I know that I said that Saturday would be the start of the Meeting of the Minds, but thanks to my wife, I couldn't wait. I felt that it was imperative that we start this before SmackDown tonight. With that said, here's the start of the Mind Gauntlet.
Good luck everyone.
As we heard this past Monday on RAW, the Texas Rattlesnake and Toughest S.O.B. in the WWE Stone Cold Steve Austin will be inducted into the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame in Houston, the night before Wrestlemania. This brings some serious firepower to an already well stocked Hall of Fame that contains Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect & Eddie Guerrero.
But is Austin the start of the Attitude Era being inducted into this year's Hall of Fame? Here's a few names that could be announced in April.
#1) Joanie "Chyna" Laurer
She was considered the Ninth Wonder of the World. She was arguably the toughest woman in the WWE during the Attitude Era. And during her time with WWE, she made history on several occasions.
She is Joanie Laurer...but you can call her "The Breast Damn Woman in Town" Chyna.
She started as the hired muscle of a young Triple H. She was also The Game's love interest before Stephanie McMahon came around. Her arrival alone was monumental as she grabbed Terri "Marlena" Runnels from behind (while in the crowd) and had her in a dangerous chokehold. Over the next few months her targets ranged from Terri to Sable to even The Three Faces of Foley and Austin 3:16.
But it was when she went solo that started her main stint of The Attitude Era of WWE. When Chyna went solo, she was involved with rivalries against Chris Jericho, Hardcore Holly and Jeff Jarrett. She made history when she defeated Jarrett to become the first and only woman to become Intercontinental Champion. She won the gold once more before focusing on the Women's Championship.
Her reign as Women's Champion would come with a price, though. During her rivalry with the Rights to Censor, she suffered an Austin-like injury due to a spike piledriver and was out of competition for several months. In the final stretch of her time with WWE, she worked more behind the scenes as she helped train several of the young Divas to take her place atop the mountain.
It's clear that the late, great Killer Kowalski taught both she and Triple H very well.
#2) Mick Foley
Mrs. Foley's baby boy left one hell of an impact on WWE during his time there. Even before coming to WWE, Foley was making noise in the now-defunct WCW as Cactus Jack. From his rivalries with Van Hammer and Maxx Payne to his war with Vader that led to the departure of a huge chunk of Foley's ear.
When he arrived in WWE, they didn't waste any time throwing him in the mix. Right off the bat, they launched him in a rivalry with The Undertaker. For several months, the two men beat each other within an inch of their lives. It was clear that the rivalry would take a turn for the worse if someone didn't step in...quickly.
Insert Triple H & The Corporation.
Thanks to Triple H's obsession with being WWF Champion, Mick Foley's alter egos would become a huge part of The Attitude Era. Despite being tossed around by Chyna, Mankind would return with a special friend: Cactus Jack! Jack went on to battle The Game in several matches over the next few months...but it was their Hell in the Cell battle at No Way Out in 2000 that would seal the deal for everyone in the Attitude Era.
As for the Corporation, well, their leading man came in the form of former Nation's leader, The Rock. Thanks to Foley's interference with their plans to rid WWE of The Stone Cold Era, Austin found himself as WWF Champion again. After that, Foley went under the radar...that is until a cocky, arrogant Legend Killer. It was Evolution that brought Foley back into the limelight.
Evolution's Randy Orton became obsessed with the Hardcore Legend, and it was at Wrestlemania that culminated the rivalry when The Rock returned to reunite The Rock and Sock Connection for one more night. Orton and Foley finished the rivalry at Backlash in Foley's "final" match with WWE.
When Foley returned, he turned his attention to The Rated R Superstar, Edge. The two engage in a hellacious Hardcore Match at Foley's actual final Wrestlemania appearance. Afte that, the Hardcore Legend turned to the stick for his last ride with WWE. Nowadays, he is with TNA as an Executive Shareholder. But nothing can possibly keep the kid who once launched himself off the roof of his mom's house from stepping back into the ring.
Which brings us to one of Foley's many rivalries in WWE...
#3) The Undertaker
He is the phenom of the WWE. He has won multiple championships, including several World Championships. In all honesty, he is the true measuring stick of the WWE...and he's still doing it as if he's that same young man who made his debut at Survivor Series over a decade ago.
He is the Deadman...He is The Undertaker.
For almost two decades, Undertaker has left a mountain of victims in his path of destruction. No matter which superstar thought they could take down the Deadman, they found out the hard way that when you step into his world, you're soul is his.
