Picture this. The year is 2016, and a company known for its charitable image, caring for children, and its strong public image, give a lifetime achievement award…to a pimp. Not possible you might think! Well you’d be wrong, Welcome to the WWE Hall of fame.
I hate it when WWE does this. Instead of inducting a man, or a wrestler for his career and contributions, they induct a character. The Godfather was a character Charles Wright played from 1999-2001. That’s it. One could argue that by including the Godfather, WWE is recognizing the other elements of Wright’s career. But, that like many of the ridiculous things the WWE does, is an opinion and a stretch. Plus, take a look at WWE’s own induction video. Nothing about Wright’s very long career outside of the one character is even mentioned.
Charles Wright as a performer had a very long and very inconcequential run with the WWE. He, like many “good hands”, had many many incarnations of characters. He was lower mid-card at best, functioning almost completely as an enforcer role, a comedy character or a waste of time.
Don’t believe me, let’s look at Charles Wright’s contributions to the history of wrestling.
Charles Wright began his WWE career as an offensive stereotype (something he very much embraced in his “best known” character as well) Shango, while memorable through the lense of a child’s mind, was nothing if not a complete generalization of Voodoo and African American culture. Papa Shango will never be mentioned on WWE television again for this reason. Can you imagine WWE showcasing this?
Shango had one big feud vs the Ultimate Warrior, which culminated in absolutely nothing. He then played the role of immediate elimination in 1993 Royal Rumble as disappeared into his smoke shortly after. A failed character with a supernatural tilt, who was destined to fail.
Wright reappeared in the WWE as part of the tail end of the less than successful Million Dollar Corporation. He was rebranded as Kama, The Supreme Fighting Machine. Kama, positioned as an ultimate fighter, was neither ultimate nor a good fighter
What’s with that hair?
Wright’s greatest moment was stealing the Undertaker’s urn and melting it into a chain. (Does that make it a spooky chain?)
Like all WWE in 1995, it was terrible and he like the Million Dollar Corporation faded into obsurity.
Wright reappeared as a member of the revitalized (see made fully black) Nation of Domination as Kama Mustafa. He played the role of enforcer for the group, but never had any memorable moments or feuds. He was a background character, something Wright was great at.
We will skip over the Godfather for a second, to address Wright’s last character in WWE. He gave up his Godfather character in 2001, mostly due to the fact that it was A. a one trick pony character and B. offensive. But we will address that below. Wright joined the destined to fail group the Right to Censor, as the Goodfather. See what they did there? SEEEEE?
Does this career for Mr. Charles Wright appear to be a Hall of Fame career by itself?
So, that leaves us with the Godfather. This character Wright played, which is being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Godfather came about at the heart of the Attitude era. Let’s not mince words here. The Godfather was a pimp. Who had prostitutes. And apparently sold them or gave away sex from them so that people wouldn’t wrestle him. That is who this character was and all parts of this are horribly offensive.
How is this character Hall of Fame worthy? It is not just a matter of a bad wrestler who lost all the time. Godfather did have feuds (kinda) and did win the IC championship for some reason at one point. That is not the point.
WWE in today’s environment cannot possibly look at this character and say, yes let’s feature this guy and not only that, showcase him as one of our best. He is not one of their best, he is an example of the worst kind of storytelling, which was rampant during the Attitude Era.
This opens a pandora’s box for the WWE. Are we going to celebrate Val Venis, porn star, or Kai En Tai, Asisan Stereotypes next?
Neither of those is as offensive as the Godfather. For those who say, its fun or its just wrestling relax, I show you something very serious.
I’m sorry for going so serious, but this induction bothers me a great deal. It is worse than Ko Ko B. Ware or Johnny Rodz, both of which were undeserving jobber guys. The Godfather is an affront the WWE Hall of Fame. How is this man in before Vader. Before Bruiser Brody, Lex Luger, Demolition, Rick Rude. I’d rather have the Gobbly Gooker than the Godfather.
Worse than these two combined.
