WWE TV Shows - Other WWE HALL OF FAME REPORT 3/28: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of 2015 Ceremony - Randy Savage inducted, Nash, Zbyszko, Schwarzenegger, Flair, Michaels, more
Mar 28, 2015 - 11:00:10 PM
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WWE Hall of Fame Report
March 28, 2015
San Jose, Calif. at the SAP Center
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Following the "red carpet" pre-show, the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony opened with a video package highlighting this year's Hall of Fame class. And their ties to history.
Jerry Lawler was introduced as the host of the ceremony. "Jerry, Jerry" chants. Lawler said this is his favorite night of the year. After doing some wrestling voices and imitations, Lawler introduced the first "stinky" inductee.
Induction #1 - Rikishi
- After a career video package on Rikishi aired, The Usos were introduced to the stage to induct their dad. Jimmy opened up by shouting out to the Bay Area, where their family is from. Jimmy listed Rikishi's credentials, then Jey talked about what it was like growing up as Rikishi's sons. He said they saw Rikishi on TV all the time, going through all kinds of characters. But, one character stuck. It fit. It felt good. It looked good. It was Rikishi's giant butt. Jimmy said he remembers seeing "that" for the first time at 13-years-old. But, "that" put us through college. At least they never got the stinkface. The Usos then looked toward the wrestlers to find the ones who took the stinkface, including Booker.
Jey got serious talking about his dad's sacrifices, hard work, and passion for WWE. He said that drive took a poor kid break-dancing outside the Cow Palace to a 2015 WWE Hall of Famer. The Usos then brought out Rikishi.
- Rikishi strutted out on-stage sporting a lei over his suit. After bro-hugging The Usos, Rikishi approached the podium to deliver a speech. But, first, a word with his sons about needing to have a talk after this. Rikishi said it's a special night. He said he was backstage with "Vinny Mac" and Triple H (where he got his Hall of Fame ring), then started his speech. Rikishi opened up talking about his family heritage, known as the Samoan Dynasty.
Rikishi said his family has been on the WWF (bleeped) and WWE rosters for over 50 years. Rikishi went through a list of family members, drawing a big pop for The Rock and "Umaga" chants for Umaga (Rikishi's brother). Roman Reigns's name got a mix of boos and cheers. Rikishi looked up from his list to hear the crowd, then WWE showed Reigns sitting on the floor trying to maintain his poise.
Rikishi continued by asking his father, Solofa Fatu, to stand. Rikishi thanked his family for supporting him, then talked about a backbone. He said his backbone is his wife, his super-woman. He moved on to addressing his former colleagues, including Gangrel, and training the next wave of wrestlers, like Rusev, at the Knox Pro Academy.
Rikishi said he has done what he loves for 31 years in the wrestling business. Even through all the late nights, injuries, travel, and missed birthdays. Rikishi said he remembers every character, every match, every dance move, and every stinkface. He smiled. And he remembers each and every fan's face worldwide wherever he performed. But, what he will remember most of all is this moment. Rikishi said he is humbled and honored to be inducted into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame, where he was born and raised. Rikishi closed with some words in his Samoan language.
Rikishi said he can't just leave like this. He was stretching in the back working on moves that Mark Henry taught him, then the Usos brought out Rikishi's trademark shades. Cue the music. And a slow clap. Rikishi and the Usos dropped down, then strutted and danced on the stage.
Induction #2 - Larry Zbyszko
- Jerry Lawler introduced Bruno Sammartino to provide the induction speech for Zbyszko. Still surreal to see Sammartino back in WWE. On-stage, Sammartino said he can't believe he's inducting Zbyszko into the Hall of Fame after watching the video on their long-time feud.
Sammartino said he wants to tell the truth about Larry Zbyszko, who he met at 15, 16-years-old. He recalled Larry telling him he wanted to be a pro wrestler one day. And, Larry kept popping up all the time wanting to be trained to be a pro wrestler. Bruno said when he started working out with Larry in pro wrestling, he thought he had great potential. When Larry finished high school, Bruno told him to go to college. Reluctantly, Larry went to college, got his degree, and still wanted to be a pro wrestler.
