No asterisks for steroid usage on this list!
Getting ready for the WWE Hall of Fame this year and the entries are starting to fill in. As a sports fan, I love the debate about who belongs in or doesn't deserve a key to the Hall of Fame Washroom, especially in baseball. Stats in baseball help but some no-brainers are left out (see Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven).
As of this writing, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Cowboy Bill Watts have been announced for the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame. Look for Ted Dibiase, the Funks and the Von Erichs to join this group
In Wrestling, stats can't be used so its much more about "feel" and who made impact on the industry. Also, since this the Vince McMahon Hall of Fame, you are going to see those left out who deserve it like Randy Savage.
But for the sake of argument, we leave "heat with Vince" out as a determining category. So, this week, let's get the debate going with 5 former WWE impact makers who I think deserve consideration for their work for the company.
First is Bruce Prichard, a Houston native who was known by most within the wrestling business as "Brother Love". Bruce worked for the WWE for over 20 years and was very instrumental behind the scenes. One of Vince's right hand men for years, Bruce was wished well in future endeavors in 2008 but he should be talked about for his multi-faceted career. Bruce broke in working in Houston for Paul Boesch (another slam dunk entry) and then worked for Bill Watts before joining Vince.
Second is Ken Shamrock. "The World's Most Dangerous Man" deserves entry for his ground-breaking transistion from MMA to pro wrestling. While he didn't have a very long career in the WWE, he was pushed heavily and handled the pressure well. Ken also reportedly got more tail than a toilet seat on the road and that earns him points as well. Imagine if a star from UFC jumped to the WWE in 2009? Ken did this over a decade ago and needs to be included in the conversation for his pioneering effort.
Third is Sunny. Before there were a dozen Divas tripping over each other on every show, there was Sunny. She followed the footsteps of Sherri Martel and Missy Hyatt and was the most important woman in the wrestling business in the 1990's. Despite personal demons and career mistakes, Sunny set the stage for the need of hot women on a wrestling show to draw in young male viewers. Sunny will be a Hall of Famer and the only "no-doubter" on this list, in my opinion.
Fourth is Brock Lesnar. This could be the easiest or most difficult entry to consider so let's weigh the pros and cons. Lesnar was strapped with the rocketship push and was the most physically dominant athlete ever to grace the WWE roster. His Hell in a Cell match with the Undertaker was both beautiful and brutal and when the 275-pound chiseled South Dakota native stood on top of the structure with the WWE Championship over his head, I thought we were looking at the start of a new "Decade of Dominance"
But, success and dominance came with a price for Lesnar, who quickly tired of the grind and chose to walk away from the company. Now, he's the UFC Heavyweight Champion and is a Frank Mir match away from making that title undisputed. If you talk about putting Shamrock in, you have to talk about Lesnar. While Lesnar didn't have the longevity of most considered for Hall of Fame status in pro wrestling, he certainly made the most of his brief time.
Last but not least is the name that will test my credibility, cause irritable bowel syndrome to strike many and could blow up the entire WrestleZone website.
I think Vince Russo deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Before you press control/alt/delete, hear me out. Who helped create the Attitude era, the hottest money-making era in pro wrestling history? Yes it was McMahon's company but Russo sold the idea to Vince and helped save the company when it was millions of dollars in debt after 1996.
Did Russo steal ideas and attitude from ECW? Sure but name one booker who didn't steal from another and that booker either never drew money or is a liar. Did it help to have Rock, Austin, Undertaker, Michaels, Bret Hart, Mankind and many others? Sure but someone had to come up with ideas that helped get them over and make them bigger than they ever had dreamed. Also, Russo had to sell many of his wild ideas to the wrestlers who hated Russo and most of his ideas. But they got done and the effect was ratings and dollars, lots of both.
For this HOF, don' t consider Russo's time in WCW as part of the body of work. I think there we so many factors that prevented Russo from being his best at WCW that its unfair to judge him on them. It would be like judging Austin on his time in WCW as well.
Russo helped shape attitude in the corporate office as well, bringing the stale "New Generation" feel of the publications and created Raw Magazine while making the WWF Magazine a more contemporary publication.
While out of this list of 5, Russo is the most controversial suggested entry, his inclusion is deserved in my opinion despite his many detractors. It's easy to say Slick belongs in, only yours truly goes out on a limb to argue (successfully) that Vince Russo should go into the WWE Hall of Fame. By the way, I learned that from Russo.
Alright, let's go! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and go to town railing against my picks or applauding me for my genius. Be prepared to be confronted if I think your arguments and suggested entries lack merit.