The WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony for the 2017 class of inductees airs TONIGHT (Mar. 31) live and, for just the fourth time, in its entirety on the WWE Network starting at 8 p.m. ET from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
This year's class will be headlined by Kurt Angle.
Here's the rest of the class, and who will be inducting them:
- Kurt Angle (John Cena)
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Jim Cornette)
- Diamond Dallas Page (Eric Bischoff)
- Teddy Long (APA)
- Beth Phoenix (Natalya)
- Rick Rude (Ricky Steamboat)
- Eric LeGrand (Dana Warrior)
The ceremony will air in full, so be ready to strap in for one hell of a ride. It's scheduled to run for 2 hours and 30 minutes with a one hour "Red Carpet Arrival" special set to air just before it.
Come on back here and hang out with your favorite Cagesiders while it's all going down. We’ll provide a live blog of all the relevant goings on right here.
Enjoy the show!
WWE HALL OF FAME LIVE BLOG
Let boredom cease the beating of our purple hearts. Against this, even gods fight violently in vain, what chance could we have stood? We were the last of the lost, but now we are the first of the fashionably late, and I'm liveblogging this here WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
Show begins with a video package of still shots of our inductees giving way to a potted history of the WWE Hall of Fame and putting over the sort of talent that have been inducted over the years.
Jerry "the King" Lawler makes his entrance in his capacity as our host tonight. He welcomes us to the ceremony and runs down our inductees in general terms. We're starting off with a man who, wherever he goes, he always leaves with a "Bang!"
Diamond Dallas Page
DDP's Hall of Fame video package kicks things off, naturally.
Eric Bischoff comes out to induct him. He starts off defining heart, first as the organ, and then stops himself, wishing somebody else was inducting DDP, that person being "the American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. He bids Dusty rest happily in peace and says he's proud to be here all the same, and he's happy to be a distant second.
He's amazed at the journey Dallas went through since he met him. He was a manager and everybody loved him and he was good at his job, but he was huge. He asks us to imagine a 6 foot 11, 365 pound Paul Heyman managing Brock Lesnar by way of example, hah.
But Dallas wouldn't take no for an answer and kept pushing. He tells a story of ending up in a barfight with DDP and part two in front of an elevator, and when DDP went to WCW to manage the Freebirds, he wasn't sad to see him leave. Back in AWA, Verne Gagne was about to shut the place down, and Eric failed miserably to sell Vince McMahon a broom when he auditioned for WWE.
He got a call from WCW to try out for a commentary gig, he walked in the door and saw that Page was color commentator for his audition. Awesome! But Page didn't let his history get in the way and spent hours rehearsing with him and coaching him and helped him get the gig, and from there they became friends.
More about Page being obnoxious and Bischoff talks about learning to respect his passion, desire, and commitment, and how that drive lead him to train at the Power Plant. He was relentless, and he videotaped all his stuff and made people watch his work and critique it.
DDP made it through his training, became a legitimate wrestler, but he wasn't satisfied. He was a 24/7 gimmick machine, and he kept at it, because he was commited and his work ethic was second to none. He runs down DDP's classic opponents and says one of the reasons he's here is his hard work, passion, commitment, and success.
But the reason Eric is proud to be here is his heart. Unlike the dictionary definition of the organ, Dallas defines heart as the amount of his he'll share with others in need. Like a disabled vet named Arthur who lost a lot of weight doing DDP Yoga. And because of his heart, Jake Roberts and Scott Hall are still around today, thanks to DDP being there for them.
And so he yields the floor to DDP.
Dallas comes to the podium flanked by four women, his daughters. He thanks them for walking him out here and bids them take their leave.
He starts off talking about driving Rhythm & Blues to the ring at WrestleMania 6 and says he didn't get that gig, the car did and he was just along for the ride. So 27 years later, that he's going into the Hall of Fame? He's truly humbled, and he gets a nice resounding "You deserve it!" chant.
A buddy of his named Lee Marshall once called him the Anomaly, which according to Star Trek, is something that's never supposed to happen, and that's the story of his life. It's bittersweet for him tonight, because the American Dream isn't here to share it with him.
Without Dusty Rhodes, there is no Diamond Dallas Page, and DDP remembers the first time he shook his hand, and asked him to tell his story, and when he finished, he said he sees a little bit of him in him, and they were gonna make him the Jesse Ventura of the 90s.
Page begged off, saying he didn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch, but Dusty promised him Gordon Solie would walk him through it. Michael PS Hayes fell down on the ground laughing at the idea of Dallas wrestling, and he had a point, but he trained at the Power Plant under the Assassin, Jody Hamilton.
He can't tell you how many times his 35-year-old body hit the mat and he said, "Man, this fake stuff hurts like hell!" He asked if he really wanted to do this, but every time, the answer was "Yes!", which begets a chant, and DDP says Daniel Bryan is one of his favorites in response to it.
