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The following is a live coverage report on the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, which was held on April 2 in Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Center. Please refresh the page for the latest updates.
A video opened the show with still shots of past WWE Hall of Famers. The narrator said it began with one man – Andre the Giant. Jerry Lawler was the host and said it’s his favorite night of the year. After a quick introduction from Lawler, they went to the first inductee The Godfather, whose video played.
The Godfather: Presented by Ron Simmons and JBL
JBL and Simmons were very comical as they spoke about how it wasn’t a gimmick for Godfather and they still had the munchies from traveling with him. The bit was that JBL would start to tell a story about Godfather and Simmons would cut him off because it would incriminate him. JBL said they used to help Godfather select the members of his Ho Train. Simmons told his wife at home that JBL was just making it all up. JBL told his wife the same. Various wrestlers were shown cracking up at their bit.
The Godfather made his entrance. He stopped and then had a small group of women who walked out with him. Godfather thanked his parents and got choked up briefly as he said they weren’t with us, yet they are with us. Godfather thanked his kids and cracked, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot.” He also spoke about his grandson and had Isaiah stand up for his birthday. Godfather called him a little pimp. Godfather said there will never be another Godfather in WWE. He said it won’t be allowed today, but he encouraged fans to check it out on WWE Network.
Godfather said he and the Godfather character are the same person. He said he’s not really a pimp, but then mentioned Cheetah’s in Las Vegas. Godfather said he would love to tell stories, but he would get a lot of people in trouble. He said fans could visit him in Vegas and they could chop it up and he would tell some stories. He said he wouldn’t stay long, he’d save the time for some of the longwinded guys in the back. He led the crowd in the “Ho Train” bit and wrapped it up. The four-woman Ho Train came out and danced with him to close his induction.
Powell’s POV: This was a lot of fun and a really good, lighthearted open to the show. JBL and Simmons were comical, and Godfather came across like a really good guy. I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation he was having while shooting pool in a Minnesota hotel. I wasn’t eavesdropping, but he was responding loudly to some friendly ribbing from one of the other wrestlers. Godfather told the wrestler, “Yeah, wait until you see my next gimmick.” I didn’t think much of it until The Godfather debuted a short time later.
Stan Hansen’s video aired… Lawler spoke about the Lariat clothesline and said fans could see it on WWE Network. He then said he couldn’t help but wonder if any fans in the building still didn’t have WWE Network and encouraged them to do so. Ugh. He said Vader may look nice without the mask, but don’t let that fool you.
Stan Hansen: Presented by Vader
Vader played to the crowd and performed his entrance routine. He spoke about how Hansen broke Bruno Sammartino’s neck. Bruno was shown in the crowd and he nodded. Vader said he met Stan Hansen “in a small regional company called the AWA.” He mentioned there were several wrestlers in attendance who were in the AWA at the time including Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, and Larry Zbyszko.
Vader spoke about Hansen’s power and his conditioning. He said that as nice as he is outside the ring, he was not nice inside the ring. He said Hansen isn’t just a good big man, he’s a great wrestler. Vader pointed to Steve Austin and said, “And that’s because I said so.” Vader spoke about working against Hansen and teaming with him in All Japan for Giant Baba.
Vader said he’s had numerous requests to tell the Tokyo Dome story. He said they went the whole 30 minutes and beat the living hell out of one another. Vader said his eye was knocked out of socket by Hansen. He said they managed to put it back in and finish the match. He told a story about Baba wanting him to wear his pre-match Vader gear. Vader didn’t want to because Hansen wouldn’t have it. Sure enough, Hansen hit him with his bull rope and broke his nose before the match. Vader said he loved Hansen or he wouldn’t be there. Vader put on a pair of glasses that had one dangling eyeball, which got a laugh from the crowd. Vader said he looked long and hard for those.
Vader got serious and spoke about how Hansen is a man and a professional wrestler in every sense of the word. Vader said an announcer he wouldn’t mention by name said Hansen could knock you out of your boots, and he said that was true. Hansen was escorted onto the stage by two women, and he hugged Vader and they shared a moment before he went to the podium.
Hansen said there goes Leon, everyone take notice that he’s left. Hansen said Leon is his kind of wrestler – big, tough, and stiff as a board. Hansen said his nose is still red from their infamous match. Vader said he had tickets to the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas match in Japan the next night. Hansen told him he was leaving because there wouldn’t be punches thrown that were harder than the ones they had thrown in the ring together.
