If you look through the full list of the members of the WWE Hall of Fame, there are some performers that irrefutably deserve their place for their incredible contributions to wrestling (Hulk Hogan, Steve Austen, Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Shawn Michaels, Stu Hart, Jesse Ventura, Great Moolah, Gene Okerland, Lou Albana, Howard Finkel, the list goes on), and then there are those that are more controversial – the inductees that could be argued make a mockery of the whole thing (Pete Rose, The Refrigerator, Drew Carey). The latter is something that has always niggled at me personally because I do feel that it’s a slap in the face to all the other people that have been inducted justly and makes a mockery of the whole thing.
For this year’s Hall of Fame, the names announced so far are Edge, the Four Horseman (or the majority of them at least), Mil Mascaras, Mike Tyson and most recently on the 20th February edition of Raw, Ron Simmons. As worthy as Edge, Mil Mascaras and the Horsemen are, I’d like to focus on two extremes here: one inductee that is (in my eyes, particularly when I was a 12 year old that needed a role model in the early 90s) the most deserving of the lot and another that (in my eyes, as an equalities activist in my mid-30s) is an absolute disgrace. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which is which out of Ron Simmons and Mike Tyson.
For me, the inclusion of Ron Simmons is one of the greatest decisions ever made by the powers that be that allocate slots in the Hall of Fame. As a 30-something wrestling fan that has grown too ‘smart’ and grumpy to the point where it can be a detriment to my enjoyment of wrestling if I let it, the induction of Ron Simmons left me with a huge beaming grin on my face as a huge wave of nostalgia washed over me. I vividly remember my elation when Ron Simmons won the WCW Heavyweight Title. To my innocent eyes, Vader was the mean baddie and Ron was the amazing hero. The fact that he was the first black champion was irrelevant to 12 year old me: Ron was my favourite because he was a goodie and the powerslam was a really cool move. As a kid, my life revolved around Saturday afternoons and WCW Worldwide, and if Ron Simmons wasn’t on the show, I was gutted – not even Ricky Steamboat or Sting could hold a torch to Ron for awesomeness as far as I was concerned. However, the significance of Ron’s achievement as a black man in what had been a traditionally racist industry is now something that I now truly understand – as a wiser adult now and a minority myself, his victory over prejudice only makes me love the guy more.
When you actually think about it, how wonderful is that childhood innocence in my attitude to Ron? Wrestling, because Ron Simmons was on the WCW roster, helped to shape my attitudes towards racism: one of my childhood heroes was a great wrestler with an epic finisher that just so happened to be black. I genuinely believe that Ron’s awesomeness made me understand that racism was wrong even more so than the good upbringing that I had that just told me that it was. Whilst being told that wrong things are wrong is a very good thing, I didn’t know any black people in real life but I felt like I knew Ron Simmons: he was a man that I looked up to and admired. He was the first real role model that I ever had that was black, and it was Ron that made me truly understand and embrace the good teachings that I had had because he was real rather than hypothetical.
I was genuinely elated at the announcement of Ron Simmons; I was genuinely horrified at the announcement of Mike Tyson.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: Mike Tyson is a boxer that bit off a chunk from the ear of an opponent and is a convicted rapist. With all the current controversy about CM Punk and Chris Brown with wrestling fans flocking to Twitter to join Punk in condemning Brown for beating up a woman, why in the world aren’t they flocking to Twitter to condemn the rapist that the WWE want to put on a pedestal?
Mike Tyson is a rapist.
Mike Tyson is being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Just chew that over for a second.
Surely that isn’t a good thing? Hall of Famers in any sport are highlighted as legendary performers that have made a significant contribution to that sport and are supposed to bring prestige to the industry. I can think of a certain child murderer from Canada that was a legendary performer that had made a significant contribution to wrestling before becoming a murderer and committing suicide: perhaps he should go in next year? After all, if Mike Tyson’s horrendous and brutal crime can be ignored, why can’t Chris Benoit’s?
Just to be clear here: yes, that was sarcasm. I do not want child murderer Chris Benoit in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Mike Tyson’s induction makes me incredibly angry, and no amount of ‘he’s paid his debt to society’ crap can convince me that this is nothing short of the WWE endorsing a disgraced rapist and insulting every single Hall of Famer that has ever been inducted. It seems to me that this is the epitome of ‘rape is unforgivable... unless you’re famous’ – one of society’s most disgusting hypocrisies. A Hall of Fame is about giving prestige and recognition to great men that did great things: whether or not you think that Mike Tyson did great things or not (for wrestling, boxing, or anything else), he is not a great man. It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt in a Court of Law that he is a despicable man that has committed an act of unforgivable violation against another human being which will haunt her for the rest of her life. Mike Tyson should not be in the WWE Hall of Fame for being on a handful of episodes of Raw and a PPV, he doesn’t deserve it in comparison to workers that grafted at their craft for years. Beyond this, he sure as hell shouldn’t be celebrated by anyone for any reason because he has, frankly, proved that he is capable of great evil. Mike Tyson should not be in the WWE Hall of Fame, and it’s disgusting that he was ever considered, let alone inducted.
2012 – The Hall of Fame year with the greatest and vilest inductions of all time. Insanity. But would you really ever expect anything less from the WWE?