TV REPORTS WWE HALL OF FAME CEREMONY 3/27: CALDWELL'S ongoing "virtual time" coverage of tonight's event on USA Network
Mar 27, 2010 - 11:00:14 PM
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WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony
March 27, 2010
Phoenix, Ariz. at the Dodge Theater
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
The show opened with a video package introducing still shots of the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees. They also rolled still shots of old-school Hall of Fame inductees including Classy Freddie Blassie and the Grand Wizard.
Theater: They went to a wide shot of the wrestlers on the front rows seated on the floor. Batista was on the front row of the left side sporting the heel shades. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were center section on the front row. Edge was given some TV time.
Opening: Jerry Lawler came out dressed in a tuxedo to warm up the crowd while they showed Batista in-character playing the heel role. Lawler was untypically serious to set the tone for the show. He welcomed the wrestlers to the ceremony. They showed Edge, then Christian, then Big Show, then a trio of John Cena sitting next to Shawn Michaels and MVP. They cut to a close-up of Batista looking upset. Cena made the Hall of Fame, as the bit for Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Award was taped earlier so he could attend the Hall of Fame. Lawler then introduced Dick Ebersol, the creator of Saturday Night's main event.
Bob Uecker induction
Podium: NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol came out and introduced Bob Uecker, a friend of his for the last 35 years. He called him "Mr. Baseball" and said he's had one of the most extroadinary lives in American history. He said his lifetime batting average was .200, yet he's in the Hall of Fame. Ebersol finished with a joke that they told him the WWE Hall of Fame is two miles north of WWE HQ in Stamford, except he doesn't know there's nothing two miles north of headquarters.
Video package: They rolled a video package on Uecker's mediocre baseball career into his famous broadcasting and movie career. Can't beat more "Major League" movie clips. Cue up the WrestleMania III and IV clips working with Jesse Ventura, Gorilla Monsoon, and getting choked by Andre the Giant. Up next, Uecker's induction.
Theater: Back to the induction ceremony, they panned the top wrestlers sitting on the front row before showing Dusty Rhodes. Ebersol was back on stage to talk about Uecker's connection to WWE. He said it was six weeks before WrestleMania III and they went up to the Silverdome to check out to fit as many people as possible into the Silverdome. Ebersol recalled McMahon wanting to get Uecker involved, but he didn't know how to get him involved. Ebersol said he knew how to get Uecker because they were friends. He recalled a story finding Uecker in Arizona, then bringing him down to meet McMahon. This story took forever. They cut to a shot of Jim Ross in the crowd to get him back on WWE TV for the first time since October. Ebersol wrapped up the story that it took two hours and a ton of beer to convince Uecker to join WrestleMania III. Cue up Uecker to tell the rest of the story.
The Fox Sports theme hit to bring out Bob Uecker, with avid sports fan John Cena being shown applauding from the front row. Hey, look, there's Dr. Mike Knox with some TV time. He was the beneficiary of being positioned behind Mickie James to take advantage of his height to get more TV time than he's had all month. Uecker was escorted out by Eve Torres and they suddenly cut to another break.
[Commercial Break. Plug for Raw guest-hosted by Hot Tub Time Machine.]
Podium: Uecker was shown standing at the podium thanking Ebersol for the introduction. Uecker said he wasn't a good ballplayer and he signed for a modest $3,000 signing bonus with the Braves, which aggravated his old man because he couldn't pay it. Joke being he had to pay to play. They showed The Miz laughing. He said he showed up for every game with the St. Louis Cardinals and when he didn't show up, he at least listened on the radio. Dolph Ziggler with TV time.
Uecker recalled going to Los Angeles to do promotional work for WrestleMania and he met up with Jake Roberts, who told him to take a photo with his snake. (They showed Shad Gaspard and John Morrison sitting in the crowd.) Uecker recalled seeing a huge scar on Roberts's arm and asking what it was. Jake said it was a bite mark from the snake. Uecker recalled it must have been a good time. They showed Chris Jericho leaning forward laughing, and also The Miz, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, and Kofi Kingston.
He recalled the famous choke from Andre the Giant at WrestleMania IV (it seems to be mis-remembered as WrestleMania III) and said if they didn't cut away, they would have shown him on top of Andre wrestling him to the ground before McMahon jumped in to make the save. Nice. Uecker's speech was then edited to show him wrapping up that tomorrow night should be a good at WrestleMania. That drew applause before he thanked everyone for the induction. Considering Uecker's speech received rave reviews live, it's disappointing they cut him short and focused so much on Ebersol.
Up next: Gorgeous George. Plus, Ted DiBiase.
Theater: They showed Sgt. Slaughter on the front row. Back to the podium, Jerry Lawler said it's good to hear Uecker . Lawler used the word "wrestlers" here. He said wrestlers usually "The Animal, "The Game," or "The Showstopper." He said the next inductee was known as the "Human Orchid."
