One night before the best WWE Superstars of today clash at WrestleMania XXIX, some of the greatest Superstars of all time were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden.
Mick Foley, Trish Stratus, Booker T, Bob Backlund, Donald Trump and Bruno Sammartino were all enshrined on what was a fantastic night for the WWE as well as wrestling fans everywhere.
Since the Hall of Fame ceremony won't air on USA until a portion of it is shown on Tuesday, most fans are unaware of what happened. Luckily, Bleacher Report was there and covered each speech in depth in a live blog format.
Read on for reviews, analysis and opinions on everything that happened at MSG on Saturday night.
7:58 p.m. ET: Michael Cole announces that the ceremony will start in a couple minutes. CM Punk holds up an “applause” sign and dueling Punk/Taker chants begin. The capacity MSG crowd is ready for the show to commence.
8 p.m. ET: Jerry “The King” Lawler takes the stage and tells the fans, “This is awesome.” The fans proceed to engage in a loud “This is awesome" chant.
8:05 p.m. ET: Lawler announces that Mick Foley will be the first inductee. It’s an interesting move when you consider the fact that it looked like he was going to be the headliner a couple months ago before Bruno Sammartino’s inclusion.
8:09 p.m. ET: Lawler introduces Foley’s presenter, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk. Funk calls Foley “nuts, crazy and out of his ever-loving mind,” but says that he “loves him like an ugly brother.”
8:15 p.m. ET: Funk claims that Mr. Socko wants him to open an envelope in his jacket. Funk says, “Come on down Dude Love, Mankind, Cactus Jack and my favorite, Mick Foley.” The crowd explodes with “Thank you, Foley” chants.
8:18 p.m. ET: Foley asks “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan to stand up and then jokes that they aren’t the same person, so fans should stop calling him Hacksaw.
8:19 p.m. ET: Foley says that between himself, Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, they held the WWE Championship for a total of 6,225 days. He then says that he held it for 47 of those days, and the crowd erupts.
8:21 p.m. ET: Foley tells the story of hitchhiking from his college in Cortland, N.Y., to MSG in order to see the steel cage match between “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka and “Magnificent” Don Muraco. Foley says he “wanted to make people feel the way people felt on that night at Madison Square Garden.”
8:25 p.m. ET: Foley said the word “surreptitiously,” which means “secretly” because he wants to “earn the approval of Damien Sandow.” Sandow then stands up and receives a nice hand.
8:28 p.m. ET: Foley introduces his trainer, Dominic DeNucci. Foley jokes he was 97 years old before admitting he was 82. It gets a good laugh out of the fans.
8:32 p.m. ET: Foley then thanks Shane Douglas before thanking Jim Ross. He reveals that if Terry Funk hadn’t inducted him, then he would have wanted JR to do it. He calls Ross the greatest wrestling announcer of all time.
8:37 p.m. ET: Foley finally thanks The Undertaker. He says that long before Hell in a Cell, Taker put him on the map in WWE. Foley admits he used to babysit The Undertaker’s children. He also thanks the late Paul Bearer for how much he helped him early in his WWE career.
8:45 p.m. ET: Foley says that he invited a very special person, Santa Claus, but he couldn’t make it. Foley then says he has to live with the fact that he never beat Chris Jericho. Odd transition, but funny nonetheless.
8:47 p.m. ET: Jericho comes on the stage and lies down for Foley. Foley drops an elbow on Jericho and Punk breaks kayfabe by making the three count. Jericho is even willing to put guys over at the Hall of Fame. Foley yells, “Yo Adrian, I did it!” It is an awesome moment.
8:51 p.m. ET: Foley says that of all the great moments he has had at MSG, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is at the very top. That caps a long, but highly entertaining speech. Santa and Mrs. Claus then make their appearance by embracing Foley as “Jingle Bells” plays.
8:55 p.m. ET: Lawler says that “anyone that knows anything about him will know why the next inductee is one of his favorite Superstars of all time.” Trish Stratus’ video montage then plays.
8:58 p.m. ET: Lawler then introduces Stephanie McMahon as Trish’s presenter. Stephanie references Trish “ripping the McMahon family apart” when she had a kayfabe affair with Vince. Stephanie then thanks her and says that those were some of her favorite WWE moments.
9:01 p.m. ET: Stephanie lists her many accomplishments, including being a seven-time WWE champion. She then says that “according to Trish, she may not be done yet.” Stephanie finally introduces Trish as the youngest WWE Hall of Famer.
9:04 p.m. ET: Trish says she couldn’t believe she was back in MSG because that is where her last Raw match took place. Trish then unravels a scroll and jokingly says, “If you don’t hear your name mentioned tonight, please refer to the list below.”
