Its time for the 5th annual Wrestling View’s Hall of Fame!!! I don’t exactly watch much wrestling these days, and when I do its older stuff, but I still make sure I watch WrestleMania, and part of the WrestleMania week is the Hall of Fame. For 5 years now, I’ve been doing my own under the Wrestling View name, which is my previous blog devoted to just wrestling content. Check out all my previous Hall of Fame posts by clicking here.
He’s a man, just a maaaaaan. And now he’s a Hall of Famer!!! His career began in 1983 when he was just 15 years old, where he would take on all comers at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach who would win prize money if they could defeat him. From there he moved into the British wrestling scene, followed by Europe, Japan, and finally the United States in 1993 when he was signed by WCW. His unique wrestling style, consisting of submission holds, knee and elbow strikes, European uppercuts and deadly suplexes made him stand out from the crowd. However it wasn’t until his heel turn and gimmick change to Lord Steven Regal that his career really picked up at the time, giving him a great run with the WCW TV Championship and pairing him up with such classic opponents as Arn Anderson, Barry Windham and Ricky Steamboat, just to name a few. Even Larry Zbyszko, who at the time was mostly retired and just doing commentary, took notice of Regal and requested a feud with him due to the fact he was so different from everyone else on the roster, and he felt he could help make him a bigger star. For the next few years in WCW, Regal would face many different opponents and give most of them some of the best matches of their career, all the while remaining in the TV Championship division, holding the title 4 times. And old rival named Fit Finlay joined WCW, and they immediately went at it, giving WCW some of the most BRUTAL matches they’d seen at the time, one of which resulted in a broken nose! In 1998, William Regal would have his final WCW match for a while, when he faced Bill Goldberg. To this day, Regal claims that he was told to give Goldberg a competitive match by his agent backstage. However, Goldberg being so green meant that he simply couldn’t keep up with Regal, and he came out of the match looking bad. With nobody owning up to what they told Regal, all the blame fell on him and as a result he was fired from the company. This opened the door for Regal in the WWF, however his initial run didn’t turn out the way anyone would have wanted. A bad gimmick plus drug and alcohol issues put a stop to any chance William Regal had of being a star at that time. Regal would enter rehab, clear up his issues and returned to WCW for a short period of time. It wouldn’t be long before he returned to the WWF in 2000 without the “Real Man” gimmick, and without his addictions, and from there William Regal finally got a chance. In just over a year with the company, Regal had become WWF European Champion, WWF Intercontinental Champion and had spent time as the WWf Commissioner, all the while getting to wrestle big TV matches against Rock, Austin, Undertaker and more. For me though, I didn’t feel like Regal really got into his “groove” until around 2002. From 2002 onwards his in ring work seemed to improve a ton, and he was putting on great matches on a weekly basis akin to his early WCW years. He improved on the mic too, being able to portray a goofy Englishman and a badass Englishmen when needed. He continued to be successful, winning the tag team championship on a number of occasions, and being a multi-time European and Intercontinental champion too. His series of matches with the likes of Edge, Benoit, Finlay, Christian and others stick out in my mind as some of his best. Then, in 2008, it seemed that Regal was being groomed for a BIG push. He won the King of the Ring tournament. He became the Raw General Manager. He started to feud with HHH, the reigning WWE Champion at the time. It seemed that he was going to face off with HHH and potentially win the title… and then he got suspended. For failing the drug policy. Upon his return, his WWE Championship push was gone, but being such a great talent, he wasn’t exactly sent to the bottom of the pile either. He continued to have big matches, this time with CM Punk over the IC title, before moving to the WWE’s version of ECW where he would battle Christian for the ECW champion and work with Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson to try and help them out. When ECW ended in 2010, Regal began to slow down with his in ring work, and was usually some sort of on air talent either as an authority figure or commentator. Every so often he would wrestle in FCW and then NXT, WWE’s development territories, again trying to help out the new talent. Even in his 40’s he was having classic matches with the likes of Dean Ambrose, Chris Hero and Cesaro. Then, just a few years ago, a neck surgery effectively ended his in ring career for good, and he remains with the company as the NXT General Manager and plays an intrigal part of the Performance Centre teaching young wrestlers. And so that just about sums up a 35 year career of one of my personal favourite wrestlers. While he never reached the top of the mountain, he was consistently in great matches and winning different championships, all the while also being unselfish and helping out new talent at every opportunity. He was never afraid to look the fool, be it dressing up like a women or drinking pee; whatever it took to entertain the audience, he did it. Hell, he was even the first ever member of the “Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass” Club! Also, to this day, his match with Christian on ECW TV in November of 2009 remains the single greatest match I have had the pleasure of watching live in the arena. For such a long career filled with tons of tremendous matches and moments, and numerous accolades, it is my absolute honour to induct WILLIAM REGAL into the Wrestling View’s Hall of Fame class of 2018!!!
