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By Mike Johnson & Buck Woodward on 2008-03-29 23:30:19

Welcome to our coverage of the 2008 WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony.  The first half of the Hall Of Fame is being presented in a webcast on, while the balance of the show is being taped for tonight's broadcast on the USA Network and The Score. For those unable to follow the webcast, we will have a recap here following each induction and we will have live reports from the ceremony itself throughout the evening. 

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

We are live from the Amway Arena.

WWE is selling several special Ric Flair shirts, one listing every star he defeated for a World title and the other reading "Thank you Ric."

The ceremony started 10 minutes late.

The Rock is up first. 

After a video package, Todd Grisham introduced The Rock who received a monster standing ovation.  The crowd chanted "Please Come Back".  Rock seemed genuinely moved and thanked everyone humbly before whipping out his trademark "Finally the Rock has come back to Orlando."

Rock said he wanted to congratulate all the new Hall of Famers tonight and seeing everyone tonight, shouting out Steve Austin.  The crowd chanted "One More Match" at them.  Rock asked the crowd if they wanted to see them wrestle one more time.  Fans chanted "Austin-Rocky".  Rock said he loved Austin and they headlined three Wrestlemanias.  He told a story of them facing off in the ring at Wrestlemania and saying to Austin in the ring that they were going to make history ... so Austin punched him in the face and said "shut up".

Rock then pointed out a smiling Mick Foley.  He said Foley was the only man who can use a sweaty sock to make Rock a better man.  Foley whipped out a Socko drawn to wear a tuxedo.

Rock pointed out Coachman then said, "Awww no one cares about you".  Rock pointed out Chris Jericho and said he can't believe Jericho is still talking about the night he beat Rock and Austin but its better than talking about the haircut that makes him look 12 years old.

Rock asked where Triple H was.  He said HHH is so obsessed with winning the WWF...he corrected himself and said WWE title...then said somehow that makes Stephanie pregnant.  They showed her in the front row.

Rock then said that other than going to Iraq this is the most special night of the year.  He said that there's controversy because the military has a new torture technique...forcing insurgents to watch "The Marine".  John Cena laughed and Rock said "Hey, I made Doom."  He told Cena that he hasn't made it until a building chants "you suck" and Rock knows that better than anyone.

Rock then tricked Santino into trying to say his name and pulled out "it doesn't matter what your name is".

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

WWE decided to do the Rock's induction of his father and grandfather first, taping it for television.  The webcast will then begin, and we will see the inductions of the Brisco Brothers, Mae Young, Eddie Graham and Gordon Solie.  The webcast will end, then Ric Flair's induction will close the show, with it being taped for television. So, while WWE said the webcast would begin "approximately" at 7:30pm, the truth is that the webcast won't begin until the Johnson and Maivia inductions are finished. 

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

Rock closed out with "If you smell what the Rock is cooking" then said that was "The Rock part".  They were having audio problems with the upper deck being unable to hear him.  Rock joked it was a billion dollar company with no real mics.

Rock read a statement he said he wrote last night as a third generation star who loves the business.  Fans chanted "Please Come Back" while another catcalled for him to stay away.  There was a "No More Movies" chant.  He finally started using a handheld mic and the place popped.  Rock said he loves and misses the "interactive nature" of wresting.

Rock read a wonderful speech about the passion of being a wrestler and the learning experiences that come with being a wrestler.   He discussed his father and grandfather and they went to video features.

Rocky Johnson gave a nice speech saying if you would have told him he would make history and be part of a dynasty, he would have said you were crazy.  He talked about being one half of the first African American tag champs and put over the Wild Samoans.  He said he worked for the NWA and considers WWE his home.

Johnson then thanked Lia Maivia for all she did for the Samoans in the business and being the only Samoan promoter.  He thanked his wife for sticking with him for 35 years and thanked his children, including Dwayne.  He said he Rock resisted getting in the business and said he would only train him on the condition Rocky wouldn't go hard on him.

Rocky told a story of teaming with Rock in the Bahamas saying his son tried to tell him he was doing everything wrong, which led to the punchline of Rocky refusing to tag in because he wasn't doing it right.

