4/2 WWE Hall of Fame Report – Complete Live Coverage of Sting, Freebirds, more inducted, plus Red Carpet Report


WWE Hall of Fame 2016 Report
April 2, 2016
Dallas, Tex. at American Airlines Center
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

APP ALERT: Follow along with the real-time report coverage HERE. VIP members HERE.

Red Carpet Pre-Show (7:00 p.m. EST)

– Byron Saxton and Maria Menounos were at the main platform introducing the show.

– Down at the floor, Renee Young talked to Ric Flair about this final item on his bucket list inducting Sting into the Hall of Fame tonight.

– New WWE announcer Cathy Kelley from Afterbuzz talked to The Miz and Maryse about being part of WWE history tonight. Miz said you never know what some of the HOF candidates are going to say on the stage.

– Renee Young talked to Sasha Banks about being part of the Hall of Fame for the first time and Divas Title match tomorrow night at WrestleMania. Sasha said she cried when she saw the picture of herself, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch when she saw the graphic of their Divas Title match outside of AT&T Stadium.

– At the platform, Jerry Lawler talked to Byron and Maria with his fiance and her son. Lawler said this is his favorite night of the year and there is a legacy video that will air tonight that will be blow-away.

[Network Break]

– Down on the floor, Renee Young talked to Bruno Sammartino about being part of the Hall of Fame. Sammartino talked up Stan Hansen being inducted tonight and then the WWE Title match of Triple H vs. Roman Reigns tomorrow night.

– At the podium, Dolph Ziggler talked to Saxton and Maria about his IC Title ladder match tomorrow night and the growth of the Hall of Fame ceremony and Mania Weekend. Besides seeing the inductions, he said he’s most looking forward to catching up with the guys like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. He said he and Michael Hayes have yelled at each other backstage for years about Creative and Hayes has also talked up a big game about his HOF induction. So, he wants to see what he has in mind.

– Down on the floor, Cathy talked to Dana Warrior and her children about the Warrior Award to Joan Lunden.

– Renee Young then talked to Ryback and his date. Ryback said he’s ultra-focused on facing Kalisto. He said their match is going to open WM32 on the pre-show, so he’s ready to consume Kalisto and win the title.

– On the platform, Saxton and Maria brought in Randy Orton and his wife. Orton, who looks aged, teased an RKO out of nowhere at WM32 on Sunday. He wouldn’t confirm he will be on WM32, but he teased doing something. Orton also said he’s matured in his old age. He then talked about the HOF inductions he’s looking forward to.

[Network Break]

– On the floor, Renee Young brought in Road Dogg and his family members. Dogg said he’s also looking forward to Michael Hayes’s induction with The Freebirds. Dogg said WM32 has a tough act to follow tomorrow night after last night’s NXT Takeover event.

– On the floor, Cathy talked to the tattooed Lita and Corey Graves. Lita talked about her WWE Hall of Fame induction. And, they continued the narrative of wondering what Hayes will wear.

– On the platform, The Usos and Naomi talked to Byron and Maria. The Usos reminisced about Papa Rikishi being inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. Saxton wanted a dance number to close their interview bit. After discussing the dance number for what seemed like forever, they all decided to Cupid Shuffle into the Dab.

– On the floor, Cathy talked to Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter talked about looking forward to speeches from Hayes and Hansen. He then talked about Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose tomorrow. He said it will be an interesting match.

– On the platform, Sheamus talked to Byron and Maria. Sheamus focused on his facial hair and beard combination. He started talking about which speech he’s most looking forward to, but was upstaged in the background by Hacksaw Duggan making his entrance to “Hoooo!” chants. Sheamus then said he’s most looking forward to Hansen’s speech. He said he wishes he had a chance to face him one time in the ring.

– Sami Zayn was down on the floor with Renee Young. He said he is physically a little beat up after facing Shinsuke Nakamura last night. He said it’s this rare that he’s this amped about a match the day after. Zayn said he feels a little shaky and the response from the live audience and online was overwhelming. Renee asked if he can ride that momentum into WM32 tomorrow night. Zayn said he hopes to turn it into a title win.

– Back to the floor for Zack Ryder and Emma with Cathy. Ryder did not want to talk about their roller-coaster experience earlier in the night. Cathy asked Ryder about being in the IC Title ladder match tomorrow night. He said he’s just looking forward to hearing his music before the match. Emma said she’s looking forward to soaking in the experience being part of the 10-Divas tag match.

– Big Show was at the platform with Saxton and Maria. Show said it would be amazing if he won anything two times in a row if he wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Show hyped tomorrow’s WM32 card as having tons of surprises. Asked about Sting being inducted, Show said it’s perfect, poetic justice for someone who helped build the WCW brand and now guys build their own brand.

– On the floor, Kalisto and his masked wife talked to Renee. Kalisto said it’s their first time at the Hall of Fame and being part of WrestleMania on the main roster. Kalisto said the greatest highlight of the week has been seeing how many people are here this weekend and then will be inside the building on Sunday. As for what he has in mind for Sunday, he won’t reveal his secrets because Ryback might hear. (Great kayfabe line.) Renee said Ryback was already here, but Kalisto stuck his guns and said “stay tuned.”

[Network Break]

– On the floor, Cathy talked to Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley about the HOF inductions. Bubba said this year is special because they get to induct Jackie Moore. Devon said she is a very good friend, so this is an honor for them. Asked about facing The Usos tomorrow at WM32, Bubba said they have the same mindset to steal the show. What about tables? Bubba said you never know because they might have to bust them out at WrestleMania.

– Renee was with … Dean Ambrose … in a suit. Ambrose said this happens one night a year for him. He said he has to challenge Michael Hayes’s wardrobe. Renee went over Ambrose’s cheap outfit, creating an odd dynamic of Ambrose acting in-character on an out-of-character show talking to his real-life girlfriend. Ambrose said he is 365 days per year and tomorrow is just an extra payday with Brock Lesnar. Ambrose closed that he might not be looking this good on Monday morning, so they should celebrate it tonight. He flashed a smile to the camera.

