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WON HOF 2018

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It's time for the 2018 Hall of Fame elections.

This ballot is being sent out to major wrestling stars, past and present, major management figures in the industry, writers and historians.

If you are getting this, you are being asked your opinion on who should be inducted into this year's Hall of Fame class. The criteria for the Hall of Fame is a combination of drawing power, being a great in-ring performer or excelling in ones field in pro wrestling, as well as having historical significance in a positive manner. A candidate should either have something to offer in all three categories, or be someone so outstanding in one or two of those categories that they deserve inclusion.

The names listed below are those under consideration for this year. To be eligible, a performer must have reached their 35th birthday and completed ten years since their debut as a full-time performer, or be someone who has been a full-time pro wrestler for at least 15 years.

Longevity should be a prime consideration rather than a hot two or three year run, unless someone is so significant as a trend-setter or a historical figure in the business, or valuable to the industry, that they need to be included. However, just longevity without being either a long-term main eventer, a top draw and/or a top caliber in-ring performer should be seen as relatively meaningless.

The election is broken down into a number of categories. You should check each category for wrestlers that you feel you are familiar enough with based on geography that you've either traveled or are familiar with, and based on the time you have followed pro wrestling. You do not have to vote for a wrestler in every category you've checked.

The ballot is also broken down to wrestlers and those who are not pro wrestlers but have been valuable parts of the industry.

The maximum number of wrestlers that you can vote for all the categories is ten. You can pick as few as zero if you don't believe anyone on this list deserves inclusion.

For wrestling executives, managers, announcers and other outside the ring performers, you can vote for them and they are not counted against the ten. You can vote for as many as five of them.

All responses are confidential. There is nothing to worry about politically about any involvement in this process. Your selections will not be revealed unless you choose to do so yourself.

Anyone who receives mention on 60% of the ballots from the geographical region and time frame (broken down as Continental United States & Canada; Mexico; Japan; and the rest of the world) will be added to the Hall of Fame in the class of 2018.

If you are unfamiliar with any of the candidates due to geography of having never seen them, that is fine. Ballots are sent to many people from all over the world and from different wrestling cultures so that everyone has as fair a shot at possible.

The breakdown for modern and historical performers is 30 years ago, or 1988. So if the last year the person was a headliner, or was a key figure in the industry, was prior to 1988, they would be in the historical class.

All performers who receive mention on 10% to 59.9% of the ballots from their geographical region or era will remain on the ballot for consideration next year. All those who receive less than 10% of the vote will be dropped from next year's ballot. They can return in two years based on if there is significant feedback from voters who say they will vote for them. This is mostly for wrestlers who are still active who may improve their career legacy, but can be for retired wrestlers if voters believe they should be put on or returned to the ballot.

In addition, in following the lead of the baseball Hall of Fame, which is the model here, we have a 15-year-rule. The following candidates have been on the ballot since 2004. In baseball, this would be their last year of eligibility. Here, if they don't get at least 50% of the votes in this year's election they will be removed from the ballot. If they are modern candidates, they can be brought back in the historical performers era in two years if it is more than 30 years since their career as a Hall Fame level performer is up:

The following candidates will be dropped from next year's ballot unless they are elected in or garner 50% of the vote: 

Jun Akiyama
Red Bastien
Cien Caras
Jerry Jarrett
Blue Panther
Kiyoshi Tamura
John Tolos
Johnny "Wrestling II" Walker

Please return this ballot by October 20th. You can e-mail the ballot back to [email protected] or fax it to 408-244-3402 or mail (please do so by October 15th) to Wrestling Observer, P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228.

Please check by every category you are familiar with

I FOLLOWED THE HISTORICAL PERFORMERS ERA CANDIDATES
Johnny Barend
Red Bastien
June Byers
Wild Bull Curry
Cowboy Bob Ellis
Don Fargo
Archie "Mongolian Stomper" Gouldie
Chavo Guerrero Sr.
Rocky Johnson
Paul Jones
Sputnik Monroe
Blackjack Mulligan
Johnny Rougeau
George Steele
John Tolos
Enrique Torres
Von Brauners & Saul Weingeroff
Johnny "Wrestling II" Walker
Bearcat Wright

I FOLLOWED THE MODERN PERFORMERS IN U.S/CANADA CANDIDATES
Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson w/J.J. Dillon
Junkyard Dog
Edge
Bill Goldberg
Samoa Joe
Rick Martel
Randy Orton
C.M.Punk
Sgt. Slaughter
Trish Stratus
Kerry Von Erich
Ultimate Warrior 

I FOLLOWED WRESTLING IN JAPAN CANDIDATES
Jun Akiyama
Cima
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Hayabusa
Kota Ibushi
Yuji Nagata
Tetsuya Naito
Kenny Omega
Kiyoshi Tamura
Akira Taue

I FOLLOWED WRESTLING IN MEXICO CANDIDATES
Los Brazos (Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & El Brazo)
Cien Caras
Caristico
Ultimo Guerrero
Ruben Juarez
Karloff Lagarde
Los Misioneros de la Muerte (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro) 
Blue Panther
L.A. Park
Huracan Ramirez
Univero 2000
Vampiro
Villano III
Dr. Wagner Jr.

I FOLLOWED WRESTLING IN EUROPE/AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND/PACIFIC ISLANDS/AFRICA
Sypros Arion
Big Daddy
Dominic DeNucci
Horst Hoffman
Billy Joyce
Killer Karl Kox
Mario Milano
Kendo Nagasaki
Jackie Pallo
Rollerball Mark Rocco
Johnny Saint
Ricki Starr
Otto Wanz

NON-WRESTLERS
Bill Apter
Lord James Blears
Dave Brown
Jim Crockett Jr.
Jim Crockett Sr.
Howard Finkel
Ed Francis
Gary Hart
Jimmy Hart
Jerry Jarrett
Larry Matysik
Don Owen 
Steve Rickard
George Scott
Stanley Weston

Thanks to Steve Yohe, who posted that on wrestlingclassics forum.

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I hope to see Johnny Rougeau getting some love in that ballot. People have no idea how important of a star he was in Montreal in the 50s and 60s.

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If I'm not wrong the new wrestlers in the ballot are:

Paul Jones
Johnny Rougeau

Samoa Joe

Kenny Omega

Universo 2000
 

I think that Joe will not get 10% of votes. I think that he will be dropped from the ballot next year.

