WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014: Southern Wrestlers

We are potentially 30-45 days before the first WWE Hall of Fame 2014 announcement and I for one am super psyched. We have the chance for another really good following the very strong 2013 class.

We have already taken a look as some possible headliners and the Mid South connection. Apart from the Mid South wrestlers, there are some other candidates with a southern connection or a southern background. Although many of these are outside of the box, WWE is known to induct some oddball choices from time to time. No one could have predicted Abdullah the Butcher in 2011.

Special thanks for loyal reader, MR. J for the idea of  many of these potential inductees.

Let’s take a look at some now:

SOUTHERN CONNECTION: 

Kamala

Kamala

The Ugandan Giant, Kamala is  a name which was rumored for the 2013 class. At this time last year, PWInsider reported Kamala was likely to be included in the 2013 class. http://allwrestling.com/newswireitem/14397/wwe-reportedly-set-add-kamala/. Now, despite the fact that rumors are almost always incorrect ,Kamala was and still is another strong possibility for induction this year.

Kamala is one of those gimmicks which never really changed. He was a Ugandun headhunter in 1986 against Andre, the same character against Undertaker in 1992 and yet again the same in the Dungeon of Doom. That is not to say he is not memorable, but gimmicked characters like him do not really exist today. He went from territory to territory doing the same thing over and over again. And due to his size and the simpler times of the 80s wrestling landscape, he got over wherever he went. (Excluding probably WWF in 1993 where he turned face and learned who to bowl or something with Slick…..

Kamala could be inducted this year. He has a few things going for him. First he is from the South (Mississippi to be precise) and we’ve already established that WWE loves to embrace the Wrestlemania area when concerning who is inducted. Kamala also meets an important criteria in diversity. Being an African American star (I know its shocking he isn’t actually an Ugandun headhunter), he fits that mold as well.  Another reason for his induction could be what I call the Tony Atlas rule. Tony Atlas was inducted in 2006, and then subsequently given a job because he needed it. WWE is nothing but friendly and helpful to wrestlers they like who are in need. Unfortuantely, Kamala has recently lost both legs to amputation, ending his career, and is reportedly in need of cash. WWE would pay the 5,000 for the induction, plus maybe throw the guy a bone for interviews and commentary.

Chances of Induction:

5 out of 10


dannyhodge

Danny Hodge

Many readers have probably never heard of Danny Hodge. Hodge (who is still alive) is a relic of 1960s professional wrestling. Although his career spanned many decades, he was mostly a regional star who greatest runs were with the NWA Junior Heavyweight championship as promoted by Leroy McGuirk (who we will deal with shortly).

Hodge is one of those old timer wrestlers who I believe would have had a greater chance of joining the Hall had it not taken a break between 1995-2004. He is good friends with Jim Ross and was rumored to be pushed by Ross several times for induction.

Plus he can do this.

And that’s pretty awesome. His reputation as a tough man is without question, especially when you hear the story of a car crash he was in once. Take a look below.

http://www.squaredcircleofwrestling.com/2013/09/10/the-greatness-of-danny-hodge/

 Hodge, like Bullet Bob Armstrong in 2011, would be an unknown to almost all of the fans today. With Jim Ross retired, Hodge’s induction is super unlikely.

Chances of Induction

2 out of 10


leroymcguirk

Leroy McGuirk

WWE loves to induct their former competition. For no other reason then it shows how WWE today IS Wrestling today. Verne Gagne, Eddie Graham & Bill Watts have all joined the Hall. It is likely that Eric Bischoff and even possibly Ted Turner may join at a future date. It shows the welcoming nature of Vince & Co. “We won, but you are still welcome”

That’s not the say that all of the former promoters are in the Hall of Fame. There are many glaring omissions. Toots Mondt, Vince Sr’s partner is not in the Hall. Neither are the Crocketts (famous as the originators of wrestling on cable nation wide). Leroy McGuirk, while not as important as those mentioned above, could be considered to be the precursor of Bill Watts.

Watts territory, Mid South, was the successor to McGuirk’s  NWA Tri-State…

tristate

Not that Tri State….

 His involvement makes sense, but it will not occur. First, McGuirk is deceased. There will be at least one deceased entry this year. McGuirk will be overshadowed by that. Secondly and most importantly, Leroy McGuirk is an 2014 inductee into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. There is no way WWE inducts someone who is getting inducted in another hall of fame in the same year. Not going to happen

Chances of Induction

0 out of 10


bearer

Paul Bearer

Speaking of deceased inductees, our next possibility is well documented. Since his death in 2013, (immediately before the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony) there has been a push to induct Paul Bearer. There have been rumors out the wazzoo about Bearer is first confirmed 2014 inductee, his family has already been told, that Undertaker is doing the induction, etc etc etc.

