This one’s a bit hard to report.
not a whole slew of unique photos we can produce or interesting stuff
to do. So, I think we’ll report on each of the inductees and their best
moments and give our opinions on the live experience.
took our good ol’ San Jose VTA Lightrail system to SAP Center.
Beautiful day, as always, in downtown San Jose. Part of a beautiful
of Macho Man shirts. I wore mine. Macho Man Randy Savage means a lot to
me. I grew up watching him and loved his wrestling style and he (along
with Jake Roberts) are the constant my Mom and I share with
In any case, here’s a shot of SAP.
don’t know if this was a new rule that was added since the New Orleans
crowd at last year’s event were shouting things at the inductees, but
these signs were posted all over the place.
tickets we got for this event weren’t great. We were in the 4th row of
the upper deck, so we don’t have incredible pictures. We came for the
This is how I watched the Red Carpet: on my phone, using The WWE
Network (FOR ONLY $9.99!!!). Because it’s much better than giving you
photos, using the digital zoom lens and high ISO on my camera in low
was a bit confused as to why WWE doesn’t do the Red Carpet show from
another room and broadcast it on the Jumbotron for the guests to see
but, oh well.
It was kinda surreal, at one point…some guy showed up dressed just like Randy Savage…and I mean just like…he
had the build, the perfect beard, the grin…everything. Even the
lighting made it look like Savage was visiting his own tribute from
beyond the grave.
As far as the speeches, my thoughts are these…
with The Bushwhackers, I really didn’t think Rikishi was “of note”.
He’s more known for the idiotic “Stinkface” (which I’ve never liked;
it’s unwatchable and disgusting — even though WWE portrays it as a
major milestone in his career) than he is for winning titles.
Ironically, his induction was a pleasant surprise.
sons, The Usos, were selected to introduce and induct him, recalling
how their Dad evolved from a broke father who would breakdance in front
of the Cow Palace in Daly City for cash, into the guy he is today.
Rikishi’s speech was from the heart: genuine, full of love for his
family and the fans. He spoke of sacrifice, of not being home to raise
his sons and missing birthdays and other events — but that it paid off.
Earlier, The Usos mentioned that the Stinkface “put them through
college”. Rikishi would mention Umaga and salute the sky in a tribute to
him. He’d also pay tribute to his father and his late mother. Strangely
absent in his speech was Too Cool, who are, at least, partly
responsible for his big push in WWE.
in all, this was a beautiful speech capped off with Rikishi dancing
with his sons at the end. SAP Center clapped along and fun was had by
is more like it. Zbyszko was brought into the Hall of Fame by WWE
Legend Bruno Sammartino who recalled the first time he had ever met
Zbyszko: some teenager who wrestled for his high school and wanted to go
Pro like Sammartino.
went into more detail: he described driving his car through Bruno’s
neighborhood and “felt compelled to stop” when he saw Sammartino tanning
out near his backyard swimming pool. He was blocked by a “wall of
hedges” — and proceeded to blast through them anyhow, scraping up his
face and body. He described it as a “rabbit hole” of sorts and said that
“Bruno was on the other side”. Instead of escorting the young kid out
the door, Bruno took him under his wing and the rest was history.
Zbyszko’s speech meanders a bit here and there and he loses his train of
thought more than once, stating that it’s ironic since he’s “known for
having a big mouth”. Ultimately, Zbyszko goes poetic with his speech,
saying he went through another rabbit hole tonight — through the
backstage curtain — and that, once again, Sammartino was waiting on the
other side. This time, Sammartino was ready “to show him the door” as
it was finally time to go. He talked of dreams and how his came true and
he finished by wishing for fans to never give up on theirs. A nice
speech, though it felt overlong.
ALUNDRA BLAYZE (AKA “Madusa”)
by WWE Diva Natalya, Blayze’s speech was an absolute showstopper. She
credited Wahoo McDaniel, Sherri Martel, and Greg Valentine for her start
— but insists that she really wanted to be — and still could be — a
stuntwoman. In an emotional moment, she thanked her husband who, through
special circumstances, was able to get time off from his military
deployment. This lead to Blayze urging all fans in the SAP Center who
served their country, city or town as a solider, paramedic, police
officer, firefighter, and the like to rise so they could get recognized.
From my vantage point, there were about a dozen around our side of the
second deck but I know more were there.
also got very playful, talking about the time she tossed the WWE Womens
Championship in the trash on WCW television — and subsequently
removing it from a trash can supplied by Nattie later in the speech. She
admitted having a crush on Steve Austin, warned Arn Anderson that she
would beat his ass — after thanking him, of course, and praised Paul
Heyman for being able to “rock a mullet, carry a huge phone and have a
mouth only a mother could love.” Then, she said she was the first “Paul
also sung her own praises, bragging about winning the title and still
being champion, as well as being a champion monster truck racer. She
ended the speech by blowing a kiss and telling everyone “good night”. An
excellent speech that got the crowd at SAP extremely pumped. People
flew out of their seats for the standing ovation rather than reluctantly
getting up — and, believe me, that’s telling.
