WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: Shawn Michaels, The Road Warriors Highlight Class

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: The Night In Review

The 2011 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony came and went and will be relived on Monday night, when the three-plus hour event is edited down to one hour, including "WWE Superstars" video game commercials. In case you don't even have an hour, I have edited the night down even further for you. 

The Hall of Fame ceremony is an event that is made for the true wrestling fan that has followed the profession for many years. Many people would listen to the speeches and be bored, but to those who have a passion for "Sports Entertainment," the stories the inductees tell can be very interesting. In the end, this event is basically a night for fans to get together and chant and cheer as they listen to storytellers.

On a side note, Ticketmaster sent me an email yesterday, reminding me that the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony was a formal event and "business casual" was the dress code. Does the WWE really think that its fanbase is going to show up in "business casual" attire and not in a homemade sleeveless "Stone Cold" Steve Austin hoodie? Wrong. This eventAll wrestling events make for great people watching opportunities. After being reminded of the fanbase, I think I might tone down my communication to others about my interest in professional wrestling. Anyway, on to the event itself. Before the show began, all the WWE Superstars and Divas filed into their seats with the crowd cheering and/or booing whenever they identified each wrestler. TNA's own Ric Flair was spotted and the Woo's for the night began. The fans continued to boo the face in the WWE title match, John Cena, and cheer his heel opponent, the Miz. Interesting. Jerry "the King" Lawler was the host for the evening and introduced each inductee and their respective inductor. 

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

The "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase inducted Hacksaw into the Hall of Fame. Dibiase taught us that Duggan was once an Atlanta Falcon, and of course reminded us that everyone has a price. Hacksaw told the story of his coming up in the industry, where the two-by-four came from, and how became the symbol of patriotism in the WWE. The crowd kept playing it up, initiating "U-S-A" chants and yelling "HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." I still don't understand how Hacksaw built a career on the Popeye/two-by-four/USA gimmick, but somehow his career had longevity. Overall, I enjoyed this segment.   

"Bullet" Bob Armstrong

The "Road Dogg" Jesse James and two of his brothers inducted "Bullet" Bob Armstrong into the Hall. The Road Dogg was in full on showman mode and acted as if he were trying out to be a new ring announcer for the WWE. He hit all of his catchphrases and had the crowd into it. The other two brothers stood by awkwardly in silence. 

The Bullet came out and opened with a few "I'm old and don't remember who I am" jokes; at least that is how I interpreted them. I learned that Armstrong is from Marietta, Georgia and he told some old stories that were kinda interesting, I guess. 

Abdullah the Butcher

Terry Funk was the inductor for Abdullah. Funk told a story about Abdullah "forking" him in many cities throughout the world and then bragged about how much money he made from feuding with Abdullah.

Abdullah came out with a cane in one hand and a fork in the other.  He didn't say much; he basically got emotional about deceased family members and then made a "forking" joke.

Sunny

LayCool, with all of the WWE Divas standing behind them, did a horrible job introducing Sunny. Then Sunny came out and the crowd seemed pretty into it as she told everyone how great she was and how important she was for paving the way for all the Divas standing behind her. She seemed very full of herself. Anyway, she went on to remind us that she had the most downloaded "celebrity" picture on America Online at one point. Are you impressed yet? I somehow missed Sunny's career completely. I guess I just flipped over to Nitro whenever she came on the screen.

The Road Warriors

Dusty Rhodes introduced the Road Warriors and their manager Paul Ellering. Before Animal and Ellering came out, there should have been a warning that this was going to be a long one. Ellering kept making random statements that made no sense while Animal actually told some interesting stories, paid tribute to the late Hawk, and thanked his family and everyone else. All of Animal's children were in attendance, including his St. Louis Rams linebacker son, James Laurinaitis. Throughout the speech, Animal showed that he can do a great Hawk impression; he nailed Hawk's patented sayings "Weyyyl (well)" and "Waaaaaaaht a ruuuuuush." The rest of the segment consisted of Paul playing with action figures and a lot of looking and pointing up.

