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.

WWE Hall of Fame Tonight!!!

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Tonight on the WWE Network, my favorite night of the year: The WWE Hall of Fame premieres!!!!

Tonight’s induction class is the largest since 2004 and features one of the most eclectic classes in history. Many deserve the honor. Some do not. Let’s take a quick look at who is going in tonight:

 

Macho Man Randy Savage

Macho Man Randy Savage finally takes his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. While the celebration of this moment will be great, Macho will not be there himself to revel in his induction. Lanny Poffo will do a passable job at accepting for his brother. Expect him to say that this Induction is “For the Macho Fan, more than the Macho Man>” something he has said way too often since this was announced. Maybe we’ll be a poem too…..

 

Kevin Nash

Rumors have said that Kevin Nash will be headlining the Class tonight, mostly due to the fact that Macho Man is dead. He is also supposedly being given the most time, with all other inductees asked to go twelve minutes or less.

Nash is a über polarizing figure and an apparent avid fan of fucking with fans. It is possible we may see some of that, and its also possible he may be booed by the smart mark crowd.

Rikishi

The latest in the long line of Samoan inductees, Rikishi is one of the weakest in this year’s class. His induction is due mostly to “popularity” with Too Cool and stinkfaces. Rikishi will be inducted by his sons, The Usos, who will immortalize their father, all the while likely knowing in their minds that Rikishi is only getting in due to their current employment. Not looking forward to this one.

Alundra Blayze

The potential dark horse of the night, Alundra Blayze or Madusa as she is properly known, should have an interesting speech. Her inductor is TBD, which means it will likely be a Diva like AJ Lee (or possibly all the DIVAS combined like Sunny). Blayze has been persona non gratis with the WWE for 15 years, she may have something to say about it. Watch this one.

 

Larry Zbyszko

The classic superstar inductee of this year, Larry Zbyszko may be an unknown for some of the fans in attendance. His heel persona was one of the best and he specifically is known for his promo skills. Bruno Sammartino will be inducting the owner of Larryland. It is likely that Larry’s poetic nature will give the best speech of the night.

 

The Bushwhackers

The most frustrating inductees of the night, The Bushwhackers, undeservingly join the Hall of Fame tonight as well inducted by former flag bearer, Johnny Ace. I just hope this goes quickly and we can forget the KoKo B. Ware level of embarrassment felt by their inclusion.

 

Tatsumi Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami, international star and Japanese legend will also join the Hall this year. Ric Flair, his greatest US opponent with wax poetic while telling tales of this master of the wrestling ring. During access, he even appeared to congratulate Hideo Itami on his victory. Hopefully, those in know can see this rub to help Itami become a success here in the WWE.

Connor the Crusher: Warrior Award

The heartfelt moment of the night with be the inaugural Warrior Award as presented to recently deceased Connor “The Crusher”. Connor died last year after a long battle with cancer. This move of inducting him is both welcome and will be a special moment for his family.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

WWE continues its pattern of celebrity inductions with the weakest one since Drew Carey. Arnold’s inclusion is likely due to a deal between Triple H and he, with Triple H going into the International Sports Hall of Fame (owned and run by Arnold) and Schwarzenegger going in to the WWE. This is a dumb induction and will hopefully go quickly.

Catch the WWE Hall of Fame tonight on the WWE Network and come back for a full review of the days proceedings this upcoming week after Wrestlemania!!!

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Larry Zbyszko

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Larry Zbyszko

Class of 2015

The Other Living Legend, Owner of Larryland

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Hall of Fame Rating

6 out of 10

Influential

 Our next inductee comes from the long list of former WWE enemies. Larry Zbyszko, for a long time, sat squarely in the camp of those no one ever expected to join the WWE Hall of Fame. The reasons were many, in 2001 Larry Zbyszko sued the WWE over the moniker “The Living Legend”as WWE had started calling Chris Jericho by the name and Larry took exception, claiming it was his. This quickly deteriorated into a “pride off”, with both Zbyszko and the WWE giving each other the “finger” publicly.  WWE began repeating The Living Legend Chris Jericho often, with McMahon himself even saying it on RAW   (Not that Jericho needed ANOTHER moniker or catchphrase)

Zbyszko then challenged McMahon to a legit fight on the World Wrestling All Stars PPV and began working for TNA, all the while continuing to bash  the WWE at any given moment.  It was a bitterness which, historically, is very common with former WWE talent after the death of the last territory: WCW. Zbyszko really had nowhere to go, plus probably had a chip on his shoulder for not being brought in for commentary in 2001 (rumored to replace Jerry Lawler when he left). Can you imagine this pairing?

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A common phrase is apropos here: time heals all wounds. Hopefully the older you get, the more you temper and  Larry is in his 60s now.So last year, Larry Zbyszko made peace and even signed a Legends contract.  His WWE Hall of Fame induction has quickly followed.  WWE tends to like to bring back those who used to hate the organization.  It’s a good story and contrition feels good for both parties. Plus, NXT films down from Larry’s house. Convenience!