Bruno said it was very obvious that Zbyszko was a natural in the ring. So, he sent him to the Vancouver territory. And when he came back to Pittsburgh, he was so impressed. So, he told Vince McMahon, Sr. to book him. Bruno recalled Larry getting frustrated not getting to the top spot since he was so ambitious. So, Larry suggested they have a work-out. Bruno weaved the storyline into his story, talking about Larry doing the double-turn that made Larry a big heel. And WWWF put it on TV in the Northeast, leading to big crowds all across the region to see Larry lose.
Sammartino talked about them drawing 40,000 at Shea Stadium as the headliners. He then flashed through Zbyszko's career before becoming a broadcaster. Now, he is being rewarded for his contributions to the wrestling business.
- Zbyszko came out on-stage in a white tuxedo and did his trademark bow after shaking hands with Sammartino. Zbyszko said that standing here in the WWE Hall of Fame is a dream that came true. Larry said he drove Bruno crazy, but he couldn't help it. Larry then talked about dreams becoming the reality of your wishes. And his dream from the time he was 16 was to become a professional wrestler. His wish was to be like Bruno, the Hvt. champion of the world.
Zbyszko said that he was 16, he was one of the biggest wrestling fans alive driving his family nuts. He said his dad hated wrestling, but his dream was to be a wrestler. And, his mom gave him a list of people to visit in the area for charity work, which included a stop right next to Bruno's house. So, one day he stopped at Bruno's house, saw Bruno getting a suntan by his pool, and it felt like a giant hand of destiny pushing him through a giant row of hedges to find Bruno. Zbyszko said he introduced himself, told him he was his hero, and said his dream was to become a pro wrestler. Larry said Bruno started him on a career that was indescribable.
Zbyszko recalled cruising down the highways with characters like Cpt. Lou Albano, Andre the Giant, Grand Wizard, and Chief Jay. He said he wonders what would have happened if he did not climb through the hedges or if Bruno would have kicked him out of his house. Zbyszko sighed and paused soaking in his time on the stage. Zbyszko reset. He said that after all the years of having a reputation of having a big mouth, he was at a loss for words.
Zbyszko said sometimes a young man gets frustrated with his dream, so Bruno got in the ring with him. Larry lost his train of thought, saying he thought this was going to be easy. All he knows is Bruno took him under his wing and his dream was going to happen, no matter what. After selling out arenas, one day came where he drove everyone crazy around him. Right when he was ready to explode and be a pro, Bruno broke his neck and it shocked the wrestling world. He retired and started doing color commentary with Vince McMahon, but something was wrong. Larry paused to say this is overwhelming.
Zbyszko said this speech isn't working. The crowd tried to help with a "Thank you, Larry" chant. Zbyszko said even though he's matured with age, he still can't put the words together to thank Bruno for what he did for him. Zbyszko said Bruno is a man of dignity, honor, and humility, does not even want to hear this. He said that from the bottom of his heart, "Thank you, sir, for letting a young boy's dream come true when you didn't have to do it."
There was another man involved in making history. He said he wants to send an email to the big office in the sky where Vince McMahon, Sr. is. Even though he drove the man nuts, he believed in his dream and booked Shea Stadium to send the old-school era out rocking the world. And it gave birth to a new era of nationwide television and PPV.
Zbyszko said that 47 glorious years ago, he dove right into Bruno's backyard and opened the door to a wrestling wonderland. He's just not sure why. Larry said he just walked out the other end of the rabbithole and Bruno was standing there. This time, Bruno was holding the door open to finally let him out. Now, he's standing here wearing the same HOF ring as his hero. He said it's the perfect ending to an outrageous dream he had. Now, he's going to go golfing and sit in his recliner cheering on a new generation of wrestlers clinging to a Network Era.
Now that his dream is over, he gets to go home again as a wrestling fan. And there's something he's been wanting to say about pro wrestling fans for a long, long time. Without each other to share the power of imagination, Larry said there would be no dreams at all. He said he wants this logged forever in cyberspace.
