The Not The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Hall of Fame 2 - The New Batch
A couple of weeks ago I introduced the first four inductees into the NTWONHOFHOF, the Hall of Fame for those not deemed quite good enough for the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame. I asked for nominations for further inductees, and your responses came flooding in: they were both soaking wet. I like that joke. Not one to be deterred, I have dispensed with the entirely unnecessary voting process and now bring you the rest of the NTWONHOFHOF's inaugural class.
World renowned wrestling and MMA expert and f4w columnist Michael Coughlin had this to say: "Simply put, he's the greatest worker of all time at his style (shoot/UWFi), and is there anyone from lucha, puro, america, europe, etc... that we can say the same about who isn't in the hall?"
Kiyoshi Tamura was a proponent of the shoot-style of professional wrestling, the very realistic fights that came to prominence and popularity in the UWF and UWF-i. He was a relatively small but technically skilled fighter, with the ability to take a real beating, and also to dish it out when necessary. These skills allowed Tamura to work realistic and exciting matches with a wide range of opponents, and some of his greatest performances came in matches with men much larger than him.
Michael Coughlin deems Tamura the greatest of his ilk, and the common consensus appears to be that he is certainly in the top two, the other contender being Nobuhiko Takada. Takada was inducted into the WONHOF as one of its initial class in 1996, but Kiyoshi Tamura has not been given the same honour. He is on the ballot, but last year only polled a 33%. I asked Dave Meltzer why he thought Tamura had not been voted in, and in his typical style he said "you'd have to ask the voters individually". Meltzer also had this sad truth to say: "I voted for him, but I don't think he has a chance of ever getting in. When your style dies, your history dies with it."
Why? Watch this.
"Until Adrian moved from British wrestling to the states, America had never experienced the "arrogant fag" wrestler gimmick, which has basically been done a million times over around the world, from the more fruity such as Goldust to real macho legends like Rick Rude and Shawn Michaels. Street also contributed hugely to "classic" British wrestling and was a legit tough motherfucker. His gimmick has been copied a billion times, but never bettered." So speaks a man who knows a lot more than me about arrogance and faggotry (sorry Chris).
Gorgeous George may have been a 1950s version of a 'himbo', but Exotic Adrian Street ramped the character up several notches with his extravagant ring outfits and crowd-riling antics. The 'Queen Bitch of pro-wrestling' would wear increasing amounts of make-up and blow kisses at the ref, but would back this up with strong and hard hitting performances in the ring, a combination that would really raise the ire of the British fans. Street had reached 40 when he took his gimmick to the States, along with his valet Miss Linda. If you doubt the impact he had upon his arrival, just ask the man himself: "Before I came to the States, no one was wearing facepaint, no one was wearing spandex, and no one at that time was entering the ring with a lady valet. Nowadays all of these things are commonplace in pro wrestling and every one of them are copying us."
"ECW's single hardest worker onstage and off, who repeatedly put his body on the line time and time again purely to put ecw over, stuck with Paul to the bitter end and is still the only TRUE personification of what the company was that is still going today. Without Tommy, there was no ECW." - Chris Moyse (wrestling legend and founder member of the FYC)
As well as being beaten senseless for several years, Dreamer worked tirelessly behind the scenes in ECW, being involved in just about every aspect of the company, keeping it going whilst Paul Heyman got all the praise. In the ring, his role as the underdog in his battles with Raven is remembered by many people as one of the greatest feuds in wrestling, and Tommy seems to be one of the few people in wrestling who realise that you can often gain more from losing a match than winning it. After ECW folded, Tommy eventually ended up in WWE, where he ate his own sick.
Tommy Dreamer is the living, breathing embodiment of Extreme Championship Wrestling: he had to fight to gain the respect of fans and other wrestlers; he accomplished more in the wrestling world than he had any right to; and he should be remembered for his glory days, rather than for having anything to do with Mike Knox.
'Gill-berg...Gill-berg'. So rang the chants around the arena as the mighty Gillberg made his entrance in a flurry of sparks and smoke. Well, sparklers and fire extinguishers. And the chants were piped into the arena, but then so were Goldberg's, the man who Duane Gill was imitating. Or rather, who Vince McMahon was using to take shots at WCW's biggest star of the time. Duane Gill spent time in 1993/4 as a perennial loser in the WWF, being beaten by the likes of Mable, Thurman 'Sparky' Plugg and Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese, which gave him the perfect credentials for membership of the J.O.B. Squad later in the decade. A strong part of the argument for Gill's inclusion is the fact that he was responsible for Marc Mero leaving WWF television, at least in storyline terms. Mero promised to leave if he could not beat the jobber, but with the help of his fellow squad members, Gill pulled off the upset. As Gillberg, Duane was officially the longest reigning WWF Light Heavyweight Champion in history, nearly fifteen months, albeit at a time when the belt was not actually being competed for on television. In fact it wasn't being competed for anywhere, as Gill had left the company, briefly being brought back to lose the title to Essa Rios.
As Gillberg, Duane Gill was a true example of WrestleCrap, but is that not a fine and noble contribution to make to the world of professional wrestling? Wrestling is about entertaining the audience, and the legend of Gillberg will be remembered for a long time. By some at least. If I may quote the great man in an entirely irrelevant manner: "Who's first?"
The Rock'n'Roll Express
Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton were put together as the Rock'n'Roll Express in the early 1980s initially to be a poor man's version of the Fabulous Ones. They were a funny looking pair who liked 'hair metal', and were a relatively small duo, with the emphasis of their act on high-flying, selling and bad hair. In the Mid South territory they had a legendary feud with the Midnight Express, which carried on into the NWA, and throughout the 80s they were one of the hottest tag team acts in the country, working alongside the likes of the Four Horsemen.
With the dawn of the 1990s and a new generation of tag teams, Morton and Gibson failed to move with the times and their act faded in popularity. With the rise of WWF and WCW, they spent much of the 90s in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and when they appeared in WCW and then in the WWF as part of the NWA invasion, their main occupation was to do the job, which, to their credit, they did very well.
The team made a brief appearance in NWA:TNA in 2003, and can still be found wrestling as a team on the legends circuit, often facing their most famous foes, the Midnight Express. Out of all of the NTWONHOFHOF inductees, they have come closest to reaching the WONHOF, last year polling 48% of the votes (a mark of 60% is needed).
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