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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Deserving of the Hall of Fame!
June 7, 2006 by Steven Matthews


Curt Hennig was perhaps the best pure athlete that ever stepped foot into a wrestling ring. His qualities were envious and at times, admirable. And although his list of accomplishments do not appear to be as long as some other wrestling personalities, what Hennig achieved in this sport was astounding.

Curt Hennig was trained by two wrestling greats, Larry Hennig, his father and Verne Gagne. After injuring his knee playing for the University of Minnesota's football team, wrestling became his career of choice. He started his career in 1979, wrestling in Canada, Colorado and Wisconsin. In 1981, Hennig got the call and worked for the WWF for a brief time.

Hennig would have to wait for his second call by the McMahons to reach stardom. A short time after the WWF experiment, Hennig worked for the AWA. It was here that Curt Hennig got his big break. At the AWA, he was pitted against some real main event talent. Among his opponents were the Road Warriors, Ray Stevens, Wahoo MacDaniel, Jerry Lawler and Nick Bockwinkel.

Curt was even lucky enough to team with his father to combat the Road Warriors. Towards the end of 1986, Hennig was thrown into the higher ranks of the American Wrestling Association. On Christmas Day of that year, Hennig lost a match to Nick Bockwinkel for the strap. However, Hennig would earn more opportunities, and finally, in May of 1987, Curt Hennig became the AWA World Heavyweight Champion, scoring a controversial victory over Bockwinkel.

Hennig would hang around for about another year and lost the AWA World Title to Jerry Lawler in May of 1988. With that being said, Hennig's career was about to take a great turn.

In 1988, Curt Hennig arrived in the WWF once again and this time, he would leave his mark under a new persona. Mr. Perfect was born and only months after debuting, Hennig was a part of Andre The Giant's team at Survivor Series. As a matter of fact, Mr. Perfect was the last survivor along with team-mate Dino Bravo. Perfect kept his hot streak and was the last man eliminated in the 1990 Royal Rumble by Hulk Hogan.

Mr. Perfect was beginning to be taken as a serious threat, even though losing to Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania VI. Later that April, Mr. Perfect finally grabbed his first championship in the WWF. A battle royal was set up some time after the Ultimate Challenge took place. It came down to Tito Santana and Mr. Perfect and it was Mr. Perfect who took the gold. After Mr. Perfect won the Intercontinental Championship, he announced that he had a manager. It was none other than Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

Along the line, Hennig had lost the Intercontinental Championship to the Texas Tornado, Kerry Von Erich, only to win it back from him later that year. In 1991, months before Summerslam, Perfect suffered a back injury during a match. It was unknown if Perfect could continue without taking a considerable amount of time off to heal. He was asked to wrestle one more time at Summerslam against Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. Perfect agreed and that match was one of the most intense, physical and classic matches in the history of professional wrestling. It was hard to see any flaw or injury in Mr. Perfect that night. He immediately submitted to the Sharpshooter and began his recuperation.

Hennig didn't want to stay away from the ring totally, so he was assigned the job to be the manager/assistant to the "Nature Boy," Ric Flair. Tensions grew between Perfect and the former two time WWF Champion, and the two started to compete against each other. In Perfect's first match back, he wrestled with Randy Savage to take on Ric Flair and Razor Ramon, winning by disqualification at the 1992 Survivor Series. At the 1993 Royal Rumble, Perfect eliminated Ric Flair from the Royal Rumble match and in February, Perfect defeated Flair in a 'Loser Leaves WWF" match, since Flair was heading back to Atlanta. Prefect wrestled Lex Luger at WrestleMania IX in a very much anticipated match and came up just short. Then at the inaugural King of the Ring pay per view, Mr. Perfect battled Bret Hart in the second round. Again, these two warriors tore the house down with some classic chain wrestling and excellently executed maneuvers, no pun intended. Again Bret picked up the victory as a disgruntled Perfect shook his hand in the end.

However, Perfect's back issues popped up again and for a while, they took Mr. Perfect and made him an announcer for WWF programming, most notably to myself, Superstars every Saturday afternoon. Sadly after a contract dispute, Hennig left the WWF for Ted Turner's fledgling WCW promotion.

