Hall of fame ceremony certainly didnít rock
TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
Music is a form of expression. It can capture an emotion, or bring a person to an exact moment in time from their life. And, perhaps more than anything else, when it comes to music, everyone has their own tastes; their own likes and dislikes.
I recently watched the HBO presentation of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions, and I was deeply dissatisfied with the show. I am a fan of music and I have personally been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, three times. I always enjoy the experience; looking at the memorabilia and whatnot.
I have also had the honour of attending many World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame ceremonies. That event has ballooned from its infancy, and has become a huge event that takes place the night before WrestleMania each year, and is attended by fans from across the globe.
So coming off those experiences, I would like to offer up my insider knowledge as it pertains to producing television and big live shows (pay-per-views), as well as my feelings from a fanís point of view.
I would like to start by saying, as a producer of a show, I understand the time restraints of a show and respect that editing must be done. I do, however, find it quite hard to sum up one lifeís journey in a few minutes. The WWE Hall of Fame televised show suffers due to that fact. I have been there live, a witness to the entire spectacle. And what a spectacle it is.
I then watched the show on TV and was left feeling angry because producers cut out so many special stories and moments. But what can you do when you only have an hour of TV time, which, when you consider commercials, is actually 48 minutes of content. These are all ďinsiderĒ facts that most people donít know, or think about.
I have had to sit through some pretty boring and tedious speeches; the kind that went nowhere ó fast. I have been in attendance at shows during which speakers have their speeches cut short due to time constraints, all in the name of the live broadcast. Cutting speakers off draws major complaints from the fans and, quite frankly, is disrespectful to the people being honoured.
WWE has found a happy medium by letting the show run its natural, unedited course, after which the company includes the full ceremony on its WrestleMania DVD. I have written about it before, but if you are a fan of professional wrestling, you owe it to yourself to attend a WWE Hall of Fame ceremony (actually, if you arenít a fan of pro wrestling, why are you even reading this column? ha ha).
You really get to experience a wrestlerís life journey to their greatest accomplishment, being honoured by their peers. The ceremony is all about their destiny, the heart and passion they displayed in getting to where they wanted to be by following their dreams (sounds familiar).
I would, however, like to suggest this to the suits in WWE who read my column. How about airing the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, unedited, on WWE.com, or give it to the fans free of charge for ordering WrestleMania? That way they can watch it when they want. (Sorry, I always think outside the box and try to look at things from the perspective of a fan and from the WWEís point of view.)
Now on to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame presentation.
The opening video package was amazing. It showed the greatest clips of years past. Rock & Roll icons were reduced to tears and amazing performances were spotlighted, producing an excellent segment.
Then the show, which I was pretty amped up for after the opening video, failed to deliver what had been hyped just moments earlier. In fact, it lacked everything that package entailed. It lacked rock and roll, it was devoid of heart, passion and, sadly, it lacked emotion.
The presenters, it seemed, were either simply reading or just not into it. The people accepting awards were great and genuinely happy and honoured, but from a director/producer standpoint, I need to say that if you are John Cougar Mellancamp, why do you have to announce to the fans who you are? Where was the host of the show or even a voice in the sky (hell, book Howard Finkel; he has an amazing voice and is a huge music fan). I can hear it now: ďLadies and gentlemen, John Cougar Mellancamp.Ē
When people who are accepting the honour of being inducted into the hall of fame have to tell you who they are, it leads me to think ĎWhy are we honouring this person in the first place?í
I understand that bands have many members through the years, but for godsakes, have an announcer announce whom they are or show some pictures with band members who are getting honoured beforehand. Without these things, it makes the ceremony seem so bush league.
I know I am getting older, but I was shocked at the use of profanity. I am not against cursing, I actually like using curse words when I am displaying anger in a promo toward my opponent. However, I do not feel the use of the F bomb while your career achievements are being recognized should be considered appropriate. I know it is rock & roll, but show some restraint.
I was also shocked that a graphic wasnít shown in memory of the late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. His band members essentially read his last public feelings on Earth during their acceptance speech. I know he had passed away only days earlier, but producers could have had a graphic, or a moment of remembrance, for him after the bandís speech, which was followed by Kid Rock performing one of their songs. How one overlooks the pure emotion of a dying manís last words, caught on camera no less, is beyond me.
Finally, the utter and obvious lack of caring about your audience was highlighted by the absence of frontman Axl Rose of Guns and Roses. (I donít know if organizers tried, but even a taped acceptance speech or something from Axl would have been nice.) I understand it was his decision not to attend, but what if the hall of fame refused to induct the band without him? How would his concert sales have been?
You have to respect your audience and there comes a time when you have to say ďLetís do this for our fans.Ē If you fear for your safety, you can have extra security. Axl should have been there if for nothing else than to say thank you and walk off.
I am sorry for being so critical, especially given that I am not privy to the circumstances, but I did some research and I know the show was six hours long and was condensed to 21/2 for TV, but those points could have made the show memorable. Most music critics have negative feelings about the Hall of Fame. I donít.
Anything that gives the fans a chance to honour their favorites for generations to come is worthwhile. Music is timeless and never-ending. I would relish the chance to produce the next ceremony. I would make a lot of changes and truly give back to the fans and let them capture that one last emotion or feel they went back in time while their favourite song is playing.
I would make the bands remember their most humbling of beginnings all the way to their greatest successes; the entire time making the spectacle of the show the most important part to the audience. Because without an audience, none of us have a platform to perform.
Thanks for allowing me to have a platform. I love my audience, be it in print or performing in the ring.
Thanks for reading.
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Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website.