WWE Hall of Fame: Powell’s live review of the 2020 and 2021 induction ceremony

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Hall of Fame 2020 and 2021
Taped in Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Streamed April 6, 2021 on Peacock/WWE Network

The show opened with a video package… Jerry Lawler served as the host of the ceremony and set up the JBL video package…

JBL Induction

JBL spoke of starting every game in the World League of American Football in his first season. He said he assumed the same thing would happen in season two, but he was cut and decided to become a pro wrestler. He spoke about learning from Dick Murdoch and teaming with Bob Orton Jr. in Japan. He also recalled getting white heat and being unsure if he would make it back to the locker room while working in Germany, but he was saved by Fit Finlay, whose mere presence caused a knife wielding fan to drop the knife. He also recalled the heat he got in Texas while working with Eddie Guerrero. He said he would never be on the stage if it wasn’t for Guerrero.

JBL also spoke of teaming with Ron Simmons in the APA. JBL spoke about wishing he could be in the ring and hearing Guerrero’s entrance theme or the Undertaker gong. JBL said he wanted to be serious for a moment. He said that anyone who felt he wronged them or said something about them, “Cry me a river, snowflake.” He said he doesn’t apologize to anyone and is a wrestling god.

The WWE PSA regarding the COVID vaccine aired…

Powell’s POV: Holy rush job, Batman. They have a lot of people to get through so it’s understandable that there are time limits, but it does beg the question of why they felt the need to induct two classes when they could have simply rolled over the class of 2020. For a moment there, I actually thought JBL might apologize to some of his detractors. I guess I should have known better. By the way, I’ll echo the vaccine PSA. I had my first short today. Let’s end this damn pandemic.

Kevin Patrick interviewed Rhea Ripley and Peyton Royce. Royce said she was happy the class of 2020 was being inducted after the long wait. Ripley spoke about being a fan of the Bella Twins and getting a chance to meet them…

Sarah Schreiber interviewed Randy Orton and asked him what the Hall of Fame means to him. Orton said it means a lot to him and he recalled inducting his father. He said the Hall of Fame seems to get bigger and bigger every year. He said he has relationships with each of the inductees and he was excited to hear what they had to say…

Patrick interviewed Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. Kingston recalled the Bella Twins not knowing anything about pro wrestling when they started and now they are going into the Hall of Fame. He praised them for working hard… Lawler set up the Davey Boy Smith video package…

Davey Boy Smith Induction

Diana Hart-Smith, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Georgia Smith accepted on behalf of their late husband/father. Davey Jr. brought a bulldog named “Buffy” out with them and said the dog was the granddaughter of the late Matilda. Davey Jr. said his father could do it all. He said he was a powerhouse and could also be very athletic. He said his father had a huge physique, but his heart and personality were even bigger. He said his father had a great sense of humor and had him laughing so hard that he fell over numerous times. Davey Jr. recalled his father’s greatest match in which he beat Bret Hart to win the Intercontinental Championship at Wembley Stadium in 1992. Davey Jr. said it was his favorite memory of his father and he can watch it over and over again and never get tired of it.

Davey Jr. also spoke about his father having a match with Owen Hart that they were very proud of. He said the British Bulldog and Hart Foundation feud revolutionized tag team wrestling as we know it today. He said it inspired his own career path and in-ring style. He said that he knows his father is there with him in spirit alongside the Dynamite Kid. He said he knows the same spirt was there with them during the ceremony. He said his father was a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He said he would never be forgotten by his friends, family, or the WWE Universe. Davey Jr. said he was proud to welcome his father to the Hall of Fame…

Powell’s POV: Hey, that reminds me, whatever happened to Georgia Smith in MLW? Anyway, Davey Jr. delivered a nice speech regarding his late father. I have no idea whether the story about the bulldog being related to Matilda is true. Let’s just say that I’m skeptical, but it was a nice touch either way.

Patrick spoke with Nikki Cross regarding Davey Boy Smith wrestling Bret Hart at Wembley Stadium… Braun Strowman was interviewed briefly by Schreiber and spoke about the HOF lineup… Patrick spoke with Drew McIntyre, who said it felt impossible to make it to WWE. He said seeing the British flag flown on WWE television gave him hope. McIntyre said he hopes that he can be an inspiration to other fans in Europe who hope to make it to WWE… Lawler set up a Jushin Liger video package…

Jushin Liger Induction

Liger was not in attendance, but his speech was shown on the big screen. He spoke in Japanese while English subtitles were shown. He said this was the first time he’d been nervous to speak. He said he was honored. He also said happy that he became a pro wrestler, and thanked all of his fans in WWE.

