SLAM! Speaks: Headed for the Hall?
SLAM! Wrestling Staff
As we celebrate Canada Day here in the Great White North, we can't help but look back at those who have proudly worn the red and white for our country in the wrestling world.
Indeed, there have been several personalities that have called our nation home in the past and present (and definitely the future). From the earliest days to the modern era, Canadians have not only been present in wrestling's history but have been driving forces in the industry.
With that in mind, the staff at SLAM! sat down and thought about some of these great Canadians, and the question that was presented was this: if a Canadian hall of fame were opening for the mat wars, who would be the one wrestler/personality you would want to induct?
Here's what we had to say:
I wanted to clarify something. We already have a Western Canada Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.
For the past two years, our induction ceremonies have been held on Canada Day in Winnipeg as part of our wrestling festival. Since it isn't a funded deal, we have focused for now on regional builders which eliminates any political rancor from existing promotions. There will be an additional ceremony held in another western province by years end, and the Eastern branch is being coordinated by Notorious TID.
To answer the question, we have discussed this before and the only choice for a first inductee for a national Hall is Whipper Watson - period. He was Canada's first coast-to-coast TV star (granted his main competition was a chalk-flipping weatherman Percy Saltzman) and his popularity off the TV really placed wrestling onto the public radar.
He may have been stiff, he may have been, as Stu Hart put it, a little stingy with the returns, but regardless of his ability as a worker or whether the boys always got along with him he used his celebrity not only to draw houses across the country; he also used it to help various charities and opened the door for the pro game as a cultural entity in this country.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would seriously consider opening up a Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, a satellite to the actual Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY. To draw a crowd, I'd make sure that two inductees were there -- Gene Kiniski and Mad Dog Vachon. Both had (and
still have) a way with words that few others do, and have that twinkle in their eye that the media just eats up.
Okay, I'm going to be the non-historian and pick what will undoubtedly be a contentious choice in Bret Hart. Hart, to many of today's fans, is arguably the greatest Canadian wrestler of all time. Even his detractors would have to admit his success in this industry, his in-ring accomplishments, and his crossover mainstream appeal. And through it all, he always wore his Canadian roots on his sleeve.
For me, there's no one who deserves to be in the Hall more than Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Yes, men like Kiniski were highly regarded as Canada's greatest wrestlers, but in my era, I can't think of another wrestler who was so identifiably Canadian more than Hart. He embodied the Canadian ethic long before he entered into his patriotic stint near the tail end of his career in the WWF and truly became an ambassador for the sport. Though there have been men and women who have come through the sport before him and will continue to long after he says his final goodbye to the wrestling world, no one will ever forget our Hitman.
SLAM! Wrestling's Canadian Hall of Fame
Now it's your turn. Tell us one individual, be they wrestler, manager, trainer or promoter, who you would pick to be inducted into the Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame by e-mailing Jon at email@example.com. Results will be posted later in the week.