Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Best Bumps in the Road to 'Mania are Blasts from the Past...

Now that you've Rumbled your Royals (huh?), the Road to WrestleMania officially begins. While there is another pay-per-view between now and the 27th edition of "The Greatest Sports Entertainment Spectacular of All-Time," many of the most exciting WWE moments will come as the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame class is announced.

In order to boost ticket sales for the ceremony, WWE has already announced their "main event" Hall of Fame slot for 2011. Shawn Michaels will enter the "Hall" in the top spot for 2011 in just his first year of retirement. In the next few weeks, a handful of shining stars will be added to the group.

While some fans denounce the WWE's version of Cooperstown or Canton (albeit without a building) as being a joke, I'd have to question the fandom of anyone who would deny that the WWE Hall of Fame provides a fun and often touching night of nostalgia.

From Bobby Heenan's show-stealing acceptance speech in 2004 to one last "lock-up" of Ric Flair and inductee Ricky Steamboat in 2009, the Hall of Fame has more than validated itself as a night to celebrate the industry we all love. Controversy, politics, and "Celebrity Wing" aside, when the Legends are brought out for one more standing ovation it should be a celebrated event.

The WWF Hall of Fame was created in 1993 following the passing of Andre the Giant. Always standing alone, the 1993 Class WAS Andre. 1994 through 1996 brought three full classes of stars who personified the building blocks of Titan Sports. While the early ceremonies were simply dinners held in small hotel ballrooms, legends such as Gorilla Monsoon, The Fabulous Moolah, and Fred Blassie were allowed one more time to shine. Beginning in 2004, the event was packaged as an annual event held the night before WrestleMania. The venues began to grow, for better or worse, as did the span of stars inducted.

The event also began to spawn its own merchandise. While small programs do exist in EXTREMELY limited quantities from the first ceremonies, it was not until 2004 that full multi-page programs were created to commemorate the evening. In 2009 the program became an item sold by WWE rather than given to attendees.

Another unique item to come from the Hall of Fame were medallions given to attendees from 2004-2007. While at one time a collector with enough patience could pick these up at auction, they rarely show up today and will undoubtedly only rise in value.

Many autograph collectors use the programs as projects to try and obtain the signatures of each honoree on their respective induction year program. Often, the inductees themselves do not own copies of the programs.

With many more ring warriors to be announced in the coming weeks, the 2011 Hall of Fame should shape up to be yet another great night of memories...and memorabilia.

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Johngy said...

Well stated.
The WWE HOF isn't a strict HOF of wrestling, but it is fun. People get too uptight. Of course Bruno and Savage should be in and a few don't deserve to be in, but this isn't the end of the world. In an over-the-top world of wrestling, you'd think people would realize this.

J\/\/ said...

Exactly, Johngy! For the more "serious" Hall of Fame they have Meltzer's Observer Hall.