Drew Carey

Everyone boo'ed the whole night whenever Carey's name was mentioned. Kane was the individual with the "honor" of inducting Drew Carey into the celebrity wing of the Hall of Fame. Kane explained how Carey's heart was black like his own, and that because of his black heart, he was proud to induct him.

Carey came out to boos and I couldn't hear many of his jokes due to the yelling in the crowd. I guess he got the message, because his speech was pretty short. He mainly seemed to be there to promote some new TV show that they mentioned a number of times. Well, at least he got a paycheck and some promotion.

Shawn Michaels

Finally, the "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels. Triple H introduced Shawn and provided the best speech of the night. He praised Shawn for all around being the best, while also making jokes about Shawn "joining the Hulk Hogan hair club" and about his "googily eye." At the end of the speech Hunter was near tears saying that he and Shawn were brothers, that he loved him, and that his new nickname should be Mr. Hall of Fame. 

Shawn came out to a large ovation and various chants, but he quickly put the "one more match" chant to rest. When it started, he basically said don't even start that, and went on to say that if he had retired in 1998, he may have had some regrets, but retiring in 2010 left him with no regrets. Shawn nervously used finger quotations to excess at the beginning of his speech, but I'm not sure who he was quoting. As he went through his speech, thanking everyone, he alluded to "a certain guy backstage whose name I'm not allowed to mention" and the crowd bursted into a WOOOO-fest. Later, when he was winding down he said he didn't want to be the guy that caused all the Superstars to look at their watches because he was taking so long; he didn't want to be "that guy." The WOOOOOO chants immediately started up again. Upon review of his speech, it was much shorter than it seemed. Mostly thanks to the crowd interruptions and his speech rate. 

Shawn ended the speech by letting the crowd know he had two words for them and letting the fans fill in the blank. Then, as the music came on, the Kliq (minus Scott Hall) reunited and Phillips Arena went crazy. It was pretty awesome to see Triple H, HBK, Kevin Nash, and X-Pac all together again, posing, embracing, and whispering sweet nothings into each others ears. 

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Shawn Michaels' Speech At WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: 'Thank You'

Shawn Michaels concluded the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Philips Arena in Atlanta after a speech by Triple H. The two hugged as the "Sexy Boy" song blared and everybody cheered. This is very complex if you think about it. At the end of his speech, Kevin Nash and X-Pac came out to do sweet poses and so forth. Everybody lost their everloving minds.

His speech:

Thank you. ["HBK!" chant. "Thank you Shawn!" chant. Whoa! Some other chant.] The damnedest thing on my way to my Hall of Fame speech, a damn roast broke out. Thanks. I knew there was no way you was gonna say anything nice about me. For the 15 years we've known each other he never has, and he never will. He's like the Fonz trying to say he's sorry. [Muttering.]

I know how tough it was for you to say . That was a huge deal for him to even recognize that I worked in this line of work for 36 years. You're not aware of this, but we shared a big moment there. There's some psychiatrists going, "They're starting to heal."

I'm nervous, so don't give me cat calls. [Cat calls.] I've been going over what I'm gonna say. ["One more match!" chant.] You're killing me with the one more match thing. Seriously, I know it's good TV, he'll have a nervous breakdown. We sold out the building! He had a heart attack! 

["We love you Shawn!"] I'm serious. For the love of God, help me out here. I don't even know where to start. You know there are things that go between ... I can't say, I'm not supposed to say. That's one of the reasons I was OK to retire. Coincidentally, this is the first year where we're not doing it live. They'll chop it up in post to make sure it's ok to air.

When I was 19 years old, I didn't want to be a sports entertainer. I didn't know at the time. I told my mom and dad, I want to do what those guys do it on TV. Making it was going to be going out in San Antonio and wresting in front of 25 people. Fast forward, and I'm a 45-year-old man, and I get to stand here and say thank you.

