With thanks to WrestlingHeadlines.com for the following report:
– The 2023 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Kickoff pre-show opens up with Michael Cole and Wade Barrett welcoming us. We see the WWE crew changing the SmackDown ring over to the stage for the Hall of Fame.
Cole sends us backstage to co-hosts Byron Saxton and Maria Menounos, who are with Corey Graves and Carmella. They talk about the importance of tonight’s event. Graves talks about how he’s a big fan of The Great Muta. Cole and Barrett talk about Muta, then send us backstage to Cathy Kelley, who is with WWE Hall of Famers Booker T and Sharmell. They talk about the big weekend and we go back to Cole and Barrett. They send us backstage to WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, but Saxton and Maria say Foley got called to do something. WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle and his wife join Maria and Saxton now. Angle praises Rey Mysterio and says tonight’s induction has been a long time coming, and he’s proud of him. Angle is surprised they’re inducting Rey before he retires, but they did the same to him.
Cole and Barrett send us to Cathy again, who is with SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. She says she’s matching with her husband tonight. She’s looking forward to stealing the show with Rhea Ripley on Saturday. We also talk to The Miz and Maryse, then Sami Zayn and his wife. Sami talks about how special the weekend is for he and Kevin Owens, and how special tonight is. He hopes Dominik Mysterio leaves his father alone tonight. Cole shows us some of the Superstars taking their seats on the stage now. WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam takes his seat and gets a pop from the fans in attendance. Cathy is backstage with The Street Profits now. Montez Ford jokes about wearing the same jacket as Saxton, then Saxton shows up with Menounos. They all joke around some more, then Cole and Barrett wrap the Kickoff.
– The 2023 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony opens up with a video package. We’re now live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California as hosts Kayla Braxton and Corey Graves welcome us to the stage. They give a brief intro to tonight’s ceremony, then send us to a video package for 2023 WWE Hall of Famer Stacy Keibler.
We come back and Graves introduces WWE Hall of Famers Torrie Wilson and Mick Foley. Out they come to induct Keibler into the Hall. Foley is honored to be here. Fans chant “Foley!” but he says tonight is not about him, it’s about Keibler. Foley says he’s also wondering what the hell he’s doing out here inducting Keibler, but she sent him a message weeks ago and he said yes when she asked him to help Torrie induct. Foley says Stacy is one of the kindest people he’s ever met. Foley goes on about how Stacy and Torrie were pillars of WWE, and amazing Ambassadors for the company. Foley goes on about some of his memories and what it means to help induct Stacy. He then introduces Torrie to a pop. She says she will do her best not to cry but she loves Stacy so much. She recalls meeting a 19 year old Stacy the night she became a WCW Nitro Girl, calling her complete perfection. She also recalls the first day they learned to take a bump, and how Stacy embraced what it takes to make it – tenacity, and so on. She says Stacy’s presence created a new era for women in WWE. Torrie goes on and says she was grateful Stacy inducted her, now she gets to return the favor. She goes on praising Stacy and then introduces her friend.
Kid Rock’s “Legs” plays as Keibler makes her way out. Stacy says it’s great to be home. She’s so thankful for everyone who has been a part of her WWE journey, especially the greatest fans in the world. She goes on about the fans and says WWE gave her the stage, while the fans gave her the confidence to entertain them. She praises the fans some more and calls them the magic of the show. She shows us a photo from a WCW Nitro episode where she was holding a sign for WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart. She also shows us a photo of her wearing a Wolfpac nWo t-shirt in the crowd. She never thought she’d make it here. She talks about the importance of the Hall of Fame, and how she always tried to show grit and grace in WWE, which is part of what she teaches her kids.