Godfather is the first wrestler I have rated 0 out of 10. That is lower than Ko Ko B. Ware; lower than the Bushwhackers, lower than Baron Michel Scicluna. Charles Wright, by himself would be a lower tier inductee, not worthy of induction. The Godfather is a shame. His character is something to be buried and forgotten. It is 2016. Shame on you WWE. Boo, I say, boo.
I don’t know. I can’t think of any year that a character like the Godfather should be celebrated.
WWE isn’t thinking about that factor whatsoever. They are concentrating on the man. He fits in as the Attitude Era induction this year. Think Rikishi, but much much worse.
Charles Wright as a performer would be a bad induction. The Godfather is much much worse.
Opens Door For?
Anyone. Literally anyone. If Godfather gets in, anyone gets in. Expect Val Venis, Al Snow, Hardcore Holly and many other Attitude Era lower stars. Why?
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
It’s a joke. An offensive joke. Godfather (who is actually being inducted- not the man) is one of the worst of the WWE ideas in the history of the organization. Not happy about this. Not happy.
2015 has been a real up and down year for wrestling. NXT is blossoming while WWE pretends its biggest star in history doesn’t exist. We’ve lost Hall of Famers like Roddy Piper, Verne Gagne and Dusty Rhodes meanwhile Icons like Undertaker, Sting and The Dudley Boyz are back.
2015 suffered because of its size. It had 9 inductees. That’s two headliners, a woman, a celebrity, a foreign act, a tag team, an 70s wrestler, The Warrior Award and Rikishi.
While I love Zbyzsko, Medusa and Fujinamani deservedly going in, The Bushwhackers, Rikishi and even our celebrity inductee were lackluster at best (granted Luke and Butch were great comic relief)
2016 will be in Dallas, Texas. If one thing came out of 2015’s class it is that we are guaranteed a smaller class of likely no more than 6 and the Warrior Award, 6 total or 6 without the Warrior Award (aka the award which can only now go to dead children)
With all that in mind. I have broken down my predictions for the WWE Class of 2016. We start with an ICON!
Many might be expecting the Undertaker here in this slot. Last year, I predicted that Undertaker would headline the Class of 2015. I was dead wrong, pun intended. Taker did not retire as expected, he appeared at Wrestlemania 31 and as of this writing also wrestled Summerslam. Now, by no means is the actually 50 year old “dead man” returning full time. He’s not. He did Vince a favor. A favor to come in and main event Summerslam to give it the big time feel and extra WWE Network buys.
Well what does all this have to do with Sting? Well, the WWE simply doesn’t need Sting as much. And although he is now in WWE World Heavyweight Championship program, even if he beats Rollins, it will be short (and cashed in upon from Sheamus) Sting is the pinnacle of part time. Most of his time is spent doing marketing and being an ambassador for the company. He can do that as a WWE Hall of Famer.
I expect Sting to retire at Wrestlemania 32 (he is 56 years old as of this writing). He will not face Taker, instead he will fight and likely lose to an up and coming talent who can carry him (Looking at you Cesaro). End career. Welcome to the Hall of Fame.
Chances of Induction: 7 out of 10
Reason it Won’t Happen: Summerslam forces Taker to retire. Or WWE does induct him while still active. (NOT A GOOD IDEA)
This omission has been one of the biggest head scratchers since 2009 (with the induction of the Von Erichs). Why are the Fabulous Freebirds not in the WWE Hall of Fame? They were one of the most important tag teams in the history of wrestling. Their feud with the Von Erichs was one of the hottest feuds in the country from 1982-1985. These men were territory specialists. They succeeded almost everywhere they went (excluding the WWF where they were made faces for no reason and left after a month). They could have easier fit in classes in Atlanta (2011), New Orleans (2014) and California (2015). The Freebirds are that prolific.
Michael PS Hayes has worked with the WWE for 15-20 years. He’s bought in to the WWE way of doing things, important to the company and an obvious choice. Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts are both deceased, so expect Jimmy Garvin (Freedbird circa WCW) to join as a member as well.
Most importantly, this years Hall of Fame is happening in Dallas. Dallas was one of the major cities in WCCW, where arguably the Freebirds had their greatest success.