9:05 p.m. ET: Trish thanks the most important people in her WWE career: the fans. She says they drove her to be her best and hopes that they were always “Stratusfied.”
9:07 p.m. ET: Trish says that three men opened up the world of wrestling to her. WWE Canada representative Carl DiMarco first got her involved in the business. Her trainer, Ron Hutchinson, is the next person she thanks. Not only did he train her, but Trish mentions that he trained Edge, Christian, Beth Phoenix and Gail Kim as well. The third thank you is for Jim Ross.
9:11 p.m. ET: Trish says JR gave her a gift when she first met him, and she pulls it out from her dress. The crowd begins to cheer. It's a pen that she signed her first contract with. She covers up the logo and says she had to “get the F out so the Pandas don’t get pissed off.” The fans love it.
9:12 p.m. ET: In addition to the three men she thanked, Trish also mentions Fit Finlay, who challenged her to raise women’s wrestling to the next level. She says that it’s because of him that she “loves to fight.”
9:14 p.m. ET: Trish mentions a number of fine female wrestlers she worked with over the years, including Mickie James, Victoria, Jazz and others. She saved her “bestie” for last in the form of Lita.
9:17 p.m. ET: Trish also thanks the McMahons as well as her own family. She says that she brought 25 Greeks with her from Toronto. Trish gives a special thanks to her mom. She says that she retired in 2006 because her mom had cancer, but her mom is “the real fighting champion” because she is now cancer free.
9:19 p.m. ET: Trish also thanks her husband Ron, who is met with boos when he is shown on the screen. Fans continue to boo whenever she mentions him, but ultimately give him a round of applause and chant “Ron.” Trish also reveals that she is pregnant and will be having the baby in September. The “Ron” chants hilariously resume.
9:24 p.m. ET: Lawler comes back and says, “Speaking for all the men in here, Trish we love you, and Ron we hate you.” The fans cheer and Lawler introduces Booker T as the next inductee.
9:27 p.m. ET: Lawler then announces that Booker T’s brother and one half of Harlem Heat, Stevie Ray, will be Booker’s presenter. The fans start a “Harlem Heat” chant.
9:29 p.m. ET: Stevie Ray says Booker is known in their family as “Junior.” He says that Booker would always follow him around as a kid and start trouble knowing that Stevie would be there to help him.
9:31 p.m. ET: Stevie says that things were rough after their mother died and Booker was eventually incarcerated. Stevie says he felt responsible for it, but they would talk about professional wrestling whenever Stevie visited him. After that they pursued a wrestling career. Ivan Putski noticed them and let them into his wrestling school.
9:34 p.m. ET: Stevie says he thought that he was good, but Booker was better than everyone in the class and had found his calling. Stevie got a tryout with Global Wrestling Federation and brought Booker with him. Eddie Gilbert said that he was looking for a tag team, and even though Stevie and Booker had never tagged before, they told Gilbert that they had. That was the beginning of Booker’s Hall of Fame journey.
9:40 p.m. ET: Booker thanks his brother for the introduction. He says that there is only one thing missing that would make the night perfect. The fans chant “Spin-a-roonie,” but Booker says that he wished his mother could be there.
9:41 p.m. ET: Booker says the first job Stevie got him after he got out of jail was as a security guard. He says he didn’t mention that he had a record, but they let him go six months later when they found out. His hard work allowed him to put his past behind him, though.
9:45 p.m. ET: Booker says that he and Stevie Ray got a call from Sid Vicious at WCW, who helped them get in with the company. Booker talks about his early days in WCW, including his first European tour in Germany. Foley lost his ear in a match against Big Van Vader and Booker thought to himself, “What the hell did I get myself into?”
9:48 p.m. ET: Booker thanks a number of people from WCW, including “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He says that Dusty’s encouragement helped him many times throughout his career.
9:49 p.m. ET: Booker says that while Harlem Heat was going well, the addition of the late Sherri Martel was their “legitimizer.” He says that her female touch allowed Harlem Heat to reach new heights.
9:52 p.m. ET: He then talks about his first singles title win in WCW. Booker says that Rick Martel was supposed to win the Television Championship that night, but he forgot his gear, so Booker won the strap instead. That was the start of his incredibly successful singles career.
9:53 p.m. ET: Booker discusses winning the world title and says that all he ever wanted to do was reach the same level as Ron Simmons, who was the first African-American World champion.
9:55 p.m. ET: After WWE bought WCW, Booker joined the company. He says that he wanted to compete at the highest level, and that was the WWE. He recalls Linda McMahon telling him, “We finally got you.”
