Welcome to PWInsider.com's ongoing coverage of the 2009 WWE Hall Of Fame. We will have live reports from the event as it happens, along with coverage of the Internet broadcast and USA Network special.
Mike Johnson, reporting from Houston:
They are selling lots of Steve Austin merchandise including foam WHAT!, Stone
Cold title belts and different t-shirts.
Todd Grisham came out at 6:30 to remind everyone to be respectful of the stars.
WWE Talents and their families began making their way to their seats shortly afterwards in a grand procession. WWE cameras followed them to their seats.
Vickie Guerrero was accompanied by her daughters.
Hornswoggle wore a suit, not his green outfit. No dirt on the face either.
All of the FCW trainers, Billy Kidman, Norman Smiley and Steve Keirn are in attendance.
Cryme Time's JTG was dressed in gimmick.
John Cena was booed when he entered. Shad arrived in a suit.
Jackie Gayda and Molly Holly arrived with Gail Kim.
Beth Phoenix arrived on the arm of Cody Rhodes.
WWE developmental talent Wes Brisco was with his father Gerald Brisco. Some other developmental talents also are in attendance.
Ted DiBiase Sr. got a huge reaction coming in...larger than his son, actually.
Northeast Wrestling promoter Mike O'Brien was among those arriving with the WWE roster.
Victoria arrived with Michelle McCool.
Edge was booed upon his entrance.
Diamond Dallas Page got a big pop throwing up the Diamond Cutter signal. He's attending as a guest of Steve Austin.
Former Tough Enough star Taylor Matheny is in attendance with her husband Brian Kendrick.
Despite the current storyline, Big Show arrived with his wife.
CM Punk arrived with Ace Steel, who just wrestled down the street for ROH.
ROH star Bryan Danielson was with William Regal.
Carlos Colon, Tammy Sytch and Mae Young are in the house.
Bobby Heenan is in attendance!
The McMahons, sans Vince McMahon arrived last
Buck Woodward, reporting from his house:
Todd Grisham welcomed us to the WWE Hall Of Fame on WWE.com, and asked all the WWE stars to stand up and be recognized. He then went straight to the first Hall Of Fame induction.
Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr.
After a video package on their careers aired, Grisham introduced WWE Hall Of Famer Dusty Rhodes, who came out to his old WWF theme music. Dusty danced with Kelly Kelly, who is working as one of the hostesses tonight, as he came out. Dusty talked about it being a "magical night" and pointed out how Dory Funk held the NWA World Title for four years, the only person other than Lou Thesz to hold it for that long. Dusty said Dory was what they would call a "shootist" in the Old West. Dusty said he faced Terry Funk thousands of times, and that before Tommy Dreamer made ECW a household word, Terry Funk was "extreme". Dusty talked about their success around the world, said that statues were erected to them in Japan. Dusty remarked that only Terry could call him an "egg sucking dog" but that he had nothing but respect for them. Dusty said that Dory was "The Shootist" and Terry was "The Last Surviving Outlaw In Captivity".
Terry and Dory were escorted out by Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly. Terry said after such a nice intro, he would never call Dusty an "overbearing egg sucking dog" again. Dory read a speech about being trained by his father, and noted he has wrestled over 10,000 matches, and been slammed over a hundred thousand times. Dory said if he had to do it all over again, he would in a "New York minute". Dory said he loved professional wrestling. Dory thanked the promoters who have paid him, his family, his doctors who kept him together, and his attorneys "who have saved me over and over". Dory thanked the Guerrero family, the Hart family and Gene Kiniski, who Dory beat for the World Title. Dory thanked his children, then noted that six of the wrestlers he helped train, Edge, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Mark Henry, Christian and Mickie James, would be on Wrestlemania tomorrow. Dory thanked a list of people, including his wife Marti and Keiji Mutoh, president of All Japan Pro Wrestling. Dory then put over Wrestlemania, and then mentioned he would have more to say on his website.
Terry thanked his family for sticking with him. Terry called his wife Vickie the "love of his life" and said he loved his daughters to death. Terry talked about how wrestlers need to get an education, because "there is no room for dummies in the WWE". Terry said all kids need to get an education. Terry said this honor was for his peers and for ECW. Terry said the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." Terry talked about how he and his brother "danced" in front of capacity crowds and "sparsely filled arenas". Terry said the "music has died" and there are no more bells to be rung for him. Terry said he feels like his a hundred and five years now, but said when he is buried, bury him in a wrestling ring. Terry said there will be an battle royale in eternity in heaven, where "every seat is front row, ringside" but it is also "BYOB". Terry then joked that he would be out front after the Hall Of Fame pedaling tickets to everyone. Terry thanked everyone, saying he loved them all.