Chances of Induction: 9 out of 10
Reasons not to induct: Confederate Flag was their costumes. Racism of Hayes. I mean he is most defiantly a racist.
Stan Hansen is one of those talents who someday will make the WWE Hall of Fame. He is an obvious inductee. He was a huge talent, who fought for every major promotion (including WWWF, breaking Bruno’s neck)
In 2010, WWE brought Hansen in to induct Antonio Inoki. This was the last piece of the puzzle, opening the door for his inclusion. He, like Future Hall of Famer, Vader were the epitome of American wrestler success in Japan. WWE has been continuing to globalize their brand, and with the hiring of KENTA, and Fujinami joining last year, Hansen is a perfect choice. He’s also Texan, wears a cowboy hat and is again…TEXAN.
Chances of induction 6 out of 10
Reasons Not to Induct: WWE goes with JBL instead. WWE really likes inducting their own. And with the inclusion of our next prediction, Hansen’s Japanese ties are perhaps, less important.
For the first time in history, Jushin Liger appeared on WWE television in a WWE ring. At NXT Takeover August 22nd, Liger, aged 50, did a very good job convincing us that he still “Got It”. 50, while old for a WWE wrestler (not named Sting or Undertaker) is old hat in Japan. Wrestlers, especially large talents like Liger, are known to wrestle well into their 60s in limited role. (Like Ric Flair with less hard living and chops)
Liger is the perfect candidate for a international induction. He wrestled for quite a bit of time for WCW, is a great contact to have to be an ambassador (like Tatsumi Fujinami is currently) and will help build WWE’s brand in Japan. Win win on all sides.
Liger’s appearance (and just recently announced future appearances) are too random without the Hall of Fame attached. While its possibly Hansen or Liger, it could still be both.
Chances of induction: 7 out of 10
Reasons Not Too induct: Doesn’t speak English. Perhaps WWE wants to a bigger foreign name.
When doing these lists, I always have to remember two things. There will always be a woman and likely always be a minority. WWE does not like to have 6-9 white guys standing on stage.
They’d much rather have 6-9 white guys, AND one woman AND one minority
See Much Better
Jackie Moore or Jacquiline fits the mold of the next women’s inductee. They’ve done the biggest names in Women’s wrestling in the last 20 years (Western audiences only). 2015 gave us Alundra Blayze in a welcomed surprise move.. The next women’s champion after Blayze (and the deactivation in 95, reactivation in 98) was Jackie Moore.
Many forget that she beat Sable to claim the newly rechristened WWE Women’s Championship. Technically, she is the first women’s champion of modern Women/DIVA wrestling.
Plus she is from Dallas Texas. Fits the bill, makes all the sense.
Chances of Induction: 6 out of 10
Reasons Not to Do Induction: Skip ahead of her and go right to Sable. Seriously, Sable should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. She is legit married to Brock Lesnar as well. Why hasn’t that happened already?
Anyone who has visited here at all knows I hate the celebrity inductee. Why? Because it is unnecessary. It is rewarding a celebrity for making a paid special appearance in a product which most of them do not care about.
Champions of the sport and the entertainment in wrestling are welcome.
Bullshit like Jeremy Piven said above (SUMMERFEST!) is more the norm that the exception. And even when a fan of the product comes along, they are given heinous dialogue and look strange and out of place. Jon Stewart was so weird at Summerslam…awkward and scripted.
Regardless of what I say, a celebrity inductee will join the Hallowed Halls currently holding the greats, like Drew Carey and William Perry, both of whom were obviously NOT getting a paycheck/promoting some stupid comedy show which lasted three months.
Who Would I Accept?
Lauper had a great impact on WWE. Like MR. T, her presense helped to legitimize the WWF in 1985. The rockin wrestling stuff was great,
Her return in 2011 was to say the least absurdly awkward. It be a short speech and a deserving nod.
Who is Likely to Get it?
William Shatner, Shaq, Pamela Anderson ANYONE!!!!
