WWE’s Smackdown and Hall of Fame inductions kick off WrestleMania weekend
After WWE Friday Night Smackdown, the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles hosted the 2023 WWE Hall of Fame inductions.
The night was the final stop on the ‘Road to WrestleMania’ and the last opportunity for WWE to generate some serious excitement before the annual event.
Smackdown began with a final face-off between the four participants who will take part in the WWE Tag Team Title Match: Jimmy and Jey, The Uso Brothers, against best friends Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (both from Montreal). When we last saw Sami Zayn on a pay-per-view, he came up short in his quest to win the championship but has since teamed up with his longtime friend in a quest to end The Bloodline, a group that includes Roman Reigns, the Uso’s, and Solo Sikoa.
The night also served as the last time Cody Rhodes, winner of the 2023 Royal Rumble, faced off against Universal WWE Champion Roman Reigns. Reigns has held the title for over 900 days, astonishing in this era. Rhodes commented that Reigns is an 11-year investment from WWE, who only started paying off in year eight—fighting words indeed! Will Cody end Roman's seemingly endless title reign? We'll see on Sunday night.
Hall of Fame induction ceremony
The night's highlight was The Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which took place immediately after Smackdown.
First introduced in 1993, The Hall of Fame includes such WWE legends as Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Toronto’s own Trish Stratus, and Edge, to name a few.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate a career or someone’s involvement with WWE. The 2023 class included Stacy Keibler, Andy Kauffman, The Great Muta, Tim White, and Rey Mysterio.
A video package showcasing each inductee's history with WWE was shown before a legendary superstar introduced them. There were some very touching moments during the ceremony. Ric Flair, who inducted The Great Muta, thanked Muta for looking after his son Reid before his passing. Torrie Wilson inducted her best friend Stacy and reminisced how the two were trailblazers in the women’s division.
The most heartwarming moment of the night went to Konnan, who inducted his best friend, Rey Mysterio. Konnan spoke from the heart and delivered his speech in English and Spanish. He spoke candidly about the obstacles Mysterio had to overcome, especially from a size perspective (Mysterio is 5’6" and weighs 175 pounds . . . not the norm for this business).
Mysterio’s acceptance speech was the longest, as he spoke of a career that went through multiple promotions and exciting events.
As the event concluded and fans poured into the streets of Los Angeles, the energy was contagious . . . WrestleMania weekend is here!