Credit: Kyle Ouderkirk & ProWrestling.net
I arrived an hour before the doors were supposed to open. There was already a line of about 20 people. The atmosphere outside was relaxed and friendly…the highlight of my standing in line was definitely these couple of British guys who were teaching some older guys what it meant to be a wanker. Everyone around me had seemed to be a return purchaser of either the full weekend package or a travel package as they were all swapping stories about James Storm and a few other wrestlers. The TNA website listed the box office as opening at 6 pm, however it didn’t open until 7. I checked in at 7:15. I located a table with a couple of the people I was in line with since we seemed to get along. The seat I chose was right next to where our mystery guest host was to be sitting, so I was pretty stoked about that. We didn’t know who we were sitting with until they were announced as guests at the show. Everyone who came got a six pack of TNA trading cards as a little token of appreciation from the company.
At about 7:45 SoCal Val welcomed us to the first ever Hall of Fame ceremony. The guests were introduced as follows; Hector Guerrero, Hernandez,Willie Urbina, James Storm, Chavo, RVD (accompanied by loud RVD chants), Earl Hebner, Miss Tessmacher, Zema Ion, Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels, Christy Hemme, Kurt Angle (accompanied by huge USA chants), Austin Aries, Tara, My guest host was my No. 1 choice, Bully Ray.There was a brief moment where some words were being exchanged by Tessmacher and Tara’s tables. At one point someone threw one of the bread rolls from Tara’s table toward Tessmacher’s, but I missed who threw it. SoCal Val half joked that extra security needed to be placed near those tables. Bully walks up and tells our table we’re paying for the drinks tonight. Funny. Back to the guest hosts, Brooke Hogan, Al Snow. I apologize if I missed anyone. I am pretty sure I caught all their names though.
There was a funny moment when Bully chanted “boring” during Snow’s walk to his table. Bully immediately ran to the bar and upon his return began hitting on a few of the staff around the banquet hall. Bully is absolutely hilarious. Bully asked all the folks at the table “What is your favorite thing about TNA wrestling?” There were lots of good answers at my table, mine was that every star feels big. The other answers had a general theme of “The quality of the matches.” He then asked what we hated, and there were a few answers about odd story lines. The fan next to me put it wonderfully by saying that “Too often the execs at TNA just throw stuff at a wall to see what sticks.” Bully made his rounds to the surrounding tables drumming up some humor at some of the tables who were given lesser known personalities. He really was a riot. The man knows how to make people laugh and he had us laughing throughout the entire evening.
Jeremy Borash was then introduced as the host of the evening. He gave a brief speech about the importance of the evening for TNA and the introduced the whole main table; AJ Styles, Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, Mike Tenay, and finally, the man of the hour, Sting. There was a great speech by JB touching on a few of Sting’s more well known accolades. SoCal Val came over to talk to Bully and ended up staying for most the evening.
Mike Tenay was then introduced by JB, and gave a great speech in which he expanded on the accolades that JB mentioned a moment prior. He mentioned the match with Ric Flair at Clash of Champions, and that Sting was also involved in the last WCW match ever. Tenay gave a truly amazing speech that spanned ALL of Sting’s history in this business, and then he introduced the video tribute. It was the same type of video from impact on Thursday but a much longer version with quite a few more interview portions. After it ended JB returned to the stage and AJ Styles was introduced. His speech touched on Sting’s days as the “Crow” and talked about his star power. He mentioned specifically being at a live event and touching Sting’s shoulder and knowing from that moment that he wanted to wrestle. He connected it to today where gets to work with his hero on a daily basis. There was a funny part where AJ was talking about not meeting your heroes because you make not like what you see. Bully Ray quipped “Not me, I’m f’in awesome!” It took a lot for our table not to burst into loud laughter. AJ finished the speech by thanking the fans and of course, Sting.
JB returned to the stage and then Lex Luger was introduced as the “Total Package.” Cool Reference. Lex couldn’t make it up the stage but made an amazing speech from the floor. He told the story of how he was jealous of Sting before they met and that when he finally did meet Sting that Sting asked him about what his nutritional regiment was. Lex responded with “Beer, Cheeseburgers, and Peanut M&M’s.” They shared a laugh together. He told a very touching story about how they grew apart due to religious reasons but then were reunited by Christ. Being religious myself it was excellent to hear them not shy away from how important that is to Sting as a man. JB came back up after a standing ovation for Lex and Hulk Hogan was introduced. Hulk talked about how intensely he knows Sting and how honored he was to wrestle sting and still work with him daily. There was a funny part from Hogan about not understanding Sting’s decisions being based on loyalty and not money. The table behind us got to talking part of the way through Hulk’s speech, but Bully just turned around and told them to shut up. It was quite fantastic. Hulk gave a great speech that was heartfelt and he ended by acknowledging the fact the if there is one person in the wrestling industry or the world in general that you can count on it’s Steve(Sting).
JB returned to segue over to Dixie Carter. Great speech by Dixie touching on the Asylum years and the amount of credibility that Sting gave them in their early days. She discussed her contract negotiations with Sting and how she would have to ask him to come back each and every year. She told one really interesting story about her son who caught a scorpion the day she had one of her final contract obligations with Sting. Her son presented the scorpion to Sting and told him it was a sign and Sting agreed, taking the scorpion for himself and agreeing to another year when he had just finished telling Dixie “No” moments earlier.
It was an amazing story. Dixie got teary eyed near the end of her speech and then introduced Sting. Sting’s speech was fantastic. He said that he was uncomfortable, but he sure didn’t show it. He began by acknowledging his past, thanking Ric Flair, and Eric Bischoff. He referenced N.W.O. and even “Wolfpack Sting.” He told the story of how Scott Hall came up with his “Crow” character. He told a few funny stories about his in ring days with his blonde flat top. We all laughed. He spoke about his Faith a bit more and said that without his brothers in the wrestling ring he would not be where he is today. He closed his speech with tons of thank you’s. We gave him another ovation and chanted “Thank you Sting,” and “You still got it.” Dixie presented Sting with a watch to commemorate the evening and then everyone came to the front for pictures.
It was an amazing evening that was more than worth the price of the ticket. I had a great time and was thrilled to be part of history in the wrestling industry. Dixie Carter came by and thanked us after the show ended and I got some great pictures that I will cherish for a long time to come. Now I get to go the actual show!