There has to be some irony in the fact that the WWE did not want to “break the rules” by inducting Ray “The Crippler” Stevens into the Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania XXXI. The company, which has a policy of not inducting more than one deceased performer a year, will bring “Macho Man” Randy Savage to his rightful place amongst wrestling’s greatest on Saturday night, thus eliminating the chance for Stevens, a legend in the Bay area, of receiving the honor.
As Charleston Post and Courier sports writer and wrestling expert Mike Mooneyham wrote, “Stevens, who died in 1996 at the age of 60, left an indelible mark on the profession during a career that spanned five decades.
“But nowhere was his presence felt more than in the San Francisco territory, where he earned a well-deserved reputation for being one of wrestling’s biggest draws and arguably its finest worker during the 1960s.”
WWE is holding its highly publicized Hall of Fame ceremony next weekend in San Jose, Calif., on the eve of WrestleMania 31 at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara.
Someone told me a few weeks ago that while professional wrestling is a work, the induction into the Hall of Fame is one as well. Those words might be the most telling of anything I have heard on some time regarding the induction process and how the company selects its heroes for honor. This year’s class is impressive – headlined by Savage, along with Larry Zbyszko, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kevin Nash, Madusa, Rikishi, The Bushwhackers and Arnold Schwarzenegger – but I still question what happened to the greats who still have not heard their names called and for that matter, who from the past who is no longer among us, will be honored? Stevens, although in a bad situation, was the logical choice.
So would have been Ivan Koloff, Sable, Rick Rude, The Honkytonk Man and Demolition. But I am not one of the ones who politic for their “guy” to receive the honor. And if we are talking about Savage getting the nod over Stevens (which I do agree with), then shouldn’t there be three wrestlers honored posthumously? We cannot have Savage without the lovely Miss Elizabeth, his former wife and valet, at his side, can we?
This year’s class speaks volumes about who gets in and who plays a waiting game. As Mooneyham said in his column, “While other worthy candidates have been left off the list in recent years, there’s one that is conspicuously absent this year, and even more noticeably because of the Bay Area connection.
Former wrestling great and WWE creative consultant Pat Patterson, who is 74 years old, would have been the ideal choice to present Stevens. The two — dubbed the “Blond Bombers” — were regarded as one of the greatest tag teams in the business during the ’60s, as well as rivals whose torrid feud sold out venues throughout Northern California.
It was reported that Patterson had, in fact, pushed for his late partner’s induction this year. But apparently it was nixed when the long-awaited Savage induction was approved.
Next year, the WrestleMania train moves to Dallas. Does this mean that since The Undertaker is from Houston, and the potential confrontation with Sting, would automatically warrant him being inducted before his last match?
Stevens should have gotten in, but the WWE did not want to “break the rules” as stated before. I find it hard to comprehend when rule breaking is something that has made the company and professional wrestling as popular as it has been over its existence.
Sometimes, you just have to take a break from tradition. In wrestling, rules are made to be broken.