Last week, we mentioned reports mentioning that Honky Tonk Man was headed to the Class of 2019 WWE Hall of Fame and today it was announced by CBS Sports that Honky Tonk Man was the second induction. WWE confirmed the induction moments later.
— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellCBS) February 26, 2019
The Honky Tonk Man started off wrestling in the mid-1970s, working in Missouri as a tag team partner with Koko B. Ware (whom he trained with) before joining his cousin, Jerry “The King” Lawler in Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) in Memphis in 1978. Originally wrestling as “Dynamite” Wayne Farris, he would soon became a top star in Memphis alongside Larry Latham in The Blonde Bombers. The Bombers were 6x Tag Team Champions, winning Southern Tag Team titles three times in CWA and the NWA Mid-America Tag Team titles another three times. The Bombers most infamous moment was their involvement in the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl against rivals Jerry Lawler and “Superstar” Bill Dundee.
By 1980, the Blonde Bombers had dissolved, and Wayne Farris began to work more singles competitions. He traveled to other territories, like NWA Mid-Atlantic and Championship Wrestling From Florida, and other countries, working for All Japan in 1981 and World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico (he won the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship as Danny Condrey in 1980). But it was a move to Canada that changed his career forever.
In 1982, he headed to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to begin work with Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling, and it was there that the world finally took notice the character that Farris has forever remained synonymous with – the Elvis-inspired rockabilly hoodlum known as The Honky Tonk Man (although he was originally called Honky Tonk Wayne). Although he’d begun developing the character in CWA and Southeastern Championship Wrestling, in Stampede, he became a 3x Stampede International Tag Team Champion (twice with Ron Starr) and in June of 1986, captured the Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship.
With Stampede Wrestling’s close alliance with the WWF during the mid-1980’s, his work finally caught the eye of Vince McMahon and in September of 1986, he made his debut with the WWF as a fan favorite. The character wasn’t as well received as hoped at first, but when he turned his back on the fans and regained his cocky bravado – not to mention employing Jimmy Hart as his new manager and allying with fellow Stampede alumni The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) – his WWF career exploded.
In June of 1987, it was the Honky Tonk Man that put an end to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat‘s reign as Intercontinental Champion (the belt he’d defeated Randy Savage for months previous at WrestleMania III) and he would go on to hold the title for 454 days, breaking Pedro Morales record of 425 days. It’s a record that still stands today. In September, his self titled song was one of the classic cuts from the WWF Piledriver album, a song that remains a beloved anthem to this day.
Following his title loss to the Ultimate Warrior, Honky Tonk Man returned to tag team wrestling, teaming with another Jimmy Hart client in Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in Rhythm & Blues, feuding against the Hart Foundation, who had turned on “The Mouth of the South”. But by 1990, Honky Tonk Man was transitioned into a villainous commentator alongside McMahon and Roddy Piper, but in January of 1991, he left the company.
He returned to the independent territories, and in 1994, briefly resurfaced in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), but after only five months, he was fired from the company. He returned to the WWF in 1997 as a color commentator once again, before returning on-screen in a managerial role. He became the mentor for former WWF Tag Team Champion Billy Gunn of the Smoking Gunns – who was now known as Rockabilly – and in 1998, entered the Royal Rumble. Gunn soon turned on Honky Tonk Man, which lead to him siding with “The Roadie” Jesse James and the two becoming the New Age Outlaws. He departed the WWF soon after.
He’s since made several appearances with the WWF over the years, including a 2001 Royal Rumble appearance and a short program with Santino Marella over the Intercontinental Championship in 2008. In 2010, he was offered a Hall of Fame induction from the WWE when it was in his home of Phoenix, Arizona, but declined due to other contractual obligations. He made a guest appearance on Raw for an “Old School Raw” episode in 2013, where he confronted 3MB.
Throughout it all, he’s remained a very active figure on the independent circuits, doing appearances and still performing, swinging that guitar and shaking those hips. After all, why wouldn’t he? He’s cool, he’s cocky, he’s bad – and now he’s a WWE Hall of Famer.