9:57 p.m. ET: Booker thanks a number of people, including Sting, The Undertaker and Jim Ross. Booker then mentions Michael Cole and claims that he only did so because he paid him.
9:59 p.m. ET: In closing, Booker thanks the fans and says that they made his career a success. He also gives a special thank you to his wife, Sharmell.
10:01 p.m. ET: Booker puts an exclamation point on his speech by saying, “Can you dig that, sucka?” Before he can leave the stage, Stevie Ray stops him, and Booker then gives the fans what they want with a “Spin-a-roonie.”
10:05 p.m. ET: Lawler once again takes the podium and signals Bob Backlund’s induction video.
10:07 p.m. ET: Lawler then introduces Extra host Maria Menounos as Backlund’s presenter and calls her “one of his favorites.”
10:09 p.m. ET: Menounos discusses her history as a wrestling fan and says that she considers Backlund to be a good friend. She met him on the set of her first movie when she was 18 and he has been a part of her life ever since.
10:11 p.m. ET: Menounos lauds Backlund’s great determination and tells a story about him taking a step test when he was well into his 50s. Backlund had set the record by doing it for two hours straight 20 years earlier, and he shattered the record by doing it for an incredible eight consecutive hours.
10:13 p.m. ET: Maria talks about having John Cena on her show at one point and the fans respond with a chorus of boos. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the New York crowd.
10:15 p.m. ET: Menounos then rattles off Backlund-related facts such as Backlund lifting Hulk Hogan over his head with one arm and Backlund only visiting the doctor twice since 1974. This goes on for entirely too long and the crowd gets restless as it chants “We want Bob!”
10:18 p.m. ET: The fans then begin to shower Menounos with “What?” chants before she finally introduces Backlund for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
10:19 p.m. ET: Backlund takes the podium while wearing his trademark bow tie and suspenders. He stalls for several moments before thanking Menounos. It seems as though he does that in an effort to combat the boos that Menounos received during her speech.
10:22 p.m. ET: Backlund says, “I respect Bruno Sammartino because he paved the road for guys like me.” Backlund yells about Sammartino never giving up and then says, “Right, Mr. Cena.” The fans boo, but Backlund says he didn’t care if they booed because you can never give up.
10:23 p.m. ET: Backlund talks about Vince McMahon taking over the company from his father. He says that some people got hurt when Vince took over and that he was one of those people.
10:24 p.m. ET: Rather than elaborating on that previous thought, Backlund talks about his childhood in Minnesota and discusses having an outhouse. If nothing else, Mr. Backlund is as bizarre as ever.
10:28 p.m. ET: Backlund talks about amateur wrestling as a kid and says that he used to lose all of his matches. He then made some makeshift exercise machines, trained hard and became great. He says he lost just one match the next year, and that was the state championship.
10:30 p.m. ET: He says that he could have cried about it, but then he begins yelling incoherently about never giving up. He starts pacing the stage and going crazy and a small “This is awesome” chant begins.
10:31 p.m. ET: Backlund asks the fans if they remembered the last time he was in Madison Square Garden. He says that he didn’t remember either.
10:33 p.m. ET: Backlund calls his nephew to the stage, puts him in a headlock and then lets him go seconds later. That was interesting.
10:34 p.m. ET: Vince McMahon sneaks up behind Backlund from the backstage area and appears to signal for him to wrap it up. It may be a reference to Vince essentially forcing Backlund out in the 1980s. The fans get a kick out of it, and Backlund’s odd speech finally comes to an end.
10:38 p.m. ET: Lawler comes to the podium and says it will be tough for Mr. McMahon to follow that up. He then introduces Donald Trump’s Hall of Fame video package and the fans boo loudly.
10:41 p.m. ET: Vince then takes the podium after receiving a thunderous applause. McMahon is looking much longer now that the old hairstyle is back. “Thank you Vince” chants break out as he begins to speak.
10:43 p.m. ET: Vince plays a video clip of Jesse Ventura interviewing Trump in the front row at WrestleMania XX. Ventura talks about running for president in the video, and then Vince says that perhaps that’s where Trump got the presidential idea. McMahon says he thought Trump would be a great president and the crowd boos. Vince then says, “Donald will soon find out this is a very partisan crowd.”
10:45 p.m. ET: McMahon discusses Trump being fond of his hair. A photo of the squirrel living on Trump’s head is shown and the fans boo again. Vince talks about the Battle of the Billionaires match at WrestleMania 23 and says that Trump cheated.
10:47 p.m. ET: This is clearly being tailor made for Tuesday’s broadcast as Trump shaving Vince’s head is once again shown.
