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By Stuart Carapola on 2018-04-07 00:25:00

The show opens with a great video package showing the history of the Hall of Fame and how it started with Andre the Giant and ran through to this year's class, then we go to our host for the evening, Jerry "The King" Lawler.  He welcomes everyone and says he's very proud to host this again since this year's class will answer questions like "Ain't I Great?" and "Who's Next?" and even "WHAZZUP?"  To that point, he throws us to a video package showing us what our first inductees bring to the table.

The video package shows us their history through both ECW and WWE, and gets comments from Paul Heyman, Kofi Kingston, Faarooq, Tommy Dreamer, and others about how there was nothing they weren't willing to do to get ahead.  Edge talks about working against them as we see clips of the TLC matches, their various catchphrases, and of course the tables and 3D.  Jerry introduces Edge and Christian, who reek of awesomeness and will induct the Dudleyz.  Christian says it's a surreal moment because he saw Edge get inducted five years ago, and he knew this moment would come for him one day...then Edge cuts him off and says he sees what he's doing, he's trying to induct himself into the Hall of Fame.  Christian says they came out to Edge's music and now he has to embarrass him in front of all their friends.  The fans chant "you deserve it" at Christian as he says it's surreal that they get to induct the greatest team in the history of the business.  Edge says there was 2 1/2 guys in the internet who thought it was a travesty that Paul isn't inducting the Dudleyz, and he says the reasons they are inducting the Dudleyz instead of Paul because they don't owe them any money, and they owe them a lot of receipts.  Plus they're the only guys who like Bubba.  The Dudleyz are two guys from New York who trained under Johnny Rodz, and it was really about ECW and how the Dudleys were the most successful guys to come out of there.  They would start riots every night while Edge and Christian were trying to build their own groundswell here with the Hardyz, and they always knew the Dudleyz would come here.  They knew they'd have to pass a test, and that first test came in the form of the APA, and they passed the test when they beat their ASSES.  Faarooq stand up with a mic and says DAMN.  Edge continues to the Dudleyz joining up with them and the Hardyz, and says netiher of those teams would be what they became if it weren't for the Dudleyz, because you had five fearless wrestlers and D-Von, and they created a match that became legendary, TLC.  That match later became a PPV, and when the six of them got together after the first one, and they all decided they could get paid a little more for that match, so the six of them went to Jim to try and massage the situation, and JR asks them if they thought their payoff was a little soft.  Bubba responded like only a New Yorker could when he said they felt like they got kicked in the nuts, but it got them a bump in pay.  Edge says the Dudleyz have won more championships than any other team in history, and they let the fans soak that in for a second while they put on Dudley glasses and Edge tells Christian to...GET THE DUDLEYZ!  Christian introduces Bubba Ray and D-Von, the D-D-D-D-Dudley Boyz!

Edge and Christian give them their glasses as they walk off stage, and D-Von tells the attendees they have arrived, and it's an honor and privilege to...Bubba cuts him off and says that after 25 years, he still doesn't get it: he just stands there and says testify.  D-Von says he doesn't know if Bubba got the memo, but he's office now, so he might have gotten the tables for 20 years, but now he tells Bubba when to speak, walk, and move, and tells Bubba to stand behind him because he's going first.  Bubba heard he's a producer, and he looked at the boys faces in the crowd and says he gets texts from the boys who text him saying "D-Von is my producer lol" and then D-Von says they're glad he's not their producer, and Bubba says "Yeah, their matches might get over then."  He was a young kid from Brooklyn watching Hulk Hogan and that made him want to become a professional wrestler, and he even tried to look like Hogan.  He had the tan, and at one point he even tried to make his hair look like Hogan, not realizing they have pretty much the same hairdo now.  He watched the greats like Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and of course, Andre the Giant, and he knew then that he wanted to do that, so he went to Johnny Rodz's school and learned from the best, and then he told his boys that he didn't have a dad growing up, but he would make something out of himself that they could be proud of.  They show his boys in the crowd applauding, then says his mom raised a good young man, but he won't go on for 30 minutes like Mr T did, but they had some trying times and made it.  They moved on up like the Jefferson, got a piece of that pie, and never looked back, and he's proud to say he loves his mother.  His sons are the reasons he took the barbed wire bats and tables, and he's proud his boys are becoming wrestlers and are following in the footsteps of their father and uncle, but most of all, he wants to thank Bubba, because they made history together, and he oculdn't have done it with anyone else. Hey, Velvet Sky is there in the crowd!  He says Bubba isn't just his brother in the business, he's his brother in life.  He says now Bubba can talk.

