Credit: Mike Johnson and Pwinsider.com
Michael Cole welcomed everyone to the Hall of Fame and asked everyone to remain respectful and not catcall those on stage. He also asked that everyone hold their applause until the end of speeches.
Names here beyond the WWE roster are Chris Cruise, Mil Mascaras, Pat Patterson, Bret Hart, Bob Orton, Ron Simmons, Gene Okerlund, Ivan Koloff, Domenic DeNucci and a lot more.
Before they started, CM Punk had some fun getting the audience to scream with an applause sign.
They aired a great video package on the Hall of Famers.
Jerry Lawler welcomed everyone to the Hall. He asked everyone to give a round of applause for the performers and said this is awesome.
Our first inductee is Mick Foley.
Terry Funk said his entire life he strived to be a good man but his inductee is a good man. He said he loved Foley like an ugly brother and told a story about wrestling in a snowstorm in Japan where only 300 people in a 5,000 seat arena. Terry said what a terrible house and Mick said yeah but look at those empty chairs and they overturned all of them.
Terry told a story about Mick going through the Hell In A Cell and Funk thinking he was dead. Taker grabbed Terry and told him Mick wasn’t dead and chokeslammed Terry out of his tennis shoes. Terry was carried out and Mick finished the match.
Terry paraphrased the famous Teddy Roosevelt quote about the one who tries and fails and frets. He said he gives his all and if he fails he frets and frets until the next time and pushes it all away for the next match because the performance is what counts.
It was an awesome speech that elicited big Foley chants.
Terry parodied the Oscars and said they had a four way tie for Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind and his fave, Mick Foley.
Mick came out and got a massive standing ovation and Foley chants. Mick had Hacksaw Duggan stand up to prove they are not the same guy.
Foley said that from the bottom of his heart, it does him good to have the Bellas back.
Foley said he wanted to clear it up once and for all…it did hurt when Undertaker threw him off the Cell. He joked that he’s been in Groundhog Day for 15 years with that question.
Foley praised this year’s class and how this class may be the all time best before poking fun at himself for his short WWF title reigns compared to Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund.
Foley told the story of hitchhiking to the Snuka-Muraco cage match because he thought something special would happen and it did, as Snuka came off of the top of the cage. He said he knew then what he wanted to do with his life…make moments like that.
Foley told the emotional pain of a date who called him the wrong name and said the only way he could deal with the pain was to make a crazy dive off something. He told some funny stories about making that first dive. He said he spit out red food coloring and a girl said it was the most disgusting thing she had ever seen. He wanted more of that and set out making moments.
He thanked some of the people who helped him along the way. He said he is here because of their friendship and work. They helped him.
He said there were great moments and a lot of them were with Triple H. He asked his trainer Domenic DeNucci to stand and told the story of trying to show him what wrestling was and being beaten by DeNucci as he was shown what it really was. He told the story of DeNucci only charging him 25 a lesson and then telling him he doesn’t have to pay anymore. He thanked him and told him he loved him.
Foley talked about Shane Douglas, who helped him so much when they started out. He then praised Jim Ross for his gift of telling stories and creating memories. He said that Ross did wonders for his career with his calls but did a great thing for Mick behind the scenes, going to war to get Mick a job. Vince McMahon relented but decided to put a mask on him.
He talked about Ross’ call of his Hell in A Cell bump and jokingly told the story of Ross claiming Foley was smiling. In actuality, Mick was wondering who’s shoes were in the ring. Foley said in the state he was in, he realized that fall and the chair crashing down he had a deep wound in his mouth so he was trying to put his tongue through and wiggle it.
Foley discusses Undertaker, saying he’s never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He said Taker put him on the map here. He praised Taker’s persona and work ethic and he will be on the edge of his seat Sunday. He said Taker will be on this stage whenever he wants to be here. He told a story about asking Taker to never ever Tweet.
He talked about the debut of Cactus Jack and the 2000 Royal Rumble Street Fight and his 2008 Rumble appearance here in MSG. He talked about having his kids in the crowd and wanting to recreate the 2000 magic but there was a big pop. He wondered who it was for and then realized it was for he and HHH. He said sometimes he forgets the esteem he is held in. Foley said later Big Daddy V was sitting on his head and saw his kids booing their own dad. Driving home, he thought that could be the end of his career and realized that could be exactly how he would like it to end.
