Preview by Josh Nason
Under a very unique set of circumstances, WWE will air a pre-recorded version of this year's Hall of Fame ceremony, featuring two years worth of induction classes getting their moment.
Filmed last week at the ThunderDome in Tampa, Florida, both the 2020 and 2021 class will be recognized as last year's ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic wreaking havoc with WWE's WrestleMania week schedule.
Airing on WWE Network and Peacock, the 2020 class inductions will start at 8 PM Eastern with the 2021 class kicking off at 9:30 PM Eastern. The entire broadcast will last three hours.
The 2020 class consists of The nWo (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & Sean "X-Pac" Waltman); Nikki & Brie Bella; JBL; Davey Boy Smith; Jushin Thunder Liger; celebrity inductee William Shatner and Warrior Award recipient Titus O'Neil.
The 2021 class consists of Eric Bischoff, Molly Holly, Kane, The Great Khali, Rob Van Dam, celebrity inductee Ozzy Osbourne and Warrior Award recipient Rich Hering.
Our live coverage kicks off at 8 PM Eastern.
Starting off the ceremony, host Jerry Lawler acknowledged the bizarre circumstances. Lawler, dressed in an unusual patterned suit, invited crying, including Texas-sized tears—enter John Bradshaw Layfield.
2020 Class - John Bradshaw Layfield
A career summary video package played before JBL’s speech. It encompassed both his wrestling and financial career.
JBL started his speech by mentioning how he fell in love with professional wrestling, invoking the Dallas Sportatorium. In his early career, JBL became obsessed with heat; he loved the thrill, even if the police had to become involved.
When asked what he would do again, JBL said he’d do it all again. From Eddie Guerrero, the APA, and the Undertaker to the tiny towns no one knows, JBL loved every second.
JBL then started what sounded like an apology for any hard feelings in the locker room before pulling a 180, calling anyone upset a “snowflake.” To end his induction speech, JBL called himself "A wrestling god."
This was a short speech with some noticeable edits but was still effective.
In between induction speeches, WWE talent shared some brief thoughts on the HoF Class.
2020 Class - “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith
DBS video package focused both on his in-ring career and family.
Accepting on Smith’s behalf were his children. A bulldog accompanied the Smith family. Harry Smith, AKA Davey Boy Smith Jr., praised both the athleticism and heart of DBS. Harry listed off many of DBS, including those against Bret Hart at Summerslam, Dynamite Kid in Japan, and plenty of tags against the Hart Foundation.
Harry said the spirit of DBS lived on, both with all the fans and with him every time he stepped in the ring.
2020 Class - Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Liger, as to be expected, gave his speech virtually. After acknowledging the honor in Japanese, he thanked the fans and WWE in English.
Liger spoke for about a minute; in fact, his video package was longer than his speech.
2020 Class - William Shatner
Shatner’s video package included his interactions with Jerry Lawler and plenty of impersonations.
Shatner also attended the ceremony virtually. Shatner mentioned his hometown’s (Montreal) influence in wrestling before thanking the WWE for the honor.
2020 Legacy Class
A short video played to honor all those joining the legacy class. The inducted: Ray Stevens, Baron Michele Leone, Gary Hart, Brickhouse Brown, and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.
2020 Class - The Bella Twins
The Bella’s video package began with the WWE Diva’s Search and ran all the way to Total Bella’s.
Both Bella’s tried to start the speech, interrupting each other. Brie and Nikki shared the microphone, just as they shared everything else in their life. They gave a brief synopsis of their WWE career, ending with their involvement with the women’s revolution. Buffered by tons of jokes, they then listed off everyone who had any influence on their career.
Brie promised the Bella Twins would be back in 18 years, after their kids grow into adults.
2020 Warrior Award - Titus O'Neil
O'Neil’s video package briefly mentioned his career accolades before showcasing his charitable work.
O'Neil acknowledged his time in poverty and troubled youth. After being sent to a rehabilitation ranch, he was told he was loved for the first time. From this point on, O'Neil became focused and turned his life around.
O'Neil shared his hopes for building a legacy for his family while helping those in need. He thanked the WWE for the platform that enabled him to put smiles on peoples faces.
O'Neil also said the Warrior Award means he has lived a life of significance.
O'Neil thanked his sons, the WWE, and his supporters for helping him grow as a father and a man. O'Neil ended his acceptance speech with the words, “I love you.”
2020 Class - The NWO
The NWO video package was fantastic. It showed off all of the group’s highs in the NWO’s signature style.
Waltman started the speech by thanking his fellow NWO members, Triple H, and Eric Bischoff. Hall also thanked his fellow NWO members, with special attention paid to Hogan. Nash mentioned the extraordinary circumstances that made the NWO so special. Nash acknowledged the WWE’s role in NWO and compared the group to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. Hogan then talked about the NWO’s explosion in popularity, even to this day.
