WWE Hall of Fame 2013 Recap: Inductions, Event, Photos and More

THE WWE HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2013 REVIEW

Saturday April 6th 2013 has come and gone and the latest group on inductees joined the hallowed (and invisible) Halls of WWE’s Hall of Fame. New York City’s Madison Square Garden was mostly packed with fans young and old for an event which actually was almost four whole hours long.

I attended the event with my brother (NYC born, raised and lived). Unfortunately, due to lack of WiFI and my own semi-ineptitude, I was unable to do some live blogging. I was able to take this mighty fine photo of the stage.

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And due to lighting, its the only one that came out.

But enough about me, to the event. The Class of 2013 has been called “the best class in history” due to its lack of a weakest link. Donald Trump could be considered the obvious weakest link, but again in comparison to other choices for celebrity honoree, Trump is one of the  best they had to choose from.

Let’s take a look at the inductions

Mick Foley

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The night opened with the co-headliner of the night Mick Foley. While his position was surprising  he gave the best speech of the night right out of the gate. In the previous Hall of Fame Ceremonies I’ve been to in the past, the inductees have been given a strict limit on how long they get (mostly 10 min max).

It was pleasent and welcomed that Foley went on for 45 minutes. Apart from his stature as hardcore legend, he is a well written author and stand up comedian (although his style of comedy is more Drew Carey than Louie CK)

Drew Carey = Sad

Drew Carey = Sad

Foley went through his five important people. Triple H, Dominic Denucci (trained him), Undertaker, Jim Ross and Paul Heyman in great detail and showed a real humbleness that Foley hasn’t been known for in the last few years.

In what was probably one of the top three highlights of the night, Foley made a joke about never beating Chris Jericho, Jericho hoped on stage, took a stiff elbow on the stage and was counted down by CM Punk. This complete breaking of kayfabe was received super well by the crowd and was the an amazing tribute. Foley goes out still fighting.

At a few minutes before 9, (started at 8:05), Foley finished and we moved on to

Trish Stratus

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Both my brother and I used Stephanie McMahon’s entrance as a bathroom break. Stephanie is not and never has she ever been a dynamic personality. Its bad when the head of creative cannot give an interesting speech.  She will never have anyone hanging on her words and frankly, she was the wrong choice for this induction.

All that aside, Stratus is brought out as the youngest WWE Hall of Famer in history (narrowly beating Edge by one year). I will get into this alot more in my full review of the Class of 2013, (Coming Next Week!)

Once Stratus came out, I was mostly bored. I forget just how terrible almost all female wrestlers have been at talking. Stratus included. (Did love heel Trish tho) Stratus is sweet and nice and that’s about it. She is a rest for the fans after the magnitude of Mick Foley and it is a welcome respite.

She thanks all the divas she works with by name (nice touch) and then mentions her husband, who gets some of the loudest boos of the night. Now, I am a born and raised NYer and yet it still surprises me what some of the NY/NJ crowds do at live events. Tons of people there were drunk and this was a sign of things to come later.

Stratus announced she be preggers and insinuated she may come back (at a Wrestlemania or something) to end her speech.

Booker T

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Stevie Ray came out to induct the Bookman and is was great to see him. Stevie hasn’t been on television since 2001. I always thought it strange that WWE didn’t bring him in during 2003 or 2004 when Booker was mostly purposeless.

Booker’s speech was actually very good. He spoke clearly, with some history, some storytelling and a whole lot of humbleness. Booker thanked everyone he could and interesting focused mostly on his WCW career. WCW saw something in Booker which WWE chose to ignore more often than not. It is a crime that Booker never held the WWE Championship.

One real moment of poignancy came when Booker mentioned that he hoped he had lived up to the importance and legacy of Ron Simmons. One might forget that in the history of all of professional wrestling, there have only been a handful of world champions.

And they ARE:

WCW: Ron Simmons, Booker T, The Rock

World Heavyweight: Booker T, Mark Henry

WWE: The Rock

And that’s it. The Rock although technically half black, looks more Samoan than anything else and isn’t thought of by the population at large as black.

I bring this up because this is an inherent problem in wrestling. Booker T in 2000 was the 2nd African American World Champion. The third was Mark Henry in 2011. Why wrestlers like Shelton Benjamin, MVP, D’Lo Brown, R-Truth, Bobby Lashley and Kofi Kingston aren’t on the list is beyond me.

