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For 27 years, The Undertaker was associated with WrestleMania.
Friday night, on the eve of WWE’s most prestigious event, The Phenom took his place in sports-entertainment history as the headline inductee of the 2022 Hall of Fame class.
The Deadman may have been the most iconic and recognizable star in this year’s crop of Superstars, but he was far from the only one.
Who joined The American Badass in pro wrestling immortality and what were some of the highlights from this year’s ceremony?
Find out now with this recap of the April 1 broadcast.
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This year’s celebration of WWE greats includes:
- The Undertaker
- The Steiner Brothers
- Warrior Award recipient Shad Gaspard
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Former NXT champion Bronn Breakker inducted his father, Rick, and uncle, Scott, into the Hall of Fame to kick off Friday’s ceremony.
An extraordinary team who found success in every company in which they competed, the Steiner Brothers kicked off the festivities with a surprisingly subdued speech.
Scott teased a trademark promo with a live mic but ultimately discussed his family and told a story about Randy Savage before encouraging the stars of today to have fun and enjoy the ride.
Rick thanked his brother for keeping him in check and echoed his sentiments to today’s Superstars before wrapping up a solid, heartfelt speech.
- “I’m now going to take the biggest risk of my career and hand the mic over to my uncle Scott,” said Breakker as he introduced Big Poppa Pump.
- “You know, giving me a live mic, sometimes it can go good, sometimes it can go off the rails,” Scott Steiner said to start the speech.
- “I don’t know why I thought those cows spoke English…but by now I gave up because I thought they were antisocial,” Scott, telling a story of driving through upstate New York with his brother and Randy Savage.
- “She’s always right. Even when I’m right, she’s righter,” Scott on his relationship with his wife.
- Scott tearing up as he talked about his family was a nice break from the Big Poppa Pump character.
- “More than anyone, I want to thank my brother,” Rick said, discussing how Scott kept him in check over the years.
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Queen Sharmell took her place among sports entertainment’s most influential women, induced by husband Booker T, next.
Taking to the ring with the same grace and elegance that defined her throughout her career. Appreciative and respectful, she thanked those who were influential in her career, including the Nitro Girls, Madusa and Molly Holly, all of whom laid the groundwork for Sharmell during her days in WCW.
A great speech that saw her promise to do for the young performers of today what was done for her.
- “She’s made me a better man,” Hall of Famer Booker T said of his wife.
- “My most memorable run, as King Booker, was not about me. It was about my queen, Sharmell. I’ve always called her my queen.”
- “All hail Queen Sharmell! All hail Queen Sharmell!” Booker exclaimed, returning the favor after Sharmell spent her run in WWE doing the same for her king.
- “You deserve it!” the fans chanted, warmly welcoming the new Hall of Famer.
- Sharmell thanked the Nitro Girls, Molly Holly, Madusa, Jazz and Victoria for influencing her and her career early on.
- “I still look over my shoulder for The Boogeyman,” she said.
- “Bruce Prichard, I can’t thank you enough for giving me a chance. And look where it led!”
- “You are my proof that fairy tales do come true,” Sharmell told her husband to wrap up the speech.
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Shad Gaspard lost his life in May of 2020 while rescuing his son, who was swept out to sea in a riptide. Friday, he was the recipient of the Warrior Award. A hero in the truest sense of the word, he took his place in pro wrestling immortality, not for his work in the ring but for being the epitome of a hero beyond it.
JTG accompanied his wife, Siliana, and son, Aryeh, to the ring. Siliana would go on to deliver a speech that reminded fans that her husband’s penchant for heroism was not only reserved for his final day, but a trademark of the man he was.
The fans greeted Gaspard’s family respectfully, and encouraged them early with chants of “Shad’s a hero!” The entire presentation was every bit as emotional as one would have expected; a beautiful time.
Perhaps it is time to consider introducing an honor named after Gaspard, awarded to Superstars for doing good, heroic deeds beyond the squared circle.
- Gaspard’s former tag team partner, JTG, did Cryme Tyme’s trademark handshake with Shad’s son, Aryeh in what was an emotional, touching moment.