Hogan called for all four guys to go on one more run. Hogan reminded everyone the NWO is “4 Life” before signing off with a too sweet.
This concludes the 2020 class ceremony. All of the speeches felt quite rushed, which is made extra odd considering all the ads for Wrestlemania and inconsequential interviews that ran between said speeches.
Kayla Braxton and Corey Graves replaced Jerry Lawler for the 2021 ceremony.
2021 Class - Rob Van Dam
RVD’s video package was pretty great. While acknowledging his career highlights, it also paid particular attention to his unique attire and transcendent move set.
RVD started his speech by referencing his time in Memphis and Florida. He said without the fan’s admiration for him, he would have never made it to where he is today.
RVD then shared a touching story about an autograph signing immediately following his father’s death. He accredited the fans for getting him through times, just as his work helped others feel better about their situation. He said life is all about individuality and choices.
After mentioning vibrational energy, RVD thanked his parents, the Shiek, Sabu, his promoters, and the fans who supported him in his wrestling journey. He said there is no better high than a crowd’s support before a frog splash; he knows something about highs.
RVD ended his speech with his signature gesture.
2021 Class - Molly Holly
Holly’s video package showcased her WWE career with an emphasis on her metamorphoses and innovation.
Holly started her speech by mentioning she shares an honor with Vince McMahon, being the only people to have their heads shaved at WrestleMania. She then gave a special thanks to the crew for their role in everything possible. To end her speech, she thanked the fans for not judging her despite her shortcomings.
2021 Class - The Great Khali
Khali’s video package featured his outbreaks of dominance, comedy, and general charisma. His role in developing Indian talent was also in focus.
Khali joined via video call. He shared his gratitude for the support and the induction. To end his brief speech, Khali flashed if HOF ring.
2021 Class - Ozzy Osbourne
Osbourne’s video package showcased his encounters with the WWE — from his music’s inclusion to the time he hosted RAW.
Osbourne paid thanks to the fans for “keeping him alive.” He then thanked Vince McMahon and Triple H. His speech lasted about four seconds.
2021 Legacy Class
A video played to honor all those in the legacy class. Those inducted: Ethel Johnson, Paul Boesch, Pez Whatley, Dick the Bruiser, and Buzz Sawyer.
2021 Class - Eric Bischoff
Bischoff’s video package was nearly all-inclusive—all the way from his time in advertising to the rise and fall of WCW.
Bischoff opened by mentioning AWA and the lifelong journey that filled. In Atlanta, he explored his imagination. Then his journey took him to the WWE, a destination he could have never expected.
By standing on the shoulders of giants, Bischoff got to the HOF. He praised said giants for developing the “uniquely American art form” that is professional wrestling. Bischoff signed off by thanking the fans and promising the best is still to come.
2021 Warrior Award - Rich Hering
Hering’s video package showed off his life both in WWE and out. Hering was dedicated to aiding the Ultimate Warrior’s family after Warrior’s passing.
Hering’s was full of emotion during his brief speech. After paying thanks to Warrior and the Warrior family, he humbly acknowledged his role during WWF’s transformation from a regional territory into today’s WWE.
2021 Class - Kane
Kane’s video package skipped straight to his debut as Kane; I guess Doomsday and Isaac Yankem are insignificant in hindsight. Jokes aside, the ensemble was fantastic—it phenomenally captured Kane’s essence as a character and the man’s unique charisma.
Kane opened his speech by saying this was the greatest honor of his career. He thanked his family for their unwavering support. As a WWE superstar, he missed many occasions in his family’s life, but through it, they stuck together.
Kane thanked Dutch Mantell, Jim Ross, and Jim Cornette for aiding him early in his career. He then thanked everyone else who made his career possible (the crew, the guys in the back, etc.).
Kane said those who put on tights and lace up boots are the most talented entertainers in the world.
Kane then shifted his attention to his Kayfabe family, Undertaker and Paul Bearer. He shared the story of his first match with Taker before stating the Undertaker/Kane saga was the greatest story ever told by WWE. Because Taker believed in him, Kane’s achievement was possible.
Kane then thanked all the fans. He said if someone like Glen Jacobs can achieve all he did, just imagine what you can do. He then hit slammed his arms to trigger his famous pyro to close the 2021 ceremony.
The time crunch and circumstances undoubtedly hurt the show. I don’t know why Peacock/WWE felt it necessary to run tons of ads for a show that everyone watching is undoubtedly already aware of. The vast majority of superstar bumper interviews also added virtually nothing to show. You’d think someone would decide to cut back the fluff when honoring immense achievement, but instead, Bad Bunny had more screen time than many inductees.
Flaws aside, it’s crucial to remember that this is a night to honor the titans who make this art form great. All of the inductees have improved wrestling in one way or another, and that is worth celebrating.