He then praised Jimmy Snuka for breaking the door down for Islanders in the business.  He talked about the racial prejudices he dealt with while breaking in.  He told stories of wrestling Ric Flair in Charlotte and called him a class act who made him look like a million dollars.  He said Flair helped him become a black performer fans could believe in.  He told a story of wrestling in Memphis as the Southern Heavyweight champ.

Harley Race is in the house.

Rocky said he'd like to be remembered for paving the road for not just black athletes but all athletes.  He thanked Lia Maivia, Sika, Greg Valentine, Andre the Giant, Linda McMahon and more.

He then told a story of teaching the Rocky Johnson shuffle to Muhammad Ali and joked Shane McMahon stole it.

They tried to play music to cut him off and he then finally closed out.

WWE is playing a graphic that reads STANDING OVATION to lead the crowd.

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

At 8:10, they got rid of the "approximately 7:30" graphic and replaced it with "Coming Soon".

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

Rocky Johnson left.  Rock thanked the fans for supporting his dad.  He pointed out that three people he always wanted to wrestle are here....Rey Mysterio, John Cena and Shawn Michaels.  The crowd chanted for more Rock matches.

Rock then inducted Peter Maivia, discussing his importance on not just the business but everyone he knew.  He talked about Maivia's charisma as a face and as a heel.  He said that Maivia was known as not just the toughest but also the kindest.

They played a video for Peter Maivia.   Rock pointed out his grandmother then talked about how when he debuted he wanted to make his family proud.  He got very choked out and said that in everything he's done he hopes he's made his grandfather proud because he is so proud of his grandfather.

Rock introduced his mother, Ata Johnson, to accept for Peter.  She said she was worried about speaking about her father in public because she gets emotional talking about him privately.    She told stories of meeting Andre when he was young in France and Peter working for Steve Rickard in Europe.   She told a story of Peter breaking his big toe in the ring while wrestling barefoot against Pat Patterson, then setting it inside the ring and continuing.

She told stores of Dwayne as a child, calling her their pebble.  The crowd chanted pebble and Rock said to never do that again.

Ata told stories of Peter's kindness and said he lived his life to the fullest and loved the business.  She said that's a trait among all wrestlers and she loves them for their passion.  She thanked the Monsoons, the Skaalands and the Strongbows for all they did for the Samoans in the wrestling business.  She said Peter would be so proud of his family for all they've done.

She said it is a proud moment and day for her family and her heart was pounding.  She told her father to take his final bow because tonight is the big finish.  She said as they say in the business, its time to go home.  The crowd gave a standing ovation.

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

At 8:30, the webcast finally began, with Lilian Garcia introducing Mean Gene Okerlund.  Okerlund gave a shout out to Bobby Heenan, which got a pop, then introduced a video package on Jack & Gerald Brisco. Gene then introduced JBL to induct them, and he was given a rousing ovation of boos.  

JBL came out wearing a cowboy hat with his tuxedo.  JBL said that the Rock had forgotten the two most important words in wrestling, "Go Home", saying he went on for so long, Ric Flair and the Briscos had sobered up backstage.  JBL said that Gerald was supposed to attend his wedding, but his son was in a wrestling championship that day.  JBL said Gerald promised to attend his next "two or three" weddings.  JBL talked about being a Texan inducting Oklahomans, but said they had a common Indian relative, they were derived from "Chief Slapaho".  JBL said that the Briscos were the greatest tag team of all time, mentioning they were better than even the Road Warriors, Dudleys, Steiners and APA.  JBL then talked about Jack Brisco's NCAA wrestling career.  JBL said if Jack hadn't turned to pro wrestling because he needed money, he would have been the greatest amateur wrestler ever.  JBL then pointed out Gerald's amateur success.  JBL then cut a promo about Christopher Columbus missing his mark and naming Native Americans "Indians".  JBL said the result was the Briscos being introduced to "fire water".  JBL then talked about the Briscos stretching wrestlers, including Vader, Steve Austin, Barry Windham and more.  JBL then delivered some humorous tales about the Briscos and their drunken antics.  JBL talked about how the Native Americans were screwed over in the sale of Manhattan.  JBL said in 1983, the "redman" got revenge, when the Briscos sold Georgia Championship Wrestling to Vince McMahon. JBL said as a result, the Briscos never need to work again, they work because they want to.  JBL then noted all the wrestlers the Briscos helped bring into the business, including Hulk, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar and himself. 