Bubba says for the first time he doesn't think he can follow him.  They talked about their families a lot on the road, and he wishes his parents were alive to see this, so he did the next best thing and brought the cards from their funerals.  THAT is sweet.  Love it.  He was in the front row when Jimmy Snuka did the cage dive onto Don Muraco, and they were fans of the WWF.  D-Von says we can't say the F word, and they had to get the F out like 15 years ago.  Bubba apologizes, then talks about how he watched Wrestlemania I on closed circuit television, and his dad asked him how he liked the show, and he said he'd be there doing that one day.  His uncle who is here told him to shut up and get in the car, and Bubba asks  how he likes him now.  Uncle Bubba stands up and applauds as Bubba says they're proud to be the first original ECW act to get inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I didn't even realize that!  Edge talked about the elephant in the room, so Bubba tells everyone to give Tommy Dreamer a hand.  They want to thank everyone who ever set foot in ECW with them, they thank Paul Heyman for listening to them when they wanted to be a team, they also want to thank Spike for taking so many beatings from them, and no matter what they did to him, he always came back for more, and they can't express the gratitude they have for him, and he is their brother in heart as well.  They want to thank everyone they ever got in the ring with because you can't get over on your own, and everyone they ever wrestled got them over.  They didn't have bodies like the Road Warriors, couldn't work like Arn & Tully, and weren't as pretty as Ricky & Robert.  D-Von says he thinks he's a pretty gorgeous black man, and Bubba asks him why he waited until their last night together to be funny.  D-Von wants to thank Tommy Dreamer because he remembers how Tommy gave the thumbs up when he had his ECW tryout, he guided and hleped him and took him to the shows, and he never forgot that because so many wrestlers are here that Tommy did that for, and he never expected anything in return, and that's why he loves him.  Bubba considers Tommy his best friend too, and points out the future Mrs Bubba, Velvet Sky (who gets a nice pop) and thanks her too, and then they talk about the first time they met Vince McMahon, which was at LaGuardia Airport in New York.  He saw them behind him in the ticket line and he introduced himself, then siad he couldn't believe that Vince flies commercial.  D-Von says they were tested by the APA when they got here, and they're still feeling it today.  He tells a funny story about their first strap match with the APA and he went up to Ron, who kept calling him Devon.  After testing them, the APA opened their arms to them and that gave them the okay.  D-Von talks about the Reverend D-Von days, and he came through the curtain with the money from the collection plate, and the APA decided to make it part of the APA Drinking Fund, and that became a recurring thing every night.  Bubba also thanks Mae Young because she put her body on the line to help get them over, and her willingness to bump for them helped them get over more than anything.  Bubba slammed her down gingerly, and she came up to him in the locker room afterward and said that if he was going to slam her, to do it like he'd slam one of the boys.  Bubba says she's one of the toughest men he ever met.  He knows the fans love the TLC matches, and he wants a moment that hasn't happened in more than 15 years, and he asks Edge & Christian and the Hardyz to come up on stage together.  Bubba says this is the first time all six of them have been together since TLC 2, and they wanted to do this because they created their history together, and wrestling can be a bitter, selfish business tonight, but they didn't want to be selfish since they wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for the other four.  D-Von suggests one more TLC match, sand that sends everyone running for cover.  Their music hits and a stagehand comes out to grip to them about going long, So Bubba grabs him by the shirt and tells D-Von to get the tables.  D-Von obliges, and Bubba tells him to put it on his Twitter and it'll get him over.  D-Von hoists him up, and THROUGH THE TABLE HE GOES!  D-Von says "OH MY BROTHER, TESTIFY!" to close the segment.

Jerry Lawler says our next inductee is already in the Moonshiners Hall of Fame and the Denim Overalls Hall of Fame, and tonight he goes into the WWE Hall of Fame...Hillbilly Jim.  We see a vidoe package of his history and his time training with Hulk Hogan, and also his importance in the Rock N Wrestling days, and then Jerry introduces Jimmy Hart to do the induction.  Jimmy says Jim grew up loving three things: country music, watching wrestling with his grandmother, and high school basketball, where he was all-city, all-state, and all-conference, and he was offered several scholarships, but he wanted to be in the entertainment business and became a bouncer.  A wrestling promoter found ihm and put him on the road around the southeast, but he wanted that one special phone call from WWE, and he got it because they thought he'd be the next big attraction.  That means that even a casual fan would know who he was and he could do the media stuff.  Jim was all over WWE's product back then, he was on Hee Haw, and his LJN action figure (which Jimmy has with him) did so well his first check for them was for $67,000.  Unfortunately, a bad knee injury almost derailed his wrestling career, but he was back in the ring at Wrestlemania III.  Jim was the one who called him because he was ignoring phone calls from the 203 area code because he thought it was a rib, but Jim talked him into calling them back and getting him into WWE for the first Wrestlemania.  They've been friends for almost 39 years now, and he thanks the WWE Universe fo rall this, then introduces Hillbilly Jim.

