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2009 WON HOF thread


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My podcasts with voter and wrestling jack of all trades Kurt Brown on the subject:

 

Part 1

Part 2

 

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PERFORMERS LIST

Gene & Ole Anderson

The Assassins (Tom Renesto & Jody Hamilton)

Atlantis

Red Bastien

Carlos Colon

Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree)

Edge

George Gordienko

Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero

Gran Hamada

Volk Han

Owen Hart

Curt Hennig

Chris Jericho

Rocky Johnson

Ivan Koloff

Konnan

Karloff Lagarde

Mark Lewin

Jose Lothario

Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)

Mick McManus

Bill Miller

Fabulous Moolah

Pedro Morales

Dick Murdoch

Rey Mysterio

Kendo Nagasaki

Jackie Pallo

Blue Panther

Rollerball Mark Rocco

Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)

Rick Rude

Sabu

Masa Saito

Seiji Sakaguchi

Kensuke Sasaki

Hans Schmidt

Sgt. Slaughter

Jimmy Snuka

Wilbur Snyder

Sting

Kiyoshi Tamura

John Tolos

Enrique Torres

Vampiro

Villano III

Dr. Wagner Jr.

Dr. Wagner Sr.

Johnny "Mr. Wrestling II" Walker

Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods

 

NON-WRESTLERS LIST

Lou Albano

Jim Crockett Jr.

Gary Hart

Jerry Jarrett

Gorilla Monsoon

Dr. Alfonso Morales

Don Owen

Roy Shire

Jesse Ventura

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It almost seems like the inclusion of British/Euro guys is a giant troll on the part of Dave against the people who were asking for them to be included in the HOF. The way it's set up is that while those guys finally are on the ballot, it's seemingly done in a way where almost none have any real chance since the only info most of the voters have is what they read in the WON (where it's established Dave doesn't really understand how the business is completely different over there). Then there will be the fallback of "well we had those guys on the ballot and no one voted for them so I guess they weren't HOF worthy after all".

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The way the voting is set up, though, the small number of Euro candidates makes it likely that someone will go in.

 

Realistically, though, some of these guys shouldn't even be voted on because they're such easy candidates for those w/ Euro knowledge.

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The problem is not much knowledge is available or even online. For instance, I read in the online archive of the German version of the Times/Newsweek that around 1950 crowds of 20 000 - 25 000 were common in Paris and Madrid. Compare that with Thesz vs. Leone and tell me why Europeans and not Americans from that era have problems getting into the HoF

 

In that aspect I hope numbers will at some point be available for the Wilson Kohlbrecher vs Abel Cestac "boxing" match from 1956 in Vienna (the Heumarkt "venue" were the tournaments were held). Both were former boxers who I know were participating in wrestling tournaments, so it was probably a gimmick match, maybe a worked boxing match, maybe a real fight. I dunno - but I bet it happened during a wrestling card.

BoxRec had that bout for quite some time listed, I wonder who tipped them off. One estimate for that crowd was 20k, so I guess it might have been a +15k crowd

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From today's WON, talking about the strengths and weaknesses of some on the ballot, regarding Edge:

 

Fares very well when it comes to the Murdoch comparisons. He was more of a national star, carried and headlined bigger territories, held more major championships, was closer to the pinnacle of the profession and even if he wasn’t a better worker (and you could have a great argument he was), was a more effective and consistent worker and did more with his talent.

Find me the man who says Edge was a better worker than Dick Murdoch, and I will slap them in the face.

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Yeah, I cringed when I read that.

 

I also found it strange that the following was listed as an argument against Rey: "His historical significance is higher than most, but in some circles people don’t take that seriously, citing others of his size with great talent haven’t gotten breaks and rather than opening a door, he was just a unique person who got over as a star because of his unique ability, and has maintained star status because most wrestlers love working with him."

 

So he was unique, got over as a star and is held in high esteem by his peers? Yeah, what a shitty package. Fuck that midget.

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Also what did Edge "carry?"

 

He absolutely was the top heel in the company for a brief period - primarily because of the impact of injuries as I recall - but was there ever a period when he was a clear top draw or even a clear draw at all? In some respects I think his biggest Impact as a draw may have been teaming with Christian opposite the Hardyz and the Dudz though that is ultimately a guess and nothing more. I think you can make the case he was a surprisingly strong worker for a couple of years, but he's a guy who is almost entirely dependent on a quality second for his heat. His matches with Matt Hardy were great, he was a surprisingly strong opponent for Angle in 02, and in 06 he had a career year because the heat he was leeching off of Lita really translated well into the setting he was thrown in (v. Foley, with Foley v. Funk/Dreamer, v. Cena TLC). Other than that it's a lot of hit and miss with mostly misses. I'll give him credit for being a guy who usually works well in gimmick matches, but that's not something that makes him outstanding on its own.