Foley said he invited Santa Claus here but he doesn’t see him here and said he’s going to have to deal with knowing he never beat Chris Jericho and joked he would still like to drop an elbow on Chris tonight and pin him. Jericho jumped on stage and laid down for Mick. Punk jumped up to referee. Foley teased he changed his mind and then dropped an elbow and pinned him. Awesome!!!
Foley did the Rocky-Adrian speech and praised Punk for giving him a chance to do one of the most emotional and best promos of the later days of his career.
Foley mentioned Ric Flair and praised his Backlash 2004 match against Randy Orton. He noted how surprised he was Rock chose to come back to team with him and talked about their Mania 20 match. He asked God not to let him suck out there but felt he sold himself sort and was thankful they were able to have the Backlash match.
Foley thanked Ric for dragging one last great match out of him. He thanked Dusty Rhodes for hiring him in1991.
Mick said this moment is the best of all of his moments and said its great to be right here in MSG.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived and gave Mick a red flannel Santa jacket and hat. Foley wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a nice day!
RVD, Tommy Dreamer and MVP are here and sitting with Joey Styles. Nikolai Volkoff is here as well.
Next up is Trish Stratus.
Stephanie McMahon came out. She said when she was asked to induct Trish, she was honored and overwhelmed because in one years time, she nearly ripped Stephanie’s family apart. She recounted their old storyline but thanked her anyway.
She thanked Stratus for the memories of that time period, saying it was some of the best memories of her time on-screen. She said Trish has a way to make you feel for her and draw you in as a viewer. She said Trish reshaped and changed the Divas division by headlining Raw against Lita.
She said Stratus lives life on her terms, praising her work after her WWE career. She teased Trish might not be done in the ring and still inspires women to follow their dreams.
They noted Stratus was now the youngest inductee ever. Gotta knock Sunny off that list!
Trish came out and said Stephanie is one of the most inspirational women she has ever known. She praised the hell out of Stephanie and thanked her for doing the honors.
Trish said that she can’t believe she was here because her final Raw match was in this building but now she’s back and she has some bling…her wedding ring.
She said there’s a lot of pressure to remember everyone and unveiled a massive scroll of people to thank. She said the most important people in her world are the fans that saw her grow up in front of them. They sat through some awful moments and a match the Internet called the worst ever.
She said every time she stepped in the ring she was trying to prove she deserved to be here and hopes the fans were Stratusfied. She thanks the fans for accepting her and supporting her.
She said three men opened the doors for her. She thanked Carl DeMarco, the former WWE President in Canada. He explained the realities of the business and the sacrifices involved. She said after she left WWE they were able to work together and opened a lot of eyes to the world of sports entertainment.
Trish praised her trainer Ron Hutchinson pointing out he trained like Edge and Christian. That got him a big pop. She was really happy that Hutchinson was here.
She praised Jim Ross and Finlay were all their work.
Stratus thanked people in the office and then Lita, who she called her Bestie. She loved their matches and then thanked all of the other girls she worked with.
Trish thanked the McMahon family for forcing her to bring her A game. She joked about Vince giving her undivided attention when she had an idea, and deadpanned that her eyes were up here. She said she learned so much about business from being with WWE.
She noted she brought 25 family members from Toronto and sacrificed moments to follow her dreams. She thanked them for their patience and understanding.
Stratus thanked her Mom and noted one of the reasons she retired was that her mom was diagnosed with cancer. She said her mom is the true fighting champion and is now cancer free.
She then praised her husband, who the crowd booed (not because they didn’t like him, but because, well, he has Trish!). She noted they were high school sweethearts. The crowd booed that too. This was all cracking up Trish. She thanked him for navigating the WWE life and is happy that was a chapter in their life. She looks forward to many more chapters and told him she loved him.
The crowd turned face and chanted for her husband when she told the audience they were mean.
Trish then announced she was pregnant and would be delivering a baby in September. She showed off a baby bump and had a Beyonce moment. The crowd chanted for her husband.
Really great stuff.
Stevie Ray inducted Booker T. The crowd chanted for him and then Harlem Heat. He thanked them but said tonight they are inducting Booker, who in his family is known as Junior as he is the youngest one in the family.
Their father died when Booker was 11 months old. So, growing up they were attached at the hip, always hanging out. Booker would start messing with guys Ray’s age because they knew now to mess with him because Stevie was around the corner.