[Network Break]

– “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was on the stage with Maria and Byron to talk up Dusty Rhodes after a video package on the Dusty Rhodes Statue Unveiling. Maria said Dusty was on the stage with her this time last year. Austin then talked about tributing Dusty with how he closes his CMT show “Broken Skull Ranch.” Saxton wanted to know what it’s like being on that stage. Austin said he never stopped to smell the roses when he was on the road as the top star, so when he saw his HOF video package, he finally understood what he meant to the wrestling industry. Austin switched gears to the Freebirds and Stan Hansen being his early wrestling inspirations.

– Booker T and Sharmell were interviewed on the floor by Cathy. Booker’s son wants to know if he will ever wrestle again on WWE TV. Or, his son will just go into wrestling for himself and become seven-time World Hvt. champion.

– On the floor, Renee Young found the Bella Twins, including Nikki Bella in a neckbrace. Nikki said she is getting stronger every day. Brie talked about the 10-Divas tag match on Sunday.

– On the stage, Byron and Maria talked to Roman Reigns, with his wife. Reigns said he feels fortunate and rested heading into Sunday. Reigns said Mania Week is the biggest week of the year, so he’s ready. Reigns said what he likes the most is being able to stay in one town for a week, as opposed to going from town to town every night on the road schedule. Reigns said he’s been enjoying Dallas so much. He said he has to close out the week right on Sunday. He said he’s looking forward to Hayes’s speech the most since he is a mentor to him.

– Saxton, Maria, Renee, and Cathy closed out the pre-show from the podium leading to the HOF ceremony.

2016 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony (8:00 p.m. EST)

The annual ceremony started with a video package highlighting each of the Hall of Fame inductees. And, the man who first entered the Hall of Fame – Andre the Giant. WWE flashed through still photos and soundbytes from past and recent stars who make up the Hall of Fame. This year, WWE welcomes several more, including Sting.

On the stage, Jerry Lawler introduced the show from the American Airlines Center. Lawler welcomed everyone to his favorite night of the year. He said they are celebrating one of the most charismatic and ecletic HOF classes this year. First up, Lawler introduced The Godfather.

The Godfather Induction

– JBL and Ron Simmons were introduced as Godfather’s inductors. Lawler said they were promised Beer Money to wear suits for this induction. JBL said The Godfather could have been the third member of the APA, which is why it’s cool for them to induct Godfather. JBL said he created one of the wildest characters of the ’90s, but Simmons cut him off that it wasn’t a character for him. Okay, sure, but he had to tone it down just to get on TV. JBL wanted to talk about the time Godfather was naked with the IC Title belt — no, can’t tell that. Not the next one, either. (WWE cut to wrestlers selling discomfort in the crowd.)

Okay, what about the train? JBL said he recruited – what are you doing? JBL paused. They told their wives they’re just making this up as they go; they don’t even know The Godfather. They were just asked to induct him. JBL said the Hall of Fame has dogs, dragons, warriors, and now a … pimp.

– Godfather was introduced out on-stage and he brought out ladies from the back to make the deal official. Godfather got serious saying his parents are at home watching this on TV in California. He thanked his kids in the audience. Godfather said his grandson is seven-years-old today and he’s not felling well, so could everyone wish him a Happy Birthday? Isaiah stood up and posed for the camera.

Godfather said there will never be another Godfather, then reminisced about the Attitude Era. He said he did some crazy stuff and thanked the Powers That Be in WWE who allowed him to be himself and let his craziness out. He said he’s not really a pimp, but everything else about his character is authentic. Godfather appreciated everyone’s love and he said he wishes everyone could come to Las Vegas and hear some real stories. Godfather said he’ll let some other long-winded guys talk. He told the younger wrestlers to enjoy their careers because it only comes around once. His ladies returned to the stage as his music played to wrap the brief induction.

– Back to Jerry Lawler to note the Hall of Fame is in the great State of Texas tonight. He hyped Stan Hansen as one of the biggest and baddest to come out of Texas.

Stan Hansen Induction

– Vader was introduced as Hansen’s inductor. Big ol’ Leon White bounced out on-stage doing the Vader mannerisms playing to the crowd. Vader dropped his suit jacket and went full-on Vader Pose Mode.

On the stage, Vader said he wanted to take his coat off to prepare for one of Hansen’s famous lariats. He played up Hansen breaking Bruno Sammartino’s neck in 1976, then referenced Hansen on the AWA roster in the 1980s when he also saw Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Curt Hennig, and Scott Hall. WWE cut to Nash and Michaels watching in the crowd. Vader said Hansen had so much power and could deliver a blow moving from Point A to B. “Believe me, I felt it,” he said. Vader said Hansen never got tired in the ring.

Vader called Hansen a great mentor and coach. He said Hansen is not just a good big man, but a good wrestler in every sense of the word. He said that’s the Bottom Line, and that’s because he said so (looking over at Stone Cold on the front row). Vader said Hansen is now a friend after mentoring him. He then looked out at the crowd and pointed out Scott Hall in the crowd. “Stand up, and now sit down,” Vader said.

Vader went back to All-Japan when he teamed with Hansen. He said they formed one of the best and most intimidating tag teams there has ever been in Japan. He said they were tag champs for Giant Baba and Hansen was every bit of a wrestler as there is.

Vader said he’s been asked to tell the Tokyo Dome Story. He said the Dome was sold out with 75,000 people and they went the whole 30 minutes. And that’s when his eye came out of socket onto Hansen’s cheek, but they finished the match. Vader said Antonio Inoki wanted him to wear his giant helmet to the ring, so he couldn’t see, and Hansen couldn’t see, so he swung his bull rope right in his face before the match even started. Vader said he knew it was going to be a tough night. Then, the lights went out and he didn’t understand why until he saw his eyeball hanging from his cheek. Vader said Hansen is going to come out acting nice, but he is one tough man. Vader added that he hasn’t been the same since that match. He then pulled out some goofy toy glasses with a bouncing eyeball to complete his gag. Vader said he looked long and hard for these goofy glasses, then he got serious welcoming out Hansen.

