By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Hall of Fame 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana at Smoothie King Center
Aired live on WWE Network
The WWE Hall of Fame broadcast open with an “in memory” graphic for Johnny Valiant, who died on Wednesday at age 71… A video package aired…
Jerry Lawler was introduced as the host of the event. He set up the first induction video package…
“The Dudley Boyz” Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley: Presented by Edge and Christian
Christian acted like he thought he was being inducted. Edge called him on trying to induct himself into the Hall of Fame. The crowd got a kick out of it. “You’re not going in the Hall of Fame, you’re inducting… again.” The fans chanted “you deserve it.” Christian said he was actually going to say it was a big honor to induct the best tag team in the history of the business. Christian said they were inducting the Dudleys because they were the only guys in the locker room who actually like Bubba. Funny.
Edge brought up ECW. Edge recalled how the duo incited riots in ECW and how they helped build ECW. Edge said he and Christian were trying to establish their own groundswell with Matt and Jeff Hardy. Edge said the Dudleys passed the first test of the APA by beating them from pillar to post. Ron Simmons was shown in the crowd next to JBL. “Damn!” Simmons said over a house mic. Edge and Christian spoke about their TLC matches. Edge cracked that they involved “five fearless wrestlers… and D-Von.” They also recalled when they met with Jim Ross to discuss their low payoff for the first TLC match. Edge said they were going to be professionals, but Bubba started by saying, “JR, I feel like I just got kicked in the nuts.” He said they got their bump in pay. They put on Dudley glasses and introduced Bubba Ray and D-Von.
D-Von said the Dudleys arrived. Bubba stopped him and said it’s been 25 years and D-Von still doesn’t get it. “You just say testify,” Bubba said to laughs. D-Von hilariously replied, “I don’t know if you got the memo, but I’m office now.” Bubba said he sometimes gets texts from the wrestlers saying, “D-Von is my producer. LOL.” D-Von joked about how they were thankful that he wasn’t their producer. Bubba said their match might actually get over if he was. D-Von said he was mesmerized when he first saw Hulk Hogan on television and from that moment he wanted to become a wrestler. “I even tried to look like Hogan,” he said. “I had the tan.” Bubba laughed and said that was actually funny.
D-Von spoke about going to school and learning under Johnny Rodz. He recalled telling his sons that he may not have had a father growing up, but he wanted to make sure they had someone to be proud of. His sons were shown in the crowd. “My mother raised a good young man,” D-Von said. He added that he could go on a 30-minute spiel about his mom and it still wouldn’t be as long as Mr. T talking about his mother. D-Von said he loved his mother, who stood up and blew him a kiss. D-Von spoke about his sons and said they are the reasons that he took the ass kickings he did in ECW. He said he was honored to say that his sons were wrestling and would follow in the footsteps of their father and uncle. D-Von thanked Bubba and said he is his brother in the wrestling business and in life. “Bubba, now you can talk,” D-Von said.
Bubba spoke about family and said he wished his mom and dad could be there to share the moment. He said he did the closest thing he could. “I brought them with me,” he said before pulling out laminated photos of his parents. Bubba spoke about growing up a fan and going to shows. Bubba recalled telling his father after a shot, “Don’t you worry, dad, that’s gonna be me someday.” He recalled his uncle telling him to shut up and get in the car. “How do you like me now, Unc,” Bubba said while showing off his Hall of Fame ring. His uncle stood up and laughed. Bubba said the thing they are most proud of is that they are the first original ECW act to enter the Hall of Fame. Bubba pointed out Tommy Dreamer and took his usual fat joke in by calling him “the elephant in the room.”
Bubba thanked the entire ECW locker room. “Paul Heyman, thank you,” Bubba said. He thanked Heyman for listening when they told him that they thought they had chemistry together and wanted to be put together. Bubba thanked Spike Dudley. D-Von spoke about how Spike too countless beatings and just kept coming back for more. “I cannot express the gratitude we have for Spike Dudley,” D-Von said. Bubba thanked every single wrestler they stepped in the ring with. Bubba said you can’t get over on your own. Bubba said they didn’t have bodies like the Road Warriors, they couldn’t work like Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, and they weren’t as pretty as Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson.” D-Von cut him off and said he’s a pretty black man. Bubba asked him why he waited until their last night together to be entertaining.