At the three month mark he got Jody's respect, and he thanks him for being the first main event guy to believe in his work. He thanks Sargeant Buddy Lee Parker, Terry Taylor, and Dusty's wife, Michelle, who made sure Dusty always called him back. He admits Bischoff was right that he tried everything to get over, all at once.
He thanks Eric Bischoff, because Eric made him lose every one of those gimmicks and just be himself, and for always watching his back. Without Dusty there's no DDP, but he wants to thank his other mentor, Jake "the Snake" Roberts. Without the Snake, there is no three-time World Champion, and without them both, he's not at this podium.
He filmed every single match he ever had, but everybody laughed at him. But you look on YouTube and EVERYBODY does that now. And Jake watched every last one of them and critiqued them with him. You learn from falling down, and Jake was his education, taking him farther, faster than he should have.
He thanks Johnny Ace for giving him a finish that would change his life, as well as Steven Regal for giving him the cravate to give the Diamond Cutter legitimacy. He put it all together from that, but Ron Reis came up with the handsign that told the bookers that the people cared, when they threw it up.
In 1996 he had his first competitive match, with Sting. The next day he's home in Atlanta and he lets the phone go to machine, but it's Michael Hayes, so he picks up. Hayes wanted the machine! He saw the match and he had to be honest, he'd never been so happy to eat crow, and he was proud.
In 1997, he got another one of those calls-- one word, "Congratulations". It was Jake, congratulating him on reinventing the DDT. DDP thanks Kevin Nash and Scott Hall for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. Nobody believed in his idea about turning on the nWo, but they fought like hell.
It took ten weeks to make it happen, but when he put that shirt on it was like the air left the building, until he dropped Hall and Nash and the roof blew off. But they weren't done, and they set the table for him, for the 1997 PWI Feud of the Year, DDP vs. Macho Man.
He tells a Randy Savage story about leaving him a message on Thanksgiving and all the boys were thanking him, and he thought who doesn't know how grateful HE is. And if Macho doesn't take his finish at Spring Stampede, his career isn't his career, and wished him a great Thanksgiving.
That was it, until Monday at TV when they ran into each other and Macho asked him to come over and pulled him into a room. He said he got his message and played it a couple of times and then he called his dad to ask if any of the boys ever did that for him, and he said no. Macho wanted DDP to know it meant a lot and he hugged him harder than he's ever been hugged in his life.
So he thanks Macho, wherever he is, before moving onto the Hulkster. 1994, Hulk Hogan walks up and says it's not this year, next year, or the year after, but somewhere down the line, you have the ability to draw huge money with me. Fast-forward to 1998, Hulk and Dennis Rodman on the Tonight Shot and DDP comes around with Karl Malone and they shoot an angle.
It turned out to be the biggest grossing PPV in WCW history. So he thanks Hogan for making that reality. When he got off the road he called it Humpty Dumpty Day, because he had to put himself together. He thanks his yogi and two others I don't quite catch and his ex-wife Kimberly.
He then thanks his current wife Brenda, his strength. She says she survived breast cancer the holistic way and she's his personal superhero and makes him want to be in the best state possible. DDP is constantly evolving, he's like a straight Richard Simmons now.
He thanks a bunch of people rapid fire, ending with Chris Jericho. Jericho blew his back out five years ago and he sent him the video of the disabled vet he helped. Jericho called him back and DDP sent him the yoga stuff and now he bounces around like he's 24.
DDP says he's all about changing the world and thanks his family for putting up with his insane schedule, all the DDP Yoga people from around the world, and his crew at the PC who helped with the resurrection of Jake the Snake, Goldberg for a hell of a match.
And lastly, he thanks his mom. She always let him believe he could do anything. Wait, no, one more story, Dusty wasn't just his mentor, but also like a big brother and a dad. He always let him vent, except one night he took it too far complaining about never giving him an opportunity.
Dusty whacked him across the eyes and told him enough, and asked him to walk through what he said. DDP confirms he said he was never gonna be world champion and the dream asked him what the hell was he doing it for. If he doesn't believe he can be world champ, he needs to get out of the business right now.
He doesn't remember what Dusty said after that, but he remembers what he did-- he grabbed a pad of paper and wrote that he would be world champion in five years. If you have a goal, don't just think it, ink it, own it. Five years? It was four years, four months, and fourteen days before he stepped in the ring with Sting, Hogan, and Flair.
He thanks Ric for changing his life that night and moving him one step closer to this podium. When the guest referee handed him the title, an inner peace came over him that he can't describe. The next day he and his wife were going to Spokane, but he got a call from Dusty asking how it feels.
He told Dusty it feels real, and Dusty said that's because it is. Jim Ross called him one of the biggest overachievers ever, but you gotta know, to be an overachiever, you must first be an overbeliever. Never give up a power you give yourself by believing in you.
He thanks WWE for an amazing birthday present and throws up the Diamond Cutter sign.