– Hansen came out on-stage sporting a black cowboy hat to go with a sharp black suit. Hansen, still with his trademark mustache, said there goes Leon. Hansen said Leon is quite a man, his type of man who is big, strong, agile, and stiff as a board. Hansen said Leon talked about one-half of the story. He said Leon’s eye was puffed out and his nose was red as could be. And, Vader had tickets for Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson at the Tokyo Dome the next night, so he stayed behind, while Hansen got on a plane home.

Hansen said he appreciates being part of this Hall of Fame class. He thanked God for giving him a set of lungs and a set of legs so he could establish this kind of style. God short-changed him on his looks, but he’s come to live with that. He thanked JBL for keeping his name out there referencing him or The Lariat on WWE TV. Hansen thanked JBL for mentioning his name.

Hansen said he’s had 1,000 opponents during his career and he thanked everyone who was willing to fight him. Hansen switched gears to his family. He said Bruiser Brody once said that if they find a woman to fall in love with them, they got it made. Stan shouted out to his wife and his sons in the crowd. He said they’ve all gone independent routes making their own decisions, so he’s really proud of them.

Hansen shouted out to Terry Funk for breaking him in. He said Funk was a mentor to him and then quite an opponent for him in Japan. Hansen thanked Funk and the whole Funk Family. He went back to his West Texas Amarillo roots to talk about two old-timers still alive who took a young, green guy like him and broke him into the business. He said there was so much great talent in Amarillo at the time, including Bob Backlund, who was shown in the crowd. Hansen said it was an honor to wrestle him in Madison Square Garden.

Hansen shouted out to Chavo Guerrero, who was starving while teaching school. Next was a shout-out to Jumbu Tsuruta. Hansen said his trip to this point really started about 15 blocks away at the Sportatorium in Dallas. The crowd popped for an old World Class reference. Hansen said Red Bastien booked him against The Rock’s grandpa Peter Maivia. But, he really learned working with that little babyfaced Rick Martel going time-limit draws. Hansen said he had the pleasure of working with him all over the country. Hansen chuckled to himself and told a Rick Martel story about Martel beating him in nine seconds. Hansen said he put that out there to let everyone know that Stan Hansen has done a few jobs. “I tried to pick ’em,” Hansen said after the laughter subsided. Hansen’s mom referenced that to her dying day.

Hansen said there’s an old-timer in Dallas who was good friends with Bruno Sammartino. The man recommended Hansen to Bruno as a good opponent for him. So, Bruno called him and then called Vince, Sr., who booked Hansen at MSG one month after wrestling a spot show in a small Texas town. There he was in his 20s wrestling at MSG. Hansen said he wasn’t nervous at all. But, that night maybe he was a little nervous because he picked up Bruno, slammed on his neck, and he was out for four months. Hansen said Bruno was a class guy who has never held that against him.

Hansen said Vince, Jr. booked him to Japan real quick. He said that tour with Antonio Inoki influenced him a lot. Hansen said Tiger Jeet Singh had a unique style that he wanted to emulate and Pete Roberts from the U.K. became his best friend in the business. Hansen said there was also Andre the Giant coming to Japan. Andre was looking for an opponent, and they did some business in Japan. Hansen said he owes his career in Japan to Andre for making him.

Suddenly, he found himself in a talent war between New Japan and All Japan. Eventually, he settled on All Japan and worked for Giant Baba on a handshake deal for 25 years. Along the way, he worked with Bruiser Brody and they ran roughshod over the country. The Funks were also there. He shouted out to the next generation like Kawada.

Hansen said he wants to close by thanking the carpenters in the pro wrestling business. He said those are the guys who got the main-eventers ready. He said there are so many of them. Lastly, he said it’s a pleasure and honor to be here in Texas. He shouted out to Waco, then did his trademark bullhorns and shout to the crowd to wrap his speech.

That’s a Hall of Fame speech.

Jacqueline Induction

– Lawler introduced The Dudleys to induct Jacqueline. Bubba Ray, following Stan Hansen, said it’s great to be back in WWE. He said this is special for Jackie and shared the story of Jackie immediately picking them to induct her. Bubba said this is special for them inducting someone into the WWE Hall of Fame. He said this is also special for Jackie being inducted in her hometown of Dallas, which is where she also started in the wrestling business.

Bubba said the one word that came to mind when they thought about Jackie is “tough.” He said he’s not just talking about “tough” for a woman, but tough for a human being. Bubba said it’s Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah tough. Devon wanted to talk, but Bubba jokingly said he’s only supposed to say “Testify.” Bubba laughed and Devon said he’s tired of getting Bubba’s tables for him.

Bubba said Jackie was “one of the boys,” and Devon said she was one of the cheapest people he’s ever met. They shared a few cheap stories riding the road, then Devon relayed some interaction with Jackie the last few days. Devon said Jackie learned how to dab, and he told her that she’s going to have to do it when she comes out here. Devon said people told them they would have only a few true friends in the wrestling business, and Jackie is one of those friends for life.

– Jackie Moore a/k/a Jacqueline was introduced on-stage to dab for the crowd. She hugged Devon and Bubba before working the stage playing to the crowd. Jackie then approached the podium to begin her speech.

Jackie said it’s great to be here. She said she is honored to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, baby. Jackie wanted to talk about getting started in wrestling after watching the Von Erichs on TV in Dallas. Then, she saw an ad looking for people to become wrestlers. And there she met Skandor Akbar. Jackie said she was so green, but Akbar saw something in her. She worked around the country before getting the call from WWE.