About Omega I think that he has great chances to be inducted this year, considering how much Meltzer likes him, and we know that a lot of voters are strongly influenced by him, like the induction of Minoru Suzuki, last year, shows.

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One of the many reasons WON HOF talk is so frustrating is that the entire list of Mexican candidates not only deserves to be in, it's kind of a travesty they haven't already been voted in. 

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2 hours ago, sek69 said:

One of the many reasons WON HOF talk is so frustrating is that the entire list of Mexican candidates not only deserves to be in, it's kind of a travesty they haven't already been voted in. 

There's so many that it's difficult for voters to focus on one candidate.

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2 minutes ago, Al said:

There's so many that it's difficult for voters to focus on one candidate.

That, and if someone votes for one guy in that group it counts as a vote against the others. 

Also if someone votes for, say Enrique Torres, in the historical group they get counted as a Mexican group voter and it goes against anyone they don't vote for there. 

I'm sure it wasn't intended to be this way, but the way things are set up make it hard for anyone not in the US/Canada and Japan categories to get voted in due to the much smaller voter base. 

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10 hours ago, yesdanielbryan said:

If I'm not wrong the new wrestlers in the ballot are:

Paul Jones
Johnny Rougeau

Samoa Joe

Kenny Omega

Universo 2000

Rick Martel is also new.  Steve Rickard is the only new non-wrestler.

It's probably best it didn't happen this year, but Moolah should be added to Historical at some point.  To be fair, she stayed on the ballot for 15 years with solid percentages mostly.  And she was never considered a Historical candidate during that timespan since her last relevant year was in the mid 80s.

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7 hours ago, sek69 said:

Also if someone votes for, say Enrique Torres, in the historical group they get counted as a Mexican group voter and it goes against anyone they don't vote for there. 

This is not the case, the dumbass thing you're thinking of is for the non-wrestlers. So for example a vote for Jim Crockett Sr means you're a historical group voter and it counts against all the historical wrestlers even if you didn't intend to vote in that category.

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6 hours ago, El McKell said:

 This is not the case, the dumbass thing you're thinking of is for the non-wrestlers. So for example a vote for Jim Crockett Sr means you're a historical group voter and it counts against all the historical wrestlers even if you didn't intend to vote in that category.

Chris Harrington pointed this out on twitter yesterday. I've been an Observer subscriber for 15+ years and I never realized that before now. I wonder how many voters didn't realize it either? Rip this up and start again. 

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I've put together Gordy Lists for Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Volk Han. Enjoy:

Yoshiaki Fujiwara Gordy List

Spoiler

 

1. Was he ever regarded as the best draw in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best draw in his country or his promotion?

No. Yoshiaki Fujiwara was never the best draw in the world, his country or his promotion. Even when he founded his own promotion, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi (PWFG), Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki and Wayne Shamrock were positioned stronger than Fujiwara.


2. Was he an international draw, national draw and/or regional draw?

Fujiwara was not an international, national or regional draw.

3. How many years did he have as a top draw?

Fujiwara had no years as a top draw.

4. Was he ever regarded as the best worker in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best worker in his country or in his promotion?

Regarded is the key word. At the time of Fujiwara’s 80s & early 90s peak as a worker, he was not seen as a candidate for the best worker in the world. He never finished in the top 10 of the WON Most Outstanding during his career. I’ve seen a reference to him placing 24th in a 1987 WON Best Worker poll in a survey of 30 wrestling experts. But aside from that, Fujiwara was not an overwhelming hardcore fan favorite in the 80s and 90s.

5. Was he ever the best worker in his class (sex or weight)? Was he ever one of the top workers in his class?

Fujiwara was billed at around 225 pounds which would make him about average for a heavyweight. So his class is guys like Flair, Fujinami, Lawler, Choshu, Yatsu, Dibiase, Martel, Arn, Takada, Maeda, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Toshiaki Kawada, etc etc etc. At the time of his career, Fujiwara was never considered the best worker in his class at the time. If he was ever one of the “top workers” (usually defined as top 10) in his class, it would have been the 1987 worker poll when he finished 24th. But I haven’t seen it so I don’t know how many juniors or super heavies are on it. It is likely that Fujiwara wasn’t in the top 10 in his class that year either.

The general view at the time would say he had one year as an almost top worker (1987).

7. Was he a good worker before his prime? Was he a good worker after his prime?
 

You have to figure out what his prime is. I think his biggest fans would say 84-90. Some might define it as 89-90. Personally I’d probably go with 84-90.

Assuming Fujiwara’s prime starts in 1984, you can’t definitively say that Fujiwara was a good worker before his prime due to a lack of footage. He doesn’t regularly show up on NJ TV until late 83 or early 84. He is clearly already a great worker in early 1984, but without the footage, who knows how far back that extends.

If his prime extends through 1990, I’d say he’s definitely a good worker after his prime. I’ve watched him have good matches as recently as 2016. His post 1990 career is heavy on fun, good, and very good matches. He doesn’t have the classics he did in his 84-90 run, but the vast majority of his matches are entertaining and worth watching.


8. Did he have a large body of excellent matches? Did he have a excellent matches against a variety of opponents?

He had a huge number of excellent matches against a large variety of opponents. I can’t think of many MOTYC post 1990, but between 1984 and 1990, Fujiwara probably has as many excellent matches as anyone else on film. He was a great singles match wrestler. One of the best ever in singles matches. He has great technical mat based matches and great wild and bloody brawls. He has short under 10 minute classic matches and 30 minute long masterpieces. He is also a highlight performer in the classic New Japan 10 man elimination matches of the 80s that have been legendary matches since the time they happened.

He achieved all of this with a huge variety of opponents. Keeping it limited to just singles matches, Fujiwara had excellent matches against Super Tiger, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu, Kengo Kimura, Don Nakaya Nielson, Masakatsu Funaki, and Osamu Kido. He had great matches multiple times against most of those guys with many of the matches being MOTYC and some being MOTDC.


9. Did he ever anchor his promotion(s)?

Fujiwara was never the anchor of his promotion. You could stretch and make an argument for UWF1.0 or PWFG but I'm under the impression that Maeda & Super Tiger would have been ranked above him in UWF1.0 and Funaki, Suzuki & Shamrock in PWFG. He won or placed really well in the tournaments UWF ran, but when that promotion folded, it was Akira Maeda who was one of the hottest names in Japan not Fujiwara.