Rant aside, Booker T ended with a spinaroonie and left the stage.

By this point, there was a sense of fatigue in the audience. Listening to speeches all night can get taxing. There was also some drunky drunks around and it got a little rough during our next inductee.

Bob Backlund

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Cranky is a word which encapsulates what the crowd felt during Bob Backlund’s intro. Extra host Maria Menounos did the honors. WWE tends to forget that if any fan actually cares about the B or C level celebrities they get for Wrestlemania, well that fan is not at the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. Most people had no idea who she even was.

And she got the brunt of the cranky from the audience. As Maria tirelessly and tonelessly drudged through a speech which if delivered better, would have been amazing. Menounos was out of her element (no improv skills) and couldn’t handle the NY/NJ hate.

As she ended the crowd was so loud it was booing itself for the noise. Maria later posted the speech and after reading it, I wish I had been able to see that speech given by someone else.

Backlund came onto the stage. Thing to keep in mind about Bob Backlund is he is crazy. Not dangerous crazy, but he does things which generally would be considered to be unacceptable and he is all over the place. Unlike Booker, Backlund jumped “extemporaneously” as he put it. He jumped in an out of character, gave background on being weak, insulted Vince McMahon, invited Triple H on stage, gave his nephew a headlock, screamed a bunch and eventually had to be “signaled to end” by a creeping Vince coming onto stage.

Oh and he referred to Triple H as Mr. H. Ridiculous.

His speech was one of my favorites and one I will love to watch again once the DVD comes out.

By the end of Bob, the crowd wanted Bruno, but unfortunately we got the inductee no one ever wants, the celebrity.

Donald Trump

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Vince McMahon is always good on screen. He’s got them improv skills. But even Vince aside, the crowd did not want to see Donald Trump. WWE Fans do not care about Donald Trump.

This is the inherent problem with WWE programming in the last 5 years of so. WWE doesn’t listen to the fans. They joke about strange responses and move on because “its a loud minority”. When John Cena is booed and “same old shit” or “boring” is chanted that is not the WWE Universe playing along with the WWE. It is them voicing their discontent. Donald received John Cena level hate.

Donald was booed before the video, after the video, every time Vince mentioned his name, when he came out, when he finished a sentence, his son was booed. Only his hot daughter with the big tits, Ivanka, was cheered. Because wrestling fans at the Hall of Fame like breasts.

Luckily, Trump knows when he’s not wanted and was quick. And a complete waste of time, like all of the other celebrity inductees have been.

But up next was the grandfather of professional wrestling,

Bruno Sammartino

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Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. This fact alone is one of the highlights of the night. Bruno was never going to be inducted. He hates Vince. We’ve all heard the reports.

Yet Triple H was able to convince Bruno. This fact undoes alot of the Triple H burial zone time of 2003-2006 in my mind. Triple H showed Bruno respect, progress and dollar signs. During some of Bruno’s shoots, he’s talked about the respect of money.

And watching his speech, it was mostly fluff. He didn’t have an epic speech or a passionate epitaph of his greatness. He talked a little about MSG, his back story during World War 2 and training. This speech could have been given at any Hall of Fame or award ceremony which Bruno might have intended. He could have cut the MSG stuff and done the same speech at the International Sports Hall of Fame.

Because Bruno did this because he was paid to do this. At this point, he is never going to be part of the WWE Family again. He knows it, they know it. But, they can have a working business agreement. Similar to Bret Hart or even Hulk Hogan when he’s not with TNA.

His speech was also only about 20 minutes or so and the night ended somberly and soberly.

Check back later this week for My FULL WWE Hall of Fame Review, including its ranking plus coming up

2014 Projections

Mr. Fuji

Sons of Hall of Famers

Rick Rude

and much more!

 

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Antonio Inoki

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Antonio Inoki

Class of 2010

Japan’s Vince and Hogan Combo

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Hall of Fame Rating

7 out of 10

Historically Significant

Antonio Inoki was the first international superstar inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His stature in Japan was that of Vince McMahon and his fame as large as Hulk Hogan. Like Hogan, he hocks some strange items.

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Antonio Inoki Condoms, with more yelling, punching and fire

Better or worse than this.

Hulk Hogan made us pasta....

Hulk Hogan made us pasta….

But Why is he in the WWE Hall of Fame?

