The following is from Stevie J at AngryMarks.com…
The Fox Theatre is jam-packed and ready to rock’n’roll. Lilian introduces us to the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame. It’s 15 minutes to showtime and we’re told that the WWE wrestlers are coming out so please give them a big round of applause, although for at least the first five minutes of standing not a single WWE star is to be seen. It isn’t until the tail end right before the HOF that the superstars like John Cena and Shawn Michaels come out, the former getting a huge boo and the latter getting a long H-B-K pop. Triple H got a huge chant and standing ovation when he came out too.
Nick Bockwinkle is the first inductee when the main show starts. He’s introduced by Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, who is his usual charismatic self. Heenan cracks a few jokes, and then introduces Bockwinkel. Bockwinkel receives a standing ovation from the crowd, and speaks for just about the right amount of time.
Afa & Sika (The Wild Samoans) are the next to be inducted, represented by their respective sons, one of which is Young Roosevelt a.k.a. the Super Hero In Training. They speak for a while about the legacy of Samoans in the business and how grateful they are to be a part of that legacy. Wild Samoans come out and Sika speaks in his native language to start, then when Afa gets to the podium he tells us what he said was more or less “thanks to God for our blessings.” Afa seems a little gunshy at first but once he starts telling stories he can’t shut up, to the point he even admits himself that he’s getting longwinded. He repeatedly thanks High Chief Peter Maivia and Rocky Johnson for all they did to bring them in the business, and tells a story of how Sika got them into the business by throwing a chair during a match at the Cow Palace featuring Pat Patterson that nearly started a riot, at which point their Uncle Maivia said “we need to get you two in the wrestling business to keep you out of trouble.” It was good but really went way too long.
Next out are Rob Van Dam and Sabu, to introduce The Sheik (Ed Farhat). Rob Van Dam gives a long speech about how he was trained by Sheik, how they practiced headlocks over and over again until Sheik would get so mad that he would get in the ring, bite Rob’s nose, gouge his eyes and say NOW show me a headlock and he’d be so mad he’d finally do it to Sheik’s satisfaction. Rob goes on to say how did I become Rob Van Dam that way practicing headlocks? The Sheik would get a phone call and leave his chair at ringside and then Rob would turn to Sheik’s nephew and say “Come over here when I climb up the ropes, I got this move I want to try!” After Rob finishes speaking Sabu briefly introduces the video package and then we watch the same video of Sheik highlights shown on ECW. Joyce Farhat comes out to accept the award after the video package and has to stop several times as she’s almost crying. She says nobody knew the real Sheik, who was a family man and a generous man, but he loved the fans and he enjoyed making them hate him because he knew he was giving them such a cathartic release.
Next up to be inducted is Mr. Fuji. Don Muraco comes out and speaks about how great Mr. Fuji was, how he made so many opportunities for people in the wrestling business, and how much fun they had together. He tells us that Fuji was a classic ribber, that he loved to do thinks like put firecrackers in the engine of a wrestler’s car and when it exploded “Mr. Fuji will investigate.” Any time a rib blew up in somebody’s face and someone complained “Mr. Fuji will investigate.” Fuji came out and had to be helped up on stage by two people, he seems really hobbled these days, dropping his cane on his way to the podium. Once he got there though he was in rare form, telling all of the people in attendance that Muraco was not exaggerating and regailing us with a classic rib where it was snowing in Manhattan and he got a tow truck to lift up a wrestler’s car so he could put it on cinder blocks, then covering up the wheel wells with snow so he couldn’t tell it was on blocks. Fuji accelerated matters by telling him they had to get to the bar before it closed, and of course he tried to start it and put it in gear but it went nowhere. Fuji seemed really grateful to be honored and thanked the fans for watching him for all these years.