Roman Reigns is shown in the crowd, to boos, but he gives an AWESOME look at the camera like "Yeah, I know. Deal with it."
Jerry Lawler tosses to the video package for the Rock & Roll Express.
Rock & Roll Express
Jim Cornette is in the house! He has the tennis racket, by god!
He says he's Jim Cornette, this is a live microphone, and the audio guy's on Xanax! The way the speech has been built he knows he could give a combination of the Gettysburg Address and the Sermon on the Mount and folks would be disappointed. He thanks Lawler for the intro and talks about hanging around hoping to carry Jerry's bags.
34 years ago this month, Jerry Lawler had an idea-- MTV was hot and music videos were a big deal. He had a couple young guys, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, and they were great wrestlers, but they needed a gimmick. So why not spandex pants (especially flattering to Gibson!) and bandanas?
They debuted March of 1983, but it wasn't just a marketing gimmick, because fortunately the King picked the perfect two guys for the job. Morton and Gibson grew up in the ring, Ricky's dad was a referee, and Robert's older brother Ricky was one of the best in-ring performers Corny's ever seen.
They not only learned to wrestle, but to connect with the crowd, what we like and what we don't, the passions and emotions that make up the mental part of this sport. But in Memphis, they'd been around since teenagers, so they had to get away and go someplace fresh.
That's when a very important man, "Cowboy" Bill Watts, took them to Mid-South Wrestling, and they were an instant sensation, Justin Bieber before Justin Bieber was born. Morton and Gibson had more sex on the way to the ring than most people have in a year. It was brutal to watch, but...
It wasn't just the women, but the men admired them for having guts, because they wouldn't give up, and when you fought the Rock & Roll Express, they were quicker and smarter. But if you got the advantage, man, Ricky Morton took a classic buttkickin'.
Ricky would look up, sweat and maybe a little blood running down his pain-etched face as he reaches out to the front row and mouthed the words "Help me" and oh boy would they help him. Corny's been beaten up by their fans more than he has them! But against the odds, Gibson would tag in and come in like a tornado to clean house, and some way or another they'd hit that double dropkick for the 1-2-3.
But the opponents? They wrestled every great tag team of the day, but Batman needs the Joker, Superman needs Lex Luthor, and the Rock & Roll Express needed the Midnight Express. Watts gave him, Dennis Condrey, and Bobby Eaton a chance too. Polar opposites, mirror images, good vs. bad, and when the Express fought the Express, the matches were magic.
Main eventing the Superdome? That was cool. And by the end of that year, everybody in wrestling had heard about these kids setting these attendance records and they had their choice of wherever they wanted to go. But there were two guys they respected that wanted them to go to Charlotte, North Carolina.
One of those guys was Ric Flair and the other was Dusty Rhodes, so they went to North Carolina and got on national TV, having more classic matches and setting more attendance records, and just when it was almost done, Stan Lane joined the Midnights and they got more gas.
Backstage politics broke the Midnights up in the 90s, but the Rock & Rolls kept going, as the backbone of Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Jim's promotion. Without them, SMW wouldn't have lasted as long as it did, and he owes them a debt of gratitude. In the 90s, the Rock & Roll Express also debuted for WWE, opening up a whole new audience to what they were about.
More than one member of the WWE roster has told him over the years that the first time they saw Midnights/Rock & Rolls, that was the first time they wanted to be wrestlers, and that's indicative of the impression that those guys made with their performances night after night.
But after the 90s, they still weren't done! In the 2000s, the Rock & Roll Express kept going, fighting guys half their age and even the Midnight Express all the way over again. From first match in 1984 to last match in 2011 the rivalry lasted! Corny also managed their opponents in their first match, but also just four months ago.
Rock & Roll Express are still fighting (I can think of a match against Anthony Henry and Jason Cade just about a week ago!) and training. Their passion makes it so they can't stop, nobody can make them, and nobody wants them to stop, they're national treasures.
Many fans didn't just see the Express as celebrities, but as members of their families. That's why the riots happened, because folks wanted to get even just the same as if it as a family member. Jim remembers a family who took their Christmas pictures and gave copies to Ricky and Robert.
And behind the tree were 11x14 framed pictures, on the left was Jesus Christ, and on the right was the Rock & Roll Express. That's when you know you're over! He's been in a lot of big arenas with the Rock & Roll Express, and this makes him feel transported back in time when 15,000 people would chant at the top of their lungs, "Rock & Roll!"
He says it's his pleasure and privilege to induct people who mean so much personally and professionally, and he welcomes Ricky & Robert to the Hall of Fame.
Ricky says a promoter once told Cornette that if he could get as much heat with the crowd as with the boys, they'd make millions. Surely hell must have frozen over for them and Corny to be here, but damn the place is sold out. Robert says getting the call was amazing, but then he got calls from his kids and he's got two grandkids on the way.
