The WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony is here once again, this time back to normal in some ways and not so much in others. Indeed, this year will see the ceremony take place immediately following Friday Night SmackDown at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, just one night before the start of WrestleMania 38, which will span two nights just down the road in Arlington. It will air on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network everywhere else.
Here is the 2022 class of inductees:
- The Undertaker
- Queen Sharmell
- The Steiner Brothers
- Shad Gaspard
It doesn’t appear there will be a celebrity inductee in this year’s class as there has been in year’s past. Last year we got both William Shatner and Ozzy Osbourne as part of the double induction of the 2020 and 2021 classes. Those classes both featured seven inductees, while this year features just five.
Come on back here and hang out with your favorite Cagesiders while it’s all going down.
Enjoy the show!
One hell of a class:
The Steiner Brothers were first up.
Bron Breakker introduced them, saying “I’m about to take the biggest risk of my career and turn the mic over to my uncle Scott.” Ha!
He teased going off the rails right away but as it turned out, he did great. He put over all the tag teams they worked with that got them here. Then he told a bizarre story about meeting Macho Man Randy Savage and trying to get cows to come to him before Macho could. He made the crowd laugh with it. Then he got emotional, speaking lovingly about his family. That was all!
“That wasn’t so bad was it?”
Rick took over and joked about Scott taking up all their time. He made sure to thank his brother, saying it was icing on the cake to get to do what he loved alongside his brother. “I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.” Then he thanked the fans for the support, gave us a few barks, and that was that.
They were great!
Queen Sharmell was up next.
Naturally, Booker T was the guy to induct her, as WWE couldn’t help but use the phrase “The Queen joins her King in the Hall of Fame.” It’s a pretty good line, after all. He said his most memorable run in WWE was as King Booker and Queen Sharmell had a lot to do with getting that over.
Before she even got the chance to speak, the fans showered her with “you deserve it” chants. She thanked the Nitro girls, where she got her start, and many others who helped her come up along the way. She thanked The Boogeyman! She thanked her husband for “the run of a lifetime.” Johnny Ace for everything, and Bruce Prichard for giving her a chance. Those two names got a few boos, but she pushed right through that.
This is a night for joy, after all.
She put over the wrestling students they work with before closing with appreciation for her hometown and friends and family. When she brought up her kids, the camera cut to them, and the young boy looked HORRIFIED. Ha! That was great.
Lastly, she shared a touching moment with her husband, whom she called “my fairy tale dream come true.”
She was fantastic, a truly eloquent speaker everyone absolutely adored.
The Warrior Award was next.
They ran a special video package highlighting Shad Gaspard’s career in WWE, sure, but also his work as a father, the greatest work he ever did.
Dana Warrior was chosen to present the award, and it was, for me at least, a bit uncomfortable. After a touching video that left many in the audience in tears, Dana came out to Ultimate Warrior’s theme smiling and working the gimmick, waving to the fans and seemingly having a blast. It felt a bit off, considering the timing.
She gave a speech about family and love and the spirit of being a warrior before finally introducing Gaspard’s wife and son, who were walked to the ring by his former tag team partner in WWE, JTG.
His wife and son were showered with love, and chants that he was a hero. She checked on him to make sure he was okay, and he assured her he was. It was both adorable and inspiring.
She told stories of Shad stopping a robbery, making sure to bring home the family dog, and noting endless other stories of his doing the right thing and just generally being a hero of a man.
She spoke directly to her son to say “the best of daddy lives in you, and you come from a great man. I want you to hold your head up high when anyone speaks of your dad, because you had a badass dad and anyone should be so lucky to have a dad like you had.”
She left us with a quote from Shad, that women are remembered for what they are and men are remembered for what they do. She hugged her son, who took the Warrior Award and raised it above his head to a standing ovation.
What time is it?
It’s Vader time!
His son Jesse and his mother were out to induct him. They told a joke about not having watches on them and needing some help with the time. The crowd ate it up, of course.
She thanked everyone for all the support and how Vader is surely up above appreciative of it all. Jesse made sure to thank fans for putting food on his plate. He went over his dad’s career highlights, like his eye-popping experience in Japan and all the titles he won. But the thing he wasn’t so known for was being a great father.