Stacy says she is humbled and proud to be inducted into this group. She recalls training under her first teacher, WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze. She thanks several WWE Hall of Famers and Legends from her journey – the women who came up with her (Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Ivory, Jacqueline, Jazz, Victoria, Gail Kim), to Fit Finlay for trying his best to teach this dancer to wrestle, to The Dudley Boys for being great teachers, Shane Helms and Torrie, who is the Thelma to her Louise, the Lavern to her Shirley. She was a big Torrie fan to begin with and that only grew from the moment they met. She goes on about how she and Torrie were friends, rivals, roommates and everything else. She learned a lot from Torrie, and their friendship is what happens when women empower and lift herself up. She thanks Torrie, then thanks Torrie and Foley for showing up for her tonight as two of the nicest people she knows. Stacy thanks her husband Jared, her three children, her #1 fans mom and dad. Stacy talks about all the love she’s received this week, and thanks fans for sticking with her from day one. She says fans are the heartbeat of WWE. She goes on about her dreams and thanks everyone for making her dreams come true. She accepts this incredible honor on behalf of the amazing WWE fans around the world. Keibler blows a kiss and waves to everyone to end her speech. “Legs” starts back up as we go to a break.
– Back from the break and Braxton and Graves are at the podium. Braxton sends us to a video package on 2023 WWE Hall of Famer Andy Kaufman with a look at his entertainment career, and pro wrestling career. We cut to WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler in a pre-recorded video from his home. Lawler says he wishes he could be here with everyone tonight. He says some of his most memorable career moments involved Kaufman.
Lawler says since he’s at home recovering, he’s asked his good friend, WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart, to help him induct Kaufman. Lawler says don’t forget tonight would’ve been the biggest night of Kaufman’s life. Hart then makes his way out. Hart gives it up for Lawler, and talks about how Kaufman was a genius. Hart recalls managing Kaufman and how he had he crowd so riled up they attacked the car they were riding in. He says Kaufman loved it and loved the business. Hart also goes on about how Kaufman always wanted to keep his character going, even when at a restaurant by turning down autographs. Hart goes on recalling some memories and says Kaufman loved pro wrestling so much he’d do anything for it. Hart talks some more and then introduces several members of Kaufman’s family to accept the honor. Kaufman’s brother speaks first and thanks Lawler, and says without him, none of this would’ve happened for Andy. He says a lot of people think Kaufman got into wrestling for the laughs or gags, but that’s not true, he was a lifelong fan.
Kaufman’s brother recalls watching wrestling in the 1950s on a black & white TV when they were kids. They then practiced on their bed. Kaufman’s sister Carol recalls how he explained wrestling to her, and how he loved it as much as the fans here do. She says being billed as a wrestler meant so much to him, and if he were here tonight, it would’ve meant the world to him. Kaufman’s daughter Maria briefly speaks and says her father would’ve loved this. That ends the segment.
– Back from the break and we see Dominik Mysterio sitting with Rhea Ripley in the crowd. We then see SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. Andrade El Idolo is sitting next to her, but not in the full camera shot. We go back to Graves and Braxton now. Graves sends us to a video package on 2023 WWE Hall of Famer The Great Muta. Out next comes WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair to do the induction as the arena fills with “Woooo’s” from the fans.
Flair recalls how WWE Executive Producer & Chief of Global Television Distribution Kevin Dunn called him to do the induction, and Muta was excited to have Flair do it. Flair mentions how he’s an entertainer while the Japanese wrestlers are badasses. He mentions Asuka and points to her in the crowd, praising her. Flair talks more about the Japanese wrestlers, and recalls WCW bringing Muta in and asking him to show Muta around Atlanta. He says Muta was the greatest Japanese wrestler he’s been in the ring with. Flair then reads a list of the best Japanese stars he was in the ring with. Flair has wrestled them all… he knows he’s running long but jokes about how embarrassing it was to have Triple H wrap him up in the past. Flair praises Muta as being in the same class as Shawn Michaels and Ricky Steamboat, and says Michaels did not invent the moonsault, Muta did, but don’t tell Shawn because he might cut Flair off again. Flair introduces Muta and out he comes in his mask.
Muta enters he ring. Flair wasn’t sure he’d say this but 10 years ago he left his son Reid in Muta’s care, and Muta took care of him like his own. Flair says he will love Muta forever. Flair exits. Muta introduces himself and says he doesn’t speak English well, but he wants to thank everyone, thank WWE, and thank Flair. He looks around for Flair, who has left. Muta says he’s honored to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. He says another line and wishes everyone a good night or good luck, then bows as the music starts up. Muta then spits his green mist to a big pop.
