Hall of Fame 2013 Predictions
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“We must always have old memories and young hopes.” – Arsene Houssaye
Well, it’s getting close to time for WWE to announce their first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2013. I’ve been looking over the list of people who aren’t in the Hall and examining the possibility that they will go in. This is just a working list of who will go in, next year, along with who I think will induct them.
Taker’s favorite number is 13. It’s all over the t-shirts and throwback jerseys that are available at WWEShop.com. What better year that 20-13 to put the Dead Man into the Hall of Fame. Other than an appearance at Raw 1000, Undertaker has pretty much retired from active competition. I see Undertaker as the leader of the pack. He has held all the top tier titles, multiple times. Undertaker stands as perhaps the most respected person to step through the doors of a WWE Locker Room. There has to be a line around the block of great wrestlers and personalities that would like to induct Taker into the Hall of Fame. I would think the top contenders to induct the Dead Man into the Hall would have to be: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, Paul Bearer and Vince McMahon. I really have to think Vince who Steam Roll everyone else to induct one of his most trusted “generals” into the prestigious gallery of immortals.
2013 would have been the 40th anniversary of Randy Savage’s debut as a professional wrestler. So many fans were disappointed (and angry) when Randy didn’t go into the Hall of Fame, this year. Next year, the WWE is going to be very much into nostalgia. (50th anniversary of the creation of the then-WWWF). It would make perfect sense to include Savage in this series of celebratory milestones. Savage held so many titles, it is unreal. He actually replaced Roddy Piper as the Number Two guy in WWF (behind Hulk Hogan). His match against Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III is still considered (by many fans, including me) as the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. I would think that Savage’s widow and his brother, Lanny Poffo, would be invited to accept for Randy. As far as inducting the “Macho Man”, no one should induct him except the previously-mentioned Steamboat. If he doesn’t go in, we riot!
“Diamond” Dallas Page
While DDP got his first taste of wrestling in the late 70s, he didn’t make his first real impact until 1988. Page’s first WWE appearance was as the guy driving Rhythm and Blues (Greg Valentine and Honky Tonk Man) to the ring at Wrestlemania VI. He was not identified at the event. His first major run was in the AWA. He became the manager of Badd Company (Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka). When Tanaka and Diamond moved to the WWE, to become the Orient Express, Page shifted to WCW. He managed the Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) and the Fabulous Freebirds. Page actually did something quite unusual, he went from being a successful manager to an even more successful wrestler. Most managers end up going the other direction (wrestler to manager). He held the World title in WCW, prior to the company going under. He made the conversion from WCW performer to WWE Superstar by having a vicious feud with the Undertaker. Page also had a short run in TNA. Injuries forced Page to go into semi-retirement. Always able to land, cat-like, on his feet, Page put together a Yoga program for the average guy. The program has become extremely successful for Page. Page recently returned to Raw, during the Heath Slater challenges. I would imagine that Randy Orton would induct his mentor. It was Page that taught Orton the Diamond Cutter aka RKO and gave Orton his blessing to use the move.
Don Leo Jonathan
He’s one of the last of the “Old School” wrestlers. Don Leo began his career in 1949. He became a superstar in both Canada and the United States. He would wrestle a full 30 years, before retiring in 1980. He helped build the WWWF/WWF during its formative years, especially in Canada. Don’s inductor should be the man who performed with him in final match. On March 10, 1980, Don Leo was in a six man match with Andre the Giant and Roddy Piper to face Buddy Rose and the Sheepherders (Bushwackers). It seems appropriate for Piper to do the honors.
(Thanks to my buddy, Lee Roggenburg for suggesting Don Leo for the Hall)
William Regal or Lord Steven Regal, he’s gone by both names. He is getting ready to celebrate his 30th anniversary as an active wrestler. Yet another celebration that the WWE could tie into their own 50th anniversary year-long party. Regal, real name Darren Matthews, has wrestled in every corner of the world. He is also an acclaimed author and an actor (British series, ‘Allo ‘Allo). Regal is highly respected, especially by Triple H. Regal worked with a young Paul Levesque to mold him into the superstar that he has become. He has also guided the careers of numerous stars. His biggest success is Daniel Bryan aka Bryan Danielson. In fact, Bryan wears the color maroon as a tribute to his friend and mentor. It would be a coin toss whether Triple H or Daniel Bryan (maybe both) would induct this so-worthy competitor into the Hall of Fame.