Along the way, I wasn't really aware of it. I was raised by a loving family, sitting right down here, who loved me every step of the way and supported me. But for whatever reason when I started doing this line of work at 19 I spent the next 26 years searching for validation. I don't even know why. But what my peers thought of me and what you thought of me was the most important thing in my life. And I worked myself into the ground. It was so important to me that you thought I did a good job. I know that sounds patronizing, but I want to thank you so much for giving me that.

I'm very thankful to all the other inductees and especially Triple H for making this fun and amusing. Because as much as I've tried to not make it a deep and heavy cry fest, I can't do it. There are no words to express how much I lived and breathed to do this every night for so many years. And it begs the question, how am I gonna be OK away from this?

Last Monday the Undertaker had mentioned Shawn Michaels will walk into the Hall of Fame with a ton of regrets. If this had happened in 1998, that might've been true. At that time, I was good at my job, but there's no way I could've stood here with no regrets. And although my family would've been proud of me, I know there would've been a little disappointment for them and a certain guy backstage whose name I'm not allowed to mention. [Crowd WOOs. Guy next to me says "RIC FLAIR!" I believe him!]

I came back in 2002 after being told I'd never wrestle again, for one more match. That was nine years ago. I'm thankful I can stand before you with absolutely no regrets. [Missed a part about God and his family. Sorry.] Since they came into my life, I've had not a regret. Not a second goes by that I'm not thankful. The most precious gift of all is my little family. I love you all so much, and I want to thank you for being so selfless and letting daddy finish what he started.

It was very important to me to come back and go away on my own terms. I love my two children more than anything in the world. Thank you so much for letting daddy go wrestle. [I have a daughter. Totally about to tear up.]

There are countless WWE superstars that I've had to create with. I'd love to mention everybody, but I don't want to make this too long. I don't wanna be that guy. [Crowd WOOs.] You guys are implying that. I'm not saying that. Every year there's somebody, and we're like, dude there's WrestleMania tomorrow. I'm gonna assume you know who you are.

Because I did my best to make sure before I left to tell you how awesome it was for me, and how much I appreciate you guys [makes crazy hand gestures] putting up with me when I wanna do something you don't do all that much. I appreciate your time and patience. I appreciate you being a part of my life. A lot of times all we've got is each other. We're like guys in a fox hole together. But when we're with each other, we're all we got. We can stab each other in the back, but can't nobody else do it.

I wanna thank you for allowing me to be a part of that fraternity. We're always gonna look at everybody else and say you're not gonna understand it. And that's OK. It's something we're gonna take to our graves.

And lastly there's all of you. The WWE universe, the fans. I love every one of you, even when you bother me at 5 in the morning, even when I cuss you, you still come back and forgive me. You have been a part of my life and family for so many years, it begs the question, why would a 19-year-old kid from a wonderful upbringing seek validation from strangers?

One thing people used to always say that separated me is that I could make a connection with you. I don't know if I did a good job, but for the last 26 years whether you were connected to me I have no idea, but I was connected to you. I have never won Most Popular, I wasn't the prom king, I wasn't the homecoming king, so I guess in my adult life the most important thing to me was that you believed in me and thought I was good. On this night, 2011 Hall of Fame, I feel it, I thank you, I love my ring. And I love each and every one of you. 

I know this has been sappy. I can't help it. And if you're not down with that, I got two words for you. ["Suck it!" says the crowd. More hugging.]

Shawn Michaels is really easy to transcribe. His rate of speech was the highlight of the evening for me.

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony 2011: Triple H Inducts Shawn Michaels

The 2011 WWE Hall of Fame class' final inductee was introduced by a brief word from Jerry Lawler and an induction speech by Triple H. Hey, go read our interview with Michaels and Triple H. Here's his speech:

First of all before I get started, is it so loud in here? Shawn's never gonna let us live this down. For the rest of his life, he's gonna brag, "They were hanging from the rafters." The only reason I agreed to do this tonight was because he asked me to say something nice about him.