Ricky says he has seven kids and seven grandkids, and Robert says they all look like him. Gibson has a thing about knowing Morton like the back of his hand and Ricky thinks they got lost. They take their pocket squares out to point out they have bandanas on.
They're still in the business and Ricky says their rate just went up, hah. Robert says they both came from wrestling families and have waited their whole life for this. They had one fan, Chad Adams, who always went to WWE shows with a sign saying Rock & Roll Express for the Hall of Fame.
Morton talks about watching the business grow and change over the last forty years. It started out as a sacred business and turned into a huge empire he's glad to be a part of, but one thing he's glad of is he always stood up for the boys. Unless you're one of them you don't know the sacrifices they make, and he puts 'em over as professional athletes.
Ricky says nobody thought they could make it until they met Jimmy Hart and Jerry Lawler and believed in them and created the gimmick. They took a little trip down to Louisiana to meet Bill Watts, and he thanks Bill Dundee and Jim Ross for believing in them.
But the best part was when they went to North Carolina, they packed their U-Hauls and followed the Yellow Brick Road to see the Wizard, the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. Robert says Dusty made them what they are, and made it good to be part of the Rock & Roll Express.
Ricky is lost. People ask him about the stories, about him being the Gene Simmons of pro wrestling, no sir, hit the rewind button, Gene is the Ricky Morton of rock & roll! Robert wants him to show his tongue but he will not. Morton continues, talking about watching kids grow up in the business, like Shawn Michaels, he thanks Kevin Nash and Ric Flair.
Gibson has a Ric Flair story. They were at the Superdome with Muhammad Ali and a man came in saying Ric Flair told him to come see them, and that man was Jim Crockett. Ricky shouts out Michael Hayes and says he thought they always had heat because he was so stiff. He'd tell him hit him as hard as he can because his working punch'd put him in the hospital.
Morton talks about wrestling a lot of guys and it's a great honor to be here, but they made history with another tag team they hope will be up here soon. Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, the Midnight Express. Gibson thanks the man upstairs for keeping them healthy and in the business, his fiancee, her son, his kids, his sisters, and his brother in heaven for teaching him everything he knew.
Ricky thanks his wife for never trying to change him, and now the hard part. Over 35 years, Robert and he have been around the world several times together, through sad times, and the greatest, and they have shared life's tragedies. Through that whole time, he has four brothers at home, but in his heart he has five. He tells Robert he's the greatest person he's ever met, and they hug.
Jerry Lawler introduces the video package for Rick Rude.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude
Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat comes out to induct Rude. Eight years ago it was his special night to receive the Hall of Fame ring he wears every day, and he thanks WWE and the fans. "Ravishing" Rick Rude broke the mold, he says, and he gives us a potted history of Rude's career.
He says Rude said he was stingy with his heat, he didn't want to transfer it to anybody. He was a true heel, picking folks from the crowd to antagonize. Steamboat remembers watching him work out, doing wrist curls with an 80-pound dumbbell. He recalls a time powerlifters were doing three hundred pound rolls and Rick was waiting his turn.
One of the dudes tried to drop the weight but Rude told him to stop and moved it with one hand. Ricky talks about shaking his hand and feeling the strength. And you'd know in the course of a match that he knew what he was doing and would never forget, like the rib damage in the thirty-minute Iron Man they had.
He has another example of Rude's psychology, they were having a cage match and he was gonna suplex Rude and Rick blocked him, physically spun him around with his back to the cage and told him to suplex him then and there Rude hung himself on the cage to set up a trifecta of crossbodies where Rude evaded the third with a sit-up and continued to do more sit-ups.
He had great timing, he wasn't sniff but he was snug and you knew he was there every time he hit you. Ricky ends it with what a pleasure it is to be here and welcome Rick's family, his son, his wife, and his daughter.
Rick's son talks about being nervous to accept it, because how do you speak for someone that outspoken? After giving it some thought, he asked what his dad would say. So what he needs right now is for all of you fat, out of shape, overweight, Central Florida sweathogs to keep the noise down so all the ladies can get what they came for tonight.
He's not gonna stand here tonight and tell us about his dad, because most of us probably know more about his professional career than he does. But he will tell us about the man. His dad overcame incredible odds to reach the heights he did. One of six kids in a single-parent home, they didn't have much, but his dad was a hard worker, and tough as nails.
His dad didn't come from the business, he worked as a bouncer and an arm wrestler, taking sixth place in the 1983 world championships. It wasn't until his friends from high school started wrestling that he trained with Eddie Sharkey and got his career started.
He says his dad did great work because he truly loved what he did. When he wasn't on the road, his dad spoke constantly about the next story, the next reaction, pushing to make it better for us, the fans. On a more personal note, his dad enjoyed boating, fishing, as Steve Austin would say, trying to hunt, but he enjoyed being with his family more than anything.
