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Wrestlemania Diary- Day 2

It's time, once again, for everyone to hop aboard the... Mania blog!

Wait, did you think I was going to say "ho train"? I would not be that disrespectful towards women! But seriously, how cool is The Godfather? (the wrestler, not the movie)

So, honestly, today was a pretty chilled out day until the late afternoon. I checked my Fitbit app and I set a new record for walking yesterday between Universal and Axxess- 22,000 steps! Needless to say, not a level of physical activity I can cope with! So, besides a quick stop to buy a replica belt- the proper one, not the plastic crap- I chilled in bed until about 3pm. I did start reading the NXT book I bought at the Superstore yesterday- pretty interesting so far, seeing how Triple H got the Performance Center started.

Then, the Hall of Fame. Got there early, anticipating huge lines like Axxess had, but the place was empty. So, I went away and bought a cheese steak- seriously, one of my favourite things to eat in America. Got back to the Amway Center- still pretty quiet, so I sat down and waited until people started turning up and then joining the line. Doors opened at 6, so I had two hours to find my seat.

And oh, what a seat! First elevation, first seat against the barricade. Had a closer seat than some of the announcers, including JoJo. Directly in front of me on the floor level was Corey Graves and Tom Phillips, and The Brian Kendrick was in the area too. The only negative was two British guys sitting right behind me. I was immediately slapped in the face with the smell of beer, not in itself the bad thing, but the constant obnoxious comments and yelling out to both the wrestlers and any attractive women walking around- which they were a lot of. But literally barking like dogs at anyone with big tits or a nice ass... yeah, pretty embarrassing to be seen anywhere near those jackasses.

With Jerry Lawler back on hosting duties, he set up for the first induction- Diamond Dallas Page, DDP. Eric Bischoff was the inductor, and he got a HUGE response from the crowd, thunderous "Welcome back" chant that seemed to genuinely surprise Easy E. He kept it classy, and all about Page. Note perfect way to introduce the master of the Diamond Cutter.

DDP was full of emotion, talking about his early days in wrestling, cracking that in his Wrestlemania 6 appearance where he drove a pink Cadillac, that it was the car that got the gig, not him. He gave credit to Dusty Rhodes for both helping him get started and making him believe he could be a world champion. Quality Dusty impression, too. You could tell it meant the world to him to go into the HOF, and because of that, it was highly engaging the whole time, clocking in at just under 30 minutes.

Great to see Jim Cornette back in a WWE setting, and despite how much he badmouths WWE, he looked thrilled to be back on that big stage. There was a lot of worry, or hope, depending on where you stand, about Cornette going ape-shit and saying every controversial thing under the sun. Apart from a joke about the Rock N Roll Express having sex on the way to the ring with their adoring female fans, he stayed the course and delivered an appropriate introduction.

I don't know too much about the Express, but I could tell they weren't great public speakers, judging by the pile of notes Ricky and Robert each had. Early on, they lost their place with the notes and Robert Gibson basically froze up, leaving Ricky Morton to take the reigns (and take the piss out of Roman Reigns, who got booed by the crowd during the speech). He rambled a little, but ultimately gave an entertaining speech, with some great charisma shown.

Ricky Steamboat delivered a well spoken speech as the inductor of Rick Rude. He put over the incredible strength of Rude and his athleticism after the video package focused on well, Rude's package, a lot- looking at the womanising character he played. Rick Rude's family accepted on behalf of the late great. Rick's son handled the induction, admitting to being nervous, having never spoke in front of as many people as were in the Amway Center. He handled it well though, delivering his dad's "sweathogs" insult with confidence and charm, and spoke about Rude's personal life rather than his wrestling career. Fitting tribute overall, and the crowd responded well to it.

