Pro wrestler and bodybuilder Melissa Coates journeyed seven hours to Wrestlemania and back.
In the first part, she reveals the 7-hour drive there was an adventure in itself.
MMA Crossfire Expert Melissa Coates
The emcee for the night, “The King” Jerry Lawler, amuses the crowd with his usual flair for memorable sayings (no “puppies” mentioned here though…its is the HOF after all, thank you to Jerry for restraining himself and taking on a dignified approach to this remarkable event).
Next up to be inducted in the WWE HOF 2014, Jake “The Snake” Roberts! Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), who has had a long friendship and association with Jake, comes out to do the introduction. He talks of how Jake the Snake was his mentor, and helped him so much in his early days understanding and learning the psychology of the business.
He also mentions several funny stories regarding Jake and his love for snakes.
He then brings us up to date on the Jake of today, and how Jake has had the courage to fight his individual demons of substance abuse to be the clean and sober man he is today (DDP is often credited for keeping Jake on track, with his DDP Yoga which is so popular today among wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike), the Jake the Snake of the 2014 WWE HoF.
Huge applause as Jake hits the stage, and he is looking dapper, healthy and in a jovial mood.
At least for the beginning of his acceptance speech anyway. I’ve met Jake at events several times, and I have to say he is one of the kindest, most real people I have met in the business.
He looks at you long and hard, but gentle and understanding. As for whatever has happened in life, the ups and downs, you can be sure Jakes has been there.
As is typical Jake, in his raspy throaty voice, he talks of the good times, but shifts to the bad times that shaped many regrettable things in his life.
He is a complicated man, but a real one, ready to acknowledge his mistakes, but also his perseverance and dedication to the hard work to correct his mistakes.
Or at least to learn not to do them again.
He mentions relationship breakdowns, not seeing his kids enough to form strong relationships, the temptations on the road that affected him badly during so much a part of his life.
The endless days and nights of travel. One of the biggest things that helped set him on his path to rehabilitation occurred when he needed surgery.
He said he thought no one cared.
But then wrestling fans responded in huge numbers with the needed capital and that love shown to him started him on his path to redemption. And here he stands today: a changed man, a clean and sober man, a WWE Hall of Famer, class of 2014.
Next inductee is Mr. T, who did miraculous things alongside Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper for the wrestling business in the early 80s.
At this time he was a huge movie and TV star with such shows as “The A Team” to his name, and the Rocky III movie. Jerry Lawler calls out his son T Junior to present the award.
Of course the kid has a great haircut, but not the mohawk I’m sure we were all expecting. I was anyway (laughs).
Mr. T comes out and starts with an account of his rough upbringing, his many brothers and sisters and how his mother raised them all on her own.
He is clearly a religious man, and reminds us “through God all things are possible”, and to help ease the way to success for troubled kids of today, he says “Its not how you start, its how you finish.”
He makes many memorable quotations to help and inspire those kids who may be headed down the wrong path, and goes into a regrettably (mostly because this is for the most part the wrong crowd for such a sermon-like speech) rather long speech and tribute to his mother.
This goes on for quite some time, and the crowd gets into it to amuse themselves, chanting “Thank You Mother” and in between Mr. T’s many mentions to his mother, chanting “What!”. I believe motherlove or some such thing was trending on Twitter!
He is an old school man, and was using his speech to teach lessons to today’s youth, such as respect your elders, be polite, especially respect your mother (clearly respect your mother!). His speech went on for some time, and finally Kane came out to get Mr. T, as the event must have now been running late.
We are now on to the induction of what of William “Paul Bearer” Moody, RIP. He is introduced by his children, Daniel and Michael, along with Kane.
The big screen shows highlights of his career which largely centered around working with the Undertaker and Kane, and Kane comes out to give us some background on the life and times of Moody, and notes that Paul Bearer was possibly the most important manager in the business, for his addition to the mood and legacy and story-development of the Dead Man.
This is a manager’s job, to add to the story, to add to the character development, to add to the crowds reaction by swaying their moods and perceptions by the individual’s personality and attitude, and Paul Bearer with his high-pitched voice and his urn, was quite efficient at this.