D-Von thanked Dreamer and recalled how he helped him whether he needed a ride or money. D-Von said there are “so many wrestlers here tonight that you did that for.” Dreamer was shown getting misty eyed and he winked at D-Von. Bubba echoed that statement and said Dreamer is his best friend. Bubba introduced Velvet Sky as the future Mrs. Dudley, and she was shown in the crowd. Bubba said you never forget the first time you meet Vince McMahon. He stopped and questioned whether he would get in trouble for mentioning his name. Bubba said he met Vince at Laguardia Airport. He joked that he was surprised that Vince flew commercial. D-Von spoke about being tested by the APA. He recalled how Simmons called him “Devin” the first time they met and has ever since. He said if APA didn’t like you, you were done.
D-Von brought up The Reverend gimmick. Bubba told him to “go home.” He recalled his “building fund” money and how the APA made it clear they were going out drinking. Bubba thanked the late Mae Young for helping get them over. Bubba told the story about how he put her down gingerly and D-Von gave her the Whassup headbutt. Bubba recalled Young storming up to him and saying, “Hey, hotshot, if you’re going to slam me, you slam me like one of the boys.” Bubba said Mae was the “toughest man I’ve ever met in my life.”
Bubba brought up the TLC matches and said it was time for a moment that hasn’t happened in 15 years. Bubba asked for Edge, Christian, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy to join them on the stage, and they obliged. Bubba said they haven’t been in the same place at the same time since probably TLC 2. He said the six of them created history together. Bubba said without those four guys, he and D-Von would not have been as over or standing on the stage today. They all posed with their arms raised. D-Von said they could have another TLC match on Sunday. The other four scurried away. The Dudly Boyz music played and they acted surprised. A “producer” came out and explained the situation to them. The fans booed. Bubba grabbed him and then led the crowd in a “Get The Tables” call. D-Von grabbed a table from backstage and they powerbombed him through the table. “Oh, my brother, testify,” D-Von said to close…
Powell’s POV: A fun speech from the Dudleys and an entertaining presentation speech by Edge and Christian. It really is cool to think of how ECW was just another independent promotion to start with and how successful the Dudleys and some of the other early originals became. For those not watching the ceremony, Bubba did not mention his run as Bully Ray in TNA or his current role in Ring of Honor. This was all about the Dudley Boyz and rightfully so.
Roman Reigns was shown in the crowd. He was booed, though not as badly as he has been in the past… Lawler set up the Hillbilly Jim video…
Hillbilly Jim: Presented by Jimmy Hart
Hart spoke about Jim’s younger years, his love of pro wrestling on television, and his success as a young athlete. Hart spoke about Jim having a successful song on the “Piledriver” album, his six appearances on Hee Haw, and how he made $67,000 in royalties from his LJN action figures. Hart said Jim told him earlier that it was actually $87,000. Hart recalled Jim blowing his knee out and being told that he would be lucky to wrestle again. He said Jim proved the doctor wrong by returning at WrestleMania 3. Hart recalled Jim calling him repeatedly and Hart blowing off the call because he thought someone was ribbing him. Hart eventually answered and Jim told him that Howard Finkel showed Vince tapes of his work from Memphis and he wanted him to come to the then WWF. Hart said if it wasn’t for that call he wouldn’t be there today. He introduced Jim as his longtime fan.
Jim said that the words of Jim Ross, who was shown in the crowd, on the Hall of Fame stage a few years ago stood out to him. He recalled Ross talking about opportunity and how that summed up his situation perfectly. Jim recalled going to a theater after track practice in college. He spoke about Dale Mann approaching him and asked him about getting into pro wrestling. He said that was his opportunity. He also spoke about Stu Hart calling him and offering him a spot in the Calgary Stampede promotion. “What a learning curve,” Jim said. He said they worked between four and six times each week and took brutal trips all over Canada. He said he made a lifelong friend in Bruce Hart while he was there. Jim said he had to leave Calgary prematurely because his mom was ill.
Jim also recalled Jerry Lawler calling him and offering him a spot in Memphis. He brought up Jerry Jarrett and pointed him out in the crowd. He spoke about a friend encouraging him to go to a WWE show to introduce themselves. He recalled meeting Pat Patterson, who was shown sitting front and center, and how he got him in the WWF. He said he never worked outside of the WWF again because he might be a hillbilly, but he knows the difference between a limo and a Volkswagen. Jim praised Hulk Hogan. Jim said the business took a kid from Kentucky and made it possible for him to have “a whole lot of everything and my family as well.”
