SAN FRANCISCO—A rainbow of “Macho Man” Randy Savage shirts could be seen throughout the crowd of the jam-packed SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
The mood Saturday, March 28, on the eve of WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara, was celebratory as the iconic figure finally took his place in the WWE Hall of Fame. The late legend’s brother Lanny Poffo accepted on his behalf.
Beyond the charismatic entertainer’s trademark voice and flashy ring attire was Savage’s generosity and dedication to the Special Olympics, which was highlighted during his induction. Hulk Hogan introduced Poffo and paid tribute to his friend. The Hulkster remarked how Savage’s dad Angelo Poffo was the reason he wore yellow tights.
Rivals seemed to be a theme among the 2015 class. Kevin Nash was inducted this year by Shawn Michaels, who ripped his speech in half before he got underway. Scott Hall, Triple H and Sean Waltman joined the two at the close of the ceremony for a Kliq reunion. Bruno Sammartino did the honors for Larry Zbyszko. The two sold out Shea Stadium with the ultimate battle between teacher and student. Zbyszko expressed great gratitude for his mentor in giving him the opportunity to live out his dream.
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Inspiration was another word used to describe many who took the stage. Hollywood heavyweight, WWE fan and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was brought into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Triple H believed Arnold had all the qualities to become one of the all-time greats in the ring, if he decided to pursue professional wrestling, but chose a different path and interest.
Among the best speeches of the night was Alundra Blayze. The grappler turned monster truck driver got emotional when mentioning she hadn’t seen her husband Alan Jonason in a year due to his obligations in the United States Army. However, he was flown out for a day to be there for his wife’s big night. In a symbolic gesture to right a wrong almost 20 years old, Blayze took the WWE women’s championship out of the trash can. It was a reverse of what she did on the now defunct WCW Monday Nitro, which started the Monday Night War between WWE and WCW. Current diva Natalya was happy to induct Blayze, who helped pave the way.
It was a roller coaster of emotions throughout the course of the show. It was hard not to tear up when hearing Dana Warrior reflect on losing her husband, the Ultimate Warrior, and the inaugural Warrior Award recipient Connor “The Crusher” Michalek. The spirited eight-year-old fan lost his fight with pediatric brain cancer last year. The Connor’s Cure Foundation was formed shortly after his death to raise funds for pediatric brain and spinal cancer research. Daniel Bryan also got emotional looking back at the memories and impact the youngster left on everyone he encountered. Connor’s father Steve accepted the award for his son.
From there, the audience in the arena and at home got treated to a fun induction speech from the Bushwackers. Luke and Butch were in rare form with a number of humorous stories and calling WWE legends up to join them in the Bushwacker walk. They were introduced by John Laurinaitis.
California native Rikishi finished his speech with a dance with his inductors and sons Jimmy and Jey Uso. The only thing missing from this was Too Cool members Scotty 2 Hotty and Brian Christopher. Ric Flair inducted Tatsumi Fujinami, which he called the greatest Japanese wrestler he has been in the ring against. Jerry Lawler served as host for the event. Maria Menounos and Michael Cole interviewed superstars during the red carpet.
The hecklers and cat-callers were out at times during the event, even with signage placed around the venue. This needs to stop, as these bad apples are trying to draw attention to themselves. In actuality, they are disrespecting the inductees and taking away from what should be a milestone moment in their lives. Bow ties were popular this year with many presenters wearing them. Michael Hayes was once again on point, proving he is Mr. WWE Hall of Fame fashion. The event is a favorite of mine through the years because you see the genuine emotion come from everyone involved.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN for more WrestleMania and Raw coverage.
Brock Lesnar defends the WWE World championship against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 on Sunday, March 29 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Other bouts include Sting battling Triple H, and Bray Wyatt taking on The Undertaker.
John Cena goes after the United States championship against Rusev with Lana. Brie and Nikki Bella are in tag team action against Paige and AJ Lee.
The Intercontinental title hangs in the balance as Bad News Barrett defends against Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Stardust, Luke Harper and R-Truth in a ladder match.
The pre-show features the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Participants are The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Konnor, Viktor and NXT’s Hideo Itami.
Also pre-show, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) defend the WWE tag team titles vs. The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando with El Torito) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso with Naomi) in a fatal fourway.
For full details on WrestleMania and other events surrounding the big event,
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