Its that time of year again! While WrestleMania looks… awful on paper, the HOF class from WWE looks pretty darn good! And for the 4th year in a row, I will also be doing my very own Hall of Fame!!! If you have missed previous entries into the Wrestling View Hall of Fame, click here for links to them all!
While personal demons often got in the way of his career and almost his life on numerous occasions, when Jake “The Snake” Roberts was “on”, few were better. In a time where everyone shouted down the microphone to get their point across, Jake spoke slowly and quietly, and everyone still listened. There was just something about him. Not just the fact he was doing something different to everyone else, but because he seemingly didn’t give you a choice BUT to listen. A unique quality that few have ever managed since, and certainly not in the same way as Jake. As a heel, he was intimidating and scary. As a face… well he was pretty much still the same, only fans could sigh in relief that he wasn’t going after their favourites this time. While most wrestlers in the WWF during this time who had the amount of charisma Jake did often couldn’t back it up in the ring, Jake could. Classic matches with the likes of Ted DiBiase and Ricky Steamboat (both in and out of WWF), and his insane amount of wrestling psychology allowed him to produce fun and watchable matches even in difficult situations such as against an ageing Andre the Giant and a blindfold match with Rick Martel! Personally, over the years I have become sick of the term “psychology” when it comes to wrestling. Far too often its thrown out by people who don’t understand what they are talking about, and as a result the term became watered down. However, if there is ONE wrestler who OWNS the term psychology, its Jake Roberts. Everything he did made sense. It was logical to the match. And everything he did reflected his character. Sadly most wrestlers today forget that they are supposed to have a character, and as a result matches end up being filled with random moves that everyone does. Jake Roberts never did a moonsault. Because his character wouldn’t do that. There is no more perfect example of Jake Roberts Psychology than a certain favourite match of mine from Smoky Mountain Wrestling against The Dirty White Boy. I won’t spoil the match for anyone who hasn’t seen it, instead I’ll just tell you to watch it. The match is available on the “Pick Your Poison” DVD that WWE released for Jake. Overall, despite his demons, Jake managed to have a great career. At one point it did seem like his demons were going to get the better of him, from him showing up drunk and out of it at shows and even wanting to end his own life… but thanks to help from DDP, Jake Roberts seems to be back in control of his own life, and was even welcomed back by the WWE and their Hall of Fame. Oh… and how could I talk about Jake Roberts and not mention the DDT!!! His incredible finishing move that he invented, by mistake actually, which would go on to become one of the most popular moves of the time. Back when finishers MEANT something, everyone knew that the DDT was the end of the match. NOBODY kicked out of it back when Jake hit it. Long after Jake is gone, the DDT will continue on to remind everyone of the legacy he left behind. He was an innovator, a great promo, a great in ring worker and THE wrestling psychologist. And for all of those reasons, he is now a new inductee into the Wrestling View’s Hall of Fame!!!
Sorry, its MR BACKLUND. But before Bob Backlund turned heel and went crazy in the mid-90’s WWF, Bob Backlund was the WWF Champion for FIVE YEARS, selling out MSG and other arenas the entire time. He wasn’t big, he wasn’t an over the top character, but he could WRESTLE his arse off and the fans got behind him. What apparently began as a joke/bet between Vince McMahon Sr and Eddie Graham, Bob Backlund was pushed to the main event scene and took the WWF Championship from Superstar Billy Graham and held it from February 1978 to December 1983, dropping it to The Iron Sheik who would pass the title on to Hulk Hogan shortly after. Those 5 years of his title run might very well be the BEST title reign in history in terms of quality matches. From 60 minute matches with Greg Valentine to matches against a rookie Hulk Hogan to classic feuds against Ken Patera and Sgt Slaughter, you’d be hard pressed to find a Backlund match from this time frame that wasn’t good. Hell, he even battled OTHER World Champions from Inoki in Japan, Harley Race and Ric Flair from the NWA and Nick Bockwinkel from the AWA! I can’t think of any other WWF Champion who did that! While Backlund was known for being a very “scientific” wrestler, he could also brawl with the best of them. Especially if you stuck him in a cage, which I would have to say was probably HIS match during his title reign. He probably had a cage match with every major contender for his title, with my absolute favourite being the Sgt Slaughter match in 1982, which imo is the greatest STEEL CAGE match ever! Following his title loss to Sheik, and the rise of Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund left the WWF and wrestling for the most part until the 90’s, where he appeared in some SHOOT matches in Japan before returning to the WWF. He had a spectacular run in the 1993 Royal Rumble, lasting over an hour, a time that would stand for 11 years. However it wasn’t until he became the MR BACKLUND character that he would gain any real momentum within the company. During this time, he turned heel and beat Bret Hart for the WWF Championship! His reign didn’t last long, as he was defeated 3 days later in MSG by Diesel, in 8 seconds! He continued to feud with Bret Hart going into WM 11, then afterwards transitioned into a manager, a role he has done on and off up until recently, where he was managing Darren Young. For his incredible 5 year title run and epic matches, along with the amazing character change to MR BACKLUND, Bob Backlund was an easy pick for me to go into this years Wrestling View Hall of Fame!!!