Jackie said she was so fortunate to win the Women’s Title in 1998 before reaching her pinnacle when she won the title again. And the rest is history. Jackie said she is so grateful for her years with WWE. She thanked the people who made it possible for her – the fans. Jackie said every fan has been great to her. Jackie thanked her family and friends for their support. She also thanked the wrestlers like Trish Stratus (not in the crowd), Lita (shown), Molly Holly (shown), Terri Runnels (shown), Victoria (not in the crowd), and Sable (big pop, not in the crowd). Jackie thanked the guys, too. She thanked WWE to wrap up her short and sweet speech.

Hall of Fame Legacy

– Jerry Lawler said they want to pay homage to some of the all-time greats. Lawler called it the “Hall of Fame Legacy.” Pat O’Connor was recognized with a video package. George Hackenschmidt was recognized. Next was Frank Gotch. WWE hyped the Gotch-Hackenschmidt feud as popularizing wrestling in America.

Mildred Burke was recognized as the Queen of the Ring. “Sailor” Art Thomas was recognized for his military career before becoming a big wrestling star. Ed “Strangler” Lewis was next, described as one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time. Lou Thesz, described as the Babe Ruth of wrestling, was highlighted next. That concluded the HOF Legacy Class.

Fabulous Freebirds Induction

– First, a video package highlighting the Freebirds’s influence on wrestling with talking heads from Chris Jericho, Ted DiBiase, Steve Austin, and others. WWE highlighted the Freebirds’s feud with the Von Erichs in Dallas. Triple H said he was 10-years-old watching the Von Erichs and Freebirds fight on his TV, and it was the biggest thing in his life. The Rock, Big Show, Booker T, and Austin again talked. Austin said he knew what he wanted to do with his life watching the Freebirds. Paul Heyman said they turned tag team wrestling upside down.

– WWE tag champions New Day were introduced as their inductors. Kofi Kingstom, Big E., and Xavier Woods emerged on-stage sporting matching black suits with white pinstripes on the lapel. Very sharp. Kofi thanked the crowd for their support, then acknowledged their sharp looks tonight.

Kofi said a lot of people have been asking them why they’re inducting the Freebirds into the Hall of Fame. Well, because, New Day and the Freebirds have a lot in common. They love to sing. They love to dance. And they are both multi-man groups that function like a well-oiled unit. Big E. said his unit is well-oiled. Xavier said *their* unit is well-oiled. Big E. said this is weird. But, but, but they love to have fun. Big said the Freebirds loved to have fun. Remember the facepaint? The red, white, and blue. They were patriotic and loved America. U-S-A.

Xavier said family does not necessarily mean you are related by blood. Yessir! from Big E. Big E. told him to preach after every line from Xavier building to his big close. Xavier and Kofi told Big E. to be calm for a second. Xavier said they are brothers, like the Freebirds were. Kofi said the Freebirds were the first group to come out to rock music. So, technically, Free … Birds … Rock. Xavier then led the crowd in a “Free … Birds Rock” chant.

– Organ music then played and transitioned to more upbeat rock and roll music. Michael Hayes bounced out on-stage in an old-school Badstreet USA shirt, wild hat, fannypack, and long coat. He was followed by apparently Jimmy Garvin who also danced along with Hayes. WWE cut to a shot of Stephanie McMahon clapping and dancing along from the floor. Hayes and Garvin then kept dancing on the stage and WWE cut to Shane McMahon elsewhere on the floor. The crowd popped for Hayes and Garvin, who sold being blown up. “Free … Birds Rock” chant.

From the stage, Hayes said “Free … Birds Need Oxygen.” Garvin said he hasn’t danced that hard in 25 years. Hayes thanked New Day for the induction. He said there’s only one thing left to say. “Thank you and good night,” Hayes said. Garvin said he can’t leave now. Hayes said there was an office pool on how long his speech would go. And he took the under. Garvin said he took the over. So, how about they hang around a little bit?

Garvin had numbers – 55, 37, and 32. Garvin said 55 years ago, Chief Jay Strongbow took him to the Florida Sportatorium and threw him in the ring at nine-years-old. He said that felt like home to him in 1961. The number 37 – that’s when they became brothers at Tommy Rich’s birthday partner drinking moonshine. The number 32 – that was 32 years ago at Texas Stadium when they set an attendance record. Tomorrow at WrestleMania 32, the record will be smashed.

Speaking of smashed, Hayes said, they left one of the Sportatorium sell-outs and returned to their apartment, only to realize they didn’t have a key. Suddenly, Terry Gordy found the key. He kicked the door right off the hinge on their first night at the apartment. But, the party kept going. Then, Gordy grabbed the dining room table and chucked it through the apartment, shattering everything. Buddy Roberts got fired up and knocked around the sheet rock with elbows. So, Hayes and Terry got mad at Roberts. Roberts realized he was in a tough spot, so he took a bump through the coffee table and said they don’t drink coffee anyways. It was summer … in Texas … but Buddy decided to make a fire out of the wood.

Garvin said he misses Buddy and Gordy so much. He said they are still their brothers. Hayes said he can guarantee they will feel their presence, but he wants to make it feel even more special. He welcomed out their sons.

Ray Gordy, Jr., the former Smackdown wrestler Slam Master J, said people used to come up to him and ask who his favorite wrestler is. He said it was of course Kevin Von Erich, which popped the crowd for the humorous response. Then, he realized his dad was on the other side of the feud and said his dad Terry Gordy was one of the best big-man wrestlers of all-time. Ray thanked WWE and the fans for recognizing his dad.

Buddy Roberts, Jr. shouted into the mic looking to fire up the crowd. Buddy said he came out here during rehearsals and planned a speech, but this is real, so everything is out the window. He thanked WWE for inducting the Freebirds, thanked Hayes and Jimmy Jam for keeping the Freebirds alive, and recognized his mom in the crowd. She was in a Freebirds dress. He said he knows he’s in trouble, but dad would have done it. Junior said Buddy had a great career with the Freebirds and Hollywood Blondes. Car rides were his favorite thing, sharing the brotherhood of being a wrestler. He thanked the audience. Ray wanted to hear a few more Freebirds stories.