 

Really the fact that someone would criticize Rey's candidacy, while hyping Edge's, is a good sign that the person in question is either clueless or a hopeless mark for Edge. Rey was a much better worker, for much longer, a much bigger influence, has a record as a draw, has a record as a massive merch seller and has a record as a guy that brought an entirely new style and demographic into the World of mainstream U.S. wrestling. I'd say for guys from the 90's/00's that aren't in already there really is no one with a better argument than Rey - Edge isn't even in his universe as a candidate.

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I think Dave considers Raw and Smackdown to be different territories.

 

Really, it's almost impossible for me to see a case for HOF entry for anyone based on what they've done in this era. Concepts sell more than stars or grudge matches in the current format, which is why a poorly-promoted Wrestlemania will always get a better buyrate than a B-show with a brilliant buildup. And I think WWE likes it that way because they've created a business model where they can basically rotate the cast and everything ultimately stays the same.

 

I would hear a case for Cena when he's eligible and consider him. Rey I think is HOF slam dunk pick and I don't see a case against him at all. Chris Jericho is to me the ultimate borderline candidate and someone should Gordy List him. But with Edge, I just don't see the value in spending time discussing him as a candidate.

 

Any business boost that took place when Edge was on top (which I'm not denying existed) would have likely happened no matter who was in that spot. There is almost always a ratings and business boost in the first quarter of the year, which is right after Edge used Money In The Bank.

 

What makes Edge a stronger candidate than Batista or Randy Orton? He's a guy who since 2000 has never been pushed as anything below upper midcard, who no one bought as a main eventer until he was programmed against John Cena. That's not a case for Edge as a HOFer, that's a case for Cena's aura helping put Edge over the top.

 

It's also worth noting that the ratings Edge drew that Dave loves to cite were the result of WWE promoting live sex between him and Lita, followed by a mini-program with Ric Flair, a consistent ratings draw almost as long as wrestling has been broadcast on national television. It's not something that should be downplayed, as WWE deserves credit for programming a guy they were trying to push against an established star with a track record of drawing ratings, but it's not a HOF argument either.

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Really, it's almost impossible for me to see a case for HOF entry for anyone based on what they've done in this era. Concepts sell more than stars or grudge matches in the current format, which is why a poorly-promoted Wrestlemania will always get a better buyrate than a B-show with a brilliant buildup. And I think WWE likes it that way because they've created a business model where they can basically rotate the cast and everything ultimately stays the same.

 

I would hear a case for Cena when he's eligible and consider him. Rey I think is HOF slam dunk pick and I don't see a case against him at all. Chris Jericho is to me the ultimate borderline candidate and someone should Gordy List him. But with Edge, I just don't see the value in spending time discussing him as a candidate.

I agree with just about all of this.

 

Cena is going to be make an interesting candidate in a few years, because he does have more crossover appeal and star power than virtually anyone else around today, but even he doesnt' feel like a shoe in despite being the face of the company for the entirety of a very profitable period.

 

Jericho is a guy I don't think is close and frankly I don't see how he is any better or worse a candidate than Edge. Better worker and a more compelling act overall, but his feud with Michaels was not successful as a buyrate draw and that is the only real feather in his cap over the last few years. Does have some broader name value than most outside of the sport I guess, but it's not like he is an A-list star or even a major B-list star. He's had a very solid run as a heel the last couple of years and his series with Mysterio was great, but again these aren't things that get a guy who was off the radar for HoF contention on the radar for HoF contention.

 

I like Jericho a good bit, but honestly I'm not sure that he's a better candidate than Goldberg, and Goldberg is someone that gets laughed at for whatever reason every time his name comes up.

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If Edge is a strong candidate then anyone with a decent length main event tenure and some good matches is a headliner.

 

During one of a zillion Angle HOF debates, Alvarez argued that Angle having several years as a top guy in the current climate is a big deal, which doesn't make much sense, especially since he had barely 4 years as a headliner when he was voted in, and, well, look at how stale the main event scene is now on Raw and has been at other times. It has nothing to do with how much anyone draws. Nobody is a singular house show draw other than Rey at times. In the same WON as the Edge deal above, Meltzer talks about how WWE PPVs based around concepts draw better than who's feuding with who over what. They can't have it both ways.

