March 31, 2012
WWE Hall of Fame a R-Rated affair
By The MASKED WRITER -- SLAM! Wrestling
MIAMI -- The American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami is usually home to the family-friendly Heat of the NBA. However, Saturday night, at the annual WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, things were Rated R, and had a definite "Edge" to the affair.
Despite the presence of the legendary Four Horsemen, perhaps wrestling's greatest ever faction, and boxing icon Mike Tyson, it was retired WWE superstar Edge -- sporting a new haircut -- who was given the main event spot.
At the podium, Adam Copeland, a.k.a. Edge, gave us a look into his life that could fool anyone into thinking it was a Hollywood script. But in a true Rated R fashion, he gave his speech on his own terms, including sharing embarrassing photos of himself and random superstars.
During all the fun and games, Edge told multiple stories, including ones with his mother, who raised him as a single parent with just enough income to get by. She always encouraged him to follow his dreams as a wrestler, which is why he labeled her as his all-time favorite tag team partner.
Edge thanked many superstars, notably Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who were major influences on him. He felt he has the same relationship with Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, both whom have looked to Edge for guidance. There were tales of his adventures with Christian, and the former training partners and later tag team champions shared an emotional embrace in front of the crowd. For Edge, the WWE Hall of Fame honor was a celebration and he closed the show with some roaring rock music, as he ran down each side of the stage for a massive pop.
Dropped to mid-card status were the Four Horseman, represented this time by Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, manager JJ Dillon, Barry Windham and Ric Flair. The notorious villains were welcomed with open arms in front of a packed house in Miami, however.
Ric Flair (on loan from TNA Impact Wrestling) responded to "please come back" chants with "believe me, I want to!" Each of the Horseman had their turns to speak. Flair opened by thanking each of his stablemates. JJ Dillon spoke about the Horsemen being "the symbol of excellence." Windham, who was extremely humble, thanked the crowd for all of their support. Blanchard really showed his fire and passion for the wrestling business with old memories. Anderson closed it out, speaking directly from the heart with zero notes. He spoke about how much his work ethic meant to him, and how he always gave everything he had in the ring. Now he is thankful to pass that onto the WWE stars of today.
A posthumous induction was made to Yokozuna (Rodney A'noia), who died October 22, 2000. Doing the honors were WWE superstars Jay and Jimmy Uso, the twin sons of Rikishi. After talking about the former WWF World champion, whom they considered a family member, their father, Rikishi took to the podium. The former Too Cool member shared to the audience that to the world he was the mighty Yokozuna, but to the family he was Uncle Rodney. For everything he accomplished inside the ring, he did that and much more for his family and community.
"The Baddest Man on the Planet" became "The Baddest Man in the Hall of Fame," with the entry of "Iron" Mike Tyson. D-Generation X, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, introduced the Wrestlemania 14 enforcer, and then in true Tyson form, we were all over the place. You could tell how excited Tyson was to be there, as he listed some of his all-time favorite wrestling legends, including Pat Patterson. Already a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Tyson gave special shoutouts to John Cena and Dusty Rhodes, proclaiming that they "both have a lot of black in them."
Mil Mascaras was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his nephew, Alberto Del Rio. The still semi-active lucha libre star described his 48-year career as transcending, with 22 movies under his belt, as well as extended tours of Japan, Mexico and North America. Along with Ric Flair, he is already a member of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY.
Opening the show, which was hosted by Jerry Lawler, was former college football standout Ron Simmons, returning to the state of Florida, where he'd starred for the University of Florida Seminoles upstate in Tallahassee. His long-time tag team partner and best friend, John Bradshaw Layfield, warmed up the crowd with stories of Simmons' past, including him airbrushing a photo of himself on the hood of multiple cars he owned. Most notably, Simmons was proud to be called the first nationally-recognized African American World champion in wrestling.
The Masked Writer doubles as a Masked Photographer in Miami. Be on the alert -- he might be standing next to you right now and you may not know it!