There is something great about the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. It invites new fans to discover legends of the past and with the WWE Network actually go out and watch their matches. This year was no different, as several men who should have been enshrined in that hall long before finally made their way into it.
Chief among those was The Freebirds who even I – as someone who was long after their time – know were as big an inspiration as anyone to modern day wrestling. The choice to have The New Day induct seemed strange but when they pulled out those you might have considered to be more natural inductees during the speech itself it made sense. This was brilliant fun. You could tell Michael Hayes in particular was having the time of his life and if they’d made the whole three-hour show just them telling stories, I probably would have been cool with that.
Next up in the ‘why aren’t they in there already stakes?’ was Stan Hansen. Vader’s speech introduced him nicely and they did a good job of letting younger fans know exactly why this guy was going in. It was also nice to see Hansen himself looking so good. There are a lot more years on him now but I still wouldn’t want to pick a fight with him. The same can be said of Jacqueline who apparently hasn’t aged a day. This was a short and sweet one but was all the better for it as it broke up the longer speeches and allowed her and The Dudleys to have some fun.
The surprise of the night however goes to Snoop Dogg who not only came across as a decent bloke during his speech but a real fan of wrestling. It made a change from the usual celebrity inductees. On the flip side I have to be honest and admit I zoned out during Joan Lunden. No disrespect to her and she has been through a lot but it has nothing to do with wrestling. Connor made sense for the Warrior Award due to his connection with the guys in the back but I would rather see this go to someone who actually had something to do with wrestling rather than be used as something to make the WWE look good.
One thing that more naturally made them look good was The Bossman’s induction. Watching his wife and daughters accept the reward on his behalf was a tear-jerker of a moment and it is always good to see WWE pay tribute to those we’ve lost. Something which Ric Flair also did a good job of in his speech. For all of Ric’s faults (of which there are many) he was the man for a reason and his inductee speech very nearly stole the show from Sting. However, Sting’s natural charm is hard to get past and he always comes across as a good bloke. His retirement announcement was hardly a surprise but is a bit of a blow all the same. Despite that, I can’t help but think it was time. Sting is an old guy now and has taken a lot of bumps. It makes sense for him to go out while he can still walk.
All said the Hall of Fame once again proved itself to be an essential part of WrestleMania weekend. It was too long but the only thing I might have cut was the Warrior Award and even then I’d feel a right dick for doing so. It is always great to see the men who paved the way get their dues and WWE went even further in establishing that this year by introducing the legacy inductees which saw the likes of Lou Thesz and Frank Gotch join the Hall. If this was the event you decided to skip during WrestleMania weekend, I suggest you get on the Network and check it out now.