He was one of Eddie Sharkey’s earliest students. Backlund made his debut in 1973 (another anniversary?). Backlund began his career in the AWA. Within four years, Backlund was brought over to the then-WWWF. On February 20, 1978, Backlund took the title from “Superstar” Billy Graham. Officially, Backlund has the second longest reign in WWE history, second only to Bruno Sammartino. In reality, Backlund did drop the WWWF title to Antonio Inoki, in Japan, on November 30, 1979. Inoki would vacate the title, only 7 days later. Backlund would then defeat Bobby Duncam, Sr. at a live event (12/17/79) to regain his title. The WWE simply ignored Backlund’s loss. The title would be held up in October, 1981, after a controversial bout against Greg Valentine. Backlund would get the title back, weeks later, and (again) the vacated status was abolished in the WWE’s history books.
Backlund’s title reign would officially come to an end on December 26, 1983. Backlund (storyline) went into the match with an injured back. When The Iron Sheik clamped on the Camel Clutch, Arnold Skaaland (Backlund’s manager) threw in the towel. Sheik won by submission. Backlund never got his rematch. Hulk Hogan stepped in and defeated Sheik, about a month later. Backlund would eventually leave the company. In addition to the extended run as the WWE champ, Backlund also held the tag belts with Pedro Morales. 11 years later, Backlund would win a second WWE title when he defeated Bret Hart. Ironically, Hart’s mother, Helen, threw in the towel during the match (urged by the devious Owen Hart). Unlike his first reign (one of the longest), Backlund’s second was one of the shortest (3 days). Also, the match was the shortest title match in history (8 seconds). Yes, Sheamus doesn’t actually hold that record. Backlund would later show up in TNA. He has also had a political career, as well as a run as an actor. Jack Swagger seems the logical choice from the modern era to induct Backlund. If they go “classic”, I’d like to see either “Superstar” Billy Graham or Pedro Morales induct him.
They werethe WWE’s answer to the Road Warriors. Masked Superstar ditched his mask and became Demolition Ax. Randy Colley (Moondog Rex) was the initial Demolition Smash. After a few weeks, Colley was replaced by Barry Darsow. Darsow had previously worked as Krusher Krushchev with Ivan and Nikita Koloff. By 1990, Bill “Ax” Eadie’s injuries had caught up with him. Bryan Adams was brought in as the character of Demolition Crush. By 1991, the group disbanded. After the group’s dissolution, Ax would leave the WWE and become Axis the Demolition. Smash would transform into Repo Man. Later, he moved to WCW and went through several identity changes. Crush would have a decent singles and tag career. He worked in both WCW and WWE. Adams died on August 13, 2007 from a heart attack. Paul Ellering, who managed the team, should induct them into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Fuji would be great bnut I’m not sure his health is up to a public appearance.
He began his career as Jack Foley (a tribute to his father). When Mick moved to the Dallas area (living less than three blocks from me in Irving), He took the name of Jack Manson. It was later adjusted to “Cactus” Jack Manson. By the time he reached WCW, he had dropped the Manson surname. He ripped through all competition in WCW before heading to WWF. He first appeared as the bizarre Mankind, a twisted soul with a penchant for shrieking and pulling out what was left of his hair. Over time, the character mellowed. Soon, Foley brought out his hippie character, Dude Love. That character is near the top of my list of most annoying but the kids liked him. Thankfully, he shelved that character and re-embraced his old Cactus Jack persona. In recent years, Foley has moth balled all his various not-so-secret identities and just been “Mick”. A best selling author, TV and Movie star and, believe it or not, a stand up comic (King Kong Bundy couldn’t be the only one). Mick has worked just about every possible organization known the mankind (yes, I just had to use that pun at least once). He has done tons of work for charity and even played Family Feud with his buddies from TNA. While there are a few people that I could think of to put Foley in the Hall of Fame, I think the honor should go to a man that is already there and has a history with Mick. Edge and Foley had a series of brutal matches, a few years back. It would just feel right to have the Rated R Superstar induct the Hardcore Icon.
There are so many other names that come to mind for the Hall of Fame: Bruno, King Kong Bundy, Hillbilly Jim, Kevin Sullivan (got to get a vote for my friend, Sully), Miss Elizabeth, the British Bulldogs, Owen Hart, Bruiser Brody, and dozens of others. Due to personal choices, politics and such, some of the deserving people will likely never get in the Hall. They all deserve it and they are all in my own personal Hall of Fame. Of course, our own Bill Apter leads the class.