Jim said Patterson gave him the merchandise check that Hart referenced earlier. He recalled how the company had three shows a night back in the day because they were so hot. Jim said they didn’t get much time off and he was pining to go home when Patterson told him he had paperwork for him. Patterson asked him if he had a legal issue. He said Patterson was ribbing him and he gave him the check. Jim said it was a check for over $86,000. Jim said he called his mom about the check. He said he took the money to his accountant and he still has that money today. Jim told a story about drinking liquor with Andre the Giant. He said they drank 57 bottles, and he only had eight of those bottles.
Jim spoke about WrestleMania 3 and a story about Little Beaver. He also spoke about losing a friend of his who is a broadcasting legend in Kentucky. He said the friend spoke about how he got to do what he got to do and when he wanted to do it. Jim said he had a Hall of Fame life because of the pro wrestling industry. Jim accepted on behalf of his mom, his family, the state of Kentucky, his friends in the industry, and the fans. Jim said he doesn’t have a cellphone or a computer because he lives in the now. Jim said it’s not how he would like to be remembered, it’s just that he would like to be remembered. He said the night makes him think of Johnny Valiant, Lord Alfred Hayes, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Fred Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, and others. Jim finally closed.
Powell’s POV: It obviously meant a lot to Jim and that’s great. He just went way too long for my taste. Despite everyone he mentioned, I don’t believe he ever mentioned his on-air sidekicks Uncle Elmer, Cousin Luke, or Cousin Jr.
Lawler set up a video for the WWE Legacy Hall of Fame, which added Stan Stasiak, El Santo, Jim Londos, Sputnik Monroe, Boris Malenko, Dara Singh, Hiro Matsuda, Rufus R. Jones, Cora Combs, and Lord Alfred Hayes…
Lawler set up the video package for Ivory…
Ivory: Presented by Molly Holly
Molly spoke about Ivory’s accomplishments in and out of the ring and mentioned that she spent time visiting sick kids in hospitals. She said some wrestlers only see the arenas of the cities they travel to, but not Ivory. She said Ivory’s passion for adventure led her to the GLOW casting call. She said Ivory saw it all with her companion Frankie the Cat. Molly recalled the show going on just two days after 9/11. She said the wrestlers were given a choice as to whether to wrestle. She said Ivory actually competed twice that night. She recalled that the two of them and Lilian Garcia went on a road trip four days later to travel to a show. Molly recalled bodyslamming Garcia on a hotel bed and then Ivory frogsplashing her. She praised Molly’s work ethic and other positive traits. She said Molly started a social media page to reach out to her fans to help her prepare for this night. Molly had Lilian Garcia come out and deliver the official introduction of Ivory. Lilian called Ivory a trailblazer and a true humanitarian.
Ivory walked out and looked nearly the same as she did the last time she appeared on WWE television. Ivory said Lilian can be a little devil. She recalled Lilian pretending that they were running out of gas while she was driving one night. Ivory said she always feels like a little kid when she is with Molly because she’s so wise even though she is actually 16 years younger than her. Ivory recalled griping, complaining, and gossiping on car trips, while Molly would just keep her hands on the wheel and hum.
Ivory said she’d come full circle, as she recalled coming to a convention in New Orleans to sell GLOW in 1986. She also recalled helping rescue animals during Hurricane Katrina. She said it changed her life forever and she is still working with animals today. She thanked New Orleans and said she is excited to see the female wrestlers tear the house down on Sunday. “New Orleans, you’ve come a long way, but the ladies of WWE, you’ve really come a long way, baby,” she said. Ivory recalled how women competed for spots in a male dominated industry during the territory days. She recalled meeting some of the legends at the premiere of “Lipstick and Dynamite” and called it an awesome documentary. She listed several of her female peers and how they inspired the next generation. “I am so very proud to be a sister to all of you,” she said.
Ivory said going into the Hall of Fame is a once in a lifetime occasion…unless you’re Ric Flair. She said it’s like getting married…unless you’re Ric Flair. She said she’s never been married because no one ever asked her…not even Ric Flair. She said entering the Hall of Fame is like her wedding. She said it was like she was proposed to when Mark Carrano called and invited her to join the Hall of Fame. She spoke about wearing a gown and added that her undergarments are Hall of Fame worthy too. She stuck with the wedding theme. She brought up dirty dancing. The Right To Censor siren played. She spoke about how Wendi Richter, Heidi Lee Morgan, and others taught her. She mentioned some some of her GLOW peers and also mentioned Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah.