"I have felt the love of standing in the ring with millions and millions of people chanting my name. Mean Gene Okerlund announcing me as wrestling's living legend. And for that glorious moment in time, I became like my hero and my dream was coming true. And I have felt the wrath of fighting my way out of riots night after night. Whiskey bottles and chairs crashing. I ran out to my car to escape the mob," Zbyszko said. "Shot at leaving an arena in Albany, New York, and stabbed in the ass by the greatest fans of all. WWE Universe, you are what's awesome. And I hope all of your dreams come true, too," Zbyszko closed over the wrap-up music.
Induction #3 - Alundra Blayze (Madusa)
- Jerry Lawler said two things prevent his heart from stopping...again. Breathing and Divas. He then welcomed out the best-looking Hart Family member, Natalya.
Natalya said some girls just want to kick ass, and that's Alundra Blayze. They showed Jim Neidhart watching her daughter in the crowd. She said Blayze showed up to fight and was a revolutionary who was part of one defiant act when she took the WWF Women's Title and threw it in the trash on WCW TV. Natalya said Blayze was part of the first shots fired in the Monday Night War.
Natalya said that she has an awesome story about Blayze, and she hopes that Arn Anderson is not mad about the following story. She said Blayze was backstage working on a promo over and over again while Double A was waiting in line. She said that the exchange ended with Arn running for his life as Blayze chased after her with a heel in-hand. Natalya then talked about brick walls, which Blayze ran through.
- Blayze emerged on-stage to a strong reaction from the crowd. She said she bets no one saw this coming. "Yeah, neither did I," she joked. Blayze shouted out to the Hart Foundation and said she is so proud to carry on the Hart Legacy for generations to come. She joked about it taking 21 years to get this induction.
Blayze went back to the 1980s when her Hollywood dreams were crushed when someone told her she should try pro wrestling. She ended up training with Eddie Sharkey, who told her how to get into the wrestling business. Then, she moved on to Wahoo McDaniel and trained with Sherri Martel. Blayze noted her work in the AWA, All-Japan Women, WCW, and ultimately WWF/E through Greg Valentine and Pat Patterson.
Blayze said she wants to recognize another woman who made this possible for every woman currently in pro wrestling, Fabulous Moolah. She also thanked Verne Gagne from the AWA, Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, Diamond Dallas Page, who she called a future Hall of Famer. Blayze then shouted out to the All-Japan Women crew who helped form her wrestling style.
Blayze also thanked her family and people watching this right now on WWE Network. She also recognized Monster Jam, who are performing in Las Vegas right now, and referenced her Medusa monster truck. Blayze moved on to thanking people who helped her throughout her career by "doing the job." Whether they won or lost, they were instrumental in advancing her career. She shouted out to Evan Karagias, who "had the stones" to let her pin him for the Cruiserweight Title.
Blayze offered a special thanks to Paul Heyman, who was shown on-camera tearing up. Blayze showed where she got her promo skills, then noted she was the first Paul Heyman Girl. She talked up the Dangerous Alliance and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, saying she had the biggest crush on him. She then told Double A not to come up here right now or she will beat his ass. They showed Anderson hiding in his chair. Blayze shouted out to Rick Rude to a pop, saying his matches were mesmerizing. She said he is a future WWE Hall of Famer.
Blayze talked up "Macho Man" Randy Savage through tears, saying Team Madness was a great time. She thanked WWE for mending fences to make tonight happen. Blayze then thanked the love of her love, her husband, who was shown sitting in the crowd. Blayze said he has served in the Army for 30 years and she has not seen him in a full year. But, they let him come back to the U.S. for this occasion. Her husband stood up to be saluted by the roster. She then asked all military personnel to stand up and be recognized. Blayze offered a military speech, then said it's time to get to some fun (bleep) because she hates to cry.