While he may have been gone for half of Jesse’s childhood, he used that time better than any father of anyone else he knew as a kid. He was a great dad and if there was a Hall of Fame for that, Big Van Vader would have already been in it.
Only one more question to ask.
What time is it?
It’s Vader time.
Only one left, folks.
Vince McMahon himself was out to induct him.
He called this his favorite night of the year, even including holidays, because we can say thank you to everyone who is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for the ways they’ve left a mark on all of us through the years. Of everyone who has been inducted, there is no one more deserving than the man going in tonight.
He read off a long list of many wrestlers Undertaker had matches with throughout his long career, playing it up to the crowd that he would read fast so the fans couldn’t “what” him. They managed to do so anyway.
McMahon then told some stories, some that came across better than others. He talked up Undertaker’s integrity, his loyalty (“WCW never called him during the Monday Night Wars because they knew he wouldn’t answer”), respect, intelligence, dedication, discipline, and so on and so forth.
Fans tried to “what” him again and he threatened to have Undertaker come out and kick their ass.
“This man is the most revered Superstar in WWE history. But the greatest quality he brings is love. Because you cannot accomplish what he has in 30 years for any other reason than the love he has for his business.”
For those wondering if Vince would cry doing his speech, the answer is no.
He introduced him as “Mark Calaway, The Undertaker.”
He got the full gong and darkness for his entrance.
He was wearing a mic already, so when he hugged Vince McMahon in the ring, we could clearly hear him say “I love you.”
McMahon left and fans chanted “Undertaker” and gave him a standing ovation while he collected himself in the ring, already getting emotional at the situation. He let it breathe, and it just got louder and louder. Right when it seemed like it was going to die down, it would kick right up again. It went from loud cheering to a universal “you deserve it” chant.
All the while he was in the ring, soaking it in, trying his damndest not to cry his eyes out, many times having to wipe away a tear as he was losing that battle.
It sure felt like one hell of a powerful moment.
He would lean against the table, bow his head a little, collect himself some more, and fans would just cheer louder or switch the chant up.
“Thank you Taker” came next. The tears in the ring came with it.
“Rest in peace” was next. Again, he tried to collect himself. Again, fans cheered loudly.
Finally, he spoke.
“For the last 30 years, my identity has been ‘Undertaker.’ ‘The Phenom.’ ‘The Deadman.’ ‘The American Bad Ass.’ And ‘The Taker of Souls.’ Tonight, I’m going to take you behind the curtain, and meet the man under the black hat: Mark Calaway.”
He said he could have kept himself hidden forever but he wanted to show respect to the fans in the way they showed it to him for all these years. He wouldn’t be where he is today without all the people who helped him along the way, and his first thank you needs to be to the fans.
Then he told the story of being a lost college kid about the graduate not sure of what to do next — pursue basketball or maybe go where his heart already seemed to be, in pro wrestling. He went with the latter, which was the only way he was going to find his true identity. He couldn’t live his life for what his parents wanted him to do, he had to go chase his dreams without fear of what anyone else thought. His dreams led him to become The Undertaker.
We know his signature moves in the ring but tonight he wants to share his mental signature moves, and he hopes maybe they can help others.
His first lesson came from Vince McMahon, who taught him that “perception is reality.” He told the story of getting there via roughing up a young enhancement wrestler and storming to the back upset because that wrestler wasn’t doing so great. He learned that the hard way, and what became his first mental move was that he constantly reminded himself, both in the ring and outside it, his actions matter.
He thanked Stephanie McMahon after cracking jokes about her being an even bigger brat behind-the-scenes and being the sister he never wanted. He also thanked Shane McMahon, who he said absolutely wore him out and pestered him a lot about doing insane bumps in their matches.
Then he moved on to The Godfather, Charles Wright. He talked about drinking gallons of Jack Daniels and how they traveled the roads together and Godfather always had his back.
Then he shouted out the BSK, his crew, and said he would take their stories to the grave but just know how much he loves them. He also shouted out the late Yokozuna, a co-founder of BSK, who was a brother to him. Brian “Crush” Adams got a shout, and Undertaker got emotional thinking of his old friend, someone he said he thinks about every day and misses greatly. Paul Bearer was next. He was a vital part of the Undertaker character.