Hansen applauded the other inductees. He thanked God for a set of lungs and legs so he could develop the style. Hansen said God shortchanged him on the looks, but that’s okay. Hansen thanked JBL for keeping his name out there since he retired. “I appreciation you just mentioning my name,” Hansen said. Thanks a lot.”
Hansen spoke about his opponents and brought up Bruiser Brody and told a story about how Brody told him how great it would be if they could both find women who love them. Hansen said they were both lucky in that area. He said his wife knows who he feels about her. Hansen’s wife and sons were shown in the crowd. Hansen said his sons went independent of him in their career paths and he’s proud of them for making their own way.
Hansen thanked Terry Funk for breaking him in. Hansen mentioned Moose Morowski and Karl Von Brauner. He also said Bob Backlund was in Amarillo at the time. Backlund was shown in the crowd. He said Backlund had to sleep in a car, and Hansen later found himself doing the same. He said it was an honor to wrestle Backlund at MSG. Backlund nodded in approval. Hansen spoke about Jumbo Tsuruta. Hansen said his journey to the Hall of Fame started about 15 blocks away at the Sportatorium, which got a nice reaction. He said God bless Fritz Von Erich’s soul. He spoke about the booker and said he worked against Peter Maivia, Rock’s grandfather.
Hansen also spoke about working against Rick Martel and said he fought so hard and so good, and went on to become a great champion. Hansen recalled being schoolboyed and pinned by Martel in nine seconds. “I want to put that out there so that everybody knows that Stan Hansen’s done a few jobs.” The crowd popped. Hansen said his mom would always ask if Martel was the guy who beat him in nine seconds whenever she would see him on television.
Hansen got into his history of working with Bruno Sammartino and how he went from working a spot show in Texas to working at MSG at age 25. Hansen said he wasn’t nervous because he’d worked around Texas and Oklahoma a bit. “That night, I guess I was a little nervous.” Hansen spoke about how he broke Bruno’s neck and Bruno was sidelined for four and a half months. Hansen said Bruno has never held it against him and he appreciates that. Hansen said he calls Bruno every couple of months and thanks him for that opportunity.
Hansen also brought up Tiger Jeet Singh and said he wanted to work his style. He said he appreciated Pete Roberts, who went on to become his best friend. Hansen said he hopes people haven’t forgotten what a great and smart guy Andre the Giant was. Hansen said Andre was looking for an opponent, which is a word he emphasized throughout the speech. Hansen said Andre picked him to be his opponent, and they did some great business and people still talk about their match. Hansen said he owes his career in Japan to Andre.
Hansen said he was caught up in a wrestling war between New Japan and All Japan. He said he went to All Japan and he ended up working on a handshake deal for Giant Baba for 26 years. Hansen said he and Bruiser Brody ran roughshod over Japan in the eighties. Hansen said nobody could stay in there with the big 300 pounders. He mentioned a few of his Japanese opponents. Hansen thanked the carpenters in the pro wrestling business who got people like him ready to go to the main event to have success. Hansen closed by saying it was an honor to be in the state of Texas. He closed with his big hook ’em horns and holler…
Powell’s POV: It’s good to see Hansen has aged so well. He looks good at age 63 for a guy who was in as many in-ring wars as he was. I loved what he brought to the AWA. He was a tremendous champion at a time when the AWA needed one. His promos were always phenomenal and his work in the ring was just a blast to watch. Vader went longer than most presenters. Hansen had a lot to say, but it’s totally understandable given the long and accomplished career he had.
Shane McMahon and his wife Marissa were shown sitting in the front row together… Lawler set up the Jacqueline video package and noted that she is from Dallas…
Jacqueline: Presented by The Dudley Boyz
Bubba spoke about how much it meant to Jackie. He said they were excited about her induction, and Bubba said they were speechless when Mark Carrano informed them that she selected them to be her inductors. He said they’ve done a lot in wrestling, but this is the first time they’ve had the honor of inducting someone. Bubba spoke about Jackie’s toughness.
D-Von started to speak, but Bubba cut him off and told him that he just says testify. Funny. D-Von told him to get his own damn tables, which got some laughs. Bubba said Jackie will always be one of the boys. D-Von said it’s also true in the sense that she’s one of the cheapest people she’s ever met. She said Jackie can be riding and talking with you, then see a toll booth and then fall asleep mid-sentence. D-Von said once the toll was paid then she would jump right back into what she was saying. D-Von spoke about how Jackie will be a friend of theirs for life. D-Von said it was an honor and a privilege to induct Jackie, who was then escorted onto the stage. Jackie shared long hugs with D-Von and then Bubba.
