Ringside Remembrances — Hall of Face 2013, Early Predictions
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” —-David Frost
Well, the Class of 2012 has been inducted. I won’t say that anyone in the group didn’t deserve the honor. This was possibly the strongest class to date. There were a few missing faces that I had hoped to see and it was a smaller class than normal. I know it’s very early to do this, but I think I want to put my first predictions out there as to just who will go into the Hall of Fame, next year…
Wrestlemania was the so-called End of an Era. Supposedly, Undertaker’s defeat of Triple H was meant to bring HHH’s career to an end. Going on the same premise as Shawn Michaels’ match, Shawn was inducted one year after his loss and retirement. HHH has done it all in wrestling and seriously deserves the honor. It would make sense that he would go in, next year. The man behind HHH was born in New Hampshire and later moved to Greenwich, CT. Since it’s a Northeast Mania, he should lead the class into immortality. Either his wife, Stephanie McMahon or his best friend, Shawn Michaels, will send him into the Hall.
A graduate from Syracuse University, Mike held tag team gold with his brother-in-law, Barry Windham, and his long-time friend, Ted DiBiase, Sr. Mike had two distinct characters, Mike Rotunda and Irwin R. Shyster (IRS). Rotunda worked in numerous territories during his career. His sons both wrestle (as Bo Rotunda and Husky Harris). Ted DiBiase, Sr. and Mike’s kids should induct Mike into his much over-due place alongside the best of the best.
“Diamond” Dallas Page
Hailing from the Jersey Shore, Page made his WWE debut by driving the classic car for Rhythm and Blues. He then went to the AWA to start his career as a manager. His first big success came in leading Paul Diamond and Pat Tanake (Badd Company). He later moved to WCW where he led The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) and The Fabulous Freebirds. Eventually, he began his own in-ring career. In WCW, he held the World title on three occasions. He also captured the US title, twice. In addition, he held the tag titles, four times, and the Television title once. After the purchase of WCW by WWE, Page would capture the tag belts with Kanyon. He also held the European title, once. He had a wild feud with Undertaker. Later on, he would spend some time with TNA and Juggalo Championship Wrestling. After wrestling, Page became a fitness guru, teaching yoga to the ordinary guy. Since Page taught the R-K-O aka Diamond Cutter to Randy Orton, it would make sense that The Viper would induct his mentor and his friend.
Joe Mondt began wrestling one hundred years ago. He worked the various territories until meeting Farmer Burns. Mondt became the youngest wrestler in Burns’ organization. He got his nickname of “Toots” because of his youth and his rather small girl-like feet. Eventually, Mondt would be sent, by Farmer, to help Ed “Strangler” Lewis. Mondt wore several hats while working with Lewis, including training new talent. Mondt created Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling, which is the basis for US wrestling style. Mondt would later partner with Ray Fabiani and Vince McMahon, Sr. to form what has become known as the Gold Dust Trio. The dominated the Northeast.
In 1963, Mondt helped launch the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Mondt over-rode Vince, Sr’s when it came to Bruno Sammartino. Vince thought Vruno needed 2-3 years to become something above mid-carder. Mondt pushed for Sammartino to be brought up to the main event. In the mid-60s, Mondt decided to step back from his position as promoter in favor of Vince, Sr. Vince eventually bought out Mondt and put him in position within the Capitol Sports organization. Mondt died on June 11, 1976. Since 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the birth of the WWWF/WWF/WWE, it would seem natural for Vince McMahon, Jr. to induct the man who helped his father create the wrestling juggernaut that now exists.
King Kong Bundy
Chris Pallies began his training at the infamous Monster Factory He got his first big break in the World Class territory. The King Kong Bundy name came from the mind of Fritz Von Erich. Originally, he was called “Big Daddy” Bundy. The Big Daddy was a tribute to Shirley Crabtree. The surname was reportedly from serial killer Ted Bundy. Eventually, he would receive the name of King Kong from Bruiser Brody. King Kong was the name that Brody was forced to take in the AWA. Bundy would later work in the AWA and the NWA. He was an original member of the Legion of Doom. He was brought up to the WWF during the Hulkamania Expansion.
While Bundy never claimed gold in the WWE, he did set the record for the shortest match in Wrestlemania history (9 seconds vs S.D. Jones, Wrestlemania I). He would return in Wrestlemania II to face Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match, which he lost. In Wrestlemania III, he was part of a mixed (midgets/regular sized wrestlers) six man tag. He drew massive heat when he splashed one of the midgets. He also competed in the World Title tournament in Wrestlemania IV. He worked with the WWE, off and on, until 19950 He then went into the indy circuit, and became a stand-up comic. He had appearances in several movies and one rather odd connection to television. When the producers of Married…With Children were coming up with the family, they saw King Kong Bundy on television. The family were named Bundy, in honor of Chris “King Kong” Bundy. I see Brodus Clay bringing Bundy into the fold.
