The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class has held many surprises. Some that should have been inducted a long time ago, and some that many thought might never get in. There are many out there that are still deserving, but I want to take a moment to reflect on those receiving the honor.
The headliner for the ceremony is Kurt Angle. The first and only Olympic Gold Medal wrestler to ever win the WWE Title. Upon his arrival in November 1999 he made an immediate impact. By Wrestlemania 2000 he held both the Intercontential and European Championships, and before the year was up he would go on and defeat the Rock for the WWE Championship. He would continue to be a mainstay at the top of the card on both Raw, Smackdown and eventually ECW.
There has never been a wrestler make a bigger impact as fast as Angle. If you want to go back and relive some of his greatest moments here are a few to check out. His Wrestlemania 2000 match with Beniot (Yes I used his name, and recommending a match with him in it) and Jericho is a instant classic. His Raw cage match with the aforementioned Beniot that has some truly crazy spots. During the invasion Angle and most of his career, check out his promo’s with Austin and the Rock. Lastly, his Smackdown run from late 2002 into 2004, there is a reason it was the best brand at the time, and he was a big part of it.
This was a surprise to many people. Did DDP do enough to get himself in the Hall of Fame? Well he didn’t have a long WWE run, but in WCW there was not anyone that worked harder. I think this is for more than just wrestling though. There is not anyone who has put more effort into changing former and current wrestler’s lives than DDP. He saved the life of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Scott Hall and is working on Vader. He has currently helped Chris Jericho, Goldust, and numerous more around the locker room. And he has done it all through his DDP Yoga program. If for nothing else, changing the lives of so many people makes him Hall of Fame worthy.
Check out his 1997 program with Randy Savage, it was the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year. He was also able to hit his Diamond Cutter from just about any position and always found new ways to incorporate it. I am sure there is a YouTube video that shows his creativity. And if you need help getting in shape, give DDP Yoga a shot.
It is long overdue for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to be in the Hall of Fame. They are without a doubt one of the greatest tag teams of all time. During the late to mid 80’s with Jim Crockett promotions, the late 80’s with WCW, and the early 90’s with Smokey Mountain Wrestling they were one of the top draws.
The way the shows were set up in the 80’s there were two groups in separate towns. Show A would be headlined with the World Champ Ric Flair, and show B would be headlined by The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. According the Ricky Morton they would sell out every night. They were possibly the biggest draw in the business. Check out their run from 85 to 88 and their matches with The Andersons, The Russians, The Midnight Express, and The Four Horsemen. Every match is great as Ricky Morton so well the people acted like he was being murdered.
He may be most remembered for his time spent in control of Smackdown, but I remember him as the referee who turned on the Road Warriors.
In 1989, he spent his time as a referee, then he turned and cost the Road Warriors the tag team titles. He then brought in the Skyscrappers to take over the tag team division. He would also go on to manage Doom, The One Man Gang, and Johnny B. Badd to name a few. He is a great personality and incredible on the mic. The greatest part of his career and when he could really shine was in front of the camera as Smackdown general manager.
Phoenix came into the WWE when the focus of the women’s division was being a WWE Diva. She was not the prototypical diva: She was taller, bigger, and more muscular than anyone else in the division. She was one of the few women ever to participate in the Royal Rumble match. I will admit that most of her time in the WWE was during a period that I rarely watched, but her run at the Glamazon and with Santino Marella as Glamarella were some of her best angles.
Brett Hart has stated that Rude was one of the most talented workers and best technicians in the business. To me it seems that he never gets the appreciation that he deserves. To steal a line from him, he had the look that made “all the men want to be like him and all the women want to be with him.”
Starting in the early 80’s he went through various promotions, always making his way to the top. In 1985, he held the NWA North American Championship while in WCCW. He even teamed with the Dingo Warrior (The Ultimate Warrior), before moving on to Jim Crockett In 1986. He and Manny Fernandez defeated the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to become NWA Tag Champs, but would move onto WWF without dropping the titles.
While In WWE, he found success with the Heenan Family, feuding with Jake Roberts and the Ultimate Warrior. One of my greatest memories of the Warrior feud was the way Rude would sell. Warrior beat on his abdomen all match, when Rude finally turned the tables and got Warrior down, he went to do his signature hip swivel, but he was in too much pain from the beating he had taken. The way he would sell was a work of art.
In 1991, Rude would go to WCW and join the Dangerous Alliance. His two hottest feuds were against Sting and Ricky Steamboat. If you have never watched Rude work check out these feuds and any promo he ever cut as he was magic on the mic.
So to end this with in the words of Rude, “All you fat, out of shape, sweathogs, be quiet while I take my robe off and show you what a real man look like. Hit my music!”