Jackie said it was an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She said when she was young, she watched wrestling on TV and she was a fan of the Von Erichs. She said there was an ad on TV to become a pro wrestler. She called the number and went to train, where she met Skandar Akbar. She said she was so green, but Akbar thought she had something. Jackie said she was so excited when she got the call from WWE. She said it meant her hard work had paid off. She debuted in Chicago and it went well.
Jackie spoke about winning the women’s championship and said her second win is the pinnacle. She said she is grateful for her years in WWE. She said she was closing by thanking the people who made it possible. She started with the fans. She thanked her family and friends. She thanked Trish, Lita, Molly Holly, Terri Runnels (in the crowd), Victoria, and Sable. She said she wanted to thank the guys as well, but there are too many to mention. She said it was a pleasure to work with them and to get to know them. She thanked WWE for the honor.
Powell’s POV: The Dudleys delivered a fun presentation speech. They kept it light and both they and Jackie kept it brief. The show needed that after the lengthy Vader and Hansen speeches. Jackie also looks tremendous and I’m betting she could still kick your ass and mine simultaneously at age 52.
Lawler said it was time to honor the pioneers and some of the all-time greats. The narrator welcomes the following legacy award winners into the WWE Hall of Fame. Pat O’Connor, George Hackenschmidt, Frank Gotch, Mildred Burke, “Sailor” Art Thomas, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, and Lou Thesz.
Powell’s POV: This is WWE’s way of inducting some legendary names who were overlooked for way too long. They gave each person roughly 30 seconds with the narrator speaking about each man as still shots or footage was shown. The crowd gave them a seated round of applause afterward.
Lawler set up the video for The Freebirds, which naturally included Bad Street USA playing, and then Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” to close. A great video.
The Fabulous Freebirds: Presented by The New Day
New Day made their entrance wearing matching black suits and pink ties. The crowd was into it with many standing and clapping. New Day started talking, but the fans cut them off with a loud “New Day Rocks” chant. They thanked the crowd and transitioned quickly. Kofi Kingston said it’s not about them, it’s about the Fabulous Freebirds. Kofi said people have been asking why they inducted the Freebirds. They went into a joke with the punchline of Big E saying his unit is well oiled. Big E said they love to have fun, but the Freebirds really loved to have fun.
Big E brought up the face paint. Kofi said they could talk about it. Big E said it was red, white, and blue. “Man, those guys were patriotic,” he cracked. E, Kingston, and Xavier Woods led a brief USA chant. Woods took a serious twist and spoke about how he sees E and Kingston as his brothers, just as the Freebirds were brothers. He thanked them for teaching them that. Kingston said the Freebirds were innovative in that they were the first group to come out to rock music. Kingston said that technically means, “Freebirds rock.” The crowd picked up on it and chanted it.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” played and footage of the Freebirds played on the big screen. Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin ran onto the stage with their escorts behind them. Hayes wore a white ring jacket, a Badstreet USA jacket, and a fanny pack. Hayes and Garvin danced while the music played. Everyone from Stephanie McMahon to Sami Zayn was shown smiling and clapping along as they continued their onstage jam session.
Garvin, who is bald and looks nothing like he did in his glory days, played up how out of breath he was. The fans chanted “Freebirds Rock.” Michael Hayes said the Freebirds need oxygen. Hayes put over New Day and then said the only thing left to say was thank you and goodnight. Garvin stopped him. They did a bit where Hayes spoke about the over/under on how long their speech would be. Garvin said he took the over at 90 minutes.
Garvin said 55, 37, and 23. Garvin said 55 years ago, Chief Jay Strongbow put him in the ring when he was just nine years old. Garvin said he smelled the canvas and the ropes and it smelled like home. He said 37 years ago he became brothers with Hayes and said it’s been a wonderful ride ever since. Garvin said 32 years ago, the set the all-time Texas Stadium attendance record. Garvin said that record will be smashed tomorrow at WrestleMania 32, and he knows it’s going to be one heck of a night.
