D-Generation X (HHH, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn) Honky Tonk Man, Torrie Wilson, Brutus Beefcake, the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), and Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) will all be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Additionally, longtime WWE employee Sue Aitchison will recieve this year's Warrior Award from Dana Warrior. Aitchison is heavily involved in community service and is credited for being the link between WWE and Make A Wish Foundation.
WWE will also add a large group as Legacy Hall of Famers that includes Bruiser Brody, Wahoo McDaniel, Luna Vachon, SD Jones, Professor Toru Tanaka, Primo Carnera, MSG Network creator Joseph Cohen, former WWE president Hisashi Shinma, Buddy Rose, and promoter Jim Barnett.
Outside Hogan inducting Beefcake and Jimmy Hart inducting HTM, WWE hasn't announced any of the other inductors.
The ceremony kicks off at 7 PM Eastern on WWE Network.
Corey Graves and Renee Young are kicking us off from Barclays and introduce a video package for our first inductee, the Honky Tonk Man. The stage is a bit different this year as it's in the ring with one side of ropes removed instead of the traditional stage we're used to. It works.
Honky Tonk Man (inducted by Jimmy Hart)
Hart (who still has that great hair) told stories of HTM rising to the top of WWE in a fairly kayfabe fashion although he did use the name Wayne Ferris. The speech was only a few minutes, but mentioned how DDP drove to WrestleMania 6 in order to be the driver of HTM's pink Cadillac for the show.
A very tan HTM, in full jumpsuit, guitar and with Peggy Sue, came out by the stage in that pink Cadillac. He said he wouldn't be here without Hart. "Every dream I have had has come true 1000 times. This is the one dream I didn't think would come true," he said. He got a "You deserve it" chant from the fans.
He told a story of how the HTM character came about. He said he needed something different to get things rolling and had an idea for the character but needed a name. He was driving up the Gulf Coast and a 60s song "Honky Tonk Man" described the character he was trying to create. A promoter liked it and said he needed a guitar. "Can you play one? No? That's even better."
He talked about how the character really came to life in Calgary which is where he learned "how to stand, where to stand". He said a recommendation came from Hulk Hogan (without naming him) to WWE after seeing him and he was hired right on the spot. "I love you, brother", he said.
During the speech, he acknowledged his son in attendance and his daughter who was in Texas finishing up her final three months of medical school. "She said I should lose some weight before I did this. Doctor's orders," he joked.
As he wrapped up, Hart urged him to sing his theme song.
- Seth Rollins was shown and namebarred to a nice pop.
- We got a DX video of the Mike Tyson angle, the Vince/Shane impersonations, Raw 1000, and more.
Torrie Wilson (inducted by Stacy Keibler)
Keibler was a surprise and got a nice pop. She put over the women's main event at WrestleMania and the women's evolution. The fans chanted "Becky! Becky!" which Lynch got a bit embarassed about. Keibler talked about her Nitro Girls tryout and how that was the first time she met a woman with a "big smile and two dimples." They have been friends for 20+ years.
Wilson started with a 4th grade story about a boy being interested in her for the first time and being nervous. She got up the nerve to talk to him after summer and he called her "fatso" and how that helped set a course for her the rest of her life. She transitioned to her first day in WWE and how she was nervous on that day as well. "Fear has one enemy: a confident persona." She said how WWE gave her a confidence she wouldn't have found anywhere else.
This was mainly an inspirational speech from someone that has done this before with advice that put over the fans. One of the best lines when talking about forgetting failure: "I didn't get hired for my wrestling skills. I had none." She told a fun story about Judgment Day 2003 when she did a posedown against Sable and "summoning her swagger" to get through the nerves.
Among others, she thanked Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan about helping her get her start; Fit Finlay ("I'm sorry" she laughed) for helping train her which got a "Thank you Finlay" chant; "Pete aka Billy Kidman, aka my ex-husband" for teaching her what heat was and how to avoid it; Keibler; Michelle McCool ("She was my road wife before Undertaker got his hands on her"); Victoria; Candice Michelle; and her family, especially her father Al who passed away this week.
A puberty joke about the fans brought down the house and elicited a "Thank you Torrie" chant. This was a really fun, emotional speech and is worth your while to see.
The Legacy Hall of Famers were up next.
Bruiser Brody, Jim Barnett, Hisashi Shinma, Luna Vachon, Buddy Rose, Primo Carnera, Toru Tanaka, SD Jones, Wahoo McDaniel, and Joe Cohen made up the class. Cohen, a driving force behind MSG Nework and WWE's relationship with USA Network, was specifically shouted out as he was in attendance.
The Hart Foundation
Bret Hart came out with Jim Neidhart's daughter, Natalya, who accepted on his behalf.
She started by acknowledging her mom, Bret, and the fans "for showing unconditional love since 1985". She said his favorite team to wrestle were the British Bulldogs and that his favorite city to compete in was New York City. She mentioned all the teams inspired by the Hart Foundation and mentioned Teddy Harty and Harry Smith among a group of WWE teams through the years. She said in their last text exchange, his proudest accomplishment, other than his three daughters, was being in WWE.
