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December 2015: Top 10 Texans Not Yet in the WWE Hall of Fame

People say lots of things about Texas - “The great state of Texas”, “Everything’s bigger in Texas” and as Sergeant Hartman once said,  “only steers and queers come from Texas” (not that I have anything against that). Well, in 2016 people will be saying a lot more things about Texas because WrestleMania 32 will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Along with all of the other festivities of the week come the annual Hall of Fame inductions and each year it seems like there is at least one inductee who hails from the local area (cue the Mick Foley cheap pop “… right here in Arlington, Texas!). With Texas being such a hotbed of wrestling talent over the years, it only seems natural that some Texans should be inducted.

Texas was an unusual state for old school wrestling, as it was host to several wrestling territories. Houston Wrestling, Southwest Championship Wrestling, the Amarillo territory and World Class Championship Wrestling all shared the Lone Star State which produced such Hall of Famers as Steve Austin, The Funks, Ted DiBiase and Dusty Rhodes. This year, I will take a look at the top 10 Texans not yet inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

#10 - Skandor Akbar

Born as Jim Wehba in 1934 in America, he was often cast as the “evil Arab” wrestler in the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s. Before my time, I never got to see Akbar in action, but do vaguely remember him as a manager. He had great success in the Texas territories as well as the UWF. His managerial stint as the leader of Devastation Corporation is almost as fondly remembered as his genuine caring for the business and his willingness to help his fellow wrestlers and pass on his knowledge. He wrestled briefly in the WWE in the late 70’s, once wrestling Ivan Putski in Madison Square Garden.

#9 - Paul Bosch

Although not actually from Texas, Paul Bosch was a former wrestler and the long-time promoter of the Houston Wrestling territory from 1967 until 1987. In a world of shady promoters, Bosch had a reputation for being a caring individual who gave back to his community through charity work and was also known for being a good pay off guy.

#8 - “Dr.” Tom Prichard

Being exposed to Houston Wrestling under Paul Bosch at age 12 as a photographer, he broke into the wrestling business training under The Iron Sheik. Although Dr. Tom had a long, impressive career with appearances in the territory system, WWE, WCW, ECW, Japan and Europe, he is perhaps best known for his work as a trainer in the WWE developmental system including, becoming their very first trainer in the mid-nineties, breaking in The Rock, Kurt Angle and countless other top WWE stars.

#7 - “The Grappler” Len Denton

This masked man became a huge draw in the Mid South territory, but legend has it that he once received an envelope from Bill Watts after a huge card in the Superdome which was supposed to contain his equally huge pay in it, but when he opened it up, there was only a note saying “You should just be grateful to be on the card”. He’s also the man who is credited in helping invent Jake Roberts’ DDT. Once, Jake had him in a front face lock and the two stumbled backwards, with Jake accidently driving Denton’s head into the canvas. After hearing the crowd reaction, Denton told Jake to cover him and the rest is history.

#6 - Miss Texas

Also known as “Jacqueline”, this feisty 5’ 3’’ Dallas Texas native got her start in the WCCW and AWA territories before eventually finding success in both WCW and WWE. She was a part of the very first group of female wrestlers during the Attitude Era that really put women’s wrestling on the map in the WWE, winning the Women’s Championship twice in the process.

#5 - The Guerreros

One of the largest wrestling families in history, only the late Eddie Guerrero is in the WWE Hall of Fame. His brothers Chavo Sr., Hector and Mando wrestled all over the world, finding success in many different territories. Their tradition lives on with Chavo Jr. still actively competing and Eddie’s daughter having been under WWE contract as “Raquel Diaz”.

#4 - Dick Murdoch

“Captain Redneck” is very fondly remembered by most of his peers in the wrestling business and had a reputation for being one of the most talented wrestlers of his generation, when he wanted to be. Murdoch was known for his ability to sell and tell a story inside the ring, but could at times not take the match seriously enough. He teamed up with a young Dusty Rhodes to form The Texas Outlaws, producing not only legendary matches with the likes of The Funks and other tag teams of the day, but also producing legendary stories of keeping a mule in their apartment.

