It’s getting to be that time of year again when the rumor mill begins to churn about who will be inducted into the next WWE Hall Of Fame class as part of WrestleMania 32 weekend. Hopefully all of the rumors that we are hearing are true and Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy Jack Roberts, better known as the Fabulous Freebirds, will finally get their due and be elected. Considering their most memorable run took place in this year’s host city for WrestleMania, Dallas, Texas it only makes sense to do so now. Their feud with the Von Erich boys is one of the most memorable in the history of the business.
I’m also hearing that Sting may be getting in this year, which makes sense as it seems his wrestling days are numbered at this point. There are also rumors out and about that possibly the Undertaker could be getting in as well. While Taker being inducted in Texas would make the most sense, it would all depend on whether or not WrestleMania 32 would be his last match. Either way Sting and or Undertaker would represent the headliner of this year’s class.
Now the question that swirls around is who else should be elected? Now before we begin, remember despite what Vince McMahon and the rest of WWE management will say, it is in fact a popularity contest and there are major agendas behind who is selected and when they are selected. How else could you explain Randy Savage taking forever to be inducted?
That said, every year when the WWE Hall of Fame is discussed I still scratch my head over some who are already in. Check out this list and tell me how the heck their names are part of the hall; Bob Armstrong, The Bushwhackers, Johnny Rodz, Koko B. Ware, Nikolai Volkoff, Rikishi and Rocky Johnson to name a few. Let’s be honest if a particular major movie star wasn’t related to the last two names on the list, would they really be in the hall? Also, Johnny Rodz got in because he was a company guy who trained many of the stars. But then you might as well put Charlie Lau in the baseball Hall of Fame because he was a great hitting coach. And as far as Volkoff and Koko are concerned, I’ve burned too many brain cells trying to figure out their inclusion.
As far as other possible inductees for this year’s class is concerned there are many other deserving candidates, including; The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, Bruiser Brody, Owen Hart, Lance Russell, Brian Pillman, Chris Adams, The Great Muta, Ultimo Dragon, Ivan Koloff and the tag team of Edge and Christian just to name a few. To me all are worthy and hopefully all will be inducted one day. But I’d like to make a case for a couple of guys who I strongly believe should be in, especially one whose name I never hear mentioned.
My first candidate is Ravishing Rick Rude. Occasionally, you will hear Rude’s name mentioned by some fans and writers as a possible inductee. But to be honest, I think most people think he’s already in, but sadly that is not the case. The only reason that comes to mind as to why he isn’t in is due to the way he unceremoniously left the WWF to join WCW during the heat of the Monday Night Wars. Sorry if that offended you Vince, but it’s time to move him from the alumni section on your website to the Hall of Fame section.
Before we saw The Ravishing One in WWF asking “all of the fat, out of shape sweat hogs to keep the noise down” while he took his robe off “to show all of the ladies in the audience what a real sexy man is supposed to look like”, he had a tremendous career battling some of the top names in the business around the country.
After a brief run in the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions where Rude was utilized as a tag team wrestler, he moved on to the Memphis territory where his career began to take off. He was managed by Jimmy Hart and had two very intense feuds; one with King Kong Bundy and the other with the king of Memphis wrestling, Jerry Lawler.
Rude continued his dominance south of the Mason Dixon line with his new manager Percy Pringle and won his first major championship by defeating Pistol Pez Whatley for the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship. Rude and Pringle later went to Dallas to wrestle for World Class Championship Wrestling where he was crowned the company’s first Heavyweight Champion after World Class severed their ties with the NWA.
Shortly thereafter Rick began his memorable run in the WWF under the tutelage of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. After Rick’s initial feud with Paul Orndorff, maybe his most famous WWF rivalry began, as a series of memorable promos about and matches against Jake Roberts began. This feud began with the memorable rejection of Rude’s advances towards Jake’s wife Cheryl. Then things got even more heated when Rick had an image of Cheryl Roberts drawn into his wrestling tights. This would become a trend with all feuds of Rude moving forward.
Rick tasted championship gold for the first, and only time for WWF, when he won the Intercontinental Championship after he defeated The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania V. While this would be the only title run for Rude in the WWF, the impact he made in the company and on the fans was powerful.
