Sunday, June 5, 2016

Taking off the gloves: Ali belongs in WWE Hall of Fame

Some of the stars of WrestleMania
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Full disclaimer, I have no idea if Ali was opposed to going in or if there's some other reason for him not being inducted.

I'm not complaining for the sake of complaining with this post. It's something I've felt strongly about for a long time, even documenting here on the blog. Muhammad Ali should have been one of the first inductees into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. 

For years, some fans have complained about the celebrity wing arguing that Donald Trump got in before "Ravishing" Rick Rude. A long time ago I accepted the fact that the celebrity wing and the wrestling wing are separate. And when you consider WWE is a sports entertainment company, it makes sense why they have celebrities involved.

Back to my original point... In 2004 when WWE really reintroduced fans to the Hall of Fame and inducted Pete Rose, the reasoning made sense. Rose's exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame was hot news at the time and his WWE HOF induction made headlines in main stream media outlets. The next year the principles from the first WrestleMania were inducted. Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff and Bob Orton were all a part of that original main event. Since Mr. T wasn't in that class, it would have been the perfect time to add Ali (or Cyndi Lauper).

Hogan and Ali
Courtesy: WWE
Every year WWE inducts at least one wrestler, manager or announcer posthumously. They've never done that with a celebrity. I can't imagine that they would either because the point of the celebrity has always been the appeal of someone fans don't normally see at these events being a part of the show. I could be (and I hope I am) wrong about that. Ali's daughter Laila has plenty of crossover appeal and could accept on behalf of her father.

Inoki vs. Ali
Ali's history with WWE and wrestling is quite rich. He was in a boxer vs. wrestler match in Tokyo against Antonio Inoki in 1976. The buildup to that included a confrontation with Gorilla Monsoon and in ring promos with manager "Classy" Freddie Blassie. Ali was the guest enforcer referee during the main event of WrestleMania. He worked as a second for The Snowman in Mid-South as he battled Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He also appeared at WCW's Halloween Havoc in 1994.

Ali and Andre, what a pair
So obviously he has been involved enough with the business and has a high profile stature that should have put him in ahead of the likes of Drew Carey and Snoop Dog. But maybe I'm sounding like the fans who gripe that the Bushwhackers are in but not the Midnight Express...

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