Even the non loyal wrestling fans know when Wrestlemania time is coming. The biggest wrestling event of the year brings out celebrities and fans that normally do not follow the current WWE product the rest of the year. Those that do follow the product somewhat look forwards to the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony that happens the night before, which Sting is the headliner for this year’s induction.
Much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the WWE Hall is political. No matter who fans think should or should not be in, it comes down to Vince McMahon’s final decision. There are several wrestlers that should be in, but maybe due to business problems in the past with McMahon they are not in. And much like the Rock Hall, many are surprised of some people who you think are in but are not (Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, Owen Hart, The British Bulldogs, and Ivan Koloff are just a few I could name). There are rumors that the WWE wants to build a actual building of their Hall of Fame in Orlando in the future, many may be shocked that there is an actual Professional Hall of Fame and Museum, which was based in New York, but is now being moved to Wichita Falls Texas.
Although the list is long, here is a list of 6 personalities that I think should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. I am not just picking these because of titles held, but also due to the impact they had. Also, some of these people did not work for Vince McMahon Jr, however, there are a few current WWE HOF’ers that did not and they are in the so called Hall. So, in no particular order, here are my picks:
1.The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey, Stan Lane, Bobby Eaton)- This tag team originally started as a stable (a group of wrestlers), but really came into the spotlight when Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton started teaming in Bill Watt’s Mid South Wrestling when put with manager Jim Cornette. This duo started a feud in Mid South with rivals The Rock and Roll Express that continued way into the 1990s. Bobby Eaton alone should be in any Hall of Fame, with his skills in the ring, and yet he hardly talked. In 1985 The Midnights rose to the spotlight when they joined Jim Crockett’s NWA and had many great feuds with The Rock and Rolls, The Road Warriors, and The Four Horsemen (which I think was pulled too quick in that program. I felt that Horsemen and Midnights would be money). Condrey was replaced by former Fabulous Ones Stan Lane, and was fan favorites when the NWA turned into WCW. There was a brief time when Lane/Eaton feuded with original members Condrey and Randy Rose, managed by Paul Heyman.
Since the NWA did not come into my area in Ohio (they did make some stops in Pittsburgh), I got to see The Midnights (Lane and Eaton) in 1989, when they left Crockett and appeared that several Indy shows. I saw them at the Struthers High School (Struthers Ohio), where they faced Bad Company.
Lane and Eaton also were the first team to hold the NWA World and U.S. Tag Titles at the same time. Check online for all the titles they have won (including Eaton’s other partners and solo career), but this team was a major player in the 1980s Tag Team scene.
2. The Rock And Roll Express (Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson). There was no a more fan favorite team in the 1980s than this duo. During their NWA Crockett run, they had fans cheering them like they were The Beatles. Besides Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA, The Rock and Rolls were the babyfaces of the league. Any new wrestler needs to watch Morton’s selling moves because it is a lost art in the sport. Wikipedia claims that the team of Gibson and Morton were put together by Jerry Lawler (if it’s true, it’s a fact I did not even know) to be an alternative to The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane, Steve Keirn) when they would leave an area. The team started fighting The Midnight Express in Bill Watt’s Mid South, and started a career long feud with that team. When they signed with Jim Crockett’s NWA, the fans jumped behind them with their feuds with The Russians (Nikita Koloff, Ivan Koloff, and Krusher Khruschev), The Four Horsemen, and The Midnights. In 1986, Morton and Gibson were given a program with Ric Flair for the NWA World Title during the Great American Bash summer series. The Rock and Roll wrestled in Mid South, NWA, Smoky Mountain, and the WWF among other territories (where The Rock and Roll were managed by rival Jim Cornette). Both have done some solo time as well, including Morton turning heel, joining the York Foundation in WCW in the 1990s. This team was one of the best in the 1980-1990s tag teams and a true fan favorite.