Then, it was Bret's turn. He talked about 1985 and the first Mania. After years of toiling away, he said, his character was going to be "Cowboy" Bret Hart with the full package. He joked about he told George Scott that in order to be a cowboy, you need to be a real cowboy and turning it down. He said he blurted out about how Jim and Jimmy needed something and could team them and name them the Hart Foundation. Scott didn't think he could be a babyface, but eventually relented.
As he was telling a story, a fan rushed the stage in a hat and wig and went to tackle Bret. The screen went to black quickly and came back up with a crowd shot. Eventually, we went back live to chants of "F*ck him up" and "A**hole" with about a dozen talents in the ring. As people settled down, it was time to get back to the speech.
Bret joked that he had never talked to Jim about the idea before he had brought it up. He joked that being a heel tag team in 1985 was a "sort of a little like that right now" which popped everyone big. He talked about the Killer Bees vs. the Hart Foundation in Calgary with his parents watching a 20-minute draw in the front row. He joked about how he called his mom "a old bag" while playing a heel and his dad yelling back at him.
He told a great story where he, Neidhart, and King Kong Bundy were walking to a NYC parking garage as heels, and Bret being naive about the situation. He got kisses from the girls while they got pelted with garbage and yelled at. The story kept going and was fantastic including an upside down map story.
He shouted out Jimmy Hart and said he should be up there with them. Dover, NH, native Danny Davis even got a shoutout, as did many of the familiar tag teams of the 1980s and 1990s. "We were young, dumb, and full of...life." He closed out the speech and said that he hopes to see of his friends again someday and wants to be brought to the Anvil first. And, of course, he closed with his "best there ever will be" line with a quick video of Neidhart playing on the video board.
Given the interlude and Bret's words after the fact, this was one of the most memorable speeches of all time.
Brutus Beefcake (inducted by Hulk Hogan)
Hogan does his "Let me tell you something, Mean Gene" bit to kick things off. Hogan talks about getting into wrestling and having his leg broken by Hiro Matsuda his first day and coming back later. He talked about how he got Ed Leslie to come help him out with his bar and gym and what happened after Hogan decided to get back into wrestling. He explained how Leslie would get training before shows while Hogan was on the road and how in NYC, the name Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake was born.
He's been in the business for 41 years. He thanked Hogan and "the 10 other guys Terry asked who said no". He talked about his big break and how initially WWF was thinking about a butler characer called Baron Beefcake. "I wasn't digging the name Baron. No offense, Baron Corbin" was a funny moment. Eventually, the name came to be and he said all he heard was, "How could this not make money?"
He credited Pat Patterson with "The Barber" gimmick and admitted being upset they wanted to add it to his character that was going really well at the time. He said Hogan came up with the idea of the sleeper and haircut.
He thanked his family, Kenny Casanova, Greg Valentine, Wade Boggs, DDP, and Marty Jannetty. He talked about some of his favorite matches like SummerSlam '89 with Hogan vs. Randy Savage and Zeus, taking on Hogan in 1985 in the Oakland Coliseum with a group of Hell's Angels wearing Hulkamania t-shirts, and the night Roddy Piper beat Adrian Adonis in a hair match and the electric clippers that didn't work.
He talked about ending Mr. Perfect's win streak and chasing after Lanny Poffo to cut his hair...but Poffo didn't know he was supposed to have his hair cut. He joked about how Savage was ready to fight him backstage but Patterson helped cooler heads prevail.
He closed things up by joking that Shawn Michaels let him shave his head and that he still owes him $350 for breaking his barber shop window.
The Warrior Award is up next, given to WWE's Sue Aitchison.
Dana Warrior came out and talked about the award, her late husband, and a little about Aitchison before ceding the stage to John Cena, complete with parted hair and welcomed with a loud "Face Kurt Angle" chant.
Cena was talking about Aitchison ("everything just sounds cooler with a British accent") and a "Let's go Cena/Cena sucks" which briefly seemed to irritate him before he defused it. The fans are really bringing it tonight in a terrible way. He put over Make A Wish and how he owes a lot of who he is today to Aitchison.
She talked about Make-A-Wish, Connor's Cure, and how she's coordinated over 6000 Wishes over her decades with the company. She put over all of the talent who have participated and those who have been recognized by MAW for their efforts including Cena who is at a record 619 Wishes. She told a funny joke about how Justin Bieber claimed he had done the most but that she cleared that up quickly.
She closed up with a story of a MaW child that the Rock met 15 years ago that is still alive, Jody Phillps. He calls her "Grandman" and was there in attendance, eventually asked to come onto the stage.
They showed Daniel Bryan and the crowd started booing. They flipped to Kofi Kingston and the crowd went nuts. Then, they did the 'yeah/boo' spot by flipping beween both guys in a very funny bit.
Harlem Heat is up next.
Booker T led off with some childhood stories and how when he went to prison, he and his brother would talk about wrestling. When he got out and needed a job, he said his brother told him that with any job, he needed to do it to best of his ability no matter what it was and that's stuck every since.
