TNA Hall of Fame report: A detailed report on Sting's induction and speech, quotes from Lex Luger, Hulk Hogan, Dixie Carter, and A.J. Styles, Jeremy Borash, and Mike Tenay
Dot Net reader Efren Bojorquez attended the TNA Hall of Fame event on Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona and sent the following report.
Meet and Greet
I met a very nice group of people from Connecticut who came out not only for BFG, but for WM26 here in Phoenix a few year's back. In terms of the VIP package that they bought for both events, TNA's Meet and Greet beats WWE's by leaps and bounds. At WWE's M&G for 'Mania, you could take pictures of the wrestlers, but not pictures with the wrestlers. What's the point then? TNA's roster was incredibly friendly and you could take pictures with them.
When this group met A.J. Styles this weekend he had a rule: He could not take a picture with a replica belt from another company. They told me of a house show back a few years ago when he was TNA World Champion and they brought their WWE/ECW belts into the ring to take the $20 picture with him. He said, "You know what you have to do, right?" The guy immediately put his WWE/ECW belts down and A.J. handed him the real TNA World Heavyweight Title to wear in the picture. As the guy was reminding A.J. about the story security tried to rush them along and A.J. said, "Its cool. He is a good friend of mine." That was the only problem they had today.
Jeff Hardy had the longest M&G wait today at about 30 minutes.
Dixie Carter went around the M&G today just saying hi, taking pictures, and thanking fans. These people told Dixie that she runs her M&G much better than WWE. Dixie responded, "Thank you. We try." She then said in so many words that it wasn't and isn't right what Vince did when it comes to his M&G's. "That's not how you run a business." These fans said they got more in a day from TNA then they got during their entire week when they bought their WWE 'Mania package.
These fans went onto say they haven't watched WWE in months: "There's no meaning to it. Cage matches where a guy is thrown into the cage 10 times but not a trickle of blood comes out. MITB at WrestleMania, Hell in a cell to end a feud...all of these used to have a purpose. Now they are all just their own stand-alone PPV's?"
Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction
A variety of the roster was introduced to the audience, all who had one of them sitting at their banquet table. Ladies were instructed to "control themselves" as Earl Hebner came out. Bully Ray spent quite a bit of time away from his table talking to another table for about 10 minutes, leaving his table alone, while making the other table laugh. Once he got back to his table, they were laughing as well.
HOF Ceremony officially gets under way at 8:20pm. Jeremy Borash introduced the main table, who come out one at at time. Mike Tenay, A.J. Styles, Lex Luger (who got a 1/2 standing ovation as he limped in, looking quite good), Hulk Hogan, Dixie Carter, and Sting.
Borash sends his best out to Bob Ryder and then spoke about how he first met Sting. To him, Sting is a real hero. Why? He is a great father to his kids and his love for his family shows. A few more accolades and Mike Tenay is introduced.
Tenay says that he can't wait for tomorrow and its such an honor to be here. Tonight celebrates the Icon and a milestone for the company: 10 years. He offered big thanks to Dixie Carter and her family for believing in TNA. Sting's commitment is part of the reason we are here tonight.
Tenay reflected back to the first Clash of the Champions: Sting vs. Ric Flair which put Sting on the map. Fast forward to WCW's final match...and again, its Sting vs Ric Flair. When it came to WCW, Sting was "the man." Tenay went through a list of opponents (Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, Kurt Angle, Main Event Mafia, Hulk Hogan last year, & Aces and Eights this year). Tenay notes that Sting is a 15 time World Champion and introduces a video tribute.
The video opened with a Shakespeare quote: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Jeff Hardy spoke about when he was young and reached out to touch Sting's shoulder as a fan as he walked to the ring, he knew he wanted to do this. Hardy said regarding Sting, "Greatness is the defining word." Bully Ray said that Sting deserves iconic status. "When you talk about the top 10 of all time, you've gotta talk about Sting." Hulk Hogan said, "He is the basis for all that happens in the wrestling business." Tenay says that Sting has always been there for TNA and it is noted that Sting is the only NWA, WCW, and TNA World Heavyweight Champion in history.
