There’s only one fake wrestling Hall of Fame that matters, and it isn’t WWE’s. It didn’t matter because Bruno Sammartino wasn’t in. It still doesn’t matter now because Randy Savage isn’t in. It’s not a Hall of Fame. It’s a Hall of Agendas, Moneymaking Opportunities and Artificially Stoking Fan Interest.
The Hall of Fame that matters is Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. Comparatively few know about it, but the Observer is wrestling’s publication of record, and Meltzer’s Hall of Fame is the gold standard.
Meltzer knows more about wrestling than anybody. For example, Meltzer wrote about how bad WWE booking is, which most of you haven’t yet figured.
Meltzer lets me participate in his Hall’s annual election. I’m quite honored, really. Unlike WWE, Meltzer plays no favorites. I’ve never been on his ballot. That’s OK. I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member.
Here’s my ballot. If you’ve never heard of some of these guys, it wouldn’t hurt you to learn about them. They’re all better than Austin Aries.
Historical Perfomers: Gene & Ole Anderson, The Assassins.
Modern Performers: Ivan Koloff, Brock Lesnar.
Non-wrestlers: Jesse Ventura.
Notable “no” votes: Edge, Owen Hart, Curt Hennig, Sting.
It’s hard to believe the Andersons and the Assassins aren’t already in.
The Andersons popped several territories and were prototypical pro wrestling bullies with great promos and matches that featured systematic brutality that made you legit flinch. Triple H is a bully, but he’s not menacing. He doesn’t make you suspend disbelief. He’s too busy being cool. The Andersons were scary, and they got babyfaces over. That's omething else Triple H doesn’t do.
The Andersons made tag-team wrestling important. So did the Assassins. As Bruce Mitchell of PWTorch.com wrote, “The Assassins drew big money in places where you didn’t think there would be money.” Like the Andersons, they were menacing. They made it easy to suspend disbelief. It’s part of the gig, but who does that now? Great heel promos. Earnest in a way that no current performer would bother with.
Ivan Koloff was the best Russian ever, even though he was really French-Canadian. WWE picked him to unseat Bruno Sammartino as champion in 1971. Considering Sammartino had been champion since 1963, that was an awesome responsibility and required a lot of credibility. During his later years, Koloff’s promos got over Nikita Koloff, no easy task. Ivan Koloff drew money in a lot of wrestling’s major territories. He brought the Cold War to life.
Brock Lesnar isn’t a legendary sports entertainer, but him crossing over between UFC and WWE can’t be ignored. When Lesnar went from WWE to UFC and cleaned everybody out, winning the UFC title, it struck a blow for fake wrestling’s credibility at a time when, ironically, that’s the last thing fake wrestling was looking for. It’s a shame WWE didn’t use Lesnar correctly upon his return, but that’s what WWE does: Blows paydays by using people incorrectly. This is about buzz, not money, but Lesnar blew a lot of minds by doing what he did.
I’m not sure why Jesse Ventura is classified as a “non-wrestler.” He was an active performer for over a decade. But, like Lesnar, I’m picking Ventura based on crossing over. A FAKE WRESTLER BECAME THE GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA. I’m still not sure how it happened. Ventura probably isn’t, either. But that beggars belief. Ventura did a good job, too. Now he’s a sensationalist author who preys upon crackpots. Wrestling really did teach him well.
Saying “no” to some candidates is tough. Edge was great, but never at the very, very top of WWE. Same with Owen Hart. Owen’s pushes often rode Bret’s coattails, and I don’t give bonus points for tragedy. Curt Hennig was excellent in-ring, but he was Intercontinental level. Sting is the toughest thumbs down. But his stint in TNA hasn’t helped, and I go back to his first world title win at the 1990 Great American Bash in Baltimore: When Sting won the belt, his pop diminished moving forward. He just wasn’t seen as a world champ. Had a great career. Loved the “Crow” stuff. I may change my mind. But right now, no.
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Brock Lesnarbruno sammartinoedgeivan-koloffjesse venturamark maddenole andersonowen hartrandy savageStingWWEWWE Hall of FameHave a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?