Stevie Ray took over and explained how they went to Ivan Putski's school and were trained by Scott Casey. He walked through their history of different organizations and when they met Eddie Gilbert in Global Wrestling, joking Booker looked "a wrestling version of John Shaft." He explained how the team came about, how the names came about (Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder) and how they became the Ebony Experience but that things almost ended before they started.
He talked about how they got to WCW and how Sherri Martel helped them out, a tag match with Sid Vicious and a friend of his, and how Ole Anderson helped keep them around. The speech kept coming back to the phrase "Looks like it was over before it started" which always got a laugh. They put over Hogan as helping them get bigger as he told management they were WCW's best tag team. Seems to be a running thread tonight, huh?
Ray made a point to put over Arn Anderson and how influential he was to them, doing so in a way to help counteract some of the stories about Anderson after he was let go from WWE. You could tell he really wanted to make that point. Overall, this was a good speech with some good stories and shoutouts.
DX is up next to close the show.
HHH, X-Pac, Billy Gunn, Shawn Michaels, and Road Dogg came out on an army vehicle like they did for the WCW invasion. After they threw out a bunch of neon light sticks and walked around the ring, Dogg said, "I dare someone to rush the ring on DX!" He then was asked to lead things off but said he was "blown sky high" and needed five minutes to recover.
HHH interrupted him and said he was an important executive and that "apparently if you put executive vice president in front of your name, you become important" in a funny moment. He went through the rules of WWE HoF speeches like "Do not say Vince McMahon" and they proceeded to say his name about 50 times, getting the fans to eventually chant it. Billy Gunn joked, "He can't fire me!" HHH then said, "He'll buy that pissant company just to fire you again!"
Michaels got serious and put over Chyna which the fans ate up with "You deserve it". Dogg put on his "cheaters" which were glasses and a giant stack of papers that was his speech ("Hillbilly Jim helped me with it) and then all the guys brought out their glasses. HHH's were googly eyed glasses which he said were Shawn's while Shawn had a pair with a big nose that were his.
Dogg got serious and thanked God for his sobreity, and his wife who went through hell with him and how he'll spend the rest of his days trying to repay her. He closed with a funny video that strangely ended wth a dog humping a woman's leg.
Gunn then got the mic with jokes from HHH ("Don't make Vince regret this") and thanked his family, getting choked up when talking about his mom and his wife. He then brought out a SuperSoaker that fizzled out of water to which HHH said, "At our age, it happens. Sometimes when you pump it, it just dribbles out the tip." Michaels said, "Just like Billy Gunn to overpromise and underdeliver. We appreciate you being here and being...all in." This is an amazing set of speeches.
Then, it was Waltman's turn and the fans chanted "1-2-3". He said he didn't think he'd be alive to see this moment. He talked about his family in attendance and being able to have a relationship with his two kids again. He said the guys made jokes about how many notes he had, but he decided to just wing it. "If you want to look up my work, just watch on the WWE Network...for $9.99. Is it still $9.99?" He talked about seeing Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes and knowing that day, that's what he wanted to do.
He thanked the Great Malenko, his sons, Scott Hall, the Clique, Bret Hart, Eric Bischoff for hiring him and firing him in time to back to win the Monday Night Wars for WWE, and Kevin Nash. Nash didn't stand up immediately and Waltman joked, "What, are your knees bothering you? I was going to make a quad joke." He thanked Gunn for not killing him for supergluing his hat to his head before a match, explaining he thought Gunn shaved his eyebrows but it turned out it was Curt Hennig.
He shouted out Chyna and suggested that the Chyna memorial battle royal had a nice ring to it.
His speech closed strangely with a talk about all the women who flashed them through the years which transitioned into showing old women with saggy boobs on the video board. Yep, that happened.
Then, it was time for Shawn Michaels who said that his family wasn't here. They jokingly moved him along with HHH saying, "They're embarassed because you wore assless chaps for years. Even Bret wouldn't do that." HHH then closed things up with shouting out Killer Kowalski, everyone he's worked against, and the Clique ("It was DX before DX was, the NWO before the NWO was"). The crowd did the Young Bucks "Too Sweet Woop Woop" chant to which he said, "Honestly, that's stupid and I hate that. Our stuff was cool, that ain't." Alright then.
He talked about Chyna and how her induction was fitting given the Mania main event. He pointed out her sister in the crowd. "She's here, the real her," he said, getting emotional. "Believe me, the real her would love this." He shouted out his three daughters, his parents, Vince, Linda ("I can say her name. What's she going to do, audit my taxes or something?"), and Stephanie ("Forever.").
He joked that his mom was the master of the penis joke and wrote all the group's controversial humor. Michaels then started talked and we got the return of the DX podium where the goal was to apologize for all the bad things they have done. This started to drag a bit, especially as we were nearing the four hour mark. All of their catchphrases closed out a long, but memorable speech.
Good night from Barclays Center...or at least a laptop in New Hampshire watching a show from Barclays.