Todd Grisham immediately threw it to the Koko B. Ware video package.
Koko B. Ware
The video package of Koko included some footage of him as part of the P.Y.T.'s before going into clips of his WWE career. They even had a clip of the "Piledriver" video in there. Honky Tonk Man, in his trademark jumpsuit, came out accompanied by Eve, and even did the old Honky Tonk Man dance to his theme music. Honky Tonk Man called for the crowd to make some noise. HTM said he met Koko in a barn, watching a person "running, jumping, flipping ... having a match by himself". Koko asked him if he came to work out, and for the next nine months, Koko beat up HTM in that barn. Honky told a joke that he once asked where he could get some water, and Koko directed him to the trough that the animals drank out of. HTM mentioned how JBL has the "Clothesline From Hell" (JBL took a bow) and said Koko had the "Dropkick From Hell" and the only problem was, Koko never told him how to take it. Honky Tonk Man said he has been friends with Koko for 30 years. He said one night there was a show, and the promoter didn't want Frankie (his bird) on the show. Afterwards, Koko was upset, because he found out all the people wanted to see Frankie, not him. Honky said tonight was different, that everyone was there to see him.
Koko B. Ware, complete with a new Frankie, came out to his old "Bird, Bird, Bird" music, doing his old WWF dance, and getting the fans to clap for him. Koko said it was "good to be back" in WWE one more time. Koko read a speech, thanking God, and saying it is "good to be walking on the ground, instead of the ground walking on me." Koko talked about growing up in Union City, Tennessee. Koko talked about watching wrestling every Thursday night as a kid, then when he wanted to train, he met Plowboy Frazier (Uncle Elmer). Koko said Frazier brought him to Jerry Lawler, and that started his wrestling career. Koko said he was in Memphis for five years, then got a call from Howard Finkel saying Vince McMahon wanted to talk to him about coming to WWE. The bird kept trying to bit Koko's speech. He said Vince McMahon asked him if he wanted to add anything to his character, and that is when Koko showed him a picture of his bird, and he became the Birdman. Koko thanked his wife and children, as well as the wrestlers and promoters who have helped him over the years. He closed by thanking the WWE, for giving him the chance to share his talent with the world.
During Koko's exit, they briefly showed Bobby Heenan sitting in the audience.
Todd Grisham noted there have been many famous wrestling families, like the Guerreros, Harts and McMahons, but said in Texas "one family reigns supreme".
The Von Erichs
The Von Erich video package focused mainly on Fritz and Kerry's title win over Ric Flair. Michael Hayes then came out to "Badstreet U.S.A." Hayes did his old entrance moves, including a moonwalk. Hayes was decked out in a black cowboy hat and long coat. Hayes said that will all respect to the Guerreros and Funks, no family had "a bigger affect on transforming wrestling into sports entertainment" than the Von Erichs. Michael talked about Fritz, mentioning his real name Adkisson, and how Fritz became a wrestler to make a living. Hayes then said Fritz was "more successful at home with Doris" than he was in the ring, pointing out all his kids. Hayes began to talk about the kids, including the story (and I mean story) that Kerry was a world champion discus thrower. Hayes then talked about World Class Championship Wrestling being born in the Sportatorium in Dallas. Hayes talked about the famous Christmas night 1982 angle where the Freebirds cost Kerry his title match with Ric Flair, creating "the greatest tag team rivalry of all time", the Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Von Erichs. Hayes said the Von Erichs were loved by fans all over the world, and the Von Erichs reciprocated that love for the fans and the business. Hayes introduced with "great pride, the surviving member and one of my best friends", Kevin Von Erich.
Kevin came out and gave Hayes a big hug, knocking his hat off. Kevin said "God Bless Texas" and thanked Michael for the introduction. Kevin talked about how much fun it was to perform in the ring, and it was the time of his life. Kevin said when he started, he made $35 a night, and that back then, no one knew the kind of entertainment business wrestling would become. Kevin said that he wished his father and brothers were here to absorb this moment with him. Kevin told a story about his last wrestling tour of Africa in 1993 right before he retired, right after Kerry died. Kevin talked about how all the wrestlers were so kind to him, and that is why all wrestlers call each other "brothers." Kevin talked about his love of the Freebirds, and how "kicking someone's butt makes you close to them." Kevin said he didn't want people to say "poor Kev" he wanted them to know he was "lucky Kev" for the life he has led. Kevin Von Erich thanked his children and his wife of 31 years. Kevin said "David was a scientist, Kerry was pound-for-pound the strongest out there, and me... I just did tricks". Kevin again put over wrestling as the greatest form of entertainment in the world.
Coverage continued on the next page.