Blayze said it's time to get to what everyone wants to talk about. The Title in the Trash. Blayze said she was sitting on the toilet in 1995 when she received a phone call from Eric Bischoff (boos) offering her a contract. And that led to one of the most controversial moments in wrestling history when she threw the WWF Women's Title in the trash. "I mean, who the hell does that?" she shouted. Blayze said her initial reaction was no way. But, she did it. She did it for job security. In any case, Eric's idea for trashing the title indirectly got WWE's attention. She said she'll forever be known as "the b---- who threw the title in the trash." Blayze said she owns what she did with the title and has lived with it for 20 years. She said she's at peace with it, and so should you.
Natalya walked out on-stage with a trashcan. Blayze pulled out items. Bra and panties? Who came up with that crap for a wrestling match? She pulled out a BBQ sauce bottle and said it's a stupid idea for wrestling, but it's great sauce, shouting out to Jim Ross to cheers. Blayze then pulled out Eric Bischoff's book to boos. She smiled and said they're still friends to this day. And then there was the WWF Women's Title. Blayze said that's a darn good belt. She threatened Divas to come get it, then comically backed off, saying she's retired.
Blayze said the title is finally back home where it belongs. Blayze said she loves her career in wrestling, and this is the capstone. Blayze said she shares this honor with everyone who worked just as hard as she did. She told everyone never to give up on their dreams. And, for fans who don't know who she is, she is the reigning WWF Women's champion for 20 years (going Curtis Axel from the Royal Rumble). Blayze said she is the only champion of two male-dominated sports, then rapped about her career. "You can call me Alundra Blayze, you can call me Medusa, but you can bet that this Diva will never be subdued," Blayze signed off.
All-time great, amazing speech, despite the length. (****1/2)
Induction #4 - Connor the Crusher (Warrior Award)
- Ultimate Warrior's statue was brought out on-stage ahead of Dana Warrior, who brought a Warrior trophy with her to the podium. Dana reflected on sitting on the front row for Warrior's induction speech last year. She got emotional talking about losing a part of herself when Warrior died last year. Now, she is standing up straight as a Warrior Woman. She recognized her two daughters sitting in the crowd.
Dana thanked WWE and the roster for reaching out to her and her daughters, helping ease the burden of losing Warrior. She recognized "Stephanie and Paul" on the front row, calling Stephanie McMahon and Triple H bad guys who are good friends.
Dana then talked about the Warrior Spirit and leaving a legacy, which Connor the Crusher did as a little Warrior hoping to be the impetus for finding a cure for cancer. She asked everyone to make a donation to Connor's Cure in Warrior's name, setting a goal of $1.0 million. If the goal is reached, she'll run to the ring or shake or the ropes or even bodyslam someone. "Brother," she said, referencing Hulk Hogan. Ooohs from the crowd. Dana said she's kidding.
Dana brought up Daniel Bryan and led the arena in Yes!" chants. She talked up Bryan fighting and scratching to main-event WrestleMania last year, which Warrior recognized. Dana said Bryan is the person who she believes her husband would have selected for this award. Dana then welcomed out Daniel Bryan to receive the award on Connor's behalf.
- "Yes!" chants from Bryan, who hugged Dana before approaching the podium. Bryan was already tearing up and said he's trying to control his emotions. "Daniel Bryan" chant from the crowd. Bryan said everything he's done in front of the people is fiction. (The crowd reacted as if he just told 5-years-old that Santa Claus is not real.) But, when you talk about inspiration, it's very real. And someone who inspired him was Connor. "Connor, Connor" chant from the crowd.
Bryan said he first saw Connor on a YouTube video requesting to meet him. And when he met Connor, he had a presence and charisma to him. Bryan said what really spoke to him was his strength. Because he was diagnosed with brain cancer at 3-years-old and lived more than half of his life with cancer. Despite all of that, you wouldn't see the effects of cancer when meeting him. Bryan then told stories about Connor analyzing the "Yes! / No!" booking from Bryan's heel run and then punching Hunter in the gut.
