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.
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.
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.
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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