Its time for some ROYALTY in the Hall of Fame, with the King of Memphis, and the King of Wrestling, Jerry Lawler to finally enter my HOF! Almost FIFTY years ago, Jerry got into the wrestling business after making contacts with the local Memphis promotions due to his art work and radio show. With help from Memphis legend Jacky Fargo and promoter Jerry Jarrett, Lawler would quickly rise the ranks and become a top star in the area despite being young. Between his incredible mic skills, incredible punches and ability to bump like crazy, a young Jerry Lawler was able to feud with his mentor Jacky Fargo and beat him, declaring himself King of Memphis and Wrestling in general. While many other wrestlers during the territory days would move around, with hopes of eventually making it to the WWF in New York or the bigger NWA territories such as Jim Crockett Promotions, Lawler would stick to Memphis for almost his entire career, only wrestling in other areas when a working relationship between them had been agreed upon. Despite not being the biggest territory, Memphis would end up being extremely successful in large part thanks to Jerry Lawler, and the incredible feuds he had with the likes of Randy Savage, Austin Idol, Terry Funk, hollywood star Andy Kaufman, and perhaps his most famous opponent for all those years, Bill Dundee. On screen they were on-again off-again friends and enemies, but no matter which of them was the face or heel, they would draw huge houses and have some of the most incredible matches you will ever see. As the WWF was expanding worldwide and buying out dying territories, Memphis managed to remain strong, and a deal was struck between Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler. Lawler would still wrestle and help run the Memphis territory, but also work with the WWF as a commentator and wrestler. This working relationship allowed Lawler to bring in top names to help put over younger stars in Memphis, while also giving those same young stars more chance of being discovered by the WWF. While competing in the WWF, Lawler would have a long rivalry with Bret Hart, followed by feuds with legends such as Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts and others. However it was his commentary work that gained him the most notoriety while in the company, especially with Monday Night Raw growing bigger and his incredible on screen chemistry with Jim Ross. For the better part of the next decade and a half, Jerry would commentate for Raw and Smackdown, getting back in the ring on occasion for the WWF, and still competing in Memphis and the independent scene. In 2012, during a live Raw broadcast, Lawler collapsed at the announce table during a match. He had suffered a heart attack, but luck was on his side and he recovered relatively quickly and was even able to get back in the ring, something he continues to do in 2018!!! While never booked as a main event superstar in the biggest promotions, Jerry Lawler is without a doubt a legend still for his lengthy career. He was able to continuously draw money in his home of Memphis for upwards of 40 years. He battled some of the biggest names in the business. He was an integral part of the presentation of Monday Night Raw for over a decade along with JR. His promo skills are up there as one of the very best. His punches are some of the best you’ll ever see. Despite not being a particularly great athlete, nor an amateur wrestler, his in ring skills cannot be ignored either. He knew how to tell amazing stories in the ring, and he could get incredible matches out of just about anyone. Anyone who only knows “The King” from his WWF work is missing out on some of the most fun and fantastic matches ever. So fire up the old youtube machine, search for Jerry Lawler Vs Bill Dundee, and celebrate “The King” getting inducted into the 2018 Wrestling View’s Hall of Fame!!!