Chances of Lauper, Muhammed Ali or Andy Kaufman: 0 out of 10
As a PS, there are two other names I would not be surprised to see in 2016. The first is Raw’s third announcer JBL, mentioned above. The second would be more of a surprise. I am talking about Owen Hart. You see, a DVD is coming out about Owen’s career, without Owen’s wife permission. Because the lawsuit is settled….and WWE can legally do that….and Bret Hart wanted it and wants an induction….and they just inducted Macho Man without the involvement or support of his widow…and Owen Hart might be in the video game.
I don’t feel confident quite yet that Owen will go in, but IF we see him in WWE 2k16, I will amend my list and add “The King of Harts” Owen Hart.
Without a doubt, Kevin Nash is one of the most polarizing figures in wrestling history. His detractors’ hatred is plentiful,with names like Big Lazy circulating regularly. When Nash was first announced, one of this blogs’ regular readers “threw his hands up in the air” and said without a doubt that Nash’s inclusion solidified the 2015 class as one of the worst in history. He was no longer going to watch the ceremony on the WWE Network That is a serious set of statements. What about Kevin Nash creates such disdain in the “smart fan” base?
Supposed character or Nash’s supposed lack of it, fuels his naysayers. Kevin Nash summarizes himself succinctly, he is first and foremost a business man. Heroes like Daniel Bryan are seen by fans as fans of the business who do their life passion in the ring. This might be true in Bryan’s case but isn’t as much of a constant as we’d like to think. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Goldberg and anyone who jumped to WCW during the Monday Night Wars were much more concerned with the bottom line than their own passion,
And some are more concerned with their pride….
Nash also loves to fuck with the fans. On twitter, Nash writes incendiary things, (Chris Jericho too!) or “news” to fuck with the “smart fan”. Nash’s life is the wrestling business and he takes offense to people who suppose they are “in the know”, a fairly old-school wrestler attitude. When he isn’t actively ribbing fans, he’s offending them by jabbing at some of their heroes..
Hatred for Nash in the modern era stemmed from comments about Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. He referred to Eddie as a “Vanilla Midget” and said Guerrero was unbelievable as a World Champion. This is a very unpopular position within our community, but I see his point. Eddie Guerrero won the WWE Heavyweight Championship out of nowhere in 2004 at No Way Out. He won it because both Brock Lesnar and Goldberg decided to leave the organization after Wrestlemania 20, where they were originally planned to have a WWE Championship match.. If one or both of them had decided to sign on for another year, Eddie’s title run would have never occurred. Unpopular opinion, Eddie Guerrero was not a main event talent. He didn’t last long as heavyweight champion and his run cannot be considered to be stupendous. To this point of view, Nash is greeted regularly with:
On top of his attitude, Nash has been accused of being overrated as a talker, a worker and a talent, all the while himself masquerading as a Main Eventer. To his detractors, his 1995 title reign is as the example of his poor performance and sheer inability to create memorable moments. Diesel hatred can be summarized succinctly; he couldn’t wrestle and only got where he did due to his size. This is a gross simplification of his 1995 championship run. 1995 WWF had a completely different terrain than today, with kayfabe not yet dead and limited internet. Nash got the championship belt during a downward spiral period in both quality and superstar caliber. 1993 saw the end of the long running Hulk Hogan Era with the McMahon run company. Hogan’s replacement, Bret Hart, was originally poised as a temporary champion (both picked for his small stature and lack of obvious steriod usage) The Hitman’s look, bland and basic mic skills and lack of a large personality all hurt his first run. Yokozuna, the first long-term heel WWF Champion since Superstar Billy Graham, eventually lost the title back to Hart when Lex Luger went belly up.
Who would ever believe this man had charisma?
There was a large problem. Bret Hart in 1994 had very few reputable challengers. His feuds with Crush, his brother Owen and even former champion Bob Backlund were not “big” enough in the world of Hogans and Warriors and business began to fade. Add in the end of the steroid trials, WCW starting to rise as competition. (The year Hogan arrived there) and in 1994, Vince McMahon needed a new larger than life babyface. McMahon decided to take a chance on a newer wrestler, who while relatively green, had the look, size and the charisma with potential to take fire. Baby-face Diesel worked. Fans took to him and he had some limited success as the anti-Bret Hart, even having a fairly good match with the former champion at the Royal Rumble. (This is mostly due to Hart himself and his ability to make anyone “look good”)
Pride is the most important thing….