Bryan flashed back to last year's WrestleMania when he was celebrating the WWE World Title win and looked into the crowd to find Connor on the front row after sitting through a four-hour show despite being really sick. Bryan said confetti was coming down all around him, but he saw what was truly important - the love between a father and his son as Connor's dad held him. Bryan said you could see the life in Connor's eyes and in his dad's eyes so appreciative being there in that moment.
Bryan talked about leaving a legacy, like Connor did. "Thank you, Connor" chant from the crowd. Bryan said it is his pleasure to present this award to Connor's dad, Steve Michalek. Bryan and Steve embraced on the stage.
- Steve approached the podium and thanked Connor for being with him in spirit encouraging him to stand up right now and talk. Steve thanked Dana Warrior for modeling how to handle loss, then thanked Daniel Bryan for inducting Connor into the Hall of Fame. Though physically different, Steve said Bryan and Warrior have the same passion and energy.
Steve thanked Stephanie and Triple H for starting Connor's Cure. WWE cut to Steph tearing up in the crowd. Steve said Connor's legacy will live on making a difference trying to help thousands of other children battling the same battle. Steve said that Connor may have taken an F5 or RKO from cancer, but with the help of Bryan and (former ring announcer) Justin Roberts, he always got back up.
Steve said that Connor was told by his doctors that he would not be able to make WrestleMania last year, but he made it to the show and became part of WrestleMania history. Steve said that Connor will always be his best friend and hero. So, he hopes that Connor's life will be inspiration for other kids fighting this disease. Steve then brought up Connor's brother, Jackson, to offer a few words. Jackson waved to the crowd, then said to his brother: "I love you, Connor." Steve signed off and carried Jackson backstage.
[ Reax: Very touching. It's just unfortunate timing by Stephanie McMahon tweeting a quote from Twitter's co-founder earlier in the day at WWE's annual business partners meeting: "Philanthropy is the future of marketing, it's the way brands r going 2 win." ]
Induction #5 - The Bushwhackers
- For the comedown segment, Jerry Lawler introduced John Laurinaitis as the inductor for the Bushwhackers. The crowd booed and cat-called. Some started a "People Power" chant trying to be ironic. Laurinaitis recognized a flag for New Zealand next to the podium, which is significant for shaping the start of his career.
Laurinaitis said that when he finished wrestling camp with Dusty Rhodes, Dusty sent him to Florida to be trained by The Sheepherders, who had Laurinaitis carry his flag. He said that being on the road with Luke and Butch full-time taught him some things. And when their journey ended, Luke and Butch ended in WWE as The Bushwhackers. Although their paths separated, Laurinaitis said they were always his brothers.
- Luke and Butch came out on-stage doing their trademark alternating hand motion. Butch hobbled out on crutches to join Luke at the podium. Butch shouted into the mic about their trainers in wrestling, including Killer Kowalski. Luke talked up Killer and Andre the Giant, then they did a little back-and-forth Bushwhackers bit.
Luke and Butch talked up Chief Peter Maivia with the Samoan Family present. Butch said he was green as grass early in his career trying to wrestle Maivia and antagonize the Samoan fans. Luke transitioned to the Stampede Wrestling territory in the 1970s. Bret Hart was shown throwing his fist in the air as Luke talked about them putting the boots to Stu Hart's kids without knowing it. Butch jumped in to say they had heat everywhere and were doing hardcore before hardcore was cool.
Then, Pat Patterson called them and they sat down in Connecticut offices, where WWE told them they wanted to be babyfaces. Butch flashed his trademark sideways facial expression, saying that was his reaction, thinking there was no way WWE could make good guys out of these ugly faces. But, they did. And they added the arm motions and licking people. "Because Americans taste bloody good!" Butch shouted.
Luke told the story about his four-second elimination in the 1991 Royal Rumble when Butch was in the match for 20 "bloody minutes," and their check was the same amount! The crowd popped and they showed Vader sitting in the crowd. Luke then talked about their mainstream cross-over appeal. They shouted out to some former colleagues, including Roddy Piper and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. The Bushwhackers shouted out to Stu Hart, then brought up Bret Hart to be recognized on his behalf. Hart did the arm motion, popping Tyson Kidd in the crowd.