Ray, Jr. and Buddy, Jr. left, leaving Jimmy Jam to note they are limited on what stories they can share. What else can happen besides Hayes get fired? They laughed. Garvin said he can relate to what Triple H and Shawn Michaels communicated non-verbally that they always knew what the other was thinking. Garvin tried to find a safe story that Buddy Roberts used to pee on his back in the shower.

Hayes shared a story about the Von Erichs. They had not yet done the big angle and were getting along traveling together to Lubbock, Texas. Hayes said he knew that him plus clubs was not a good idea. But, everyone grabbed him and forced him into a club. And this wasn’t your normal club. So, he tried to play Pacman to stay out of trouble. Suddenly, he took a stiff blow to the back of the head. It was a big guy in a motorcycle club and asked what gang he was in. Hayes said Terry Gordy came running over there and got slapped right in the face. They cut to Dean Ambrose leaning forward mesmerized by the story. Suddenly, Gordy and Hayes knocked down the whole crew and Bam Bam relayed that he just took down a guy with a wooden leg. Hayes said they decided to let their guys up and get out of there. But, the guy went inside his vest looking for a gun. They tried to run to the back door, but it was locked. So, they ran through the front door and the wooden leg man unloaded gunfire on them. Then, Gordy started laughing. Hayes wanted to know why. “‘Cause he missed.” Hayes left the podium after the mic drop story and allowed the crowd to chant and cheer “Free … Birds Rock.”

Garvin wanted to share a story about temporarily losing his mind one time. He said his father built an apartment complex in Tampa, where virtually every wrestler lived. Garvin said while the Freebirds and Von Erichs were fighting, he was valet for David Von Erich. He also had to deal with a crazy Englishman named Chris Adams. Garvin focused on his personal life, saying he’s been with his wife for 47 years and she’s watching at home. Garvin vowed to love her hard when he gets home. He said he was blessed to be a Freebird and it was a wonderful experience.

Hayes took the podium next to pay tribute to World Class. He said that was a great group of guys and girls. He shouted out to “Iceman” Parsons, Chris Adams, Garvin standing next to him, and Precious & Sunshine. Hayes said he has a lot of guys to thank, but it would take too long. Hayes thanked God, then his mother watching at home. He paused for a mom story. Hayes recalled being nine-years-old at Sears when a girl was looking at her. Then, the mood is ruined when his mom bursted out asking the salesman where the husky department is.

Hayes then shouted out to Pat Patterson, Jerry and Jack Brisco, and the agents who help make this industry go. Hayes also thanked “Hollywood” Jon Tatum and the writers he works with (boos). Garvin said he’s getting heat. Hayes said they work word and everyone in this company works hard. Hayes shouted out to the studio folks, corporate employees, and everyone else who works overtime to produce the product. Hayes said when he first heard the slogan “we put smiles on people’s faces,” it made him sick and turned his stomach. Then, one day he was sitting in the arena and saw people with smiles on their faces.

Hayes shouted out to Afa and Siki of the Wild Samoans, who trained him. He also thanked his two ex-wives, just to prove he’s crazy. Hayes thanked his first wife for standing by him when no one else believed he could do this. And, his second ex-wife kept him going. Hayes joked that it was their fault for marrying him. Hayes then pointed to the McMahon Family sitting on the front row. Hayes talked to Paul and Stephanie for helping him get to a better place. He said Steph has always had his back and is the sister he never had. Steph teared up. Hayes then shouted at Shane across the floor, saying he keeps him up at night. “When are you gonna settle down?!” He said Linda is the only one in the family who isn’t crazy. As a matter of fact, he almost peed on her on a plane one time. Triple H nodded along like yes that happened. Hayes said if he actually did pee on her, then it would have been on her.

Hayes said his little vacation taught him that he wasn’t good at the marriage thing is because he already had a wife – the wrestling business. Hayes told the crowd to make a decision to pursue their dreams because this is the last thing he thought he would be is a WWE Hall of Famer. Hayes shouted out to his “NXT kids” as the crowd responded with a “You deserve it” chant. Hayes asked everyone to carry the wrestling torch on with a love for the business.

Hayes then randomly introduced a photo of his dog, Jo Jo Hayes. Hayes said he misses his little dog two years ago, and it crushed him. But, another man stood up at the Hall of Fame years ago in Houston and said something that stuck with him to not worry about the time missed, but cherish the moments you have now and going forward. He said that man was from the most famous family in Texas, the Von Erichs.

Hayes welcomed out Kevin Von Erich to a big reaction. Kevin, looking like he’s still 1980s Texas Wrestling, hugged Hayes and Garvin before giving a speech. Von Erich wanted to talk about brothers. He said the Birds were brothers, like he and his brothers were. Kevin shouted out to Buddy Roberts, then talked about losing his family. Kevin said he thought money, fame, and these other things were important, but he found out that his family was most important. Kevin brought up his sons in the crowd.

Kevin said he’s wrestled so many of the people in the crowd all over the world. He said is the luckiest man on earth for being the last man standing. He congratulated Hayes, Garvin, Buddy, and Terry. He said the Freebirds and Von Erichs beat the crap out of each other and it made for good TV. “God Bless Texas,” he closed his portion of the induction speech.

Hayes said they’re in the “over,” so it looks like Garvin won the bet. He closed by reading the lyrics to Badstreet USA. Hayes asked for the music and he sang the tune as everyone stood up on the floor and clapped along. Hayes then walked through the crowd acknowledging Iron Sheik, then Backlund, the agents, DDP, and Larry Zbyszko before returning to the stage to finish out the song. “Good night Dallas!” Hayes closed before disappearing to the back.

That was quite the show, only pulled off by Michael Hayes’s creative mind.

Big Boss Man Induction

– The Dr. of Style Slick was introduced as Boss Man’s inductor. Slick has definitely changed his 1980s run. Slick asked if everyone is happy and having a good time. How about an amen? Do you have kids? Take care of your kids. It is easier to build a child, then repair one. He asked everyone to get ready to collect the offering, then apologized because he thought he was at church.