I for one tend not to believe rumors when it comes to anything wrestling realted. Generally, they are always wrong. Does anyone remember DX’s induction last year? No? That’s because that rumor was just that; a rumor.

Now, this is not to say that Paul Bearer is not deserving. The Hall has almost all the great managers. It has Heenan, Dillon, Hart, Fuji, Wizard, Blassie, Albano and Ellering. Only ones missing are Miss Elizabeth, Jim Cornette and Paul Bearer. (Paul Heyman too, but he’s not retired)

Bearer, both in his Percy Pringle III persona and in WWF is an extremely memorable and diverse personality. Most importantly, he is the Undertaker’s  manager. The Undertaker is such an important part of WWE history and Bearer was intertwined with him for at least six years. He is important to the organization and belongs there.

That being said, will it happen this year? William Moody (real name) has no real connection to the area. I also feel it would be more special to do this either A. The same year as Undertaker (imagine Bearer inducted by Kane, Taker by Michaels) or B. Save it for a year when it is not obvious that the only reason its happening is that he died the previous year.

Reports aside, I expect this one to wait. Still WWE has a history of inducting recently deceased in some cases (Eddie Guerrero-2006)

Chances of induction

7  out of 10


Rock N Roll Express

rocknrollexpress

Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are one of the quintessential 80s territory tag teams. Apart from the Road Warriors, they were one of the longest running tag team units in history. Morton and Gibson originally were put together in the Memphis territory, but continued their wares throughout Mid South, WCW, Smokey Mountain, AWA, NWA and even a brief stint in WWF in 1998.

There is an issue though. Unlike the Road Warriors, The Rock N Roll Express never had mainstream success. They had no long amazing run in either WCW or WWF. By the Attitude Era, these men were considered washed up or over the hill. Part of this was due to age, yes, but also due to gimmic. An 80s hairband wrestling gimmick should have a shelf life. Morton and Gibson have tried since 1990 to show it doesn’t.

rocknrollexpressold

Old Man Rock Band, BABY!

I do not want to debase the Rock N Roll Express. Their feuds with the Midnight Express were so good that they transcended promotion, something which is very rarely done. These men while talented (or should I say Morton was talented) were held back by the same thing that made them popular. The territories died around them and they were unable to adapt. This is why in many local shows all around the US, these men still perform. They have to…they never let go.

WWE has another Southern Tag Team on its radar this time. The Freebirds are the team this year and WWE has never in the history inducted two tag teams (Did induct a Family and a Tag Team in Von Erichs and Funks) With so many other possibilities, this one seems unlikely.

Chances of Induction

3 out of 10


What about you? Do you think any of these Southern Based candidates have a chance of taking one of the coveted spots in the 2014 class?

Coming up next we are going to look at Possible Celebrity Candidates, Really Out of the Box Candidates and I will be offering my predictions for the Class of 2014!

WWE Hall of Fame 2014: Possible Mid South Inductees

Predicition! The WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014 will have at least one Mid South wrestler. WWE loves inducting wrestlers important to the Wrestlemania city.

In 2013 MSG headliners Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund were welcomed along “Harlem Heat’s” Booker T, New York real estate Mogul,Donald Trump and Long Island’s own Mick Foley. It was  a class more New York than the Brooklyn Brawler.

brooklynbrawler

I’ll show you New York!

Many of Mid South’s greatest stars have already been inducted. Promoter Cowboy Bill Watts (2009), Ted Dibiase (2010) Junkyard Dog (2004) and Hacksaw Jim Duggan (2011) are already in due to their associations to other cities and organizations.  Or in Duggan’s case, nepotism (Duggan before Randy Savage?!)

Don’t fret! All the Mid South superstars are not yet inducted. Let’s put our future caps on and see who might be one of the Mid South inductees in 2014!

future

What a convenient button!

Mid South

The best element of the territory system was that talent could move around and get better.  In the 1960s-1990s a wrestler would go from territory to territory and hone their act and their character. Today, many superstars are trained, groomed and only perform for the WWE.

Hall of Fame wise, it means that superstars can be associated with many areas. This fact should finally lead to our first group’s induction.