10. Was he effective when pushed at the top of cards?

I’d lean towards saying yes for what his role was. Fujiwara was never really pushed at the top of the cards in a sustained and meaningful way and certainly was never pushed as the Ace or even #1 challenger for a top tier promotion. He worked a lot of main events in UWF 1.0, but was positioned behind Akira Maeda & Super Tiger. And while UWF 1.0 was an important promotion, they went out of business after 16 months and never ran any big buildings.

 

He got a few main events also in UWF 2.0, including a sell out against Akira Maeda at Yokohoma arena to the tune of 17,000 people paying $1.4 million. His other main events are in smaller buildings, mostly in the 4000-5000 person range. These events all sold out, but all of UWF 2.0’s cards sold out. He was still positioned behind Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada with Masakatsu Funaki & Minoru Suzuki on the rise.

Fujiwara isn’t a guy who ever carried a promotion. When he worked main events, he was challenger to the top guy. Fujiwara’s most impressive result of his career has to be that Yokohama sellout against Maeda. But its hard to give much credit to Fujiwara there. Maeda & UWF were the hottest things in the business at the time. Fujiwara was effective as a credible opponent who could have a great match against Maeda.

That is really the key to Fujiwara at the top of the card. He wasn’t the key player but he was a guy who could be put in big matches against Maeda or Inoki and have the crowd buy him as a challenger due to his charisma and credibility regardless of push.


11. Was he valuable to his promotion before his prime? Was he still valuable to his promotion after his prime?

Again it is hard to say if he was valuable before his prime due to a lack of footage. However, he was such a highly revered tough guy, he worked as Antonio Inoki’s body guard on foreign trips and was Inoki’s corner man for the famous (infamous) fight with Muhammed Ali. To be put in that position (bodyguard for the promotion’s God King)  that early in his career spoke to how highly he was regarded by NJPW.

After his prime he was valuable as a charismatic veteran who could come in and have a good match with anyone up and down the card and be seen as credible by the fans.


12. Did he have an impact on a number of strong promotional runs?

Yes and no.  He was a key wrestler on the New Japan establishment side against Choshu’s army in 1984. He wasn’t one of the most important people in the feud, but he added depth and quality to the feud that dominated the promotion as a super worker.

In UWF 1.0 he wasn’t as important as Akira Maeda or Super Tiger, but he was probably the #3 guy ahead of young up & comer Nobuhiko Takada. UWF was a short-lived promotion that didn’t run very big buildings, but was an important promotion in the story of Japanese wrestling and Fujiwara was one key figures of that promotion.

When he jumped back to New Japan after UWF 1.0 folded, he was a key figure in the NJ vs UWF feud. This feud is very well remembered and highly regarded for its in-ring quality and how huge crowd heat, but it didn’t do the financial business one would expect which led NJPW going back to Riki Choshu & offering him a piece of the promotin in order to convince him to jump back from rival All Japan Pro Wrestling. When Choshu jumped back to New Japan and they ran the New Leaders vs Now Leaders feud, Fujiwara was, along with Masa Saito, the best worker of the “Now Leaders” faction with Inoki, Sakaguchi & friends.

UWF 2.0 was the hottest promotion in the world at its height and Fujiwara was a key player as a sometimes main eventer and super worker. He wasn’t nearly as valuable as Akira Maeda or Nobuhiko Takada, but he added depth and quality to the small roster and had some of the best matches in the promotion.

In PWFG he was valuable as he was the promoter of the company. But he focused the promotion early on around rising stars Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki and Wayne (Ken) Shamrock. Fujiwara would work main events, but he positioned those guys ahead of himself. However, it would be hard to say that PWFG had a strong promotional run at any point. 

13. Was he involved in a number of memorable rivalries, feuds or storylines?

Yes. He was involved in three of the most memorable rivalries/storylines of the 80s. He was a key participant in the Choshu’s Army vs NJ feud and NJ vs UWF, and New Japan Now Leaders vs New Leaders. Fujiwara wasn’t the main player in any of these feuds, but he was a key player adding depth and quality of work to these feuds that dominated 1980s New Japan. 

As a singles worker, Fujiwara has a number of memorable rivalries. His UWF 1.0 rivalry against Super Tiger is one of the great unheralded rivalries in 80s wrestling. On the DVDVR 1980s Other Japan voting, Fujiwara vs Super Tiger had 3 matches place in the top 10.

He also has highly regarded rivalries against Akira Maeda, Kazuo Yamazaki, and Nobuhiko Takada.


14. Was he effective working on the mic, working storylines or working angles?
He seems to be but it is hard to say given the language gap.


15. Did he play his role(s) effectively during his career?

Absolutely. He was a wily, badass shooter who would lure you in, toy with you and then either break your arm or brain you with headbutts. He was consistently more over than his push throughout his prime. He was never pushed as hard as Inoki, Fujinami, Choshu, or Maeda during his career, but you couldn’t tell by watching the crowd.


16. What titles and tournaments did he win? What was the importance of the reigns?

Tournaments:

NJPW Karl Gotch Cup 1975 Winner

UWF Three Tour Tournament 1/7/85-4/26/85 2nd Place

UWF Kakuto Nettai Road Tournament 7/8/85-7/28/85 Winner

UWF Kakuto Prospect Tournament 8/25/85-9/11/85 Winner

Winner Japan Cup Tag Team League 1986 with Antonio Inoki.

The Karl Gotch Cup was a tournament New Japan ran in the mid 70s to showcase their young talent. Fujiwara won the second ever tournament (Tatsumi Fujinami won the first). This shows that Fujiwara had a strong rep in his own promotion early in his career.

Fujiwara finished tied for second with Satoru Sayama in the UWF 3 Tour Tournament (winner Osamu Kido). Also in the tournament were Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, Masami Soranaka and Mach Hayato.

The Kakuto Nettai Road Tournament was won by Fujiwara and also included Satoru Sayama, Akira Maeda, Osamu Kido, Nobuhiko Takada and Keith Hayward. The Kakuto Prospect tournament, also won by Fujiwara included the same names except Kazuo Yamazaki in place of Keith Hayward.

These were the tournaments that dominated most of UWF in 1985 and Fujiwara finished 2nd, 1st and 1st. All of the shows were in smaller buildings and UWF 1.0 was a smaller promotion overall, but this shows Fujiwara was one of the top stars of the promotion that includes Akira Maeda who would soon become one of the hottest wrestlers in Japan.

