PWHF XI REPORT & PHOTOS
- 05/22/2012 (3:04:59 am)
- Bob Mulrenin
…Hi again everyone;
Here is a quick report on the eleventh Hall of Fame induction week-end in Amsterdam,NY that was held on may 19th.
I won't say much about the convention and Meet & Greet since Chris Sullivan already did a pretty accurate report. For my part and my friends, we really wanted to meet Jimmy Snuka, and boy did he delivered. The Superfly was friendly and all smiles the whole day, even if we bothered him all the time with photo and autograph requests. For my friend Iceman, that was a dream come true, as he met his childhood hero, who gave him a hug that brought tears to his eyes. That was a sight to see.
I found the vendors were great, as there was hard to find memorabilia, with some real old stuff. It was a nice change from the endless table off DVDs and replica belts we see all the time. There weres trading cards, old programs, autographed pictures and frames, old loose figures, old PWI and other mags, books, T-Shirt... My friend even found an AWA logo jacket patch.
As usual, all the wrestlers were friendly and looked happy to be there. There was only one no-show, as George The Animal Steelewho recently had surgery, was very sick and unable to make it. That was sad to hear, and I wish he gets well real soon. Paul Vachon had his new book for sale. We could talk and snap pictures with just about everyone, and I would have never tought that the one taking a picture of me with Snuka would be none other than Doink the Clown ! We also got to spend time with Frenchy martin in the hotel lobby, and was awesome, sharing stories from Japan and displayed the sense of humour he is known for.
We got to spend some time at the actual Hall of fame building. It was my third visit, and it was just as impressive as the first. That place smells Wrestling. They add new stuff all the time, and it's impossible to really see it all. The only letdown was they closed down the second building for the afternoon since they were short-staffed, so I still haven't seen it...I guess I'll need to go back next year.
Ok now onto the actual induction ceremony. PWHF President Tony Vellano thanked everyone to kick-off the ceremonies. This year, the host was former wrestler Lord Zoltan, who did a nice job. After the Invocation and the National anthem, Greg Oliver did the induction speech for the 'French Angel' Maurice Tillet, who represented the Pioneer era, and his buddy Steve Johnson did the same for Abe Coleman. By the way, all inductees were also shown on a giant screen, and the videos they made for the occasion were state-of-the-art, just terrific work.
JJ Dillon then inducted his colleague Jim Cornette, who could not attend because he was booked somewhere else. Cornette was a class act about it since he took the time to put together a short video to thank everybody. As usual, he was entertaining to listen too, and seemed genuinely moved by this honor.
In the International division, Ted Gordienko inducted former Canadian star George Gordienko. That one was short and sweet, as was the following induction, that of the Wild Samoans by Doink the Clown. Obviously, they were part of the Tag-Team Division of the Hall of Fame. Like Cornette, they couldn't make it because of a conflicting booking.
Bret's brother Smith Hart then spoke about the next inductee, JunkYard Dog, who made his mark in Stampede Wrestling. JYD, who was killed in a car crash in 1998, was in the Modern Era division. And as a last induction before the meal started, Dick 'The Destroyer' Beyer spoke on behalf of the Late Fritz Von Erich, who went in the Televesion Era division. Beyer told a story where promoter Pedro Martinez asked him to to come out with 6000 dollars of his own money, as a garantee he could draw in the main event against Fritz in Cleveland,Ohio. Beyer borrowed the money and gave it to Martinez, and after all was said and done, they had drawn twice as much, and Martinez used him as a main eventer after that.
To help raise money for the Hall, there was a draw of an old school championship belt, with pictures on it, along with a plaque with about 30 signatures on it. Unfortunately, my number didn't came out.
The second part of the event was done with the wrestlers that were actually there live. Davey O'Hannon gave a great speech on Bruno Sammartino, who was his idol. He also mentioned his friend the Ref, Dick Whoerle, who sadly passed away since the last PWHF inductions in 2011. Bruno, who was inducted in 2002 but didn't come at the time, was there this time, and he too gave a very good speech about what a wonderfull job Tony Vellano and the PWHF people are doing.
Next came the ladies division, and former WWF woman champion Wendi Richter accepted her award, saying how proud she was to have won the 'triple crown' , being in the WWE hall of Fame, the Califlower Alley Club award, and now the PWHF ring. Wendi thanked all the lady wrestlers who helped her along the way. She was inducted by her trainer and former tag team partner, Joyce Grable.
Another wrestler tagged from the moderne era, Jimmy Snuka, was next. He was inducted by his friend Phil LoRusso, who explained how the Superfly just recently had reconstructive surgery on both his ankles. Snuka came accross as being very happy to be there, saying his 69th birthday (his favourite numbner) was the day before, and concluded with his trademark hand gesture, and the words 'I love you'.
The 'main event' of the induction was Dominic DeNucci. However, a few minutes before he was called on stage, an unannounced Mick Foley came in the room and took a seat, turning many heads in the process ! DeNucci is the one who initially trained Foley back in the 80's. Bruno did the induction, calling DeNucci a true International star, and naming many of the foreign countries he wrestled in, which was quite impressive. Dominic then thanked everyone in a surprisingly short speech.
After the pictures were taken with the class of 2012, all wrestlers, past and present, were invited on stage. It was a nice idea, but with so many people gathering together, it was real hard to see much of anything. Photographers also had a hard time getting eveyone's attention as well. I think a stage with a few steps would have been quite handy for that one. Foley didn't stay long, but was nice to everyone and posed for pictures before leaving. It would have been great to hear him share a few story on his trainer, however.
When we were leaving, we had the chance to have a chat with PWHF president Tony Vellano, who was realy happy how well it all went down. All in all another unforgettable day of wrestling the way I like it. I want to personally thank everybody involved in the PWHF in Amsterdam for not only all their great work, but for how nice and caring they are.
pictures are: Doink, the ''Destroyers'', Frenhy Martin, Jimmy Snuka with Iceman and me, DeNucci with Foley, all 6 hall of famers, Jillian Hall, Wendi Richter.