When it was announced that the Honky Tonk Man would be inducted into this year's WWE Hall of Fame class of 2019, my reaction was “hey, at least he won a title once, not like Hillbilly Jim.” But it also sent me down an unexpected nostalgia spiral for how much I absolutely detested him as a youngster. It was the angle involving his shoving Miss Elizabeth to the mat after a Saturday Night's Main Event Intercontinental title defense against “Macho Man” Randy Savage that got me hooked into pro wrestling for the first time, and for many reasons, he quickly cemented himself at the top of my Most Hated Wrestler rankings.
He was, by most fan-centric standards, a poor grappler. This is all relative, of course—he certainly could take a bump, and his ability to emote in the ring and hit storytelling beats was second to none. But he was never going to tear the roof off the joint with Ricky Steamboat or anything (hell, the match where he beat Steamboat for the belt was all of 4 minutes long). His finishing move was the “Shake, Rattle, & Roll,” a swinging neckbreaker that was a routine part of many wrestler's movesets, but it was Honky Tonk's finisher because...he shook his ass before delivering it, I guess. Or because it was the one wrestling move he knew, aside from “right handed punch,” “left handed punch,” “body slam,” and “kick.” (Just 999 moves to go and he'll match Chris Jericho!)
Thus, his constant claims to the title of “Greatest Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion of All Time” were particularly galling, as his opponents during his title reign were constantly portrayed as his clear superiors. Even during his feud with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who was essentially his equal in the ring (right handed punch, left handed punch, body slam, kick, sleeperhold), Honky Tonk was portrayed as the clearly inferior talent.
|"I can't believe I'm jobbing to this fuckin' guy"
For all these reasons, as the Honky Tonk Man's Intercontinental Championship reign continued week after week, eventually becoming the longest IC title reign of all time, he became more and more hated with each passing episode of Superstars of Wrestling or Wrestling Challenge.