It’s that time of year again! The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame ballots are out and it’s time to look at the candidates once again. Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is widely considered the most prestigious Hall of Fame in wrestling, largely because of the selection process. There are different criteria to get into the Observer hall. Candidates have to be 35 or older and should be judged on the criteria of in-ring performance, his or her box office drawing power and cultural impact. You can choose as many as ten wrestlers and five non wrestlers who impacted the business and if a person gets 60% of the vote they are in, similar to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Last year, two of my picks, John Cena (big surprise) and Lou Albano got the 60% and were inducted. Here are my picks for this year:
I’ll be honest, when I first saw that Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were not in the hall of fame I was baffled. When I first began to watch wrestling in the 1980’s it was almost all WWF and Stampede. When I did hear about “the other league”, The NWA (National Wrestling Alliance not the rap group) it was the names Ric Flair, The Midnight Express, and The Rock n Roll Express. The fued between the Midnights and the RnRs was legendary. It was the consistent must see stuff that “Crockett” was putting in their rings. To add to the Iconic status of just the Rock n Rolls alone, anytime a babyface is being double teamed for a prolonged period of time in a tag team match, it’s called “being Ricky Morton”. Of Course, no one does it better than the master himself. Wrestlers breaking in have for years been told to watch Rock n Roll Express matches to get down the psychology of how to work a tag team match. I without hesitation vote for the Rock n Roll Express.
The Americas Champion definitely had an impactful career. Whether it was sellouts of Madison Square Garden with The Iron Sheik in bootcamp matches or later working with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania, the man known as Sarge definitely had box office appeal. His Hasbro toy deal to appear as a GI Joe character, complete with action figure, was Slaughter’s mainstream crossover move. Not only did it give him an action figure but it allowed Slaughter to appear on the extremely popular GI Joe cartoon series. It came at a time when Sarge had just left the WWF over the signing of the toy deal and Slaughter was arguably the second hottest babyface in 1984 behind Hulk Hogan. The combination of his WWF title win and the fact that the majority of males aged 35-40 right now would be able to tell you who Sgt. Slaughter is, gets him onto my hall of fame ballot.
As a non wrestler, it shocked me that Gorilla Monsoon is not already in the hall. When Vince McMahon Jr bought the WWWF, Monsoon was guaranteed lifetime employment as part of the deal. In the newly christened WWF, Gorilla had two major roles. One was the on air talent that lead to the infamous duo of Monsoon and Heenan on Prime Time Wrestling. Monsoon also called the first eight Wrestlemanias, many with Jesse Ventura who are my all time favorite commentary pair. The other role was at the desk right behind the curtain where the wrestlers come out for their matches. It was here that Monsoon would go over the main spots in a match and give any last minute changes, such as more or less time for the match. This spot is the Gorilla Position in his honor. For his behind the scenes work and pairing with Heenan, Gorilla gets my vote.
Like Gorilla, Jesse gets my vote as a non wrestler. As a non wrestler it obviously takes his in-ring work out of the equation. This leaves me with the remaining criteria. First is crossover appeal. Well, hmmmm lets see…oh ya HE WAS THE GOVENOR OF MINNESOTA! It can be argued how he did while in office but the fact remains that he was able to be elected to the highest office in the state, something no other wrestler has been able to duplicate. In addition, I’ve mentioned that he and Monsoon were my favorite commentary pair but Ventura himself was my favorite individual announcer of the 1980’s. The reason for that was simple: he felt real. Jesse was flamboyant, no doubt, but he liked who he liked and didn’t like who he didn’t like and it was consistent. When Randy Savage turned babyface, Ventura still expounded the virtues of the Macho Man rather than just turning on him because Jesse was a heel. He was funny (Chico Santana anyone) but got the issues of the matches across to me due to his blunt nature behind the mic.
When I think of woman’s wrestling prior to the “Divas Era” I first think of The Fabulous Moolah. She was woman’s wrestling to me as a kid and, as it turns out, was woman’s wrestling even before I was born. In fact she started wrestling in 1946. It took her ten years to get to the top but once there she never relinquished the spot. The knock against Moolah is that she owned the title and controlled the division, keeping herself on top. While this is true I don’t hold it against her because of the simple fact that this is wrestling. It’s a worked business so I can’t get mad at Lillian Ellison for manipulating the woman in her “troop”. Moolah gets on my ballot with the hall of FAME argument. She, in my opinion, is one of the top 3 most famous women wrestlers of all time and that is the main point I am using for my vote.
I’m not a huge Lucha Libra fan. I respect it and watch it here and there but I’m more of a casual fan than a hardcore, and I know who LA Park is, although I know him better as LA Parka. I first saw Park on the When Worlds Collide show co-promoted by AAA and WCW in a 6 man match where he teamed with Jerry Estrada and Blue Panther where lost to the team of The Pegasus Kid, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Tito Santana. I was interested in the match at the time because Chris Benoit was a participant but I remember Parka standing out to me as someone who could make it in WCW at the time. Since then Park has competed in WCW from 1996 to 2000 and was a regular performer on Nitro in the Cruiserweight division. He has won countless titles in Mexico and must certainly be considered as one of their top stars and worthy of a Hall of Fame vote.
This was the pick that I thought the most about. I wasn’t sure I was going to vote for Edge until I started looking further into his career. I always enjoyed Edge as an entertainer, both in and out of the ring. The Matt Hardy situation in real life coupled with the first Money In The Bank cash in really allowed Edge to catch fire. He is an example of WWE giving someone the ball and the performer really running with it. Adam Copeland’s time had come to main event as he had already paid his dues as a Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion. Edge was a guy that I predicted in the year 2000 would main event a Wrestlemania one day. Smackdown became his show and it became regular viewing for me every week. Edge was able to be a great performer and Smackdown became my alternative to the over produced RAW. He was also the man who was able to get people to cheer John Cena which also has yet to be duplicated consistently.
When I look at who is in the Observer Hall right now, Sting’s name is a glaring omission. When I look back at the last 25 years of professional wrestling Sting is one of the industry’s biggest stars. As surfer Sting he was “The Franchise of WCW” and was pushed as their top babyface for most of the early 1990’s. The birth of the nWo gave way to the crow Sting and the biggest pay per view wrestling show in history to that point in 1997 for Hulk Hogan vs Sting. Sure the outcome was awful and WCW started a downward trend around that time but I can’t put that blame on Sting. It was the hottest match at the time and the culmination of WCW’s biggest angle. When I think about WCW stars I think about Flair, Luger, and Sting. Sting was not the greatest worker in his day, but that isn’t the only criteria as John Cena’s induction proves. In my opinion, Sting has the longevity, the drawing power, and the name recognition to be voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.
Well there you have it my thoughts on who should get in. Whoever gets in, because of the vast number of voters and the 60% minimum, I know that the integrity of this Hall of Fame is intact, largely because Dave won’t put Koko B Ware on the ballot.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org