Friday, February 23, 2007

Gagne and the WWE Hall of Fame Induction

I thought the induction of Verne Gagne into the WWE Hall of Fame was the most bizarre and maybe saddest part of the second part of the documentary we saw in class about he demise of the AWA. I suppose it's most appropriate to honor Gagne in a national format, and the current organization of professional wrestling means that the context for celebrating Gagne has to involve the WWE, but it felt like watching a celebration of Jeter in Fenway park.
Of course, Gagne handled the induction with charisma. He made a few stabs at Vince and was clearly working with the irony at hand. The wrestlers in the audience seemed appropriately respectful, giving a standing ovation (I always think it's weird to see wrestlers at events like that, all dressed up and mostly behaving). But the whole thing just seemed overwhelmingly sad to me, and I felt like MacMahon was wearing two hats-- that of the patriarch of the wrestling industry who wished to celebrate a true legend because it was the right thing to do, and the pompous jackass who wanted to dance around his beaten, aged former industry competitor one last time.

4 comments:

Rob said...

Sad is definitely the strongest emotion I got from the whole event. In particular, I was wondering what the former-AWA wrestlers in the audience must have been thinking throughout the event, and I wondered how many of those chuckles and boos that came from the audience when Gagne mentioned Vince McMahon (quickly followed up by saying that he never liked the guy either) were genuine moments of nostalgia for the days of the AWA...

Sam Ford said...

Waht I thought was interesting is that, when he made the comments about Vince, they hcose to zoom in on Vince's family. For whatever reason, Vince never appears on screen at the recent Hall of Fame inductions, perhaps not to grandstand too much. Of course, Verne being inducted had everything to do with this documentary and WWE buying the AWA tape library, but some people were upset, as I think Ricky Steamboat alluded to.

The complaint is that WWE shouldn't be inducting people into the Hall of Fame who never competed in the WWE to begin with. Verne Gagne is the first of these non-WWE guys to be inducted, and I wonder if WWE will start to take the perspective that every tape library they come to own will be incorporated into WWE history, similar to how, when I worked for Bank of America, they bragged about their long history, and I realized that it was actually the history of the various banks they had bought out over the years.

Carolina said...

There was something about the induction that had an air of nostalgia, and I have to give credit to Verne for accepting Vince's offer to join the hall of fame. I don't know if I could have accepted it, knowing that this man was the reason why I was run out of business. I think it's a good thing, but what would perhaps make it more appropriate is to change it so it's just a "professional wrestling" hall of fame, instead of a "WWE hall of fame". Since the WWE is the biggest thing left in pro wrestling, I think they should acknowledge the history of the "business". Without Verne and the AWA, the WWE would have been so different since they had such a large influence from the AWA and the wrestlers that worked for the AWA pretty much just showed up in WWE with their same persona/character/image. Nowadays, if a guy leaves the WWE, most of the time he has to drop everything from his name to certain moves so that he has to essentially start over somewhere else. This didn't seem to be the case when the AWA guys left, which is perhaps more a sign of the times than anything else. But yes, digression over, Verne deserves to be acknowledged for his contributions. Maybe they should think about changing the name to make these things seem a little more appropriate and open the doors for more hall of famers to consider accepting an invite for induction.

Peter "The Malcontent" Rauch said...

McMahon does seem to have a weird duality about him. On his shows, he presents himself as an egotistical bastard; on the documentary, he's a shrewed but ethical businessman. I imagine he's probably both in real life, with a slight edge to the first one.

But in that closing scene, he really seemed to be both at the same time, and that's a disconcerting thing to see. Because it wasn't a show--McMahon didn't wrestle Gagne to defeat. He crushed him in a larger competition that mattered much more than any specific match. This might be one of those areas, like injuries, where the drama of the performance and the meta-drama of the business intersect too neatly, and it all becomes too real.