The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Personal Hall of Fame: The Monday Wars Era
The Kingfish Arnie Katz talks about great, or at least memorable, wrestlers of the wrestling he has seen for the last half-century.
For Those Who Missed Part One
I’m not trying to set up yet another Hall of Fame. I’ve seen the attacks by the people who criticize Hall of Fame selections and I’d rather not stand in their crosshairs.
What I thought I’d do is offer my own personal Hall of Fame, based on my own recollections of pro wrestling. I’ve seen a lot of wrestling since I watched Verne Gagne fight Lou Thesz on filmed wrestling from Chicago in the early 1950’s, so that particular Memory Lane is a crowded thoroughfare.
By the same token, you won’t find all the wrestlers you loved in this column or its sequels. If I didn’t see them, I can’t remember them. (The 1970’s is also a blur, but that’s another subject.) Among wrestlers I didn’t see enough to include is Dick the Bruiser, Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski and Berne Gagne.
To put my choices in perspective, let me give a bit of my background”
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in New Hyde Park, Long Island. I saw a lot of WWWF/WWF/WWE wrestling. TV also gave me access to Wrestling from the Olympic (Los Angles) and Wrestling from Florida with Gordon Solie.
This installment of my Hall of Fame focuses on the era before the reign of Bruno Sammartino. It doesn’t go back much before 1952, because that’s when I started watching pro wrestling. These Hall of Famers are all from the era when WWE had a lot more “W”s.
This isn’t a complete list by any means. It’s more a rundown of the “charter members” of my personal Hall of Fane. Maybe it’ll jog a few of your memories, too.
This time the wrestlers are drawn from the period that began with introduction of the Outsiders in WCW and ended with the collapse of WCW.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
I enjoyed them in WWF when Nash was Diesel and Hall was known as Razor Ramone, but I truly came to appreciate them when they burst into prominence in WCW as the Outsiders. The due’s semi=shoot, naturalistic style presented fans with an alternative to the pseudo-super hero approach that had dominated pro wrestling since the ascendancy of Hulk Hogan.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were good in the ring and among wrestling’s greatest when they had microphones in their hands. The chemistry between the two performers was a breath of fresh air after years of watching guys suddenly announce they‘d been friends forever. Hall and Nash really enjoyed each other’s company and it showed.
The conversion of Superstar Steve Austin into Stone Cold Steve Austin shows how important the right character can be. There was nothing actually wrong with the Superstar persona, except that it wasn’t very original and, in retrospect, didn’t fit Austin’s personality.
The anti-hero Stone Cold character was perfect for the rough and macho Austin. He made Austin 3:16 a catchphrase and attained such a height of popularity that he had to become a babyface.
Injuries probably cut a few years off the end of his career, but the wild angles and brutal matches gave him an indelible place in pro wrestling history and a spot in my personal Hall of Fame.
Shawn Michaels & Hunter Hearst Helmsley
I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about both men. They give it their all in the ring and on the mic, but sometimes the attempts at humor didn’t fly. Still, they brought excitement to WWF at a time when the promotion needed it desperately.
Rena Mero was the prototype for the voluptuous Divas who followed her. She was a non-wrestling character, but she sure boosted the glamour level.
Call him Dead Man or American Bad-a$$, Mark Calloway is an unforgettable ring superstar. He combines awesome size with surprising agility to do some of the very best “big man” matches ever seen in the pro ring.
He bombed as Rocky Maivia, the Blue Chipper,” but he sure came back strong, didn’t he? The irreverent style, signature gestures and exciting wrestling style made him the lead face – and probably the wrestler with the biggest mainstream impact since Hulk Hogan’s heyday.
That’s it for today. Sorry about the delay in reporting on the pay per view, but I experienced a technical problem. It’ll be here tomorrow.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll return to join me and, please, bring your friends.
— Arnie Katz