She said the old is her, the new is her ring, she would borrow a couple of minutes from the next inductee’s time, and she held up a lavender scarf rather than something blue. She said Lilian would serenade. She said the wedding guest list would be the WWE Universe. She said her brothers wanted her to acknowledge them as her first trainers. A photo was shown on the big screen of a young Ivory wrestling with one of her older brothers. She spoke about her family. She delivered her final vows and said she takes the fans, colleagues, and the moments and memories that made up her wrestling career. “With this ring I thee wed,” she closed…
Powell’s POV: As impressive as it is that the Dudleys and others emerged from the early days of ECW, it’s even more impressive that Ivory started in GLOW and went on to have so much success over the years. It was a nice and playfully quirky speech, which is exactly what you’d expect from Ivory.
Lawler set up the video package for Kid Rock and noted that he was the latest inductee into the celebrity wing…
Kid Rock: Presented by Triple H
Triple H spoke about music taking you back to a special time. He asked who doesn’t think of Michael Hayes moonwalking in the Sportatorium in Dallas when they hear “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He said the Attitude Era had a soundtrack and mentioned that Kid Rock was part of that. He spoke about Kid Rock’s versatility and ability to play multiple instruments. Hunter spoke about how WrestleMania week creates memories that last a lifetime. He said the soundtrack to it all will be “The American Badass.” Hunter introduced Kid Rock in the same way that the song “Bawitdaba” opens.
Kid Rock recalled a friend in the music industry telling him to go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated. “This is better than any Grammy, any day of the week,” he said. Kid Rock said there are no politics. He spoke about having cliff notes that included stay away from politics and don’t mention Vince McMahon. Kid Rock thanked Vince anyway and said he changed entertainment. He told a political joke and then said he has friends on both sides and wants to find common ground and get along.
Kid Rock said his memories include playing “American Badass” for Undertaker. He joked that The Rock took his last name for his first name. He spoke about being friends with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. He said the wrestlers are only home a couple days a week and it’s similar to being on the road as a musician. He asked for a round of applause for the wrestlers for entertaining everyone around the world. Kid Rock said he would be the quickest one on the stage and then ran through a list of friends, family, and the fans. He asked if it was sacrilegious to thank Jesus. Kid Rock thanked his late bandmate Joe C and said he was a huge wrestling fan and he used to fight to watch all of his tapes on the tour bus. Kid Rock dedicated the honor to Joe C…
Powell’s POV: Love him or hate him, Kid Rock is my hero of the day for keeping it short and sweet. It was great to hear him thank Joe C, who really was a huge fan. Justin Credible was cool enough to introduce me to Joe, who spoke glowingly about his love of pro wrestling on the phone and was kind enough to give me concert tickets back in the day. RIP, Joe.
Lawler said he was particularly proud of the next inductee because along with his father he had a hand in training him. Lawler set up the Jeff Jarrett video…
Jeff Jarrett: Presented by “Road Dogg” Brian James
James said it had been a really long night and he was going to get down to the nitty gritty. He recalled being told that he was going to become Jeff Jarrett’s storyline roadie. He said there are a million stories he could tell, but there are a couple of reasons he couldn’t do that. He said the show is PG now (fans booed) and his kids were in the crowd, and it happened in the ’90s and it’s a decade he doesn’t remember. “Don’t do drugs,” he said. James said he has a handful of special relationships in his life and one of them is with Jarrett, who was then introduced.
Jarrett walked onto the stage wearing a black cowboy hat. “Howdy, folks, Double J here,” he started. James told him it’s not 1995. He told him to use the mic on the podium. “And give me that damn hat,” James said. Jarrett joked that he really is the boss. “All kidding aside, wow,” Jarrett started. He said it was 32 years to the day that he had his first match and now he was being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. A loud “you deserve it chant” broke out.
Jarrett spoke about working with Shawn Michaels and thanked him for what he did for the industry. He recalled facing Razor Ramon and Diesel. Hall was shown in the crowd. Jarrett said The Miz (shown in the crowd) was making the Intercontinental Title proud. Jarrett said he’s been blessed and cursed during his career. He said he was in the Four Horsemen, the NWO, was inducted “into a certain club in Japan.” He mentioned some of the celebrities he hit with his guitar. “And then there was that thing with David Arquette,” he said. “What the hell was that?”