He told a story about Booker trying to go to a party and he wanted to go but was too young. He chased after them but they left him. He laid in the street crying thinking Ray would come back but they didn’t come back until after the party and Booker was still in the street waiting.
Stevie talked about their mom dying and noted Booker was incarcerated and Ray blamed himself for not being there. They talked a lot about wrestling when he was in jail, talking about Ernie Ladd and Boyd Pierce. They didn’t know it but when Booker got out they hit the gym. They met Ivan Putski and he invited Ray to train. Booker followed him to the school and was a little better than everyone and that’s when he knew Booker found his calling.
Stevie got a tryout with Global and he insisted Booker come as well. They met with Eddie Gilbert. Gilbert told them he had an idea for a tag team and he thinks they can do it. They had never tagged and didn’t tell anyone they were brothers. But they said they teamed all the time. That was the start for them.
He said after all of what he’s been through, Booker overcame the deck stacked against him and became a role model. When you can look into a storm and you are too dedicated to be stopped by it, it’s amazing. He said Booker is here on this stage and what more can you say. He introduced Booker.
Booker came out and said, “Wow”.
The crowd chanted thank you and he said no thank you. He said he feels like the fans are family. He thanked all his brothers and sisters for coming, learning the game and how to get through life.
He said only one thing can make this night complete and it’s not the spinaroonie but his mother…but he’s content and happy to have this night and share it with everyone.
He started telling some stories, noting that right after Eddie Gilbert was fired they fired them. He told the story of Gary Michael Cappetta bringing up Mick Foley’s ear on Booker’s first Germany tour and wondered what the hell he got himself into.
He thanked several from his WCW days…Arn Anderson, Ric Flair and Greg Gagne. He said he wanted to thank Dusty Rhodes. Booker said he was a match once and rocked it and knew it because Dusty told him he wouldn’t be put on first anymore.
He said Harlem Heat was off and running was missing something…and that was Sherri Martel. She legitimized Harlem Heat and made them who they were. Sister Sherri made them worldwide.
Once an agent told Stevie that he doesn’t work like Booker and his response was that no one in the locker room did that. Booker said he was inspired to do something special and had the chance to win his WCW World TV champ. Rick Martel was supposed to win but didn’t have his gear. So Booker went from walking out to winning the belt from Disco Inferno.
He was only supposed to go and drop it to Martel but that was their plan not his. He started the journey and followed in the footsteps of Ron Simmons. He beat Jeff Jarrett and closed WCW going from the bottom to the top.
Then, WWE came calling. He remembers David Penzer asking him if he was sad and had tears in his eyes. Penzer asked Booker what he was going to do. Booker said he didn’t know about the rest of these guys but he was going to WWE.
Booker said that he remembers Linda McMahon telling him he finally got him and now he’s in the WWE family forever. He thanked Blackjack Lanza, Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes, Johnny Ace and more.
Booker thanked Steve Austin and mentioned the grocery store fight. He thanked Goldust and Boogeyman making him learn and grow as a performer.
Booker thanked Undertaker. His first Wrestlemania, Taker told him to feel the moment and he is right now too.
Booker thanked Jim Ross, the first person to get Booker to tell his story because it could help someone else.
Booker thanked Michael Cole for being there for him and calling his matches and being as a great friend.
Booker said that like WCW he went from the bottom to the top as World champion and the greatest King of all time, King Booker.
Booker thanked the fans for supporting him through 35 years all the way back from raising the roof in the old days through today. The fans chanted for a Spinaroonie and he told them to wait and if they pull a Trish on him, he will whoop all their asses.
He thanked his wife Sharmell and said that he loves her, will come running for her always and will say “I Do” a thousand times over. He said tonight was a toast to their love.
He closed with his trademark Can you dig that sucka? And hit a spinaroonie.
Huge Booker chant.
Maria Menounos inducted Backlund. She said that to induct anyone into the WWE Hall of Fame is so special and praised wrestlers for all they do as entertainers and doing it while taking bumps.
She explained how much she loved Bob Backlund growing up and how they became friends on the set of her first movie. She said that there is no better friend to have than Bob Backlund.
She told a story of the Iron Sheik’s Persian Clubs and how Backlund was the only man who could do it and Backlund told her how if you could believed you could do something you can. She then told a story of Backlund doing the Harvard Step Test for 8 hours.
