Hello to all Cageside Seats readers, welcome to my very first FanPost. I've wanted to write about something for a long while, but I haven't been too sure about what exactly would make for a good FanPost. Then it hit me. During a recent visit to cSs, I couldn't help but click into a post highlighting Hulk Hogan's mini-campaign to put the Fabulous Rougeaus in the WWE Hall of Fame. It was crazy to randomly see this tag team on cSs's front page, but it was even crazier that I ended up agreeing with Hulk Hogan on something.
But as the video sent me into a spiral of thinking about who else has yet to been given their deserved recognition by WWE, a particular name hit me like a hammer. A fellow Canadian, from the same era as the Rougeau brothers, who enjoyed great success in both singles and tag team competition. That man is none other than Rick "The Model" Martel.
For those who would like to know more about this man, here's a not-so brief summary of his career. Born into a wrestling family, Rick Martel made his pro wrestling debut in 1973 at age 17, when his brother Michel Martel asked him to replace an injured wrestler on the card. He quickly adapted to the ring, winning championships in Canada, Puerto Rico, Japan, and New Zealand during the seventies. He signed with the World Wrestling Federation in 1980 and spent two years in a tag team with Tony Garea (another name who deserves an induction), winning the tag team titles twice before departing for Verne Gagne's AWA in 1982.
It was in the Minnesota-based territory where Martel had his greatest singles success, winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1984 from Jumbo Tsuruta and holding on to it for eighteen months until he dropped it to Stan Hansen on his way out of the company in December 1985. Martel rejoined the WWF in 1986 but was back in a tag team, this time with Tom Zenk as the Can-Am Connection. Both men saw solid tag team success until Zenk left the company in mid-1987, leaving Martel high and dry without a partner until joining forces with Tito Santana to create the Strike Force.
With Santana, Martel tasted gold once again when he won his third tag team title off the Hart Foundation. They spent five months as champions (all while coming out to Robbie Dupree's "Girls In Cars") before losing the titles to Demolition at WrestleMania IV, after which he took six months off to care for his ill wife. Martel returned in January of 1989 and reformed Strike Force with Santana to face the Brain Busters at WrestleMania V, where Rick would betray his partner by walking away from the match and turning heel. After a few months of feuding with Tito with Slick as his manager, "The Model" would be born in late 1989.
As "The Model", Martel was a cocky, fashionable heel who carried around his own perfurme that he called "Arrogance", which he would spray in the eyes of his opponents. This would be the most famous run of his career, as he spent the next few years as a reliable upper midcarder who had memorable feuds with the likes of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Tatanka, and Shawn Michaels.
By 1993, he had started to slip down the card and his appearances became more sporadic, as he eventually left the WWF in 1995 and would'nt wrestle for another major company until 1998, when he signed for World Championship Wrestling and had a very brief run with the Television title until a torn knee ligament ended his comeback run -and his career- for good.
Now that you know who Rick Martel is, it's time to answer the big question: Why should Rick Martel be in the WWE Hall of Fame?
First and foremost, Martel was simply an excellent in-ring worker, one of the best of his era. He made all of his opponents look good while also shining himself as well, and his Boston Crab finisher was one of the best of his time. Accomplishment-wise, he was a three-time tag team champion who was a part of the WWF's biggest shows during the Golden Era. Even if he never won singles gold under Vince McMahon's banner, he was a believable midcard hand who could have given any champion a good fight. Finally, he was also a bit of an all-star of sorts of the Royal Rumble's early years, appearing in seven consecutive titular bouts from 1989 to 1995 and making it to two final fours as well as posting several long time intervals, most notably the then-record 52 minutes he lasted in 1991 where he finished fifth.
Even if you look outside the WWF, there's no doubt that his AWA title run was impressive enough to help make his case, holding the title for over 500 days while having Hogan and Flair as contemporary world champions. With all of the other wrestlers that have gone in from his era and had accomplished far less (looking at you, Koko B. Ware), there's no real reason to justify the fact that Martel hasn't been given an induction, especially considering that he was never on any known bad terms with the company or ever got in any serious trouble like fellow Canadian Dino Bravo. Hopefully with Triple H now in charge, we will see many more names get their due, be it Martel, the Rougeaus, the Midnight Express, Sid, Demolition, Lex Luger, and so on. There is no reason to overlook these legends anymore.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Is Rick Martel a worthy WWE Hall of Fame inductee?