Borash next introduced A.J. Styles who boasted "Man, I'm ready to wrestle right now after watching that!" After thanking the fans for being here tonight, he spoke about tonight's Inductee: A real life superhero. Who was this guy that he saw on TV? A.J. wanted to know and wanted to meet him. "This hero of mine is now the coolest comic book/movie guy character I have ever seen." Styles spoke about his time in WCW and how the company need hot, young, talent...and he wasn't it. He was working in security at the time, and one day at catering he was mesmerized by Sting, who was sitting next to Lex Luger, and another World Heavyweight Champion...David Arquette, but that's a different story.
Fast forward to 2003 when the locker room found out Sting was coming to TNA and Styles said morale instantly shot up. Styles finally met him at the Asylum, and for all the times you have heard never to meet your heroes because they might disappoint you, this was not one of those times. Sting was everything he thought his hero would be. Come 2009, A.J. got to wrestle him at BFG. Styles said he will never forget that night. Looking directly at Sting he said, "You're an icon, but for different reasons: Your faith in Jesus Christ, your athletic ability, and for the father that you are to your kids. You are an icon for everything you are outside the ring. Thank you for being you, and making me the man that I am." Truly, a touching story that came right from the heart. Extremely well-given speech.
JB introduced Lex Luger who stood up from the main table but did not go up to the podium. A microphone was handed to him and he started talking about the moment he found out he would be at Sting's HOF Induction. What would he say to his best friend? Luger references a wooden fish ornament on the podium with a Bible verse from (I believe) Proverbs 17:17 (A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity). Luger recalls how when he first saw the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock he thought, "Man, this guy has good stuff!"
Luger said when he first met Sting in the locker room he was soooo nice and Luger was soooo not nice. Sting tells him, "I admire your physique, what's your nutritional program?" Luger (lacing up his boots while never looking up) responded, "Beer, cheeseburgers, and Peanut M&M's." He said Sting walked away from that meeting shaking his head. As the years went on, Luger said Sting taught him more and more about eating and training. Luger then referenced the only five star match in his career: he and Sting vs. the Steiner Brothers. As they traveled and hit the gym together, Luger said when his career was sputtering Sting would put in a call to the brass to get things going for him again.
Luger then admitted to getting angry after Sting found Jesus. Sting didn't want to go to the same places he did anymore, and his new found faith made them distant. Nevertheless, Sting never stopped being a close friend to him, even when he didn't return the favor.
Then, the motorcycle accident occurred. It was 3am in the morning. Lex was in the hospital. Who was the first person he saw? Sting was right there. Knowing he was dehydrated, Luger saw Sting grab a cloth soaked with water and squeezed it above his mouth so the water could drip down his throat so he could have a drink (Luger got choked up this point and the audience knew the helplessness one has at certain moments in their life, and the friends who are there no matter what...another superb, touching story).
Luger went on to say while after the accident he was despondent and at a low point in his life, Sting called on a regular basis leaving a message that started with "Lex, I know you're not going to answer, but..." Luger says Sting left him motivational messages to let him know that he was there for him. Luger said that he is saved and he and Sting are reunited by God. The joy in Sting's face could not be hidden as he saw that God had Luger's life transformed.
Luger then referenced the time he was paralyzed in a Stanford hospital when the doctors said there was no way he would ever walk again. Not knowing where he was or what had happened, the staff informed Lex that he has a phone call. "How did he know where I was?" Luger asks.
Lex gave Sting the fish ornament/decoration with the Bible verse on it and finished by saying, "You are my friend, Brother in Christ, and I love you so much." They embraced to a standing ovation from the crowd.
JB introduced Hulk Hogan, who said: "In my heart, I know who he is. You don't know how great you really are. Sting is so great no matter who, he makes that opponent." Hulk spoke about Hulkamania and during its heyday Vince McMahon brought up Sting as a possible opponent for Hogan in the WWF. Hogan said he was excited because he could make tons of money with Sting, but oh crap, he could also take his spot! Hogan couldn't figure out why Sting was so loyal and true to himself and WCW. Why wouldn't he come to New York to make tons of money?