Titles:

IWGP Tag Team Champion (with Kazuo Yamazaki) 9/1/87 – 1/18/88

FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Champion (with Daisuke Ikeda) 9/5/95 – 12/21/95

NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Champion (with Shinya Hashimoto) 6/17/04 – 8/31/04

None of his title reigns seem to have meant very much. The most being the IWGP tag title reign with Yamazaki. They won the belts from Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada and lost them to Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami. The team of Fujiwara & Yamazaki only made 2 successful title defenses.

17. Did he win many honors and awards?

WON Awards

1984 WON Best Technical Wrestler 7th Place

1987 WON Worker Poll (Survey of 30 Experts) 24th Place

1987 WON Best Technical Wrestler 5th Place (3rd most 1st place Votes behind Takada & Owen Hart)

1987 WON MOTY 11th Place (Fujiwara, Antonio Inoki, Masa Saito, Seiji Sakaguchi & Dick Murdoch vs Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Tatsumi Fujinami & Super Strong Machine 9/17)

1987 WON MOTY 12th Place (Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada 9/1)

1987 WON Feud of the Year (New Leaders vs Now Leaders 9th Place

1989 WON Best Technical Wrestler 18th Place

 

Tokyo Sports Puroresu Awards
1975 Effort Award

1982 Effort Award

1987 Fighting Spirit Award

1989 Technique Award

PWO Greatest Wrestler Ever Poll - 40th overall (32.64 average vote, 14 top 10 votes, 3 top #3 votes, and 1 #1 vote)


18. Did he get mainstream exposure due to his wrestling fame? Did he get a heavily featured by the wrestling media?

Yes. Ohtani’s Jacket or somebody else could definitely bring more clarity to this, but it is my understanding that Fujiwara has been on various TV shows and in movies. He has done a good bit of voice over work appearing in a number of video games as well. He won several Tokyo Sports Puroresu awards, so I would have to assume he was well featured there. I couldn’t speak to any other Japanese Wrestling Media outlets. He was covered throughout his career in the WON, but no differently from anyone else in his era. He certainly wasn’t portrayed in the WON as a huge star.


19. Was he a top tag team wrestler?
 

Fujiwara worked in a lot of promotions where tag team wrestling wasn’t important. UWF 1.0, UWF 2.0, and PWFG. There were tag team matches in UWF 1.0, and Fujiwara was in the best one for sure. But it wasn’t an important part of the promotion.

In NJPW, he was an excellent tag wrestler. He had a brief 4 month reign as IWGP Tag Team Champion with Yamazaki. He also had matches where he teamed with Maeda, Takada, etc. He generally had very good-great performances as a tag wrestler, but he’s not exactly Ricky Morton or Arn Anderson when it comes to his status as a tag team wrestler meaning anything to a HOF case.

Where he truly shined in tag settings was in the 1980s New Japan 10 Man Elimination matches. Those matches have always been highly regarded in the history of great New Japan matches and more often than not, Fujiwara isn’t just playing a key role in the matches, he is often the highlight. He always knew how to stand out even in these matches with 9 other guys including the biggest stars in the history of the promotion.


20. Was he innovative?

Absolutely. He was one of the key wrestlers of developing a completely new style of wrestling that would go on to eventually become the most popular and important style of wrestling in the world. He helped to create, master and perfect shoot style wrestling. It may seem weird to call a minimalist based style innovative, but it was different from everything else in wrestling and hugely successful.

21. Was he influential?

The importance of the UWF style on Japanese wrestling history can’t be understated and Fujiwara was one of the key figures in developing and popularizing the style. Obviously he wasn’t on Akira Maeda’s or Nobuhiko Takada’s level as a star, but he was an important figure as a performer because he added depth and credibility to the promotions/movement. 

But most importantly, his influence is seen in training. I can’t find the exact dates, but he was one of the head trainers in NJPW in the late 70s and early 80s. He also worked as a trainer in UWF and PWFG. Looking through Cage Match, gives you a glimpse of just some of the folks he had a hand in training and realistically, it is as impressive as anyone in wrestling history including Karl Gotch, The Funk Family and Diablo Velasco. Fujiwara is listed as the trainer for:

Akira Maeda, Satoru Sayama, Nobuhiko Takada, Jushin Liger, Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Ken Shamrock, Shinobu Kandori, Yuki Ishikawa, Daisuke Ikeda, Alexander Otsuka, Masahito Kakihara, etc.

Those are not only some of the most important figures in Pro Wrestling history, but some of the best wrestlers as well. In addition to being one of the formative trainers for all of these great wrestlers, he did it while having a hand in creating a completely new style of wrestling. It seems fair to say that shoot style couldn’t have truly existed without Fujiwara given the folks he had a hand in training.


22. Did he make the people and workers around him better?

Fujiwara absolutely made people around him better and not just as a trainer. As a performer, he could always be counted on to have a great match and make his opponent look good. He was over with the crowd and a credible opponent for anyone, so beating Fujiwara meant something even if his push didn’t always reflect his value. He was able to carry younger worker to good/great matches and knew how to make the top stars look strong. He was almost like the best Arn Anderson ever. Never the top guy, but always over and could be counted on to get a good match out of literally everyone you throw out him. Only unlike Arn, he was a more credible challenger to the top guys. 


23. Did he do what was best for the promotion? Did he show a commitment to wrestling?

The knee jerk reaction for a guy who was in New Japan, let to help create UWF, jumped back to NJ when that failed, then left again to join UWF 2.0 and then splintered off and created his own thing when UWF 2.0 died would probably be no. But, he helped train two generations of the best wrestlers in Japan and helped develop a wildly successful style of wrestling and continues to wrestle to this day as a senior citizen, I think it is clear he has shown a commitment to wrestling.