Inoki began his career in Japan in the early 1960s. He came from a rich background and in many ways that benefit and attitude permeated in a real way throughout his career. Inoki became a large “regional” Japanese star. Japan’s wrestling scene functioned similarly to the old territory based USA system. Yet even still, the JWA owned and operated by Giant Baba was always considered best.

Giant Baba and Inoki began their own WCW/WWF rivarly when Inoki failed a buy out of the JWA and was fired (again remember Inoki is rich). He then opened up the famous New Japan (again super rich) in 1972. Inoki booked and dominated much for New Japan’s card and he eventually became the godfather of Japanese Wrestling. Want to actually watch an hour match? Here’s an example

That was until a political scandal (he’s in politics too, but more on that later) undid Inoki in 1995 and he proceeded to sell the majority share to the video game company Yukes (the same as WWE 12) before eventually retiring, and making his son the figurehead of New Japan.

This would be like McMahon selling to Disney with HHH as CEO.

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Would be mean a raise in pay and health benefits

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All of his bio aside, Inoki is in the Hall of Fame due to his force of personality. WWE began inducting competition and non-WWE wrestlers in 2006 and this was one step further. No one can deny the importance of Antonio Inoki.

Inoki was a big deal but also a tough son of gun. In the “fake” world of professional wrestling, he was known as a pretty straight shooter. And he knew how to promote. Inoki used himself to challenge the odd and the famous. Inoki was also famous for his shoots. He was legitimate as any NCAA champion. He messed up the no selling Great Antonio and shot on Muhammed Ali.

He is also one of the few men to have defeated Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and Bob Backlund. All by pinfall. For real.

Ric Flair vs. Antonio Inoki – Video Dailymotion.

He even won the WWE Championship (not held as official or valid, but technically he did)

http://robschamberger.com/antonio-inoki/

Inoki was also involved with the WWE at one point in the late 70s/early 80s. Vince Sr. attempted to bring in many varied acts for all over the world. Everyone has and always will feel the importance of the garden but this time period it was at its height. Inoki was the first and long running WWF Martial Arts Champion. A title which not only existed but existed until 1989.

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His prestige is a major part of his character and his image. Inoki was the first professional wrestler in history of the entire world to ever run for political office and win. (Jesse Ventura followed) Inoki used his wealth and prestige to build himself an empire around himself.  It collapsed down on top of him when in 1995 he was accussed of bribery and working with the mafia. Inoki was subsequently defeated in the congress.

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And he likes to dress up as Che Guevara for some reason

But most of all, Antonio Inoki is the Hall due to the respect for him. People line up to be slapped BY HIM.

And in wrestling, that’s a man to be celebrated.

Why 2010?

Starting in 2006, WWE generally inducted at least one of their competition into the Hall. Verne Gagne, Stu Hart, Eddie Graham and Bill Watts all went into the Hall. Inoki is similar in his “competition standings, yet for the most part Inoki always had a working/reasonable relationship with the WWE.

This was the beginning of the next layer for the WWE Hall of Fame. Competition was inducted, now begins foriegn stars. Inoki is probably known by 15-20% of wrestling fans in the world. Americans are not familiar with his work or importance. Yet by adding him to the Hall of Fame, the WWE attempted to legitimize the Hall and THE one and only Hall that matters.

Inoki, sadly was part of one of the strangest and weakest classes since the reboot. The lack of marquee names and his own translated speech made this an awkward induction for sure.

Opens Door For?

Directly, Mil Mascaras. Mascaras had a similar history for the organization but mostly flourished outside of the USA.

Potentials for the future include Dos Caras or Justin Liger

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

Fear that Inoki would beat somebody up.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Booker T

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Booker T

Class of 2013

5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time, 5 Time WCW World Heavweight Champion, Good Hand

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Hall of Fame Rating

8 out of 10

Legend

Booker T’s inclusion makes a statement. He is the latest (and most likely last) inductee into the 2013 Class, making it without a weak link. It is super strong. Booker himself is an obvious candidate. He is a rarity in the history of professional wrestling. He is one of only a handful of African American wrestlers. He also survived and flourished in the very varied atmospheres of WCW and WWE. But where is Booker’s lastly legacy?

WCW produced and showcased many great talents. Their money alone allowed for the best luchador, Japanese, Cruiserweights and Tag Teams. Booker began his tenure with Harlem Heat (with brother Stevie Ray) They were one of the last successful long term tag teams. Their chemistry and longevity was Legion of Doom worthy.