– We come back from a break and Graves sends us to a video package on former WWE referee Tim White, who is posthumously receiving the Warrior Award. Braxton now introduces WWE Hall of Famers JBL and Ron Simmons to do the honors for White.
JBL asks Simmons what he thinks of The APA being back together but Simmons hesitates, then finally says “Damn!” JBL goes on about how White was their friend, and friend to everyone. He recalls White always having stories, and how cool he was. Simmons jokes about how every time White needed a new wall or TV at his bar, he’d go to the WWE writers and get them to book The APA in a brawl at the bar. JBL says he even did this to get a new jukebox.
Simmons says Tim was kind and generous, loving, someone who was always pleasant to be around, and within minutes of meeting him you knew you’d want to be his friend. Simmons is extremely honored to have known Tim and have him as a friend. JBL mentions White’s career as a referee, but also his behind-the-scenes roles, keeping the money between the office and the wrestlers, and no one ever had anything bad to say about him. JBL says White and WWE Hall of Famer Arnold Skaaland were pillars for the company. They introduce Tim’s brothers, Tom and Pat White, to come out and receive the Warrior Award on behalf of their brother.
Pat thanks everyone in WWE and the fans on behalf of the whole family. He goes on and says if Tim was here, he’d give thanks and express extreme gratitude to everyone in WWE, past and present, and the fans for the love, respect and friendships he made or received in his career. He says if his brother was here tonight, he’d say it was one hell of a ride to the WWE Hall of Fame. The music starts back up as they shout-out their brother and congratulate him.
– Back from the break and we see RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair in the crowd with husband Montez Ford. We then see Asuka in the crowd. We go back to Graves and Braxton at the podium. Braxton asks everyone if they’ve had fun tonight. They send us to a video package for tonight’s headliner, 2023 WWE Hall of Famer Rey Mysterio.
We come back and Graves introduces Konnan to a big pop. Konnan does his trademark intro in Spanish, and comments on the energy in the crowd. Konnan says he got into the business 35 years ago and it wasn’t this diverse, you didn’t see wrestlers at Rey’s size, but he looks out tonight and it’s a beautiful sight what the business has become. Konnan recalls meeting a scrawny Rey at age 12. We see a photo of young Rey on the big screen. Konnan talks about how Rey was a hard sell to promoters. He praises Rey for making it happen on the California indies, then AAA in Mexico with Psicosis, then Paul Heyman in ECW. Fans chant “ECW!” now. Rey succeeded there, then Konnan sold Rey to booker Kevin Sullivan in WCW, who probably had to sell it to Eric Bischoff. Kevin first said Rey was too short, but Konnan told his friend Kevin that he was also vertically challenged but made it. Konnan praised Rey as someone special, who can bring in merchandise sales with the mask and his size in relating to the kids. Kevin gave Rey a tryout match with Dean Malenko, not someone bitter who didn’t respect Rey. Konnan recalls people backstage making fun of Rey. He says Dean made Rey look like a million bucks. He recalls how all the top stars gathered at the monitor to watch the match and while the boys don’t put anyone over, Rey got a standing ovation and three weeks later beat Malenko for the WCW Cruiserweight Title.
Konnan says he’s honored to watch Rey reach the heights he has, and because of that, lucha libre is a global phenomenon. You see masks everywhere and Rey kickstarted that. Konnan goes on about how Rey the human being is even better. He’s seen Rey help homeless people, and even when Konnan was almost on his deathbed, Rey said he’s got him, then he and his wife Angie saved Konnan’s life. Konnan goes on and says it’s time to give Rey his flowers while he’s still active. We’re witnessing a legend in real-time tonight, he’s an angel, an incredible family man. Konnan jokes about wanting to be adopted to replace Dominik Mysterio. Konnan says if he were to be reincarnated, he’d want Rey to be his best friend again. He goes on about how Rey leaves an impression on you… 4 Life. Konnan continues to praise Rey as one who represents Mexicans worldwide. Konnan says he loves Rey and calls him a beautiful human being. Konnan goes on and says he calls Rey a scarecrow because he’s out-standing in his field. Konnan continues with the grand introduction and out comes Mysterio to a big pop.
