6am, day after Christmas, I put some clothes on in the dark…that is of course the opening line in a song written by Ben Folds called ‘Brick’, it’s a delightful little diddy about his girlfriend getting an abortion..I quote it because my entry begins with me arriving in New York city at 6am, which had nothing to do with abortions though, you could seemingly get an abortion in New York and then go shopping for a handbag afterwards! AMAZING!! Anywho. I arrived at 6am and was greeted by that handsome Son of a Bitch Ricky, my cousin who is the main reason why my mother got me to watching wrestling in the first place. He picked me up and drove me 2 and a half hours up state to my other cousin (his sisters) place where we were going to stay for the weekend. I got 3 hours sleep but was feeling pretty spritely. We shot the shit all the way up.
Shortly after arriving my cousin was going to bring the kids out so Rick and I took a power nap. By the time we woke up it was time for Ricky to start the drive down to the city again. Another 2.5 hour trek down to get to Madison Square Garden for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Unfortunately we hit traffic in Midtown Manhattan so we had to park the car up and then walk\jog\run about 15 blocks to the Garden. By the time we got there Mick Foley was already giving his speech. I think we caught most of it. I had been to a Hall of Fame ceremony before in New York which was a very classy and civil affair, this one seemed pretty different. There was some asshole shouting “Who Cares” and other asshole things during speeches. Luckily somebody from the WWE security team dragged his away after a few too many disruptions. Mick Foley had a pretty fun speech, the guy’s body of work is amazing. He doesn’t like being called a masochist but the torture he put himself through over the years would suggest he not only has a high threshold for pain but also likely enjoys the adulation that comes with doing some incredible things. He randomly remarked that one day he had the thought come into his head that he never pinned Chris Jericho in his career and he really wanted to drop an elbow on him and get that 1-2-3. Jericho hopped on staged and lay down, Foley stepped back, ran up and dropped the elbow on Jericho, CM Punk jumped on stage for the 1-2-3. It was a first in the short history of the Hall Of Fame ceremony and was pretty fun to see pro wrestlers kind of reverting back to being fans.
Trish Stratus was also inducted. She played a dirty, dirty blonde she devil with a big rack for years. Over the course of a few years though she developed into a pretty good performer. In my opinion she was the greatest female wrestler of the modern era. Her moves in the ring didn’t look pathetic like many other women. The fact she was sexy as hell was a bonus. It’s rare that you get to see professional wrestlers in this kind of setting, a formal ceremony in which they speak candidly and not in character. She came across as a very sweet, quiet type of lady. She was very cute! Funniest part of the whole thing was when she thanked her husband Ron, who was in the crowd, who apparently asked her not to mention him because he didn’t want to be on tv. She should have listened to him. The crowd had already been shouting inappropriate things earlier so this was their chance to give shit to a guy who was marrying a lady a lot of the wrestling nerds probably thought of as their pretend wife for years. The boo from the crowd was deafening when he was shown on the screen. She kept trying to get past it and thank him for his love and support which got louder boo’s again. Any time she mentioned him, there was boos. Then she announced that she was pregnant and did that phoney Beyonce type of announcement when she stepped out from the podium and held her tummy. Which received a chant of “Ron! Ron! Ron! Ron! Ron!”
Booker T was next. His brother inducted him. Booker has a pretty interesting back story. He went to prison at a young age and when he got out he got a job as a security guard but after 6 months they found out he had a record and fired him but his boss liked him and saw he was a hard worker so he supported him financially to attempt to go to a wrestling school. Both of his parents died when he was very young. He ended his speech by doing his patented ‘Spinaroonie’ which is a break dancing move he performed in his first big match and got ohhh and awwws so he started doing it every match as a taunt.
Up next was Bob Backland. Who was my highlight of the weekend for just being so fucking weird. He was inducted by a lady named Maria Menonous who is a presenter on an Entertainment show in the states, she seemed like a strange choice to do induct him. She explained that she met him when she was 18 and he was a very positive person and positive influence on her life. She went on to explain that Bob had a very under-rated comedic timing. Which was strange of her to say because he always played a straight up wrestler, no flair, no swagger, no charisma, just a hard worker in the ring. So out comes Bob for his speech. He starts jumping up and down and screaming so loud and times that you couldn’t understand what the fuck he was saying. He proceeded to tell his nephew to standup and explained that he was training to become a wrestler and telling one of the heads of WWE to take a long hard look at him. He then went on some crazy tangents that I can’t repeat because I couldn’t make sense of them. He went on for a long time just being incoherent, until eventually Vince McMahon the owner of the WWE snuck up on him and pointed to his watch. The first chance they got they played him off but Bob wouldn’t leave without some help and encouragement from a stage hand. So Bizare!!
Donald Trump was also inducted. He expectidly got chorus of boo’s. His speech was forgettable but that was expected. After him was the ‘main event’ of the night. Bruno Sammartino who told stories about growing up in Italy during WW2 and moving to America. His story is amazing. He also looked great for his age and delivered the speech very well. Overall the Hall of Fame was a great event. Madison Square Garden got a great make over and looked completely different to that last time I was there. After the show we got lucky and managed to spot a lot of wrestlers leaving the arena. Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Big Show, Mae Young, X-Pac, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, RVD, Paul Heyman, JBL, Joey Styles etc. It was pretty cool. Some of them, namely RVD and X-Pac interacted with the crowd and shook hands etc. CM Punk interacted with the crowd also and gave a nice Heel look at the crowd as he got into his waiting car.
My cousin and I head back to the parking lot so he could drive us back to upstate New York. Another 2.5 hour drive for him, making it 10 hours of driving in 1 day. He’s some man for one man! We got a couple of blocks and then stopped at a traffic light to wait to cross the street. When I noticed the gentlemen in front of us wearing a suit was none other than MVP. A former WWE wrestler who did something not many other wrestlers have done. Request to be released by the WWE so he could try working in Japan. I told him good luck at Carolines as he was doing a Q&A there, I read that on Twitter. He told us he was already running late and it started at 12 that its’ impossible to get a cab in this city. We left him alone after that. As we were walking a bunch of people were cursing, dropping F-Bombs. I said to my cousin, seems like a lot of people curse after 11pm on the streets of New York. MVP squeezed his fist and said “Yeah, That’s real New York!!” The poor fucker was in a full suit and dress shoes, couldn’t get a cab and was running late for a show. I assume he walked the entire way and his feet were probably killing him. I thought it was pretty cool, he could walk down the street without really being hassled. I guess that’s the beauty of New York. Anonymity. Part 3 is coming up!