Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hauling Off on the Hall

As the "Road to WrestleMania" changes routes to "Know Your Role" Boulevard and Jabroni Drive, wrestling fans worldwide anticipate the Granddaddy of 'Em All. While spring is often cited as the most exciting time of the year due to WrestleMania, an event that occurs the night before has been gaining prestigue and notoriety for seven years now. Although current headliners such as John Cena, Undertaker, and The Miz are slated to compete on April 3rd, Atlanta will be rocking April 2nd for the annual WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Honoring the rich history of professional wrestling, the Hall of Fame inducts a select class each year according to location, recent death, or political reasons. The Hall of Fame unites the wrestling community by turning Superstars into fans again for one night as they pay tribute to their childhood heroes.

In recent years, people have debated over the legitimacy of the Hall due its lack of physical existence as well as the questionable inductees such as Pete Rose and Koko B. Ware. While Paul Orndorff dismisses the Hall as a figment of Vince McMahon's imagination, J.R. designates the induction as his favorite moment in his career. Since Vintage Blogs! prides itself on celebrating wrestling's past rather than the modern sports-entertainment bastardization, I will provide my proposal for re-establishing the WWE Hall of Fame.

1. Build a Physical Museum
Cooperstown. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Naismith Memorial. Rock and Roll. Every hall of fame has a facility to display memorabilia, feature inductees, and contain memories. In addition to enshrining legacies, the facilities generate revenue by charging admission to explore. Instead of bodybuilding, films, and the XFL, Vince should be focused on catering to his most loyal audience by establishing a monument that would attract fans of all ages from all over the world. Shane McMahon has stated in the past that WWE had been storing wrestling memorabilia in a warehouse for years in case a facility is created; however, no progress has been made. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty have lobbied for the WWE to establish the Hall of Fame in Florida due to the financial stimulus that WrestleMania 24 spawned in Orlando. Since Orlando is already a tourist attraction, WWE should ride Universal Studio's coattails and appease the mayors. Other potential areas would be Long Island, Greensboro, Philadelphia, or Stamford, CT. WWE should remember: "If you build it, they will come."

2. Eliminate Questionable Inductees
As of the 2010 Class, the Hall of Fame consists of 88 members. For an empire that has existed since 1963, the Hall should include pioneers, record breakers, and former world heavyweight champions. Establishing criteria that wrestlers' careers would be judged on, the WWE would not only add credibility to its inductions but also sweep out the clutter of its personal treasure chest. Here are the members that I would eliminate:
James Dudley
Ivan Putski
"Baron" Mikel Scicluna
Johnny Rodz
Big John Studd
Chief Jay Strongbow
Pete Rose
"Cowboy" Bob Orton
George "The Animal" Steele
William "The Refrigerator" Perry
Koko B. Ware
Bob Eucker
Valiant Brothers
Chris and Mike Von Erich

Clearly, the celebrity wing would be abolished because it detracts from the sacrifice, dedication, and achievements of the wrestlers who are the reason for the Hall in the first place. Chris and Mike should earn Hall of Fame status due to their last name, and the Valiants' name doesn't belong in there at all. Rodz and Ware were glorified jobbers. Dudley was Vince Senior's limo driver. Steele, Strongbow, Studd, Orton, and Putski were featured stars in their heyday; however, nostalgia has sweetened their presence in the industry. Although they main evented occassionally, their careers do not warrant Hall of Fame glory.

3. Limit Inductions to 3 a Year
At the average of 7 inductions a year, the WWE is rushing through their rolodex at an alarming rate. Relying on superstars of the 90s as the main induction these past few years indicates that WWE is enshrining more legends than they are producing. Plus, the significance of each induction is diminshed by grouping with other members. For example, Terry Funk was inducted as a member of the famous Funk Family rather than for his iconic singles achievements which include an NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign. By limiting each HOF class to three members, not only would each inductee receive more focus but also legends would be preserved for future inductions.

Vintage Blogs! will continue coverage of the Hall of Fame as the "Road to WrestleMania" bandwagon checks into The Heartbreak Hotel.

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