Fabulous Freebirds

TheFabulousFreebirds_crop_340x234

Terry Gordy. Michael PS Hayes, Buddy Roberts (And Jimmy Garvin)

The Freebirds are one of the best examples of the “territory hopping” wrestlers of yesteryear/  Hayes, in particular, spent countless years in all the major and minor promotions honing his cocky mix of 70s porn star and 80s hair bands.

And it worked. The Freebirds cocky& brash style got over in almost every major promotion (except WWF of course) They are also (incorrectly) credited with the advent of the entrance song (actually Sgt. Slaughter or Gorgeous George, depending on who you ask) and (correctly) credited for the adopted rule: The Freebird Rule when it comes to 3 Man Tag Teams.

When the Von Erich’s got in the 2009 class, it seemed logical that this induction would be next. It hasn’t. Since then Buddy Roberts has died of pneumonia after a long bout with throat cancer and Michael Hayes got himself in trouble for being a racist drunk. Still, their time is due and WWE really likes the faction idea currently, so its time for one of the classics to go in.

Expect Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin (yes he will be included, because, well he is alive)

Alive! YEA!

Alive! YEA!

Should they make the 2014 Hall of Fame?

Yes. WWE has held this one off long enough. And if nothing else, the Freebirds inclusion will be a nod to Mid South and Southern Wrestling. Plus Hayes will behave as he still wants to keep his job. Expect more Dox Hendrix than PS Hayes during the acceptance speech.

Chances of Induction

8 out of 10

Jake The Snake Roberts

roberts

Jake The Snake Roberts is one of the few non-Hall of Famers who many people assume is in the Hall of Fame already. There is a absurd hole in the Hall.  Existing here are Roberts, Rick Rude, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior (all for different reasons) Roberts, like all those others listed, were part of the  backbone that was the WWF in the 80s and early 90s. Others backbones already inducted include: Hogan, Piper, Heenan, Hart, & Andre are already in.

Jake, out of  those missing is strikingly glaring because he is not dead…or crazy.

CRAZY!

CRAZY!

His drug problems aside, Roberts was the best type of performer. He was the guy who was so over, he didn’t need any belt.

World title? Oh no he has a snake. IC title. Did I mention snake?

Name 10 more in WWF who were like that. (Bruno, Undertaker, And Rey Mysterio maybe) Even Hulk Hogan felt strange and somewhat naked during his absences with the title in 1988 and 1991.

Its simple. Roberts could do all the things necessary. He could talk. He was THE talker. Wrestlers today are watching Roberts promos. (Maybe the writers should be)

He knew how to tell a story psychologically in ring. Jake was no Bret Hart and it didn’t matter. Even his finishing maneuver, the DDT (correct!) was crisp and part of his total package.

And the best part is, the Mid South alumnus, has just gotten his life back together. He is sober, skinnier and training to hopefully get a shot in  the 2014 Royal Rumble. Only time will tell if the WWE pulls this long awaited trigger.

2014 material?

Yes. Its seemed that WWE held off because of his extra-curricular activities. Roberts, if drunk, could say or do anything. Better to keep that man off TV. With his life on the upswing, Roberts would be a case of triumph over the well documented adversities of pro wrestling.

Plus DDP been filming Roberts’ recovery for a year. That make a great end for the doc too! (C’mon WWE, good press!)

Chances of Induction

7 out of 10

Butch Reed

Butch-Reed

Diversity has been a large problem in wrestling. Today, WWE has historically had only one African American WWE Champion, named the Rock. (Half-Black).

WWE is aware of their shortcomings in this regard. Since the return of the Hall in 2004, diversity has been a focus (sometimes to a fault). Each year, WWE strives to induct at least one woman and at least one African American star. And I agree. This is a good idea….Most of the time.

In 2006, Tony Atlas was inexplicably inducted. In 2009, Koko B. Ware joined the Hall as the “Internet’s Reason WWE Hall of Fame Sucks”.

These were not good ideas. And both can be chocked up to diversity. This is not how WWE should handle the hall of fame. It is ridiculous to put a woman, a celebrity or any other generalized group, just to have diversity.

That being said, Mid South gives little chance at (with Junkyard Dog already in). That’s because after him…

Hacksaw Butch Reed. Reed is probably best known as one half of DOOM in WCW or the original charge of the Doctor of Style, Slick. Neither of these runs were super memorable. Reed was overshawdowed by Ron Simmons in WCW and in WWF, he left when he was supposed to get the IC Title (In 1987). Becuase…he likes not succeeding….?