Hayes spoke about how the Freebirds rented their first apartment. Garvin and Precious lived around the corner. On their first night, they partied outside and couldn’t find the key. Hayes impersonated Terry Gordy saying he found the key. Hayes said Gordy kicked the door open. A short time later, Gordy shattered the sliding glass door. Buddy Roberts tore up the sheetrock so you could see the piping. Hayes and Gordy decided to get mad at Roberts, so Buddy took a bump onto the coffee table and broke it. “We never drank coffee anyway,” Roberts told them.
Garvin recalled when they started a fire with most of their furniture. Garvin said he and Hayes miss Gordy and Roberts dearly and he would give anything to have them there. Hayes said they will feel the presence of Roberts and Gordy as they always do. Hayes introduced Ray Gordy (formerly known as Jesse and Slam Master J in WWE) and Buddy Jack Roberts Jr.
Gordy looked into the crowd and said, “Wow.” He recalled growing up a huge fan like everyone else. He talked about going to the Sportatorium on Friday night. Ray said people used to ask him who his favorite wrestler was and he thought it was a strange question. He said it was Kevin Von Erich because he’s a World Class fan, which got a lot of laughs. Gordy talked about what a great big man his father was. He thanked WWE and the fans on behalf of himself and his sisters for honoring his father.
Roberts approached the mic and tried to fire up the crowd. He said he came out for rehearsals earlier today. He said he had months to plan a speech. He said at this moment, everything he prepared is now out the window. Roberts said it means a lot. He said his mother doesn’t want to be recognized, but he asked her to stand up anyway. She stood up and blew her son a kiss. “I know I’m in trouble, but dad would have done it,” Roberts said. He said his dad had a great career with the Freebirds and the Hollywood Blondes. He said his dad travelled thousands of miles and loved every minute of it. He said his dad told stories about traveling with his brothers and that’s not just the guys on the stage. He thanked the fans.
The music played, but Gordy went back to the mic. Gordy said he wanted to hear one or two more Freebirds stories. Garvin noted that it’s a family show so they are restricted on stories, but they would push the limits. Garvin asked what could happen aside from Hayes being fired. Funny. Garvin told a story about Buddy peeing on him once. He said he kept an eye on Buddy Jr. while he was on the stage because he’d probably do the same thing.
Michael told a story about when they were with the Von Erichs when they started and they were able to travel together. The Von Erichs wanted to go to a social club they always talked about. Hayes said he knew he wouldn’t be a good fit. He said David and Kerry were going to drag him in. Hayes said it wasn’t just a strip club like you see today. He said it was Aunt Rosie taking the stage fresh off her third baby.
Hayes said he went to the back of the bar and played Pacman while dressed in his Freebirds attire. He said he felt someone hit him stiff. Hayes said it was a guy in a motorcycle gang, who asked him what gang he’s in and what his colors are. Gordy ran over only to be slapped by the biker. “Bad move,” Hayes said. A fight broke out and Hayes and Gordy took them down quickly. Gordy told Hayes that the man had a wooden leg. Hayes said he was worried about being stabbed, while Gordy was worried about taking down a man with a wooden leg.
Hayes said the man reached in his jacket to reach for a gun. Hayes and Gordy went to leave, but the door was locked. They made it to the street. “Thank God he had a wooden leg because it took him a while to get out there too,” Hayes said. The man fired shots as they left. Gordy laughed. Hayes asked him what the hell he was laughing at. “Because he missed,” Hayes recalled Gordy saying. The crowd erupted and chanted “Freebirds Rock.”
Garvin said that’s a tough one to top. He told a story about how a group of wrestlers all lived in the same complex at one time. Garvin said it wasn’t a week until the Freebirds nearly burnt it down. Garvin said it would have been worth it because of everything he did with them. Garvin recalled doing the valet for a day angle with David Von Erich. He praised the crazy Englishman Chris Adams. He brought up the Precious and Sunshine feud. He said he loved Patti (Precious) and would love her even more when he got home. Garvin said he was blessed to be a Freebird probably before anybody knew it. He thanked the fans for giving him a chance to express his art and to party with the other Freebirds.
Hayes paid tribute to World Class Championship Wrestling. He mentioned Iceman Parsons, Chris Adams, Garvin, Precious, and Sunshine. Each of them were shown on the big screen as he said their names. Hayes said there were so many others. He also thanked God. He thanked his mother and said she was home watching it live. He told a story about being nine and his mom took him out to buy dungarees. Hayes said there was a cute girl looking at him. Hayes said he had two strikes because he was chubby and had a flattop haircut. Hayes said the mood was ruined when his mom asked loudly where the husky department was located.
