It’s hard to argue that this year’s WWE Hall of Fame Class was the most loaded line-up since regular inductions commenced in 2004. While there have been several notable “headliners” (so to speak), especially in the prior four years, this year was the first that featured multiple names that could have easily headlined the event itself. So it is with great privilege, and honour that I present my review of the televised version of the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame.
I will say, I really dislike watching the WWE Hall of Fame on television. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I’ve watched the televised version of the ceremony in at least 5, or 6 years. Don’t get me wrong. The WWE does an incredible job on the television special every year (often editing the show on a live-to-tape delay, during the broadcast). Enough cannot be said for how well the special comes across on television. My issue is, I really dislike that the speeches are edited for television. I completely understand why they are, and, again, WWE does a great job getting the heart of the induction speeches into the broadcast, but I really prefer for watch the entire ceremony, start to finish, when it’s released with the WrestleMania DVD/Blu-Ray. This year, however, I just couldn’t wait. I’m such a huge Booker T, and Mick Foley fan, and I had to see Bruno Sammartino’s induction as soon as I possibly could.
The evening began with Mick Foley, as inducted by fellow WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk. It’s amazing how much Terry has come to look like his brother Dory Jr. over the past couple of years. In any event, Funk echoed how great of a person he thinks Mick Foley is, and his incredible contributions to the professional wrestling business. Foley’s video package was heavy on WWE content, and old home video footage of him growing up a wrestling fan as a child. Little was shown of WCW, or any of the other libraries that WWE owns that Foley worked for, which is a shame when you consider how great Foley was in ECW as well. In any event, as Foley took the stage, he mentioned that, combined, he, fellow 2013 inductees Bob Backlund and Bruno Sammartino had held the WWE Championship a combined 6500+ days; Sammartino over 6000, Backlund over 2000 and Foley 47, which drew a laugh from the crowd. He also expressed his frustration in never beating Chris Jericho in a match, which lead to Jericho laying down on the stage while Foley dropped and elbow on him, and covering him for a CM Punk counted 3 count. All in all, a fun speech that I’m looking forward to seeing all of once the DVD is released in May.
Highlights were then shown of Bob Backlund’s induction, which appeared to be quite a bit of fun. “Do you remember the last time I was in Madison Sqaure Garden? …….neither do I”. Another induction I’m really looking forward to seeing on the DVD.
From there, we went to WWE CEO Vince McMahon inducting long-time family friend Donald Trump into the celebrity wing of the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately the crowd at Madison Square Garden was less than kind to Trump as he took the stage, booing him through-out nearly his entire speech. That fact not withstanding, Trump had a short, but fun, speech, speaking of his engagement with WWE through WrestleMania IV and V at Trump Plaza, then again in the “Battle of the Billionaires, Hair vs. Hair” match at WrestleMania XXIII.
Another highlight package was aired, showing Booker T’s induction by his brother and former tag team partner Stevie Ray. Incredibly disappointed this induction didn’t make the TV special, although they did show a highlight of a Hall of Fame spineroonie. I guess life isn’t all bad.
Stephanie McMahon brought us back from break, inducting 7-time WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus. Stratus, a fellow Canadian, took the stage and thanked “The Golden Standard”, which included Ivory, Jacqueline, Molly Holly, Jazz, Victoria, Mickie James, and her “bestie” Lita. At one point, Fit Finley, who was largely responsible for training and producing the WWE Divas was shown smiling, proudly, in the crowd. Trish also took the time to mention her mom’s battle and subsequent survival from cancer, and that she and her husband Ron were expecting a child in September. A very classy, and fitting speech from the greatest women’s wrestler in the modern era.
As the event drew to a close, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, I had to Google that) inducted his long time friend Bruno Sammartino. Sammartino, who’s personal dislike for WWE CEO Vince McMahon has kept him from accepting many prior invitations to be accepted into the WWE Hall of Fame, was finally wooed into accepting his rightful honour by Executive Vice President of Talent, WWE Superstar Triple H. It was through Triple H’s persistence in showing Sammartino that WWE had turned over a new leaf in terms of the health and well-being of it’s performers (including the institution of the Wellness drug testing policy) that finally lead to Sammartino’s change of heart. As he took the stage, you really got a feeling that something special was happening. Having sold out Madison Square Garden and incredible 174 times, Bruno had finally arrived back home. Through-out his speech, he spoke of the influence working at Madison Square Garden had on his wrestling career, and how much he valued the fans support, and dedication to him while he was WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation, the precursor to World Wrestling Entertainment) Champion. Sammartino gave a great speech, capping off an excellent television special.
In all, I would highly recommend catching a replay of this special should you have the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, it will be absolutely worth the purchase price when it arrives on DVD, if only for the unedited, original speeches, in addition to the sheer name value alone.
You can learn more about the WWE Hall of Fame by visiting: http://www.wwe.com/classics/wwe-hall-of-fame