WWE has ordered all of the speakers at this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony, with the exception of Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, to limit their speeches to three minutes.
A number of people in the company were negative about Koko B. Ware getting an induction, feeling that including him would lower the bar too far. However, prior inductees such as James Dudley and Johnny Rodz have already lowered that bar. Brian Gerwitz was the most vocal in supporting Koko’s induction as he was a fan of his whilst growing up and has a somewhat idealised, rose-tinted view of that era.
In general there has been less discussion about this year’s class than in previous years. Gerwitz nominated Koko without really expecting the suggestion to lead to anything and yet it did. On a similar vein, Michael Hayes was instrumental in making sure the Von Erichs got in this year. Ricky Steamboat, along with an induction speech by Ric Flair, was supported by everyone, as was Ted Dibiase. Steamboat and Dibiase get significant support amongst the voting every year, yet in the end the tallied votes are little more than suggestions as the final decision is made by Vince McMahon. He passed both men over in recent years, keeping them in reserve as they can be inducted any year and he doesn’t want to burn through credible inductees too fast. Dibiase will be inducted at a later date, most likely with Ted Jr doing the induction speech. The Funks have also been listed each year, despite Vince having some lingering resentment with Terry over how he departed the promotion in the past. Dory actually called Bret Hart and asked him to do the induction speech. Bret accepted but it is up to WWE to select who does these speeches. Howard Finkel also turned up on the annual ballots only for Vince to ignore him. It became something of a running joke, yet this year Vince agreed to induct him out of the blue. Finkel is considered to be the one inductee that consider this a genuine honour and a crowning achievement in his life. Bill Watts also came as something of a surprise this year, since his only major supporter within WWE was Jim Ross and he has less influence there now than at any other point in recent times.
So far as other potential inductees are concerned, there was a suggestion made in the build-up to WrestleMania 23 in Detroit that Steamboat and Randy Savage should go in. Given Vince’s peculiar and intense dislike of Savage, the idea was hastily dismissed. There was actually a discussion this year about inducting Sting, which lasted for a long time as the majority of the WWE creative team and producers had no idea that he was working for TNA. The idea is that he will be inducted and given a DVD set at some point in the future. Other names that were talked about included Honky Tonk Man, Jake Roberts, Paul Boesch, John Tenta, Bruiser Brody, Big Bossman, One Man Gang, Mil Mascaras, Stan Hansen and Tully Blanchard. Dick the Bruiser and Crusher are expected to get a lot of support next year as WrestleMania 26 will be in Indianapolis.
Credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, 30 March 2009 (subscribe here)
Tags: Bret Hart, Hall Of Fame, Howard Finkel, Steve Austin, vince mcmahon, wrestlemania, WWE