What do you say about Shawn Michaels? Do I talk about his overwhelming physical presence, six-foot, 225? Like five-ten, 185, but still. Yeah they had to close the garage door because it's windy and he might blow off the stage, but he did all right.

I could tell you about the first time we met. He walked up to me, dressed up in a nice pair of blue jean farmer overalls with no shirt and his bushy chest hair. And this outfit was complete with gold jewelry, two bandanas around each wrist, a mullet, and a fannypack. We were all fashion mavens, but Shawn Michaels took it to another leve.

I could talk about hte titles he's won. I could talk about The Rockers. I could talk about the unbelieveable matches he's treated us to over the years. The Iron Man match with Bret Hart. The greatest ladder match in hisrory, with Razor Ramon. The greatest Hell in the Cell match in history with the Undertaker. All the classic WrestleMania moments and matches.

Or do  talk about the guy who, after back surgery and thinking his career was over, would step through the ropes for the very first time live on pay-per-view and wrestle for 45 minutes with me in one of the greatest matches I've ever had?

I could talk about us forming DX. I could talk about all the guys that I'm sure if I asked them, probably almost all of them would tell me that they were inspired to get in this business because of Shawn Michaels.

Do I talk about the family man? Or do I just come up here and talk about my best friend? Shawn and I have spent more of our adult lives with each other, and that includes our wives. That's if you want to consider us adults. My wife still calls Shawn my road wife. 

Or do I talk about the giving performer? He and I had this unbelievable chemistry. We knew each other so well. Especially when it came to the comedy stuff. Shawn was a giving guy, and that's what it was based on. I gave Shawn the comedy gift of my nose, but Shawn was the gift that just kept on giving. It started with assless chaps with a dangling belly button ring, a leather vest with mirrors, and then came Playgirl. He told me, "Hunter, the chicks are gonna love it!"

In more recent years, Shawn's gift has been his refusal to acknowledge his place in the Hulk Hogan hair club. Most recently, Shawn has given me the ultimate gift. [Makes a face. Everybody is laughing at it.] Shawn is an avid hunter, and the google eye makes it so he can hunt birds and rabbits at the same time.

I could talk about all that, or I could tell you about my best friend. My brother, and I mean that. I could just talk directly to Shawn, and say I love you. You are the greatest performer I have ever seen in my life. [Totally crying.] You are the [lists all of Shawn Michaels' nicknames]. But I've got another nickname for you, and this one fits better than anything, and that is Mr. Hall of Fame.

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So Drew Carey's In The WWE Hall Of Fame Now: That's Pretty Weird

Drew Carey was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame's 2011 class at Philips Arena Saturday night. But why? He's not even from Marietta! His montage presented his wrestling credentials: he made a cameo in a Royal Rumble. Jerry Lawler made a Sports! joke about Carey: "Just like LeBron James, he left Cleveland because the price was right."

Kane inducted Carey. I didn't know this guy knew how to talk. I thought that was his whole thing. Kane compared beating Carey in that Royal Rumble to The Undertaker going 19-0 at WrestleMania. Spoiler alert! I guess the story here is Kane's still mad at Carey for stealing his Royal Rumble shine. That's gotta suck so bad.

Now we're listening to Kane talk about "the celebrity wing" of the Hall of Fame. This is the weirdest moment of my life. Drew Carey has lost weight, and everybody's booing him because he IS NOT EVEN A PRO WRESTLER, Y'ALL! "I'm skinny, I'm good-looking, I'm rich -- boo all you want. I hope next year they induct Larry The Cable Guy." Georgia would be way less mad about that, I think.

After talking about how hard wrestling is, Carey exited to cheers. The man just won this crowd so hard.

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony 2011: Road Warriors, Abdullah The Butcher, Sunny

The 2011 WWE Hall of Fame class finally introduced some diversity by bringing out a wrestler with no clear Georgia connections. And she's a female! During Sunny's extremely lengthy intro montage, one announcer exclaimed, "She's the most-downloaded celebrity on America Online!" Awesome. During her speech she mentioned her surprise at being crowned the queen of AOL over Pamela Anderson.