 

Dave discussing the impact of Saito, Hamada, and Konnan in different countries without mentioning the regional voting issues was strange. If Konnan is classified among the "Mexican" candidates, why should his US stint even matter? If Kendo Nagasaki was a huge star in the UK and is classified as a UK guy, then who cares if he wasn't a big success in North America during a brief stint (by the way, did he work anywhere in North America besides Stampede?)

 

I thought it was really disingenuous to not mention the Brody cover-up as a weakness for Colon given how it seems to affect voters.

 

He says that a weakness for Big Daddy is that he was never in demand outside of the UK. Well, who was? Stu Hart was pretty much the only promoter who kept up with the UK scene, and the fact that Dave is so admittedly uninformed about UK (well, European in general) wrestling given his knowledge of much of the rest of the world solidifies that point. Several of the few British stars in the US (Robinson, Bulldogs, Geoff Portz) came through Stampede, a minor territory that also used a bunch of Brits who didn't work in any other NA territories. Even among tape trading hardcore fans, there wasn't much interest until the DVDVR board and some indy wrestlers who read it started going nuts over the stuff (and given the popularity of Sayama, Davey Boy, and Dynamite amongst the older traders, it's kind of shocking that this stuff wasn't widely pimped decades ago), and that was in the early aughts. Then the TWC shows came along and interest grew.

 

Not sure what he meant here when talking about Koloff:

Even though he was one of Sammartino and Gagne’s top rivals at different points, and Ole Anderson & Ivan Koloff vs. Dusty Rhodes with a variety of partners was legendary in Georgia, his legacy doesn’t match his production.

Was Murdoch's rep really for having lots of bad matches if he was in a bad mood? That really seems like a Meltzer creation or a misinterpretation of his tendency to goof off. Would someone like Bill Watts have really used him so much if he was such an awful worker when "moody"?

 

Dave says that Rocco wasn't a great draw but I'm not sure if there are any records to back that up. Someone at RIM mentioned that when he headlined regular at Kings Hall at Belle Vue that he was remembered as a strong draw.

 

Someone like Rick Rude makes me think we should re-think how we look at the HOF to some degree. He's not a great "paper" candidate as far as drawing or title reigns, but he was an incredibly talented heel with super charisma who could work his ass off and talk well. He's one of the most well-remembered wrestlers of his generation who has the weird not a top guy but still in the mainstream consciousness trait of someone like Jake Roberts (One could probably argue that he earned it more than Roberts who, while a great performer before 1993, probably got that way more from the "Jake the Snake" name being coupled with him actually having a snake in the WWF). The more I think about it, the more I think "Yeah, y'know what? He's a Hall of Famer." Sometimes, maybe you do have to make picks based on fuzzy feelings as opposed to statistics or groupthink.

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I'm a huge Rude mark and listened to you and Kurt talk about him and even after being shocked by how great he was in 92 WCW (to the point where I think he was a legit candidate for best in the World that year) I really, really, think it's a bad idea to let someone like that in.

 

Rude was a great heel and probably one of the more underrated workers of his era, but he was not only a non-factor as a draw, but arguably someone that was a credibility killer for promotions when he was on top. His run as World Class "World Champ" is consistently cited as a moment when the company was obviously a sinking stone. I loved his WCW run, but I knew many people at the time that thought he was a joke as World Champion level wrestler and from memory the houses were shit at the time. I'm not blaming Rude for these things, but if Hennig gets negative credit for not drawing against Hogan, Rude should get negative credit for things like that. Especially because Hennig is also a guy that is fondly remembered by many and has a household name feel to him.

 

My point is that if you make picks based on "fuzzy feelings" or whatever, the case for guys like Edge suddenly doesn't look like such bullshit because their aren't really any standards at all.

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I'm a huge Rude mark and listened to you and Kurt talk about him and even after being shocked by how great he was in 92 WCW (to the point where I think he was a legit candidate for best in the World that year) I really, really, think it's a bad idea to let someone like that in.

 

Rude was a great heel and probably one of the more underrated workers of his era, but he was not only a non-factor as a draw, but arguably someone that was a credibility killer for promotions when he was on top. His run as World Class "World Champ" is consistently cited as a moment when the company was obviously a sinking stone. I loved his WCW run, but I knew many people at the time that thought he was a joke as World Champion level wrestler and from memory the houses were shit at the time. I'm not blaming Rude for these things, but if Hennig gets negative credit for not drawing against Hogan, Rude should get negative credit for things like that. Especially because Hennig is also a guy that is fondly remembered by many and has a household name feel to him.