Jarrett recalled Owen’s last rib in Chicago at the Allstate Arena and Steve Austin was getting bigger pops than the Road Warriors. Jarrett said Owen called him into the bathroom to go over his elaborate rib plan for their match with Edge and Christian. When they were doing a double ten punch spot and they got to nine, Jarrett and Owen pulled clown noses out of their tights and put them on. Edge and Christian walked out behind Jarrett and put a red clown nose on him. “Here’s your nose back,” Edge said. “Looks better on you, Slapnutz,” Christian added before they headed to the back.
Jarrett thanked his wife Karen and their children. He said they’ve been through a lot and they are his rock. Jeff thanked his father Jerry Jarrett. He said they’ve had their ups and downs, but he’s happy they are on an up. He thanked him for what he did for him in the business. Jeff thanked his grandmother Christine Jarrett, who took a second job selling wrestling tickets in the forties to support two kids. “Teeny, I hope I made you proud,” he said. Jarrett recalled reading a poem on television during his first appearance on Memphis television. He got choked up and said he wanted to leave it with his kids. Jarrett read the poem “Don’t Quit” to close. Jarrett thanked the crowd and said goodnight.
Before he could leave, Road Dogg returned with two black hats. Jarrett started to strut, but Road Dogg called him off and said, “We’re not gonna strut, we’re gonna sing.” The duo sang “With My Baby Tonight” as the lyrics appeared on the big screen. Road Dogg entered the crowd and teased putting the mic in front Sting. Jarrett joined him and they had Zack Ryder, Lilian Garcia, one of Jarrett’s daughters, Beth Phoenix, and what was likely Road Dogg’s daughters, and Heath Slater sing. “I’m glad you can wrestle because your kids would go hungry,” Dogg told Slater. “How long is this stinkin’ song?” Road Dogg asked. They got back on the stage and hugged and Jarrett tipped his cap before they headed backstage…
Powell’s POV: A nice speech by Jarrett. He didn’t mention TNA once and I’m sure that will disappoint some people, but it’s unclear whether he was asked not to or if he chose not to. The song at the end was fun, but it really should have been a trio with Bruce Prichard, who brought the song back on his podcast. Jarrett was emotional throughout, but he maintained his composure despite getting choked up a few times. Given the ups and downs that Jeff mentioned, it was nice to see his father was there for the ceremony.
Lawler set up the video package for Jarrius “JJ” Robertson…
Warrior Award – Jarrius “JJ” Robertson: Presented by Dana Warrior
Dana spoke about how her late husband Ultimate Warrior was on the stage four years ago. They showed a photo of Warrior and his daughters on the big screen. She looked back on sitting in the crowd that night and how thrilled he was. She said Warrior’s best days were his last few days, which he spent in New Orleans. Warrior’s daughters were shown in the crowd repeatedly as Dana got emotional about their late father. She shifted the focus to Robertson and told his story of overcoming his medical issues.
Robertson had a stool brought out so that he could speak into the mic. He mentioned meeting Roman Reigns. Fans booed. “Hey, hey, hey, calm down,” Robertson said. “He’s still my friend.” Reigns pointed at him in a cool moment. Robertson mentioned Randy Orton and Zack Ryder. He mentioned Miz as his least favorite wrestler. He cracked that he probably has a better chance of getting a WrestleMania match than John Cena, which drew huge laughs. “My bad,” he said. Robertson said two donors saved his life. He said he survived by an act of God when he was removed from the ventilators. He said that a year ago he was waiting for his second transplant, but now he stands before everyone with a new liver and is a WWE Hall of Famer…
Powell’s POV: JJ was a blast and got some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Lawler set up Mark Henry’s video package…
Mark Henry: Presented by Big Show
Big Show spoke about Henry’s family, who were shown in the crowd. He said thank god Henry’s daughter has her mother’s looks. He told a story about Henry trying to tear a quarter in half and he was upset because he could only bend it. Show also recalled a guy trying to sneak a photo backstage. Henry crushed the camera with one hand. He said the guy talked smack over his shoulder to Henry as he walked away. Show recalled telling Henry that if he ever grabbed him like he did the camera, he would hit him with his car. Show introduced Henry as the World’s Strongest Man and Sexual Chocolate.