She said that when she was on Dancing with the Stars, when she wrestled at Wrestlemania and making it in Hollywood, Backlund’s advice and words helped her.
She noted that after losing the belt, Bob refused to turn heel because it would let down the kids who looked up to him. Then years later he came back and reestablished himself as a top heel for a new audience.
Maria told a ton of unknown facts about Bob. She said he was a top shootfighter but intentionally never squashed an opponent because it could hurt them in the future. The crowd was turning on her because it was so long.
Backlund came out and thanked Maria. He said that he’s known her a long time and she’s a lady’s lady and he has the utmost respect for her.
Backlund said being put in today is an honor because of who’s being put in with him. He talked of meeting Bruno Sammartino for the first time in 1977. He said he respects Bruno because he paved the road for guys like Bob. He got to know Bruno very well and Bruno works hard and never gives up like John Cena gives up. He said the crowd boo but if you want to be successful, you can’t give up.
He asked if anyone thinks Vince McMahon made excuses when he wanted to control the world of wrestling, they are wrong.
Backlund told the story of how he thought he was family when Vince McMahon Sr. wanted an All American Boy. He said growing up, he had an outhouse in Minnesota. He said they didn’t have much but they had each other.
Backund said he got into amateur wrestling in fifth grade and lost every match he had. He was mad at himself and the coaches wanted him to quit. He showed them. He got excited when he learned that when you lose, you never lose unless you quit. He began questioning why he lost and bought his first exercize machine.
Backlund began telling all these zany stories about workout machines and routines he created. He was really really animated and awesome.
Backlund said he was still losing but got better little by little. He said his last match, he worked really hard. Verne Gagne mentioned his name on TV and everyone told him he was gonna win. He got lazy and was beaten by a substitute wrestler. He didn’t cry until he got back to the locker room because he let his mother and everyone else down. It was the worst thing to ever happen to him and the best because he never gave up.
He went nuts screaming about how hard he worked and never gave up and is fitter than anyone else here. He began ranting about the marks Sgt. Slaughter left on his body. He asked if anyone remembers the last time he was in MSG…because he doesn’t either.
Backlund pointed out Betty Skaaland in the front row and spoke lovingly of her husband, Arnold who managed him. He warned HHH not to laugh at him and HHH went all serious…then Backlund said he was laughing too. This is awesome.
Backlund asked his brother to come on stage and put him in a side headlock. He pointed out a young athlete he works out with.
Vince McMahon snuck out on stage in a funny manner and told Bob he was done. Bob played it off and said he was waiting for a signal.
Backlund went nuts with a rant about the young athlete andrew cuomo getting better every day and pushing HHH to sign him. They ended the speech with Bob going nuts. HHH got on stage and they did some silly back and forth. Bob kept going and going and Vince came back out and they turned the lights out and played music. Bob kept going.
This was the most entertaining, odd, awesome speech ever. I hope it doesn’t get edited. It was way out there in outer space
Vince McMahon came out to induct him. The fans chanted thank you. Vince said he needed to thank the fans.
He said Donald Trump was an institution, hosting Wrestlemanias and attending shows. They showed the clip of Jesse Ventura wanting Trump to back him politically and said that might be where Trump got the idea to run. Vince said that next to himself, Trump might be a great President. The crowd cheered for Vince and he asked them if they wanted him to be President. Place went nuts.
Vince compared himself to Trump and discussed their similarities. This led to talk of the Wrestlemania 23 Battle of the Billionares. Vince said Donald cheated, leading to the worst moment of Vince’s life. They showed Vince being shaved bald.
Vince said he considers himself a handsome elderly gentleman but he said he’s the ugliest bald man ever. Someone yelled Hulk Hogan and cracked Vince up. Vince said he never carries a grudge and introduced Trump. The crowd was booing the hell out of Trump all this time, which was cracking up Vince. He even asked the crowd if they would let him come out before they boo him.
Trump came out and was BOOED. He said, “Tough people.”
He said he and Vince had a great relationship starting when his casino hosted Wrestlemania IV and he had such a great time they invited WWE to come back the following year, the only venue to have it back to back.
He talked of the battle of the billionaires and said it was the best PPV and gate in wrestling history. He challenged Vince to fight next year and said he would be happy too. He thanked the fans for their warm welcome.
He pointed out his son. The crowd booed him. They then popped for his daughter Ivanka. Trump pointed out his wife.
