WWE Hall of Fame 2013: Power Ranking the Best Potential Celebrity Inductees
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
With Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, Trish Stratus and the legendary Bruno Sammartino already confirmed for the WWE's 2013 Hall of Fame class, it stands as arguably the greatest of all time. At least one or two more inductees are forthcoming though, and one of them could may be an addition to the Hall of Fame's celebrity wing.
Each of the past three classes has included a celebrity with Mike Tyson, Drew Carey and Bob Uecker getting enshrined. Also, William "Refrigerator" Perry and Pete Rose were immortalized in 2006 and 2004 respectively. The WWE has made a habit of putting non-traditional wrestlers in the Hall of Fame, and while there are mixed feelings from the fans about it, there are definitely celebrities out there who deserve to be recognized.
Without celebrity involvement, it's possible that the WWE would have never experienced a boom in the mid-1980s. There probably wouldn't have been an Attitude Era further down the line either. In fact, professional wrestling could still be broken up into territories rather than being an international phenomenon.
Vince McMahon and his talent deserve a ton of credit for making the WWE a success, but celebrities played a big role as well.
Since the induction ceremony is taking place at Madison Square Garden this year, the current class has been very MSG-centric. Both Sammartino and Backlund sold out The Garden numerous times, and Foley is from Long Island. Because of that, a potential celebrity inductee will likely have MSG or New York roots.
Here are the top five celebrities who could potentially join Foley, Backlund, Stratus and Sammartino as a WWE Hall of Famer in 2013.
5. Donald Trump
Donald Trump often comes off looking like a crazed lunatic these days and is probably better known for pestering President Barack Obama more than anything else.
But he has had a very close relationship with Vince McMahon and the WWE over the years. It all started with WrestleMania IV, which took place at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. That event was best known for the WWE Championship tournament that saw Randy "Macho Man" Savage beat "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase in the finals.
WrestleMania V also took place at Trump Plaza with Hulk Hogan beating Savage, the Mega Powers tag team partnership exploding.
With WrestleMania XXIX being contested at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Trump would is a logical inductee. In addition to essentially acting as a promoter for WrestleMania IV and V, Trump has been involved in some more recent storylines as well.
Most notably, Trump was part of a challenge at WrestleMania XXIII. He and McMahon participated in the Battle of the Billionaires, with Trump representing Bobby Lashley and McMahon representing Umaga. Both men put their hair on the line, and since Lashley ultimately prevailed, Trump got to shave McMahon's head bald. The match concept received mixed reviews, but Trump was a huge part of that WrestleMania.
When you take all of that into account, as well as the fact that Trump is a New Yorker through and through, and you'll agree he fits the theme of this year's Hall of Fame class.
The one issue is that Trump is a controversial figure, and the WWE may not want to risk him overshadowing a true legend like Bruno Sammartino. I'm no Trump fan personally, so he isn't at the top of my list, but I can definitely see him as a potential candidate.
4. Lawrence Taylor
Many celebrities have participated in WWE matches over the years, but most would agree that former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor exceeded expectations more than anyone.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer is remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, but it was far from guaranteed that his gridiron success would translate to the squared circle.
When it was announced that LT would compete in the main event of WrestleMania XI, there were plenty of detractors that doubted his ability to compete.
Taylor's road to WrestleMania started at the 1995 Royal Rumble, when he was in the front row with several other NFL stars. Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka faced Bob Holly and the 1-2-3 Kid in the finals of a tournament for the vacant Tag Team Championship. Bigelow and Tatanka were the heavy favorites, but they were upset. After the match, Taylor could be seen laughing at Bam Bam's misfortune. Bigelow didn't take to kindly to that and proceeded to push LT.
This sparked the feud that would culminate in a match at WrestleMania XI.
Bigelow was one of the most athletic big men in professional wrestling history, so Taylor had a high standard to live up to. Although I wouldn't say that he looked like a true WWE superstar, Taylor acquitted himself and performed better than anyone could have hoped. He ultimately won the match with a flying clothesline, and WrestleMania XI ended with a feel-good moment, as he celebrated with the NFL players in his corner.
Even though a lot of wrestling fans consider WrestleMania XI to be among the worst ever, that isn't entirely Taylor's fault.
The card as a whole was weak.
Had the LT vs. Bam Bam match happened at a better event like WrestleMania X, it would likely be remembered more favorably.
Regardless of that, Taylor has a definite place in WWE history and is an absolute icon in New York. That makes him a good choice to enter the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
3. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is unquestionably the greatest boxer of all time and arguably the greatest athlete who ever lived.
Although he is best known for his incredible encounters with Joe Frazier, George Foreman and others, Ali also had plenty of involvement with professional wrestling.
His most notable foray came at WrestleMania I, where he served as a special enforcer for the tag-team main event of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff.
That wasn't Ali's first experience with wrestling however, as he had previously faced Japanese legend Antonio Inoki in an exhibition match in 1976.
Ali was a noted wrestling fan even before that.
He himself admitted that much of his flamboyant style was borrowed from Gorgeous George, who made wrestling a national phenomenon in the 1940s. Ali was among the greatest showmen in the history of sports, making him a natural fit for the WWE.
While Ali wasn't a huge factor in the WrestleMania I main event, he certainly made his presence felt. In-ring referee Pat Patterson lost control at one point as all four men in the match began to brawl. In an attempt to get things back on track, Ali punched Piper, much to the delight of the Madison Square Garden faithful. Hogan and Mr. T went on to win the match, resulting in them celebrating alongside Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Ali.
The biggest issue with inducting Ali is obviously his health.
He has been dealing with Parkinson's for years and he struggles to speak, so he likely wouldn't be able to accept the induction himself. Despite that, Ali is deserving of such an honor, so perhaps his daughter, Laila, could accompany him.
"The Greatest" was an integral part of WrestleMania I and sold out MSG numerous times as a boxer as well, so seeing him inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame would be a feel-good moment.
2. Cyndi Lauper
Many celebrities have helped the WWE reach prominence over the years, but Cyndi Lauper may have been the first one to make a true impact.
Vince McMahon's vision was to make the WWE a national and international power, but he knew that he needed to appeal to a wide demographic in order to do that. That led to the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, when the WWE partnered with MTV and music stars such as Lauper.
Lauper got involved in a storyline feud with Captain Lou Albano, who played Lauper's father in the music video for Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Lauper and Albano argued during a segment of Piper's Pit, and it led to Lauper supporting Wendi Richter, while Albano supported The Fabulous Moolah. Richter beat Moolah for the Women's Championship at The Brawl to End It All, which aired on MTV. Leilani Kai eventually beat Richter for the title however, which led to a rematch at WrestleMania I.
Lauper accompanied Richter to the ring by for her WrestleMania match, while Kai had Moolah in her corner. Moolah attempted to interfere, but Lauper stopped her, which allowed Richter to recapture the Women's Championship.
Lauper may have only played a bit part at the event, but she was a driving force behind the WWE's explosion in the 1980's. Many wrestlers were included in her music videos and she compelled young men and women who didn't normally watch wrestling to do so.
Lauper may not be viewed as a big celebrity today, like some of the other people on this list, but the WWE owes a great deal of gratitude to her. She was one of many reasons why WrestleMania I was a huge success and has developed into one of the biggest events in sports entertainment.
There would be no better way for the WWE to honor Lauper's contributions than to induct her into the WWE Hall of Fame in the building where the WWE reached new heights.
1. Mr. T
Because of his wild haircut, pounds of jewelry and unique way of speaking, Mr. T has managed to become a cultural icon in the United States.
Most young people probably have no idea why Mr. T is famous, but almost everyone has heard of him. Mr. T, of course, played Clubber Lang in Rocky III and played the role of B.A. in The A-Team as well.
On top of that, Mr. T is one of the biggest reasons why the WWE was able to buck regional trends and become a worldwide leader in sports entertainment.
Hulk Hogan was engaged in a bitter feud with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper heading into WrestleMania I, and it was compounded "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff's involvement as well.
In order to even the odds, Hogan called upon Mr. T to be his tag-team partner at the event. Hogan and Mr. T vs. Piper and Orndorff headlined WrestleMania I, with Muhammad Ali serving as a special enforcer. Mr. T appeared to be in great shape and he showed off his wrestling acumen as he and Hogan stood tall to close the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment.
If that wasn't enough, Mr. T took part in WrestleMania II as well. His bad blood with Piper carried over and led to them squaring off in a boxing match. WrestleMania II took place at three different venues simultaneously and the Mr. T vs. Piper match headlined the card at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Mr. T won the match by disqualification, as Piper snapped and bodyslammed Mr. T.
WrestleMania II was a rousing success, just as WrestleMania I was the year before. Mr. T certainly contributed to that.
Mr. T hasn't really been involved with the WWE in a number of years, but his legacy remains intact. Everyone involved in the WrestleMania I main event is currently in the WWE Hall of Fame, including corner men Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and "Cowboy" Bob Orton.
With the Hall of Fame induction taking place at Madison Square Garden, Mr. T is obviously the ideal celebrity candidate. Not only is Mr. T deserving, but also it's a guarantee his acceptance speech would be entertaining.
There are several celebrities who can stake claim to a WWE Hall of Fame spot; however, Mr. T should be at the head of the line.