Powell’s Blog: The WWE Hall of Fame 2024 rundown – Paul Heyman, Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda, Bull Nakano, Lia Maivia, Thunderbolt Patterson, Muhammad Ali

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

-I said I was going to kick back and just watch the WWE Hall of Fame this year rather than burn myself out with a live review of ROH Supercard of Honor (Sam Robinson has you covered and I’ll watch the rest of that show over the weekend). No regrets, but there’s just no way I can just sit still and not type throughout the lengthy ceremony. And why share my thoughts and/or make wise ass comments on a platform owned by Elon Musk when I can share them here with you folks?

-My belief is that the WWE Hall of Fame means whatever it means to each individual inductee. It’s a payday for some inductees. It’s the highest honor for others. Sure, the WWE Hall of Fame has its flaws, but I’m all for paying tribute those who deserve and appreciate the honor. That being said, it’s a long night and I’m sure I’ll take a few jabs along the way. It’s all in good fun. Congratulations to this year’s class of inductees.

-Stephanie McMahon sat next to Paul Levesque and wore her “ECW” hat for the occasion. Nice.

-Holy shit, they are starting with Paul Heyman rather than saving the main event for last. So, um, maybe this blog will end up being my thoughts on part of the Hall of Fame ceremony. No, not really.

Paul Heyman (inducted by Roman Reigns)

-I’ll pay an extra dollar per month for a special uncensored tier of WWE programming on Peacock. Seriously, f— you with all of this censoring. Dammit, they’ve taken control of the website!

-The ECW theme was used for Heyman’s entrance. I love it. Heyman hugged Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, and Bubba Ray Dudley (Bully Ray any other night) on his way to the ring/Hall of Fame stage.

-The crowd chanted “you deserve it” before Heyman said a word. “You damn f—ing right I deserve it,” Heyman said. Now that’s how you start a speech!

-Heyman’s children Jacob and Azalea made rare public appearances and were seated next to CM Punk. The kids got their mother Marla’s good looks.

-Heyman acknowledged that he was the first inductee and the first headliner of the first class selected entirely by Paul Levesque. Heyman gushed over Levesque’s leadership and declared himself a Paul Levesque Guy. What has to be the first ever “Paul Levesque” chant broke out.

-Heyman also dished out high praise for Stephanie McMahon. “If my daughter grows up to be half the woman that Stephanie is, I assure you that I will have raised a great lady in my household,” he said. Heyman added that Stephanie finally needed to admit that she married the wrong Paul. Hilarious. The BDP!

-Heyman looked directly at his children with a message of what he wanted them to do with their lives. “It’s not about the money, it’s about being worthy of people’s respect. It’s about being worthy of their admiration. It’s about pursuing your dreams and failing and going after them again and again and again. It’s about failing 100 times and succeeding on the 101st.” Heyman told them to follow their dreams and their happiness and they would also find themselves standing at a similar podium someday.

-Heyman spoke of how much he wished his mother and father were alive to see his induction. Heyman sought out Cody and told him that he wished his father was able to see it too.

-Heyman putting on his ECW era garb brought back some truly great memories. The section of Heyman’s speech regarding ECW was brief yet really good. Heyman stating that if you think the spirit of ECW died in bankruptcy court then you can “suck my f—ing dick” was awesome.

-Yes, Brock Lesnar was mentioned by Heyman. How could he not be?

-Heyman closed it out by making it clear that he’s just getting started. For the good of the industry, here’s hoping he’s right. Great speech. He covered a lot of ground and yet there were plenty of things that didn’t make the cut. I’ve learned so much from listening to Heyman and watching his work over the years. Regardless of what was left out, his speech was wonderful and I’m truly happy for him.

Bull Nakano (inducted by Alundra Blayze/Madusa)

-Madusa was the poor soul who had to follow Heyman.

-Nakano had her hair down, but she wore that classic face paint. Let’s see if she follows Heyman’s lead by dropping an F-Bomb right out of the gate. Nope. Damn. I was hoping that would become the latest trend inspired by Heyman.

-Nakano delivered a nice speech that did not overstay its welcome. Her English was solid and the fans were respectful. She said that if being reborn is something that happens, she wants to be a pro wrestler again and compete in a WWE ring.

Muhammad Ali (accepted by Lonnie Ali, inducted by Undertaker)

-The Undertaker made a surprise appearance to “help induct” the legendary boxer and pop culture icon. Taker gave a brief speech before introducing Ali’s wife Lonnie.

-Lonnie said her husband lived up to his monicker of The Greatest by leading by example. She said she met him when he was six years-old and he went on to become the love of her life. She acknowledged that Ali was inspired by Gorgeous George. She said it could be argued that Ali was the original “global sports entertainer.”

-They actually censored Lonnie when she said the dreaded letters WWF. They can’t even acknowledge that the company once went by those letters? Wow.

-Lonnie said her husband is worthy of every honor he’s ever received and she knows he would be thankful for entering the WWE Hall of Fame.

-Lonnie recalled a young wrestler asking to use “The People’s Champion” monicker. Lonnie said she was proud to present The Rock with the People’s Championship.

-The Rock walked out and greeted his family members at ringside, then joined Lonnie inside the ring where she presented him with a title belt. The fans booed Rock, who played into it for a moment. He thanked her for the beautiful belt and said her husband was one of his heroes. Rock said his father Rocky Johnson sparred with Ali.

-Rock said Ali came to a show in Louisville when Rock was in Nation of Domination. Rock said he wanted Ali to know that he used The People’s Champion name out of respect. The family told him that Ali wanted him to use the name. Rock closed by saying that of all the nicknames he has, that’s the one closest to his heart.

