Ty Cobb was a son of a bitch: Racist. Sadistic. Alleged to have fixed games. Beat a crippled heckler. May have committed murder. To know Ty Cobb was to hate him.
But Cobb may have been the greatest hitter ever. He was among the first class inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Which brings us to Bruno Sammartino.
Sammartino is not comparable to Cobb in the uncomplimentary ways described above. I don’t like Bruno, but some do.
But it’s undeniable that Sammartino provided the foundation WWE is built upon. WWE champion 1963-71 and 1973-77. Incredible drawing card, especially at Madison Square Garden. Not much beyond punch-and-kick work-wise, but incredible charisma. Earnest interviews that engaged marks.
Sammartino should have been among the first class inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame. But, because of differences with Vince McMahon and a long-held disdain for anything good that isn’t him, Sammartino has declined the “honor.”
So what? Induct Sammartino anyway.
Same goes for the late Randy Savage. The Poffo family says Randy didn’t want inducted unless his whole family went in, i.e., dad Angelo and brother Lanny. Thing is, they don’t meet the standard.
So what? Induct Savage anyway.
Sammartino and Savage are two of WWE’s all-time greatest performers and draws. The Hall suffers by their absence. If Bruno no-shows the induction, have others speak about him. If the Poffos no-show the induction, have others speak about Savage. Show video clips. Celebrate both men despite their absence.
Of course, all this depends on WWE’s priorities for the Hall.
If it’s designed to truly honor fake wrestling’s legends, Sammartino and Savage can’t be omitted. Then again, WWE’s hall includes a jobber, a limo driver and Pete Rose. If it’s designed to provide a ceremony for TV, the induction would indeed suffer by the absence of Sammartino and Savage.
I’m against halls of fame in general. They’re a subjective re-evaluation of events that occurred objectively. They’re easy to screw up. Way too many people are in their respective sport’s hall of fame. Baseball’s hall will soon be excluding the all-time hit king, the all-time home-run and single-season home-run king and the greatest right-handed pitcher of his generation, maybe ever.
The numbers count. You can’t reclassify the numbers.
But wrestling has no numbers. It’s fake. Yet success in wrestling is tangible, especially when it comes to drawing money. Every other kind of success should translate into drawing money. It doesn’t always. But it should.
By any standard, Sammartino and Savage deserve to be honored. The Hall gains credibility by their presence.
It’s not up to Bruno or the Poffos. History dictates.
BTW, how are the Fabulous Freebirds not in WWE’s Hall of Fame? They revolutionized wrestling in so many ways. Big draws. A great mix, and great performers. Did Michael Hayes get drunk at a wedding again? Did he make another racist remark?
No matter. The Freebirds belong, and ahead of many already enshrined.
I hear Jim Cornette burned his last bridge. Shouldn’t there have been some kind of ceremony? The greatest wrestling mind ever, a fry cook at Denny’s. Inevitable, I suppose. He never learned.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA(105.9) . Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing wzmarkmadden@hotmail. com. FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX