WWE: A Look Ahead to a Deserving 2012 Hall of Fame Class
WrestleMania weekend is full of great events, and one of the best is the annual Hall of Fame ceremony. Every year, some of the greatest superstars in the history of the company are enshrined as the best and brightest among the thousands of men to step inside the squared circle.
In recent years, we have seen the likes of Shawn Michaels, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Mr. Perfect, Jim Ross, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Ric Flair, Jerry "The King" Lawler and "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes enter the Hall of Fame.
Who will take their place among the sport's elite this spring in Miami? Let's take a look at six men who deserve a place in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2012.
Mil Mascaras (confirmed)
The WWE may be a little late on the Mil Mascaras boat, as the legendary luchador has been enshrined in the respective Halls of Fame of the National Wrestling Alliance, Wrestling Observer and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Amsterdam, N.Y.
Mascaras, however, is much more than a wrestling legend in his native Mexico, as he has starred in many movies under his Mil Mascaras persona.
Mascaras has been a champion wherever he has competed. He won championships in his native Mexico, as well as in the United States and Japan. He has been immensely popular wherever he has performed, and has influenced professional wrestling in multiple countries.
A lucha libre legend, Mascaras (real name Aaron Rodriguez) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by his nephew, former two-time WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio.
There are only two men in WWE history who were WWE Champions longer than Bob Backlund.
Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino.
Now that's elite company. And 2012 should be the year Backlund takes his rightful place amongst the elite in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Backlund held the WWE Championship for nearly six straight years (albeit without a hint of controversy), and held the record for longest time spent in a Royal Rumble match for 11 years.
Backlund went toe-to-toe with the best in the world at the time, and was always one of the most skilled wrestlers of his time. Backlund clashed with the likes of Ric Flair, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Nick Bockwinkel and Harley Race, and the list of men Backlund successfully defended his WWF Championship is littered with Hall of Famers.
WWE often recognizes its roots with at least one of its annual Hall of Fame selections, and Backlund would be a perfect fit in this year's class.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Although Jake "The Snake" Roberts never claimed gold in a WWE ring, it was his contributions elsewhere that should earn him a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
In a time with larger-than-life heroes like Hulk Hogan, Roberts brought a completely different package to the game. He wasn't the most physically imposing superstar on the WWE roster, but Roberts gained a distinct advantage over his opponents by using his mind.
Roberts was a master of mind games. Nowhere else was this symbolized more than the inclusion of his snake, Damien, who sat on the ring apron and was often incorporated in Roberts' matches. Damien was famously involved in a number of storylines—he was the cause of Andre the Giant's kayfabe in-ring heart attack, he was "crushed" by Earthquake, and he bit "Macho Man" Randy Savage in 1991.
It was Roberts' promos that really set him apart from the rest of the superstars of his time. Roberts was a well-spoken, highly intellectual wrestler, and his promos were often very intelligent, and very dark. It was something that wasn't seen before, and it introduced an element of fear for the audience.
Roberts is also credited as the man to invent one of the most widely used moves in pro wrestling today, the DDT. The move has been used by countless superstars over the past two decades, and can be traced back to Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were as inseparable as two wrestlers could be. Now, it's time The Enforcer joins his long-time friend in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Though he won multiple titles during his career in the National Wrestling Alliance and in World Championship Wrestling, Anderson is best known for being a founding member of one of pro wrestling's most famous factions: the Four Horsemen.
Along with Flair, Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson formed the Four Horsemen in early 1986. The group ran roughshod over the NWA, taking on the best the company had to offer—Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, The Road Warriors and many more.
Anderson and the Horsemen lived the lifestyle they so often bragged about in and out of the ring. Anderson helped define pro wrestling in the mid-to-late 1980s, and would be visible in many future incarnations of the Four Horsemen.
Anderson was one of the great ring generals of the 1980s, and he deserves a place amongst the elite in the WWE Hall of Fame.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Painfully obvious, and, unfortunately, too late.
WWE has a penchant for honoring the recently passed, and the untimely passing of the great "Macho Man" Randy Savage will likely be the onus for ending the longest-standing Hall of Fame snub going today.
It's incredibly difficult to stand out when the enormous shadow of Hulk Hogan is cast across the company, but Savage managed to stand out, and on some occasions, shine beyond Hogan. That, in and of itself, is a testament to the type of performer Savage was.
Savage was a decorated champion in the ring, and the definition of larger-than-life outside of it. Savage was a two-time WWE Champion, the 1987 King of the Ring and an Intercontinental Champion. He also won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times, and was the winner of the inaugural World War III battle royal.
His biggest moment as a WWE superstar came at WrestleMania IV, where he defeated Butch Reed, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, One Man Gang and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase to win the vacant WWE Championship.
Savage went toe-to-toe with Hulk Hogan at the height of Hogan's popularity, shortly after teaming with Hogan to form the Mega Powers. Savage may have been the only man that could have pulled off both storylines.
It's been a long time coming, but 2012 should finally be the year "Macho Man" Randy Savage enters the Hall of Fame, co-headlining with this man.
He may not beat John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, but The Great One will almost certainly head into the WWE Hall of Fame in his hometown of Miami this year.
The Rock's bloodline is historic—his father, "Soulman" Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, "High Chief" Peter Maivia, are both in the WWE Hall of Fame. We should have known when he made his WWE debut at Madison Square Garden in 1996.
Along with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock defined the Attitude Era, arguably the pinnacle of pro wrestling popularity in this country. He is one of the few pro wrestlers who is known by nearly everyone, as people who have never seen a pro wrestling event knew who The Rock was before he started his career as an actor.
And there's his accomplishments inside the squared circle. The Rock is a seven-time WWE Champion, a two-time WCW Champion (won after Vince McMahon's acquisition of WCW), a two-time Intercontinental Champion, a five-time Tag Team Champion, and the winner of the 2000 Royal Rumble.
The Great One isn't just a nickname bestowed upon The Rock by WWE creative. The Rock defined the term, as well as truly becoming WWE's People's Champion.
The only accolade left for The Rock is a trip to the Hall of Fame. And he'll get to do it this spring in his home town, 24 hours before he headlines WrestleMania yet again.