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2023 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Ballot Review (The 50%+ Club)

With a successful opening part of this year’s look at this year’s ballot (it’s already fourth from the top on the Google search engine when you type in the words Observer Hall Of Fame) it is now time to look at those on the ballet that scored 50% or more of the vote share and look at whether they will or should be voted in

Argentina Rocca/Miguel Perez- Last Year 57%- Historical

Statistically, Argentina and Miguel were the top draws in wrestling in 1958 and 1959 when wrestling in the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in New York being the only tag team to get top spot in a calendar year and are the third highest drawing team ever in North America behind The Road Warriors and The Crusher/Dick the Bruiser. Rocca/Perez were the kings of Madison Square Garden before Bruno Sammartino. Without Argentina and Miguel, CWC doesn’t become the WWWF and Vincent J. McMahon doesn’t find the formula of babyfaces with ethnic ties to various nationalities in the city of New York main eventing at MSG. We don’t get Bruno, Pedro Morales or even Hulk Hogan without Argentina Rocca and Miguel Perez.

People like Jesse Collings have pointed out that Perez was just along for the ride but that is doing Perez down (to be fair though, the fact that Dave Meltzer's obituary about Perez spent 50% of it talking about Rocca does help that argument) Miguel's babyface-in-peril work was said to be some of the best in wrestling history and played its part for the team's success. If today, the modern face in peril is "playing Ricky Morton" then Ricky Morton was "playing Miguel Perez".

Will Perez/Rocca be inducted? The pair being shy of 60% was a surprise last year and many felt it was the biggest omission along with Bobby Davis and with the chance of a do-over, I think Perez and Rocca get past the 60%

Should Perez/Rocca be inducted? Perez and Rocca hit all the points necessary. The box-office, the influence and also let's be honest, the in-ring is more of a case of contention for candidates in Modern acts than it is for Historical acts and with the main two points hit, Perez and Rocca should be in.

Sgt. Slaughter Last Year- 57%- Historical

Slaughter is one of the most interesting cases in the HOF ballot. Fans of a certain age remember Slaughter as the heel in the highly controversial Wrestlemania main event feud against Hulk Hogan in 1991 and those would scoff at the thought of the Sarge being inducted in any HOF that wasn't the WWE version but when you look at Slaughter’s career pre-1986 then Slaughter is a very very good case for the Observer HOF.

Slaughter was part of the heel team with Don Kernolde that sold out the Greensboro Coliseum against Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood with stories from that night being that Greensboro was at a standstill from the traffic from cars heading to the arena to the point that Ricky Steamboat was in the traffic jam.

Slaughter was the second biggest baby face in wrestling behind Hulk Hogan in 1984. He also would be part of some of what were thought at the time as the greatest matches in wrestling history. A match against Bob Backlund in 1981 and The Iron Sheik matches with ratings of 8.18 and 8.30 respectively among the best matches from the 1980 to 1985 era of the New York territory according to Cagematch.

I have heard arguments from some including historian Karl Stern from that the Stolen Valour scandal in which Slaughter has claimed that he is a shoot-Vietnam War veteran when he isn't sours his claim but if someone who has murdered his wife and child then himself was still voted in the HOF in a reclaim ballot then someone who is not telling the truth about going to war can be inducted as much as Slaughter's claims understandably offends people.

Should Slaughter be inducted? When you look the Observer calculation of best box office draws of the 80s and 90s, 19 of the 20 names on the list are in the HOF bar Slaughter and with box office such a big factor in voting, it feels weird if Sarge isn't in the Hall

Wrestling Observer Calculation of Best Box Office Draw of 80s to 00s

(Names in bold are inductees into the Observer Hall of Fame)

Will Slaughter be inducted? Slaughters name is one of four that are in the danger zone with exclusion from the ballet happening should his vote share go below 50% (the others being Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki and Jackie Pallo) and Sarge with that jeopardy could see more votes go his way to get Sarge past 60% and induction into the Hall finally happening in the 18th year he will spend on the ballot

Los Hermanos Dinamita- Last Year 57%- Mexico

The fairest comparison to make for LHD would be the Fabulous Freebirds. Both were the lead heels in a booming territory, jumps to rival promotions made an impact to the business and they would get the nostalgia pop whenever they made "legend" appearances.

Los Hermanos, made up of three brothers, Universo 2000, Cien Caras and Mascara Ano 2000 became the top heel trio in Mexico in the late 80s with their jump to AAA in the early days of their existence a big moment in Lucha with their holding of the National Trios Titles which at the time was not owned by a promotion but governed by the athletic commissions around Mexico. Their feud with Perro Aguayo and Konnan was the foundation of the double main event that would draw a 48,000 sell out in the Plaza de Toros bullring in Mexico City. Universo would go on to be one of the most tenured heavyweight champions in Lucha history, main eventing through the turn of the millennium along with Caras and Cien Caras not being in the Hall is one of the biggest admissions with his 58% share of the vote in 2016 (one vote shy) the closest he was and anyone else has been to getting into the HOF

While the other two would struggle to get into the HOF individually like Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy (to be fair, had Gordy not messed himself with narcotics he would have got in)and Buddy Roberts, as a trio like the Freebirds, , Mexican historians will tell you that they are the surefire of surefire picks to get in

Should Los Hermanos get in? If Roy Lucier, famed Mexican Historian and all round awesome dude says yes, I’m listening to him.

