This past week I had as guests on my weekly Hart Beat Radio podcast Kyle Klingman, the director of the prestigious Lou Thesz/George Tragos/United States Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa and Brian Blair, the president of the Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC).
The Thesz/Tragos Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring distinguished amateur wrestlers who have gone on to success in professional wrestling. Some of the honorees in the past have included my father, my brother Bret and others, like Luther Lindsay, George Gordienko, Danny Hodge, the Funks, the Briscos and Kurt Angle – all of whom had extensive amateur backgrounds.
The Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC) – which was originally founded by Mike Mazurki, endeavors to honor pioneers and stars from the pre WWE era of the so-called territories, who helped pave the way for the modern era. Then CAC, I might add, also helps to raise money for former professional wrestlers who, for whatever reason, have fallen on hard times – which is a noble initiative for which they should be commended.
I also have had as a guest in the past on my Hart Beat Radio program, the president of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame – which is located in Wichita Falls, Texas, my old friend, Cowboy Johnny Mantell. The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is pro wrestling’s equivalent of the baseball Hall of Fame (in Cooperstown, NY) or the pro football Hall of Fame (in Canton, Ohio) and endeavors to preserve and perpetuate pro wrestling’s long and glorious history, dating back to the 1800’s.
I might add that I’ve also had the honor of being invited to partake in the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony when it honored my father a few years back. Each of those organizations are to be commended for their tireless efforts to honor and pay homage to the many wrestlers, promoters and builders who have dedicated their hearts and souls to the sport of pro wrestling.
Having said that and not to be casting aspersions, while I don’t discern there’s any abiding conflict between any of those organizations, there doesn’t seem to be much mutual interaction between any of them either – which tends to defeat the purpose. At the Thesz/Gable function this past July in Iowa, for example, the WWE dispatched American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) to put in a cameo appearance. That was nice, I suppose, but it pales in comparison to the participation of major league baseball or the NFL in the baseball or football hall of fame ceremonies – which is a huge event.
Given that the WWE, itself, doesn’t actually have a “brick and mortar” (as Johnny Mantell refers to it as) facility to honor its Hall of Fame inductees, I think it would be a step in the right direction if the WWE chose to recognize and interact with the Thesz/Tragos hall in Iowa and/or the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Texas, in a similar manner as the major league baseball and pro football halls of fame. If such were the case, it would benefit those respective halls, as well as the WWE. I sincerely hope that the members of each of those organizations can put aside whatever differences they have and recognize the merits of adopting an all for one and one for all mindset – to quote the enigmatic Hunter Hearst Helmsley, it would ultimately be “what’s best for business.”
In any case, I’d like to commend, once again, the Thesz/Tragos Museum, the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Cauliflower Alley Club for their tireless efforts to preserve and perpetuate wrestling’s glorious and colorful past and for helping to pave the future of our sport. More power to all of them.
On that note, I’ll call it a wrap, but will look forward to catching up with you all next week for my perspectives on the upcoming Summer Slam extravaganza, and whatever else seems to be compelling in the wrestling business. Until then.
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