Leturgey Musings and Goings On

These are some of my writings...from events going on in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance and elsewhere, to observations from the rest of my decidely unformulaic life.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

One Last Wrestlemania Thought: A Hall of Fame Let-Down

One Last Wrestlemania Thought: A Hall of Fame Let-Down

by Tom Leturgey

We’re finally here, Wrestlemania weekend: the Super Bowl of the sports entertainment industry. I’m glad that Wrestlemania has become a tent-pole for the wrestling industry. This year we’ve returned a little of the glamour, the gusto if you will, to the stage. The faux Donald-slaps-Vince video has been circulating just in time for the Battle of the Billionaires and I love it.
Vince McMahon has actually done a good job volunteering to get pushed and slapped by The Donald. Trump has only looked desperately out of his element, not disastrously away from the golden tower of fleeting respectability.
The card itself is pedestrian. Shawn Michaels, the self-appointed Show-Stopper, finally super-kicked John Cena. Undertaker and Batista have briefly turned heel on each other, and Umaga assured McMahon’s Sunday night loss by destroying Bobby Lashley last Monday. And did I mention that Sandman is on a Wrestlemania card?
Critics are blasting the Kane v. Great Khali feud, but super heavyweights have become a staple of Wrestlemania.
I eagerly await the Hall-of-Fame inductions every year. That event has become a must-see for me, especially around the time of its apex two years ago when the guy I mention in practically every column was inducted.
This year I was more than happy to see my other 1980’s idol, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes was being inducted. The Curt Henning follow up was another no-brainer. The “That’s Perfect” vignette of Henning heaving a football 60 yards into his own waiting arms was enough to cement his enshrinement. Bockwinkle, Lawler and the Wild Samoans were all equally deserving. Mr. Fuji was a little bit of a surprise, but once his biography was unveiled, you realized he was more than just a run-of-the-mill stereotypical cartoon.
It was leaked weeks ago that the Original Sheik was going in as well. I have no recollection of him whatsoever, but have read that he was influential and the event is being held in his hometown, so nothing there was surprising.
The induction Jim Ross was also fitting as if Lawler was going in, why we would wait any longer for his Monday evening partner? As a broadcaster myself, I could feel for the teary J.R. who rose to accept a well-deserved, glorious ovation from the crowd.
There was an omission; however, as there weren’t any women included in this year’s class.
Last year Sensational Sherri Martel was inducted. With her enshrinement I figured that WWE was going to do the right thing and include an occasional woman. Perhaps I’m the only one who’s pushing this envelope, but where’s Wendi Richter?
The only thing I can guess is that the McMahon machine will push Wendi’s induction for two years, the 25th anniversary of the original Wrestlemania. Do we know yet if it will be at Madison Square Garden again, the ONLY venue it should be held?
There are reasons why Wendi wasn’t in this year’s class. I had forgotten about the story of the late Curt Henning asking Wendi out, and her turning him down flat. Legend tells the tale that Henning then told everyone that Wendi more enjoyed the company of other ladies. Who knows and who cares? That might be enough why she won’t be at the podium this year.
Then there’s the original WWE Screw Job. Wrestling historians who consider 1994 ancient grappling olden times will immediately think of the Michaels/Bret Hart/Vinnie Mac Montreal finish in which a quick-count ended Hart’s last WWF run. In fact, Vinnie allegedly orchestrated a similar conclusion to a match in 1985 when the Fabulous Moolah, as a masked Spider Lady, rolled Richter up for a lighting quick pin and a return to the WWF Ladies Championship.
Perhaps that bridge has not yet been mended.
Fact of the matter is, most of the current-day WWE Divas owe their spot to the likes of Wendi Richter, who at the time was a beautiful fitness model-type who was more than a valet, or grizzled Moolah-type veteran. She was given the ball around at the same time as Hulk Hogan, and along with her temporary manager Cyndi Lauper, was at least acknowledged in the mainstream.
Will WWE induct Miss Elizabeth into the Hall of Fame? She too redefined the role of a female manager/valet. Her untimely death, like Henning’s also in 2003, was clouded in a drug-riddled mystery. So Elizabeth Hulette’s induction can’t be off-limits because of narcotics. It would be rude and tacky to include her at the same time as her ex-husband Macho Man Randy Savage when McMahon finally decides to finalize that deal. The couple had what appeared to be a stable union, but in that last WCW run, it was clear that there was plenty of pain and agony between them.
The Hall of Fame crowd two years from now should be interesting. Remembering that first card should be that class’s key, but most of those big names, with the exception of Mr. T, are already in the Hall (and if Pete Rose is in, it would be an insult to not include Clubber Lang). It would be a shame if Richter wasn’t announced for that class.
Consider the campaign for Richter to be in the 2007 Class to be “ON.”


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