- “It is through Shad’s hard work and perseverance to become a WWE wrestler that his family now stands before you.”
- Siliana recalled her husband stopping an armed rivalry and saving the family’s dog as other instances of his heroism.
- “Son, you are a sheepdog. Your dad knew it before I did. The best of daddy lives in you and you come from a great man,” Siliana told her son.
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Arguably the greatest big man to ever grace the squared circle, Vader finally took his place among the greats in the Hall of Fame.
Enshrined by his wife and son, The Mastodon finally received recognition for his 13 world titles on four different continents, his general badassery, and The White Castle of Fear.
Vader’s son, Jessie White, kept things short and sweet, delivering a succinct speech that culminated with the revelation of the super cool mastodon helmet he wore early in his in-ring career.
- Boy Meets World was included in the video introduction and for anyone who grew up in the 1990s, Vader as Frankie’s dad remains an all-time wrestler cameo.
- White recalling Vader’s “eye-popping” experience in Japan drew laughter from fans.
- “But what he accomplished with that time was more than anyone of my friend’s fathers, who were around full time,” White spoke of his dad, Leon.
- “If there is a Hall of Fame for being a father, papa, you’re in it a long time ago.”
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A tearful Undertaker entered the squared circle Friday night, the newest induced into a Hall of Fame class of genuine badasses, a queen and a hero, his star shining brighter than any as an arena full of fans rose to their feet and applauded his legendary career .
The Phenom’s speech centered around three mental states that will lead to success: perception is reality, respect and loyalty go a long way, and never be content.
A genuine, real look behind the curtain of a man who, until recently, had been defined his ability to maintain kayfabe, the speech was befitting of the star. It was long, sure, but it was chock full of stories, inside jokes and heartwarming reminiscings of one of the greatest stars to ever lace a pair of boots.
The words he spoke about Vince McMahon, his boss and father figure, as tears filled his eyes, was reflective of a special friendship that is unlikely to be replicated.
The post-speech tease, complete with a “never say never” by The Deadman, should satisfy fans who long for one last, great match from the new Hall of Famer.
- “Tonight is my favorite night of the year,” McMahon said.
- “There is no one more serving than the man we are about to induct tonight.”
- McMahon read a laundry list of Superstars from various eras that Undertaker shared the ring with over 30 years.
- “In those days, we didn’t deal with permits,” McMahon said while recalling a shoot at Penn Station for Shotgun Saturday Night.
- “WCW never bothered to call The Undertaker because they knew he would never answer,” McMahon spoke of the inductee’s loyalty.
- “This man is the most revered Superstar in WWE history.”
- “I love you,” a live mic picked up Undertaker telling McMahon as they embraced in the center of the ring.
- “For the last 30 years, my identity has been ‘Undertaker.’ The Phenom, The Deadman, the American Badass, and the taker of souls. Tonight, I’m gonna take you behind the curtain and meet the man behind the black hat, Mark Calaway.”
- “I wanted to show you the same respect you’ve shown me for so many years.”
- “My first thank you is to you,” the induced spoke to the fans. “You were the motivation I needed many nights.”
- “Whether I was in the ring or outside, my actions matter.”
- “We’ve been friends for over 30 years. We’ve drunk gallons of Jack Daniels and fought each other over hats, watches and anything you can imagine, but I always knew you had my back,” he spoke of The Godfather.
- “Who puts cucumbers in a man’s drink? An evil man, that’s who,” he said, speaking of the late, great Paul Bearer and the ribs his longtime manager used to play on him.
- “The toes you step on the way to the top are connected to the asses you’re gonna have to kiss on the way back down.” Wise advice from The Dadman’s dad.
- “Triple H, when my confidence was at its lowest, your words reminded me of who I was.”
- “There was a Punjabi Prison match that damn near killed all of us.”
- “You never got me to do the Takerooni.”
- “Now that The Undertaker has entered the WWE Hall of Fame, you can rest assured that I will rest…in…peace.”
- “Never say never,” The Phenom said as he exited the ring wearing his trademark hat and leather jacket.