HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
The WWE Hall of Fame: Class of 2029
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, returns with his yearly predictions about future Hall of Fame candidates. This time around, a lot of familiar (sur)names make the list.
Three years ago, when Arnie Katz first gave me my shot at writing about wrestling, I created a Future Hall of Fame column. In it, I took a look at the kids who were just getting their careers off the ground. I sifted through the dozens of 20-year olds (and younger) and tried to figure out just who I thought had the potential to end up in the WWE Hall of Fame. That column has turned into an annual event. Each year, I scan dozens of websites and watch Internet and satellite broadcasts of, literally, hundreds of young, fresh faces to try and find the kids that have that Something Special. The rules of my little fantasy Hall inductions are actually pretty simple:
1. Understand that some of these kids might enter earlier than I predict.
2. Realize that many of these bright stars might flicker and fade far before they can earn the spot. Bobby Lashley, Teddy Hart, Brock Lesnar and others looked like they couldn’t fail as picks for the Hall of Fame, yet they have all basically drifted into semi-oblivion.
3. WWE is notorious for changing names of wrestlers. Tyson Kidd (T.J. Wilson), Ricky Ortiz (Atlas DaBone), and Manu (Afa, Jr.) are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. The names that I use in this column are the names that the person is using, as of February, 2009.
Now that I’ve set some really basic ground rules…Let’s get to the Class of 2029.
Next-Geners (second and third generation stars) come in two varieties: great and embarrassing. Randy Orton is upholding and honoring his family name, even though his character is a hated heel. David Flair, Teddy Hart, and D.H. Smith all fell so far beyond their potential as to be an disgraceful page in the family album.
Reid Flair has some of the most solid training possible. He’s learned his craft from his father, Ric Flair, as well as the legendary Harley Race. Flair has that Pretty Boy look that should make him a hit with the ladies. His abilities in the ring, while a little rough now, should mature into a solid base that will propel him to the top of his game. I’m anticipating that Reid will end up the lead candidate for the 2029 Hall of Fame.
Matt and Nick Jackson aka The Young Bucks
They are one of the hottest tag teams on the indy circuit. If you don’t have access to the NWA Showcase, you might not have send them. To explain the Jackson brothers, you need to start with a genetic mixing bowl. Toss in the Hardy Boyz (circa 1998), the Rock and Roll Express (around 1984) and The Rockers (around 1988). The team is quick and agile. They have that same look that made the girls swoon for Shawn Michaels in his younger days.
The Bucks are top contenders for the NWA tag titles, right now. Knowing the WWE’s tendency to raid other promotions for top talent, it seems almost a lock that the Jacksons will end up in the WWE. I’d bet the farm that they end up with a name change. The first names are far to common, as is their last name. I could see something like Brandon and Breighton Buck. They could push the Young Bucks thing by giving them that last name. I could see the WWE doing a Smoking Guns re-hash. I do think that if they are given the right direction, they are a sure shot for Hall of Fame induction.
Ricky Steamboat Jr.
His dad is set to go into the Hall, this year. Junior looks like a dead ringer for his pop. Reports that I’ve read acknowledge that little Ricky is a match for his famous dad, as it relates to ability. I’m sure Ricky Jr. is going to end up with some kind of adjusted name. He might even end up like Ted DiBiase Jr. and just losing the generational tag on the end of his name. Regardless, I see Ricky Jr.’s induction into the Hall of Fame as almost a no-brainer. The only thing to prevent him from going in…is himself. The future is his.
The Scrap Daddy is a multiple-time NWA champ. He hasn’t been given a shot at the WWE, yet. He is one of the strongest heels on the Indy circuit. If he were to come to the WWE, he’d be instantly compared to people like Jesse Ventura, Edge and Roddy Piper. He is that good on the mic and with his personality. Pearce has been a strong player in every federation that he’s been involved with. I can’t imagine Pearce staying out of the WWE for much longer. He would be a major force in the company.
Lacey Von Erich
I would imagine that if she ended up in the WWE, she’d get name-changed to Keri Von Erich. The Claw Mistress is a third generation star who failed in her first go-round in the WWE. She’s working the indy circuit to build her character and skills. I imagine that she’ll wind up making at least one run in the WWE. Her “uncle”, Michael Hayes, has a ton of pull inside the WWE. When she does show up, that Claw is going to win her one or both Wormen’s titles. The Von Erich family is rumored to go in, this year. It would seem only logical that twenty years later, another Von Erich would enter the Hall.
Total Perfection Joe Hennig is just a few weeks away from joining the WWE, full time. He’s seen as one of the brightest stars on the horizon. Unless he self-destructs like his father did, Joe should really shine in the WWE. I can’t imagine him not going into the Hall.
Tyson Kidd/T.J. Wilson
The Stampede Kid was the last wrestler to work through the infamous Hart Dungeon. He is quick, agile and smart. Unlike his “cousins” (Teddy Hart and D.H. Smith), Wilson seems to really respect the business and wants to work his way up to superstardom on his talent. He’s not trying to play off his relationship to the Harts/Neidharts. he so deserves to have a spot in the Hall. That’s going to happen, someday.
There are many others waiting in the wings to get their break in the WWE. There are Rotundas, Darsows, DiBiases, and other famous offsprings that want to honor their family names. In addition, there are dozens of men and women who are first generation grapplers that may take their place alongside the immortals in the WWE Hall of Fame, somewhere down the road.