Tuesday, March 8, 2016

WWE Will Open a Brick and Mortar Hall of Fame

It's getting an actual building
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE's Hall of Fame has gotten its best upgrade since its inception in 1993 with the announcement of a brick-and-mortar building to be located in Orlando, FL. The city is already host to the WWE Performance Center, Full Sail University (where NXT is largely taped), and WrestleMania 33. The building is already constructed; WWE's Hall will replace NBA City on the Universal City Walk. The building will hold memorabilia from the inductees and also contain a shop and a restaurant. The report did not specify when it would open, but one would imagine that it would be up and running by WrestleMania weekend at the very latest.

The impact of having a brick and mortar building for the Hall cannot be understated. Without it, an intangible, immaterial Hall is a canvas for nerd arguments at best and a capricious way for Vince McMahon to show favor to those who submit to him or a carrot to dangle over those who do not. The only real value that it has now is to the inductees, which I don't mean to discount in the least, to be honest. For fans though, the ones who argue over the thing the most, it's basically just been that, a talking point battleground.

But with the corporeal form in the works, the Hall becomes a place for wrestling fans to admire and absorb the past. The names now have stories and artifacts and pictures attached to them in one common place. It's one thing to hear about the merit of WWE Hall of Famers from Michael Cole or even Mauro Ranallo. No matter how sincere the message, it gets lost in the glitzy sheen of WWE programming's kayfabe narrative. However, once the company sets aside a place for people to admire the inductees, to take in their accomplishments and media away from the mile-a-second storytelling pace on regular television, they come to life again, even if just for a moment.

Additionally, I doubt that McMahon himself will be the one curating the museum portion, which makes the curator position all the more important. The person in charge of running the museum side may not be known to the public at all, or maybe it'll be someone actually in the Hall. Either way, that person will be the one who decides how detailed the layout is. In the hands of a good curator, it will be a fascinating look into WWE's and by extension wrestling's history, given how much content will be absorbed from other companies thanks to tape library acquisitions. In the hands of a bad curator though? The Hall becomes a sports entertainment version of Applebee's, with overpriced low-quality food and a whole bunch of crazy crap on the walls.

With the excitement, however, comes a heightened sense of responsibility with future inductions. It's one thing to put an accused murderer like Jimmy Snuka or a wrestler who used racist imagery throughout his whole career like Michael PS Hayes in the Hall without a building. But to see them in tangible form makes their black marks real, especially in the case of Hayes, who wore the Stars 'n Bars like a uniform at times.

Still, the news is exciting at least. It will give wrestling dads like me an outlet for an Orlando vacation, and it continues to further the legitimacy of pro wrestling as a mainstream artform. Even with all the potential problematic things that could be associated with it, the Hall going up is a net positive for wrestling fans everywhere.