Born into wrestling royalty, Eddie Guerrero was the youngest son of legendary Mexican wrestler Gory Guerrero. His brothers were also all wrestlers, most notably his oldest brother Chavo Guerrero Sr. Having being born into such a great wrestling family, Eddie would need to be something special to stand out on his own… and oh boy was he something special!!! He began his career in Mexico, with his most notable matches and feuds happening in AAA as part of Los Gringos Locos, where he teamed up with Art Barr, leading up to a huge Hair Vs Mask 2 out of 3 falls tag team match at the “When World’s Collide” PPV. After Mexico, Eddie worked in Japan where he met life long friends Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho. Together they had many matches, tearing up the lightweight division (known as junior heavyweights) in Japan. His time in Japan got him noticed by Paul Heyman and ECW, and thus gave him his first break in America, along with Jericho, Malenko and Benoit too. From there, WCW came calling and off they all went to the second biggest wrestling promotion in the world at the time. Eddie and Benoit in particular had many fantastic matches, most of which were on TV, as Eric Bischoff used Eddie and others to produce a more fast paced and action packed match than the main eventers at the time were capable of in order to bring in a new audience. While having a clear glass ceiling below him that he couldn’t break through, Eddie was still able to hold many titles in WCW including the US title, and had some tremendous matches with just about anyone he got the chance to work with. However it was also around this time that his addictions got the better of him, almost killing him on a couple of occasions. Eventually he left WCW and signed with the WWF in 2000, and was given a decent push from the beginning, working as European and soon Intercontinental Champion for most of the year. In 2001, his addictions got the better of him again, and he was released from the WWF. His life during this time was a mess, with his wife leaving him, losing his job and wanting to die. It wasn’t until he found god that his life turned around. He became clean and sober, he worked to bring his family back together (which he successfully did), and in 2002 the WWF came calling, saying they had been watching him for a while and wanted to bring him back now he was doing well again. It was this second run in WWF/E that pushed Eddie from a good mid-card worker to one of the top superstars in the company, both as a worker inside the ring and as a popular fan favourite. He would team with his nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr, to become one of the most popular tag teams at the time, then continued as a singles wrestler when they split up. The WWE recognised his increasing popularity, and decided to reward him for all his efforts by having him defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship and be in one of the main events at WrestleMania XX!!! Being unselfish, when Brock Lesnar left the company and the WWE needed a new top heel, Eddie helped make JBL that replacement, putting him over in a huge feud that lead to a near 1 year title run for the former APA member. Eddie’s last year on earth, 2005, saw him turn heel on long time friend Rey Mysterio, allowing Eddie to showcase just how effective he could be as a bad guy too. Rumours speculate that he was meant to win back the WWE championship at the TV tapings the day after he died, but contradicting reports claim that he wanted to put over younger talent and give the title to Randy Orton instead. Given what he did for JBL 2 years earlier, personally I would be inclined to believe that version of the story. During his 16 year career in the wrestling business, Eddie gave us countless classic matches in numerous companies, along with some entertaining segments and heartfelt promos. Heel or face, Eddie was a master of his craft, and was arguably in his absolute PRIME when he passed away. Taken from us too soon in November of 2005, Eddie is still greatly missed to this day, both as a wrestler and a man. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Eddie. You deserve it.