Rude said he worked as hard as he did to make sure his family had more opportunities than he did, and his son affirms that he succeeded. He calls his mother the strongest woman he knows and because of the opportunities created, his sister is about to graduate college, he owns his own business, and his late brother Colton was the most wonderful, kind person he's ever had the honor of meeting, and that was no mistake.
He thanks WWE on behalf of the entire Rood family for the opportunity and for placing him amongst the greatest wrestlers of all time.
Jerry tosses to the video package for Beth Phoenix
Lawler points out that Natalya is taking valuable time off from posting on her cat's Instagram to be here.
Nattie begins with a plug for 2Pawz, as is right and proper. Tonight, she gets to induct her best friend, Beth Phoenix, to the Hall of Fame. She doesn't know what kind of magic made this happen, but it was meant to be. It started with the World's Strongest Man, Mark Henry.
The first time she met Mark, the first thing he said was that Nattie reminded him of Beth Phoenix, even before saying hello. She smiled back real hard and asked who the hell is she? She says she and Beth could pass as sisters and wondered why she was being Single White Female'd.
One day on MySpace, Beth introduced herself and said she wanted to be a WWE Superstar because of two people, her uncles, Bret "the Hitman" Hart and Owen Hart. She finally met this strange woman, but she showed up wearing the same outfit.
The thing about destiny is that it happens whether you see it coming or not, and they became sisters, partners in crime, and did their damnedest to impress Fit Finlay and Arn Anderson, because if you can do that, you've made it. As their relationship grew they realized they were alike and compared themselves to Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.
They didn't want to be supermodels, they wanted to kick ass, and that's exactly what Beth did. In 2010 they faced LayCool in the first and only women's tag team table match in WWE, and Pheonix insisted the spotlight be on Neidhart, because that's the kind of person she is.
Traveling the world together, they shared dinners and slept in the same bed, staying up all night, and sometimes Beth believed in her when she didn't believe in herself. They put on their best southern accents to befuddle convenience store clerks as they made up stories about their three ex-husbands.
They shared tough times, too, and Beth taught her those times show you what you're made of. She says Beth is family all the way, and not just an asskicker, but a mother of two, a classic pianist, she has a master's degree, and she can bench press two Carmellas.
Nattie runs down her WWE accolades and says she's still jealous Beth got to kiss Great Khali and she didn't. (Sorry, TJ.) To this day, she believes that Beth was Owen's gift from heaven for her, and because of her she believes in fate. She asks everybody to give it up for Beth and we get to hear that sweet Mellotron theme song.
Beth gets a "one more match!" chant and threatens to put the crowd in time-out.
She starts off saying you never forget your first love, and hers was wrestling. She has her grandmother to thank for that, and she remembers spending weekends with her grandparents watching WCW. WrestleMania X changed everything, the opening match, Bret vs. Owen, and a switch flipped for her.
It was that moment she knew that's what she wanted to do when she grew up. Her college roommate asked her one day about what she wanted to do and said well, why not, it's crazy but you can do it, and that's it. She thanks Janet for believing in her crazy and standing by her all these years.
She thanks all the folks that contributed to her career, trainer Ron Hutchison, who trained Edge, Christian, Trish Stratus and herself. She thanks a bunch more folks, including Afa the Wild Samoan and his family, who made sure she had a warm bed and money to travel home.
All this lead to her first tryout for WWE. She was 22 and nervous, so she spent ten minutes outside the arena pumping herself up. She said she had this, grabbed the handle of the door, ripped it open... and smacked directly into Brock Lesnar. So much for not being intimidated!
She went to the ring to work out, where she saw the Dudleys, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Val Venis, Simon Dean, Nick Dinsmore, William Regal, and Chavo & Eddie Guerrero. Those men were there early and got in the ring with new talent that wanted to learn, and she appreciated every moment they spent with her.
She became friends with Molly Holly and learned the business from her. Molly gave her a box of old gear and put her in touch with "Nightmare" Danny Davis, to train at OVW. She quit her job and went down to give Danny her first $100, and she got a receipt for the entire summer.
Beth thought it was mistake, but Danny said it wasn't and a little birdie paid it forward, and of course, that was Molly Holly. She says that's the kind of person Molly is, all about building people up. She thank everyone who was part of her time in OVW, including Jim Cornette, Tom Pritchard, Lance Storm, Al Snow, Robert Gibson, Aaron "Damien Sandow" Stevens, and Paul Heyman.
She says Paul saw something in her and gave her opportunities, believing in her and boosting her confidence. Tommy Dreamer is next on the "thank you" block, and she calls him the champion of the little guy. He fights for those whose passion outweighs what they bring to the table and doesn't think anybody loves wrestling more than him.
After a few hiccups she made the main roster and she thanks all the women she had the pleasure of working with. Within her first few weeks she was wrestling Candice Michelle and says she perfectly fit the role of fighting champion and in many ways, created the Glamazon.
