WWE changed things up with its Hall of Fame ceremony this year, attempting to account for the long run time in year’s past as well as switching around the stage set up. In lieu of a traditional recap, we’ll just run down where they hit and where they missed with this year’s show from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
- They did well to keep the time down this year, and it was awfully nice that we didn’t have to sit through so many drawn out speeches from inductors to inductees. Only DX went long but they were the main event and five different guys had to give speeches while also honoring Chyna. The hope is they can keep this going in the future.
- X-Pac campaigning for WWE to rename the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal to the Chyna Memorial Battle Royal.
- Triple H making fun of AEW was legitimately funny, mostly because it’s going to lead to a lot of folks overreacting to it.
- Whoever had the idea to cut back and forth between WrestleMania opponents is a genius. They did it with The Miz and Shane McMahon, alternating between cheers and boos for each, and the two played into it so well. The same goes for Daniel Bryan (who was actively trying to avoid the camera) and Kofi Kingston (who had New Day there encouraging it and screaming along, including his adorable son). It legitimately made me that much more excited for those matches at WrestleMania 35.
- Let me just give The New Day their own spot. They were fantastic all night long, from being seen making hilarious faces in the background, to playing it up alongside Kingston, to standing up for what they believe in with their silent protest of Hulk Hogan.
- Harlem Heat’s speech. I thought Booker T was fantastic, striking the perfect balance between goodhearted fun and strong emotion reflecting on his run while honoring his brother. “I’ve been living my brother’s dream, and I think it’s time for me to wake up,” he said with a laugh as he ceded the floor to Stevie Ray. That was perfect. He didn’t go long, but he really hit home. I don’t want to sell Stevie short either, because he, too, was extremely well spoken and came across incredibly well. His story telling skills were so good, anyone saying he didn’t deserve this spot should be ashamed.
- Rushing the ring during a pro wrestling show is not okay, and if you’re a fan thinking of doing this, just don’t. Some idiot rushed Bret Hart during his induction speech for the Hart Foundation and he got his ass whooped by a very large group of wrestlers for his trouble. He got himself some attention, but I’ll never understand why anyone would want to go down in infamy as a legendary dipshit. Congrats to this moron, I guess.
- Having said that, it should also be noted that the response, while deeply satisfying in a primitive sense, also wasn’t okay. I don’t feel bad for the guy, he was an idiot, but seeing a large group of wrestlers ganging up on him and beating him down was also bad. Travis Browne, for instance, is a trained heavyweight martial artist. This was just some schmuck trying to get some fame. They couldn’t have known what he would do and how far he would go, but that’s what you pay security for. This was obviously a failure on WWE’s part, and we can safely assume adjustments will be made for next year’s ceremony.
- Having said all that, the set up for this entire show, with inductees getting an entrance and giving their speeches from a podium set up in the ring felt a bit ... what’s the word ... amateur? I don’t know, it just didn’t feel as special as the expansive stage set ups of years past. My hope is they go back to the old, elevated stage look in future years.
- Please, god, stop doing songs at the Hall of Fame. Honky Tonk Man was much better than Jeff Jarrett but it’s always a cringe-fest.
If I was grading the show, I would go with a solid C.