The Biggest Missing Piece of the WWE Hall of Fame

On July 23rd, 1984, one of the most popular singers in the world at the time stepped inside a WWF ring.

Not to wrestle, of course, but the appearance of Cyndi Lauper at WWF events as the manager of Wendi Richter occurred at a time when she was one of music’s hottest properties and is something that has not been given anywhere near enough credit when people talk about the most expansive period in wrestling history.

For context as to how important Lauper’s role was in gaining the WWF mainstream exposure, one must look at her place in the pop music lexicon at the time. Lauper was in the midst of becoming the first-ever female artist to record four top-five singles from the same album when she started her involvement in the WWF. Her She’s so Unusual album was released in October, 1983 and peaked at number four on the Billboard charts, with the debut single, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun peaking at number two on the singles charts on March 2nd, 1984.

By the time her involvement in the WWF became something the mainstream was interested covering, Lauper had just registered her first number-one single, with Time After Time hitting number one in June, 1984.

To provide further context, this would be the equivalent of Billie Eilish taking a break from her music career in late 2019 to concentrate on contributing to a major WWE storyline for the next 12 or so months.

Or, how about Taylor Swift around 2009? She had a couple of top-ten singles that year before exploding in 2010.

Lauper was huge in 1984 – a little weird, sure – but huge nonetheless, and when Richter finally challenged the Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women’s Title at the event named The Brawl To End It All, Lauper’s involvement was enough for MTV to come to the party and air it on their network as a special.

With Richter v Moolah as the main event on the special, a Nielsen rating of 9.0 became the highest-rating show in the brief history of the network. That match remains the fifth highest-viewed wrestling match in WWF/E history – yes, higher than anything Raw has ever produced.

This happened on the back of Lauper’s involvement and promotion, and with Richter finally winning the world title in the main event – yes a women’s match headlining a successful wrestling TV show in 1984 – it would result in the WWF and MTV promoting a second show as the precursor to the inaugural Wrestlemania.

The War To Settle The Score is one of my favourite wrestling memories. On February18th, 1985, Hulk Hogan faced the challenge of Rowdy Roddy Piper in the apparent climax of their heated feud. Piper had recently crashed a gold record over the head of Captain Lou Albano during an in-ring ceremony to honour Lauper, and had even gave a half push/half kick to Lauper for good measure as part of the ensuing chaos (plus an awkward-looking bodyslam to Lauper’s manager David Wolff, which I loved!).

Interestingly, Piper later admitted in his autobiography, In The Pit With Piper that he thought about legitimately laying Lauper out due to the notoriety that would have afforded him. A WWF official put it this way to Piper – “the end of her career could be the start of yours.” That thought was on his mind right up until the last second. Things could have been really different from that point on had Roddy decided to go into business for himself.

He erred on the side of caution, and it obviously turned out beautifully for both Hot Rod and the WWF, with Lauper accompanying Hogan to ringside as he took on Piper at MSG.

The match, itself… well, it was Piper v Hogan – what do you expect? Plenty of punching, some eye-gouging and a bit of scratching, replete with a little bit of no-selling here and there before Hogan took the recently “injured” arm of Piper’s bodyguard, Cowboy Bob Orton and smashed it on the turnbuckle.

With Orton out of commission, this prompted the appearance of Mr Wonderful, Paul Orndorff at ringside to “take the place” of Orton.

Following a ref bump, Orndorff and Piper combined to beat down Hogan, but Cyndi was having none of it. She jumped onto the ring apron and drew the attention of the heels, both of who slowly started to stalk her. Orndorff managed to knock the hat off her head before Mr T leapt from the crowd to save her from what could have been a nasty situation.

This had the crowd going nuts.

The ensuing brawl, which saw Piper blindside T, only for Hogan to come back for the save, set up the first Wrestlemania. It also established itself as the third highest-viewed WWF/E match of all time.

36 years on, the wrestling business often speaks about the genius of Vince McMahon, the drawing power of Hulk Hogan and the heelish antics of Roddy Piper, but the contribution of Lauper is not often acknowledged.

And it is just plain wrong.

The WWE Hall of Fame is a strange concept, inasmuch as it has allowed celebrities who have played a part in the success of the company a chance to be honoured as inductees in their own wing. At the time of writing, such luminaries as Donald Trump, Mike Tyson and Bob Euker have a place in the WWE Hall of Fame, yet Cyndi Lauper is conspicuous by her absence.

Whilst I thought Tyson’s involvement both before and during Wrestlemania 14 was important, and Trump’s back and forth with Vince McMahon in the lead-up to Wrestlemania 23 may have sold some pay per view buys, I am not sure any celebrity has contributed more to what the business became than Lauper back in 84/85.

This was a woman at her absolute peak during that period. Whilst the stage, and with it big dollars, called to her, Lauper was in WWF rings. Whilst there was demand for her to produce more music for an insatiable American public, Lauper was present on WWF programming more often than some regular wrestlers. I am sure she was advised not to get involved, and lectured about how this could damage her career – let’s face it; wrestling was simply not all that popular at that point, even with the rise of Hulkamania. It was still only wrestling fans liking what they were seeing.

Lauper brought fans to the table, and some of them… some of us stayed around for a long while.

Without Lauper, do the WWF succeed in getting a deal with MTV and promoting their Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection?

Does The Brawl To End It All draw as many fans to see what the fuss is about?

Does The War To Settle The Score become one of the most-watched wrestling shows in history?

Does Vince draw the same level of nationwide attention to make Wrestlemania the kind of success he needed it to be?

No one is ever going to state that Vince, Hogan and Piper didn’t deserve the credit for the success of their run in 1984/85. No one is going to suggest that Hogan would not have been the biggest star in the industry without Lauper’s involvement – the man was a machine and had the kind of charisma you would love to be able to bottle. However, failing to recognise what Lauper brought to the table for the WWF at an important juncture in their history is to fail to acknowledge a very important part of the early WWF success.

Wrestling has always had its fans. There are some of us that would have found the business irrespective of celebrity endorsement, but there are plenty who wouldn’t have.

Cyndi Lauper’s involvement in the WWF did more for the company than half the roster at that time. Her face was everywhere, her music was everywhere, and the news that she was managing a female wrestler, had been assaulted by Roddy Piper and was seconding Hulk Hogan in a huge MTV-aired event brought new people to the table.

The celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame has some deserving inductees; those who added to the business in their own unique way. It also has Arnold Schwarzenegger… and I can’t really work out why.

The failure to induct Cyndi Lauper into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame is long overdue, and recognising her contribution to the WWF/E at a time when things could really have gone either way for Vince Junior is an oversight that needs correcting.

Those who are old enough to remember do not need it described for them. Those who understand the name value she brought to the product realise that there were maybe ten bigger stars in the world at that time.

In a world where history is often rewritten to suit the whims of those who own the product, it is time to be a little bit better and thank Lauper for her contributions at a time when she really could have blown the WWF off and concentrated on her actual career. She did a lot more for wrestling than wrestling did for her.

Lauper deserves more than a spot in the HoF. She almost deserves her own wing, separate from those who contributed much, much less, and took a hell of a lot more.

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