Jim comes out and square dances with Jimmy, then says "howdy to you" as they say in Kentucky.  He says he'll try to keep this brief and concise, but he has some things to talk about, and some names to mention.  He was in a gym in Bowling Green, Kentucky one day long ago when a guy came up to him and said he thought he'd be good for the wrestling business, and he was already in the business, he was from outside of Toronto, and had moved to Franklin, Kentucky and married a woman there, and his name was Bruce Swayze.  That got him on this and he never slowed down, even to this day.  He was watching the Hall of Fame a few years ago when Jim Ross was up here giving his induction speech a few years ago, and the thing he said that always stuck out to him that he thought described him to a T was opportunity.  His whole life has been based on opportunity, and he'll tell some stories of opportunity, and it doesn't matter who somebody is or what their life situation is, but take opportunities serious, because if you don't, they move on and leave you behind.  He had the uncanny ability to recognize opportunities if they found him.  The first was with Bruce Swayze.  A few months after that, he was working out at his local university with some great local and international athletes, and one day after working out, he and his friend Tom Hagan went to a movie theater when someone tapped him on the shoulder and says his son told him about Jim, and that person was Dale Mann.  Jim took that opportunity, then some time after that, his mom got a phone call she didn't right understand, and it was someone who got his number from Archie Gouldie, and it was Stu Hart.  Jim does his best impression of Stu (Explaining why Momma Jim didn't understand him), and before he knew it, he was in Calgary, and it was a big learning curve.  He's seen dungeons, and he knew it was better to be nice to Stu than go into his dungeon under unpleasant circumstances, and he took all kinds of brutal trips around western Canada, but it was what he needed before becoming Hillbilly Jim, and he had to leave before his time was up because his mom was ill.  Before he left, he made great friends with one of the smartest guys he's ever known, and they're still pals, and his name is Bruce Hart.  He was home when he got another call on his magic phone, and it's a future WWE Hall of Famer telling him he's got a deal and a spot for him if he wants to come to Memphis, and that man was Jerry Lawler.  He and his partner Jerry Jarrett, who is here tonight (they point him out in the crowd) brought him in, and he worked with Jimmy Hart, Koko B Ware, Dutch Mantel, Rick Rude, Jim Neidhart, and it was a great time, and he got to team with a tough guy named Roger Smith who schooled him in a lot of things.  Now he got the opportunity for the big time, and his friend Bruce Swayze said this big company will be in their area to have a big show with a loaded lineup, and he knew some of the guys running the show and took Jim down there to make an introduction, and that's where Jim met one of the original Hall of Famers, Pat Patterson, and his deal was sealed at that time because Pat got him right in, and Jim never left.  He never worked anywhere else after that because he knows the difference between riding in a limo and riding in a Volkswagen, so he stayed here and got to be here during the biggest time in the history of the business.  He got to work with the biggest star in history, Hulk Hogan himself, who took Jim under his wing, and his deal was made right there.  This business took an old boy from Kentucky, who didn't have a whole lot of anything, and this company made it possible for him and his whole family to have a whole lot of nice things. He tells a story about being exhausted from being on the road and sometimes doing three shows a night in different areas of the country,and they were selling out everywhere, so they didn't get a whole lot of time off.  He wanted some time off but just couldn't do it, so one night, Pat comes in with some paperwork for him, and he's flipping through the clipboard, and Jim's about to crack, and Pat asks him if he's gotten in any trouble and got some kind of lawsuit, and he says he didn't know what it was, so he handed ot to Jim, and Jim started flipping through it, and it had the check at the end, and he remembers the exact amount (it was actually more like $87,000) and that put a permanent smile on his face.  He ran right to a phone and called his mom and told her what he got, and the first thing he did was take it to his accountant, pay his taxes, and he's still got that money today.  He talks about being in Miami one Christmas, and he was teaming with Andre and Captain Lou against King Kong Bundy, John Studd and Bobby Heenan, and the heels worked him over real good because it was on when Andre tagged in, then the day after that they were headed to Dayton, Ohio, and Andre told Jim to ride with him, and they got on the plane and started drinking with Andre on the plane.  They polished off 57 bottles of liqour between them, and he only had eight of them.  The captain came out to cut them off, but took one look at Andre, then turned around and went right back.  He talks about Wrestlemania III outdrawing the pope, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis, and remembers King Kong Bundy slamming one of the midgets and making a noise like a squeak toy.  Jim says he's the luckiest guy on earth because he got to do what he wanted to do, where he wanted to do it, and now he's getting put into the Hall of Fame.  He's already had a hall of fame life because of this business, and this is just too much.  He'll accept it because it's in his name, but it's on behalf of a lot of other folks: his momma (who loved this business and the fact that her son was in it), his family (and he's happy his family survived this business since many others don't), the state of Kentucky (he always did everything he could to represent them well and carry a bit of Kentucky in him everywhere he went), his friends in the business he never would have met otherwise (too many names to mention now, but he wants them to accept part of this induction with him), and finally and foremost, he accepts it on behalf of the fans (he doesn't care where in the world they are, because they made him feel like he was home wherever he went).  This is all the power of opportunity, and he's humbled by it, and the past few months have been intense.  He doesn't have a cell phone or computer, he lives in the now and enjoys every minute. He got a call from a WWE guy and asks him how he wants to be remembered when he's gone, and he just wants to be remembered.  He thinks a lot about people who are no longer here, and mentions Johnny Valiant, Andre, Lord Alfred Hayes, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, and many others like Jimmy Snuka, Macho Man Randy Savage who also came from Memphis, and he never quite got over losing his dear friend Roddy Piper.  He closes by saying he can't thank the fans enough, and the fans chant "thank you Jim" as he tells everyone to please enjoy Wrestlemania weekend, and good evening to you.

Coverage continues on Page 3!

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