The WWE Hall of Fame is unlike any other sports’ hall of fame. There’s no steadfast rules. No time removed from participating requirement. Heck, there’s no guideline or people from the outside voting on who gets in. Instead, it is a group of guys deciding which one or two folks would help draw ratings to the ceremony each year. Oh, and they sometimes honor guys.
That’s not to pooh-pooh the WWE Hall of Fame. It is a neat, fun endeavor the WWE does, which usually results in many fans getting so nostalgic that they’re ready for an AWA bender immediately after a guys is inducted.
Every year there does seem to be a pattern the WWE does follow, though. Five performers, teams, or factions who are still (mostly) alive are inducted, as well as one performer who is done so posthumously. That’s the trend we can use as some sort of guide to help us realize we aren’t that too far off from Michael Cole telling us who is going to be inducted during WrestleMania Weekend in a few months.
Considering the WWE often inducts factions, resulting in some performers being multiple time Hall of Fame inductees, there does seem to be a duo who is missing from their imaginary hallways — The Rockers.
Wait. Hear me out. I get the obvious backlash from this. The only tag team gold they ever won was at a house show and that win was vacated. Only Shawn Michaels did anything of true relevance as a singles wrestler. Bluh, bluh, bluh… I guess.
That being so eloquently said, Marty Jannetty and Michaels did a heck of a lot more to alter how the WWE does business than I think they are given credit for. Not only that, either — as the moment Michaels hurled Jannetty through a barbershop window is one that people still talk about and remember. It was their emotional connection to the audience then, which continues to resonate today, which highlights how much people cared about the two. Merely bring up that moment to a random stranger and you’re likely to get a gut, emotional reaction. That’s big.
From a rational standpoint, The Rockers helped to establish a formula the WWE has tried to use countless times since it hit paydirt way back in the early ’90s. When HBK tossed Jannetty through that dark night, into that window which we all hope Brutas had insured, it helped to catapult Michaels to stardom. He got an instant heel-heat which was so red piping hot, because fans adored The Rockers more than most sane people adore anything, that he could have trotted about the squared-circle singing Christmas tunes in a perfect tone and we would have hated him for not mixing in some soft-rock music.
The move is referenced often. Despite Jannetty’s on-and-off relationship with the WWE since his last long run with the company, his name is often used to help describe angles, tag-teams, or build content around on the WWE Network. Not to mention the fact that the widely considered failure Jannetty apparently is, was still popular enough to bring back multiple times to get random huge pops from crowds.
Whether that was when Michaels needed help with those pesky Spirit Squad members or Kurt Angle needed to wrestle a Shawn-clone or when The Miz wanted to prove he wasn’t Marty Jannetty, Marty Jannetty was brought back years after his relevance as a guy had run out, yet folks continued to pop for him. Thing is, too, they really weren’t popping for him so much as they were popping for the idea of The Rockers and/or our youths. All of that, his use years after fans should have long forgotten about him, was from the tag-team’s supposed failure.
It is a combination of those things, actually. The Rockers really did do a lot of things inside a WWE ring which no other teams of consequence did before them. They also obviously helped to give future tag-teams a model to follow. There arguably would have been no Hardy Boys if there were no Rockers. To a lesser degree, smaller wrestlers would have had a harder time finding large platforms to do what they do today.
While the WWE getting caught in a steroid scandal sure helped to force Vince McMahon into give Bret Hart and Michaels keys to the kingdom, had the two not looked impressive during their tag-team days, especially with Shawn as his post-heel turn was the stuff of magic, he could have easily gone the route of giving the stage to fat giants. We can thank The Rockers (and the Hart Foundation) for that.
At the end of the day there might be guys or teams more deserving than The Rockers, but what does that even mean when we are talking about a hall of fame which doesn’t have a building. But if the WWE ever does want to recognoize the awesomeness that was The Rockers, as they failed to do so while they were an actual tag team by not giving them a title run, time is running out. HBK’s lasting power is likely forever in the sport, but Marty’s is not. The fact that he managed to get pops from crowds after randomly appearing on Raws during the 2000s is something that never ceases to amaze me, though — which is even more of a reason to induct them together.
Plus, honestly, who is against the idea of Marty Jannetty possibly a fifth of whiskey deep, about to shoot a promo on our picture-boxes?