Powell’s POV: Short and sweet. Okay, so all of the acceptance speeches fit that description this year, but Liger’s speech was particularly brief. Nevertheless, he seemed legitimately honored and came off well.

After some ads, Lawler set up a video package on William Shatner while noting that Shatner inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame…

William Shatner Induction – Celebrity Wing

Shatner delivered his speech from home. He spoke of being a fan of WWE. He said he accepts the induction with the delight of someone who is following his greatest heroes.

Powell’s POV: Shatner already broke Liger’s record for the briefest acceptance speech.

Patrick interviewed The Miz and John Morrison, who spoke about Lawler and Shatner… Mustafa Ali was interviewed by Schreiber, who said he is most excited about the NWO induction. He said he had his own faction that didn’t reach the heights of the NWO, but that’s okay. He recalled everyone wearing NWO and Austin 3:16 t-shirts… Bobby Lashley and MVP were interviewed by Patrick, who brought up the NWO. MVP wanted to talk about MVP and THB instead. Lashley called JBL one of the pioneers of the business…

Lawler set up a video package on this year’s legacy Hall of Fame inductees: Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, Brickhouse Brown, Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, Baron Michele Leone, Gary Hart… Lawler set up the Bella Twins’ video package…

Powell’s POV: It’s great to see the legacy wrestlers honored. Stevens was terrific in his day, and I was a big fan of Williams and Hart. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Gary Hart autobiography is hard to find must read.

Brie Bella and Nikki Bella Induction

Lawler introduced the twins as his “favorite all-time Divas.” Brie spoke about how twins fight over various things. Nikki credited Kristin Prouty with seeing something in them after they didn’t win the 2006 Diva Search. They spoke about bringing in women and little girls to WWE through their reality television shows. Nikki said they know now more than ever that representation matters. Brie asked why Nikki always beat her. Brie said it’s because she’s the longest running Divas Champion.

The Bellas said they were proud to open doors for women in WWE and to take part in WWE Evolution and the first every women’s Royal Rumble. They thanked Natalya, Alicia Fox, Team Badd, Naomi, Sasha Banks, Tamina, Charlotte, and others. They also thanked the men who believed in them. They also thanked various WWE trainers and joked about John Laurinaitis becoming their father. Niki thanked “John” for teaching her about the business and opening up her Fearless side. Brie thanked the Bella Army, as well as “sweet face” Daniel Bryan. Nikki thanked her husband Artem. They also spoke about having children just 22 hours apart…

Powell’s POV: It is cool to think about just how much the Bella Twins accomplished. Say what you will about reality television, but what they said about bringing in women and younger female fans is absolutely true. I’ll never forget seeing a younger girl who was decked out in Nikki attire at a house show event. It was really fun to see her going absolutely bonkers during Nikki’s match the same way that I did for my favorite wrestlers when I was her age.

Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, and Reginald were interviewed by Patrick. Jax said the Bella Twins were extremely supportive when she joined the company and said they lead by example. Shayna recalled making her WWE debut when she showed Nikki some holds on one of their reality shows…

Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke spoke with Schreiber about the Bella Twins. Rose did all the talking and praised the Bella Twins… Naomi and Lana spoke with Patrick about the Bella Twins. Naomi spoke of being in the locker room and on a reality show with them. She said they have been an inspiration to her and so many others on the roster…

Sheamus spoke with Schreiber about Titus O’Neil getting the Warrior Award. Sheamus praised him for going above and beyond to help people, especially in the Tampa area… Lawler set up a video package on Titus O’Neil…

Titus O’Neil – Warrior Award Winner

Titus said he was the product of a single mother who was the victim of a sexual assault. He spoke about getting a chance to turn his life around at a boy’s club. He said the words “I love you” and “I believe in you” changed his life. He said he realized that he needed to believe in himself to succeed. He said he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school, and to graduate from college. He said kids are often labeled bad and people ask what’s wrong with them, but they rarely ask what happened to them. Titus spoke about how WWE expanded his platform to help put smiles on faces.

Titus said he wanted to build a life that was successful and, more importantly, significant. He said the Warrior Award shows that he’s lived a life of significance. He spoke of some of his charity work. He said we should be respectful to everyone we come in contact with whether we agree or even like them. He said that’s what real warriors of change do. Titus thanked his sons, co-workers, and others for helping him grow. “To all of you, I love you and I believe in you,” O’Neil closed. Production piped in “you deserve it” chants…

Powell’s POV: Say what you will about Warrior and even the piped in “you deserve it” chants, but from everything I’ve ever heard, Titus is truly deserving of this recognition.