Kane finishes by telling us that he is sure William is approving of his induction to the WWE HOF 2014 with his typical high-pitched motto “Oh, yes!”
The induction finishes with the Undertaker’s music and on the big screen an image of William Moody and the inscription “In memory of WILLIAM MOODY” 1954-2013.
Lawler brings our attention to the next inductee: The Bad Guy, Razor Ramon (Scott Hall).
A vignette plays with many superstars commenting on Scott Hall’s contribution to the business, and images of his impressive finish demolishing opponents plays several times.
X-Pac or as he was known at the time “The 1,2, 3 Kid” or I believe became after this incredible win over Scott Hall, is shown, and as well Sean is shown on screen discussing his friend’s contributions to the business.
Kevin Nash comes out to do the presentation, rocking a dignified and grizzled grey hair (I’ll call it silver) and starts with “In the Bible…” crowd goes wild.
He finishes the statement after a well placed pause (wait for it…wait for it…) “grey hair is said to be a sign of wisdom,” or something to that effect.
I’m writing this all from memory so it’s hard to quote people exactly.
Nash in his typically laid back and smooth voice, entertains the crowd with his funny observances and stories.
(Note: I was in the film “Ultimate Death Lock 2: Someone Will Die” 2010 in which Nash also starred along with Jimmy Valiant, Dan Severn, Al Snow, and more.)
Scott’s entrance music and video hits, and out comes The Bad Guy, looking healthy, happy and proud. He comes out with his typical swagger and tooth pick, and throws it at the cameraman.
He too is another man like Jake the Snake who has been helped by DDP, and also received much love from the WWE Universe in raising the capital for his hip surgery.
His acceptance speech is short, to the point, which is somewhat a relief after some of the longer acceptances of the night.
He finishes with this comment, a reference to his trials and tribulations: “Bad times end, but Bad Guys live forever”. Again I’m not sure if its those exact words, but that was the basic premise. Member of “The Clique”, Triple H, HBK, Sean Waltman, and Kevin Nash come out to complete the celebration.
Biggest pop of the night from the crowd.
Its an impressive line-up and attests to some of the long and supportive friendships that can happen in professional wrestling.
And thanks Scott, for approving of several of my selfies on twitter! LOL. I’ve not met the guy personally, but we have chatted a bit on twitter. So I feel like I sort of know him.
Lawler comes out to announce the next inductee, but is interrupted by a comical intrusion by El Dorito and Hornswoggle.
This ends with Jerry taking a headbutt to his crotch, and his voice goes up another octave as he announcers our next inductee, proud Puerto Rican Carlos Colon and founder in the early 70s of the World Wrestling Council.
His sons, for WWE superstar Carlito and the his brothers, current WWE Superstars Los Matadors.
Carlito entertains us with his typical somewhat satirical comments (he later told me at a club on Bourbon street that he got fired…AGAIN for his attitude lol), and his other brothers bring attention to the fact that WWC had some of the most innovative matches in the world: Fire, thumbtacks among other things, the most bloody brutal matches, and all this was pre-ECW.
As such say they their father really inspired ECW. It was an interesting comment, and when you think about it, quite possibly true.
It’s good to give credit where credit is due.
There are many people in the pro wrestling world who’s contributions, sacrifice, and love for the business go unnoticed and it’s good those in a position to rectify the situation have the ability and gumption to do so.
I had the pleasure of being flown to Puerto Rico in 2010 for a weekend to work their women’s champion in two matches. It was so beautiful in there, and really has been a highlight in my career. Thank you, Carlos Colon.
Carlos comes out and mostly reads his speech, tells of his travels, the hard life, the ups and downs, and brings attention to his wife Nancy Coates who he met in Canada, who has been his rock during the hard times.
I have always hoped I was related to Nancy, its certainly never a negative thing to be a generational wrestler!
It seems to give you a much stronger position with earning a job in the WWE. Nattie Neidhart is part of such an illustrious background, and besides her incredible dedication to the business, boasts a most impressive lineage.
She is extremely proud of her family and it shows.
I briefly tagged with Nattie on Deep South TV, and those are some of my happiest memories there. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and is just a good solid person.