3. Wahoo McDaniel. How is it that Wahoo is NOT in the WWE Hall of Fame? Ric Flair alone praised him throughout his book, and Wahoo helped the careers of Lex Luger, and many others. Wahoo played in the NFL, and wrestled in the Mid Atlantic, AWA, Japan, and WWC (Puerto Rico) among other places. He was a staple in Jim Crockett’s Mid Atlantic and NWA in the 1980s. In 1974, he was in a tag team with Paul Jones, where they fought Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine. Wahoo was considered one, if not THE Native American wrestler. He had fights with Magnum T.A., where Magnum beat him for the National Title, and was in the 1995 WCW Hall of Fame. He was a major player in the AWA during 1987-1989, where I would watch him on ESPN, where he fought the World Champion, which included Curt Hennig, Jerry Lawler, and Larry Zbysko. Lex Luger recently said on Jim Ross’s podcast that Wahoo had the hardest chops he ever felt, including Flair’s. According to Wikipedia, both Joe Nameth and Larry Csonka praised Wahoo in their books. Enough said.
4. King Kong Bundy. There was no scary villain in the 1985-1986 WWF than Bundy. Bundy started in the World Class area, as a face, until he turned on the Von Erichs. In 1985, he joined the WWF, managed by Jimmy Hart, and had the record of the shortest Wrestlemania (until 2005) when he beat S.D Jones. When Hart traded Bundy to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Bundy became the threat with his tag team with Big John Studd and his feuds with Andre The Giant, and Champion Hulk Hogan. Bundy has also been an actor, where he appeared in “Married with Children,” and Richard Pryor’s “Moving.”
I started watching wrestling full time in 1986, right after I watched a taping of WWF’s “Saturday Night’s Main Event,” where Champion Hulk Hogan was wrestling Don Muraco, with guest manager Heenan in Muraco’s corner. After the match, Bundy “attacked” Hogan and sent him to the hospital, which set up the main event for Wrestlemania 2, where Hulk and Bundy met in a cage. For that year or two, Bundy was one of the top heels in the company.
5. Brusier Brody. Yet another person that makes me shake my head about why he is not in the Hall of Fame. Some may say that Brody did not fight in the WWF, but he was in the WWWF, and since Vince McMahon owns the libraries of World Class Wrestling and the AWA, does it matter? Brody was one of the original “independent contractor,” a term wrestlers are called, for having to pay their own insurance and other financial expenses. Brody rubbed many promoters the wrong way, but yet they still brought him into their territories because he made them money.
Brody was one of the original hard core wrestlers, which was proven in his bloody matches with Abdullah the Butcher. Brody also fought Kamala, and One Man Gang. He had feuds in the World Class area in Texas against Gary Hart and Skandor Akbar’s stables. Brody was also one of several famous wrestlers that played football at West Texas State. Some of the territories he was involved in was the NWA, WWWF, World Class, AWA, Japan, and Puerto Rico, where he was murdered in 1988.
6. Jim Cornette. The only thing I can think of is why this manager is not in the Hall of Fame is either his outspoken comments on the state of wrestling, or a behind the scenes problem with the WWE. In my opinion, the two greatest talkers on the microphone is Bobby ‘The Brain” Heenan and Jim Cornette. Here is a small list of the people he has managed: Sherri Martel, Dutch Mantel, Owen Hart, Yokozuna, The British Bulldog, Bubba Rogers (The Big Bossman), and Hercules. He has worked in Crockett’s NWA, WCW, TNA, Mid South, WWF, Smoky Mountain (his own league), Ring of Honor, and World Class. He was in charge of Ohio Valley Wrestling also, which was a developmental WWF (WWE) league before they turned it into NXT. He has been a company owner, booker, and commentator on top.
My first viewing of Cornette was when he managed The Midnight Express in 1986, when I finally started getting Jim Crockett’s NWA and was feuding with The Rock and Roll Express. It wasn’t until youtube that I started seeing him in Watt’s Mid South (and recently purchased the WWE Mid South DVD). Unlike today where it is cool to cheer the heels, it was not in the 1980s and Cornette was one of the biggest heels in the company, with his interviews. However, I remember my watching wrestling back then, and my mother always rooted for Cornette (and she hated wrestling). She loved the “mother’s boy” gimmick he portrayed. His interference for his men,usually bashing them with his handy tennis racket, was great heat as a heel manager, where the audience tuned into NWA Programming every week to see if he would finally get his.
Cornette is still very outspoken on his podcasts and interviews, but I agree with most of his comments about today’s versions of wrestling. Since managers hardly exists anymore, today’s fans will only relate to Paul Heyman’s “Agent” gimmick, but go back and watch the manager eras. If I could create my own company, I always said I’d want Bobby Heenan and Cornette in my company.
Do you agree with my picks? Let me know.