24. Is there any reason to believe that he was better or worse than he appeared?

Yes. I think Fujiwara is much better as a worker than he was given credit for at the time of his active peak and relevance. Fujiwara is known by many people in the online circles interested in the WON HOF as a “Revisionist Candidate.” He wasn’t considered a top worker during his career, but many who have gone back and looked at his work from 1984-1990 (and beyond in some cases) have come away thinking Fujiwara is one of the best wrestlers of all time. His placement in the PWO Greatest Wrestler Ever Poll is telling. He managed to finish in the top 40, but based on average placement, would have landed in the top 20. Of the people who voted for him, 17% had him in their top 10. I personally ranked him #7 overall and could see myself ranking him even higher if we did the poll again. Now, this is obviously one poll with 151 voters, 81 of which voted for Yoshiaki Fujiwara, and it took place almost two decades past Fujiwara’s prime. Some people sadly don’t see value in revisiting footage from the past, but I definitely do. So I think the rather recent revelation that Fujiwara was one of the all time great workers does matter and adds to his Hall of Fame case. I am someone who has historically scoffed at the idea of voting for pure work candidates, but I don’t think that is what Fujiwara is. I think clearly his influence in helping develop shoot style wrestling and his work as a trainer are by far his strongest building blocks for a HOF candidacy. Frankly, looking at the list of guys Fujiwara trained, he should have been a 1996 Inductee. If Stu Hart gets in for being a career mid carder and training a bunch of guys who became stars and good workers, then Fujiwara needs to go in as well. His list of trainees is far more impressive than Stu’s and was far more important to wrestling history.

When you look at his training and influence, he becomes a shoe in. When you consider his work is all time level great a lot of those “No’s” on the gordy list turn into “Yes’s” and make him appear as a stronger overall candidate.

Looking back at those work questions:

4. Was he ever regarded as the best worker in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best worker in his country or in his promotion?

Fujiwara was the best wrestler in the UWF 1.0 from the moment it opened on 4/11/84 until it closed on 9/11/85. In this run he has some of the best matches of the 80s. His rivalry against Super Tiger is one of the best rivalries of the 80s. Literally every match they have together is great with several strong MOTYCs and at least one MOTDC. His feud against Akira Maeda is just barely a step below the Super Tiger matches. Again every match he has against Maeda is great. His matches against the younger generation of Takada & Yamazaki are the same story. These guys are young and extremely athletic and Fujiwara guides them to the best matches of their young careers. Not only was Fujiwara the best wrestler in UWF 1.0, he was a strong contender for the best worker in the country and the world.

Fujiwara was the best wrestler in UWF2.0 from the moment he joined the promotion 5/4/89 until the promotion closed 12/1/90. This run was basically the same story as his run in UWF 1.0. He has classic matches against Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada and Kazuo Yamazaki. His matches against Kazuo Yamazaki on 7/89 and Nobuhiko Takada from 10/90 are MOTDC level matches. Even in the midst of classic years from guys like Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu, El Dandy, and El Satanico, Fujiwara’s 89-90 run doesn’t take a back seat to anyone and he can definitely be considered for the top spot in these loaded years.

Fujiwara was the best wrestler in PWFG from the moment it opened 3/4/91 until its last show on 7/96. Some might call Masakatsu Funaki or Minoru Suzuki better, but Fujiwara was more polished and consistent right away and those guys left to form Pancrase in 1993. After they left, the next generation guys like Ishikawa were really good young wrestlers but not on Fujiwara’s level. 

His New Japan time is a little trickier. Due to footage issues and him traveling around the world, we don’t see much of Fujiwara until early 1984 and he is awesome, but is quickly out the door to UWF 1.0. When he comes back to New Japan in early 1986, he is at the top of his game. This run from 1/86 – early 89 is spectacular. He has great matches against Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu, Don Nakaya Nielson, Kengo Kimura in singles matches. He is in a litany of classic 10 Man Elimination matches that are some of the best matches of all time with Fujiwara being one of the highlights in every match. One could easily call Fujiwara the best wrestler in his promotion, his county and the world.

But there’s the problem of a guy named Tatsumi Fujinami. Literally everything that you could say about Fujiwara could be said about Fujinami. Fujinami was incredibly consistent, had great singles and tags, and stood out in the big ten man matches as well. Either guy could be argued as the best in NJ, Japan or the World during this stretch and you couldn’t be wrong.

 

5. Was he ever the best worker in his class (sex or weight)? Was he ever one of the top workers in his class?

Fujiwara was billed at 225lbs so his weight class includes heavyweight guys like Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu, eventually guys like Toshiaki Kawada and Bret Hart. So his class includes some of the best wrestlers ever at their absolute peaks. And yet Fujiwara is absolutely one of the ten best heavyweights during the time of his peak and has an argument for being the best overall from 84-90.


6. How many years did he have as a top worker?

Fujiwara was a top worker (defined as a top 10 worker in the world candidate) based on the footage at a minimum from 1984-1990. I’m not as up to speed on his 1991 PWFG stuff so I’m unclear on whether there is much of a drop off in quality. Just looking at some of his opponents (Johnny Barretta, Lato Kirawarik, and MacDuff Roesch), you can’t help but expect a drop off after working with Maeda, Takada & Yamazaki & co in UWF 2.0 But I imagine it’s still a good year.

But from 1984-1990 across UWF 1.0, NJPW & UWF 2.0, Fujiwara was one of the top workers of the year each year individually and cumulatively may be the best overall as well. During the peak of folks like Ric Flair, Tatsumi Fujinami, El Satanico, Jumbo Tsuruta, etc, Yoshiaki Fujiwara loomed large as maybe the best guy around.

8. Did he have a large body of excellent matches? Did he have a excellent matches against a variety of opponents?

 

I would leave this section pretty much alone but point out that I think Fujiwara vs Super Tiger is a contender for greatest feud of the 80s and 12/84 is my pick for the best Japanese Mens Singles match of the 80s. His singles match against Choshu on 9/87 is a MOTDC. His singles match against Yamazaki from 6/89 is the 1989 MOTY (think about what that means) and a MOTDC. He is a key player in the 9/88 10 man tag which is a top 10 match of all time for me. Same with the 3/26/86 NJ vs UWF Eliminaton match that is a top 20 match of all time for me.

Taking a step back and looking at everything, I think Fujiwara is an interesting candidate. I’ve long thought that being a major draw is the easiest path to the HOF. There are facts, numbers and trends we can look at and come to conclusions. Obviously there is more to it than the raw numbers. Understanding of context is crucial. Just looking at numbers on paper one would think a recent WrestleMania was bigger than WrestleMania 1. An undestanding of context would obviously tell you something very different. But looking at and understanding drawing is the easiest way to figure out the no brainers. Fujiwara in my eyes is a zero as a draw. He had a good number of main events and sell outs to his name and was a featured player in several main event feuds. But he was never the top guy and was never even the top opponent. He was always more over than his push and a super charismatic wrestler, but at any point Maeda, Takada, Inoki, Fujinami, Choshu, at an absolute minimum were positioned ahead of him. 