Henry came out and embraced Show, who kissed the top of Henry’s head. Henry gave honor to God. He said it would take God to help him get through it without crying. A “Sexual Chocolate” chant broke out. He thanked the fans for saving him from crying. He thanked Big Show and said he’d been like a brother to him. He said he respects everyone who loves the business. He said he knows how difficult it is to travel and he said they miss a lot of stuff. “But today I am humbled,” he said. Henry said he was shocked that he was able to make it 20 years. A “you deserve it” chant broke out and he thanked the fans. He said he’d normally tell people to be quiet with that, but he would allow it tonight.
Henry got emotional as he recalled his grandmother taking him to a show in Beaumont, Texas and his favorite wrestler Andre the Giant was on the card. He said he was that kid who ran to the barricade. He said someone knocked him down, but Andre picked him up. “And that’s why I’m here today,” Henry said. He said he wasn’t the strongest man in the world then, he was just the happiest kid. He spoke about his mom buying him a weight set. He said he put that gift to great use and it changed the course of his life. He thanked the coaches and trainers who helped him.
Henry recalled hanging up on Vince McMahon because he thought someone was pulling a rib on him. He said Vince probably thought he was the biggest mark in the world. He said some people hate that word, but he’s a mark mentally and physically. Funny. He recalled talking with Vince about meeting Yokozuna and maybe wrestling Undertaker. He said he signed with the company and never looked back.
Henry said Tom Prichard was his first trainer. Henry said he was too caught up in sports and checking out box scores and he wasn’t focussed enough back in those days. He said the late Ernie Ladd approached him and told him to sit under the learning tree. There was some off-camera commotion. “Is that God?” Henry asked. “Ernie?” Funny. He recalled Ladd telling him not to mess it up for everyone who looks like him that comes after him. He said he couldn’t believe Ladd put the black race on his back, but he thanked him and said he thinks Ladd would be proud of what he’s done.
Henry said he’s a proud man and one of his biggest influences came from Canada. He said he was banished in Canada for threatening Shawn Michaels. Henry waved at Shawn and apologized. He said that year was great because he learned a lot from the Hart family, including babysitting the Hart kids. He thanked the Harts for the love and respect. He said he could say a lot about Owen Hart, but he didn’t have the time. He said Owen brought so much joy to his life and he misses him dearly. Henry said it’s not from the company or other wrestlers. He got emotional and said this is from his other brother. “He needs to be here,” Henry said. “And I hate that I haven’t kept up like I should have. I’d love to be able to look down and see Owen’s son Oje able to be among them. “It’s his birthright,” Henry said.
Henry shifted the focus to his alter-ego Sexual Chocolate. He said he hasn’t seen him in awhile, but he hopes he’s doing very well. The Sexual Chocolate theme song played and someone brought out a cape that he put on. Henry spoke in Sexual Chocolate mode and asked Stephanie McMahon if she remembers that time they dance. “Yeah, you do,” he said. Stephanie and Hunter were shown cracking up. “What’s going on with you? Are you married? That don’t matter to Sexual Chocolate.” Henry had his wife stand up and twirl around so “they can see how the good lord blessed you.”
Henry said that was fun, but Sexual Chocolate was not coming back. He said D-Lo Brown nearly fell out of the car laughing when he told him he was bringing Sexual Chocolate back for the night. He said D-Lo said there was no way they’d let him do it on television, “but they did.” Henry thanked Mae Young and Chyna.
Henry brought up the Nation of Domination and said that was fun. He said D-Lo was his first tag partner. He said he couldn’t tell Godfather stories because there were kids around, but he thanked him. He said when you look up “man” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Ron Simmons. He said Henry was the first recognized black WCW Champion and the second World Heavyweight Champion. He thanked Simmons for being a positive role model.
Henry mentioned The Rock. He said he knew Rock was going to be a star. He said he let Rock move in with him and said he could pay him back once he became a star. Henry said he hears Rock is doing well now. “I’m retired now and I could use that money back and possibly the interest that’s been compounding daily,” Henry joked.
Henry spoke about the top titles he won and working with great big men in Kane and Big Show. He spoke about living his wrestling dream and had over 8,000 matches. He said he would do the business a disservice if he tried to thank everyone. Henry thanked his family and said his wife has been his Dwayne Johnson, “you’ve been my rock.” He asked the crowd if they saw what he did there. Henry’s wife was shown getting emotional. He also thanked his son and daughter who were in the crowd “for being there even when I wasn’t there for you.” He said he wasn’t home as much as he would have liked to have been, but he did that so they could have more than he had. “Baby, I’m coming home,” Henry said. He said we need to accept diversity. He said he’s proud of what WWE has done to foster diversity. “This planet is a melting pot,” he said.