#3 - Bruiser Brody

It’s highly unlikely that this wild, unpredictable, whirlwind of violence will ever be inducted into the Hall. Like Chris Benoit, the circumstances shrouding the last few moments of his life are enough to overshadow his career. In July of 1988 Frank Goodish was stabbed to death in Puerto Rico by Jose Gonzalez in the locker room before a show. His career speaks for itself as he was one of a handful of wrestlers who was in incredibly high demand for his entire career, drawing record crowds wherever he went.

#2 - Stan Hansen

There was nothing like seeing a crowd of Japanese fans scatter like chickens with their heads cut off as “The Lariat” made his way down to ringside, carelessly swinging his bull rope and spitting gobs of chewing tobacco everywhere. This rough and tumble cowboy was one of very few American wrestlers to ever really make it big in The Land of the Rising Sun. His hard-nosed, no-nonsense style was a perfect fit in Japan, where he spent the majority of his career for All Japan Pro Wrestling. However, he did have a few good runs in WWE, even working with long time champion Bruno Sammartino. He’s also one of the only guys to ever body slam Andre the Giant and had short stints in WCW, ECW, New Japan and even had a minor role in Hulk Hogan’s “No Holds Barred” movie.

#1 - The Undertaker

When people mention the greatest wrestlers of all time, the first names that jump to mind generally include Shawn Michales, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Steve Austin, but when you consider why people generally pick those wrestlers it’s either because of their in-ring ability or because of their charisma. In my opinion, The Undertaker has both of those qualities in abundance, but in a different way. No one ever wanted to grow up to be like The Undertaker like they did with Hulk Hogan and no one ever wanted to be as cool as The Undertaker like they did with The Rock, but The Dead Man has different qualities that make him the greatest of all time.

To begin with, I really don’t think anyone else could have pulled off that character much like Mark Calaway did. In the early 90’s WWE was churning out an endless string of characters based on professions - Issac Yankem (a dentist), I.R.S (a tax collector), T.L. Hopper (a plumber) and The Mountie. All of these characters were doomed to fail as either the person portraying these characters probably never really felt comfortable doing it, or there was no interest in the character in the first place. The Undertaker character was probably doomed for the same fate, but the genius of Mark Calaway gave believably to an unbelievable character and he not only made it work, but turned it into one of the most iconic figures of all time.

Another reason is because of his entrance. There is no one even close to creating a more memorable entrance than The Undertaker. In my opinion it’s worth the price of admission alone. In fact, the entrance in and of itself makes a bigger impression than the actual match does many times. The old cliché of “it gives you goose bumps” never rings truer than when “The Demon of Death Valley” makes his way to the ring. The bell tolling, the organ playing, the slow stroll to the ring, the fire, the lightning, the raising of the lights, the removal of his hat in perfect synchronicity with his music - all of these things are awe-inspiring and it never gets old, no matter how many times we see it. It’s timeless.

No one has been able to reinvent themselves like The Undertaker has. From the original zombie-like, almost supernatural version, to the evil prince of darkness, to the American badass, to the mysterious cowboy-like version, to the MMA-influenced style, The Undertaker, in all of his incarnations, never got stale during his 25 year run, and at 50 years old, Calaway has literally spent half his life in the WWE.

The streak. Need I say more? It can never be duplicated. At times, it actually was bigger than WrestleMania itself. Working with Taker at WrestleMania was just as big, if not bigger than working in the main event. Say what you will about the way it came to an end, or if it even should have come to an end at all, but the fact remains that for years and years The Phenom had us captivated as to what might happen at “the grand-daddy of them all”.

A fantastic in-ring performer, one of the most charismatic and enigmatic characters of all time, the best wrestling entrance ever, “the streak”, the ability to stay “over” for more than 25 years, all the high profile matches, being a locker room leader, having the highest respect of his colleagues, his championships and accomplishments - all of this makes The Undertaker one of, if not the greatest wrestler of all time, and even though he probably will not be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, his inclusion is inevitable and well deserved.


- Daniel Austin (Don Roid) (blog) (podcast)

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