 

Of the criteria, work is the most controversial. Some people put a lot of weight into it and are willing to vote for people they see as all time great wrestlers who weren’t draws or influential. Others see it as the least important criteria and would never vote for someone based solely on work but would vote for someone solely on drawing power or influence. The difficulty in work lies in subjectivity. There isn’t a universal criteria for judging work which makes it impossible to arrive at a true consensus. I am more in line with this line of thinking and wouldn’t personally vote for someone based solely on work. Personally I see work as more of a building block for a candidacy than a true foundation, especially for the sort of marginal candidates that permeate the WON HOF Nominees. It is certainly important, but I need to see some influence and/or a good main event run to go along with the work.

 

The other problem with work as a criteria for the HOF, is that Dave Meltzer has gone on record as saying he doesn’t see value in rewatching old matches and reevaluating the wrestlers. He thinks wrestlers should be judged on how they were thought of at the time of their career. I personally disagree with this notion. Both as a hobbyist who enjoys watching old wrestling matches and someone interested in wrestling history who finds watching old matches instructive. It is easier to understand history if you can watch it. The old talking point about Fujiwara was “bland mid card act who looked old forever.” Going back and revisting the footage, it is clear that Fujiwara wasn’t some bland mid card act. He was a super over worker who had tons of great matches, was loved by the crowd for years and was one of the most charismatic wrestlers of his era.

 

If someone is inclined to vote for a work only candidate and they shared my opinion on Fujiwara as a guy who was a top 10 all time worker and best in the world candidate from 84-90 both individually and cumulatively, he comes across as a no brainer sort of candidate. After 1990 he has an almost 30 year run of being a great-very good-fun worker with tons of worthwhile matches. He’s a guy who has basically never been bad and had a run as the best in the world during the most loaded time period ever for high end workers. Even if you take a more conservative view and see Fujiwara as a top 20-40 all time guy, that still adds a lot of strength to his candidacy. Most of the top 40 workers of all time are in the hall of fame already and if you’re strongly considering in ring ability, Fujiwara becomes a more viable candidate.

 

The other main criteria for the WON HOF is, “having historical significance in a positive manner.” This is the criteria on which Yoshiaki Fujiwara builds his case. Fujiwara was the first graduate of the NJPW dojo and the star student of Karl Gotch. Because of his reputation, Fujiwara became involved in training in the NJPW dojo in the late 70s and succeeded to the highest degree with pupils such as Jushin Liger, Akira Maeda, Satoru Sayama, and Nobuhiko Takada to name a few. Fujiwara trained some of the best and most influential wrestlers in the history of wrestling. His students went on (with Fujiwara) to create a new style of wrestling that became the most successful style of wrestling in the world selling out every show with elevated ticket prices. Fujiwara’s students Maeda & Takada was the first native vs native main event to sell out Budokan Hall. This style of wrestling was responsible for some of the best matches of the era from 1984-2000. But more importantly, it shifted the culture of Japanese wrestling. For years there were 2 major promotions in Japan, but UWF 2.0 breaking through opened the door for other independent promotions to not only pop up in the 90s but succeed from an indy level to a major league level. Additionally, UWF’s success also shaped the world of Japanese wrestling by making clean finishes the standard expectation for Japanese wrestling. For decades, especially in native vs native matches and main event matches, the Japanese wrestling formula dictated a countout or a disqualification finish to the match in order to protect all of the wrestlers from having to take the loss. But UWF had all clean finishes either submission or knockout. This put the pressure on NJPW and AJPW to make the shift to all clean finishes over time. These were Fujiwara’s students changing the way wrestling is worked in an entire country.

 

Looking at everything together, Yoshiaki Fujiwara strikes me as someone who should get strong consideration for a vote for the WON HOF ballot. Honestly, the only way I could see not voting for Fujiwara is if I ended up voting for 7 or 8 luchadores (very possible). His drawing is a zero and that does mean something. But his training and the significance of what his children did in shaping Japanese wrestling and just becoming some of the best wrestlers ever, is a strong foundation for a candidacy. I hate to cite a marginal inductee as precedent, but given Stu Hart’s induction due entirely to his time as a trainer, Fujiwara seems like a very viable candidate. Of course the work is where it gets tricky. If you take a view like I do or at least a similar view that he was an all time great worker, then Fujiwara becomes a much stronger candidate for induction. But even if you consider Fujiwara based on the perception at the time by certain tastemakers and see him as a good worker peaking at top 25 for 1987, that seems like enough of a push when you factor in his training to make him a decent contender for induction.

 

 

Volk Han Gordy List:

 

Spoiler

 

1. Was he ever regarded as the best draw in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best draw in his country or his promotion?

Volk Han was never the best draw in the world, his country or his promotion.


2. Was he an international draw, national draw and/or regional draw?

He was not an international draw, national draw or regional draw.


3. How many years did he have as a top draw?

No years as a top draw.

4. Was he ever regarded as the best worker in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best worker in his country or in his promotion?

He was never regarded as the best worker in the world or his country on a consensus level. He was considered the best worker in the RINGS promotion from his first match in December 1991 until at least 1996 when Kiyoshi Tamura joined the promotion. 1997 is often considered an either/or situation in regards to Volk Han or Kiyoshi Tamura being better. By 1998 most would say that Tamura had officially surpassed Han as the best worker in RINGS.

The biggest fans of shoot style would likely point to Volk Han as the best worker in the world and his country over the bulk of is career. For the Pro Wrestling Only Greatest Wrestler Ever Poll, Han received 2 first place votes, a #3 vote and one additional top 10 vote with an average vote of 44.6. While this certainly doesn’t represent any sort of consensus, this does suggest that Han is very highly regarded in certain circles.

 


5. Was he ever the best worker in his class (sex or weight)? Was he ever one of the top workers in his class?

When it comes to shoot style wrestlers, I tend to think of “shoot style” as their “class.” He was thought of as one of the top workers in his class since his debut match until the day he retired. His only real competition in the early 90s in terms of reputation was Nobuhiko Takada. In the late 90s his only real competition was Kiyoshi Tamura. For the bulk of his pro wrestling career (12/91-99), Volk Han was considered either the best or second best wrestler of his style.



6. How many years did he have as a top worker?

Volk was considered a top worker in his style from his debut match in December 1991 until RINGS became a completely shoot style promotion towards the end of 1999 and early 2000. He is someone would could be accurately described as a great wrestler from his very first match to his very last match.