Atlanta's Abdullah the Butcher started a new streak of Peach State wrestlers, introduced by Terry Funk. Funk was fun to listen to. "I made so much money with him, I would marry him if I could." The SWAts BBQ restauranteur is still extraordinarily immense.

Dusty Rhodes (of Marietta, as all pro wrestlers are) brought out the Road Warriors next. Rhodes told a story about a '80s scaffold match at which Cobb County's Big Boss Man was supposed to catch Hawk, but wasn't able to. Pro wrestling is dangerous, y'all. As Hawk passed away in 2003, Animal and the tag team's manager took the stage, producing the most promo-ish induction speech of the night. If I had to pick anybody from the night to take the ring right now, it'd probably be these handlebar-stache'd gents.

Animal is also the father of Ohio State and St. Louis Rams LB James Laurinaitis. Sports!

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction Class 2011: Bullet Bob Armstrong, Another Georgian, Honored

Marietta, Georgia's Bullet Bob Armstrong was introduced to the WWE Hall of Fame 2011 induction ceremony stage by his son, Jesse James, who rhymes like a furious Al Sharpton and leads the evening's catch phrase race so far. Every wrestler is from Marietta, but Armstrong may have been one of the first. James is one of four Armstrong boys who went on to become pro wrestlers. Two of the others were on stage, but didn't do any rapping at all.

Armstrong broke out the quote-the-Gettysburg-Address joke, a Charlton Heston bit, and started singing Elvis Presley, all before beginning his speech. This family has personality.

He credited his wife with "raising five boys, including me" and told a story about World War II-era pro wrestling legend Gorgeous George accidentally starting a near-riot in Marietta (where else!) by throwing a pin into the ringside crowd. That was the most Marietta story ever. 

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: Hacksaw Jim Duggan Played For The Atlanta Falcons

WWE Hall of Fame 2011 induction ceremony host Jerry Lawler opened the night by calling Hulk Hogan a great American, which made everybody boo. He then brought out Ted DiBiase to introduce "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. He called Duggan a longtime friend, an even more deserving Hall of Famer than himself, and threatened to make it rain in Philips Arena. [Joe Johnson joke.]

Just learned from DiBiase that Duggan went to SMU on a football scholarship (well before the Pony Excess days) and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. Totally never knew that. New favorite wrestler. This sent me to his Wikipedia page, where I learned he has a degree in plant biology.

Duggan said he started carrying a two-by-four because he couldn't do any damage with the feather boa he had been toting, the American flag thing sprang from a feud with America-hating DiBiase. He told a story about beating "Stunning" Steve Austin "so bad he had to shave his head and change his name," and talked about sticking around long enough to wrestle DiBiase's son.

Not to be a commie, but I had had enough of the one very loud patriot in the crowd who kept trying to start a "USA!" chant and finding no takers.

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: Philips Arena Likes Cheering For Wrestling

Before the WWE Hall of Fame's 2011 class was inducted at Philips Arena, current and former wrestlers paraded in front of the stage as the building filled up. Each received claps and boos accordingly, though the only ones I could make out were Ric Flair -- due to all the WOOing that broke out -- along with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who flipped the crowd off.

I also think I spotted William Regal, giving me so many pro wrestling cred points.

This crowd also cheered the intro video, a montage of every wrestler, and a big-screen trailer for a WWE video game as if they were ongoing matches. It was pretty awesome. These people like wrestling a lot.

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011 Time, Location, TV Schedule, Inductees

WWE WrestleMania 27 weekend takes off tonight with the 2011 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Shawn Michaels is the big name, but the Road Warriors, Atlanta’s own Abdullah the Butcher, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan will bring ‘em out too. Abdullah owns a BBQ restaurant in the city that was referenced in T.I.’s movie ATL and has appeared in a Youngbloodz-Lil Jon video, in case you didn’t realize just how hometown this inductee really is.