Wasn't looking forward to either Beth Phoenix as an inductee or Natalya as the inductor, but both did an excellent job. It was too long for a HOF speech of a WWE career that lasted about 5 years. Natalya was funny and emotional, really showing a strong connection with Beth, while Beth used her speech to basically put over women's wrestling past and present. Big shout out to Molly Holly, who paid for Beth's wrestling tuition, and the acknowledgement of Chyna got a massive pop. She then thanked her husband Adam- huge roar and "Edge" chant, which seemed to throw Beth off, I think she underestimated how smart the fans were. Anyway, she continued with saying we might know him better as Edge, and brought out Tony Chimel to do his "Rated R Superstar" bit. What threw me is that Edge grew his hair out- he was sitting near-ish to me but I never saw his face, from the back it looked a bit like Andrade "Cien" Almas. So they hit Edge's music and I jumped up thinking he was coming out on stage. The entertainment value of all that was the surprise of the night though.

Warrior Award, and I went for a piss break. Warrior's original vision changed to something where WWE pats themselves on the back and says, "look how charitable we are!" The first one worked for me because Connor The Crusher has been featured on WWE programming, where this Eric LaGrand guy has never been near it. I got back to my seat just in time for LaGrand's speech, but the mic attached to his wheelchair was at such a low volume, I was straining to hear it, and looking at most around me, they seemed to be the same. Very long speech about his unfortunate football accident, and he shared some memories about the Attitude Era as a fan, but again, I was missing about 7 out of every 10 words. Very long and extra frustrating not being able to hear him. Might have to watch the telecast to hear it properly, but I probably won't bother.

APA came out to induct Teddy Long, and JBL acknowledged the length of the show- About 3:15 into the show for 4 inductees plus the Warrior Award- saying old guys need to know when to "go home". Ironically though, it was the youngest inductees, Beth and LaGrand, that ate up the most time. The APA share some stories about Teddy being a cheap skate, before getting serious talking about him overcoming racial discrimination. The former Smackdown GM enters and lightens the mood with his dancing. He wakes the tired crowd about with his Holla Holla catchphrase, quickly summarises his career, and then pokes fun at himself with threatening to put APA in a tag team match, or have JBL go one on one with "the Undataka!" Fun, light-hearted and quick. Thanks Teddy, for understanding how to be a great performer.

John Cena comes out to induct Kurt Angle, and the crowd erupts in "John Cena sucks" chants, then "Let's go Miz". Man, shit like this- which happened on and off through the night- really pissed me off. Hall of Fame isn't a regular wrestling show, it's meant to be a prestigious awards show, and a large portion of fans acted like douchebags- especially the two cunts on the piss sitting behind me. Cena smartly said, "Wrestlemania is in the air already" and moved on, ignoring any further attempts to disrupt his introduction, putting over Kurt Angle and praising the hell out of his diverse abilities as both an athlete and entertainer.

Time for the headline act of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame, Kurt Angle. This is where the large portion of the crowds that were being assbags got their shit together and gave Angle an enormous ovation- me included, obviously. Also a "one more match" chant- I mean, maybe not the greatest idea until he can pass some medical tests, but I can't begrudge people chanting that- it's more saying, "thank you for entertaining us, please give us some more". And while Kurt didn't put anyone in the Ankle Lock, he did talk about the importance of character and taking chances- i.e. the cowboy hat. A stage hand then brings out a small cowboy hat and he takes us through a Greatest Hits, re-enacting all his most famous comedy segments. Very different approach than the usual HOF headliner, but I got a kick out of it.

Also gives an idea as to how Kurt Angle will be used going forward in WWE. His stellar resume of matches got almost a passing mention, with heavy emphasis on his capacity to entertain. If they can establish Kurt Angle as an "entertainer" first and foremost, perhaps WWE feel that will make it easier for the fans to accept Angle in a non-wrestling role. Just my take on it.

The actual HOF ceremony was excellent. A large contingent of the fans in attendance, not so much. But then again, that exact behaviour going forward for the rest of the Wrestlemania weekend events... that would make for a great atmosphere, and I'd probably join in on some of the silly chants. I just think the Hall of Fame should be held to a higher standard.

Until next time, take care,


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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