7. Was he a good worker before his prime? Was he a good worker after his prime?

The narrative surrounding Volk Han has always been that he debuted in his prime. His first match was in the main event against Akira Maeda at age 30 and his performance was excellent. He was in or around main events for the rest of his career and a Top Worker the entire time. If you wanted to nit pick, you could probably say his prime “ended” in late 95 or 96, but he remained an excellent worker and top star in the promotion.

I think most fans of shoot style would probably argue Volk Han didn’t really have a pre or post prime in the way we normally might think of it due to the nature of his career.


8. Did he have a large body of excellent matches? Did he have a excellent matches against a variety of opponents?

This is the cool thing about Volk Han. Not only does he have a large body of excellent matches, he did it against a large variety of opponents with less than 100 matches to his name. During the PWO Greatest Wrestler Ever Project, you’d see a lot of talk about consistency and sometimes “batting averages.” Volk probably has the highest batting average in wrestling history. He has had excellent matches against great wrestlers, good wrestlers, average wrestlers and bad wrestlers. He’s had great matches against vets and youngsters. Strikers and grapplers. And he did it over an 8 year period. His matches against Kiyoshi Tamura are considered some of the best matches not just in shoot style, but they are legendary matches in wrestling history. He also had great matches against Akira Maeda, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Andrei Kopilov, Dick Leon-Vrij, Mitsuya Nagai, Masayuki Naruse, Hiromitsu Kanehara, etc.


9. Did he ever anchor his promotion(s)?

Actually, yes he kinda did. Akira Maeda was hurt for most of 1993 missing action from February till October. Han headlined the 5 major shows in that time period in Yokohama (twice), Tokyo, Osaka, and Amagasaki which averaged 7242 in attendance with elevated ticket prices compared to the average wrestling show. Of course this isn’t a long run and is only 5 shows. But RINGS was able to continue to run profitable shows with top star Akira Maeda on the shelf and Volk Han in the main position. This indicates he was a fine number two option in a mid-level promotion. Which doesn’t sound impressive, but what other gaijin at that point could step into the top native star’s shoes and have the promotion continue to do good business? Maybe only Han and Hansen.


10. Was he effective when pushed at the top of cards?

Yes. His first match was in the main event of a RINGS show losing to Akira Maeda at Ariake Coliseum in December 1991 drawing 10,250 in a 12,000 seat capacity arena (with “very few freebies” according to Meltzer in the WON at the time). His 3rd match he beat Akira Maeda in Hiroshima in the main event of a sell out crowd of 5480 people. He anchored the promotion for the bulk of 1993 when Maeda was out with an injury. He was positioned very strongly for the majority of his career often in the semi-main event or in the main event if he was wrestling Maeda.


11. Was he valuable to his promotion before his prime? Was he still valuable to his promotion after his prime?

If you consider his post-prime to be 96-99, then yes. He was valuable as a big name gaijin and a great worker capable of having the best matches on the card. If you’re someone who thinks he didn’t really have a post prime and his entire career was “prime” stuff, then you can’t really answer yes to this. I don’t think he really had a “pre-prime” because he was great from day 1.

12. Did he have an impact on a number of strong promotional runs?

Yes, he was the best working and most popular Gaijin wrestler throughout the course of RINGS’ history. He was a main event star and the best or at worst among the best workers in his promotion for the majority of the time his promotion, which ran and sold out big buildings, existed. If RINGS had a strong promotional run, Volk Han was playing a role. 


13. Was he involved in a number of memorable rivalries, feuds or storylines?

Due to the nature of shoot style, not many if we’re being honest. However, Volk Han vs Akira Maeda is probably the top main event rivalry in the history of RINGS and Volk Han vs Kiyoshi Tamura is widely considered the best rivalry in the history of shoot style. His rivalries with Andrei Kopilov and Yoshihisa Yamamoto are probably his next best and they produced excellent matches that were always strongly positioned on cards.


14. Was he effective working on the mic, working storylines or working angles?

This doesn’t apply to Volk Han.

15. Did he play his role(s) effectively during his career?

His role was the Top Foreign Star in RINGS and he definitely played that role effectively. He was a great worker instantly with the credibility to face the top Star in his first match and actually beat him in his 3rd match ever. He remained in this role as top foreign mat wizard for the rest of his career and remained over and credible with the fans the entire time.
 

16. What titles and tournaments did he win? What was the importance of the reigns?

He won the 1994 and 1996 RINGS Mega Battle Tournament beating Akira Maeda and Kiyoshi Tamura in the finals respectively. He lost in the semi-finals of the tournament in 1995 to eventual winner Akira Maeda and in 1997 to runner-up Mikhail Ilioukhine.

This is RINGS major annual tournament. Because they didn’t have titles or run angles, this was their big tournament of the year with the final being run as the main event of their annual Budokan Hall show in January. So this is the most important tournament in the promotion. Han and Maeda are the only two time winners of the tournament.


17. Did he win many honors and awards?
 

WON Awards

1992 – 4th Place “Rookie of the Year”

1996 – Honorable Mention “Best Technical Wrestler”

1997 – 6th Place “Best Technical Wrestler”

1997 – Honorable Mention “Readers Personal Favorite Wretler”

1998 – Honorable Mention “Best Technical Wrestler”

1999 – Tied 8th Place “Best Technical Wrestler”

 

PWI Awards:

1997 - #44 PWI Top 500

2003 - #129 PWI Top 500 Singles Wrestlers of the PWI Years

PWO’s Greatest Wrestler Ever

Voted 60th overall with an average placement of 44th and two #1 votes.

It looks like he never won a Tokyo Sports Award from what I can tell. I’m not sure about any other awards. I can’t find Weekly Pro stuff online.


18. Did he get mainstream exposure due to his wrestling fame? Did he get a heavily featured by the wrestling media?

I can’t say for sure one way or the other on this. I think he likely got decent coverage from the wrestling media but probably didn’t achieve much mainstream fame.


19. Was he a top tag team wrestler?

His promotion never ran a tag team match.


20. Was he innovative?

Absolutely. There was no one in wrestling history like Volk Han. Shoot style was really stripped down and minimalistic pro wrestling and RINGS was the most stripped down. Yet Volk Han stood out on the global scene as a unique and colorful character. In that sense he was a great ambassador for shoot style amongst the North American hardcore wrestling fan. Lots of people don’t get shoot style, but they tend to “get” Volk Han. He was different, but his mastery of his completely different technique was what made him stand out.