Why is Drew Carey here? Nobody really knows, but Drew Carey is here. If this thing were in Cleveland, then at least there would be a pandering quotient to his induction, but that’s sadly lacking. If he were hosting the event, that would make the most sense of all. Somebody help me out here.

Time, location: 8 pm ET on April 2 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

TV schedule: Monday, April 4, at 8 pm ET on USA.

Inductees: Shawn Michaels, The Road Warriors, Abdullah the Butcher, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Sunny, and Drew Carey.

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WWE Hall Of Fame Induction 2011: Shawn Michaels, The Road Warriors Highlight Class

This Saturday evening at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, a group of WWE superstars (and a game show host) will be inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame. For those not attending the live event, the ceremony will be televised Monday, April 4, at 8/7c on the USA Network.

 If there is one thing wrestling is known for, it would be Internet rumors.  This year's big rumor for the Hall of Fame was that since it is taking place in Atlanta, it would have a WCW theme, as WCW was based in Atlanta before being swallowed up by the big WWE fish. 

But for the first time in the history of the universe, something written on the internet turned out to be incorrect.  Instead, the honors will go to one obvious choice, a few middle of the roaders, and one ho-hum.  Now, on to the inductees.

Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels, "HBK," "the Heart Break Kid," "the Showstopper," "the Main Event," "the Icon," "Mr. Wrestlemania" himself gets inducted in to the Hall of Fame only one year after retiring.  The man whose Boyhood Dream lead him to the top of the WWE and the entire wrestling world will be honored.  Shawn is often mentioned as one of the greatest of all time; he had athleticism, charisma, and he even sang his own theme song (which was about how cute and sexy he was... his words, not mine)! 

Anyone who has watched the WWE at any point during the past 20 years is familiar with Shawn and has likely been entertained by one of HBK's memorable moments or feuds.  There was the Montreal Screwjob, the time he threw Marty Jannetty through the glass, all of the classic DX moments, the first ladder match, the Iron Man match, the Kliq, the HHH matches, and on and on and on. 

Shawn could carry the worst Tough Enough wannabe to a great match, and there is no doubt Shawn will be the main event Saturday evening.  I am ready for the deafening "ONE MORE MATCH" chant that will obviously start up as soon as they cut the music.

The Road Warriors

Road Warrior Animal and Hawk made up one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history.  They spent time destroying opposing tag teams in the WWE, WCW, NWA, and many other federations in the U.S. and abroad.  The Road Warriors, also known as the Legion of Doom, were an intimidating duo with amazing haircuts, big spiked shoulder pads, and a destructive streak.  

Both members were pure power wrestlers, which helped them continuously rack up impressive victories throughout their career.  I used to think the Road Warriors were awesome, especially when I was seven.  WHAAAAAAAT A RUSH. 

Abdullah the Butcher

Abdullah the Butcher was a large man who liked to get violent.  Abdullah was one of the early hardcore wrestlers in the industry.  My one memory of Abdullah was when Cactus Jack had Abdullah wrapped in a box and gave him to Sting for his birthday.

"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

Last time I checked, Hacksaw was still an active competitor in the WWE... well, at least once every six months or so.  The two-by-four-carrying, Popeye-tongue-wagging patriot is finally recognized for being a staple in professional wrestling.  What was it about Duggan's gimmick that made him have such a lengthy career?  I have no idea.  But, he did win the first ever Royal Rumble match so... HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

"Bullet" Bob Armstrong

Bob Armstrong was a wrester who spent most of his time in the NWA and wrestled before my time.  What I do know, is that he had a lot of wrestling sons, including the Road Dogg Jesse (B.G.) James of DX fame.  In fact, in 2008, the then-68-year-old tagged up with the Road Dogg for a tag match in TNA.  They lost.  TNA knows how to book a show.

Sunny

Sunny was a "Diva" before they were called "Divas."  Either way, I never paid her any attention. 

Drew Carey

I will not dignify this inductee with a comment.

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