Slick said the audience was captured by Big Boss Man’s arrival in WWF. He said he had one of the biggest hearts in the business, beyond his character. Slick said he had the privilege of being his manager and friend. Slick said that Boss Man formed the iconic Twin Towers with Akeem the African Dream. When the Big Boss Man walked into a room, everyone took notice. He said Boss Man had a smile that could light up any room or arena.

Slick said everyone who worked with him made lots of money. Regrettably, on September 22, 2004, Boss Man died. He was a father and husband, but Heaven gained a guardian angel. Slick said for a man who was always tough and strong, he was a humble man who loved his family. He thanked WWE for inducting Boss Man into the Hall of Fame.

– Boss Man’s wife, Angela, and his daughters were introduced to receive the honor. Lacy Traylor talked first thanking the fans for keeping their dad’s memory alive. Lacy said the last time she went to a WrestleMania was 2001 at the Astrodome in Houston. She was more interested in the butterfly museum than watching him wrestle, since she was a little kid, you know. Lacy said her dad had a pretty cool job. They showed RVD sitting in the crowd.

Lacy said it was interesting to seeing grown men dressed like warriors and policemen. She said Boss Man wrestled at MSG and then he talked to her about doing certain things for the business that he wouldn’t be very proud of. And that night he watched his dad get pummeled by Rikishi’s rear end. So, maybe she’ll skip the next show. Lacy said her dad would be so honored and she wishes he were here.

Lacy said she also had the tough task of explaining to kids at school that her dad did not really kill a dog and eat it. “Don’t worry, there were no Pepper Steaks at our house,” she said. But, he loved being a villain, and she shared a Big Show story that made him laugh in the crowd. Lacy said she’s thankful for WWE honoring him.

Boss Man’s widow, Angela, then pulled out a nightstick from the bag held by her other daughter. Angela said when he went to the ring, he always had his nightstick, but he always brought his heart home. She said Boss Man pissed people off, but he loved his family and helping the community. Angela said Boss Man loved his brothers in the wrestling business and being Rick Steiner’s roommate makes for an interesting life. She thanked the fans for their support and keeping his memory alive.

Snoop Dogg Induction

– WWE ran a video package on the celebrity inductees through the years. Donald Trump was highlighted. This year, the Hall of Fame goes to the “Dogg.” WWE flashed through Dogg’s numerous WWE TV appearances through the years.

– Lawler said when it came time to find someone to induct Dogg, they had to find someone with a similar lifestyle, background, and physique. So, here’s John Cena. Cena returned to TV serenaded by boos and “John Cena Sucks” sing-song, which he took in stride. Cena waited it out and bowed to the dignitaries on the floor. Cena smiled and let the crowd have its moment before the boos picked up again.

Cena did his deep-announcer voice to introduce Dogg’s credentials. He said he could talk about his movie career, like Soul Plane, or his high school coaching, or latest business venture. Yes, Snopp Dogg has had an unbelievably successful career, but on this night in front of this raucous audience (boos for Cena), he would like to showcase some different career moments for Snoop. He said Dogg’s been involved in WWE longer than he has and is a proud member of the wrestling audience.

Cena said the Celebrity Wing of the Hall of Fame is for someone who contributes to WWE. He said he is more than a contributor, but a member of the family. Cena said this is Snoop’s home. So, WWE cut to Road Dogg in the crowd. Cena said with that in mind, there will be some interesting results on tomorrow’s WWE drug test.

Cena said back when there was a kid from West Newbury, Mass. ran around the ring shouting “I’m the Dr. of Thuganomics,” Dogg did not turn his nose up at him, but welcomed him to the studio to work with him. Cena welcomed out the “incomparable Snoop Doggy Dog.”

– Snoop Dogg walked out dressed in a suit with trademark glasses over his dreadlocks. Dogg took a selfie with the audience in the background. He thanked the WWE family and fans for fighting to get him in the ring. Dogg said this means so much to him being a fan of wrestling for so long. He gave a shout-out to John Cena for his great speech, which drew boos and cheers.

Dogg said he and Cena shared a few secrets in the studio. He also worked with Randy Orton, Mark Henry, DX, and especially HB-Shizzle (they showed Shawn Michaels laughing in his seat). He thanked “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker (not in the crowd). He also shouted out to his little cousin … Sasha Banks. He called her the legit boss. Big pop for Sasha. Dogg said what’s so crazy about this is when he took her to WrestleMania in Orlando, he took her around to meet everyone and she knew this is where she belonged. Dogg said to see her face on the side of the AT&T Stadium, he doesn’t know how to express show much that means. “Love you sunshine,” he said.

Dogg said when he was a kid, he used to watch ‘rasslin with his grandpa. So, one day he went down to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles to see Andre the Giant and Gorilla Monsoon. To see that as a young kid, it made him want to love this sport of wrestling. He said now it’s become the #1 sports attraction around the world.

Dogg continued that a lot of superstars inspired him to become an entertainer. Tony Atlas. Rocky Johnson. JYD. “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. (WWE showed Goldust and Cody Rhodes in the crowd.) And, the original man of swag, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. (WWE showed Charlotte in the crowd.) Dogg said he wanted to end with a rap. He said he raps in his spare time. Dogg read a poem/rap about this being the highlight of his life. Dogg signed off as WWE showed Edge and A.J. Styles standing up in the crowd.

That was a really great celebrity induction speech.

Joan Lunden Induction (Warrior Award)

– Dana Warrior was introduced on-stage to present a trophy with Ultimate Warrior’s logo atop the trophy. Dana brought out a Warrior action figure to place on the podium before waiting out a “Warrior, Warrior” chant.

Dana thanked WWE fans for allowing her and her daughters to be part of this process. She got emotional thanking Warriors in the crowd. Dana thanked the audience for years of loyalty to her husband and now her family.