Hayes thanked Pat Patterson, who was shown in the crowd. He thanked Jack and Gerald Briscoe. He thanked his fellow producers. He had John Tatum stand up and take a bow. Hayes said the fans would hate this. Hayes thanked the writers, which drew boos. Hayes said people have no idea how hard they and everyone else in the company works. Hayes said there is no one in the company who doesn’t work overtime to make sure the fans get a product that puts a smile on their face. Hayes said he thought that slogan was stupid when he heard it. He said he went to a live event and that’s what he saw. He said that’s why wrestlers do what they do. Hayes thanked Afa and Sika and said there would be no Freebirds without them.
Hayes said just to show how crazy he is, he was thanking his ex wives. He thanked them both and then said, “It was your fault that you married me.” Hayes addressed the McMahon family. He said they accepted him when he wasn’t in a good place and they helped him get in a better place. He said Stephanie has always had his back. He said she’s the sister he’s never had. Stephanie teared up.
Hayes told Shane he keeps him up at night and asked when he’s going to settle down. Hayes said Linda, who was in the front with Hunter and Steph, is the only one in the family who isn’t crazy. Hayes asked Linda if he didn’t almost pee on her in an airplane once. Hayes said thank God he didn’t. “However, if I had, that one would have been on you,” Hayes said. Funny.
Hayes said he has been married to the business. He got fired up while inspiring people to do whatever it is they love because he’s the last person who thought he would be standing on the stage. Hayes said he loves the NXT kids. A “you deserve it chant” started.
Hayes had a picture of his dog appear on the big screen. He said he loved her everyday until she died two years ago in September. Hayes said someone told him to focus on the time that he had and the time that he still does. He said to love each other every single moment and don’t take anything for granted. Hayes said the man who told him that is from the most famous family in Texas, the Von Erichs.
Hayes introduced Kevin Von Erich, who was escorted onto the stage and then hugged Hayes and Garvin. Kevin stepped up to the podium and said they speak about being family. He said he and his brothers had the same mother, he said these guys are brothers because they love each other. Kevin got choked up as he recalled what Ray Gordy said about his father.
Kevin said he did lose his family and it gave him a chance to look at life like he never did before. He said he thought money and fame were important, but it’s family. He had his sons Marshall and Ross stand up and said the Von Erichs are still running. Kevin said he feels like the luckiest man on earth. He congratulated the Freebirds. He said they beat each other pretty bad, but it made good TV and it was a lot of fun. He closed by saying God Bless Texas.
Hayes said Jimmy won the over/under bet, so there’s only one thing left to do. He quoted the lyrics to Bad Street USA and then said, “Hit it.” Hayes had a mic brought to him and led the crowd and sang the song., He entered the crowd and sang it on the floor in front of various wrestlers.
Powell’s POV: That may have been the longest induction ever, but I really enjoyed it. You know it meant the world to Hayes. After the ridiculous long wait, I’m happy he had his moment in the spotlight. It did seem like some of the legends on the floor were not as amused by his Bad Street USA performance as others. For me, the only negative is that he didn’t rock the king of all pimp suits. I guess that’s what every other day of the year is for. I am also happy that Garvin was included. His run with Hayes as a tag team was disappointing, but Hayes wanted him there and it’s doubtful that Garvin ever would have been honored on his own.
Lawler set up the video package for Big Boss Man…
Big Boss Man: Presented by Slick
“Jive Soul Bro” played as Slick walked onto the stage. Come on, one more music performance. He did a bit where he asked for twenties and fifties, then apologized and said he thought he was at church. He spoke about Boss Man and said he had one of the biggest hearts of anyone in the business. He said he was lucky to be his manager and even luckier to be his friend. Slick recalled Boss Man being a great singles career and spoke about his run with Akeem as “The Iconic Twin Towers.” Slick talked about Bossman’s death, and said heaven gained a guardian angel. He said Boss Man was a humble man who loved his family.
Slick introduced Bossman’s wife and daughters. His daughter Lacy thanked the fans for keeping their father’s memory alive. She recalled being at WrestleMania in Houston. She said she was more excited about the butterfly museum than watching him wrestle because she was a kid. She said in hindsight her dad had a pretty cool job. She recalled the Attitude Era and how her father said he had to do certain things for the business. She said later that night she watched Rikishi perform the Stinkface on her dad. She said she wished he was here.