Then Kane, who was shown nodding his head in reverence. He called theirs the greatest story ever told in pro wrestling and said he’s the most genuine person he’s ever known. Then he joked about calling him “Mr. Mayor” and said “don’t get hot, brother — I didn’t when you stole all my move.”
On to the next signature mental move.
It happened over cornbread. His dad lectured him about paying taxes and living beneath his means. Then he dropped this pearl of wisdom: “The toes you’re gonna step on on your way to the top are connected to the same asses you’re going to have to kiss on the way back down.” Treat everyone with respect, no matter your status or stature was the lesson there. Respect and loyalty go a long way.
He’s always considered it an honor to perform in the ring, and he shouted out a list of names of legendary wrestlers. He thanked them for paving the way for his generation, and the generations to come.
He thanked a lot of names folks may not know, like the woman who made his gear and few others.
His last mental signature move came to him before WrestleMania 25, there with Shawn Michaels. They were told backstage that they were going on third and getting 15 minutes. They raised hell and got some extra time and moved up the card and tore the house down. He thanked Michaels for his friendship and for giving him one of the very best matches of his career. “Never be content,” is his third mental move and that experience highlighted it because they had nothing to prove but went out and did it and became unforgettable for it.
Then he moved to WrestleMania 27 and 28 and how it wouldn’t have been possible without Triple H. It was always a pleasure to share the ring with him, and how effortless it was. He thanked him for reminding him who he really was at a time when his confidence was at its lowest. His words that day got him through that match and through the rest of his career. Triple H responded with a nod of the head and some wet eyes.
He talked about the business taking a lot of sacrifice and said he was proud of his son and the man he’s become and how he misses his daughters Chasey and Gracie. Then he lovingly spoke of Kaia Faith, who was there front row with Michelle McCool, his wife and her mother. They shared a loving moment, with his saying she’s perfect just the way she is. She smiled and hugged her mother. Then he said Kolt was the newest member of the team and he’ll be a great dad to him. He was shown, the cute lil guy with a mohawk, and he waved.
He told a fun story about working in front of his parents and Sid calling out his mother while kicking his butt in the ring and her trying to rush the ring to get after him. “That’s how mom got banned from wrestling,” he quipped.
He said his mom has been on him for years. “When are you gonna get that damn ring?” Well, mom, he did it.
And he showed it off.
He got emotional talking about his wife, Michelle. He called her his rock and the foundation their family is built on. He wants to be a better man just being near her. He told a funny story of her coming to WWE and not wanting to meet just two people: Kane and Undertaker. Turns out Kane is the nicest man she’d ever meet and she married Undertaker “after a long and exhausting chase, I finally had to say yes.”
Then he said the best thing she’s ever done for him is restore his relationship with his lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
He called her his soulmate and told her how much she means to him. He even put over that whenever WWE calls, she can still go with the best women in the world today.
Next, he got to Vince McMahon, who changed his life. He’s been a friend and a father figure, especially after his dad passed away. But while Vince says he loves him, he kept putting him in a bunch of crazy matches like buried alive matches, inferno matches, and even a Punjabi Prison match that almost killed everyone. But while he got him to do a lot throughout his career, Vince never got him to do the Take-rooni.
He’ll take that one to the grave.
“Thank you for the gift of The Undertaker. But more importantly, thank you for your friendship.”
He circled back to the fans, telling them there is no one like them and thank you for the support and respect for all these years. Just remember you can’t live your life for anyone other than you. Then he dared everyone to make his three mental moves part of their life too. That way they can unapologetically be themselves and do their best in life.
Now that he’s finished up, we can be assured that he will rest in peace.
He started to leave but stopped. Turned around. Took the gear off one of the mannequins in the ring. Put the coat on, then the hat. Just like old times.
“Never say never.”
A kiss to his kids on the way out.
They showed him working the gimmick all the way up to the ramp, where he did the look back and the single arm in the air. Someone could be heard saying “fuck I’m sweating” over a hot mic.