You still don’t believe that this is a ridiculous induction? Fine. Let’s look at the top 5 accomplishments of the newest Hall of Famers: The Bushwhackers in WWE.

5. Defeating the Rougeaus at Wrestlemania 5.

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The Bushwhackers attained their greatest victory right at the beginning of their WWF run. In 1989 at Wrestlemania, Luke and Butch defeated Jacques and Raymond, the WWF World Tag…..wait nope. That’s not right. The Bushwhackers defeated C level heel tag team, the Rougeaus. This means that the Bushwhackers were the C level face tag team…at their peak.

Bushwhacker feuds were few and far between. They were much more likely to fight jobbers on Superstars or…

lick people…

While horrifying children

While horrifying children

and become the butt of jokes in important matches

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The Bushwhackers barely ever stepped foot anywhere near a championship, a rivalry or anything which makes wrestling great. Except that one time where they…

4. Failed to Defend Andre the Giant

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Andre isn’t Happy

In 1992, a steroid scandal (which eventually progressed to the 93 steroid trial) forced Hulk Hogan to take a leave of absence from the WWE. Hogan being gone was never good for business.

While grasping at straws , the  WWF  brought back a barely mobile Andre the Giant. The story was that the Earthquake wanted Andre to form a team with him. When the Giant said no, so Typhoon joined up with Earthquake and smashed Andre.

Enter the Bushwhackers, who for no real reason, other than to give someone for the newly christened Natural Disasters to squash, stepped up to defend the injured (and less than 6 months away from literal death) Andre The Giant. Luke and Butch barely tried and failed miserably. Andre was attacked by Earthquake as his great defenders lost and proceeded to get “more injured” before the Road Warriors made the save. Andre was never seen on WWF TV again.

What a great angle!

Andre is Not HAPPY

Andre is Not HAPPY

3. Winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Worst Tag Team Award…Twice

The Bushwhackers were never known to win really anything certainly not awards….or matches. By 1992, the Bushwhackers were basically used to put over heel tag teams. They suffered extremely logical losses to the Nasty Boys, Natural Disasters and others.

In 1992, they were also given the delightful award of the Wrestling Observer’s Worst Tag Team Award. Now, I rarely put weight in Dave Meltzer’s point of view, though his cockiness is funny to listen to, especially when up against Ole Anderson:

One thing is certain, Meltzer knows when wrestling is bad. Luke and Butch were awarded with yet another Worst Tag Team Award in 1994, the year of their second greatest accomplishment below…

It should be noted that three other Tag Teams also received Worst Tag Team award twice, Kronik, The Godwinns and Giant Baba & Andre The Giant. I still think that the Bushwhackers win the worst of this bunch as two of them are former tag champs and Baba and Andre were basically a team of crippled slow-moving older giants.

2. Clean sweep at the Survivor Series…as another character

In a match that can only be considered a poor attempt at comedy, Luke and Butch joined Men on a Mission to destroy the careers of Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastian Booger and the Headshrinkers. Both face teams dressed in Doink makeup in a match  which never actually involved the actual Doink the Clown. The 4 Doinks got a clean sweep on their foes and once again proved that WWE has never known what is funny.

The important point for the Bushwhackers is that they won! For the first time in years! A one day resurgence! Playing another character!

This is horrifying

This is horrifying

1. Getting into the WWE Hall of Fame

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The Bushwhackers number one accomplishment is getting into the WWE Hall of Fame. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The WWE Hall of Fame is for winners, champions, and legends. It is there for those who blazed a trail, did something historic or had a lasting effect on the core of the Wrestling Fan.

I love wrestling. The Ultimate Warrior made me feel. Hulk Hogan made me excited. The Road Warriors were cool, etc etc. The Bushwhackers were characters on TV. That’s all. Not a Hall of Fame career

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Boo WWE. BOO!!!

 

Why 2015?

This years class looks likes they sat 9 people down in a room and each got to pick 1 inductee. Triple H picked Randy Savage. Stephanie picked the Warrior Award recipient, and John Laurinaitis picked the Bushwhackers. Why? Becauseo Johnny has a history with them in Australia that no one knew about….

