Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Edge & the Hall of Fame

Edge & Chad at Wrestlemania 24
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart on Twitter

In order to be eligible for the NHL Hall of Fame, a player must be retired for at least three years. Eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, the NBA Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame require a player to be retired for five years. In addition, the MLB adds a qualifier of playing a minimum of ten seasons to be considered for the Hall. The WWE Hall of Fame seemingly has no criteria for who is eligible or when they’re eligible.

Ric Flair went into the Hall of Fame the night before he “retired.” Maybe he went in under the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guidelines where an artist is eligible 25 years after their first major recording. Shawn Michaels was inducted 370 days after he retired. This year, Edge will be inducted 360 days after he was forced to retire due to injuries sustained during his career. In my opinion this is too soon for an induction.

Edge at Wrestlemania 27
While I agree Edge had a Hall of Fame career, I feel there should be a waiting period for how soon wrestlers are eligible for consideration into the Hall of Fame. I think I know why WWE would rush a wrestler into the Hall. WWE’s goal is to sell out an arena for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony so naturally they’re going to want to induct as many big names as possible to get their fans to turn out for the show. With each passing year the number of eligible big names gets smaller and smaller so if a recent star retires it makes sense from a business point of view to induct that person into the Hall of Fame.

While there are still a lot of names that should be in the Hall before Edge, there are a couple of “issues” with inducting them. The first problem is wrestling is a sport that rarely uses the past to promote the current. Once a wrestler is past their prime and out of the business they are usually tossed aside and forgotten about by the wrestling companies and the non-fanatical fans. Think about how often NFL, NBA and MLB commentators will compare a current player to a former player or use a former player as a barometer for expectations from current stars. Now, with the exception of the same five or six “legends,” how often does WWE bring up past stars?  There is no sense of history in wrestling. Given how WWE writers can’t remember what happened two months ago in storylines, can we really expect them to remember former stars of the ‘80s or even ‘90s?  Plus, given the current demographic WWE caters to, how many of the fans know who guys like Rick Rude, The Midnight Express, or King Kong Bundy are or what they contributed to the wrestling industry?

The second problem is death. Several of the top names currently not in the Hall of Fame are no longer with us. Rick Rude, Owen Hart, and Randy Savage are three of the top names fans want to see in the Hall of Fame but are not able to show up to make an acceptance speech.  If you were WWE management would you want to have your headliner speech be given by someone other than the person being inducted? Not that I think this should keep guys out of the hall, but it adds to the reason why more superstars who have just retired are getting into the Hall of Fame before they have time to get their wrestling boots off.

5 second pose (from WWE)
While I understand the reasoning behind inducting Edge this year, I still think it’s too soon. If WWE instituted a five-year retirement period, or even three years like hockey, it would make the induction mean a little more. Edge has barely been out of the spotlight and now he’s being put under one of the biggest spotlights in the business. While I expect the crowd to loudly cheer him when he steps to the podium, think how much more meaningful it would have been had Edge not been seen in a few years.

Kevin and I will be in Miami for the Hall of Fame and will be anticipating a five second pose from Edge. There’s no denying his credentials for the Hall, just wish he wasn’t being rushed into the shrine. Have I said that enough?  Even though Edge may be the headliner this year, it’s another induction that will be emotional for myself. But that’s for another blog.

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