CONNOR “THE CRUSHER” MICHALEK
This one was a mixed bag for me.
started strange when Dana Warrior (wife of the late Warrior) started
the induction — then, for the next ten minutes, decided to thank the
list of people who helped her after Warrior passed away. Don’t get me
wrong, that’s nice and all…but this award was for Connor and this
speech should have been given when Dana was presented with her husband’s
statue at the first night at Axxess. It got to the point that some in
our section were starting to grumble and a couple said, “This belongs to
Connor, not Dana…”
Ultimately, Dana finally got around to speaking about Connor but, for me, the opening came across as largely self-serving.
Bryan came out next and, in another odd moment, decided to declare that
“wrestling is all fake”, drawing a very visceral reaction from the
crowd who nearly booed him out of the building. The reason for the
phrasing was because every fan in the building was doing they “YES”
cheer upon Bryan’s arrival on-stage and he really was attempting to
avoid that since it wasn’t his moment — perhaps a slight jab at Dana. I
have no idea. His ultimate point was that Connor, and kids who suffer
like he does, have very real struggles, but the second false start made
things kinda awkward, since WWE’s big on the illusion of reality and
theatricality. In any case, Bryan turned things around and got the fans
behind (and chanting for) Connor, spinning stories about his time spent
with Connor. He said that, for a little boy under the threat of death,
Connor was so full of life.
we got Connor’s father, Steve, to accept the honor. Steve looked
incredibly stressed out and sounded on the verge of tears the entire
speech and who could blame him? Who would want to be in his shoes,
giving a speech like that in front of thousands of people? He was brave
and powered through. But, I truly lost my shit when Connor’s little
brother came out to the stage with his Dad and said, “I love you,
Connor” into the mic.
Laurinaitis inducted the two loveable goofballs from New Zealand,
telling stories of younger training days at the hands of Luke and Butch
— and ended up keeping them in check along the way.
was the surprise speech of the night — and very much needed after the
Warrior Award drained all the momentum and energy from the building.
Luke (left) and Butch (right) are very much like their characters: wild
and unhinged, but also good-natured and a riot. For the small block of
time, Luke and Butch recalled their early days, wrestling the likes of
Peter Maivia and hordes of Samoan wrestlers in their homeland of New
Zealand in some of the roughest, meanest, bloodiest matches in
pro-wrestling history. “We were doing ‘Hardcore’ before people knew what
‘Hardcore’ was!” proclaimed Butch, who was both confused and upset when
WWE brought them into the company — and wanted them to be “faces”
rather than heels. “I got on their desk on my hands and knees,” Butch
yelled. “[I made a face at them], and said, ‘How are you gonna make good
guys out of THESE heads?!” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard
during a speech in my life. The whole thing made you smile from
beginning to end and made you realize that they belonged here.
was inducted by the great Ric Flair who talked up Fujinami’s legendary
toughness and inventiveness, saying that Japan pushes their athletes to
excel during their training regimens.
fight because it is my mission,” Fujinami would say. “And, today, I
join the WWE Hall of Fame. It has been a challenge and an adventure.”
Fujinami thanked his wife and left the stage. Fujinami’s speech was
everything a speech should be: eloquent, humble, gracious and succinct.
“MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE
Hogan (who proclaimed himself “Randy’s good friend” about a half dozen
times) actually gave a pretty good lead-in here, telling stories of how
Savage used to push the people he worked with to be better. Hogan also
said that his father, Angelo, is the reason he wears Canary Yellow
tights in the ring: it makes him stand out among others.
expected, Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo, accepted the award on Savage’s
behalf, giving the best speech of the night. He was eloquent, charming
and perfect with no schmaltz. Lanny wrote two poems for this occasion
and had one of the best lines of night to finish off the first poem:
“With triumphant jubilation, we celebrate his name. Finally, the Macho
Man is IN THE HALL OF FAME!” He got serious and talked about the Macho
Man’s philanthropy with the Special Olympics and how he’d give away
personally-signed WWE merch to those athletes. He even cracked a few
jokes: “Randy loved the athletes of the Special Olympics like Mr. T
loves his mother!” Lanny delivered on a speech that, in my opinion, had
high expectations. He gave us the man that we all knew and loved.
There was only one thing that bugged me…
Savage needed to be last…and he wasn’t even second to last, which is insulting.
not impressed with Schwarzenegger. Triple H gave a nice lead-in induction…but who the
fuck cares about Schwarzenegger outside his movies? He didn’t make a difference or any real “contribution” to pro-wrestling except to use the audience to plug his movies. The dude was also a lousy
governor and I’m not the only one who thought so. The dude was booed
out of the building when mentioning his political career during his speech and a LOT of
people remained in their seats amongst the standing ovation he got. Even
his speech felt like a recycled political campaign speech, laced with
lines from his films, and completely unmemorable.
That’s really all I’ve got to say.
last hour of this show was just Triple H giving his friends the stage.
Shawn Michaels did the induction, which was a treat and as eloquent and
as humorous as speeches come.
speech was honest, dry and self-deprecating as he thanked other people
for booting him in the ass to get him to work and also admitted doing
all of this just for the money. Despite what I say, you can’t really
dislike Nash. He’s been in the business for over 25 years and he’s paid
his dues. I still
wouldn’t have had him headline the Hall of Fame
this year as Savage is a hell of a lot more memorable than Nash ever
could be — but that’s my opinion.
If you wanna challenge that in the chat below, be my guest. I’ll just say this…I didn’t see anyone at the arena imitating Diesel.
Part 4 is coming…and that will cover WrestleMania 31…