Her integrity really showed through down there. I’m happy to say I have met her father, and some of the former WWE superstars from that time, say I remind them of Nattie.
I take that as a fine compliment.
She’s a rare woman, that’s for sure. I want to note she actually was kind enough yesterday morning to respond to a photo I tweeted of her and I in the ring from a photo during a DSW TV taping.
It’s just that sort of kindness she emulates that is so refreshing.
Imagine…this woman is so busy, has Wrestlemania weekend going on, and yet actually takes the time to read my tweet and check out our photo. Thanks for being who you are Nattie, and for presenting a role model presence for women out there everywhere. Pure, genuine, intelligent, athletic and healthy, sophisticated and proud.
Carlos accepts his place as WWE Hall of Famer, class of 2014.
The most suspenseful moment and anticipated speech of the night. Jerry announces the final WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014: The Ultimate Warrior.
There is much controversy over The Warrior…many misunderstandings about his character, and a particularly controversial DVD released by the WWE where his former comrades had some not-so-positive thngs to say about him.
Warrior has responded with indignation to these claims, and such is the “heat” between Warrior and his former employer.
Surprisingly Linda McMahon makes a rare appearance. She tells us Warrior called her personally to induct him into The HOF.
She looks great, polished, and delivers a warm speech about her working relationship with Warrior (as she tells us he legally had his name changed to many years ago).
She brings up how she respected the passion he had for the business (notes his incredibly energetic ring entrance) and for dedication to maintaining his physique, and outlines how to some of his co-workers at that time saw him as being aloof.
This led to the allegation that the Ultimate Warrior was not being “one of the boys”, which was discussed in the questioned DVD.
I can tell you myself from my own experiences as a champion professional bodybuilder turned professional wrestler, to keep the body in that kind of condition, and still be able to wrestle and do your job well, and not get hurt, is extremely difficult, and requires an extreme level to dedication to the gym, getting your meals in (at least six a day), and getting proper rest so your body maintains itself.
And it requires a very different mindset.
It can come across as aloof in the wrong way to other people. Nobody did it better than The Ultimate Warrior. Besides Hogan, he was one of my original inspirations in the business.
Linda tells funny stories of how Warrior’s passion lead to many a steamed phone conversation, with Warrior turning up the volume on the other end, and how she would have to put the phone down after a certain length of time, turn down the sound and put it on speaker phone.
She had acted as his personal contact at the WWE, at his request.
Linda tells us this is because Warrior said he recognized she understood his passion and personality, whereas many others did not.
Linda announces our final inductee, and out comes the Ultimate Warrior, music blasting, entrance showing on the big screen.
Warrior looks great, and has blinding white teeth. It is perfectly clear this man has still continued to lead a life dedicated to health and fitness, and he still has a commanding presence.
He is proud, and addresses the things his former workers said had been very wrong, and hurtful. He said they made him mad, but they also broke his heart.
He addresses the misconceptions and states his case in a very diplomatic but firm manner.
So much of the anticipated “what is he going to say” suspense is handled in a very real but professional manner.
I know many people expected him to just go off on a rant, but he held his own, and thanked the WWE Universe for being the ones to get him this opportunity to be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
He thanks his wife and says how proud he is of his two daughters, and mentions people in the business who had helped him in his early years, including Red Bastien, Billy Anderson, Steve Lombardi, and Ted DiBiase, and also reminds us of how important the ring crew is.
He proposes a new award for the next WWE HOF for these workers.
He talks often in wrestler lingo, telling us he made best friends with “blowing up” and jokes that after his energetic entrance sprinting to the ring, and around the ring several times, and shaking the ropes, he was truly blown up.
But then he would continue to do his match.
And then after the match continue to do things.
Sometimes he said he was so tired, all he could hear was his heart pounding: No applause from the crowd, no words from his opponent, just him and the beating of his heart. He says how truly amazing it was to be able to push his body to that type of limit, how it creates the confidence you have in yourself and your ability.
I have felt this sort of thing myself several times when I have really pushed myself hard in the ring and the gym. But truly the physical exertion made is the ring is not rivaled by that in the ring. Ring shape is like none-other. It was one of the more memorable things (among many) Warrior had to say.
I’m proud to say I was there!