By John Napolitano
Three million tourists travel to Keystone, South Dakota, every year where lies one of the most recognizable national landmarks in the United States -- Mt. Rushmore. A gargantuan sculpture carved into the granite of the sacred Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore displays the faces of four of the most iconic and influential presidents in U.S. history. These faces include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. This grand homage to some of the most instrumental figures in our country’s history has set them apart as four of the greatest presidents ever – atop the mountain if you will.
The term “Mt. Rushmore” has almost taken on another context entirely in reference to the four greatest individuals of a certain discipline. One may often hear devoted New York Yankees fanatics discussing the Mt. Rushmore of the franchise. Further north, it is not uncommon to hear Bostonians debate the four greatest Bruins of all-time. Across the reaches of the Internet Wrestling Community, many a hardcore fan delight to dispute the Mt. Rushmore of World Wrestling Entertainment. I would like to cease the arguments, for I have found the four most iconic and influential representations of WWE and would like to present them to you. As a quick disclaimer, I would like to note that I will not be discussing the Mt. Rushmore of professional wrestling as a whole. That is a different conversation for another day.
The first face on the Mt. Rushmore of WWE is, similar to George Washington, the founding father of what would become a global juggernaut. Yes, the first granite representation is none other than Hulk Hogan. Debuting in WWE in 1983, Hogan led the charge in transforming pro-wrestling into sports entertainment. This epic reformation would reinvent WWE as no longer a mere New York territory but the undisputed industry leader with Hogan at the forefront of this revolution. In reference to the inaugural President of the United States and the American Revolution, Hulk Hogan turned WWE, a small colonial territory, into an independent country with a brand new set of ideals and credos. Like President Washington to the United States, Hogan is perhaps the most influential figure in WWE’s history, without whom the landscape would be drastically different.
Thomas Jefferson is the second face on the iconic Mt. Rushmore; his term followed Washington’s and proved that the ideals of the United States could withstand adversity as he verified the country’s legitimacy. When I hear this description of the second face of Mt. Rushmore, I automatically envision the second face of WWE’s Mt. Rushmore as the "Heartbreak Kid’s” Shawn Michaels. Michaels was not the immediate incumbent to Hogan as the face of WWE, but he was one of the most influential. He really emphasized the aspect of “sport” in sports entertainment and regularly put on Broadway classics with some of his greatest opponents. He was the first WWE Superstar to get over as a self-absorbed heel and transition into the number one babyface. He innovated the tweener persona while garnering countless championships and cementing his legacy into WWE history. Without question, Shawn Michaels is the second face of the WWE Mt. Rushmore.
The third face atop Mt. Rushmore is Theodore Roosevelt. As the most recent of the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore, his legacy compares to that of John Cena’s. The most shocking comparison to be made between the 26th President of the United States and the 15-time World Champion is that they both took on all challengers and adversaries to defend what they so dearly cherished. Roosevelt was known as a trustbuster meaning he took on big businesses and monopolies in order to preserve competition within industry while looking out for the small businesses. Cena has been a babyface ever since his debut and has never slighted his slogan of “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect.” Neither of these gentlemen have sold out to further their career. They simply stuck to their guns and represented themselves in an inspiring and admirable manner. Had President Roosevelt let big business run amuck throughout his presidency, his legacy would be similar to Seth Rollins’ who sold out to The Authority to further his career, but because he stayed true to himself and his country, he shall be represented by John Cena as the third face of the WWE Mt. Rushmore.
We cannot forget the fourth and final face of Mt. Rushmore; and that is none other than Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is widely regarded as the greatest president in the history of the United States because he kept the country together despite the South threatening its bonds. In a true test of our country’s mettle, Lincoln made it through a Civil War in order to make a more perfect Union. Lincoln’s résumé is eerily similar to The Texas Rattlesnake's. Stone Cold Steve Austin reached the height of his popularity during the Monday Night War. The Monday Night War was a primetime battle between WWE (North) and WCW (South) for ratings supremacy. WWE emerged from this war as the undisputed destination for sports entertainment with Stone Cold to thank. Both Lincoln and Austin had short tenures on top, but their contributions saved this country and more importantly the WWE.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Similar, in more ways than one, to their political counterparts, the four faces on the Mt. Rushmore of WWE are Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Tweet me @JnapsRingWrap to let me know what you think!