After some advertising, Lawler set up a video package on The NWO…

The NWO Induction

Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman took the stage. Waltman thanked his wife and his family. He also congratulated Eric Bischoff. He said that being a part of the NWO was so important to him. He also spoke about being a member of DX and said that had Triple H introduced him as 1-2-3 Kid it would not have packed the same punch that introducing NWO Syxx had. He also thanked Hogan.

Hall started with a “hey, yo.” He said he thought he reached his career highlight when he was inducted as Razor Ramon, but words can’t express what it meant to be inducted with some of his dearest friends, including the guy who made him want to be a pro wrestler.

Nash spoke about how Ramon and Big Daddy Cool made the jump to WCW. He said it wouldn’t have had the same impact if Diamond Stud and Vinnie Vegas had done the same. He also spoke about how their contracts expired just six days apart. Nash said Hall and Waltman had his back for 30 years, and Hogan now for 25 years. He said that when he does personal appearances, 80 percent of the people have NWO shirts on, and there are five year-old kids who flash the Wolfpac hand sign. He said the NWO thing really is for life, and the WWE is also for life. He said they may not have been the Beatles, but the NWO was at least Led Zeppelin.

Hogan had an NWO spray painted title belt over his shoulder. He said that Hulkamania ended and he didn’t know what he was going to do when he finished filming “one of the all-time classics Santa With Muscles.” He saw Hall appear on WCW television. He said Bischoff was in his ear about the NWO, but he didn’t really know. He said he saw Nash show up and it was like WWE was invading WCW. Hogan said he called Bischoff and told him he was really thinking about it. Bischoff told him that he was considering Sting if Hogan didn’t want to do it. Hogan said that the nastier the NWO got when they came to WWE, the more the WWE fans cheered for them. Hogan said he sells NWO merch at his beach shop.

Hogan claimed he never got beat for that NWO title belt. “I think we need to make another run,” Hogan said. He said they should be waiting in the wings after the second night of WrestleMania so they could teach everyone a lesson. Hogan said the NWO is as hot today as it was back then. He said everyone knows it’s for life because Nash, Hall, and Waltman are “just too sweet.” They group made the Wolfpac hand gesture and the NWO theme played to end the induction…

Powell’s POV: It was fun to see the band back together again. It’s a shame that they couldn’t play to a live crowd, as I suspect they would have been ridiculously over even all these years later. It was originally billed as Hogan, Hall, and Nash. I’m happy they included Waltman, who was a huge part of the group. For that matter, so was Eric Bischoff, but he’s going in separately, so I understand why he wasn’t on the stage.

The show reset for the 2021 induction ceremony. Corey Graves and Kayla Braxton were the hosts for this portion. They set up a Rob Van Dam video package…

Rob Van Dam Induction

The production team piped in RVD chants. RVD said it was a circle of life moment for him. He said he moved on from the USWA thirty years earlier and went to Tampa, which was a hotbed for pro wrestling, in a car held together by coat hangers and with a stolen registration card. He said he wanted to become a pro wrestling because of the fans and because he was a fan. He spoke of taking part in an autograph session the day after his father passed away.

RVD said it was an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with a prestigious group of legends who influenced him. He said he hopes that when people think of RVD, the think of individuality. He said he feels like life is about choices. He said he had so many people try to change him because he was different. He didn’t let them and stuck to his guns. He said there were people who didn’t understand him, but he just kept going.

RVD thanked his parents for letting him follow his dreams. He said it must have been crazy to them that he turned down a scholarship for Michigan State to pursue a pro wrestling career. He thanked The Sheik for helping him break in and teaching the lesson of when to listen to someone and when to let it go in one year and out the other. He said The Sheik made it very easy by telling him not to listen to anyone else because they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

Van Dam thanked the promoters who booked him early in his career. He mentioned Greg Valentin, Manny Fernandez, and Bobby Fulton, as well as Sabu for training him in the ring. RVD said Sheik and Sabu both trained him. He said Sabu always encouraged him and told him that they were better than the other independent wrestlers of their time. RVD said that every victory and title he won was with the support of the fans. He said he doesn’t know of a better high than going to the top rope and looking to the crowd for their support before performing the Five Star Frogsplash. “It seems like I would know,” he joked.