Dana said she was raised completely outside of wrestling, but now she is deeply immersed in the business and sees how it’s a family business. She said when you get in, it pounds in your veins and gets in your blood. Dana said they look out for their own. She previewed one of her daughters running to the ring, like legacy girls Natalya and Charlotte. Dana called this the ultimate training ground and ultimate show on earth. Dana said her daughters were born into the business and she was invited in. She thanked everyone for welcoming her to the family.

Dana transitioned to Joan Lunden as the second recipient of the Warrior Award. She said Lunden publicly battled breast cancer and entered “Warrior Mode” fighting cancer, inspiring women to fight for life. Dana said Warrior had so much respect for women because he was raised by a single woman. She said he had so much respect for Linda McMahon, that she was his only choice to induct him into the Hall of Fame two years ago.

Dana said Warrior would describe Joan as an inspiration and warrior fighter. She said Warrior told her to never stop believing and keep fighting. These are the qualities Joan Lunden has displayed. Dana said she is humbled to present this award to someone who fearlessly turned away from death and stood tall like a warrior.

– Joan Lunden was introduced to the podium selling surprise being on the stage of the WWE Hall of Fame. And, she’s following Snoop Dogg. Lunden said her credibility soared at home when she told her kids she was getting this award. Lunden said his son thought it was the coolest thing.

Lunden said she’s not a wrestler like all of the Superstars and Divas that the fans come to see all over the world. But, over the past few years, she had to learn how to be a real warrior, get back up, and persevere.

Lunden said a few years ago she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer, she decided to stop feeling sorry for herself and fight. She said her life took on a new purpose and she realized she was going to fight for many other women, giving a voice to the voiceless. So, said she went to D.C. to protect cancer patients. Lunden said she built a community for women to get education and support. She said WWE reached out to her early in her diagnosis and invited her to Raw, and that crowd gave her strength that night to keep going. Lunden said there are no fans like WWE fans.

Lunden said when she saw every wrestler go through the control room, she saw respect shown to the McMahons which she called unique to this business. She said so many WWE fans have connected to her through social media. Lunden also thanked the Warrior for his inspiration and his wife, Dana, for being Warrior’s true tag team partner. She referenced Warrior describing his ultimate role as being a dad to his two girls.

Lunden thanked his husband for being her rock. She quoted Warrior for not getting down on yourself, but getting back up and fighting. Lunden said she hopes she was inspiring to others during her battle. She vowed to keep fighting the good fight to help other women outside of the ring. Lunden signed off as they showed Beth Phoenix in the crowd.

Sting Induction

– WWE ran a full video package on Sting as Surfer Sting. Talking heads included Triple H on his legacy, John Cena on dressing like Sting in the late ’80s, Ric Flair on his paint and charisma, comedian Kevin Hart, Ro Flo, and former WCW champion Ron Simmons. Then, Sting turned into Crow Sting as the last hope for WCW against the NWO. Soundbytes included Booker T, Cena, Daniel Bryan, Paul Heyman, Bret Hart, Hunter, and a Stinger howl.

– Lawler welcomed Ric Flair to the podium as the only two-time WWE Hall of Famer. Flair strutted out on-stage and looked around the arena. Notably, Shane McMahon had relocated to the front row with the other McMahons. Flair said he’s been fortunate to be here so many times.

Flair wanted to take a moment to note the loss of “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He pointed out Dusty’s widow, dressed in a polka-dot sweater, in the crowd. Flair thanked WWE for the statue presentation, then thanked Vince McMahon in the back and the other McMahons on the front row. It seemed like he also wanted to note Roddy Piper’s death, but apparently forgot after Dusty.

Flair then recognized Charlotte in the crowd. More boos for Charlotte as Terri Runnels acted surprised sitting next to her. Flair went full Ric Flair Mode talking about being genetically superior.

Now, the Man Called Sting. Flair said the company censors him, so they made him outline his speech. The crowd booed. Flair said it’s better to follow the guidelines, then walk back there after getting in trouble. Flair read from his notes going back to 1989. He said Dusty wanted to do Clash of Champions against WrestleMania. Flair was asked for an idea. He said they had a kid on-fire, Sting.

Flair, on aside, wanted to pick a bone with Hansen. He never bumped for him, fell down for him, even went to a knee for him, and he lost to Rick Martel in nine seconds? Brody, too.

Back to Sting. He said they were supposed to go an hour, but went 55 minutes. He said the company never went anywhere because they screwed that up. Flair said Sting never was winded, never took a deep breath, and he knew Sting had it. Flair said he kept telling Sting to go WWF/E, but he was loyal, like he was loyal to the NWA. Flair referenced Ricky Steamboat, who was shown in the crowd. He said they would kill each other competing to be the best, but with Sting, he would look at him and do their routine. “And that was it,” Flair said. Sting wanted to change it up, but the crowd was digging the formula.

Flair said he loved being a bad guy because he had no offense – a chop, a whoo, and a trust. Maybe one dropkick. “But, I could take bumps,” Flair laughed. “And I could talk.” Flair said they got a 7.7 rating, but they didn’t damage WrestleMania. That operation down South wasn’t going to make it for one reason or another, as much as he loved it.

Flair flashed forward to WM31 last year when Sting wrestled Triple H. He said you have to be ready to go with Hunter, or Shawn Michaels, who carried him at WM24. Flair said Michaels told him to just keep his mouth shut and listen to him, then said, “Let’s do it!” Flair said he started crying walking down the hallway. Flair referenced Sting, Steamboat, and Dusty as his three biggest rivals over three decades.

Flair said Sting eventually understood the sacrifices required in this business, like wrestling twice on Christmas and Easter. He said a lot of guys didn’t like it, but down in the South, holidays were paydays. So, Sting went up and down the road with him. He then referenced wrestling Steamboat over Christmas Week in the late ’70s. Flair said Steamboat wanted to quit, but he was making good money with Steamboat, so he wasn’t going to let Steamboat quit.

