AS I SEE IT: Thoughts on the WWE Hall of Fame
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
So the Road to Wrestlemania really kicks into gear the night after Elimination Chamber.
It was reporting this past week that Hulk Hogan and Undertaker are booked as appearing on the RAW the night after the PPV. Undertaker will set up his yearly Wrestlemania match.
Hulk Hogan is reported as being named the “Guest Host” of Wrestlemania 30, whatever that means. Since there are rumors of Mr. T being inducted in the “Celebrity Wing” of the as yet on paper only WWE Hall of Fame, Hogan could be inducting him, but no suggestions yet as to what he’ll do as “Guest Host”.
As for Mt. T, it’s difficult to remember how well-known Mr. T was 30 years ago with the hit TV series “The A-Team”. The same is true for another rumored name for the Hall of Fame is Cyndi Lauper.
Back in 1985, Cyndi Lauper was on top of the charts. Mr. T’s show was on top of the ratings. Vince McMahon was attempting to become a national promotion at a time when wrestling was promoted on a local and regional basis. Promoters didn’t cross agreed upon borders. Vince McMahon threw the dice and attempted to go national. He used celebrities as a hook to attract those not already fans of wrestling.
The celebrity angle started with Lou Albano appearing in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video, aired on a new way to listen to and watch music videos on a station called MTV (yes, back when they actually DID air videos). Albano, hyping his real world association with the band NRBQ , claimed in storyline he was “an up-and-coming star in music management”.
Albano then claimed that David Wolff, Lauper’s manager/boyfriend, was “stealing his thunder” (Wolff was there to keep the storyline going between Lauper appearances between concerts). So a feud between Lauper and Albano ensued, setting up a WWF special on MTV, “The Brawl to End It All”on July 23, 1984. In it, Albano managed WWF Women’s Champion The Fabulous Moolah, while Lauper managed challenger Wendi Richter. Richter won the match.
After this, the storyline had Albano and Lauper reconcile. So…on December 28, 1984, Lauper presented Albano with an award. Roddy Piper was set up in the feud, by being angry at what was called the “Rock ‘N Wrestling Connection”, and then jumped Albano and Lauper.
This set up “The War to Settle the Score” on February 18, 1985. On that MTV telecast, Richter lost her title to Leilani Kai, and Hulk Hogan defended his title against Roddy Piper. Roddy Piper came to jump Lauper, and was “saved” by Mr. T.
This set up the main event for the first WrestleMania, with Hogan/Mr. T going up against Roddy Piper/Paul Orndorff. Richter (again managed by Lauper) and Leilani Kai (managed by Moolah) had a rematch, with Richter defeating Kai to regain her WWF Women’s Championship.
The celebrities gave a mainstream notoriety to this brand-new Wrestlemania.
Without the casual fans (and their money) that Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper brought to that initial event, Wrestlemania might not have succeeded. Wrestlemania’s attendance at Madison Square Garden was reported at over 19,000. While that wasn’t a first, the event was viewed by over 1 million fans through closed-circuit television; and through fans in the then-fledging PPV industry, a big step against competitor Jim Crockett Promotions. As a result, Wrestlemania became the largest event on closed-circuit television in the United States back in 1983.
So….for once, the “celebrity inductions” actually have merit with the celebrities having a bearing on the success in WWE/F’s past.
Other rumored inductees include Scott Hall. No Wrestlemania I connection there. No Mid-South connection (given that Wrestlemania 30 is in New Orleans). More like a former member of the Clique connection. Well, we all know who’s really running WWE, don’t we?
Apparently Danny Hodge, the most legendary amateur in US history and one of the most legendary junior heavyweight professional wrestlers in history; and with a Mid-South connection to boot….isn’t worthy of mention. Same as Randy Savage and Ivan Koloff.
One would have thought with HHH’s grasp of wrestling history, at least one classic legend would be deemed worthy. If a Hodge induction doesn’t happen this year, it likely isn’t happening at all.
I realize that with no physical WWE Hall of Fame, and only one fulltime touring company in the United States this may be a small thing; but since the WWE Hall of Fame is the one wresstling-related Hall of Fame most wrestling fans know about; it creates a defacto historical record and does a disservice to the wrestling history that HHH is said to believe in.
Until next time….
— Bob Magee