While there are many honors WWE Superstars strive for during their careers, entry into the WWE Hall of Fame is the ultimate capstone, as they are enshrined forever within sports entertainment's highest echelon. On Saturday, April 5 at the Smoothie King Center, another elite group will join the ranks of the all-time greats when the WWE Hall of Fame inducts its 2014 Class.
The WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony is part of WrestleMania® Week, and provides an opportunity for Superstars past and present, as well as fans in attendance, to reflect on WWE's storied legacy. Professional wrestling has deep roots and rich history, locally here in Louisiana and all over the world. The WWE is an institution that honors its past, and the Hall of Fame is one way WWE pays tribute to some of the individual sacrifices and accomplishments that have made the business what it is, the foundation upon which events like WrestleMania® 30 are built.
Of course, all of the Hall of Fame inductees are born entertainers, so while it's frequently moving and funny, there's nothing dry or stuffy about this ceremonial occasion. The speeches and reminiscings of those being inducted are at the heart of the Hall of Fame ceremony, drawing an audience which includes many fans as well as WWE Superstars, Divas and previous inductees. Looking at the first three names announced for the 2014 Class, you can see why this year may be the most highly anticipated Hall of Fame Ceremony since it's founding.
The Ultimate Warrior™
Few performers electrified audiences like The Ultimate Warrior, whose relatively brief but undeniably memorable tenure in WWE saw him reach legendary status in record time. Blazing across WWE like a shooting star, Warrior's comic-book superhero physique, wild face paint, neon tassels, manic energy and cosmic stream-of-consciousness speaking style all made him an iconic, larger-than-life character, instantly recognizable to even casual viewers. One of the defining figures of his era, the Warrior's success was founded on his connection with fans. When his music hit and he exploded out of the curtains, running full-tilt towards the ring like a man on fire, audiences became swept up in the Warrior's aura of excitement and his off-the-charts intensity. An unconventional and unique individual who only ever respected his own code, The Ultimate Warrior sometimes courted controversy; WWE Superstars and fans alike are looking forward to hearing just what this always uncompromisingly outspoken Hall-of-Famer will have to say at his induction.
While all Hall of Famers broke the mold in some way, Lita's rule-breaking was her defining characteristic: she defied expectations as a way of life. An unrepentant bad girl who not only hung with the bad boys but kicked their butts when they crossed her, Lita's boundary-pushing personal style was grounded in an authenticity that fans recognized, reacted to and respected. Whether outraged or awed, audiences couldn't keep their eyes off her.
Lita is cited as a crucial role model by today's top female wrestlers Divas, but men and women alike admire her as a game-changing athlete and performer. The hard-rocking rebel not only shattered stale preconceptions about how a female performer should carry herself but raised the bar with ambitious, daredevil in-ring performances that brought fresh possibilities to the Divas division of women's wrestling. Her rise from self-described "dumpster-diving punk rock kid" to women's champion and main-eventer, is a story fans of all ages and genders can be inspired by.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts™
Jake Roberts is revered as someone with a grasp of wrestling psychology so profound and intuitive that it can only be called genius. He was a wrestler Superstar who seemed to draw on deep and frightening interior wellsprings most people didn't have. While others ranted and roared in an effort to intimidate their opponents or impress an audience, Jake never needed to raise his voice: the superior strength of his sinister charisma simply commanded attention. When he issued a threat, you damn well believed it, and when Jake gazed into the camera the dark malice in his eyes made your blood run cold... cold as the massive, writhing live python he carried to the ring and draped over his fallen victims. The inventor of the DDT, a brutal finishing move still popular today with Superstars such as Randy Orton® and Dean Ambrose, Jake remained a central performer throughout the '80s and into the '90s.
More recently, Jake has proved inspirational in a new light, as someone publicly and bravely finding his way back to health from some of fame's deadliest pitfalls. For all of us those who struggle with addiction or who have whose loved ones are in that struggle who do, Jake's ongoing story of redemption is extremely powerful and important. These two identities— the wrestler Superstar who dominated opponents with his mind before breaking them in the ring, and the humble survivor who overcomes odds every day— are fused in the extraordinary, yet very human being we know as Jake Roberts.