The celebrity wing hasn’t had a member of the Wrestlemania I group inducted. That’s a shame. Muhammed Ali, Liberace, Billy Martin and so many others were there. The Queen of the Dance had to be Cyndi Lauper. Lauper helped Vince, Jr. boost wrestling up to the next level. She brought Captain Lou Albano into her videos and brought MTV to the wrestling arena. She served as Wendi Richter’s manager in her fights against Fabulous Moolah. Cyndi provided Richter’s theme music (Girls Just Want to Have Fun). She’s an iconic figure in the music world, a pioneer in the current wrestling product, plus she’s from Queens, New York. Obviously, the only possible choices to induct Cyndi would be Wendi or Roddy Piper.
Keith Franke began wrestling under his own name in 1974. Eventually, he took on the new name of Adrian Adonis. He also adopted a more specific gimmick, a leather wearing biker bad boy. He first teamed with Jesse Ventura in the AWA as the East/West Connection. They were awarded the tag belts after Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon vacated them. They would eventually lose the belts to Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell. Later, Adonis would move to the WWF and team with Dick Murdoch as the North/South Connection. They beat Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson to become the WWF World Tag Champions. They would eventually lose the titles to Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda.
In 1985, Adonis gave his leather jacket to Roddy Piper. Piper still has the jacket and has worn it from time to time. Adonis did a complete 180 in character. He became the gender-bending “Adorable” Adrian Adonis. With pink tights and make-up, the fans instantly hated him. Adonis used his Goodnight, Irene sleeper to work his way up the rankings. The Adorable One never won gold but he was involved in numerous top storylines. After having his head shaved at Wrestlemania III, it seemed a lock that Adonis would battle Brutus Beefcake. For reasons that have never been made clear, Adonis decided to leave the WWF and return tot he AWA. He was there for about a year, until an ankle injury sidelined him. Verne Gagne refused to conitnue Adonis’ weekly pay while he recovered and Adonis fell on hard times. After healing, Adonis went on the indy circuit. Adonis died in a car accident on July 4, 1988. He is one of the very few top competitors of Wrestlemania III not to be in the Hall. With Adonis being from New York, it is high time this wrong was righted. Jimmy Hart or Jesse Ventura should induct him.
Randy Savage/Miss Elizabeth
2013 would have been the 40th anniversary of Randy Savage’s first match. Savage began his career as the masked Spider, when his minor league baseball contract forbade him from competition in other sports. Eventually, Savage (then known under his real name, Randy Poffo) took off the mask and began to compete. A trip to Georgia led to his most famous ring name. Ole Anderson, booker for Georgia Championship Wrestling, quiped “That Randy wrestles like a savage”. The name stuck. Eventually, Savage moved to Tennessee and feuded with Jerry Lawler and others. It was there that he met Elizabeth Hulette, who worked in the office. They eventually married.
When Savage entered the WWF in 1985, he brought his bride with him. She served as his manager/valet for some time. Savage would rise quickly in the industry and take the Intercontinental title from Tito Santana. He would drop the belt to Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III. That match has topped many fans’ lists as the “Best Wrestlemania Match, Ever”. Savage rebounded from the loss to take the World Title at Wrestlemania IV. He beat Ted DiBiase, Sr. in the finals. Savage would eventually feud with the iconic Hulk Hogan. Hogan took the title from Savage at Wrestlemania V. Elizabeth was slowly phased out of the storylines and Savage would replace her with Sherri Martel. Savage and Sherri would become the King and Queen of the WWF. Eventually, Sherri turned on Savage and Elizabeth made her return. Randy and Elizabeth had a wedding in the ring at Summerslam 1992. In reality, their marriage was on the rocks and they divorced about a year later.
Near the end of his WWE run, Savage moved to color commentary. He still feuded with Crush and Yokozuna. Eventually, he took a great offer from WCW and “jumped ship”. Savage and Elizabeth would be reunited during the height of the nWo. Elizabeth was involved with Lex Luger and Savage was dating “Gorgeous George”. Savage left WCW in May, 2000. Elizabeth was release in August of the same year. Both of them walked away from wrestling, after that. Elizabeth died on May 1, 2003. Savage made a brief return to wrestling, in TNA, in 2004. By 2005, Savage went back into seclusion. Savage finally mended fences with the WWF/Ein 2010. That same year, Savage married his second wife, Barbara Lynn Payne. Savage did commercials for the video game, WWE All-Stars, and for his Legends series action figure. Savage was preparing for his one year wedding anniversary when he died of a sudden heart attack on May 20, 2011. On the 40th anniversary of his debut, Savage (with Elizabeth) should definitely enter the Hall of Fame. Ricky Steamboat is the obvious choice to induct them.
There are so many deserving men and women who haven’t gone into the Hall of Fame, yet. Every year, I try to predict who should be there. Sometimes, I am right. Often, I am not. The people mentioned above all deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. My reasons are solid. Then again, I don’t make the decisions for the Hall of Fame. If I did, there would be a few that would never have gone in and many more that would have.
I’m interested to hear your picks for next year.
Remember, my e-door is always open for remembrances and comments.