Will Los Hermanos they get in? Now the The Mexican Block got Mistico in, The Mexican Block need to do Mexican Block things and vote a Lucha act in and with 57% last year, you get the feeling that Dave Meltzer should get the bios out on LHD

Steiners- Last Year 52% - Modern US/Canada

In a world when tag teams were classed as second-class citizens compared to the World Singles Title scene in both WWE and WCW and then in the noughties, the Steiners were the class of the field in the early 90s with their five year stretch from 1990 to 1994 one of the top runs of a tag team in modern wrestling history.

One of the top acts in WCW in the early 90s with their work in NJPW massively underrated, their 18 months in WWE while not hitting the heights of their time south of the Mason-Dixon line, their matches with the Hart Brothers and Money Inc are in the S tier of tag matches in the New Generation Era of WWE.

Should The Steiners be inducted? This time last year, I would have said yes. But since then Rick Steiners transphobic conduct towards Gisele Shaw at Wrestlecon and his lack of contrition afterwards has soured my opinion. In-ring, The Steiners are HOF worthy but as seen in other sports HOF, off field activities can be a barrier to induction.

Will The Steiners be inducted? If Chris Benoit after murdering his wife and son can still be in the Observer HOF then you feel voters will ignore Rick’s behaviour at Wrestlecon but maybe the current workers that are part of the voting block and the newer generation of journalists/writers that now have votes who are allies of the LGBT community will leave Rick and Scott off their forms

I hope it's the latter to be honest

British Bulldogs- Last Year- 52%- Historical US/Canada

A case of one member of a team already in the Observer HOF, Davey Boy isn't a good enough case for the HOF even with the interesting spectre of Smith being the face of the upsurge of British interest in WWE being the foundation of many people (including me) being fans to this day.

But when you weigh up the Bulldogs case as a duo, it makes a great one. They were in-ring the best tag team in the world until Dynamite’s back gave out in 1987 and they also drew being the main event act in the B-House shows in the multi ring circuit that was WWF in the Hulkamania era pulling great numbers in the process.

Their work in Japan doesn't get the publicity that their work in New York did with their matches against Masa Fuchi/Toshiaki Kawada and Kobayashi/Teranishi changing the way tag team wrestling was viewed in Japan and their AJPW in 1989 doesn't get the praise it deserves.

Should The Bulldogs be inducted? Davey Boy and Dynamite were great in the ring, drew in the box office and were pioneers in the ring. The only negative to their case is the short time (6 years) they were at their peak. That argument goes away when you look at the longevity of the other teams up for the vote like Anderson and Blanchard (3 years) and Beauty Pair

Will The Bulldogs be inducted? As one of many teams to be introduced to the ballot last year, you feel Davey and Dynamite might have jumped the shark in regards to vote share and with other cases being made for other teams and new acts, the Bulldogs number feels like it is only going down.

George Kidd- Last Year 51%- International

Kidd’s percentage last year was 43% putting him below Saint on the voting results but if you look at Kidd’s resume George should be in already. Kent Walton, the voice of British wrestling and Observer Hall of Famer would say that Kidd was the best wrestler that he saw in his time. Many others agree with him

Kidd's mainstream appeal in the early days of televised wrestling saw him end up as a talk show host and even presenting events like Miss Swimsuit and The Policeman’s Ball.

His in-ring style was the predecessor to Johnny Saint with Kent Walton always namechecking Kidd whenever Saint wrestled but Kidd drew better than his successor as the best chain wrestler in Britain selling out arenas in his homeland of Scotland and even nearly selling out Pittodrie, the home stadium of Aberdeen FC. Kidd would also take his talents to Mexico performing on EMLL cards.

Should George Kidd be inducted? Mexico had El Santo, Japan had Rikidozan and the USA had Jim Londos as their forefather to wrestling’s popularity in their countries. The UK and Scotland had George Kidd. If you want The Observer Hall of Fame to be a teaching tool for the history of wrestling, you need to inducted George Kidd.

Will George Kidd be inducted? Let's talk about the elephant in the room. Dave Meltzer thinks George not being inducted is a travesty. In the Observer room, Dave's voice is always going to be the loudest to those who vote in the HOF, he does run the place after all and with Kidd's vote share rising from 26% in his first year on the ballot in 2019 to the 51% he received last year, George is trending upwards and looks likely to be inducted if not this year then before the decade is up

Paul Orndorff- Last Year 50%- Modern US/Canada

With a death bounce last year in his re-inclusion to the ballot, Orndorff’s run as the top heel in 1986 drew insane numbers with the Big Event stadium show in Toronto drawing 61,000 with many seeing the success of that event being the factor behind WrestleMania III makes any argument of any regression this year look redundant

Before going to the “New York territory” Orndorff would draw in Georgia and Mid-South before heading to WWF and being part of the feud that led to him main eventing the first WrestleMania, an event which helped change the course of wrestling as much as any. His participation in the two biggest feuds in WWF in the 80s and the numbers he drew play the ultimate factor in his candidacy and if I had a ballot, I would include Orndorff.

Should Paul Orndorff be inducted? The list of Top 10 Top Draws according to the Wrestling Observer in the 80's, 90's and 00's saw Paul Orndorff just miss out in the 80's list in 11th place and with the esteemed list above him, Orndorff is a very good 11th position. Orndorff was an integral part of wrestling's boom period and on evidence to not have Orndorff in would be a bad thing considering his resume.

Will Orndorff be inducted? With Paul being the lowest ranked of the 50% club, it would be a surprise to see Mr Wonderful inducted this year with the new ballot members in Modern US/Canada and now with the death bounce having dissipated, Orndorff could follow many others who has seen their vote share go down in the year after the "death bounce"


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