Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Class Of 2013

Later this evening, World Wrestling Entertainment will induct the class of 2013 into its Hall of Fame and, as has become a tradition on this blog, I'll write a short piece about each inductee.

Donald Trump
Trump will be the celebrity inductee at this year's ceremony. I suppose he is deserving of some recognition as he has worked with World Wrestling Entertainment on a number of occasions.
His Trump Plaza casino hosted WrestleMania IV and V, he has guest hosted Raw and - more importantly - he was a part of WrestleMania XXIII where he put his hair on the line against Vince McMahon's in a match between Umaga and Bobby Lashley. Trump's representative, Lashley, won the contest so McMahon had his head shaved. Donald Trump's hair broke records as WrestleMania XXIII was the highest grossing Mania until it was.

Trish Stratus
The Canadian female wrestler, Trish Stratus, first became known to the WWE audience when she debuted as a manager in the year 2000. She segued into being a wrestler where she won the WWE women's championship on seven occasions. She retired in 2006 but has made sporadic appearances ever since. She will be inducted by Stephanie McMahon.

Booker T
Booker Huffman began his wrestling career - alongside his brother, Lash - in the Texas area. The pair were a tag team in the Global Wrestling Federation when they met the attention of World Championship Wrestling.
In WCW, the pair were named Harlem Heat and they went on to win the WCW tag team titles ten times. A singles career resulted in him winning many more WCW including the world heavyweight title on four occasions (note to trivia buffs: he later won the WWF version of the WCW title to make it five times).
In 2001, following the sale of WCW to the World Wrestling Federation, Booker joined the WWF and was one of the main characters in the ill-fated invasion angle that should have been huge business for the WWF.
His WWF/WWE career has also seen its wealth of championships with his run as 'King Booker' as world champion being the most memorable.
He spent a short time in TNA and returned to WWE a few years ago. He is currently working on the Smackdown show as the storyline general manager following a spell as color commentator.

Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund is one of the longest reigning W/WWF champions having held the belt from February 1978 to December 1983 (There is a title loss to Antonio Inoki in 1979 that is not recognised by WWF.)
He was one of the marquee names in the New York area because he was billed as a babyface to target the Irish-American fanbase. He left the WWF in the early 1980s when Vince McMahon asked him to dye his ginger hair dark and turn heel.
In 1992, Backlund made his return to the WWF with the storyline being that he was coming back to try and win the world title in the twilight of his career. The initial push wasn't that great. However, in 1994 he was booked to turn heel and was placed into a program with Bret Hart and finally did win the title belt for a second time. His reign didn't last long. In his first defence, he lost in seconds to Diesel.
Backlund would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame long before now but he turned the offer down when he found out that disgraced baseball player, Pete Rose, was being inducted. He felt a celebrity had no place in the WWF Hall of Fame. Kayfabe isn't dead, kids.

Mick Foley
Foley was the first name announced because he is sort of a local boy. He grew up in New York with one of the historic moments in his life being the time he hitchiked to Madison Square Garden - the venue of tonight's ceremony - to see Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka wrestle a cage match against Don Muraco.
Mick Foley trained to be a wrestler under Dominic DeNucci and travelled the USA working for groups such as the UWF, CWA and World Class Championship Wrestling. It was when he signed for World Championship Wrestling that I first knew about him.
His Cactus Jack character was a bit of a nutcase who would take crazy bumps in his matches. As a teenager, my favourite bout of his was at Halloween Havoc of 1993 where he fought Vader.
He left WCW for ECW in 1994 and spent two years there before heading to the World Wrestling Federation.
Foley's WWF career began as the chracter named Mankind. The best way to describe him was as a lunatic wearing a leather Hannibal Lectoresque mask. During his time working for the WWF, Foley also introduced fans to another personality of his - Dude Love - which is the name Foley adopted when he would create backyard wrestling promos on video as a teenager. His Cactus Jack persona also made appearances on WWF television.
You cannot write the Mick Foley story without mentioning the crazy Hell in a Cell match he had with The Undertaker at the King of the Ring event in 1998. The bout saw Foley thrown from the top of the roofed cage and onto the broadcast booth. He later re-climbed the cage and was thrown through a gimmicked hole in the roof into the ring. It became a match that defined his crazy bump taking career.
He is a former three-time WWF champion and has written many books. His first autobiography - Have a Nice Day : A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks - was a New York Times bestseller that was groundbreaking for its time. It opened up the opportunity for other pro wrestlers to write their own memoirs as, up until that tine, publishers felt that there wasn't a market for wrestling autobiographies.
Currently, Foley has been working the comedy circuit and makes appearances on WWE TV.

Bruno Sammartino
The main event of tonight's Hall of Fame ceremony is Bruno Sammartino.
Sammartino grew up in Italy during the Second World War. His childhood involved living in fear of German soldiers and is currently being made into a movie.
Sammartino moved to the USA in the 1950s and eventually became a professional wrestler.
In 1963, Smmartino defeated 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers to become the (W)WWF champion. His reign lasted until 1971 and is still the record for longevity as champion.
A second reign took place between 1973 and 1977.
In recent years, Sammartino had been critical of WWE and had turned down many invitations to be inducted so it is quite the story to have him agree to this.
The best part of Sammartino's induction is that it is taking place at Madison Square Garden - a place where he headlined so many shows during his lengthy reigns as champion.

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