One more to recognize. Butch said it was Wembley Stadium at Summerslam 1992. Their partner that night was "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Duggan stood up and offered a few Hooooooos. Butch then asked his wife to stand up and be recognized. Luke recognized her for living with this guy. Butch followed with recognition for his daughters watching this at home in New Zealand. "You're beautiful!" he shouted.
Butch thanked cousin Luke, who pretended to lick Butch. But, he joked that he did not want to get sick. Butch said you could never have a better partner than he's had for 34 years. He said the only thing that pissed him off all those years was the '91 Rumble. Luke closed with thanks for WWE giving them this opportunity on the Hall of Fame stage. Butch eventually licked Luke to close their speech.
[ Reax: Solid induction. Luke was a very good straight-man setting up Butch's great delivery and one-liners. ]
Induction #6 - Tatsumi Fujinami
- The introductory video package linked Fujinami to NXT star Hideo Itami (KENTA), then Lawler welcomed out Ric Flair for the induction speech. Flair said he's done a lot in his life and been a lot of places, but this is his favorite getting dressed up and recognizing the best of the best. He shouted out to his daughter (Charlotte), then got down to business of talking up Fujinami.
Flair said he's wrestled all of the great Japanese stars, and Fujinami is tops. Flair said when he first went to Japan, he thought he had tough training with Verne Gagne, but the young boys in Japan went through a crazy training regiment trying to break them. Fujinami did not break, then became Japan's greatest star.
Flair asked Vader to stand up and be recognized for his wrestling over in Japan. "The guy can go," Flair said. Flair then talked about Fujinami as the greatest wrestler he's faced in Japan, with respect to Great Muta. Flair said he has to keep his speech brief, then he welcomed out Fujinami, who shook hands with and hugged Flair.
- Fujinami read from his notes that he's so proud to be here. Fujinami said he started wrestling as a young boy and now he is 61-years-old. Fujinami said he fights because it is his mission. Awesome line. Today, he joins WWE's family. He thanked his wife and family for supporting him to close the brief speech showing great fighting spirit not speaking in his native language.
Induction # 7 - "Macho Man" Randy Savage
- Jerry Lawler talked up Hulk Hogan, who came out on-stage to talk about Savage. First, Hogan did Savage's mannerisms and voice. Hogan said it's his honor and privilege to induct someone he really loved, "Macho Man" Randy Savage into the Hall of Fame. Hogan said Savage was not only a great competitor, but a great friend. And he was really intense. Hogan recalled Savage calling him at 3:00 in the morning to go over a wrestling idea.
Hogan said Savage loved this business and they all looked up to Randy's dad, Angelo Poffo. And there are only a few people who know that he switched over to the yellow tights in WWF, because of Angelo. He said Randy always wanted to be the best, which was the case at WrestleMania III when Savage and Ricky Steamboat wanted to prove they were the best. (They showed Steamboat in the crowd.) Hogan said it was a real magical night in the Super --- I mean, Silverdome. Hogan admitted that Savage stole the show that night.
Hogan talked about their Mega-Powers alliance and promos. Hogan broke down the storyline of Savage finally turning on him leading to WM5 and Savage pushing him to the level that Savage was at all the time, making him a better performer. Hogan talked about the intensity in the crowd whenever Savage was on the card, while also forcing everyone else to step up, which made the business better.
Hogan said there would not be Hulkamania without the Macho Madness. And he definitely would not have stepped up his game without Savage. Hogan thanked WWE for honoring his good friend, Randy Savage, because he deserves to be in this Hall of Fame. Hogan then brought out Savage's brother, "The Genius" Leapin' Lanny Poffo, to accept the award.
- Savage's theme music brought out Poffo, who shook Hogan's hand approached the podium. Poffo talked in his trademark captivating voice rapping and rhyming. Poffo told Savage's story through poetry, pausing to let the crowd chant "Randy Savage" after celebrating that Savage is finally in the Hall of Fame.