“The U.S. Express” Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda (inducted by Taylor Rotunda and Mika Rotunda)

-Taylor is better known to pro wrestling fans as Bo Dallas. Taylor and Mike acknowledged their late brother Windham, who wrestled as Bray Wyatt. Taylor said Bray might not be on the stage, but they knew he was present.

-Taylor was also censored when he used the words WWF. Damn, that wildlife group must have some scary lawyers.

-Rotunda thanked his children and the fans. He spoke about coming full circle, as he took part in a punt, pass, and kick competition at Franklin Field as an eight year-old.

-Barry chimed in briefly and recalled his sister and Rotunda “having a moment” and then getting married six months later. “She hasn’t kicked me out yet,” Rotunda joked.

-Rotunda said they should have received hazard pay for working with Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Barry laughed and said they were supposed to work the same match every night and it never worked out that way.

-Mike said he wished his son Windham could have been there. Mike asked the fans to join them and then he held up his cellphone with the light on. The fireflies came out in full force as Bray’s theme song played.

-It was great to see Barry looking healthy and to hear him chime in. He had some serious health issues and didn’t say much when I saw his past public appearances. Barry is one of my favorites in the eighties. The U.S. Express was a good team, but I strongly encourage you to check out his singles work from his prime years if you’re unfamiliar.

Thunderbolt Patterson (accompanied by Scott Spears, inducted by Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods)

-The New Day trio delivered a nice speech about how they would not have achieved success had it not been for “the hard work” of Patterson.

-Patterson used a wheelchair. He had the person pushing the wheelchair stop so that he could have a moment with Gerald Brisco, who was seated with the other WWE personnel.

-Cody stated in a video package that his father stole a lot of Patterson. Road Dogg and New Day also acknowledged Patterson’s influence on their careers.

-Spears referred to Patterson as the Jackie Robinson of pro wrestling and credited him with breaking down barriers and paving the way.

-Spears told a story of Patterson working in the sixties and being told not to go to Abilene, Texas after the sheriff’s wife was killed. Patterson went and the sheriff had a composite sketch drawn to make Patterson out to be a suspect. It was later discovered that the sheriff had killed his own wife.

-Patterson started by saying he must pray. The crowd applauded when they thought he had wrapped up a quick prayer. After seeing him accept a Hall of Fame honor in Waterloo, Iowa in person, I knew that he was just getting started. It wasn’t Hillbilly Jim long, but it was a lengthy speech that eventually closed with a nice message about coming together as people. Patterson said we have to stop playing the race card. He told the fans to be good to each other.

Lia Maivia (accepted by The Rock)

-The Rock spoke about his grandmother and eventually turned his focus to Cody Rhodes. Rock said he respects the late Dusty Rhodes. Rock mentioned Mama Rhodes. He said that what he and Cody will do in less than 24 hours isn’t just business, it’s personal.

-I don’t know if Rock opted to keep it brief or if he had a time limit because the ceremony concluded just before 12CT/1ET.

-This had to be the least energetic I’ve seen a crowd when Rock had a mic in his hand. I don’t blame him. The crowd was clearly drained after sitting through Smackdown and then three more hours of the Hall of Fame.

-I continue to wonder if they will move the Hall of Fame to SummerSlam weekend when things are less hectic. The current format makes for a very long night for the wrestlers either a day or two days before the biggest matches most will work all year.

-I’m sure Heyman could have made the exhausted crowd come to life had he gone on last. But I think they got it right by having him open the night when the fans were still lively. Heyman was definitely the highlight of the night.

-No Warrior Award? Good. That said, I hope they come up with a newly named award that truly honors people within the company who deserve the recognition.


Readers Comments (8)

  1. Original Jabroni April 6, 2024 @ 12:37 am

    Pretty rough choice to have Drew’s vignette of him in a funeral home directly coming out of the fireflies honoring Bray Wyatt. Oops.

  2. Original Jabroni April 6, 2024 @ 1:06 am

    Sorry, but a couple other observations:
    Powell is right, this was lifeless after Heyman. The class was pretty lousy, but the crowd was dunzo once Heyman finished.
    Great to see Steph acknowledged by Paul, IMO. Dropping Brock Lesnar’s name should have gotten a bigger reaction but I kind of think, with all the Vince nonse,the crowd didn’t know what to think.
    Lastly, Rock uttering the name “Vince McMahon” brought a sort of shocked silence followed by some boos (zero cheers), and it appeared to me that Rock immediately regretted letting that name slip out. Question for JP- Wasn’t Rock referring to Vincent J rather than VKM? Anyway, this was a looooong night.
    Almost as long as my comment.

  3. I like your SummerSlam idea.

    I saw a local news article that said Patterson wanted Spears to induct him. Looks like he did it, anyway!

    I presume the Rock shoehorned his Grandma into this class? He inducts her, accepts her award, then goes into a wrestling angle? That was bad.
    I thought this was suppised to be a heartfelt ceremony. The carney stuff brings it down.

    • Original Jabroni April 6, 2024 @ 3:50 am

      I love the Rock, but you’re right. For me, everything that wasn’t Paul Heyman was brutal, and that included the Rock.

  4. TheGreatestOne April 6, 2024 @ 7:58 am

    This felt like The Slammy’s (odd mix of real and storyline0 meet AEW Rampage (book the one thing people might want to see first).

    One thing WWE has got to change with the HOF is the weird quota/template approach. There are a lot of deserving inductees that aren’t in yet because every year they’ve got to have a certain number from each category instead of putting in the best.

  5. The crowd was respectful for Bull Nakano? What show did you watch? The crowd was disgusting.

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