Booker T’s WCW run can be sumarized in title reigns. He held bunches and bunches of titles. It says a lot about a talent who keeps getting handed gold. Its a faith in their abilities. Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston are two modern examples of that type. But Booker did something which perhaps seemed impossible, he won the big one.

WCW in late 1999 and early 2000 attempted to rebrand. As Bischoff, Russo and others traded control, the “younger” market was targeted.

And we all know that young people are incredibly racist

Booker T was given a run during the peak of Jeff Jarrett’s many title reigns. And he ended up holding it again and again throughout 2000 and 2001. Booker T was even the last WCW Champion on the last WCW Nitro.

Booker’s title reigns matter. He is one of only a handful African American World Champions. He was WCW’s 2nd (after Ron Simmons) and he flourished in that roll. Booker T became one of only a dozen men or so to be made main eventers by WCW.

And then the WWE happened. Booker T decided to join the organization immediately after the acquisition. (Most likely why he was given the belt over not joining Scott Steiner) and proceeded to slowly flop. Booker T wasn’t really given a chance. He was a WCW guy and was treated as such. Sting explains well the perception of Booker T’s entrance here.

He also had THAT terrible match against Buff Bagwell.

In 2001 Booker T went from main eventer and World Champion to afterthought. He lost all the time. Even in his high profile matches (against Austin or Rock) it was obvious that according to WWE, Booker wasn’t as good as the home grown.

He then was buried. His match at Wrestlemania in 2002 was over a fictional Japanese toothpaste commercial.

The point is Booker T should never have succeeded in WWE. The WWE didn’t make it easy for ex-WCW stars. They were treated differently, never really pushed and made to see that the WWE was in charge of them. Most didn’t succeed (DDP, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, etc) but that few that were able to take the licks, were eventually rewarded. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Booker T were all successful. Because they wanted to be and didn’t have an ego about it.

That is the essense of Booker T’s greatness, he succeeded in two organizations were the chips were against him. His race, and the switch of organizations would have kept down many people but didn’t Booker T.

Or these guys....Wait

Or these guys….Wait

Now I will say this. Booker T has been part of some of the worst or silliest angles in WWE’s 2000s. He fought and lost to Boogeyman, the aformentioned fight over being in a Japanese commerical and most tragically his loss to Triple H at Wrestlemania 19. The angle was kinda racist.

And the face Booker T didn’t get his revenge and lost cleanly to the heel.

Which, coincidentially was against all of the basic patterns and practices of how to book wrestling and will forever be known as “Triple H was a Dick Manuever”

Smug Face McGee

Smug Face McGee

Booker T still had his good moments. He won the IC, US and World Heavyweight Titles and by his depature in 2007 had regained his nominal credibility. He bowed out (due to a wellness violation) and eventually reappeared in TNA.

Booker is one of the few talents who have left WWE, went to TNA and come back. Superstars like Gail Kim, Jeff Hardy and Chrisitan have all attempted and succeeded to one level or another. But Booker was different. His returning was a homecoming. He didn’t come to be a regular wrestler. He came to be with his wrestling family. And although he is constantly messing up at any or all talking job he has, Booker is beloved.

Check out the Awesome Bookamania below.

Why 2013?

Booker’s inclusion this year has multiple reasons and also multiple concerns.

The logic is solid. Booker T is a former WCW star, not a active wrestler and reaching his 50s. He is older than Sold Cold when he went in. He is also African American, which WWE likes to include one inductee who is not white in each Hall of Fame Class.

Still it seems too early for his induction. The main reason is Booker isn’t really officially retired. He last wrestled last year at Wrestlemania 28. And although he isn’t a current star, Booker seems like a person who should have been held. They should have waited. It is also possible that Booker replaced a declining Kamala, as many rumors have circulated that Kamala was asked. (In these cases, WWE normally inducts a WWE regular like Ross & Lawler in 07)

That aside Booker T also does something to this Hall of Fame Class. He makes it the first in history to have no weak links. Even 2005 had Bob Orton ( reverse nepotism) Every inductee in the 2013 is a former World Champion or Donald Trump. That alone is impressive and makes me okay with his induction.

It also sends out the message that the Hall of Fame is serious again. Good job Triple H.

Opens Door For?

Ruthless Aggression Stars. Booker main run was 2000-2006 so others from that time period. Also, look for other returning superstars like Kevin Nash and eventually Kurt Angle to go it

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

His youth or perhaps saving him for the Mick Foley position in another class.