By Jeffrey Lutz
The announcement of Razor Ramon's upcoming induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was more cause for confusion than for celebration.
I don't have these bouts of bewilderment with the Baseball Hall of Fame, except when its voters elect nobody. I don't have to wonder about which of his multiple personalities or characters Greg Maddux will use in his speech this summer. Maybe he'll go in with his glasses on this year, to save the less optically challenged Maddux for a later induction. Yeah, that doesn't happen, either.
The WWE Hall of Fame, if one actually existed beyond the figment of the imagination the company celebrates each WrestleMania season, is unique. In no other business are the most successful performers actors who show fans the most of their actual personalities. Scott Hall did that, first as Razor Ramon, then as an extended version of himself in WCW with the nWo and finally again with WWE. But Razor's induction is another example of why I often diminish the WWE HOF and call it more of a gimmick than a real institution. Razor Ramon is not a Hall of Famer and even if he was, Scott Hall is more worthy of enshrinement.
The last time Razor Ramon appeared on WWE television, Scott Hall was not playing him. It was Rick Bognar, a wrestling afterthought brought in as part of a story line to turn Jim Ross heel and make Hall and Kevin Nash, who left for the (money)-greener pastures in WCW in 1996, look bad. WWE and Vince McMahon literally told its audience that Razor Ramon, and in turn Scott Hall, were replaceable, and however regrettable that move looks now, it's not a decision that should end with a Hall of Fame induction for a character WWE believed was disposable.
Yes, there have been instances of WWE employing two of the same character, even at the same time. We've already seen two Sin Caras, and the most memorable example of a duplicate came in 1994 when Undertaker wrestled his impostor at SummerSlam. I don't expect Brian Lee to show up at the podium when Undertaker -- Mark Calaway -- goes into the Hall of Fame in a few years, just like I don't expect Bognar to attempt to make off with Hall's HOF ring.
The "New" Razor Ramon was different from fake Undertaker, though. The real Undertaker was always going to win the feud with Ted DiBiase's illegitimate one, but the actual Razor Ramon, Scott Hall, was never going to return to WWE to reclaim his character and its dignity. WWE tarnished the character, one that was an impressive brainchild of mostly Hall and some of McMahon, so I can't take this honor completely seriously.
Some speculation indicates that Razor is going in so Hall can be saved for enshrinement with nWo, which is ridiculous. That would be like Triple H going into the HOF first as Terra Ryzing, so Hunter Hearst Helmsley could go in with the original D-Generation X, Triple H with Evolution and Paul Levesque as an executive. What if Kane goes in as Diesel, Isaac Yankem, the plethora of versions of the Kane character and as part of a multitude of tag teams and factions? His Royal Rumble eliminations record may have been broken this year, but nobody would ever touch 11 Hall of Fame inductions.
My WWE HOF frustrations heighten every year. There have to be some solutions. WWE should induct six people every year -- one pre-WrestleMania spot, two from the WrestleMania era, one diva, one star who spent most or all of his career away from WWE, and one celebrity. Having a firm number of inductees, with attachments to their era and specialty as performers, will make it easier to accept next year when Stacy Keibler becomes a Hall of Famer while the spirit of Randy Savage is kept waiting yet again.
It's the same story this year, as Lita waltzes into the HOF after a few years of retirement while Jake "The Snake" Roberts is finally in two decades after his most important contributions to the business. Roberts struggled to stay sober enough to make an appearance at one of WWE's most prestigious corporate events, but that is part of his story and it needs to be told, rather than a glowing video announcing Roberts' induction without any mention of the difficult road he took to earn it. Human interest will improve the HOF and sell the WWE Network that is broadcasting it.
There's a slippery slope, though, between inducting characters and the real-life people who play them on WWE television, and in making inductions in a business that specializes in extreme creative liberties. Does a Road Warriors induction mean Heidenreich is a Hall of Famer? No. But when nWo goes in, how can I reconcile the idea that, no matter how the induction is billed, Scott Norton has become immortalized?
Keep the HOF character-driven but don't detach the humanity. Roberts and Hall are undoubtedly more proud about being on the doorstep to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction than they are about being accompanied to the ring by Alice Cooper at WrestleMania III or participating in an all-time great ladder match at WrestleMania X.
WWE seems to want us to believe that its characters have no problems or issues outside of personal rivalries. "The Snake" never tried cocaine and Razor Ramon never touched alcohol. Unfortunately for WWE, the human beings are the ones accepting enshrinement in New Orleans on Saturday. Scott Hall and his addictions. Jake Roberts (aka Aurelian Smith Jr.) and his demons. It's an ugly side of an occasionally ugly business, but it's life. A Hall of Fame with no bricks, mortar or artifacts becomes even more meaningless when it doesn't let people in, either.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lutz's Blog: Razor Ramon's WWE Hall of Fame induction is nice, but Scott Hall's would have been better
Mar 31, 2014 - 05:05 PM
Mar 31, 2014 - 05:05 PM
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