10:48 p.m. ET: Vince says he is a handsome elderly gentleman, but an ugly baldheaded man. Someone yells out Hulk Hogan, and Vince then says, “Somebody mentioned Hulk Hogan, but despite that unfortunate occurrence…” and he carries on with his speech. It is very funny.
10:49 p.m. ET: As McMahon is about to introduce Trump, the fans begin to boo. Vince quips, “You’re not even going to let him come out here before you boo him?”
10:50 p.m. ET: The booing continues, but Trump gets a reprieve by mentioning WrestleMania IV and saying that he met the great Andre the Giant. The booing continues soon after, however.
10:51 p.m. ET: Trump says that he would challenge Vince to a fight next year and “kick his ass.” Not surprisingly, the fans react negatively.
10:52 p.m. ET: Donald then introduces his son. The crowd boos. When he introduces his daughter Ivanka, though, the fans go wild. Trump says, “Finally people like someone from the Trump family.” He jokes that Ivanka has “turned the tide.”
10:53 p.m. ET: The booing continues soon after until Trump says that he considered being inducted into the Hall of Fame to be his greatest honor. Trump’s speech is short, but sweet and quite entertaining because of the red-hot crowd.
10:55 p.m. ET: Lawler comes to the mic for a final time and says that Bruno Sammartino sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times. The fans go wild. Sammartino’s Hall of Fame video package then plays.
10:59 p.m. ET: Lawler introduces former California Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sammartino’s presenter. The crowd is surprisingly receptive and gives him a standing ovation.
11 p.m. ET: Arnold remarks that MSG is packed and then asks, “Where were all of you when my movie came out last year?” The fans get a good laugh out of that one.
11:01 p.m. ET: Schwarzenegger talks about Sammartino’s strength and says he knows something about power. Arnold says that he himself lifted 400 pounds just last week. He jokes that he lifted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I didn’t realize Arnold is so witty.
11:03 p.m. ET: Arnold says he met Bruno in the 1960s when he competed in a Mr. Olympia contest and Sammartino was a judge. Schwarzenegger then says that Sammartino is a great immigrant story as he emigrated from Italy, overcame bullying and became a world-class athlete.
11:05 p.m. ET: Schwarzenegger then introduces Sammartino, and the fans give him a standing ovation while chanting “Bruno!” Sammartino is about to begin his speech, but the MSG faithful give him yet another standing ovation. There is a great deal of respect for what Sammartino accomplished in this building.
11:08 p.m. ET: Bruno says that the fans’ parents' grandparents probably came to see him years ago, and the warm reception makes it feel like they’re still here tonight.
11:09 p.m. ET: Bruno puts over Schwarzenegger and says that the United States should change the law and make foreign-born people eligible to become president. He says Arnold would be a great candidate.
11:11 p.m. ET: Sammartino says it was 50 years ago when he became the World Wide Wrestling Federation champion at MSG. He also mentions slamming the massive Haystacks Calhoun at Madison Square Garden. He says he thought the roof was going to blow off when he accomplished the feat.
11:12 p.m. ET: Bruno says he wants to thank MSG and its fans for what they did for him. He says that the one arena that everyone around the world knows is Madison Square Garden. Sammartino says he believes that MSG allowed him to be the headliner everywhere he went.
11:13 p.m. ET: Sammartino then talks about his childhood. He says that the Nazis wiped out one-third of his hometown. Bruno and his family escaped and hid in the mountains for 14 months. He credited his mother with helping him survive due to her will and dedication.
11:16 p.m. ET: Bruno says that he wouldn’t have made it had the war lasted a couple more months because he took ill. Sammartino battled illness for a few years and doctors didn’t give him a good chance to live, but his mother said that she would not lose another child. Bruno survived, of course, and the rest is history.
11:18 p.m. ET: Sammartino discusses getting bullied as a child in America and called himself an 84-pound bag of bones and skin. A friend introduced him to the YMCA, however, he started to work out and eventually became known as one of the strongest men in the world.
11:20 p.m. ET: Bruno talks about the WWE grind and how it can take a toll on family life. He says he was very lucky, though, as he married his high school sweetheart and they are still married today.
11:23 p.m. ET: Sammartino thanks his doctors for giving him great quality of life. He says that he’s 78 years old, but he’s able to work out six days per week because of their hard work.
11:25 p.m. ET: Bruno says he was one of the luckiest guys in the world because the fans always showed up and allowed him to remain a headliner.
11:26 p.m. ET: Sammartino says, “I want to conclude because it’s late and we’ve been here too long.” He closes by saying that he owes all of his success to the fans that have supported him.