Henry put on his salmon jacket from back in the day. He said some people might think he has a lot more left in the tank. “And you’re right,” he said. He called out Cena and said he deserved a shot at the WWE Championship. Henry said Styles has a title he can take. Henry said Reigns doesn’t have the title yet, but he can give it up or get it took. “I’m just playin'” Henry said. He took off the jacket and said he’s a lucky man to be among the greatest of all-time and he was proudly accepting his place in the Hall of Fame. “Because that’s what I do,” he said to close…
Powell’s POV: A nice combination of Henry being gracious, nostalgic, and fun. It was touching to hear him talk about Owen Hart belong in the Hall of Fame. I wholeheartedly agree with him, but it obviously comes down to whether Owen’s widow Martha has a change of heart. Overall, this was a strong induction speech.
Paige set up a trailer for the film “Fighting With My Family” that is based on her life. The footage featured The Rock cutting a promo on an agent and the Paige character… Paige was shown in the crowd and received some applause… Lawler set up the Goldberg video package…
Bill Goldberg: Presented by Paul Heyman
Heyman spoke about how the man behind ECW was inducting the biggest homegrown talent of WCW. Heyman said he aspires to be half the father to his children that Goldberg is to his son, who was then shown in the crowd. Heyman said that on a professional level, it’s a little difficult to find opponents for Brock Lesnar. He spoke about how they needed to find someone to beat Lesnar so authentically that the fans would believe. “And that sure as hell ain’t Roman Reigns,” Heyman said. Heyman gave a big buildup to the introduction of Goldberg.
They cut backstage to security knocking on Goldberg’s locker room door. He made his wrestling style walk through the hall and then onto the stage where he and Heyman hugged. Goldberg said he would keep it short like his matches. He mentioned his Jewish faith. He spoke about his parents and his siblings. Goldberg said he wanted to be a role model. He said he had a successful career at Georgia. There were some boos in LSU territory. He said now that he was a heel, he could mention the Atlanta Falcons, which received more boos from the locals. Goldberg said injuries “and an utter lack of talent” ended his NFL career and he had to find something to fill the void.
Goldberg spoke about crafting his character and it being part Hawk, Nikita Koloff, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, and Dan Severn “and obviously so easy to copy. “Where’s Roman?” Goldberg asked. Huh? He spoke about getting some momentum in WCW and finding out while watching at home that he would be facing Hulk Hogan. “I owe you one,” Goldberg said to Hogan. Goldberg spoke about WCW’s demise and the reasons. He said one of the reasons was Kevin Nash ending his streak on Goldberg’s birthday. “Thanks, Kev, it looks like I owe you one too.”
Goldberg mentioned Buddy Lee Parker, Jody Hamilton, Arn Anderson, Dallas Page, Kevin Sullivan, and Bobby Heenan. He said Page came to him with 14 or 15 pages before Halloween Havoc. He thanked people behind the scenes. He said there were a lot of moving parts in his success. He mentioned wiping out referee Charles Robinson many times. He mentioned Lex Luger, “the crazy Steiner Brothers”, the Guerrero family, and Ron Simmons. He said Curt Hennig and Rick Rude were huge influences in the embryonic stages of his career.
Goldberg said Big Show hated to be upside down during their 30-second matches, but he loved it. Goldberg said he had unbelievable success in WCW and there were so many people who were instrumental in that. He said the first call he made about getting into the business was Jim Ross, who was shown in the crowd. Goldberg said WCW was a force in the Monday Night Wars and he was in the middle of it.
Goldberg said he was a bit spoiled and he came in when the business was hot during the Attitude Era. He said he knew there was a price to pay when he came to WWE. He recalled screaming at Triple H in front of his future wife at a toy convention in New York City and said that would come back to haunt him. He mentioned that he copied his look from Steve Austin and thanked him. He asked the fans if they wanted him to dwell on his first run in WWE. He said it sucked and he sucked and they should move on. He did mention working with Undertaker, Rock, Dean Malenko, and others who care about working with the young guys.
Goldberg thanked Austin for helping him out all along the way and to this day. He said he would smash Austin, but he loves him. Goldberg said he had a chip on his shoulder about the wrestling business after that first WWE run and he tried to repress everything. “It was a difficult time, it really was,” he said. Goldberg said he wasn’t proud of how he acted or performed during that first run.