Hennig's biggest claim to fame in the WCW was being part of the Horsemen and the New World Order. Because Hennig was there with Hogan, Goldberg, Nash, Sting, Luger and others, he of course didn't receive too many chances. In the summer of 2000, Hennig's WCW contract had expired. After that, Hennig wrestled with many independent promotions including the XWF. However, by 2002, Curt Hennig found himself to be Mr. Perfect once again.

At the 2002 Royal Rumble, Mr. Perfect made his much hyped and anticipated return. He finished third in the Rumble, being eliminated by Kurt Angle, before Triple H won it. Perfect stayed around for a few months and didn't accomplish a great deal, even though a tease of him re-joining the n.W.o. and having a short feud with Steve Austin grabbed some eyes. After some well documented incidents, Hennig was released by the WWE. He joined the very young NWA-TNA wrestling promotion and had a short run there. In 2003, he was tragically found passed out, dying a short time later at the young age of 44.

Curt Hennig, Mr. Perfect, the West Texas Redneck. Whatever you want to call him from whenever era you want to remember, there's only one thing that's certain. The man was one of the greatest wrestlers ever. He was always in great shape and he would probably continue to wrestle if he were still with us to this date. His classic appearance and his classic abilities must propel Curt Hennig into the WWE Hall of Fame.

By Steven Matthews


Christy Walsh wrote:
I saw this column, and had to reply. I agree so much with this, I have been lobbying (though not in a big way lol) for Mr. Perfect to be inducted into the H.O.F. One of the best technical wrestlers ever, his matches with Bret Hart always tore the house down, and he was a great tweener, but one of the best heels. Cocky and arrogant, he was the man everyone loved to hate. RIP Curt Hennig.
Brian L. wrote:
Hennig definitely does deserve H.O.F --- I would also like to suggest Ravishing Rick Rude, Owen Hart, the Brittish Bulldog... the list of fallen wrestlers that deserve H.O.F. goes on for quite some time. I am a little P.O.ed that Eddie got in as fast as he did. Not because he didn't deserve that honour, but because they have neglected names like Kurt Hennig and Owen Hart who deserve it just as much. I have nothing against Eddie at all. I am also peeved at fans that chant for Eddie during one of Rey's matches. Yes we all miss Eddie, but Rey is a great performer too who deserves his pops as well. Here's hoping some of the other great fallen wrestlers get what they deserve as well.
Richard wrote:
Kurt Hennig, in my view, does deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. But as for the charity case, Rey Mysterio, it should be no mystery why the fans chant Eddie, Eddie, during Mysterio's matches. Because without the shadow of Eddie Guerrero, there would be no such embarassment as the World Champion, not World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio. Mysterio as champion of Smackdown! is the absolute second biggest embarrassment since John Cena being WWE champion of RAW.
Richard Miller wrote:
I agree 100% that Mr. Perfect should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame - but unfortunately, he was last signed with TNA before his passing - this may actually prevent him from being inducted, unless WWE ends up buying TNA years down the road.

I was pretty upset to see Eddie Guerrero get inducted - and it's not the fact that he was inducted. Eddie was awesome, but there are some other wrestling who are WAY more deserving that have passed away. In my opinion, "The British Bulldog" Davy Boy Smith is the greatest wrestler to not be in the WWE Hall of Fame, who is 100% deserving. And there's nothing that should disqualify him, as he was with WWE before his passing.
Kenpei Ryuujin wrote:
Wow, that was an awsome article! Great job Steve. I've been crossing my fingers ever February since 2004 for him to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. And every year, I feel like Chris Farley from Tommy Boy looking for my name. Only difference is, I'm not excited I passed with a "D". I'm disappointed that he was left out again. He may not have been in the eyes of a few, a main event guy, but even in WCW, I noticed him even though he was overshadowed by Sting, Lex Luger, Hogan, and Goldberg. I never followed his career way back then, mainly because, I was way to young to watch, and even if I did, I probably wouldn't remember. But I read about it in online research, and watching matches from early Wrestlemanias. And he was really good. The way he wrestled wasn't something new and innovative, and yet there was something about it, and his personality, that to me stood out. I hope that in 2007, he'll be inducted, I really do. Let us cross our fingers and hope come February
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