Wrestling By The Numbers: 2011 Observer Hall Of Fame Inductees
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall Of Fame Class Of 2011 has been announced and includes the voice of British wrestling Kent Walton, Hawaiian sports and Australian wrestling legend ‘King’ Curtis Iaukea and AJPW and UWF headliner ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams. This Hall Of Fame recognizes people who have made considerable contributions to the wrestling industry and was founded by Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer in 1996. Each year inductees are determined by a voting committee comprising of current and former wrestlers, others who are or have been employed in the business, wrestling journalists and wrestling historians. Voting criteria takes into consideration the length of time spent in the business, historical significance and wrestling ability. Eligible inductees must have 15 years of experience or 10 years experience and be over 35.
The first inductee is the most recognizable wrestling commentator in the history of British wrestling, the respected Kent Walton. The Cairo Egypt native became a United Kingdom wrestling legend after first entering the business in November of 1955. That was when ITV, the United Kingdom’s largest commercial public service television network, first started airing wrestling as part of it’s iconic World Of Sport television show. Walton was the first commentator for the wrestling portion of the show, a job he continued doing for the next 33 years until wrestling was dropped from World Of Sport in 1988. Known for having a great delivery while calling the action, Walton became known over the years for his extensive knowledge of the industry. Prior to joining the wrestling business Walton was a member of the Royal Air Force, worked as an actor and as a commentator for tennis and football. He is also the credited producer of three soft-core pornography movies from the 1970’s. Kent Walton passed away on August 24th 2003 at the age of 86.
The second inductee in the class of 2011 is Hawaiian sports and Australian wrestling legend ‘King’ Curtis Iaukea III. The Honolulu native made his mark in the football industry before entering professional wrestling. He played in the National Football League for the Oakland Raiders and in the Canadian Football League for the B.C. Lions. He first entered the wrestling business in 1961 and over his first 10 years he wrestled mostly with the NWA Hawaii and IWA Australia territories where he became a huge star and big draw. His in ring reputation and incredible promo ability, which he discribed as a volcano slowing brewing and finally spewing, made him attraction with all the major wrestling companies. In the 1970’s he had fueds with most of the big draws in the WWWF, AJPW, Championship Wrestling From Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling to name a few. After retiring from in ring competition in the mid 1980’s, Iaukea became a manager first debuting in ICW. He then became known as The Wizard while managing in the WWF in the mid to late 1980’s and in WCW in the mid 1990’s. When he left WCW his 30 plus year career in the wrestling business came to an end. Curtis Piehau Iaukea III passed away on December 4th 2010 at the age of 73.
The final inductee in this year’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall Of Fame Class of 2011 is AJPW and UWF headliner ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams. His 27 year wrestling career first started in 1982 after being trained by both Bill Watts and Buddy Landell. Williams spent his first 6 years in the business working for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling / Universal Wrestling Federation organization where he became a big superstar and one of the company’s biggest draws. After the company was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions Williams joined WCW and stayed with the organization until 1992. He first started competing with AJPW in 1989 and quickly became a main event draw and one of the most successful foreign born competitors to ever wrestle in the land of the rising sun. In the late 1990’s he had stints with the WWF, WCW and ECW before returning to Japan in 2002. In March of 2004 Williams competed in his only mixed martial arts fight, a 22 second loss in the first round to Alexey Ignashov at a K-1 event. He returned to the WWE in 2006 as a trainer at Ohio Valley Wrestling which was the WWE’s developmental territory at the time. He continued making sparatic wrestling appearances from 2007-2009 before retiring from the business after a final match in Japan. Steve Williams passed away on December 29th 2009 after a 7-year battle with throat cancer, he was 49 years old.
Below we look at some of the professional wrestling career of ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams by the numbers…
World Wrestling Entertainment:
* 3 Matches on WWE Raw.
* 1 Match on WWE Sunday Night Heat.
Jim Crocket Promotions / World Championship Wrestling:
* 16 Matches on JCP/WCW Pay-Per-View.
* 3 Main Event Matches on JCP/WCW Pay-Per-View.
* 11 Matches (16th Most All-Time) on JCP/WCW Clash Of The Champions. (First Match: September 7th 1988 With Nikita Koloff Vs Butch Miller & Luke Williams Last Match: June 16th 1992 With Terry Gordy Vs Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
* 2 Main Event Matches on JCP/WCW Clash Of The Champions.
* 3 Matches on WCW Nitro.
* 2 Matches on WCW Thunder.
Extreme Champion Wrestling:
* 4 Matches on ECW Home Video Releases.