Lacy said it was odd to tell kids at school that her father didn’t really steal someone’s dog and feed it to him. She said Pepper is okay. She recalled the angle with dragging Big Show’s father’s casket in a car. Show was shown laughing. She thanked the fans again for keeping his memory alive.
Boss Man’s widow Angela pulled out the nightstick he used. She got choked up as she spoke about how he loved his family. She said he could never stay mad at anyone. She said he enjoyed being funny and making people feel good. She said he did so much for the community and even on the day he died he was doing community work. She said they have had a great life and they will always remember Ray (Boss Man) and the legacy he left.
Powell’s POV: Slick’s greedy preacher routine was awkward given that he’s a legitimate preacher, but I suppose they can have a sense of humor too. I was hoping for Slick to followup the Bad Street USA performance with a live performance of Jive Soul Bro. No luck. It’s amazing how much you can see Boss Man in his daughter Lacy. The family did a really nice job.
Lawler set up Snoop Dogg’s video package. Lawler said when it came time to induct Snoop they had to find someone with a similar lifestyle, similar habits, and even a similar physique. Lawler introduced John Cena.
Powell’s POV: Damn, working his ass off to return for WrestleMania still wasn’t enough to win over the WrestleMania crowd. Cena deserves better even if he doesn’t care.
Snoop Dogg: Presented by John Cena
Cena received a mixed reaction and then a loud “John Cena Sucks” chant. Cena stood at the podium and smiled as he watched the crowd. After working in a little Gin and Juice and weed comedy, Cena spoke about how Snoop has done more than contribute to WWE. “He has been a member of our family,” Cena said. He said that whether Snoop is having fun in the ring or behind the scenes, he is never a visitor. “This is Snoop’s home” Cena said. “Which means there will be some interesting results from tomorrow’s drug tests.”
Cena recalled his Doctor of Thuganomics days. He said Snoop could have thumbed his nose at him, but instead he brought him into the studio to make music with him. Cena said he is forever grateful. Cena introduced Snoop, who was escorted onto the stage by four women.
Snoop took a picture. He thanked the WWE family. Snoop called WWE the number one sport in the world. He gave a shout out to Cena for the great speech. He said Cena is a very sly rapper, and Cena allowed him to fly the friendly skies with him “if you know what I’m saying.” Snoop mentioned Randy Orton, Mark Henry, DX, “and especially HB Shizzle My Nizzle,” Steve Austin, and Undertaker.
Snoop said most of all he wanted to give a shout out to his cousing Sasha Banks. Snoop said he took her to a show and her face just lit up when she met various wrestlers. Snoop said he doesn’t even know what to say after seeing her face on the side of AT&T Stadium. He told her he loved her.
Snoop recalled watching wrestling with is grandfather, who took him to the Olympic Auditorium, where he saw Andre the Giant and Gorilla Monsoon. Snoop said it inspired him to love it. He told the fans to give themselves a round of applause for turning it into the number one sport. Snoop mentioned Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson, Junkyard Dog, Dusty Rhodes, and Ric Flair. Snoop said wrestling has been good to him and he thanked everyone for letting him be part of their family. He closed with a rap he put together. The fans gave him a standing ovation…
Powell’s POV: It’s cool to see a celebrity inductee who is truly passionate about WWE rather than just part of some type of endorsement deal. I think the live crowd appreciated his fandom.
Lawler set up the video package for Warrior Award winner Joan Lunden.
Joan Lunden: Presented By Dana Warrior
Dana brought an Ultimate Warrior action figure and set it on the podium. There was a Warrior chant. She chanted it back at the fans. She told the fans that he said they are the warriors. She read the line that Warrior used to close his speech and thanked the fans for making it true. Dana said it amazes her how important wrestling is in her family’s life now and how much joy it brings them. She said it’s a family business and once you know it you are hooked. She said we’re counting the days until one of his daughter’s makes her run to the ring and shakes the ropes. Dana said it’s the ultimate training ground and has launched women into successful business ventures, and is the greatest show on earth. “I love it, I’m a fan, I’m grateful, thank you,” she said.