21. Was he influential?

Not really. He’s yet another cog in the machine that took a section of Japanese Pro Wrestling to Shoot Style to Shoots. I’m not sure he’s one of the 20 most important people in that transformation. I feel like it’d be reaching to call him influential but I’d love to see an argument.


22. Did he make the people and workers around him better?

Oh absolutely. From day one. He was able to have great matches with anyone of any skill or experience level. He was great because everyone could see he had incredible technique and that kept him credible so guys could beat him and get a rub. The promotion didn’t have to invest in keeping him credible, it was built in. Young guys could look good just by competing with him. He was a true gatekeeper sort of guy for RINGS.


23. Did he do what was best for the promotion? Did he show a commitment to wrestling?

I’m really not familiar with the backstage inner workings of RINGS, so I don’t know if he ever refused to job for anyone or showed up to work stoned. I do know whenever he worked he was usually having an awesome match from the day his career started until it ended. He competed in major international Sambo tournaments before his career started, but once he started wrestling he kept wrestling. So I think it is fair to say he did what was best for the promotion. 

24. Is there any reason to believe that he was better or worse than he appeared?

He worked less than 70 matches in his career.

Shoot style has always been a niche within a niche style. While it was well covered by the WON, shoot style was never as widely watched by US fans as All Japan, New Japan and at times All Japan Women and FMW. This is reflected in the WON Awards voting.

He never truly competed for the best Technical Wrestler award. He consistently finished behind Dean Malenko and noted technical wrestler Manami Toyota and that’s when he even made the top 10 or Honorable mention. Many shoot style fans have made the argument that Volk Han is the greatest mat worker of all time and would have been deserving of best technical wrestler in any year from 1992-1999.

The reason he never did has nothing to do with Volk Han. He receives near unanimous praise. In the PWO GWE Project several people watched him or shoot style for the first time and had things like the following to say:

“Interesting.......just watched my first Volk match. He is, as has been said, the best shoot style wrestler I've watched. Problem with that is, however......I don't like shoot style very much.”

“It's a testament to Han that he's someone I got into almost immediately even though I have basically no time for shoot style. He opened the door for me to enjoy a style that I previously couldn't even sit through, and he gets a hell of a lot of credit for that from me.”

“Han strikes me as shoot-style's answer to a Mysterio or Misawa, in that regardless of one's style preference, it is very difficult not to be impressed by his body of work and elite level performance.”

If shoot style was more widely watched, Han would almost certainly have placed strongly in the “best technical” awards.

The Most Outstanding Awards really reflect where shoot style stood. Nobuhiko Takada was considered the best of the shoot style wrestlers in the late 80s and early 90s. He finished 4th & 3rd in the Most Outstanding Wrestlers results in 1986 and 1987 respectively, when he was working in New Japan in a non-shoot style company. Part of the reason Takada was considered the best of the shoot style guys at the time was his ability to stray farthest from traditional shoot style and work the most Traditional Japanese Pro Wrestling style of the shoot style guys.  When UWF 2.0 opened and Takada was back in a traditional shoot style promotion, in 1988 & 89 he dropped to 10th & 7th before falling out of the top 10 forever. 1998 was the only other year where a shoot-style wrestler placed in the top 10 for the most outstanding Awards when Kiyoshi Tamura finished 6th overall.

Shoot style has just never placed well in these awards because there weren’t enough people watching it. But to those who watched the style, Volk Han was one of the best in the business and clearly one of the best of all time. 

 


 

 

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I personally don't like how Dave have stopped putting joshi wrestlers on the ballot. I honestly don't care if they don't get in but the least he can do is put them on the ballot to make voters to think for a second.

Meiko Satomura, Dynamite Kansai, Mayumi Ozaki, Megumi Kudo, Shinobu Kandori, Kyoko Inoue, and LCO have never been on even been on the ballot which is bafflingly to me. 

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How does one go about getting a ballot? I’d always thought you had to be some industry insider to vote, but that doesn’t seem to be the case if there’s folks here voting.

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On 9/21/2018 at 6:20 PM, sek69 said:

One of the many reasons WON HOF talk is so frustrating is that the entire list of Mexican candidates not only deserves to be in, it's kind of a travesty they haven't already been voted in. 

Even Vampiro?

Anyway, I've decided that the only promoters not already in who deserve to be inducted are Crockett Jr. and Jerry Jarrett because they went beyond what could have been accomplished by playing a pat hand in the territory system. Simply remaining in business for an extended period of time isn't particularly praiseworthy when you're a member of a cartel that protects you from any real competition.

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3 minutes ago, NintendoLogic said:

Even Vampiro?

Anyway, I've decided that the only promoters not already in who deserve to be inducted are Crockett Jr. and Jerry Jarrett because they went beyond what could have been accomplished by playing a pat hand in the territory system. Simply remaining in business for an extended period of time isn't particularly praiseworthy when you're a member of a cartel that protects you from any real competition.

 

Vampiro's probably the one you could argue the most, but the guy was a big star in the 90s in and out of wrestling. He probably gets hurt by most WON readers only knowing him from his goofy WCW run.

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1 minute ago, jushin muta liger said:

I find that hard to believe cause I swear I remember Dave talking about putting Rocky Johnson back on the ballot years ago cause he looked through research about him during his time in San Francisco .

I want to see more research on Johnson. He came off as a big deal in the 78 Houston footage. Likewise in 81 Portland. And obviously he got a really big push in Memphis. I'm pretty sure he was pushed heavily at times in Florida too.

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I seem to detest the WON HOF a little more each year, but my reasons for detesting it seem to change each time around. In the past I've complained about it being a place to acknowledge WON-driven historiography over history, and while my complaints this time around are rooted in that, it's really something bigger. I think the way WWE has changed their methods of making money has really flipped the entire lens through which hardcore fans view pro wrestling, of which this HOF is a celebration, on its ass. The idea that we can just declare who drew money and who didn't based on limited data, virtually no context, and awfully opinionated numbers is problematic. There are genuine draws in wrestling history to be certain, but I think most people that we label that way (or purposefully label *not* that way) are either those who have the good luck or misfortune to live off the top of an already thriving or sinking promotional run. I don't think the idea of a HOF is completely useless, but I do think the standards most people use are at best an outdated paradigm. I personally find it much more fruitful to treat it as a chance to learn more about the people who are on the ballot -- and stop there -- instead of assessing anyone's candidacy. Going that route, I've learned quite a bit of interesting stuff about Johnny Barend and June Byers already.

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