Mickie James was her first opponent in a wrestling match, and she says today's roster is lucky to have her and every night wrestling her was a night off. Eve Torres, for whom Beth runs down her extracurriculars and thanks her for always making time for her as a peer and a friend.
She almost forgot Santino! She handed a one-page storyline suggestion to Vince, and the next week he said he was gonna give it a go. She's sure Santino didn't realize he'd eventually be wrestling in a wig and fishnets. She tells a story about Santino memorizing a promo in Italian and not having time to translate it for her.
She left the ring and was flying high until she bumped into an Italian fan who translated it for her, to the extent of "You gotta help me, the woman can't cook! All she does is feed me protein shakes, I'm starving!" She puts it over as some of the most fun she had in her career and says he made her look like gold.
Now on to return the favor for Natalya putting her over. She talks about Nattie having her teeth knocked out and giving them to the ref to hold on to without showing an ounce of pain. She talks about Nattie cheering her up at her lowest and says she, too, thinks Owen Hart played a part in bringing them together.
She thanks the current superstars for cotinuing to move toward equality for women and says she's grateful for essentially the entire crop of current stars, saying the future is bright. She thanks her support system at WWE, Fit Finlay, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, Pat Patterson, Goldust, Barry Windham, Jim Ross, all the referees and support staff and so on.
She thanks those that came before her, Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase, Mr. Perfect, Sherri Martel, Alundra Blayze, Molly Holly, Trish, Lita, and the Ninth Wonder of the World, Chyna. Chyna broke down the door for her to be in the Royal Rumble, which is the proudest accomplishment of her career.
She saw Chyna debut and started lifting weights the next morning. She thanks the other inductees and the WWE Universe and says two amazing people aren't here tonight. Her parents, who couldn't be here because her mom just had bypass surgery. She puts 'em over for being supportive and her biggest fans.
She thanks her brother and his wife, her mother-in-law, her husband, Adam, who we all know better as-- Tony Chimel cuts her off! He does a full intro for Edge, and his entrance music plays, by god. Being married to a wrestler has unique challenges, and being two wrestlers married is another level.
You always run out of IcyHot, you get called "brother", you have to ask whose Zubaz are whose when you do laundry... She talks about Edge's vows including a bit about smoke and fire and how she couldn't help but think about the spear spot with Mick Foley.
She thanks him for being a father and taking thirteen flights from Ireland while filming so he could tuck his daughters in as much as possible. Finally she puts her kids over and tells them if they watch the footage back that they're her greatest accomplishments.
Her journey, this evening, everything, is all for them, because if they ever feel they don't fit the mold, it's because they don't, and they're meant for greater things.
Jerry Lawler introduces this year's Warrior Award recipient, Eric LeGrand, throwing to his video package.
Dana Warrior comes out with the award and an Ultimate Warrior action figure to set on the podium.
She talks about "Once upon a time" being a good beginning and says we're here because of characters, heroes and villains, evil queens-- at which point the camera cuts to Stephanie McMahon-- and brass-knuckle princesses-- cut to Sasha Banks. She says our women superstars rule, and we have men too.
She talks about giant warriors, monsters and beasts, mighty men who do not have swords, but spears and, on occasion, metal ladders, asking Sheamus how his stitches are. (Darby Allin ain't feeling too hot, either, lady!) She brings up Enzo as a jester and says at least he backs it up with a giant.
She segues to talking about Warrior inspiring his loyal subjects and talks about him getting into the Hall of Fame and about how his message reverberates even after he drew his last breath and passed into Parts Unknown. So, Eric LeGrand embodies the spirit of the Warrior and he's wrapped himself in the word "believe".
And, she says, if Eric is a hero, his mother is a heroine, and mother-to-mother, Dana bows to her, calling her a warrior queen. She bought her a tiara! Eric is in a chair, but he is not the chair. It might be his chariot, but he has vowed to walk again and Dana believes him.
She talks about the importance of funding research and how every dollar counts. And love connects all of this, not just romantic love, but love connected to service. She says worse things have happened to better people than her, so she can't complain, but Eric asks something better-- in comparison to what?
Eric thanks God for all the blessings he's received, to start. He thanks HHH for his friendship and the whole WWE family, for bringing him in as a fan. He talks about how he met HHH, he was on a podcast and the guy knew he was a big fan and he had HHH invite him to SummerSlam two years ago.
As the year went on he started a show on FoxSports about people's stories of overcoming adversity and they decided an episode should be about a kid who had his legs amputed at the age of four and found a way through life as an amateur wrestler. They brought him to WWE and got HHH involved.
He talks about the accident in October 2010 that changed his life forever, about tackling a guy and deciding to hit guy with his shoulder but his teammate tripped dude up and he rammed him full-force with the crown of his head. He talks about praying to God for just a breath of air.
He gives the people around him credit for handling the news that was he was supposed to be on a feeding tube for the rest of his life, unable to breathe without assistance and certainly unable to walk. So he committed to fight and wrapped himself up in belief and five weeks later he requested to be taken off the ventilator and an hour and a half later he was still breathing on his own.
