A video package on Howard Finkel was shown. It started with his career as the greatest ring announcer of all time, then went into his comedic moments from later in his career.
Mean Gene Okerlund came out, introduced by Grisham as "my personal hero." Gene came out to his recording of "Tutti Frutti." Gene said when it came to working a microphone "nobody did it better" and he was truly "one of a kind" ... "but enough about me." Gene said "You've got to bust them somewhere" before talking about Finkel. Gene said he is WWE's longest running employee, he came up with the phrase Wrestlemania, and he is an encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge. Gene said Howard is the first, and only, ring announcer to be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.
Howard Finkel came out, and comically stumbled on a step on the stage. He said "Good evening Houston" in his classic announcer voice. Finkel said that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would become a ring announcer. Finkel said he can't put a number on how many matches he introduced, but he always treated every one as if it were a main event for both the wrestlers and fans. Finkel talked about calling his first show at Madison Square Garden in 1977. He said when he started appearing on television, a fan approached him at the Garden and said "Now everyone will know what we do, that you're the best in the world." Finkel said that he never thought of himself as the star of the show, just a "spoke in the wheel" making the company work. Finkel said there are no better entertainers than the wrestlers sitting in front of him. Finkel talked about his "fling" as a superstar, noting his Bushwacker, APA, etc. runs. Finkel then read a poem about his comedic exploits, saying it was all "part of being the Fink." Finkel listed some of the headliners he has introduced over the years, and how he wanted to help make them memorable by the way he announced their title wins, then said he was taking a page from his own book and said that Howard Finkel was the "..... NEW" member of the class of the Hall Of Fame in his classic tone.
Nick Bockwinkel was shown in the crowd. Then they went right into the Bill Watts video package. Todd Grisham introduced Jim Ross as one of the greatest announcers in Sports Entertainment history. Jim Ross came out to the Oklahoma fight song.
Cowboy Bill Watts
Ross joked that it was great to hear "Boomer Sooner" in Texas. Some fans booed him for that. Ross then said Dog The Bounty Hunter's hairdresser did Michael Hayes' hair tonight. Ross talked about Watts' career in football with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. Ross said Wahoo McDaniels told Watts to get into wrestling, and in three years, Watts was main eventing at Madison Square Garden for Vincent J. McMahon. Ross named all the legendary promoters that Watts worked for over the years. Ross told the story of how Watts got into a fight with a Navy Seal once, and "inadvertently ate his eye." Ross talked about Watts as a promoter for Mid-South, noting how he fined people all the time, including Shawn Michaels. Ross said Watts once fined Dick Murdoch everything he made in a week, but a dollar. Ross told how if any wrestler got in a fight in a bar, he better win it, or he had to give in his notice. Ross talked about working for Watts, and how you had to give 100% every time. Ross said for his first six months in the business, he thought Bill Watts gave him a wrestling name, "dumbass". Ross said he is a better man for working for Bill Watts, and that he "loved playing for his coach" and that Watts gave the fans "more than what they paid for."
Bill Watts, also sporting a cowboy hat, came out. Watts joked Ross left nothing for him to say. Watts talked about how proud he is of Jim Ross, and that he got his position the old fashioned way, he earned it. Watts said he will be 70 soon, and this was a great birthday present. Watts joked about the size of the ring WWE gave him for entering the Hall Of Fame. Watts talked about his children and grand children, and introduced them to the crowd. Eric Watts was sitting next to Ron Simmons. Watts said WWE has become "the custodian of history" and joked about WWE taking so long to induct him into the Hall Of Fame. Watts said wrestling is "in some great hands now" and put over the talent in WWE. Watts then talked about the OU-Texas rivalry, and started naming some of the people who influenced his life, including Wahoo McDaniel, Danny Hodge and The Briscos. Watts talked about wrestling Wild Red Berry, and how Berry got excited and called him "Big Dick Watts" during his promo by mistake. That night, Watts tried to jump over the top rope and fell on his face. Berry said "Hello Big Dick" and Watts said he never tried to jump over the top rope again. Watts talked about working with Killer Kowalski, Bruno Sammartino ("one of the most quality guys, I've ever met"). Watts said working out with Bruno, his bench press went over 500, and "we didn't even know what a steroid was". Watts talked about working with Vince Sr., Arnold Skaaland and the original WWWF crew. Watts then talked about working with Ernie Ladd, saying he "impacted my life like an atomic bomb" and that he cried for four days when he died. Watts said he still cries thinking about Ladd. Watts pointed out Ron Simmons and said "I was never so proud of anyone as I was when you won the World Title in Baltimore." Watts talked about Junkyard Dog, saying he didn't realize how much he loved him until he was gone. Watts said everyone "runs fast" but we should take time to let people know what they mean to him. Watts then mentioned working with legendary Houston promoter Paul Boesch. Watts then talked about working with Dusty Rhodes, Gordon Solie and Steve Austin. Watts said he did fine Shawn Michaels his first week in wrestling, and it must have worked "because I never had to fine him again." Watts told a story about Hacksaw Duggan getting his head busted open on a ring post, and because Watts had a rule about missing bookings, and Hacksaw kept showing up for matches until Duggan's wife called to tell Watts his head had swollen so much, he couldn't close his eyes. Watts remarked that he thinks Dick Murdoch and Andre The Giant are having a drinking contest. Watts said the fans are the true Hall Of Famers, and tomorrow he will go to his first Wrestlemania and enjoy it as a fan. Watts said that he is in the "twilight" of his years, and his next big event will be meeting his hero, Jesus Christ. Watts thanked the fans and said "watch out for flying chairs".
The webcast ended with Steve Austin's music and a graphic for tonight's USA Network broadcast.
Our coverage will continue with live reports from the event on the next page!