RVD said being inducted was a victory “for all of us.” RVD said he would name all of the fans and thank them individually if he could. He thanked the WWE Universe. He said it was because of their feedback that he calls himself “The Whole Damn Show RVD”…

Powell’s POV: A nice speech. I wasn’t sure how the laid back RVD would approach this, but it seemed like it meant a lot to him. I am surprised that he didn’t focus on ECW or Paul Heyman even with the limited time that he was given to work with.

Sasha Banks was interviewed backstage by Alyse Ashton. Banks recalled meeting Molly Holly at an autograph session. She said Holly asked if she was a model, and then she spoke to her about her desire become a pro wrestler…

Big E was interviewed by Greg Hamilton. Big E said he was most excited about seeing Holly inducted. He mentioned her time in WCW and WWE and said she deserves it. Hamilton wished him luck in his Intercontinental Title defense at WrestleMania. Big E thanked him, shook his hand, and wouldn’t let it go…

Ashton interviewed Carmella, who also sang the praises of Molly Holly. She said you can’t talk about the women’s evolution without talking about Holly… Graves and Braxton set up a Molly Holly video package…

Molly Holly Induction

Molly said there were only two people in history who have had their heads shaved at WrestleMania. She said one was the most influential person in the history of the industry “and the other was Vince McMahon. Funny. She spoke about how the crew was her family. She said she even stayed late after shows and wrapped cable just to be part of their world. She ran through a long list of names. She thanked the fans for overlooking her shortcomings and forgiving her moments of selfishness. She said they believed in her and she is eternally grateful.

Powell’s POV: A nice, yet brief speech even by tonight’s standards. I was definitely left wanting to hear more from her.

“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were interviewed by Hamilton. They spoke about being excited to see RVD inducted… Ashton interviewed Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio. Rey praised RVD, while Dom spoke about having RVD and Kane action figures. He said he hated Kane’s entrance pyro because he never knew when it was coming. Rey spoke about how pyro always freaked out Dom… Graves and Braxton set up the Great Khali video package…

The Great Khali Induction

Khali checked in from Punjab, India. He said Ranjin Singh (Dave Kapoor) gave him the news and he can’t even say how happy he is. He said he couldn’t be there with everyone, but all of his fans are in his heart. Khali thanked the fans for supporting him and told them to take care of themselves. He held up his HOF ring, which was on his pinky…

Powell’s POV: It seemed like Khali’s speech was edited. It was another brief speech either way.

Ranjin Singh was interviewed by Hamilton. He said Khali is a great inspiration to fans in India and everywhere… Bianca Belair was interviewed by Ashton. Belair spoke briefly about Holly being an influence on her career… Braxton and Graves set up the Ozzy Osbourne video package…

Ozzy Osbourne Induction – Celebrity Wing

Ozzy checked in from poolside at his home. He said thanks for the award that he said he doesn’t deserve. He said it’s all about the fans. He thanked Vince McMahon and Triple H…

Powell’s POV: Hey, the Prince of Darkness was able to break the rule that inductees are not supposed to mention Vince McMahon during his speech.

The 2021 Legacy Inductees were listed as Dick The Bruiser, Pez Whatley, Buzz Sawyer, Ethel Johnson, Paul Boesch,

Powell’s POV: I assume that Bruce Prichard is grinning from ear to ear over the induction of his mentor Boesch.

Braxton and Graves set up the Eric Bischoff video package…

Eric Bischoff Induction

Bischoff said it was amazing. He said he wouldn’t waste a lot of time because he was told that he only had three minutes. “Did I just say three minute?” Bischoff asked. Nice. He said that was an amazing time. He said little did he know 34 years ago when he drove to Verne Gagne’s office that he was embarking on a lifelong road trip. He said he learned the fundamentals that he had only experienced as a fan. He said it was eventually time to say goodbye.

Bischoff said he went to Atlanta for an opportunity that changed his life forever. He said that opportunity gave him the freedom to explore the “what if’s?” in his imagination. He said it came to an end and then he got a phone call that he thought was impossible. He said it provided him with an opportunity and experience. Bischoff translated a phrase regarding standing on the shoulders of giants. He said he’s had the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants of those who came before him.

Bischoff said he wanted to thank the giants who gave him the opportunity. He said they have taken the industry we love from a sideshow and turned it into one of the most powerful forms of entertainment in the world. He said it’s a uniquely American art form. Bischoff thanked “those giants” for being part of his road trip and his journey. He said it’s been a hell of a ride and added that the best is yet to come…

Powell’s POV: A nice speech that simply didn’t get the time it needed and deserved. I understand the circumstances and all of tonight’s inductees are in the same boat, but it was especially disappointing in this case.