The Briscos were then escorted out by Kelly Kelly. Jack spoke first, said that his dream was to team with his brother in pro wrestling.  He said his inspiration in that dream were Lou Thesz and Danny Hodge. Jack listed a slew of wrestlers that he worked with during his career, saying he was grateful to these legends.  Jack then thanked his brother, and his wife for her support.  

Gerald joked that since he was on the stage, there was no one in the Gorilla Position to tell him to go home.  He then joked to Chris Jericho in the crowd that he only has "two minutes" for his match tomorrow.  Gerald thanked JBL, and noted that he had his feeling Bruce Pritchard helped him with that speech.  Gerald thanked his sons, calling them the "next Brisco Brothers" and thanked his family.  Gerald noted he has worked in wrestling for 40 years now, starting in Australia with Jim Barnett.  Brisco said Barnett taught them that "if you're going to get anywhere in this business, you need to speak up."  Gerald then thanked Jim Crockett Sr. for giving him his first chance as a singles wrestler.  Gerald thanked Eddie Graham for teaching them about the wrestling business from "the other side" of things, working in the office.  Gerald talked about the pride he and his brother take in their Native American heritage.  Gerald joked that he has stretched Brother Love 3,000 times, and JBL 3,000 times.  Gerald said Steve Austin told him this week that he "let him" stretch him.  Gerald joked that he believed him.  Gerald then said he hired JBL while he was in the shower, and said that "everything in Texas isn't bigger".  Gerald talked about working with the younger stars in WWE, and said that the pressures young talent go through today are more than he ever had to deal with.  He said he knew the business was in good shape with these young stars, and thanked them for their dedication.  Gerald talked about the long road his career has taken him, and said it has all been "worth the drive".  

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

Lilian Garcia filmed the opening and introduced Gene Okerlund.  They probably filmed Rock first because he's due to be on set tomorrow AM in California shooting Escape from Witch Mountain for Disney.  Okerlund welcome everyone then made a mention of Bobby Heenan saying he hopes Heenan gets well soon.

They aired a video feature on the Brisco Brothers. JBL came out to induct them and said they were among the best tag teams of all times, mentioning The Dudleys, The Road Warriors, The Von Erichs and  Shaun and Steve Simpson(!).

He put over the Briscos and said he wasn't going to tell stories about the Briscos, then talked about their Native American heritage, stretching WWE stars in Dubai, selling Georgia Championship Wrestling to Vince McMahon, Gerald's partnership with Pat Patterson, and Briscos breaking Hulk Hogan, JBL and Kurt Angle into the business.

Jack Brisco ran down a huge list of names he worked with and thanked WWE for the honor. He thanked Gerald for always having his back.

Gerald joked he didn't know who was running gorilla and then said he thinks he wanted to thank JBL.  He thanked his sons and family.  He said he's worked for 40 years in the business.  He praised Jim Barnett for giving them a chance in Australia and for telling them to speak up.  Gerald thanked Jim Crockett Sr. For giving him a chance at breaking out on his own.  He said you give the people back what they give you and the people have given them so much.

Gerald put over a  bunch of wrestling personalities from Texas and joked that Oklahomans love to kick the crap out of Texans.  Gerald praised the passion of the young talents in the WWE and thanked them because they will keep the business in great shape the next 40 years.  He thanked one and all for their sacrifices in the business.  He said despite the bumpy road, its worth the drive.