 

My point is that if you make picks based on "fuzzy feelings" or whatever, the case for guys like Edge suddenly doesn't look like such bullshit because their aren't really any standards at all.

First off, to clarify, the WCWA World Title deal is a little bit more complicated than that. Fritz was already booking Flair a lot less in '85 than in previous years because the NWA wouldn't give Kerry another title reign. According to Gary Hart (and this does make a lot of sense), Watts and Ken Mantell urged Fritz to split from the NWA because that would mean that he wouldn't get NWA backup when they double-crossed him and invaded Dallas/Ft. Worth. The problem wasn't Rude as champion. The problem was suddenly dropping NWA ties after stressing how it's the only real world title for years and then suddenly awarding the new world title to the American Champion without a tournament or anything like that. They were already struggling to some degree with Gino Hernandez's death, the 3rd or 4th Von Erichs-Freebirds feud on top, etc, though Parade of Champions still drew a strong crowd of over 24,000 with Rude-Brody as one of the 3 main events along w/ Brody-Gordy and the zillions Freebirds-Von Erichs match And then Watts raided most of the key talent. And then Kerry had his motorcycle accident. The title didn't become a total joke until Adams left and they decided to put it on Black Bart of all people via phantom win. Anyway, I don't think Rude should be blamed for any of the promotion's problems.

 

Now, I get what you're saying, and on some level I even agree with you, but maybe this is a better way to put it: If say, Chris The Babykiller can go in for just being this overwhelmingly fantastic wrestler who couldn't talk or draw, shouldn't someone like Rude be able to go in for being an overwhelmingly fantastic heel (and a guy who figured out how to have a great match with the Ultimate Warrior without a Pat Patterson main event style layout, which is like whoa) who wasn't a great draw? More like other subjective criteria other than just straight up in-ring ability or "historical impact." There's only one real objective measure in drawing (title reigns shouldn't really count except as a guide to pushes in different areas), and we already have some subjective ones in place, so why not more? In addition to in-ring and impact, why not the top level promo guys, heels, and faces?

 

Oh, and going by your post, shouldn't someone who had a year as best in the world be a strong candidate? Is there anyone who's been best in the world for a decent stretch until the business changes of the last decade who's not a legit HOF candidate?

 

Hennig has similarities, but the run that puts him there was also only about 2.5 years long. At least Rude or even Jake had decade-long runs as their memorable characters. And Edge has had 3 years as a main eventer, at least 1/3 of which was spent on the shelf.

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When I read the HOF discussion issue this afternoon, I was completely gobsmacked by Dave making a strong case for Edge. Is Edge a better candidate than Sting? Luger? Any number of guys who Meltzer would laugh off the ballot? He's been a headliner for about 3 and a half years now, has missed at least a year of that due to injuries, and has clearly been slotted behind Cena, HHH, Undertaker, Michaels, and at times Orton and Batista during that period. Guys like Luger and Sid fall off the ballot immediately, Goldberg and Big Show can't even get on the ballot, yet this is the guy Meltzer pushes? Well, hey, it's his Hall of Fame.

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I don't think it's fair to say nobody from WWE is a draw and no one should go into the Hall. The WWE of 2001-2004 was a dying company. HHH had soundly buried everyone he had feuded with on RAW, Lesnar left, Eddie freaked out under the pressure, JBL was one of the worst drawing champions the company had ever seen, and the entire company was incredibly stale. I don't care how strong the WWE brand name may be, things were in danger of getting pretty ugly. Guys like Cena, Batista, Orton, and Edge helped breathe some new life into the company and allowed them to pump out profits for at least another half-decade.

 

In 2003, they did something like 6,000 people for an MSG house show. The last several house shows there have been sellouts. No one person was responsible for those sellouts like a Bruno was, but clearly something beyond the WWE brand name ignited business. You couldn't just plug anyone into the main event slots and expect business to keep humming along. The WWE name isn't that strong. Somebody deserves credit for the company still being so huge, even if it's a different type of credit than someone from the 80's may get. I'm not saying Edge should necessarily be in, but someone like Cena would be an easy pick for me. Little kids don't make their parents take them to shows because they're in love with the WWE machine. They come to shows in their Cena and Rey gear and those guys are definitely draws.

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