After leaving WWF, Rude went on to WCW where he suffered a severe neck injury which limited him in the ring and eventually led to his roles as manager, announcer and insurance policy in ECW, WCW and WWF. One of the most memorable moments in Rick’s non wrestling days was November 17, 1997 when he appeared on both the taped episode of WWF’s RAW and the live episode of WCW’s Nitro during the peak of the Monday Night Wars.
Sadly the wrestling world lost Rick Rude on April 20, 1999 at the age of 40. In the 16 years since his untimely death he’s seemed to have been forgotten by many. I am hoping though that when the voting for this year’s Hall of Fame occurs, this memorable wrestler who was one of the hottest heels in the WWF during its heyday in the 80’s will be remembered.
Another wrestler who I would love to see inducted by the WWE is a man whose name we never hear mentioned, Rick Martel. Now I have to admit I am extremely biased here, as Rick has been one of my top 3 favorite wrestlers of all time for many years. That said though, when you look at his body of work, you can’t help but ask how he has been overlooked.
The list of wrestlers who have come from Canada is a who’s who including some of the greatest names of all time. The Great White North has given us the likes of the Hart Family, Pat Patterson, Edge and Christian, Roddy Piper, Dino Bravo, The Vachon’s, Ivan Koloff and Lance Storm to name a few. But for some off reason you rarely hear his name mentioned with the greats of all time. WWE’s terrific original series, “Legends of Wrestling” once did a program on Canadian wrestling and his name was just glossed over.
You can imagine how happy I was to hear that he was being inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York this past spring. I made the over 4 hour ride up to the ceremony and had an amazing time with the highlight being bumping into Rick as I was walking through the HOF and him taking 10 minutes of out his busy day just to talk to me and take a few photos. He was without a doubt one of the nicest professional athletes I have met.
Rick was literally thrown in to the wrestling world at the age of 16 when his brother Michel asked him to replace an injured wrestler on a card he was appearing on. The rest as they say is history. Martel continued to fine tune his craft all over the world in countries like New Zealand and Puerto Rico, while also wrestling in the legendary Stampede Promotion in Calgary, as well as in the NWA’s Portland and Vancouver territories.
Rick’s progress in the ring caught the eye of the WWF owner Vince McMahon Sr. who signed Martel in 1980, where he was teamed with Tony Garea and the duo won a pair of WWF tag team titles by first defeating the Wild Samoans and later the Moondogs.
In 1982 Rick joined Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA). It was in the AWA that Rick was the company’s poster boy as he quickly ascended up the rankings. It culminated in 1984 when Rick defeated Jumbo Tsuruta and became the AWA Heavyweight Champion. He would hold on to the belt for an amazing 595 days, which is the third longest reign in the company’s history. During his title run, Rick had amazing matches with the likes of Nick Bockwinkel, Stan Hansen, and others including his inter-promotional battles with the then NWA Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair as part of the ill fated Pro Wrestling USA venture.
Rick would return to the WWF in 1986, and he also returned to the Tag Team division with Tom Zenk and the duo formed the Can Am Connection. The pair was an exciting team that combined speed and some high flying moves. However, their pairing didn’t last long and Martel replaced Zenk with the great Tito Santana and the team was renamed Strike Force. They were an awesome team; a duo of two real pros who knew how to put on great matches and work well off each other. Strike Force went on to win the WWF Tag Team Titles by defeating the Hart Foundation.
Like all good things though, Strike Force did come to an end at Wrestlemania V when Tito accidently hit Rick and the team lost to the Brain Busters. A feud began that ultimately lead to the transformation of Rick Martel to the Model.
Martel pulled off the nearly impossible as he was a lifelong baby face, who became one the most disliked wrestlers. Rick would win many of his matches with the assistance of his famous cologne arrogance. The Model went on to have several memorable feuds with the likes of Jake Roberts, Tatanka and Shawn Michales.
After leaving WWF for a second time, Rick went to WCW where he had a very short run with the company as a result of a serious leg injury he sustained in a match against Booker T and Perry Saturn. Sadly, this injury led to Rick’s early retirement from the squared circle. However when you look at the achievements (21 championships around the world including 3 time WWF Tag Team Champion and the third longest reigning AWA Heavyweight Champion) along with the ability to have a long successful career using two completely different personas, it’s easy to see that Rick Martel belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame!
Is there anyone who you’d like to see in the next WWE Hall of Fame class? Let us know in the comments section below.