From Ultimate Warrior to Hulk Hogan, no one was safe from The Phenom. Undertaker's entrance alone sent chills down the spine of every WWE superstar who faced him. And even if you wanted to hate and boo him, you found yourself in awe of the man.
The thing that brought the Undertaker to the WWE was none other than "The Million Dollar Man." From there, the Phenom took on the likes of Superfly Jimmy Snuka and Giant Gonzales, but it was his rivalry with Mankind that started something huge in the career of The Undertaker.
Besides being a great in-ring innovater and competitor, Undertaker is also responsible for creating several matches that are still used to this day. The list includes:
- Casket Match
- Hell in the Cell
- Buried Alive
- Inferno Match
Because of obvious circumstances, you have to save the best for last. What makes him Hall of Fame worthy is his impressive record at Wrestlemania. Since his first Wrestlemania, The Undertaker has never looked back. Sixteen Wrestlemanias. Sixteen victories. The Deadman is undefeated at The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment. That's sixteen years of flawless victories...not even the '72 Dolphins can pop the cork to that.
The list of victims at Wrestlemania includes Giant Gonzales, Kevin "Diesel" Nash, his brother Kane (2x), Big Boss Man, Big Show, Randy Orton, Batista & Edge. All of these men are future Hall of Famers, but there is no question that The Deadman is at the top of the list.
He's almost 50 now, and he's still got it. But everyone knows that it's only a matter of time before time catches up with The Phenom. So if this is 'Taker's Last Ride (so to speak), it's only fitting that they give him the proper send-off. And it is only fitting that it happens at the Hall of Fame.
Will it be this year that it happens? No one knows for sure.
#4) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
"Finally...The Rock Has Come Back To The Hall of Fame!"
Is this the words we'll hear in April and the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony? It is possible. He is The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. He is The Great One. He is a multiple time WWE Champion. Who better to set up arguably the loudest induction ceremony than the Original Mic Check Winner, The Rock?
Ever since his arrival, we all had a feeling that this kid would be well talked about for years to come. The young upstart known as Rocky Maivia arrived on the scene at Survivor Series, and the rest could be described as phenomenal. Maivia went on to outlast the remaining superstars in the Traditional Survivor Series Match.
From there, he got brought under the wing of Ron "Faarooq" Simmons and the faction known as The Nation was formed. The Rock then was brought into a rivalry with former leader Faarooq as well as former UFC Champion Ken Shamrock. But it was his war with the new DX that catapulted him to the mainstream. The Rock and Triple H were involved in arguably the most impressive battles in the WWE, but it was not just Triple H that was a main part of The Rock's career.
The most talked about and most popular rivalry in WWE history is without a doubt the war between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. When these two crossed paths, Austin and The Rock were battling for the Intercontinental Championship. This segment lasted for several months, ending with Austin delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to The Rock after relinquishing the IC Title for bigger and better things.
In Austin's "Golden Year," it was The Rock that stood in the path between Austin and the WWF Championship. But after delivering a stunner to him and tossing him over the side, Austin won the Royal Rumble and went on to become WWE Champion at that year's Wrestlemania. But The Rock would not be denied his moment of glory for long.
Following Austin's victory, Vince McMahon was determined to make sure that Austin would be champion for a short time. This brought The Rock to true main event status. He became the face of The Corporation, McMahon's personal puppet. But his war with Austin was anything short of over. Thanks to Austin's latest war with McMahon, Austin found himself back in the main event at Wrestlemania against The Rock.
Little did anyone know, this would be the start of something big.
Years after their final battle at Wrestlemania X-Seven, The Rock and Stone Cold switched roles with Austin going in as the face and Rock as the heel. The Rock finally got one over on Austin and finally defeated him at Wrestlemania. But The Rock's status was already set in stone.
Nothing could have compared to his wars with Triple H and Stone Cold. Since his final appearance at Wrestlemania, The Rock has become Dwayne Johnson again. The former Miami Hurricanes star went on to become a huge hit in Hollywood with blockbuster movies like Doom and Be Cool. But he has been under the radar...until last year.
Making his first appearance in the WWE since leaving the company a few years ago, The Rock returned to induct his father and grandfather into the WWE Hall of Fame. It would be a fitting tribute that the year after he inducted his father and grandfather, the third generation superstar takes his rightful place alongside his Hall of Fame Family.
But that's just a few names I can think of. It's clear that there are some guys out there who would obviously be perfect fits for this year's class. And when you're HOF class is led by Stone Cold Steve Austin, how can you not expect other members of The Attitude Era to be included in this year's Class?