Why would WWE go with Diesel over Bret Hart, who was clearly the most capable wrestler? Wrestling in 1995 was considerably less about the showstopper nature of matches and more about larger than life characters who the fans could believe in. The idea of “amazing matches” throughout the card with spot fests, and jumping through ropes and stunts, otherwise known as WWE today, is a by product of the WCW luchador revolution, and ECW. It didn’t really exist in 1995. Nash was of his time.. One only needs to look at the Undertaker the progression of the business. His amazing Wrestlemania matches didn’t begin until the mid 2000s, when more was expected of him as a wrestler. (PS, this is also one of the reasons Kevin Nash did not succeed in his return in 2002/2003, his plodding wrestling style didn’t really work anymore. He couldn’t carry a “great” match.)
While not a maven in the ring, Nash needs to be given more of a break in the “talent” category. He wasn’t terrible. One could even compare him to current “hated persona” Roman Reigns. Reigns, like Diesel, are an example of Vince taking a chance and building a new star with potential. Where Nash struggled, and likely Roman will succeed, was in the quality of opponent to help the green champion improve. Reigns will have Rollins, Bryan, Cena, Lesanr, Wyatt and more to teach him while growing his image. Nash didn’t have that. You can’t put a large Kevin Nash in the ring with the talentless Mabel. Here is the list of wrestlers who got a good match out of Mabel…..
Outside of Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, the WWE struggled with legitimate characters in 1995. They had gone too far to the cartoon style. Here is some characters in WWF 1995: Remember Them?
Now while Kevin Nash is better than he is given credit, there is still a massive downside to this man. First, Nash was a member of the Kliq, the group of friends, who successfully bullied their way into positions of power when the void of Hogan opened up in WWF.
Shawn Michaels, an annoyingly beloved figure, was at the forefront of this charade called the Kliq. Its sole purpose seemed to be to keep down talents (Tatanka at Wrestlemania 9, Bam Bam Bigelow after Wrestlemania 11, etc) and make sure that the Kliq, more than anyone else, remained top dogs.
Bret Hart complains about this group of cronies, who had Vince McMahon’s ear, and ran roughshod through the organization for a few years. Nash likely got his run with the belt from this connection. He was a political monster, and he, as well as Michaels, hurt the WWE, heralding the two worst years financially for the company 95 and 96 (funnily enough Michaels year of 1996 was much worse than Diesel’s of 1995, largly due to Nash debut in WCW)
Nash and Hall took the politics they learned in WWF and perfected them in WCW. They changed the business with their guaranteed contracts. From 1996 on, the Monday Night War necessitated guaranteed money for a wrestlers’ loyalty. Nash was a businessman who helped make wrestling more of a business, a practice which still exists today.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. No wrestler should be putting his body on the line and not be able to afford to live. The sad tragedy of Kamala and many other old school talents is that of the per show, per crowd paychecks….
Nash changed that for the better, but in doing so politicized money within wrestling in a way it hadn’t been. CM Punk and Brock Lesnar would continue his salary negotiations tactics to their advantages later down the line. Politics is a dangerous pen to wield. And Nash knew how to use his suave nature and coolness factor to his advantage, getting the ear of both Vince McMahon and Eric Bishcoff.
In WCW, Nash did some of his worst offenses. His work rate, match quality and storylines were fairly strong, especially from 1996-1998. Nash became the leader of the face version of the NWO and as an avid watcher, I always thought the Woldpac was somehow cooler (and in retrospect realize Nash was creating a storyline Kliq)
Nash is heavily criticized for his booking decisions when he took over the book for a short period of time. Funnily enough, Nash did fine, but in the end was replaced by Kevin Sullivan,who was much better. It wasn’t until Vince Russo came in with creative control that WCW turned to shit, with the year 2000 being the most absurd year in pro wrestling in history. None of that was Nash’s fault. He for sure took advantage of WCW, and their large purse to his advantage, but in the end it was a job for him. Nash shrugged more than he stuck it to wrestlers.