Gorgeous George induction
Video package: They rolled a video package on the career of George Wagner, a/k/a Gorgeous George. Included were interview clips with his first wife, Betty Wagner. Some great old-school clips of Gorgeous George re-inventing himself from an amateur wrestler to the "look at me" heel as one of the original TV stars. They included brief on-camera soundbytes from Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer, Bert Sugar, Bob Geigel, and more Bert Sugar. They went through the lineage of stars who took George's template and ran with it including Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair, Rick Martel, Ted DiBiase, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, The Rock, John Morrison, John Cena, and Triple H. Sugar was back to talk about Muhammad Ali taking George's antics and running with them in boxing. Great, great historical video.
Theater: Lawler welcomed out Betty Wagner to accept the induction. Betty came out on stage with a walker and a helper as Lawler gave her age of 97-years-old. Betty told a story about making all of George's robes and his mother said, "You're gorgeous, George." She said the name stuck as Gorgeous George. She was asked if she had another story to share and Betty said with a wink & a smile, "I don't want to say everything." Very cute segment.
Up next: "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.
WM27 plug: 12 years later, Bret Hart is back looking for his revenge on Vince McMahon in the match "no one thought they would ever see" - Vince vs. Bret.
Theater: They showed Jack Lanza in the crowd applauding. Lawler did a voice-over on inducting the rest of the 2010 Hall of Fame class. They showed clips of Mad Dog Vachon, Wendi Richter (with Melina applauding), Bret Hart inducting Stu Hart, and Antonio Inoki during previous inductions. I imagine the Stu Hart ceremony will be included on the upcoming Hart & Soul DVD.
Ted DiBiase induction
Video package: Old-school clips on "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase epitomizing "corporate greed" in the 1980s, channeling Gordon Gekko from the "Wall Street" movie. After the video aired, they showed The Miz, MVP, Cody Rhodes, and Jack Swagger talking about DiBiase's antics. Cody narrated clips of DiBiase buying Saphire from Dusty. John Cena talked about DiBiase attempting to buy the WWF Title on SNME. They went to clips of DiBiase's lineage continuing to Ted DiBiase, Jr. Great clips of Ted, Jr. doing the same moves as Ted, Sr. Up next: the induction.
Theater: They focused on Ricky Steamboat, with Chris Masters sitting behind him. Lawler then welcomed out "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase for the main event speech. No TV time for Ted and Brett. DiBiase's music played before he was escorted out by Eve and Kelly Kelly. He had the Million Dollar Belt over his right shoulder.
Podium: DiBiase said it's just like American Express because he never leaves home without it. DiBiase put the belt on the podium before beginning his speech. He said it's a flood of emotion. DiBiase said he hates to admit that there are some moments in time and some things in life you really can't put a price tag on. He said for Ted DiBiase, it's a priceless night. DiBiase said to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is to be recognized by your peers - the people you work the closest with. He said there isn't a greater honor and he's very humbled to join a long line of inductees who went before him. DiBiase said he's thankful and grateful for the spot.
DiBiase wanted to share a story. He said it might be too good to be true. He said here was a guy in 1987 who already put 12 years into being one of the best wrestlers he could possibly be. Then, one day, the phone rings and it's WWE. Next thing you know, this guy is headed for New York, he lands in New York, and ends up at WWE HQ to meet with the "powers that be" to take an idea and run with it as a guy who's filthy rich and thinks he can buy anybody. DiBiase recalled WWE telling him they had to market the character first-class all the way. "You'll stay the finest hotels! It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it." They cut to a shot of Randy Orton intently listening. DiBiase said they pitched him an idea that will get everyone to hate him. DiBiase said the wrestlers will hate him too since they'll all still be renting cars and flying coach.
DiBiase name-dropped Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat, and Steve Keirn. He thanked the new, young superstars in WWE carrying the torch. They showed Kofi Kingston. DiBiase gave words of wisdom from his dad, "Iron" Mike DiBiase before they showed John Morrison and who appeared to be Tyler Reks. They showed Dolph Ziggler and Yoshi Tatsu as DiBiase offered more words of wisdom. DiBiase said he wishes his dad was here to pat him on the back and say, "Job well done, son." He thanked the WWE fans for their support, prompting a shot of fans in the theater.
DiBiase had one last thing to share. He said just in case there's any doubt left that what he's said for so many years isn't true, he said he could make anyone dribble a basketball, gravel for money, or do anything he asks one more time. DiBiase asked for a money drop. Down from the rafters came $20s and $100s. A few WWE wrestlers went to the ground looking for another payday. They ended the show at exactly one hour with DiBiase waving good-bye to the audience. No references to Ted, Brett, and his ministry, which was odd unless that was edited from the TV version of DiBiase's speech.
Overall: Always a good hour of TV with plenty of classic wrestling clips, shots of the wrestlers out-of-character (except for Batista), and a nice moment for wrestling on national TV. However, there was some odd booking with Dick Ebersol getting so much TV time at the top of the show. Apparently McMahon still has some favors to hand out. It was also odd not to have Ted & Brett's induction before DiBiase's speech.
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