Fighting

WrestleMania Week Orlando: WWE Hall of Fame at Amway Center

WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley and soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page having fun at Florida Supercon in July at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley and soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page having fun at Florida Supercon in July at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale. Photo By Jim Varsallone

The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Class is an eclectic mix of superstars from the 1980s and into the new millennium. The ceremony is Friday, March 31 at the Amway Center during WrestleMania 33 Week in Orlando.

Introducing the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017:

Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle)

Inducted by John Cena

Highlighting this year’s inductees is the return of Kurt Angle, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and multi-time world champion who has been away from the company for more than a decade. The ceremony will be a homecoming for the 48-year-old with many fans holding out hope it leads to at least another WWE match. Those who have followed Angle in recent years know the grappler is still very much capable of bringing the house down. It’s been a rollercoaster journey for the performer who was introduced to the WWE Universe in 1999.

From there, he made one of the smoothest transitions into the business. He could do it all: wrestle, shine on the microphone and resonate with crowds. Some of Angle’s most memorable matches were against the likes of Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Triple H, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Ausitn and so many others. During his WWE run he also pulled out an incredible battle against Shane McMahon at the 2001 King of Ring and helped put John Cena make a solid first impression on SmackDown. Away from the cameras Angle should also be commended for fighting his demons and using his story of redemption to help others.

Diamond Dallas Page (@RealDDP)

Inducted by Eric Bischoff

Speaking of giving back, you don’t get more selfless than fellow inductee Diamond Dallas Page. The former WCW champion brought Scott Hall and Jake “The Snake” Roberts from the depths of despair to being able to see their respective careers celebrated at the WWE Hall of Fame in past years. The man behind DDP Yoga is deserving of the honor for his work outside the ring as much as his work in it. The 60-year-old got a late start entering pro wrestling, but through hard work and unwavering drive, he found main event level success. From managing the Fabulous Freebirds to his career-making rivalry with Macho Man Randy Savage, DDP captured the hearts of fans one Diamond Cutter at a time.

Teddy Long (@TeddyPlayAlong)

Inducted by APA (JBL and Ron Simmons)

Teddy Long was no stranger to putting in the time and effort to realize his own dreams. During his more than 30-year career, he went from cleaning floors, setting up the ring and getting Dusty Rhodes coffee to announcing, managing and refereeing. As an African American, Long also broke down many racial barriers. The 69-year-old became a regular fixture on WWE television as the beloved general manager of SmackDown. His signature was turning singles matches into tag team encounters.

Rick Rude (posthumously)

Inducted by Ricky The Dragon Steamboat

Over the years “Ravishing” Rick Rude has been a name many fans have been clamoring to see in the WWE Hall of Fame. That happens this year for the late onscreen villain with a mustache that would impress even Tom Sellick. Rude’s swagger, trademark physique and tights with the faces of many of his opponents and/or their significant others got him over with audiences. He was a master at inciting the crowd even before the bell rang as he moved his hips. Rude proved a great adversary with the likes of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Sting, the Ultimate Warrior and Roberts. Even after the superstar was forced to hang up the boots, he made an impact as a member of D-Generation X and the nWo. He even appeared on a taped Raw and live Nitro on the same night in 1997. It was the first and only time this ever happened.

Rock-n-Roll Express (@RealRickyMorton)

Inducted by Jim Cornette

Rock ‘n’ Roll Express innovated tag team wrestling to the point where many duos today have been inspired by the tandem whether they know it or not. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson set territories on fire including Mid-South, AWA, Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA/WCW. Of course their most famous opponents were the Midnight Express led by the dastardly Jim Cornette. Morton also had success going solo challenging champion Ric Flair on numerous occasions.

Beth Phoenix (@TheBethPhoenix)

Inducted by Natalya (Nattie Neidhart)

Beth Phoenix arrived on the scene during a somewhat transitional time for women’s wrestling in WWE. Trish Stratus and Lita were on their way out, opening the door for opportunity for other performers to step up. Phoenix certainly did just that as a dominant force within the diva’s division. She showed women could be #PinUpStrong with a regular ally in Natalya. The “Glamazon” blazed a trail all her own wrestling in the first-ever women’s “I Quit” match against Melina and “Tag Team Tables Match” with Natalya against LayCool. Phoenix also eliminated the Great Khali as the second women to ever compete in the Royal Rumble. She will be the youngest WWE Hall of Fame member at age 36. Phoenix and Adam “Edge” Copeland are also going down as the first husband and wife inductees.

Warrior Award - Eric LeGrand

The former standout for the Rutgers University football team turned motivational speaker will be the recipient of the third annual Warrior Award. Named after WWE Hall of Famer The Ultimate Warrior, The Warrior Award is presented to an individual who has exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of The Ultimate Warrior. The award will be presented to LeGrand by Dana Warrior, widow of The Ultimate Warrior.

LeGrand was a key player on the Rutgers University football team before a spinal cord injury he sustained during a game in October 2010 left him paralyzed from the neck down. LeGrand’s tremendous courage and unwavering strength throughout his rehabilitation captured the attention of the nation. He resumed his college classes via Skype and also launched his sports broadcasting career as an analyst for Rutgers Football Radio Network. LeGrand founded the charity Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in 2013 and is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker. In support of LeGrand’s mission to raise funds for research to find a cure for paralysis and to help improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, WWE will be making a $25,000 donation to Team LeGrand.

- Pro Wrestling On the Web

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

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