That Thanksgiving, he had the feeding tube out and you can tell he gets plenty of solid food today. When he first got hurt he could barely turn his head and six years in he's grinding and he can shimmy his shoulders around. He talks about having friends in unfortunate situations and how it's his time to give back to them and give them hope and belief that they can walk again.
The hope is one day spinal cord injuries will be like a torn ACL, and he puts Christopher Reeve over big and says it's his turn to take over and finish for him.
He shifts to talking about wrestling and how you can have a conversation with anybody and they've probably been a fan at some point. He talks about being a kid maybe five and there was an older kid tying 'em up and he mentions being put into the Walls of Jericho by his sister.
One time he was beating his teddy bear up, jumped a little early on a diving elbow and broke the leg, so his mom had to prop it up with a flashlight. He talks about being inspired by Stone Cold Steve Austin, and when you heard that glass break and the crowd pop, getting amped up.
Onto Kane and his mastery of fire and how he always thought it was cool when dudes could step over the top rope. He thanks Kane for winning him a lot of matches in SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, hah. The last guy he shouts out is the Rock and his control over the crowd. King of the Ring 2002, he remembers a promo with Goldust and Booker T, the Rock coming in and doing his schtick and dropping catchphrases on Goldy.
He talks about how he's happy to be part of the WWE family, and he thanks his mom, who is watching on the Network right now, he puts her over for taking care of him. He calls out his team that's with him tonight and asks them to stand up, saying without their support he wouldn't be here today.
He ends pledging that one day he'll walk again.
Jerry Lawler tosses to Teddy Long's video package, holla holla playa and so on.
JBL and Ron Simmons come down and JBL starts, saying that the main thing they've learned tonight is that old guys with a microphone forget the two most important words in the English language, "go home". He calls Teddy the cheapest human being on earth and Ron says Scrooge is number two.
Bradshaw lists a number of things Teddy wouldn't pay for and Ron has a total amount Teddy owes them. $72,345 dollars! Before Teddy became a tag team wizard he drove for the APA and the Godfather, and he was god awful. He got stopped for a felony in Kentucky and Ron points out it wasn't his fault, he was just Driving While Black.
Long failed a sobriety test despite not drinking all week. Teddy's gonna come out here and blame them but all they did was sit in the back, drink beer, and throw the empties out the window. JBL says Teddy was around for the Civil War and Ron says he caught him trying to exchange Confederate money again.
But in all honesty, Ron says that Teddy is one of the handful of guys who's done everything from ring crew to managing to being GM of SmackDown. JBL talks about Teddy growing up in Alabama and seeing his friends hosed down in the streets for the color of their skin and having to queue up for colored-only water fountains, and being just down the street when a bomb went off.
Teddy was once arrested during a riot, at his own place of employment, for the color of his skin. We have a long way to go, but people like Teddy show us that Martin Luther King's dream continues, because people stand on his shoulders. Teddy said about Ron Simmons becoming world champion that it wasn't black history, but just history that would open the door for everybody.
Teddy is wearing a bright red jacket, my god. So bright it's messing with my TV's color balance, in fact.
He shuffles a bit and makes like his back was thrown out but he's just ribbing Bradshaw and Simmons! He thanks the crowd and says they're not loud enough and asks for some hollas. He corrects Bradshaw and Simmons, he is cheap, but the real story about his arrest is they're driving along, he picked the wrong exit.
Police comes to the car, talks to Teddy, says he smells alcohol and the next thing he hears is Ron saying "Oh, we got a bloodhound now?" The police asks him to step out and makes him take the test, which he passed, but he still got a ticket. $200, and he found a way to get Bradshaw and Ron to pay for it!
He says he's not gonna be here all day but talks about his career. His first job gave him no money, he showed one of the wrestlers around town and that's how he got in the back. He needed to be busy so as not to be kicked out, so he did some basic janitorial and gofer type work.
Then he got a job on the ring crew for about a month before he finally got paid. One night they're going to Marietta, Georgia and 30 minutes before show time there's no referee and he's picked. Never refereed a day in his life but he does it. First match is Black Bart vs. Ron Bass in a Texas Death Match!
They're beating the hell out of each other, bleeding all over the place, Teddy is scared out of his mind and jumps out the ring as soon as they start bleeding! Onto how he became a manager, he started riding with Kevin Sullivan and "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, and he learned a lot from them.
They found out that he was DJ when he was a teenager and he could talk, so they went to Jim Ross and he campaigned for Teddy to become a manager. His first team was Doom, but he also managed Johnny B. Badd, Ice Train, Scott Norton, a lot of guys.
And then in 1998 he came to work for Vince McMahon, Jim Ross had hired him again. He was a referee again for about a year and he was brought up in a meeting to be a manager again. He got a call and they wanted him for TV in Providence, Rhode Island where he came out with D'Lo Brown.