Because that's who Sting is, he said. Hogan spoke of wrestling Sting in the ring. He said working with Sting is so easy that he could do this for 20 more years! Hogan described Sting as loyal and dedicated which is one of the reasons that TNA is still here today. Hogan said: "As things keep hitting me [in my life] I look to Sting. Solid, loyal, honest. If I can end up on the pedestal he is on, that's who I wanna be at the end of the day. Brother, I love you for who you are. Everyone in this room can trust you, and that's what I love about you." It just didn't have the emotion/sustenance that Styles and Luger had. A bit too much Hogan and not enough Sting...
Borash introduced Dixie Carter to a standing ovation. After thanking the fans, she said that without a mason jar or scorpion, we wouldn't be here today. Carter spoke about how one year in, no one gave them six weeks, let alone six months. "Sting made us believe we would make it." Carter said that trying to convince Sting to re-sign year after year cannot be overstated. She described how a few years ago Sting told her that he would re-sign for one more year on one condition: that she would not convince him one more time. This was it.
Carter invited Sting and his family over to her ranch and did the sales pitch. She could see that for once, she wasn't getting to him. As Sting was walking out, her nephew (Travis) called to him and said that he found this scorpion this morning, put it in a mason jar so it could breathe, and asked if he would come back. Sting said its a sign that he should stay and asked to keep the jar.
Carter spoke about how she meets the fans at the live events. Children 5-9 years old tell her that Sting is their favorite wrestler. They wear his shirt, have paint on their face, etc. Carter realizes that these kids weren't even alive when Sting was in WCW! Carter addressed Sting: "I don't know if we would be here today without you. The man you are, the integrity you bring-integrity, class, honesty, it means so much to us and millions around the world ... Sometimes its good to be the boss...tonight is one of those nights." Her voice cracked and she got quite choked up as she introduced Sting, who walked onstage to a standing ovation.
Sting spoke about how a 6'2" white basketball player isn't going to make it so he isn't going to do that. He pointed to Hulk and told him he loves him. He said he still feels like it's yesterday when they were calling him "the kid from Venice Beach, CA." Sting acknowledged Ric Flair from the first Clash, saying it was a 45-minute uninterrupted match on television: "He could have made or broken me, and he made me that night. Thank you Ric." He moves onto talk about how as the times changed, he needed a new character. He referenced Scott Hall giving him some advice and in a well above average Scott Hall imitation: "You should put some face paint on and...just be...mysterious." The crowd had a good laugh.
Sting referenced the biggest match of his career: Starrcade '97 vs Hulk Hogan. He referenced 'Macho Man' Randy Savage saying that during that time Macho (in his trademark voice) "feel like I have to play a different character everyyyyyy night of the weeeeek." March, 2001 arrived. WCW was out of business...what is he to do? Thank God for second chances. He met the Jarrett's at the Asylum. Enter Dixie Carter. He referenced his notes which said "only one year ha ha ha." Sting referenced his meetings with creative and how he was puzzled. "Um, you guys talked to Dixie right?" A few chuckles.
Sting closed: "Thank you for sticking by me and second chances. Dixie, Hulk, Ric, Lex, Eric Bischoff (whom I appreciate a ton, no matter what you read on the internet), Spike TV....thank you. Thank you Jesus, thank you fans, A.J., Mike...My God, Kurt Angle (points)! I am honored. God Bless each and every one of you for all these years." The crowd stood in approval.
Dixie came back on stage and said since this is the first TNA Hall of Fame ever, they wanted to give him a watch. "Yes, she knows its superficial, but what's in our heart is what matters. Thank you, and who's ready for a few more years?" The crowd applauded in approval.
Pictures were taken with the main table and the entire roster and the show ended. Dixie stuck around to thank fans but most of the upper talent are whisked away quickly to the back curtain.
A decent, intimate HOF dinner/ceremony that wasn't worth $125, but could have been done much worse. I was hoping that you would have the opportunity to take a picture with Sting (even for a price), but that wasn't even an option. Security was close (but not too close...20 feet away) to any table that had a Knockout sitting there. What surprised me the most is that no one had prepared remarks. I didn't see a teleprompter and very few presenters or Sting looked down for more than two seconds. No real prewritten speech was given. For all the mentions of Ric Flair making him, not one reference was made to Jim Ross or Tony Schiavone. Is that wrong? Al Snow could not have been nicer to me. For the most part, those on the roster/management that you go to talk to were quite friendly.
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