Dana spoke about Lunden and her fight against cancer and called her a badass fighter. She recalled Lunden saying she was going into warrior mode to fight cancer. She said she could have fought the battle privately, but instead she shaved her head and posed for People magazine. Dana said her husband had so much respect for women and was raised by a single mother. He said Warrior had so much respect for Linda McMahon that she was his first and only choice to induct him into the Hall of Fame. He said it would make him proud to call Lunden a Warrior Woman. She said let’s find a cure, then said real warriors wear pink and showed off her own pink bicep band. She introduced Lunden.
Joan Lunden walked onto the stage and hugged Dana. “Who would have ever thought that I would be standing on the stage at the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony,” she said. “And, wait, I’m following Snoop Dogg.” Lunden said her credibility soared with her kids because of her induction. She said her son said Warrior was one of the greatest superstars who ever lived.
Lunden said she’s not a wrestler, but she did have to learn how to become a warrior. She said she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She said she had feelings of sadness and defeat, and that lasted a very short time. She took the fight to cancer and it changed her life completely. She said her life took on a new purpose and she was fighting for many women across the country. She wanted to give a voice to those women.
Lunden praised WWE as a business and how the McMahons opened their arms to her. She said WWE fans have reached out via social media to wish her well. She thanked the fans for that and said they really did help to heal her and to light a fire in her to get her into warrior mode. She spoke about Dana and her daughters, and thanked her own SEVEN children and her husband. She quoted Warrior about not feeling sorry for yourself and said she will keep fighting the good fight for women outside the ring.
Powell’s POV: Joan Lunden has been so classy in her WWE appearances. Still, I think the award is a prop to make WWE look good. If they wanted to have an award for Warrior, then I wish they would have at least respected his wishes by giving it to someone who works behind the scenes in WWE. I’m still waiting for the day when they name a winner and that person later learns about some of the horrible things Warrior had to say. WWE could end up with egg on their face if someone backs out after initially accepting and goes public with their explanation.
Lawler set up the Sting video…
Sting: Presented By Ric Flair
Flair started by acknowledging the death of Dusty Rhodes. He had Dusty’s widow Michelle stand up to take a bow. He also acknowledged the death of Roddy Piper and said he wished his widow were present. Flair thanked Vince while saying he knows he hates it. Flair started to cry as he said, “Two of the best.” Flair gave a shout out to Charlotte, who was booed. “If Snoop can recognize Sasha then stand up,” Flair said. Charlotte said no, but then she eventually gave in. “Genetically superior,” Flair said. “I raised her.”
Flair turned his attention to Sting. Flair said the company censors him and makes him outline his speech. The fans booed. Flair said it’s better to follow the guidelines than to walk backstage. The fans laughed. Flair recalled Dusty telling him they were going to run the Clash of Champions opposite WrestleMania. Flair said he doesn’t remember saying it, but it’s said that he looked at Sting, the new kid who was on fire. Flair said he had it from the moment he walked into the studio.
Flair brought up Stan Hansen putting over Rick Martel in nine seconds. Flair said he never beat Hansen. “What the hell?” Flair said. Funny. Flair got back to Sting. He said he and Sting wrestled for 55 minutes when it was supposed to be an hour. He said Sting never wavered. Flair said he never plans it out. He said if you’re thinking it, he’ll make it happen.
Flair said he told Sting to go to WWE for years. Flair said he and Ricky Steamboat had great chemistry and they always competed. Steamboat was shown in the crowd. Flair said he would crack up Sting every night. He spoke about their basic match and Sting asked if they would ever change it up. Flair questioned why when it was working. Flair said he trusted Sting. Flair said he liked being a bad guy because he has no offense. “I got a chop, a woooo, and a (strut).” Flair said he threw one dropkick in his career and he didn’t even hit knees. “But I could take bumps, and I could talk, thank God,” Flair said.
Flair spoke about the rating they drew, yet said thank God they didn’t kill WWE. He said he loved the operation down south, but it was doomed. Flair told a story about Shawn Michaels telling him to keep his mouth shut and to listen to him, and credited Michaels with carrying him in the retirement match. Shawn put his hands over his face. Flair then said he worked three opponents for 30 years and they were three of the greatest rivalries in history. Flair told a Steamboat story and noticed they are 0-4 in marriage. He said Michael Hayes was smart because he’s only 0-2.