All his later misses aside, Butch Reed was one of the premier stars of the Mid South Territory. His feud with Jim Duggan over the moniker Hacksaw was rugged, rough and some of the best matches from Jim Duggan. During 1983-1986, Reed was one of the top 6 performers in Mid South, behind Dibiase, JYD, Duggan, Magnum, & Hayes.

This position alone may open the Hall to Reed as WWE looks to continue its diversity during the ceremonies.

2014 material?

No. Reed, although a good performer, does not have the resume to validate his addition. Neither did Atlas or Ware, so it may happen anyway. Hopefully, with Triple H incharge of inductees, someone like Reed will be left off

Chances of Induction

5 out of 10

Magnum TA

magnumta

In an alternate reality, we would be talking about multi-time NWA/WCW/WWF World Champion Magnum TA. He would have been a first ballot main event talent, inducted many years ago. However, fate has something different in store and Magnum TA got into a nearly fatal car accident which ended his career before it truly started.

And historically, this is one of the biggest what if’s? What if Magnum TA had become NWA World Champion in the mid 80s? Would Ric Flair have had the same shelf life? Would Sting even be a thing? Could the NWA actually competed against WWF with a star of great Hogan magnitude? Magnum had the charisma of a Southern Hulk Hogan combined with the mustachio masterpiece that was Tom Sellek. In the 80s, he was likely to work and had the potential to bring the NWA along earlier in the sports entertainment field.

Out of that alternate reality, none of this above actually occurred. Magnum was a mid-card talent in a bunch of different NWA territories. He never competed for Vince….And it still may be enough. WWE loves taking wrestlers who rarely or never competed for them and enshrine them…Proof positive that the WWE Hall of Fame is all that matters…

2014 Worthy?

Maybe. WWE has been limiting to themselves to 6 inductees including a celebrity. Old fashioned wrestlers like Magnum may be left off for a little while longer. He would make a great 7th inductee non WWE inductee (Bockwinkel in 07 or Abdullah the Butcher in 11)

Chances of Induction

5 out of 10

Steve Williams

steve-williams

Dr. Death Steve Williams also had great potential and did succeed…mostly outside of the United States.

Trained by Bill Watts, Williams was a Mid South/UWF original and had great success there. He was Watts’ answer to Hulk Hogan in the mid 1980s. He had a great deal of charisma and could out wrestle almost anyone the WWF had. (at the time)

But, Dr. Death truly succeeded in All Japan Pro Wrestling. He had a 10 year (supposed) undefeated streak. (which was later “ruined” by Paul Heyman’s ECW) once he returned to the USA in late nineties.

Williams then proved to be unimpressive during his late 90s US roles. Who can forget the ridiculous face palm that was getting knocked out by Bart Gunn.

DrDeathKO

Does This Make Bart Gunn the New Dr. Death?

Like other formerly big fish-small pond wrestlers like Bad New Brown or Kerry Von Erich, in WWF, Williams didn’t resonate and quickly faded. (Oklahoma’s Bodyguard was a great fall.)

Still, Dr. Death did do enough. His multiple year success in Japan gives him a Vader like level of credibility, even if he didn’t get it in the United States.

One point does potential hurt Williams, as he is deceased. Now generally the Hall does induct at least one deceased wrestler (expect 2013) so it is not impossible.

Bonus points towards induction: Non drug related death. This could happen.

Is 2014 the year for him?

No. There are too many other possible Mid South and non Mid South candidates. Plus, his tragic death of cancer in 2009 hurts his chances. There is a long list of deceased greats including Rick Rude, British Bulldog, Owen Hart, Randy Savage, Lou Thesz and many many others who should go in before Dr. Death.

Still this one is likely at some point.

Chances of Induction

6 out of 10

There are a few other less likely possibilities which I will deal with in another post. Suffice to say, Mid South will be represented in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014. My prediction is Jake the Snake and the Fabulous Freebirds join the hallowed halls this upcoming year.

WWE Hall of Fame 2014: Possible Headliners and Breakdown

Wrestlemania 29 is over. and Thank God. The event itself was super disappointing and redundant. Luckily this blog is only about the Hall of Fame.

tensaidancing

And Dancing

Despite Wrestlemania’s ineptitude and predictability, the 2013 Class was one of the most surprising and deserving classes in history. Only 2004 and 2005 are strong in comparison (and 2004 DID include Pete Rose and Don Muraco). 2013 is rare in its sheer lack of suck. Every year has one inductee that gets either a shrug (2011’s Bob Armstrong) or the ire of fans everywhere (2009’s KoKo B Ware).