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

After a Wrestlemania commercial, Gene Okerlund introduced a video package on Gordon Solie.  WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross was then introduced to induct Solie.  JR said that he has been thinking about Solie lately, because tomorrow he gets to call Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, and said they will look to "raise the bar" tomorrow.  Ross said that Solie possessed the rarest of qualities, "when he talked, people listened".  Ross said that when he was 12 years old, he heard Gordon Solie calling wrestling in 1964.  Ross said if he hadn't heard Solie, he would not have become an announcer.  Ross joked about Solie's classic lines, like "wearing the crimson mask" and it's a "pier six brawl".  Ross said he thought a "vertical suplay" was a pie or cobbler.  Ross told a story about Solie, Bill Watts, Dusty Rhodes, and the Briscos driving around Atlanta trying to find promoter Jim Barnett's house.  When the drunken group arrived, they paid off the doorman to allow them into Barnett's penthouse.  Solie said he felt someone would be fired, and noted Watts was the booker, Rhodes was the top star and the Briscos were the top tag team.  Well, it turns out Solie wasn't fired, the doorman was.  Jim Ross talked about getting to call the famous Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair "I Quit" match with Gordon, saying it was a dream come true for him.  JR noted the late Gary Hart was working ringside for Funk at the match.  Ross noted Solie's classic line from the bout "Five letters, two words, I Quit".  Jim Ross talked about calling four hours of TV matches with Gordon for WCW once, and how they used orange juice and vodka to get through some of the most boring wrestling ever. Jim Ross talked about how the night Gordon Solie died, Ric Flair called him.  Ross noted that at the end of their conversation, the two men told each other they loved each other.  Jim Ross said there will always be one voice in wrestling that will live forever.  Ross said that Gordon Solie is the best wrestling announcer ever, and "all us other yayhoos" are fighting for number two. 

Eve Torres escorted out the five children of Gordon Solie. On of his sons began to speak, and some "fan" decided to yell "speak up" and catcall him.  His son said that Solie was never the show, he just worked to make the show better.  Another son spoke about the other sports Gordon called, but noted his love was wrestling.  He made a joke that Gordon would have loved to call a match between the three presidential candidates this year.  He then told a story of how a blind man told him that he "watched" Florida Championship Wrestling through the words of Gordon Solie.  He ended the speech with Gordon's trademark farewell, "So long from the Sunshine State". 

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

TNA's Rocka Khan is at the Hall Of Fame, sitting with the with the FCW developmental wrestlers. 

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

Mean Gene Okerlund introduced a video package on Mae Young.  Gene then introduced Pat Patterson to induct Mae into the Hall Of Fame. Pat said he had a lot of stories to tell tonight, but he was told to "cut it down", which got some boos. Pat pulled out a small piece of paper, but then read off a bar order and said it came from the previous night's party.  Pat said that Mae Young loves the business, and wants to wrestle a match when she turns 100.  Pat talked about meeting Mae Young when he was 16, and couldn't speak much English.  He was told by a promoter that he was going to be riding with Mae Young.  They were driving, and Mae told him he needs to smoke cigars if he wants to be a wrestler, so the two smoked cigars during the whole ride.  Patterson said he watched Mae wrestle that night, and decided he never wanted to wrestle her, because she beat the hell out of everyone in the match that night.  Patterson then told a story of how Mae, who lived across the street from him, showed up at his door one night in her underwear, a drink in her hand.  She told Patterson that they were going to drink, and Patterson wondered what was wrong.  He asked her, but the drunk Mae just kept waving her arms at him.  They fell asleep, but the next day, Mae was gone. When Patterson caught up with her, he asked what she was trying to say to him that night.  Mae said I was trying to do this (obscene gesture) but I was too drunk to do it.  Patterson then noted that Mae has been wrestling for 65 years, a record that will never be broken.  Patterson then sang part of "My Way" and introduced Mae Young. 

Mae Young was escorted out by Kelly Kelly.  She was waving her arms and looked to be having a blast.  Mae thanked her fans, and she said that she was the first female wrestling champion in Florida, and that she won it in Orlando.  Mae said she planned on sticking around for a few more years, and that she would have that match when she was 100.  Mae said that she wrestled as an amateur, and when she heard about the women's wrestling champion Mildred Burke coming to Tulsa, Oklahoma, she had her brother take her there so she could fight her.  The promoter said "You've never had a match" and Mae said "But I can beat her".  Mae talked about her first wrestling training session, and how she would snatch her opponents (Elvira Snodgress and Gladys Gillam) and take her down in seconds.  Mae talked about going to Charlotte, North Carolina for training and meeting the Fabulous Moolah.  She talked about working with Moolah, and how the business is so much better now.  Mae said she met Ed "Strangler" Lewis.  Mae said that Lewis told her "I don't like girl wrestlers, women should be in the kitchen.  But after seeing you, you belong in the ring."  Mae then talked about her love for the fans, saying she did it all for them, and that she would wrestle for them on her 100th birthday.  Mae and Pat Patterson then started dancing, and Mae looked happier than anyone I think I've ever seen at one of these things. 