Flair spoke about Sting being in the rafters for a year and how it led to what he felt was the biggest pay-per-view in the history of the company. Flair said they were trying to get him to wrap it up. Flair called Sting a great guy and said he’s happy he finally had the chance to come to WWE “because this is the place to be.” Flair said Hunter rocked Sting’s world last year and made his night as he’s done for so many people. Flair spoke briefly about Linda, thanked the fans, and then misspoke about the year before introducing Sting.
Sting walked out wearing a tuxedo without face paint and hugged Flair. Sting let out some “woooo’s” and the crowd responded both times. Sting pointed out that Flair left his notes “that he does not use.” Sting said Flair wings it and wings everything. Flair noted that he was in the same building where he debuted on Raw.
Sting said he didn’t know anything about pro wrestling until he was into his twenties. He attended a show and decided that’s what he wanted to do. He spoke about starting with Jim Hellwig, who became the Ultimate Warrior. He said he was jacked, but Warrior made him look small and spoke constantly about food and getting his protein at Waffle House.
Sting spoke about Seth Rollins and when he suffered his neck injury. He recalled Sting stopping him in the ambulance to check on him. Seth told Sting that he dressed as him for Halloween. “And he had a shooting look on his face too,” he said. Funny. “I know a lot of you probably dressed up as me for Halloween,” he said. Even funnier.
Sting cracked that teaming up with Robocop was the highlight of his career. He told a story about Kevin Nash. Sting said he was in this stone face period when the NWO attacked him. He said Nash told him to milk it. He said he felt a big arm and big leg come over him and Nash said, “Sting, would mind if I spoon with you for a minute?” Nash was shown laughing in the crowd. He spoke about the various incarnations of his character briefly.
Sting said he went through a dark period and then surrendered his life to God. He said he slowly put together the pieces of his life with God’s help. Sting said he has never looked back and now his life has been put back into order and he is blessed to be here with the fans and his family. Sting said he has bragging rights. He said he knows there are so many wrestlers who dream about performing at WrestleMania. Sting said he has bragging rights because he can say that he did that and he did it against a great opponent in Triple H.
Sting said he is officially a WWE Hall of Famer. He said he wanted to thank people. He thanked Warrior and said he was very intense and pushed him had. He said that if Warrior had not done that, he doesn’t think he would be there now. The fans chanted “One More Match.” Sting said he really loves all of them. The fans chanted “Undertaker.” Sting didn’t play into it.
Sting thanked someone at 2K Sports for encouraging words. He thanked his personal trainer for helping him get ready. He thanked Jim Ross “for giving me some inside scoop at just the right time.” Sting thanked Michael Hayes. He said the Freebirds took him under his wing and said they were always good to him, including in these last 12 months. Sting thanked Road Dogg and said it was Road Dogg who told him not to forget his life alert necklace prior to his match with Seth. “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Sting cracked.
Sting thanked Ric Flair and said he didn’t have to make him, but he put him on the map to begin with. Sting thanked his parents, who were shown in the crowd. “They loved me even when I didn’t deserve it,” he said. Sting said he had his nieces, nephews, his in-laws, and his brother who is his pastor. Sting thanked his children by name and said they went through adversity growing up in a wrestling home.
Sting said God gave him a second chance. He said he’s approaching his one-year anniversary with his second wife and said he couldn’t have gotten through the last 12 months without her. She was shown on camera.
Sting thanked the fans. They chanted “Thank you, Sting.” Sting told them no, he was thanking them. He said there wouldn’t be a Sting or a Bruno or others without them. He said you’ve heard him say for years that when it comes to him, nothing is certain until now.
Sting announced that he is officially going to retire tonight. He said he was proud to do so under the WWE umbrella. There were some gasps followed by a standing ovation and a “Thank you, Sting” chant. Sting put on his shades and held up a black baseball bat. “I just want you to know that this isn’t goodbye, it’s I’ll see you later.” Sting’s music played and he played to the fans while the standing ovation continued and the show concluded as he walked backstage.
Powell’s POV: A classy speech from Sting. The retirement announcement is only surprising because Sting was in work mode leading up to the ceremony. He was stating in media appearances earlier this week that he was holding out for one more match with Undertaker. With his neck injury and at his age, it’s clearly the most logical move he could make. Even if he wants to return, I just don’t know if WWE would ever medically clear him. I like that Sting’s announcement was well received by the crowd. It was not a somber moment, it was simply the fans accepting reality and giving him a standing ovation. That said, why do I suspect I still haven’t heard the last of fan speculation about an Undertaker vs. Sting match?
Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...