Goldberg said his WWE return started with a call from his agent Barry Bloom, who he noted was recovering from bypass surgery. He said it started with the WWE 2K17 game. He called CT Fletcher a mentor and noted that he was awaiting a transplant. Goldberg said he trained his ass off for his return because he loved being that guy for the fans. Goldberg thanked his wife for being his wife and for changing his life. He told his son that he did this for him and he hopes he’s happy. His son nodded. He told his wife and son that they are his world and everyone knows it.
Goldberg said he swore that he’d never get his family involved in the business, but they were the story and they made him become that monster again. He thanked them for putting up with him during the training time because he was a miserable dude. He said people misunderstood when he said he was miserable. He said he wasn’t miserable with the run, he was miserable because he was working so hard and it was worth it.
Goldberg said his wife Wanda’s only goal for his comeback was for him to be at peace and to erase his wrestling demons. “It’s all good, baby,” he said, noting that it was a line he borrowed from her. He told his son Gage that he is proud every second of the day to be his father. He said he can’t wait to grow up with his son because it will be one hell of a ride. He said Gage better be a badass because he’ll have a target on his back. Goldberg thanked his in-laws and said they had no idea what they were walking into when they entered the pro wrestling world. “I love you to death,” he told them. He thanked them for allowing him to marry their daughter and show them the wonderful world of wrestling.
Goldberg thanked some of his longtime friends and introduced a man in the crowd that he said is a new Team Goldberg member. He said the man is an example of what we’re all capable of. He said wrestling brings us all together and he never really thought that it would.
Goldberg said a lot of the wrestlers touched on it, and it’s all about the fans. “You made me love wrestling too,” Goldberg said. He recalled fans asking him repeatedly while he was away if he would return. He said he would do anything for the fans, which led to some “one more match” calls.
Goldberg said he wouldn’t mention his name, but he had a McMahon story. He said Stephanie has been picked on all night and he was going to contribute. He mentioned his entrance and how he slams his head on the door. He said he did it one night during his run and forgot everything he was supposed to say. Goldberg said Stephanie told him he couldn’t headbutt the doors anymore. He said he offered to pay for the doors, but she said he couldn’t do it.
Goldberg said he thought he would beat her at her own game, so instead of headbutting the door he ended up punching it and he broke his hand. He said no one knew about that until tonight. He said he took out 3 Minute Warning and he finally got to be in the ring with Steve Austin. He said he drank 13 beers because his hand hurt so bad. He joked that the bald guy who copied him never drank a drop.
Goldberg apologized for mocking Ric Flair for wrestling when he was 44. Goldberg said he was 50 when he made his return, so he owes Flair one. Goldberg pointed to Sting, who was in the crowd, and said he looked at him as a man and not as a wrestler. He said if that man could do it, then he could do it. He said Sting had integrity and was proud, and he hoped he did him proud. He said Sting and Page basically made Goldberg and he’s forever grateful for that.
Goldberg said he originally looked at wrestling as a business, but that changed. He said his original dream was to be in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he guaranteed that it had a better payoff than the NFL Hall of Fame ever would have. “And I realized more so than ever before that this is where I belong,” he said. He said it’s been a hell of a journey and he’s 2-1 over Lesnar. He said he has the power to Jackhammer everyone in the room. He said there’s no way that someone who went to Georgia Tech could ever be as badass as a Georgia Bulldog. “I never say never,” Goldberg said. “Which leads me to my one final question – who’s next?” Goldberg thanked the fans and his music played. The show went off the air as he was playing to the fans…
Powell’s POV: Goldberg rambled and he went longer than he made it seem like he would. Some of his jokes missed early, but the crowd seemed to catch on to his style more as the speech went on. Ultimately, I came away impressed by what he had to say. It was good to hear him acknowledge that so many people played a part in his success and that he had his share of meathead moments, particularly during his first WWE run. It’s refreshing to hear him embrace the pro wrestling industry and his place in it. The jab at Roman early and then the college football jab at him late certainly made it seem like a Goldberg vs Reigns match is in the works. Join us tomorrow night for live coverage of NXT Takeover: New Orleans and ROH Supercard of Honor, and of course WrestleMania 34 on Sunday.
Check out my new podcast below with my one-hour interview with Joe Koff and a 30-minute discussion with Will Pruett regarding WrestleMania 34.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...