Vince couldn't believe he had Teddy under his nose this entire time, and Teddy shouts out some other dudes he managed, like Mark Henry, Mark Jindrak, and so on. One night he came into SmackDown, they didn't tell him anything, and about thirty minutes before taping started, he was told he was going to be General Manager.
Nervous again, but he couldn't let WWE down again, and he had to make it work. He ain't blowing his own horn, but he made it work. He thanks God, WWE, the WWE Universe, Vince, the McMahon family, his son (who helped him put the ring up once, at the age of 6 years old), his wife, and everybody in the crowd.
Before he leaves, he threatens to put Bradshaw and Simmons in a tag team match if they want their money back so bad. But since Simmons is retired, then Bradshaw can go one-on-one with the Undertaker! He says he's a holla holla Hall of Famer and takes his leave.
Lawler introduces a video package for the Legacy wing, this year including Haystacks Calhoun, Judy Grable, Bearcat Wright (although they don't mention his WWA World Heavyweight Championship reign, which arguably makes him the first black world champion), Farmer Burns, Rikidozan, Luther Lindsay, June Byers, Toots Mondt, and Dr. Jerry Graham
Only one left on the docket, so Lawler tosses to Angle's video package.
Cena gets a thunderous "Let's go Miz!" chant after his music stops, what even.
He says the moment we're about to experience is long overdue, and there aren't any words to describe how great Kurt is, because he's in a class by himself. Never before and, Cena believes, will we have someone so gifted athletically, but with such a personality.
John puts Angle's accomplishments over, starting with his legit credentials and moving on to his WWE career. He talks about Kurt inviting people to test themselves against him and puts him over as a superstar, as the type of person that fathers tell their children about and the kids doubt the stories.
Well, it's true, it's damn true.
He starts off thanking Cena for the speech but gets cut off by a "one more match!" chant, to which he says he just got here and asks for a little more time. He wants to tell a story about coming to WWE. In 1996, after he won the gold medal, he was approached by WWE.
Vince brought him in his office and offered him a big deal, more money than he saw in his lifetime. He's staring at the contract like holy smoke, this is a lot of money, but he has something to say... if he signs the contract, he can never lose a wrestling match ever.
Two years later he started watching Raw and fell in love with it, wanted to become part of it. He called up Jim Ross, asking if the contract offer still stands. JR told him he could come and try out, so he worked hard and picked it up fast, quicker than anyone. (Well, anyone before Matt Riddle, all due respect.)
He thanks folks who helped him do so, Jim Ross, Dory Funk, Jr., Tom Pritchard, Jerry Brisco, Pat Patterson, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, I'm missing names left and right here. He has two who lost their lives young he wants to mention, Steve Bradley and Shawn Adams.
When he started on TV it was only twelve months since he started training. And the reason he did that is because there were a lot of giving athletes, Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boys (a "DELETE!" chant goes up), Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Steve Austin, the Rock, HHH, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, even Rikishi, all helped him out a lot.
Two years in he started to get his own groove and he was literally one of the best in the business. He puts over the matches he had with Shawn Michaels, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, John Cena, and "that crazy son of a bitch" Shane McMahon, who he can't wait to see wrestle AJ Styles.
But he's here tonight to give advice to the wrestlers in the crowd. He wants them to limit their mistakes, know what they're allowed to do and not, to follow the rules, use common sense, don't be the one everybody says could have been the greatest if they just stayed out of trouble.
But, take chances. Not in the ring, but with your character. He did! Sometimes when you make fun of yourself, it works out, like with the cowboy hat. Somebody helpfully brings a tiny hat to him, and he asks if we really think he wanted to do this with Stone Cold and Vince McMahon?
He gives us a few bars of Jimmy Crack Corn! Another chance he took was the wig, and again, he gets the prop to demonstrate. Toupee and headgear on, he asks if we believe he made Hulk Hogan tap out wearing that gimmick. He leaves it on as he continues, talking about riding a moped to the ring to wrestle the Undertaker, which he thinks pissed the American Badass off.
He can't "Wooo!" anymore because of the neck surgery, and shifts to battle raps with John Cena, getting a beat from the crowd. At this point he takes the headgear and the wig off and teases us with a bit of Sexy Kurt. He plays it off like he's not going to and gets a clap going so he can sing a few bars. (Although I saw Marty Jannetty walk just last night, sir.)
What he's trying to say is you gotta make moments, and personality brings moments. The fans will remember matches for a long time, but character moments last forever. His favorite is the milk truck, but we're not getting the milk truck.
He thanks the good lord, the WWE Universe for making it fun for him, his brothers, his sister, his parents, his five children, and last but not least, the one person that saved his life, who was there at his worst and who is here now, his wife.
Also last but not least, he's gonna celebrate the induction the only way he knows how-- MILK BASH!
That's the show, folks.