Flair said Sting was The Franchise of WCW. He said Starrcade ’97 was the biggest PPV in the history of that company and he can’t say enough about him. Flair wrapped up his induction speech by saying Sting and Steamboat were too nice to be wrestlers, then said he’s so glad Sting finally had the chance to come to WWE. Flair switched to Sting wrestling Hunter last year with everyone running into the match. And, Sting didn’t blink an eye throughout the process. Flair credited Hunter for rocking Sting’s world in that match (of course, with Hunter getting the win).

Flair went on another aside about a Gold’s Gym investment, then tried to figure out what year it was to announce Sting as the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame headliner. Sting walked out on-stage pretending to lock up with Flair, who headed to the back.

– Sting paced the stage as WWE showed fans howling and cheering his arrival. WWE cut to the NWO watching in the crowd with big smiles on their face for Sting. Sting then paced the podium and pointed out to someone in the crowd with a big smile on his face.

Sting said Flair left his notes at the podium, which he of course does not use. Sting said Flair wings everything, then shouted back at the crowd. Sting said he made his WWE debut right here in this building. He went back to his 20s when he knew nothing about wrestling until he saw a live show with Hogan, Sheik, Studd, and Andre the Giant. So, Sting decided he was going to be a pro wrestler.

Sting said he and Ultimate Warrior connected, left California in the ’80s, and Warrior talked food and protein the whole drive. Warrior was all about Waffle House, which he knew nothing about. Sting said that his 1983 T-bird was their home at times because they weren’t making any money. He said that he didn’t have a relative in the business, so he prayed to God one night that if He would help him make it in this business, he would give back. Sting said to be careful what you pray for.

Sting said soon enough he was having main event matches with Ric Flair and winning the World Title from Flair in 1990. Flair said he thinks he is a 17-time World champion. “Naw, I don’t know how many times I won the thing,” he said. Sting said he had hundreds of companies marketing his likeness. Anyone get a Sting air freshener? Sting said he never thought he would come out of a helicopter on Nitro. He referenced Panama City and Cleveland – the night WWE bought WCW. Sting imitated Vince McMahon saying the only way to beat a billionaire is to become one.

Sting said a lot of wrestlers have told him they got into wrestling because of him. He referenced Seth Rollins to a pop. He said they wrestled Night of Champions in September and Seth was frantic afterward when Sting was being taken away in the ambulance. “Sting, Sting, I dressed as you for Halloween!” Sting recalled Seth saying to laughs.

Sting brought up his Robocop run and all of the “material” out there on him. He asked Leon White (Vader) if he remembers White Castle of Fear. Sting then pointed out Big Kev in the crowd. He was stone-faced, stoic Sting at the peak of his career, bodies are flying, chaos in the ring, and everyone is going down. He looked over at Nash to check if everyone was okay and then all of a sudden Nash quietly asked if he could just spoon with him in the middle of the ring.

Sting brought up his character changes from Surfer Sting to Crow Sting to Wolfpack Sting to Joker Sting (TNA reference). Sting said he’s been a chameleon in this business, which he said is symbolic of his personal life. He said he fell and fell hard for things like 1998 when he made bad choices behind the scenes that left him with severe consequences. Sting said his personal life was crumbling with power and money slipping through his fingers. Then, in August 1999, he got pinned to the mat by God. Sting said he surrendered his life to God and got his priorities right. He said he put his pieces together while still doing his WCW run. Since then, he’s never looked good and since then his life has been put back in order. He said he is beyond blessed to have his life back together and his family is in the crowd.

Sting said he has bragging rights now because there are so many wrestlers who dream about WrestleMania, and he can finally say that he did that. And, he did that with a great opponent like Triple H. Sting said 30 years later after those humble beginnings, he is now officially a WWE Hall of Famer. He said he just wants to thank some people.

Sting thanked Jim Hellwig, the Ultimate Warrior. He said Warrior was very intense and he pushed him hard. If not, he wouldn’t be here right now. Someone in the crowd shouted out “one more match!” Sting laughed and let the chant play out. Sting said he loves everyone in the crowd. Pause for an “Under-Taker” chant. Sting smiled and let it play out.

Sting said he wants to give a special shout-out to 2K Productions from the video game staff, his personal trainer, Jim Ross for giving him inside scoops at the right time, and also Michael Hayes. Sting said way back when he started, Hayes actually helped him out. He said the Freebirds were so good to him. Sting thanked Road Dogg for helping him so much. He said that because of Road Dogg, he didn’t forget his Life Alert necklace before wrestling Seth. “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Sting joked.

Sting thanked Ric Flair. He said Flair put him under his wing and he didn’t have to make him, but he did. Sting said Flair put him on the map to begin with. He also thanked his mom and dad for teaching him great work ethic. “They loved me even when I didn’t deserve it,” Sting said. Sting said his brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, and nephews are here. He said without your prayers, he wouldn’t be here. Sting thanked his sons and daughters. He said he is so proud of each of them.

Sting said God gave him a second chance and got re-married. He said his wife supported him through the last 12 months. Sting then thanked the fans. “Thank you Sting!” chant from the crowd. He thanked the fans because without them there wouldn’t be a Sting, Stone Cold, or Bruno. Sting said he’s enjoyed entertaining all these years.

Sting went wrestler mode saying the only thing that’s for sure is nothing is for sure with Sting. Until tonight. He said he is going to finish his wrestling career under the WWE Umbrella. He said he is officially going to retire tonight. The crowd initially booed, wanting the Taker match, then stood up and applauded. The wrestlers also stood up and applauded as Sting walked away from the podium to pick up a baseball bat and sunglasses. He said this isn’t good-bye, but “see you later.” Sting’s music played and he paced the stage with his bat, pointing it toward the crowd. The Hall of Fame broadcast closed with a fade-out on Sting and the arena.

It felt like a clear ending to his wrestling career, but a teaser for a post-wrestling career role based on the “see you later” closing line.

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