Some notes from the Hall of Fame:
Even with guys being asked to keep it short besides Dwayne Johnson and Ric Flair, it went 4 1/2 hours and Flair wasn’t over until 11:30 p.m., well into the USA Network special. They wanted to be done long before the 11 p.m. air time.
They wanted to start earlier but there was a traffic jam.
Johnson and his family went 90 minutes. The crowd loved him. He was gracious to everyone. He talked about loving wrestling, growing up in wrestling, he made a joke about them sending prisoners a copy of "The Marine" as torturous punishment to get a jibe in on John Cena, but then joked that he made "Doom." He talked about having never wrestled Cena or Shawn Michaels (who he praised) in a major match situation and put both of them over strong. He looked at Steve Austin and asked him if he’d like to do one more mach and Austin smiled and gave the indication he would. The idea was about 30 minutes as he started at 7 p.m. and they would start the Internet broadcast at 7:30 p.m., keeping him off for the television show.
Later, JBL, Dusty Rhodes and HHH all made cracks about how long Johnson went. HHH was booed momentarily when he tried to make a remark about Johnson, because Johnson was so over with the crowd, saying something about all the Rock fans, "I mean Dwayne fans," which saw the crowd start to turn on him until he smirked, "Come on, I love the guy."
Pat Patterson inducted Mae Young, which must have been a last minute change since at the press conference a few hours before the show they announced it would be Stephanie, and Mae herself was told it was Stephanie.
JBL gave a short speech about the Briscos. He didn’t read from notes and was said to be unbelievably funny. Jack gave a short acceptance and Jerry went on a little longer.
Besides the two big ones, most of the speeches were kept short. It was clear Jim Ross was unhappy about having so little time to induct Gordon Solie. He praised Solie as the greatest wrestling announcer ever, which is something at times when fans have told him he (Ross) was the greatest announcer ever, he has often responded, "That’s because you never heard Gordon Solie." It was said there were catcalls at one of Solie’s family members, obviously not a professional speaker, chanting "We can’t hear you."
Mike Graham, accepting for Eddie, brought out a framed poster of an early 60s NWA Board of Directors meeting with many of the legendary promoters, and said he was donating it to the WWE.
John Cena was booed vociferously as he went to give a speech before HHH. While most fans were respectful there were enough that weren’t that it put a major damper on the evening at times. Most of the comments we got included people who felt they needed to do something about fan behavior. Cena, who never gets flustered, seemed to have a feeling of "This isn’t the time" when fans chanted "You can’t wrestle" at him. He did get a lot of cheers when he was done because he gave a good speech.
Flair went on forever, but all I heard was people were wanting him to stay out there until 2 a.m. On three separate occasions HHH told him to wrap it up, and finally HHH was insistent and Flair rushed to the finish. The production people must have been going nuts as they were on the air on USA and Flair, who was supposed to be the focus of the show, still kept going and it needed to be edited before being put on television. He praised many of the current wrestlers, who were in tears. He said to Big Show that if he got his head together he could own the business. Show was crying as Flair put him over. He put over the office staff, mentioning tons of people by name including the people who do make-up, all the way to the top people. He made a remark to the fans saying Cena could wrestle and that Cena would never go off to Hollywood. He said he was tired of hearing people call Hulk Hogan the greatest wrestler of all-time, saying the biggest star in the history of the business was sitting in the room and said it was Austin. Flair felt indebted to Austin for coming up with his angle, but also for Austin to have publicly put Flair over as the greatest champion and greatest performer ever in so much recent media work. He went through the story of his career from his training with Verne Gagne, and even praised his ex-wives, for enduring with him. Everyone was respectful to him and reports we got was that nobody wanted to see it end, and were hoping after the confetti was thrown to end it, that Flair would come back out and finish his speech.