The Hall of Fame, as always, was a roller-coaster of emotions. The night kicked off with the often entertaining but awkward red carpet hour, which saw new WWE interviewer Cathy Kelley join Renee Young, Byron Saxton and Maria Menounos to welcome the stars in to the building. Kelley did a good job despite some obvious botches, such as introducing Booker T as a two time Hall of Famer or saying it was Emma’s first Wrestlemania (who awkwardly corrected her). Notable moments included Kalisto’s wife also wearing a Lucha mask (this wasn’t Sexy Star), Ziggler saying he butts heads with Michael Hayes backstage over creative, Randy Orton joking about partying with Snoop Dogg, Ric Flair almost crying, and Ambrose rocking a suit.
The Ceremony kicked off with the APA inducting The Godfather, who brought out the ho train and delivered a quick and entertaining speech. It was a little disappointing that he didn’t cover his career beyond the gimmick. Breaking in as the Soultaker, working as Papa Shango which although corny was still a high profile role at the time, but it was fun for Attitude Era fans and by all accounts this is who he really is!
Vader told some great stories about working with Stan Hansen across the world, including a time when Hansen broke his nose with the bull-rope before the match even started, and another when Vader’s eye came right out of its socket. He demonstrated this with a pair of joke glasses with a googly eye. Hansen (still charismatic) stressed the importance of the opponent in a match, explaining that you don’t make it without somebody good on the other side of the ring.
The Dudleys put over Jackie’s legit toughness, joked that she too had some inappropriate road stories like Godfather, the fact that she always found a way to get out of paying for rental cars and tolls, and that she was “one of the boys.” Jackie discussed breaking in in Texas under Skandor Akbar, and thanked her Attitude Era peers Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Terri Runnels, Victoria and Sable.
Ed “The Strangler” Lewis, Lou Thesz, Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, Mildred Burke, Pat O’Connor and “Sailor” Art Thomas, were inducted in to the new Legacy wing of the Hall of Fame, recognizing the pioneers of the genre.
It was all fun with the New Day who joked that 3 man teams have a “well oiled unit” and got a “Freebirds Rock” chant going. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” brought out Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin dancing until they were out of breath. They shared memories of living the rock and roll lifestyle, trashing apartments, getting in brawls with bikers, working with the Von Erichs, and fond memories of the late Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts. Their sons Ray Gordy (the former Jesse) and Buddy Jr. accepted their fathers awards. Kevin Von Erich was also brought out. He stressed the importance of brotherhood and congratulated his former foes. Perhaps the craziest story from Hayes was almost pissing on Linda McMahon during a plane ride! To close out he performed Badstreet live!
The Big Boss Man
Former manager Slick inducted the Boss Man. He stressed his kindness and smile that always lit up the room, and suggested heaven gained a guardian angel when he passed in 2004. Boss Man’s widow and daughters accepted the award. Daughter Lacey says she didn’t quite appreciate her father’s legacy when she was a kid, but looking back it was a “pretty cool job.” She thanked the fans for keeping his name out there, and joked about having to explain to kids at school that her dad didn’t actually steal and cook Al Snow’s dog pepper! His wife Angela described Boss Man as a family man and an avid supporter of the local community and raised his iconic knight stick for a big pop.
— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) April 2, 2016
Snoop Dogg’s mystery inductor was none other than John Cena, but despite the boos for Cena, Dogg received a warm welcome and took a crowd selfie before his speech. He shared his love of watching “wrasslin” with his grandfather and a genuine fandom that grew over the years. He put over wrestling as the most popular sport in the world. He gave a shout out to Sasha Banks and told the story of bringing her to Wrestlemania as a teenager to meet the stars. He shouted out the Godfather with a quick rap to close the speech.
W. W. E. Hall. Of fame selfie pic.twitter.com/b8Pjtq6fOX
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) April 3, 2016
Dana Warrior inducted Joan, who said she never thought she’d be standing at the WWE Hall of Fame, following Snoop Dogg. She said her kids are big fans and thanked WWE for fighting against cancer.
Ric Flair was Ric Flair, perhaps talking a bit too much and almost bursting out crying a few times when talking about his daughter, but when it came down to it he put Sting over as one of his greatest ever opponents and praised him for hanging with Triple H at Wrestlemania. Sting delivered a great speech and was at ease on the stage. He talked about breaking in with Warrior and being broke living out of a car. He revealed that he was $26,000 in debt during his journey and made a pact with God to make it in the business. A few years later he was main eventing with his likeness all over merchandise as bizarre as air-freshener. He joked that when he was in the ambulance following the match with Rollins, Seth desperately told him that he dressed as Sting at Halloween as a kid. At one point he even mentioned Joker Sting from TNA! He said he never would have made it to WWE without his wife and family, and thanked Bryce at 2K Productions, Jeff his personal trainer in Connecticut, and Jim Ross for making everything come together. Ultimately he thanked the fans, saying there wouldn’t be a Sting without them.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2016
Sting Retires But It Isn’t Goodbye
The big news out of Sting’s speech was retirement, in spite of “Undertaker” chants from the crowd. However he said that it “wasn’t a goodbye, but a see you later.”
RVD and Jake Interviews
New Gay Botch
Kevin Von Erich perhaps made the botch of the night calling the New Day, the New Gay. They of course took it in good humor:
And for the record, it's 2016 & The New Day transcends ALL demographics! #NewGayRocks!
— Kofi Kingston (@TrueKofi) April 3, 2016