Poffo said his mother could not be here tonight and Savage's wife is watching right now. They showed a photo of Savage in his final years sitting on the beach with his wife. Poffo got choked up, so he told himself to think about baseball. Poffo said Warrior got a chance to express what was in his heart last year before his death, so he will try on Savage's behalf tonight.
Poffo said that Savage had no biological children, but he loved children both from other family members and the Special Olympics. He said Savage loved those athletes "like Mr. T loves his mother," calling back to last year's memorable speech, popping the crowd. Poffo said that of all the poems he's ever written, this is his favorite called the Special Olympics.
After reading the poem, Poffo recalled Savage handing out free WWF merchandise to the Special Olympics athletes when he made an appearance. Poffo quoted Jesus from the Book of Matthew, saying what you have done for the least, you have done for me. He said every king needs a queen, which was Savage's widow. Poffo closed, "Glory, glory, hallelujah, the Macho Man is in the Hall of Fame."
Induction # 8 - Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Triple H was introduced on-stage as Arnold's inductor. Hunter talked about Arnold coming to WWE and punching him in the face. He tried to joke about his nose not always being this big, as he's been trying to get the swelling down for years.
Hunter re-wrote history, wondering what would have happened if Arnold's hero growing up were Bruno Sammartino, not a former Mr. Universe. Hunter said Arnold went on to make movies after bodybuilding, smashing people in movies without anyone getting hurt. "That's a heck of a worker," Hunter joked.
Hunter said Arnold's success did not end with his fame, as he does not rest on his laurels. He said Arnold tries to give back, whether it's a fitness crusade getting young people into the gym, environmental work, or after-school programs. Hunter said Arnold represents the American Dream, or perhaps the Global Dream. He said Arnold is the biggest box office draw in history, former governor of California (boos from the citizens), and now a WWE Hall of Famer.
Arnold walked out on-stage and shook hands with Hunter. He tried to own early catcalls and boos by offering catchphrases. "Get to the chopper!" he shouted. Arnold talked up Hunter for becoming more than a wrestler. He said he dreamed about becoming more than a bodybuilder, wanting to be a public servant in California (some boos).
Arnold talked about his pro wrestling fandom growing up in Austria. He said the wrestlers working out in Germany inspired him to become a bodybuilder. He then went to New York and won Mr. Universe, where Bruno Sammartino was the head judge. Arnold thanked Bruno for helping him win the competition for a third time. He said he watched Bruno wrestle at the matches and realized what unbelievable power, strength, and speed Bruno had. Arnold said they talked to Sports Illustrated together tonight and it was great to connect with Bruno.
Arnold said he is accepting this award on behalf of all people who have been his fans or are fans of pro wrestling and WWE. He said the fans have created them and he thanked fans for their loyalty. Arnold then thanked America for showing him acceptance as an immigrant. He said they must keep America #1, then thanked America. "I'll be back," he closed.
Induction #9 - Kevin Nash
- Jerry Lawler introduced Shawn Michaels as the presenter for Kevin Nash. On-stage, Michaels thanked Lawler for not going too long on his introduction, since they do not need the show to go any longer. (Comically addressing the length of the ceremony thus far.) Michaels pulled out his notes, then paused and ripped them up to cheers.
Michaels said this is a pro wrestler inducting another pro wrestler, and one of them is going to get in trouble when they go backstage. But, he's used to it. Michaels told the story of watching WCW TV one day and seeing Vinny Vegas. And he needed a bodyguard on WWF TV. So, Nash told WCW he was going to leave wrestling, he got his release, and Nash faxed the release to WWF from another part of the WCW office (laughs).
Michaels said he met Nash in Albany, New York, and told him he needed a bodyguard. Not just for TV, but because people did not like him. Michaels said they started getting hot, and Vince McMahon told him, "That big guy is getting hot!" Michaels recalled saying, "We're getting hot." He said he brought in this big goon and McMahon wanted to put the strap on him! (The crowd laughed, seeing the Roman Reigns connection.) Michaels to McMahon: "You're the genius!"