After a brief interlude while they got ready for the TV taping, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music hit and he came out to introduce Jim Ross. If you watched the show on USA they cut Austin’s introduction speech down to a nub, as he had a lot to say about how he had come up in the business listening to Jim Ross, how much J.R. had done for him personally, and how when he went into the hospital for his colon surgery Austin had to admit to him on the phone “I love you man” because he couldn’t let J.R. go without telling him in case something went wrong. Ross came out and got a very long time, regailing us with stories of how he drove around as a referee breaking into the business, how he “sat at the learning tree” with Ernie Ladd when he came to work for Cowboy Bill Watts, and how his biggest break in the business came at 1993 – not working for Vince mind you, but marrying “my beautiful Italian angel” – being employed by McMahon was his SECOND big break. Ross told us that he got fired twice for being too passionate about the business, channeling his passions in the wrong directions at times, and apologized for the mistakes that he had made over the years. He seemed obsessed with his bells palsy, going out of his way to say he had to hold up his cheek the whole time at WrestleMania 15 but he was still honored to call the match. J.R. went on to say that WWE had inducted a lot of wrestlers into the HOF but he was the first “wrestling fan” who never wrestled in his life to make his way into the prestigious institution. Ross was very emotional the whole time and got at least two standing ovations at the start.
William Shatner comes out next to introduce Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. He got several loud boos during his speech, mostly because it was obvious he was reading from a prepared statement the whole time, almost never looking up at the camera. Personally I was insulted that he came out instead of Lance Russell and yelled “PRICELINE SUCKS” right when he started speaking. Shatner continued putting himself over for being on “The King’s Court” and getting in a fight with Lawler, going on way too long in general. King almost admits as much when he comes out, as he puts over Russell as the first person who showed his drawings on the air, and how because of it he got invited to the studio and met his idol Jackie Fargo, a man he would go on to dethrone on his way to becoming “The King of Memphis.” Lawler tells us lots of Viagra jokes, none of which made TV, including how one got into a wrestler’s pocket at the dry cleaning and he had a “stiff shirt” and how Lawler got some in his eyes and was told he “looked hard.” King was very funny and told great stories, but this got totally lost in translation on USA.
The next inductee was ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig. Even though many people had knocked Wade Boggs beforehand for being the presenter, it was clear that he was speaking from the heart far more than he was reading from his speech, and that he was a genuine close personal friend of Hennig’s, even going so far as to tell us that Hennig saved his life when they were on a hunting trip in Iowa and got his leg sliced open on some barbed wire – if Hennig hadn’t extricated him and carried him to the car so he could get medical help he would have bled to death. They showed a video package of Hennig highlights and then his entire family came out to accept the award on his behalf, including a son who was the spitting image of him and wore the “Mr. Perfect” jacket and his father Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig. Leonice Hennig (Perfect’s wife) spoke on behalf of the family, saying how he was a great family man and he lived to entertain the people. Another very well-received induction by the crowd with “thank you” chants.
Last but certainly not least was ‘American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, being inducted by his sons Cody and Dustin. Dustin spoke first and he got a big “GOLDDUST” chant, even without the makeup and suit. Cody put over Golddust when he spoke, saying that Dustin helped usher in the attitude era, and doesn’t get near the credit for it he deserves, and then told us all how uncommon a ‘Common Man’ like his father really was. At this point they showed the video package for Dusty putting over his personality and all of his accomplishments. When Dusty came out to accept his awards, his ovations were easily the equal of J.R. Dusty spoke for a long time, and even though his speech is airing right now on USA there’s no way it will be near as long as there are only 8 minutes left on USA and he spoke WAY longer than that. Dusty thanked a lot of people who he came up with in the business, and said that everybody had talked a lot tonight about “passion” and how everybody here, past present and future and all the fans had a huge passion for the business. Dusty spoke a lot about “hard times” and how they all wrestled for the factory workers going through hard times, to hopefully give them some good times. He mentioned several names in the business and had them stand up to get ovations, including Triple H (huge pop), Arn Anderson and Harley Race, but when he got to John Cena he got booed and he said “Well alright I can tell where your passion is!” He says he brought a hankie with him in case he started crying, and pulls black and yellow polka dots and wipes his brow to laughter and another ovation. “I loved that time!” Dusty complains about technology, saying people ask him to e-mail them something he just said five minutes ago, and speaks about how his friend Dick Murdoch was reinvented in the form of JBL. The highlight of the speech was Dusty asking Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to stand up, telling them that right then and there he wanted them to induct him and Harley Race into the Four Horsemen, which got a huge ovation, but then Dusty got huge ovations all night. Hopefully the full speech will be included on the WrestleMania 23 DVD set. He ended by telling us “truly tonight I have dined with kings and queens.” They thanked us again for attending and handed out commemorative silver medals on the way out of the Fox Theatre.
Credit: Stevie J at AngryMarks.com