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

Former Mean Street Posse member Pete Gas is in attendance at the Hall Of Fame.

Buck Woodward, reporting from in front of his computer:

Another Wrestlemania commercial aired. Mean Gene then introduced the video package on Eddie Graham.   Dusty Rhodes was introduced to induct Graham, and Dusty came out dancing to his old WWF theme music.  There was a "Dusty" chant from the fans.  Dusty said he was glad that "The People's Elbow left when the Bionic Elbow came out".  Dusty made a remark that Rock's speech will make for a "good two hour special" if they ever need it.  Dusty talked about Eddie Graham being his mentor, and that the only time Eddie got mad at him was when Dusty said "funky like a monkey", because Graham didn't know what that meant.  Dusty talked about the famous MSG match with Eddie & Jerry Graham vs. Miguel Perez & Antonino Rocca, which resulted in a riot in the crowd.  Dusty said the next day, the cleaning crew came in, and that because there were fans of both teams on the cleaning crew, they got into a fight too.  Dusty talked about how he would go up to Graham and ask how his match was, the way John Cena comes up and asks Dusty today, with Rhodes noting how good it makes him feel.  Dusty talked about working the old Florida circuit and "bringing home the bacon", then somehow turned it into a promo about Wrestlemania.  Dusty said he would not be "The American Dream" if Eddie Graham didn't believe in him.  Dusty said that Graham taught him that you cannot short change the fans of the wrestling industry.  Dusty said that Eddie Graham "gave me my wings to fly".  Dusty introduced Eddie's son, Mike Graham, noting that Mike is the godfather of Dusty's youngest daughter.  

Eve Torres escorted Mike Graham out, and he embraced Dusty.  Mike noted that he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event.  Some guy yelled out "Hogan" and Mike said "We'll talk about him later".  Mike talked about how Eddie learned how to wrestle because as a kid someone beat him up and took the money he earned on his paper route.  He noted that Eddie went to Texas and met Dory Funk Sr. and began to learn about professional wrestling.  Mike said Eddie wrestled under the name "Rip Rogers" there.  Mike noted that in Eddie beat up a politician in Texas who thought he knew about wrestling, and the result was Graham being banned in Texas.  Mike then talked about Eddie Graham going to New York to work for Vince McMahon Sr., and how he learned about the "big business" side of wrestling.  Mike noted how fans hated Eddie so much, they would try to turn his car over when he arrived at Wrestlemania.  Mike then spoke of how Eddie went to Florida and combined what he learned from Dory Funk Sr. and Vince McMahon Sr. and created a style of wrestling that swept over the world.  Mike noted that if Eddie Graham hadn't gone into a YMCA, he never would have gotten into wrestling, which is why Eddie always gave back to YMCA in Florida.  Mike then said he had something to give back.  He pulled out a framed black and white photo, and noted it was a picture from the first National Wrestling Alliance meeting in 1961 in Toronto, Canada.  He noted that this was the forefathers of the wrestling business as we know it, pointing out that Vince McMahon Sr., Eddie Graham, Gorilla Monsoon, Buddy Rogers, Pat O'Connor and others were in the picture. Mike said he was honored to accept his father's induction into the Hall Of Fame, and to give this picture for wrestlers and fans to see where wrestling came from. 

As Graham walked off, the webcast ended at 9:55pm. 

Mike Johnson, reporting live from the Hall Of Fame: 

Lilian Garcia introduced John Cena, who was booed by the majority of the audience.  He said that based on the atmosphere tonight, everyone knows Wrestlemania is tomorrow.  He said its the greatest spectacle on Earth and we wouldn't have it without the Hall of Famers that came before.  He said that wrestlers often say they wouldn't exist without the fans, but the Hall Of Famers turned everyone into fans to begin with.  He asked everyone to rise and applaud not just the honorees tonight but everyone in the Hall.  It was a great speech.

Coverage continues on the next page!

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