FROM THE DARK SIDE
Someday, Will Bill James Argue Dean Malenko is a Hall of Famer?
There are only a few times a year when us smarts rush to our mailboxes to await our newsletters. Unfortunately, that's true when a superstar passes away, as it's almost always fascinating to learn behind-the-scenes history, especially if it was before you were born. I refer you to only two weeks ago, when the Observer ran its Terry Gordy obituary, filled with anecdotes from Michael Hayes and Ted DiBiase, among others.
Another time is this weekend, when the Observer announces its Hall of Fame for 2001. We've already seen Ben Miller's choices for this year, but instead of looking back, let's look toward the future.
How many of today's stars will be considered Hall of Famers decades from now? Will history be kind to Steve Austin and the Rock? Who's on the bubble and who really has no chance, despite their legions of fans?
Here's one writer's mythical ballot from the year 2525 (if man is still alive):
In Like Flint
Steve Austin - He was the cornerstone of the wrestling renaissance of the last 1990s, setting all kind of records for attendance, merchandising and other peripherals. Bonus points for coming back from serious neck surgery to be perhaps a better worker since early in his Stunning Steve days.
HHH - In the ring, he went from being a horribly predictable and annoying wrestler to one of the best all-around grapplers in the business (that's what you get when you copy Ric Flair). You cannot forget his role in DX during the wrestling boom and his influence behind the scenes. If he has stroke now, imagine if he really does become Mr. McMahon-Helmsley?
Chris Benoit - Yes, he hasn't really been a drawing card, either in WCW or WWF. To draw a parallel example, Barry Bonds never made it to the World Series, but he's still a HOF'er. Benoit hasn't won the world title (yet?), but his skills in the ring, in a number of disciplines, cannot be ignored.
Kurt Angle - He's so new to the sport, but he's that good. Wrestling experts say they've never seen someone adapt so well to the business as Mr. Gold Medal Winner. Assuming he stays injury free, he's on pace to be the Wrestler of the Decade.
Mick Foley - As much as I love Mick, I'm one of those who think he may be the progenitor of garbage and backyard wrestling. But being a best-selling author and all-around good guy make up for the negatives.
On The Bubble
The Rock - Right Now, yes. Sure, he's Mr. Charisma and all that. But, let's be honest - just how much longer will Mr. Johnson stay in the sports entertainment business when the REAL entertainment business seems to be beckoning? If he becomes a part-time wrestler after the year 2002, what kind of legacy will he have really left behind?
Undertaker - Seeing the slow, broken-down Mark Callaway is like watching Willie Mays in the Mets outfield or Johnny Unitas playing for the Chargers. The question is: will the last few years of mediocrity in the ring and poor gimmicks (remember Amish Undertaker and the Ministry of Darkness) tarnish his legacy?
Booker T - I hate to say this but multiple world title and world tag team title reigns just don't mean anything anymore. People years from now really be saying "Booker who?"
The Hardys - The best tag team of this era? Certainly the most flashy. Again, how long will they be able to stay healthy? Also, how long will they stay a team? After all, no one thinks Marty Jannetty or Jim Neidhart are HOF'ers, do they Matt?
Missed It By THAT Much
Eddy Guerrero -- Here's where you can really play the What If? Game. What if Art Barr hadn't died? What if Eddy hadn't been in that car accident? What if Eddy had stayed in Japan or stayed in ECW?
Chris Jericho - I love Jericho, but mildly amusing catch phrases and a 15-minute world title reign don't cut it. And you get the feeling that he never will break through the glass ceiling.
Bill Goldberg - Remember him? How much longer, given wrestling's constant turnover of fans, will anyone remember him? And you know, I don't want anyone in the Hall of Fame who really doesn't even like the business. (This goes for you too, Luger.)
Let's Be Serious
They have their fans, including me in some cases, but unless something drastic happens I can't foresee, I don't think their careers so far have really merited conversation.
Rob Van Dam, Lance Storm, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, DDP, Kane, X-Pac, Shane Douglas, Edge & Christian, Rey Misterio, Konnan, Raven.
Are there dark horses out there? You bet. Could I predict which ones would make it? Not a chance. I mean, down in the development territories, you have people like Brock Lesner, Sheldon Benjamin and Randy Orton who could be "IT" someday. And what about someone coming out of backyard wrestling that will set the world on fire? But I could no more tell you who will be the next Steve Austin than I could tell you which pitchers in AA will be the next Greg Maddux or Pedro Martinez. Only time will tell.
(Foreshadowing note: I will more than likely be going to the "inaugural" MECW show at the "Alliance Arena" in Philadelphia this weekend. Look in this space next week for details.)
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