We're only four months away from WrestleMania 29, which means that company officials are already starting to lobby for their favourites and discuss the potential inductees for next year's WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony, which will be held in Madison Square Garden on April 6th, 2013.
As we reported here back in July, the top billing was all set to go to Bruno Sammartino, the most glaring omission from their historical achievement award list, but "The Living Legend" politely turned down the invitation when Triple H broached the subject with him. Personally, I don't know why they even bothered asking him, as he's made it quite clear that he could never live with himself if he did business ever again with Vince McMahon, but I suppose the need to sell out MSG led them to trying to pull off the ultimate long shot.
In August, PWInsider.com reported that Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, Bob Backlund and Randy Savage were the lead names in the mix for being honoured by WWE in 2013. Obviously, none of those names can be counted out, but Dave Meltzer had a more in-depth report in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Here's a summary for those who aren't subscribers:
- Mick Foley is still the favourite to headline next year's WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony, as he's under contract to the company, is being heavily pushed in an ongoing angle with CM Punk and grew up on Long Island. Really, it would take a massive falling out between Foley and McMahon for this not to happen, so this is almost a dead cert.
- People within the company would love to induct Owen Hart, as MSG was the site of his most famous career match at WrestleMania X, where he upset brother Bret in a classic. But there's still the same hang up that there has been for years with his desired induction. Though Bret would love for it to happen, Owen's widow Martha Hart would strongly oppose the move. I believe Martha may even still have ongoing litigation against WWE for using Owen's likeness without her express approval on DVDs, most notably Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology DVD in 2010, and withholding royalties from their sale. Last we heard, many of her complaints were thrown out of court, but not all of them. I think when push comes to shove, WWE management won't want to risk the bad publicity that would inevitably be garnered by inducting a dead wrestler against the wishes of his outspoken widow. So cross Owen's name off the list.
- Apparently, WWE are still trying to cut a deal with Bruno. Good luck with that!
- Being turned down by Bruno yet again would make it much more likely that they would make overtures to The Ultimate Warrior once again as his big name replacement, whose career was made by beating The Honky Tonk Man for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1988 in MSG. That may be something they do as a last resort though, given that they almost made a deal with him to be inducted in 2010, only for him to change his mind soon after negotiations had been opened up. However, I wouldn't rule it completely out, as Triple H of all people, called The Ultimate Warrior "a Hall of Fame superstar in the business" earlier this year.
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage would be the obvious alternative to Warrior, but there's headaches to deal with there too. First, Vince McMahon would have to set aside his personal feelings for the man, who he hated with a passion before his death, leading to all sorts of strange theories as to why this was the case. Also, there's the insistence by the surviving members of the Poffo family that they will only let WWE induct Savage into their Hall Of Fame on the proviso that they also induct his father Angelo and brother Lanny too, because that was Randy's wish before he died. So Vince would also have to be willing to give into their demands, which may be difficult for someone so used to calling all the shots. I'm sure it will happen one day, but 2013 may still be too soon to let bygones be bygones.
- This may be the year The Rock will want to be inducted, as the ceremony will be held in an arena with so much personal and family history. That thought process makes sense, but I find it hard to believe that he or WWE would want to do it before his retirement match takes place. I guess he'll just be on hand to give the induction speech for Mick Foley, provided his schedule allows it.
- Bob Backlund is probably the safest bet to go in with Foley, given that he's one of MSG's biggest wrestling draws in history, successfully defending the WWWF/WWF Heavyweight Championship over 60 times between 1978 and 1983. Turning down a spot in the Hall Of Fame nine years ago is unlikely to be held against him any longer.
- Due to their key roles in the build up to WrestleMania I and on the show itself, expect either Cyndi Lauper or Mr. T to be next year's celebrity inductee. Given that Lauper was on Monday Night Raw earlier this year, whereas T has turned down induction before and would be more of a headache to deal with, I'd tab her as the favourite of the two.