A gripe against the Legacy class for the WWE Hall of Fame

Mar 25, 2017 - by Steve Gerweck

Smith Hart, the brother of Bret and Owen Hart, posted the following on his Facebook page:

I noticed WWE announced their Legacy class for the WWE Hall of Fame this year. I know I can be quite harsh about WWE’s arbitrary commercial Hall of Fame, but I feel their is a serious issue with this that needs to be addressed. Before I get into my gripe, I would like to mention, my families personal connection with the talents listed.

When my father passed in 2003, he had 2 pictures in his wallet. One of my sister Ellie and one of his friend and 2017 WWE Hall of Famer, Luther Lindsay. Luther was one of if not his absolute favorite wrestler to wrestle with. Luther was an imposing specimen and one of the best shooters of his era. If my dad had his version of heaven, I envision it to be him and Luther and George Gordienko shooting on one another day after day, as not much brought my Dad more joy than his time in The Dungeon with his peers (however few there were).

2nd I see, that the iconic Toots Mondt has been given distinction. It was actually Toots Mondt, who initially hired my father to wrestle in New York in the 1940’s, which allowed him the opportunity to meet my mother. While the McMahon dynasty largely gets the exposure today for heading up that vast New York market of professional wrestling, it really was Toots Mondt that created what is now the WWE. Without his vision and guidance through the 20’s-60’s the McMahon family would be promoting circuses in tents. Toots created the vision of what wrestling is today.

Dr. Jerry Graham I am shocked to see on this list. He wrestled quite a bit for my dad in the 1950’s, but I am shocked as Vince McMahon has always said Jerry was his childhood favorite, which I would have thought, would have given him his own personal induction. This is especially off-putting as Jerry’s longtime tag team partner, Eddie Graham did get this distinguished honor at the 2008 Hall of Fame induction. Why couldn’t the duo been given a joint induction, no different than the Horsemen, Briscoes or Funk Brothers.

Haystacks Calhoun. Although a novelty attraction, he was a pop culture icon of his generation and is still used in pop culture references to this day some 35 years after his death. I always enjoyed my time as a youth traveling with Haystacks and the McGuire Twins through the Alberta territory.

Rikidozan is culturally significant as he was the one that popularized professional wrestling in Japan, which without doubt has become the 2nd biggest market for wrestling in the world next to the U.S.

June Byers and Judy Grable both took turns working for my dad during their era. I especially had a crush on Judy during her time in the territory. Both amazing pioneers of women’s wrestling.

and lastly Farmer Burns who was perhaps the first true superstar of wrestling more than 120 years ago, who helped popularize the sport in its infancy.

All of these deserving icons certainly have earned any honor or accolade. But my concern isn’t with their induction, but rather lumping them in as a category rather than including them individually. How does someone like Beth Phoenix, with all due respect get an individual induction over Judy Grable and June Byers? Why do certain legends like The Sheik get an individual induction while other legends like Lou Thesz, Pat O’Connor or Haystacks Calhoun. The bigger fear I have is how many old-timers and icons have to wait until they die, to be honored as a collective rather than receive an individual honoring. Legends like The Destroyer Dick Beyer, Sweet Daddy Siki, Pampero Firpo, Don Leo Jonathan, Danny Hodge, Johnny Walker, Mark Lewin, Angelo Mosca and others while all still alive and quite elderly, will likely have to die in order to be lumped into this category. No different than the recent passing of Ivan Koloff. This to me shows the more commercial nature of WWE wondering who will sell tickets and t-shirts being a bigger credential for their Hall of Fame rather than the merits and accomplishments of the individuals.

What is your opinion to this issue?

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