Larry didn’t get into the Hall of Fame because he made peace. He deserves it. He is a type of pro wrestler that really doesn’t exist anymore. Larry Zbyszko ,as a heel, exuded negativity and became inherently unlikable, a role he played to a tee. Today, you rarely see a super successful mid card heel character. The best comparison in modern WWE is the Miz.  The difference between the “Must See Superstar” and the Living Legend is their environment. Miz has to deal with both the mindset of modern wrestlers (be the cool bad guy) and the PC PG environment. Larry Zbyszko could be as unlikable as possible; a good smarmy heel.

Larry didn’t start out as a heel, his debut and first six years were spent as a fairly generic tough Pittsburgh babyface. He has runs throughout the territory systems, holding tag gold. What stopped Zbyszko from being just another Tony Garea was his career defining mid-card feud against Bruno Sammartino. This feud lit fire due mostly to the time period it occurred.  Bruno was the semi-retired beloved figure. Larry was his student and protegé.

Larry not only betrayed Bruno, he battered him. The fans of the 1970s wouldn’t accept it. How could anyone turn against the beloved Bruno? Instant heel, and done well.

Larry was a product of his time. As his feud with Bruno cooled, Zbyszko cooled in the WWWF. But in 1981, he could go to another part of the country and succeed in a separate territory.  The territory system benefited wrestlers as their careers were not automatically over if they cooled in WWE (Looking at the Miz once again). Vince McMahon being the see all, end all  of wrestling has hurt some very talented individuals, such as Mr. Kennedy. Kennedy is a wonderful example of a heel who was following in Larry’s footsteps. Both strived to be as annoyingly heelish. Once Kennedy was fired,  he had nowhere to go (TNA doesn’t count), Larry went to the AWA.

In AWA, Larry had two larger successful runs, due both to his skills and that great to decision to marry the owner’s daughter:

Now known as the "Triple H"

Now known as the “Triple H”

Verne Gagne also seemed to believe in Larry’s abilities, at least more than his own son Greg Gagne’s.  Larry ended up becoming a two-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, while Greg….looked like this:

No One has any idea what is going on here

No One has any idea what is going on here

Zbyszko has the dubious honor of being the last AWA World heavyweight Champion before their closed their doors permanently in 1990/1991. While in the 70s and early 80s the championship was a great honor, held by legends like Nick Bockwinkel and Mad Dog Vachon, by 1989, it didn’t really matter. Larry’s first series of feuds were poor, mostly due to his opponent caliber. AWA’s death knell period was weird and mostly nonsensical. (Anyone remember the Team Challenge!?)

Featuring the Great American Turkey Hunt...Look it up

Featuring the Great American Turkey Hunt…Look it up

On top of that, Larry won his belt in a battle royal, the weakest position for a new champion’s legitimacy, (Looking at you Khali), in a nonsensical over the top rope pinning battle royal. It was AWA in its final years…

http://www.wwe.com/videos/awa-championship-battle-royal-february-7-1989-27169287

Larry’s final active stop was WCW where he played the role of veteran. He ended his career teaming with Arn Anderson, being part of  Paul E. Dangerously’ Dangerous Alliance and winning the World Tag Team Championship. While he hadn’t lost a step promo wise, his age began to catch up to him in the ring. By 1993/1994, Larry stepped into semi-mostly retirement and used his promo skills for another career: commentating. (Think Jerry Lawler circa 2010)

Larry Zbyszko wasn’t the best commentator, but he certainly wasn’t the worst. He had his niche, he played Larry Zbyszko, a smarmy heel like guy who supported WCW in the fight against the NWO. He coined the comically disparaging nickname, New World Oder for the rogue group. Larry had his last great fight against the New World Order, challenging both Scott Hall and Eric Bischoff  to matches in 1997 and 1998.

Both Bischoff and Hall got the opportunity to step into Larryland, a term Zbyszko used for stepping into the ring with him. The phrase was so old-fashioned, silly and frankly bizarre that it got over. Fans could be heard wailing :LAAAAARRRRY at Zbyszko in what has to be the most annoying chant to exist before the dreaded “WHAT?!” chants.

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While Larry wouldn’t be a first ballot inductee,  his status as multiple time World Champion (even from the AWA) makes him qualified. More 2015 heels should look at Larry’s work and learn from him when he visits the performance center. To be a heel is to be unlikable, Larry’s speciality. Expect him to give the best speech of the night at the 2015 Hall of Fame Ceremony.

On one final note, I am finally excited to talk about a wrestler in the 2015 class who doesn’t frustrate on some level. With 9 inductees, this is the biggest class since 2004, and it includes three terrible inductees and one deceased child….. Larry Zbyszko is the type of inductee who belongs in this Class….

That too

That too

 

Why 2015?

Larry Zybszko recently made peace and has come in regularly as an advisor at NXT. He has joined the WWE family and WWE likes to reward those who come back to the fold.

Plus every year lately have wanted to do a back to the fold candidate. 2013 was Bruno. 2014 was Warrior and even Roberts and Hall to a degree. 2015 is Alundra Blayze and Larry Zbyszko.

Opens Door For?

More outside World Champions who never were in WWE. Rick Martel should go in soon. Stan Hansen too. Perhaps Lex Luger or DDP from WCW. I agree with all these choices.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

WWE instead of hitting all the possible categories for inductees in 2015 (and going with 9) decides to only do terrible ones. Gotta leave Larry off at that point.