Seth Rollins was interviewed by Ashton. He said Rollins took it to Vince McMahon and changed the game forever…

Kevin Owens was interviewed by Hamilton and said he was never a fan of WCW, so he was never a fan of Bischoff. However, he said he flipped out when Bischoff showed up on WWE television. He said Bischoff has an incredible legacy and he deserves the distinction. Owens said that as much as he disliked him back in the day, Bischoff is now one of his favorite people to talk with and be around now that he’s had a chance to work with him…

Baron Corbin was interviewed by Ashton. He spoke about how Bischoff elevated everyone he was in the business with. He said he’s learned from Bischoff when it comes to irritating people…

A video package on Rich Hering was shown, which included footage of Triple H and Vince McMahon sharing the news with him, and Hering officiating over the television wedding of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. It was also acknowledged that he helped the Warrior family following the death of Ultimate Warrior. An emotional Dana Warrior was shown thanking Hering, and they also included footage of her daughters thanking him…

Rich Hering – Warrior Award Winner

Hering said he wished Dana and the Warrior girls could be there in person. He said he would always be grateful for the honor, in part because of who and what it represents. He thanked those he worked with for 51 years for taking the company from a regional company to a global company. Hering thanked everyone “for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with my gratitude”…

After a WrestleMania ad, Edge was interviewed by Hamilton. Edge said he remembered the butterflies when he was inducted and just wanting everything to go right. He praised Molly Holly for the person that she is. He said the man behind the Kane character is one of his best friends. Edge said that if anyone deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s Glenn Jacobs…

Bayley was interviewed by Ashton. She said Kane is her brother’s favorite wrestler. She said Team Hell No was something that stuck out for her… Braxton and Graves set up the Kane induction video package…

“Kane” Glenn Jacobs Induction

Kane’s mask and hair were in a case on the podium. He wondered how a farm boy from Missouri got to where he was now. He spoke about his parents and how much his mother loved the Isaac Yankem character. He also credited his mother with having the best sign he’s ever seen at a live event – “I Raised Kane.” Funny. He spoke of his family and noted that he and his wife have been together for nearly 26 years. He said he’s had great tag team partners in the ring, but none hold a candle to the one he has outside the ring.

Jacobs said there were far too many people to thank and he wouldn’t even try to thank them all. He said he’s sat through far too many Hall of Fame ceremonies and nows that brevity is a virtue. Jacobs thanked Dutch Mantell, Jim Cornette, and Jim Ross. He joked that he was sorry for paying Ross back by setting him on fire. He thanked the crew behind the scenes “who make WWE go night in and night out.” Jacobs joked that the gang at Gorilla was screaming at him to go home and would tell him that he set the business back twenty years. He thanked his peers and said they are the most talented and versatile performers in the world. Jacobs said it sounds cheesy, but they do put smiles on faces.

Jacobs thanked Kane’s father Paul Bearer and his brother The Undertaker. Jacobs said his first match with Taker was actually in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He said the mayor’s office that he sits in today actually overlooks the venue where they wrestled. He also told stories about traveling with Taker and Bearer, and thanked Mark Calaway for believing in him.

Jacobs thanked the WWE fans for being in his life for 25 years. He said it was a constant blur of card rides and hotels. He said he now has time to reflect and understands just how exceptional the journey has been. He said none of it would be possible without the fans. He said fans thank him for the memories, but he thanks them for helping make Kane one of the most memorable characters ever.

Jacobs said that if someone like him can stumble through life and fail until he finally found something he was good at and ending up in the WWE Hall of Fame, then just imagine what you can do. Jacobs said he would leave the fans with that, “and Kane would like to leave you with this.” Jacobs pumped his arms and pyro shot off. He held his fist up to show off his WWE Hall of Fame ring. Jacobs waved to the virtual fans to close out the broadcast…

Powell’s POV: A nice evening closing speech. Jacobs got more time as the headliner and perhaps he wouldn’t have said a lot more given what he said about brevity, but I definitely wish that we could have heard more stories from him. Overall, the two ceremonies were fine given the circumstances. It’s hard to imagine these brief speeches being remembered as classics, but it was still nice to see the inductees honored nonetheless. Congratulations to the members of both classes.


Readers Comments (4)

  1. JBL. Douchebag to the end.

    • JBL was in ‘chracter” whyshould he apologize to the “fans’ who don’t know him in REAL life. These fans live and die with dave meltzer’s wrestling observer dirt sheet which is so biased against wwe for every reason under the sun.

    • IWC smart marks, getting worked to the end.

  2. “Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman took the stage dressed.”

    What happens if they weren’t dressed?

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