Credit: Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com
– The crowd has already been let in at the Rosemont Theatre, and a huge “We Want Bret” chant has broken out.
– They are using the same stage set as last year for the Hall Of Fame.
– All of the WWE stars arrived as a group at 6:45pm local time to take their seats in the front rows. There was a big pop for all the stars coming out. Jimmy Hart got a big pop as he entered.
-A huge “LOD” chant broke out for Road Warrior Animal as he walked in.
– There were loud boos and “You Screwed Bret” chants as Shawn Michaels entered and took his seat.
– Lilian Garcia came out to welcome the crowd to the event, and reminded them to be loud.
– Batista entered to a huge pop, and a chant broke out for him.
– The first induction of the evening was the Blackjacks, Mulligan & Lanza, who were inducted by Bobby Heenan. Heenan played an April Fool’s joke on the crowd, telling them to look under their seats for an envelope with backstage passes. Mulligan remarked that the Blackjacks were part of “Americana”, sandwiched between the Road Runner and the Cisco Kid every Saturday morning.
– Obviously, the webcast on WWE.com will not be live. All of the presenters and inductees have Titantron videos that are being played for them.
– Verne Gagne was inducted next, by his son Greg. Greg said that “twenty years ago if you told him they’d induct Verne, he’d say you were out of your minds” and then noted, “and no, this doesn’t mean we joined ‘a very special club’.” Greg then thanked the McMahons for all they have done for wrestling. Greg then talked about the Gagne family, and then listed the people Verne had trained, including Ken Patera, Jim Brunzell, The Andersons (which got a big pop), Ric Flair, The Iron Sheik, Chris Taylor, Buddy Rose, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky Steamboat and Curt Hennig. Greg then spoke about the formation of the AWA and the stars it created, naming Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura.
– Verne Gagne then made his acceptance speech. At one point he mentioned Vince McMahon, which drew boos from the crowd, and Verne remarked “I never liked the guy either”. Verne said that being put in the Hall Of Fame meant the world to him. There crowd chanted “One More Match” at Verne. Verne closed his speech by complimenting McMahon on putting together “the greatest wrestling promotion”.
– William “The Refrigerator” Perry was next, inducted by John Cena. Almost the entire building was booing John Cena, and a “Cena Sucks” chant started up. Cena remarked “It seems everyone is ready for Wrestlemania”. They showed HHH on the screens, and the place popped. The crowd was not letting Cena talk, and Triple H stood up briefly at one point, resulting in chants of “Triple H” and “One More Day”. The crowd then chanted “F*** You Cena” as Cena tried to do a Howard Cosell impersonation. Music started to play as Cena talked in an attempt to drown out the crowd, who were now chanting “Boring”. The fans continued to boo Cena, while the screens above the stage focused on a small group of fans who were clapping for Cena.
– William Perry then made his acceptance speech, talking about playing for the Chicago Bears, and how he never knew that would lead to him being in the ring with wrestlers he watched while growing up like Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, Tony Atlas and the Killer Bees (yes, he said the Killer Bees).
– Sensational Sherri Martel is next, inducted by Ted DiBiase. During the video package for Sherri, there was a big pop from the crowd when Randy Savage appeared in a clip. The crowd also booed every sign of Shawn Michaels in the video package. DiBiase received a standing ovation from the crowd as he came out. DiBiase put over Sherri for her toughness, noting she fought for everything she had, and came from a broken home, never knowing her dad. DiBiase said Sherri proves you should never be told you can’t achieve your dreams. He said she shows the passion it takes to be a wrestling star, and she wanted to do this from the time she saw her first show in an auction barn. She moved to Memphis because she wanted to become a star, and there was a company based there, where she was trained by Butch Moore. DiBiase says that Sherri went on to become one of the greatest of all times, and that she was the first lady to hold both the WWF and AWA Women’s Titles. DiBiase then went over her managerial career, noting how she did everything she could to make her charges the biggest stars she could.