The last real negative affect of Kevin Nash, and the NWO as a whole, was they glorified being the heel too much. Nearly all heels since then have tried to be cool. I mentioned in my piece about Larry Zbyszko that Larry never strove to play a cool or even likeable person. That is what a heel was supposed to be. Nash helped change that.
Fans, especially the older, teenage group, began cheering the “bad” guy. Stone Cold took that to another level, taking the heel and turning him into the babyface. Austin is an example of it done well. Today’s WWE is an example of it done poorly. Wade Barrett, for example, has become bogged down with a catchphrase and his directed need to be “noticed” by the audience. Heels are supposed to get noticed by being dastardly, unlikable and plain bad guys.
Not this Bad Guy
When Nash and Hall changed that, it added a level of haziness to the roles of heel characters. It seemed no longer to be bad guy vs good guy.
One last point on the NWO. The NWO will eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Despite what the WWE likes to say publicly, the NWO is the most important faction in the history of pro-wrestling. While their pure wrestling was leaps below the original Four Horsemen’s run, their effect on the business was far larger Without the NWO, there is no DX, no Attitude Era and no Monday Night War. Plain and simple.
And Nash was a catalyst for the success of the NWO, If just Razor Ramon left and was joined by Hulk Hogan, it would have felt like a wrestling angle. It needed Hall, Nash and Hogan to succeed.
Funnily enough that statement above is why the NWO failed in WWF in 2002. The NWO was made to look like chumps at Wrestlemania 18, with both Hogan and Hall losing cleanly and then Nash and Hall turning on Hulk Hogan for absolutely no reason. They tried to have Nash take the lead on the NWO, even bringing Big Show, Booker T and eventually Shawn Michaels to help legitimize and differentiate it from the WCW version (making it a new Kliq?)
Nash’s body seemed to turn brittle by 2002 and he tore his quad. He has been plagued by this rib from the IWC since and boy I bet it bothers him to some degree.
He returned once again in 2003 was made to look more like a chump than the main event talent he was in WCW. 2003 WWE was not the place for Kevin Nash. He was too old school and his lack of wrestling acumen got in the way. 2003 WWE was much different from 1995 WWF and Nash wasn’t particularly poised to succeed. His contract was not renewed at the end of 2003 and Nash disappeared from TV.
This is when I almost begin to feel bad for Kevin Nash. During his TNA years and the years which followed, it became obvious that Nash needed wrestling more than he might have let onto (or perhaps he grew more attached to it as his star faded). Nash started appearing at indy shows, making pennies to what he used to be making, holding onto the dream as many of his contemporaries.
It was only when Nash came back to WWE in 2011, in an exciting sunrise Royal Rumble appearance, that he truly came home. Nash signed a legends contract and even had a brief feud with CM Punk in 2011 (they never fought due to Nash’s health, but had this really funny banter)
I don’t blame Nash for being who he is. That makes me different from many other fans. He is what he is. If we can forgive Shawn Michaels for being a deviant, we can forgive Kevin Nash for being a cold-hearted businessman. Wrestling does matter to this man, and he deserves his Hall of Fame induction.
2015 has been so all over the place, but the WWE has made good with the last 3 inductees. (Fujimani, Zbyszko & Nash)
Nash is the third member of the Kliq to join the Hall of Fame. Very expected. Didn’t go in as Diesel because Kevin Nash asked to go in under his real name… as it is his real name. Triple H has been slowly getting his friends in the Hall of Fame and Nash’s inclusion continues this.
Plus last main event babyface New Generation Candidate (outside of Lex Luger) Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Razor Ramon and now Kevin Nash…..
Opens Door For?
Not many people. Nash was the next likely choice of Kliq member. He is one of the last New Generation Main Eventers. Vader and Sid are the only two upper card members still missing. Perhaps them….
Vader can’t wait to go in
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Might get booed. There is a real group of “smart” fans who don’t like him.