We finish up the 2018 Wrestling View’s Hall of Fame with perhaps THE biggest star in wrestling history; STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN! With the shortest in ring career of all 3 inductees this year, spanning from 1989 to 2003, Steve Austin definitely had the most IMPACTFUL career. Only a couple of years in the business, training with Chris Adams and working Texas, WCW snatched up “Stunning” Steve Austin, and he was quickly added to the Dangerous Alliance group with Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, Larry Zbyszko and Paul Heyman. Following the Dangerous Alliance, Austin was teamed up with Brian Pillman to create the Hollywood Blondes, a tag team that became far more successful than anyone expected. Big matches against the likes of Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Ric Flair and then his big feud with Ricky Steamboat put him on the map, but an injury and issues with Eric Bischoff caused him to lose his job. This led to Steve Austin in ECW, where he began to create the Stone Cold character we all know. The promos he cut while in ECW are talked about as some of the greatest ever, along with Mick Foley’s Anti-Hardcore promos. It wasn’t long before WWF came calling, and Steve Austin instantly became a huge star… or at least, he SHOULD have. Vince McMahon seemingly hadn’t seen Austin’s work, and just assumed he was nothing more than a “wrestler”, and thus was given a stoic wrestler gimmick with Ted DiBiase as his manager. But as Randy Savage used to say, the cream always rises to the top, and Austin managed to break out by taking every opportunity he had to get himself over, and 1996 became an important year for him and the wrestling business, when Steve Austin won the King of the Ring Tournament. Following the win, Austin was giving the chance to cut a promo, and the result was the birth of the famous “Austin 3:!6” line. While WWE likes to tell use that Austin was catapulted into super stardom following that promo, in actuality Austin was still barely used for a number of months afterwards, until a returning Bret Hart took an interest in him and wanted to wrestle him. Survivor Series was just the beginning, and even though Bret won, it helped make Austin look better than ever. The Royal Rumble in 1997 saw Austin win by eliminating Bret, despite Bret eliminating Austin first but behind the referee’s backs. The more Austin cheated, the more the fans cheered, and the more Bret started to despise Austin. Their WrestleMania 13 match will go down in history as one of the best matches of all time and for good reason. A brutal, bloody brawl that turned Austin into a fully fledged babyface and Bret into a full on heel. From there Austin was going nowhere but up. And then SummerSlam 1997 happened. Owen Hart hit a version of a piledriver on Austin, and dropped the rattlesnake on his head. Austin was injured, but was kept on TV to cut promos and hit Stunners on anyone and everyone, building the popularity of his character. Despite his neck still being hurt, Austin returned to the ring, won yet another Royal Rumble match, and was involved in one of the most famous segments in Raw history with Mike Tyson, leading up to his first title win at WrestleMania 14 against Shawn Michaels. His title win, along with Tyson’s involvement, helped bring the WWF back from the brink of closure, and into the #1 position once again ahead of WCW Nitro. His feud with Vince McMahon is heralded as one of the biggest and best rivalries in wrestling. For 3 years they battled, with Vince putting opponents like The Undertaker, Mick Foley, HHH, The Rock, Kane, The Big Show and more in front of Austin in an attempt to take the WWF Championship from him. He and The Rock had the most chemistry together, and as two of the most popular wrestlers at the time, they went on to headline THREE WrestleMania shows. In 1999, Austin’s neck was at the literal breaking point, and he needed to step away for surgery. His return in late 2000 was hugely successful, with Austin going on to have perhaps his best year ever for in ring performances in 2001. 2002 saw Austin become burnt out, and he walked out on the WWE, before returning in 2003 to have his last ever match against The Rock on their third WM match. After that, Austin got the chance to become co-GM of Raw along side Eric Bischoff, and Austin got the chance to be more of a performer than a wrestler than even during his time in 1997 when he was injured. So while his career only spanned 14 years in the ring, he achieved 3 Royal Rumble wins, a King of the Ring win, multiple world titles, some of the biggest matches ever and helped turn the tide of the Monday Night Wars. He has been called the biggest star ever, even ahead of Hulk Hogan. While known as being mainly a brawler during the Attitude Era, he also managed to have some of the best matches ever, such as WM 13 with Bret as already mentioned, his matches with Rock, matches with Angle, Foley, Benoit and others. I remember not being a fan of Austin originally, but after going back and re-watching a lot of his work, I can honestly call myself a huge Austin fan these days. Even during the Attitude Era, a time period where most of the wrestling was bad, I can enjoy Austin beating the hell out of his opponents. Even though I HATE the fact he invented the “what?” chant, his ECW promos are definitely classics. His impact on wrestling can only be rivalled by Hulk Hogan, but he absolutely shatters Hogan’s career in terms of match quality. Like Hogan, he has had a controversial personal life for various reasons over the years, but his contributions to the wrestling business cannot be ignored, and that is why he is being inducted into my lovely Hall of Fame, class of 2018!!!