It’s been a pretty buzz worthy week for professional wrestling hasn?t it? We have had 3 major world title changes in last weekend’s Elimination Chamber PPV; we have seen the card piece itself together for what should be a very interesting Wrestlemania 26 show in a month, and we have seen WWE’s vision for ?The next evolution in sports entertainment? NXT. Wrestling fans are at an all time excitement because the present looks strong with WWE doing so well and TNA soon to attempt to challenge them on Mondays and with NXT and that TNA challenge the future would appear sunny for the industry as a whole. Of course I have never been one to look forward as much as I have been to look to the past and when I look to the past in this instance I am talking about this year’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony that will be held as always the night before Wrestlemania. I have often said that the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony is a work to everyone except the talent involved and this year it would appear that a handful of individuals figured that out and are on the verge of alienating a ton of wrestling fans?you?re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
It should be made official within a week or two that Stu Hart will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. That was one of the agreed upon stipulations of Bret Hart’s current deal with the WWE. What some people don?t know is that Bret strongly wanted the honor of inducting his late brother, the great Owen Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame and that looks to not be happening this year or any other year, not because of WWE, not because of Bret Hart but because of Owen’s widow Martha. I can?t say I understand what it is like to lose a spouse. It’s never happened to me nor do I wish to have to have that experience, but I can imagine it’s painful. I don?t know how hard it is for Martha to raise hers and Owens children without her husband knowing that it has now been almost 11 years since her husband was taken from us too soon, but I can imagine it has been difficult and quite possibly the biggest test of her life. What I do know is I was, am and always will be a tremendous fan of her husband. I?ve recounted the tale of meeting her husband in this column and on shows before. He was the first wrestler I ever had the privilege of meeting to and talking to and the impression he made upon me energized my enthusiasm for the business and is a big part of why I do what I do now. I?m not going to pretend I knew Owen because I didn?t but one thing I couldn?t help but gleam from my chance meeting with him is that he really loved the wrestling business and I truly believe he really loved the wrestling fans. He may have never been the most popular wrestler in the business, he might have been the most hated at times when he was feuding with his brother Bret but I can definitely say he was one of the most respected amongst his peers and definitely amongst anyone who would call themselves a wrestling fan.
The Hall of Fame is a work Martha, it was conceived as a way to pay tribute to the departed Andre The Giant and it became a way to sell out a building and make a big payday the night before Wrestlemania. At least that’s what I believe it to be to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. I?m not sure if that’s the case for the wrestlers who show up every year to pay tribute to their peers or for the wrestlers who have been inducted in past years and while as a fan I can acknowledge the ceremony to be a cash grab it is still my favorite part of Wrestlemania weekend. This will be my third straight year attending Wrestlemania weekend and being in attendance at the Hall of Fame. My first year I wanted to be on hand as my all time favorite wrestler Ric Flair was inducted and I saw and felt genuine emotion with all involved that night, my second year there was another of my favorites ?Stone Cold? Steve Austin who I also felt was genuinely touched to be honored not by the promotion, but by his peers and his fans. Martha I can understand if you or your children feel you don?t need the money that comes with having your husband honored that weekend, I can even understand if you have ill feelings towards Vince McMahon and the WWE for what you feel was a wrong that can never be righted but what about those fans who helped build the house you live in? This may be hard to realize but regardless of whether Owen was pressured into doing the stunt that took his life no one and I do mean no one wished for what happened to transpire. I am sure that despite the heartless nature Vince McMahon is often depicted as having that it bothers him deep down inside that someone he worked with for years died on his watch, in his ring. Owen was not some drug addicted wrestler, he was a family man and a great performer and it wasn?t just a loss for the wrestling business but a loss for everyone to lose such a person. I am sure Owen wouldn?t want you to hold such grudges when at the end of the day he knew that what happened was an accident. I am sure he wouldn?t want you to deprive the fans to honor him one last time. I know you don?t have the best of dealings with the Hart family but I am sure it would mean the world to them to have their family member honored in the field that he dedicated, the field that he gave his life to. Don?t you want your children Oje and Athena to see what their father meant to the world? Don?t deprive them of that, don?t deprive us as fans the opportunity to say thank you and to truly say goodbye. Let’s let go of the anger towards the WWE, towards the wresting business and let’s celebrate Owen one more time.
I wish I could say Martha Hart was the only person guilty of not giving into the fans this week but she is not alone in that category. In my everyday life and even in emails I have had people ask me who I thought was going to be the headline attraction of this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony and I would answer very quickly ?The Ultimate Warrior?. I wasn?t guessing, it was a very loose, not well kept secret that WWE and The Ultimate Warrior have been talking for some time now. Relations between the sides have subsided since the release of ?The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior? DVD and even though Warrior lost his lawsuits against WWE, WWE was eager to suture the wounds that needed repairing and it was pretty much almost a done deal that the Ultimate Warrior was going to allow himself to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have a source in WWE who has told me this is strictly for monetary reasons but I don?t really believe that to be the case. I believe that Warrior is concerned with how he will look being back in bed with WWE after their attempts to kill off his history in there company. If that is the case I say ?Let it go?. I know Warrior was never a big fan of the wrestling business, he has said it on many occasions that it was just a job to him and that’s understandable but I don?t really believe that. If that was the case why the comeback match a few years ago? Why the website, the public speaking appearances and the numerous blogs. Who did he think he was speaking to if not the wrestling fans that made him what he is today?
Warrior I say this with all due respect but has it ever occurred to you that you may be just as big of a mark for yourself as the rest of us who were fans were for you? Otherwise why not just disappear? You wanted the attention, who knows? Maybe you enjoyed playing the part of the rebel for your fans but those days are over and I am sure that just as was the case with Owen Hart there are a great many fans who want to honor you for that one day and want to hear what you have to say upon receiving that honor. Should you be properly compensated? Absolutely it is no secret between the sellout crowd, DVD, and TV special that Vince rakes in quite the penny for this event but don?t let this be just about money and don?t make it about settling old scores. Wrestling fans have been trying to say ?Thank you Warrior? for years this could be your way to maybe reciprocate and say ?Thank you? to the fans. We deserve it after all there would be no ?Warrior Nation? without the fans.
Warrior, Martha there is still time to make that call. Call Vince, negotiate a fair and reasonable price and be on hand not just for yourselves but for the wrestling fans that made it possible for the quality of life you have enjoyed, the fame that you currently have. Give us something back for a change for the cheers that we gave night after night for the duration of your careers. I promise the night will be equally fulfilling for you as it would be for the fans if you let it happen. There is still time to do the right thing.
The Hall of Fame may be a work to Vince McMahon but in writing this column I honestly feel that it means so much to the wrestling fans; after all how many years do you see fans arguing over who did and didn?t get inducted. It’s something special to the fans and as much of a ploy for cash as it may be for Vince maybe just maybe that one night is the realest night of the year to be a wrestling fan.
On that note it’s time to wrap up this week’s column. As usual if you like the column, hate the column or just have a question to ask or something to say the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been trying to get on top of all my email and I think I have answered everyone who has emailed me so please keep sending your emails in. Next week, I will try to do better and until then, I am out.