He said tonight was a major honor. He said this is his greatest honor including his best sellers and the star on the walk of fame.
Trump thanked Vince and Linda and said he loves the fans, even the ones that don’t love him.
Arnold Schwarzenegger inducts Bruno Sammartino. He thanked Vince McMahon and HHH for inviting him here. He said the Garden was packed and asked where were all of us when his last film came out.
He praised the WWE stars for being the great athletes and inspirational figures. He asked what he could say about Bruno and praised his lifting abilities. Arnold said he knew about power and lifted 400 Lbs. Last week…Chris Christie out of his chair.
He talked about Bruno being champion for 11 years and set the record for the most sellouts. He said tonight is another so he broke the record.
Arnold said he wanted to make a movie on Bruno’s life but Bruno said he wanted an actor to play him. He is pretty funny tonight.
He talked about his first meeting with Bruno and how he was a great immigrant story, chased by the Nazis. They moved to Pittsburgh and was bullied because of his accent, so he began his journey and the bullies disappeared.
He introduced Bruno.
The crowd gave him a massive roar and chanted his name and then welcome home. Bruno was stunned and said My My My you turned the clock back 50 years. He said he was ready to run to the ring but he’s an old man today. The crowd chanted for one more match.
Bruno said maybe it was our parents or grandparents here but he thanked us for bringing him back to those days. He thanked Arnold for inducting him. He said they became good friends in the 60s and 70s and said his acting and political careers were amazing. He said he was very grateful he was here.
Bruno said to be inducted is very special because you are being recognized for his contributions to wrestling but in this case, for it to happen here in MSG is so special. He headlined MSG more than anyone in the history of the venue. He said he can hardly believe it but it was 50 years ago he became the WWWF champion.
He talked of slamming Haystacks Calhoun in the Garden and he thought the roof was going to burst. He said he was thankful for what MSG did for him. He said there may be bigger and nicer arenas but around the world, everyone knows MSG.
He said MSG would give him publicity and put him on the covers of the wrestling magazines. That made him a headliner anywhere he went in the world because of MSG.
Bruno said he was one of the luckiest men in the world. A third of his town in Italy was wiped out by The Nazis. His father had come here to build a future and when the war came, his dad was stuck here and his mother was left to take care of them. They hid in a mountain and she had to make a 24 hour journey to find them food and was caught once and almost bled out after being shot…but she did it because she had kids to be taken care of.
Had the war gone on a few more months, he would have died. He was sick with Rheumatic fever and the Allied doctors warned his mother he wouldn’t last another day. His mother had lost two children and refused to lose him.
He finally made it to the States in the 1950s. When they came here he didn’t speak English and was bullied. He fought back but in his weakened condition he couldn’t defend himself. A friend felt sorry for him and introduced him to the Y. He worked out and worked out. He said he saw muscles forming and that inspired him. He went from a weakling to one of the strongest men in the world.
Vince said he was in the business for 25 years, not just for the hard blows they take but because its all year round. They travel all over. His first title reign, he had two days a month for his family. He married his high school sweetheart and they are still together today. He has much to be grateful for.
The years took a great toll on his body because in his day they used boxing rings and after time, you pay a price. He was happy when it was time to retire because he spent so many years away. He was hurting bad and didn’t take aspirin or painkillers. He reached a point where his body could not continue.
He was happy to be home but suffering all the time. He talked of the doctors who helped him, Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Frank Houston. He said they saved his life when they took him on and he went through several major surgeries. He said that because of them he’s an old guy but still trains six days a week.
He said he wanted to throw some gratitude for those who came from Pittsburgh that came here. People came from DC, Boston and Philly came here.
He said in this business, if you become a headliner, a promoter gives you a chance but if people don’t fill the seats, you aren’t one for long. He said he was lucky he received that reaction from the fans and since it was MSG promoters elsewhere wanted him. Everywhere he went he did well because of the Garden.
He concluded that he’s very grateful for Arnold and WWE for allowing him to headline in MSG one more time. He thanked everyone from the bottom of his heart.
He received astounding ovation.
They brought out the class for a final bow with their inductors.
When they all gave their final bow, Vince and Bruno shook hands and hugged. There was the money shot!
Backlund jumped in the crowd and went nuts running through the Garden. Before that he teased putting Vince in the chickenwing.