Rey greets WWE Chief Content Officer Triple H on his way down the ramp, along with WWE Hall of Famers Kurt Angle and Booker T. He also greets fans on his way to the ring, stopping to hug more family members at ringside. Rey then embraces Konnan and they share a few words we can’t hear. Rey takes the mic and says “wow” to the crowd. A “you deserve it!” chant starts up. Rey tells them to stop it or he’s going to cry even more. He jokes and says just know he never wanted to bring out the sensitive side, only the tough side, but he’s crying right now. Rey thanks Konnan for the beautiful introduction.
Fans start booing as Dominik Mysterio, Rhea Ripley and Damian Priest get up from their seats, then walk to the back. Fans chant “asshole!” it sounds like. Rey looks disappointed but then says he will take care of business tomorrow at WrestleMania 39. Rey talks about growing up under his great uncle Rey Misterio Sr., and wanting to follow in his footsteps. He’d go spend time with his uncle in Mexico, and that’s where he fell in love with lucha libre first. He recalls how he started training at age 8. He didn’t have special privileges because of his uncle, it was the exact opposite. The business then was hard, a struggle and rough, but he knew he wanted to be involved. He recalls meeting Konnan when he went to be trained by his uncle and despite the age difference, they clicked like brothers. Konnan became a huge star and Rey felt like he was ready but first he needed to take a test for a wrestling license. Rey passed the test at age 14, but he had one issue – he was underage and no kid had ever received a license. His parents had to sign a waiver saying they’d be responsible for his health, not the Boxing/Wrestling Commission or the promoter. His dad signed, thinking he wouldn’t last long, but he proved his pops wrong. Rey says the hardest part was getting booked by promoters. Despite his uncle, it was hard to get booked because of his size. Rey worked the match, looking like one of the kids in the crowd, and had no idea his journey was just beginning.
Rey talks more about getting started in Mexico and meeting his wife Angie. He talks about how Angie would work her medical career and keep sending him money so that he could pursue his career. Rey gets emotional. Fans chant “Angie!” and we see how she’s also emotional. Rey says AAA kicked off and while he wasn’t making much money, he had the best run of his career. The next phase was jumping to ECW. He had incredible matches there but there would be no Rey Mysterio without Psicosis. He said ECW opened so many doors for him, then he went to WCW. He recalls the tryout match at Great American Bash, against Malenko. Rey goes on thanking Dean and says he loves him. Dean made him look great that night and he will forever be grateful. In WCW, he had the chance to reconnect with someone he met at age 12 while still just a fan – WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. Fans chant for Eddie and Rey does his signature taunt. He says Eddie always had the same heart. Their bond became even tighter in WCW and they created what Rey sees as the match that put him on the map – WCW Halloween Havoc 1997.
Rey recalls WWE buying WCW, and that’s when he decided to take some family time off as his daughter Aalyah was born. Rey tells her he loves her. Rey truly wasn’t sure if WWE wanted him, but hen Jim Ross called two yeas later and he said “hell yeah” when JR asked if he wanted to do business. Rey says WWE invested time and money into him. He thanks WWE for believing in him and giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. A loud “thank you Rey!” chant interrupts. Rey thanks WWE for allowing him break the mold of what a Superstar should look like, for letting him represent lucha libre to the world and for allowing him to introduce his family to the WWE Universe. Rey says he’s done things in WWE he never thought possible, like winning the Royal Rumble and moving on to become World Champion.
Rey thanks anyone who has had anything to do with his life, his story, his success, first and foremost – gracias and adios, he thanks God, he thanks his mom and dad for having him. We see his emotional parents in the front row. He says without them he would not be here, to his brothers as the youngest of four he loves them, to his uncle who is like his second father, to all the coaches and lucha stars he worked with, all the veterans who broke him in. Rey gives more thanks to Konnan and says the others in Mexico know who they are, it’d take forever to name them all. He says he and his wife have a saying – thank God first for what they have then thank Konnan second. He loves Konnan and says none of this would be possible without him. He says he could’ve been a great wrestler but back then it was about who you knew to break you into the business, and Konnan did exactly that.
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