The WWE Hall of Fame. To WWE fans, the Hall of Fame is an opportunity to recognize some of the best talents in the wrestling business. Ranging from colorful announcers to well-versed managers or even the best athletes from around the world, the Hall of Fame is quite a mix of talents. Yet for all the spectacular, astounding Hall of Famers there is the minority: the few individuals who don’t deserve the honor.
On June 19, 1994, the second class of Hall of Famers was to be inducted. This particular class held some of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport. The class ranged from the late Chief Jay Strongbow to Gorilla Monsoon and even the “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Yet there was one man who did not stand out to many wrestling fans.
This man was James Dudley.
The name is the equivalent of anonymous to many wrestling fans even the so-called “hardcore” fans. This little-known individual would be a part of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1994 as stated before. James Dudley originally started out working for Jess McMahon, the patriarch of the McMahon family, during the 1950s. At the time Jess McMahon was co-owner of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. After McMahon broke away from the NWA to form the WWF, Dudley stayed with McMahon working for him. Yet Dudley was merely an odd-job worker, a handyman of sorts. He did whatever the McMahon asked of him including counting ticket sales to even carrying buckets of water.
When Vincent J. McMahon came to power he became close friends with Dudley. Dudley would end up becoming a chauffeur of sorts as he drove McMahon’s limousine around for him. Later on Dudley would even become a bodyguard for McMahon. Due to his tenure and close ties with Vincent J. McMahon Dudley would be given even more responsibilities with the company. His greatest accomplishment would come with Dudley managing the Turner’s Arena in Washington, D.C.
Later on in life, Dudley would go on to become a manager for various wrestlers, including the great Bobo Brazil. In order to excite and pep up the crowd, Dudley would run to the ring while waving a towel.
Why James Dudley doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame:
Now as I have stated before, James Dudley holds nearly no major accomplishments in the field of professional wrestling save one: He was the first African-American to run a major arena in the United States. While worthy of recognition this does not warrant an induction into a prestigious event such as the Hall of Fame. He was not a wrestler of any kind. He managed a total of four wrestlers during his tenure with the WWWF then. The most famous of the four being Bobo Brazil, who would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the same class as Dudley. Yet the other three individuals he managed: Sailor Art Thomas, Sweet Daddy Siki, and Bearcat Wright would go on to do nothing extremely notable in their careers.
Dudley’s real job existed behind the scenes where even there he did nothing of real importance. The real reason that James Dudley was inducted seemed to be his close ties with the McMahons.
Mind you, the McMahons are the ones who decide whether or not who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. James Dudley is notable for being a personal, close friend of the McMahons and for being the first African-American to run a major arena. Yet these accomplishments do not warrant an induction into the Hall of Fame.
James Dudley should be remembered for who he was, but only with something for the McMahon family. A plaque or building named in his honor seems better fit for Dudley rather than an induction.