Michaels said Nash came through the curtain after winning the WWF Title and pulled him aside in the shower. Nash thanked Michaels, saying he never would have made it here without him. "Thank you very much for being my buddy," Michaels recalled Nash saying.
Michaels flashed forward through the Kliq era, saying all of the roster should be thankful to Nash for having guaranteed contracts. He said Nash viewed this business as a business, and he decided to get paid the most money for what he was worth. So, Nash and Hall went to WCW "and held them hostage" getting guaranteed money. HBK said that without Nash, there would not be an NWO. And without the NWO, there would not be DX. And without the NWO, there would not be a lifetime of merchandise checks keeping him afloat. The crowd laughed. A few people tried a "One More Match" chant, but Michaels comically told them to pipe down before welcoming out Nash.
- The NWO music played (instead of Diesel music) to bring out Nash for a too-sweet and hug with Michaels. Nash said he considers Michaels as the Michael Jordan of what they do, and since he put him over pretty strong, he must not suck.
Nash said if Michaels did not make that call, he would probably be working at a gentlemen's club right now. And he's here because of the other wrestlers who were great dance partners leading him. Nash thanked people for occasionally kicking him in the keister to get him to work. WWE cut to Big Show and Vader in the crowd.
Nash said some people think he got into wrestling for the money, and they're absolutely right. (laughter) He noted the ceremony has run long, so if you get hungry, he has 23 food trucks sitting outside the arena.
Nash then flashed back to his first TV match. He said his tag partner was greener than he was and the crowd chanted, "LOD wannabes" at them. A while later, WCW brought him back at the same time Scott Hall was Diamond Studd. And, Dusty Rhodes pitched the idea to him of being Oz. Dusty was shown in the crowd raising his arms in acknowledgement of the ridiculousness. Nash went to the photo gallery to show the bad look. He said they even gave him a box, and he wishes the box would have had a pink slip just telling him he's fired if they wanted him out of the business so badly.
Nash said his good friend Diamond Dallas Page told him to stick with it. So, Vinny Vegas came along, which caught Michaels's attention. And his first night in WWF, Michaels was wrestling Marty Jannetty for the IC Title and he influenced the outcome. In one day, he accomplished more than in three years with WCW.
Nash talked up his Diesel run, then said he was called to Vince McMahon's house. He thought he was going to get fired, but McMahon told Nash that they were going to put the WWF Title on him. They showed Bob Backlund in the crowd after Nash thanked him for dropping the belt. Shortly thereafter, he and Hall jumped to WCW.
Nash noted his first WWF contract guaranteed him $1,500. But, they were told they were getting an opportunity. He transitioned to thanking the fans for keeping the lights on. Nash said their generation made some steps, but today's wrestlers have grown it tenfold. Nash said he figures that one day WWE will decide to run WrestleMania on the moon.
Nash got to the thank-yous. He said he wants to thank his wife, who most people think is a unicorn who does not exist because of his reputation. Nash said Rick Rude told him one time that if he wants to keep his wife, then keep her away from the business. And he did for 27 years. He said his wife has put up with him being on the road for 27 years. "Without her, I would implode," Nash dryly said.
Nash said he was talking to Ric Flair before he came out here. And they came to a conclusion that there are two real things in this business: winning your first title and being inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I thank you," Nash said to close.
Out came Michaels, then Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, and Triple H for another Kliq reunion. Nash stood in the middle for a curtain call as the tired crowd offered their final noise. Trademarks flashed to close the Hall of Fame at the four-hour mark. (WWE Network timeslotted the ceremony for three hours.)
- Best Speech: Alundra Blayze.
- Best Intro: Shawn Michaels.
- Best Exchange: Luke & Butch.
- Best Line: Tatsumi Fujinami - "I fight because it is my mission."
- Best Break From Character: Paul Heyman crying during Blayze's speech.
- Best Rap/Rhyme: Lanny Poffo.
- Best Call-Back to 2014: Lanny Poffo on Mr. T's speech.
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