SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE HALL OF FAME 2020 REPORT
APRIL 6, 2021
RECORDED IN TAMPA, FL.
AIRED ON PEACOCK
REPORT BY JOEL DEHNEL, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The video package before teased him as a big wall street businessman then chronicled his career in the APA with Farooq. It then transitioned into his transformation into the JBL character and his WWE championship run. JBL rushed through his football career and being cut then being able to live his dream as a pro wrestler. He trained in Minnesota then went down to the Sportatorium in Dallas. He talked about learning how to get heat with the crowd. He credited Eddie Guerrero with the creation of the JBL character. He also thanked Ron Simmons and John Cena.He also thanked WWE for the opportunities to visit the troops in Iraq and charities events.
He said he wouldn’t change anything and he would love to do it all again and face Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker or travel down the street to some random show. He pretended to apologize to those he had made to feel bad over his career before the bait and switched back into character calling people snowflakes and saying he doesn’t apologize.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: With the pre-taped format there has been a lot of editing to the speech to make them more concise which isn’t a bad thing. JBL swiftly chronicled what feels like a very short career in hindsight. His bait and switch apology at the end was a bit uncomfortable as it actually felt as though he wanted to say something heartfelt. He has a well documented history of bullying talent backstage and being unprofessional in the ring. This was an opportunity to try and make good publicly and instead he used it as a cheap way to slip back into his character. Hopefully he does acknowledge that he could’ve conducted himself better and has reached out to the individuals privately.)
The British Bulldog
The pre-taped package had various wrestlers speaking about The British Bulldog tag team with Dynamite Kid and their success in WWF. It progressed into British Bulldog as a singles star and how he used his strength and athleticism to get to the top. They spotlighted his match against Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1992. Then segued into the Hart Foundation and his relationship with the rest of his family. The speech itself was given by his son Harry Smith who carried a bulldog, Buffy, alongside his mother and sister. Harry thanked everyone for the moment and spoke about the uniqueness of his father not only in the ring, but his heart and personality. He talked about the importance of Bulldog’s match against Bret Hart at SummerSlam and how it meant so much to him and his family. Harry acknowledged the tag team with Dynamite Kid and how it has influenced him in his career and how he lives on in spirit. Before Harry concluded, he acknowledged Bulldog as a great father then thanked the WWE and the fans before welcoming his father to the Hall of Fame.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: A nice moment for Davey Boy’s family to get some acknowledgement of his accomplishments. He’s not often brought up in WWE’s history because of his premature death. A short and sweet moment hitting on all the major career landmarks without going too much in depth.)
The pre-taped package talked about his beginnings in Japan before coming to the United States and being a major influence on smaller wrestlers. The video highlighted his long championship reigns in Japan and his feuds in the US with Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio. Mysterio spoke about how he is an influence all around the world. Liger joined the broadcast over video and said it’s an honor to be in the WWE Hall of Fame and said he was very nervous to speak. He said he’s very glad he became a pro wrestler and thanked all the fans.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: Welp, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time got just a minute or two. There is a language barrier and he didn’t have much of a career in WWE itself, but fans of Liger will surely be left wanting more.)
The video package chronicled all the past celebrity inductions leading to the final frontier of candidates. They showed clips of his promo with Jerry Lawler and his sporadic WWE appearances from over the years including singing wrestler’s entrance themes. William Shatner also joined virtually and talked about watching wrestling in Montreal. He also said he has been a WWE fan for a long time and accepted the nomination.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: Not much more Shatner can really say. He showed up a couple of times and had fun. He’s not a wrestler, so being short and sweet works perfectly fine.)
Legacy Wing (Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson, Brickhouse Brown, Steve Williams, Baron Michele Leone, & Gary Hart)
A brief video package chronicled the careers of Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson, Brickhouse Brown, Steve Williams, Baron Michele Leone, & Gary Hart. Only a few lines were given to each wrestler highlighting where they had been and a few accomplishments.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: I like that these wrestlers get acknowledged, but the short video package really diminishes the true impact of what they all accomplished.)
The Bella Twins
The pre taped package showed their beginnings of being on the Diva’s Search and their uniqueness of being twins. They touched on their in-ring careers briefly before going into their crossover into the mainstream with their reality TV show. They were credited as a major part of the women’s revolution and taking WWE out of the Diva’s era. The Bellas began by talking over each other and deciding who would start. They thanked the WWE and acknowledged this as the first time two women were inducted at once. They talked about competition between each other and then talked through their journey in the Diva’s Search and getting a spot in Florida to train. They talked about uniting the women to make women’s wrestling fun and watchable. They credited themselves for bringing women and young girls into wrestling. They went on to credit themselves for opening the door for women in WWE leading to the first all women’s pay-per-view. They thanked several men who gave them the encouragement to keep going. They ended it by thanking WWE, the Bellas Army, Daniel Bryan, and several family members.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: I don’t remember The Bellas being this integral in the women’s revolution in wrestling. There are several women who have far more of a claim to ushering in the new era in and out of WWE. However, they did break through into the mainstream and became stars with their reality TV shows leading to more opportunities for women outside the ring. I’m not holding my breath, but I hope the rest of the speeches are not as self indulgent.)
Warrior Award: Titus O’Neil
A video package talked about Titus O’Neil’s career in football then WWE. It then went into his charity endeavors and community work he’s done with WWE. They mentioned Titus’ book, There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Kid and his guidance he’s given to youth in need. Titus came out to the stage and spoke about his difficult youth, but he was given a chance to do better. He said he realized that he needed to believe in himself and drive change. He said that he wanted to drive a mission to help youth and provide wisdom from his experiences. He thanked WWE for allowing him the opportunity to put smiles on faces. He said that he is glad he is able to make an impact and provide for those in need. He said that we need to respect one another even if you don’t like them. Titus ended by thanking WWE and the fans then telling them he loves them and believed in them.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: Titus does great work to help youth and pay it forward. The Warrior Award is a PR stunt for WWE to brag about the platform they provide, but this was still tastefully done and put more focus on Titus and his work than the WWE brand itself.)
New World Order
A chaotic and nostalgic video package showing the inception of the New World Order at Bash at the Beach. It then went into their style and rapid rise in popularity. Many wrestlers spoke about how NWO pushed the boundaries of creating edgy content. Sean Waltman, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Hulk Hogan made their way to the stage. Hogan held an NWO spray painted belt. Waltman thanked everyone for the opportunity to be on stage for a second induction. He talked about having the time of his life with the other members. He lastly thanked Hogan for letting him hit him in the head with a chair after his match with The Rock. Scott Hall said Hey Yo then thanked the fans and Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash spoke about the big impact of coming in as Kevin Nash and the timing of being able to go to WCW at the same time as Scott Hall. Nash said it’s touching that fans and young kids still wear NWO shirts and give him the two sweet hand gesture. Nash ended by comparing NWO to Led Zeppelin then giving credence to the idea of them being like the Beatles before rehearsed lines from I Am The Walrus. Hulk Hogan gave his version of joining the NWO and seeing how it was going to be a hot thing and wanting to be a part of it. Hogan advertised his Beach Shop in Florida and how the NWO merchandise still sells. He then said the NWO should have another run and put the NWO title up for grabs. Hogan acknowledged that was wishful thinking then said the NWO is for life.
(Dehnel’s Analysis: Enough NWO nostalgia to get your fix. Nobody spoke for too long, but this was an induction that really only makes sense if it’s in front of fans. Everyone has already had their moment on the hall of fame stage before, so the draw would be seeing them together in-person.)