– Sherri made her acceptance speech. She talked about how she got to watch all the big stars grow in the business, naming Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and Big Show. A fan yelled for Macho Man, and Sherri said “Now, that was a psycho … and it took a psycho like me to work with him”. Sherri noted how many different people she worked with, and joked to Pat Patterson, who was in the crowd, that she was jealous because “he keeps partners longer than she does”. She then asked Booker T why he lost Sharmell to the Boogeyman when Booker never lost her when they were together. A fan yelled “She’s drunk” and Sherri responded “I worked 26 years for this and you paid for your ticket, so be quiet”. Sherri then thanked everyone she worked with, including Pat Rose, Buddy Rose, Nailz, Randy Savage, Tom Prichard, Shawn Michaels, and last, but not least, Ted DiBiase and Ric Flair. She then told a story about going out drinking with Ric Flair before signing divorce papers, but couldn’t remember which husband she was divorcing. Sherri also thanked Eric Bischoff, who was in attendance, for her job in WCW. Sherri talked more about working with Flair, and about with Harlem Heat, saying she was closer to them than her own family. Sherri said that Harlem Heat taught her what having brothers is like, and that “there are no colors in wrestling, just brothers”. A fan was yelling something from the balcony, but the fans drowned him out with chants of “Kick him out”. Sherri then talked about training, and thanked the Fabulous Moolah and her friend Kathy Fitzpatrick. A production said something to Jerry Lawler, who then whispered something to Sherri. Sherri then rushed through a slew of thank you’s to end her speech.
– Billy Kidman is in attendance at the event with Torrie Wilson. Ron Simmons is also in attendance. CM Punk is there, sitting with Maria.
– Tony Atlas is next, inducted by S.D. Jones. The video package for Atlas mentioned that Atlas faced Hulk Hogan and slammed him, but not that he pinned him. Jones, who was introduced as Atlas’ longtime partner, and said that he and Atlas met in Allentown, Pennsylvania and became close friends. Jones said they went to the office and asked to become partners, and became one of the best tag teams at that time. He said they challenged Fuji & Saito, but didn’t win the belts. Jones said it was his fault, and he stepped aside, which led to Rocky Johnson teaming with Atlas. Jones said Atlas and Johnson didn’t get along, which resulted in Atlas and Jones becoming partners again. Jones then told a story about he and Atlas being in a gym in Spain, and having a lifting competition with some of the people there. Atlas lifted 660lbs., and no one in the gym wanted to try and compete with him. Jones then talked about Atlas out lifting Olympic athletes all around the world, then talked about Atlas’ title victories.
– Tony Atlas then gave his acceptance speech. He thanked all the wrestling fans, saying there would be no stars without them. Atlas talked about some of his opponents and partners, including Ric Flair, Ken Patera, Dusty Rhodes, Superstar Graham, and noted that this was likely his last time in front of a huge crowd. Atlas told the story of his mother working two jobs to get by, and how they were “dirtpoor” and how they ate off of newspapers on the dirt floor of their house. Atlas said he was wearing the same pants at his High School graduation that he wore when he started school, but he was blessed to be born in the greatest country ever. Atlas said he proves that if you put in a good effort no matter who or what you are, you can make a name for yourself because you are in the United States. Atlas then asked a woman named Monica to stand up, and said in 1989 he was homeless when she took him in. Not knowing who he was, she educated him and now he’s a certified personal trainer because of her. Atlas then said that Vince McMahon gave him a job as Saba Simba to give him a chance to earn money and get back on his feet, and thanked Vince for that. He closed the speech by asking everyone to remember that they live in the greatest country in the world.
– This ended the taping for the WWE.com broadcast. The rest of the show is being taped for USA Network. We will continue to post notes on that taping.
– Hulk Hogan came out to induct Mean Gene Okerlund. The fans started chanting “One More Match” at Hogan, and soon a “Hogan-Austin” chant rang out. Hogan rubbed his fingers in the “money sign” and then admitted that would be a “great match someday”. Hogan talked about Mean Gene’s career and how they became friends. Hogan said that Okerlund helped wrestlers with promos when they didn’t know what to say. He said Mean Gene became the “voice of wrestling and the life support of Hulkamania”.
– Okerlund gave his acceptance speech, joking about tagging with Hulk Hogan. Bobby Heenan hugged Mean Gene and kissed his bald head. Mean Gene then told a bunch of stories, including making fun of the infamous Gobbledy Gooker, and talked about Ric Flair, the Hillbillies, the Sheik, Jake Roberts and others.
– It appears WWE has had John Cena come off the stage and sit amongst the other wrestlers in the front rows instead.
– The Eddie Guerrero induction, which will be airing on USA, is beyond amazing, with many WWE workers visibly crying.
– The Bret Hart induction is next. When Steve Austin came out, fans chanted “Austin-Hogan”.
– During Bret Hart’s induction speech, he told a lot of Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart stories. There were no references towards Shawn Michaels, except for Bret telling a story about how he once disciplined his son, so his son went to his room and came out with a Shawn Michaels shirt and glove on and said he was “in the kliq”. Bret said while WWE took a lot from him, they gave him a lot too. Bret finished his speech about 15 minutes after 11pm (that’s Eastern time, not Chicago time).
That ends our live coverage of the Hall Of Fame. We will have a more detailed recap of the Okerlund, Guerrero and Bret Hart inductions from the USA Network special on the site later today.