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Oh and hey look, Johnny Ace is doing the induction.

You Suck Johnny....This is why no one likes you,

You Suck Johnny….This is why no one likes you,

Opens Door For?

Literally anybody. Let’s induct the Godwinns, Well Dunn, The Blu Brothers, The Young Stallions and the or even the Original Conquistadors!

conquistadors

80% of People Do Not Know Who We ARE

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

All reasons imaginable. The Bushwhackers ARE GARBAGE.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Introduction of the Warrior Award and Connor “The Crusher”

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Last week on Monday Night Raw, the WWE announced its first recipient of the Warrior Award. This move was a surprise as there had been no rumors of the formation of the Warrior Award, let alone that it would be included in 2015’s WWE Hall of Fame Class.

Last year at the Hall of Fame 2014 Ceremony, Warrior had a speech which was filled with both amazing and awfully strange moments. Warrior showed the “real” Ultimate Warrior, one who was saddened and betrayed by the WWE in 1992, (his second firing) and in 2005 (with the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD). After delving into the wrongs against him, Warrior stated that he indeed is a good guy. He then began to thank the behind the scenes men, the “superstars that make it happen.” Warrior stated that a position in the Hall of Fame be set up for all the backstage workers. He suggested  a “Jimmy Miranda Award” in honor of the man who started the merchandise tables long ago. His speech was elegant in its own way and showed the WWE Universe the real character of James Helwig AKA Warrior.

Two days after his speech, and one day after a frighteningly predictive promo on RAW, the Ultimate Warrior died at the young age of 54. It was a moment of sadness, marking the death of a second hero from the 1980s (Randy Savage was first). His death was  unexpected, as Warrior was never a drug user or had a hard life wrestling story common of the stars of the Hulkamania Era.

Warrior’s reunion with the WWE ended up becoming his last great move. Fans got closure and the WWE embraced both him and his family. After his tragic death, WWE honored Warrior’s new contract and continues today to help and support Warrior’s widow and children.

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Happy to be able to say this to WWE…it doesn’t happen often

 

Cut to 2015: The WWE decides to create the Warrior Award. While not the original Jimmy Miranda Award idea, the Warrior Award is logical. WWE focuses on their humanitarian efforts; promotes their Make a Wish record, their BE a STAR campaign and their Connor for the Cure foundation.  It has become part of this corporate vision (as it is for many corporations in the US) and in a way fits, especially once you see how the WWE describes the Warrior Award. The Warrior Award is presented “to a person who exhibits unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the late superstar’s indomitable spirit.”  This award could be renamed the WWE Humantarian Award.

And now on to the first recipient. It is none other than Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. The overall consensus is that the Warrior Awards’ first honoree  is both a deserving choice and welcome inductee. For those not in the know, Connor was an eight year old child featured heavily last year in the lead up to Wrestlemania 30. He was suffering from medulloblastoma, cancer of the brain and spine. After his diagnosis, Connor underwent brain surgery, several other intensive surgeries, nine full rounds of chemotherapy and six full weeks of spine and brain radiation. He died mid last year after 6 long years of the disease.

WWE has to tread lightly here. There is a fine line between honoring a dead child and using said dead child for marketing purposes. Luckily, if the video above is any hint at their motives and how they will feature Connor, we are in the clear in this instance. I am happy for Connor’s family, who will be in attendance to accept the Award. Their son will forever be immortalized as a recipient of the Warrior Award at the WWE Hall of Fame.

Two times in one article...A first for sure

Two times in one article…A first for sure

The only open question concerning the Warrior Award is this: Where do they go from here?  You can’t go back Warrior’s original idea and honor the long time concessions guy at the 2016 Hall of Fame.  Who is next? Does WWE make this a yearly award, finding a child battling a sickness? Do they comically heighten and go for two-year old who was torn apart by wolves?

Bad Joke...

Bad Joke…

Bad jokes aside, it will be interesting to see where the WWE goes from here with this award. I predict that we will have one or two more Warrior Award recipients and then this will fade away.

All and all, it is a good move for WWE. Connor now has a lasting legacy for his short life and will forever be immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame. RIP.