December 3, 2011
Superfly, JYD, Samoans, Cornette among 2012 PWHF inductees
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2012, and it includes an Angel, a German meanie, Samoan wildmen, a Superfly, a Junkyard Dog, and more.
The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, based in Amsterdam, NY, is a non-profit organization that maintains a physical hall of fame building and runs an induction ceremony each year. This is the 11th induction class.
Snuka and the late Junkyard Dog are going into the Modern Category. Snuka, a native of Fiji, was a huge national star, perhaps only second to Hulk Hogan in popularity at the height of the WWF's initial national run. Still active on the indy circuit, Snuka is an iconic figure with his superfly splash and peace symbol, brother.
JYD was perhaps the biggest star to ever be created in Bill Watts' Mid-South territory, and he too became a massive star in the WWF, before his personal demons derailed his career. He died in 1998 when he fell asleep at the wheel.
Denucci and Fritz Von Erich are entering the TV Category, for stars who helped during the early days of TV. Von Erich was one of the most hated heels of the 1950s, until he took over the Dallas territory and became a heroic figure there, something he passed down to his five sons, who all wrestled.
A native of Italy who moved to Canada as a young adult, Denucci learned amateur wrestling before getting into the pros, initially as a partner of the original Dino Bravo. Later, he headlined everywhere from Australia to San Francisco, and was mainstay in the WWWF for many years, an ally of Bruno Sammartino.
Wendi Richter was trained by the Fabulous Moolah and became a key cog in the rock'n'wrestling connection as the charge of music star Cyndi Lauper. Besides her reign as WWF Women's champion, Richter wrestled around the world.
The Wild Samoans, Sika and Afa, were wrestling fans in San Francisco before becoming wrestlers themselves -- and two of the toughest, wildest men ever to enter the squared circle. They reigned as WWWF tag team champions, and had runs everywhere from Calgary to the Mid-South to Florida and Montreal.
Destined to dominate the induction ceremony is Jim Cornette, who is entering the Colleague Category. The southern motormouth manager, who started out in Memphis and became a star in Mid-South and the NWA, before hitting the WWF, and running his own Smokey Mountain Wrestling territory, is now involved with the Ring of Honor promotion.
The honoree for the International category is George Gordienko, the Winnipeg wrestler who is often mentioned as one of the toughest to ever enter the ring. After wrestling, Gordienko studied art and became a well-known painter.
In the Pioneer section, Maurice Tillet, a.k.a. The French Angel, is going in. The native of France suffered from acromegaly, and made a huge name for himself as a professional wrestler.
Also in the Pioneer category is Abe Coleman, who only died in 2007, at the age of 101. Coleman worked in the late 1930s and into the 1960s.
The eleventh PWHF Induction Weekend will take place on May 18-19, 2012, in Amsterdam, NY. Ticket information and other details will be released soon.
Greg Oliver was a member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Selection Committee for 2012, which was headed up by Davey O'Hannon, Dr. Bob Bryla and John Pantozzi. Others who voted include Mark Lewin, Don Leo Jonathan, Dick Beyer, Nick Bockwinkel, Roddy Piper, Larry Sharpe, Joe Laurinaitis, Paul Ellering, Bret Hart, Stan Hansen, Ted DiBiase, Ivan Koloff, Angelo Savoldi, Terry Funk, Johnny Rodz, Len Rossi, Johnny Mantell, Don Luce, Fred Hornby, J.M. Kenyon, Tim Hornbaker, Tom Burke, Ken Jugan, Karl Lauer, Greg Mosorjak, Scott Teal, Chuck Thornton, Dave Cameron and Peter Maquire. Greg can be emailed at email@example.com.