2013 has none of this. In fact its format works. WWE has jumped around from somewhere between 6 and 12 inductees and seems to have settled on six (2012 and 2013). Its the perfect number (would be even better without celebrity “honoree”). But how does the WWE top the class of Sammartino, Backlund, Foley, Stratus, Booker and Trump? And should they even try?

So with a look at history, an eye on the location and a little magic, lets look at some of the headliners  for the 2014 Class of the WWE Hall of Fame.

future

Its a great button

Headliners

Every Class since 2005 has been defined by its headliner. The night feels more special when Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart or Steve Austin highlight the night. Other classes have either suffered from weaker headliners (2007’s Dusty Rhodes or 2012’s Edge) or in one case (2010’s Ted Dibiase) no headliner at all. But can they find another Bruno Sammartino and who’s left/available?

DX

dx

Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Roaddog, Billy Gunn, Xpac and Chyna (?)

There is no denying the fact that Dengeration X is one of the best factions in WWE’s history. Before 1996, factions were not a common occurance in the WWE. Wrestling families or groups based on a manage dominated the old WWWF and WWF. DX came along as the answer to the NWO and when they premired in 1997, Michaels, HHH and Chyna began to change the makeup of the WWF and helped usher in the Attitude Era.

No one can deny their importance, yet the idea of having a faction as headliner seems lazy. It was rumored that if Bruno had said no, that DX would have headlined the 2013 class. I have one big problem with that, which is simply Triple H is not retired. Ric Flair aside (he “retired” the next night), no active superstar should be inducted into the Hall. Plus, Triple H deserves an individual induction before he goes in with Degeneration X (similar again to Ric Flair)

Yet, the rumor of today is that DX may headline the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Both Chyna (?!) and general rumors have suggested that DX will go in very soon. If this does occur, Chyna must be included. Strangely, the group will most likely be inducted as a version of the group which never existed (Michaels never was teammates with New Age Outlaws) and it will be another WWE rewrite for the Hall (Horsemen without Ole Anderson)

This would be an easy way to have a headliner without going with any of the “harder” to get potential inductees that were skipped for one reason or another such as

Macho Man Randy Savage

RandySavage

Randy Savage is dead. And that’s a awful shame.Savage has always been one of my favorite wrestlers and entertainers in history.  And everyone agrees that his speech would have been astoundingly good. Sadly, with his death we will never get to say “Thank You Macho” while he basks in the adulation from stage.

Still, he obviously deserves the induction. There are two issues for this induction. First is Lanny Poffo. The Genius, as no one remembers him fondly, claims that Savage “said he wanted to be inducted as the Poffo family”. Now, I do beleive that Savage could have said that (he did successfully petition for Angelo Poffo’s induction to the WCW Hall of Fame), yet it is doubtful that if offered, Savage would have turned it down because of that. Similar to Bruno, Savage would have answered for the right price.

But now there is a second problem, Randy Savage is dead. WWE is never going to have Randy Savage headline a class. He can’t. He won’t actually be there. In the past deceased wrestlers (Eddie Guerrero and Curt Hennig) have been secondary or co-headliners. This would be a possibility.

Hopefully with the success of 2013’s class and Triple H’s involvement, he approaches and convinces the Poffo family with money, DVDs ,appearances and the like to allow for the Randy Savage induction. I hope this gets done for all of us.

Other possible headliners?

Ultimate Warrior

warrior

Never say never. Bruno Sammartino, Randy Savage, Owen Hart and The Ultimate Warrior. These are the men who “will never get into the Hall” Bruno is in. The Warrior is possible.

Things against his induction include his dubious relationship with Triple H, for this

Warrior has also been recorded saying that he “would love” to go into the Hall, as long as Vince McMahon asks him personally. Warrior, also  has no connection to New Orleans or Mid-South, yet most of the time that doesn’t matter.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to see what Warrior has to say. In 2013, Bob Backlund was bat-shit insane during his speech. Perhaps WWE doesn’t mind and will continue the pattern.

Recent retiree

No one expected Edge to headline 2012 or Eddie Guerrero to die and be inducted in 2006. Anything can happen in the WWE. If the Rock decides he is done, 2014 could be his year. Same goes for Triple H, Undertaker, Randy Orton, John Cena or any other main eventer who could get hurt or retire.

This aside, someone like Batista may be possibility, especially if he doesn’t plan on coming back.

If you have any ideas on headliners, leave a message and vote on the poll below!