WWE Upset With Negative Crowd Reaction To Maria Menounos At Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

As widely reported, Extra! host and occasional wrestler Maria Menounos was booed heavily by fans while inducting former WWE Champion Bob Backlund into the WWE Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago. This week’s issue of the Wrestling Observer reports that multiple WWE employees were upset with the crowd’s unwelcoming reaction to the television presenter and undefeated grappler, particularly since they love affiliations with celebrities and with her subsequent letter acknowledging the negative response, it got out that a strong portion of their fanbase lack proper manners, refinement and decency.

Menounos’ letter stated: Dear fellow WWE fans and members of the wrestling press,

As you know, I had the honor of inducting my friend, Bob Backlund, into the WWE Hall of Fame. The fans were a little rough as another inductee and friend, Donald Trump, would likewise experience. It’s understandable as we are not pro wrestlers and the honesty of the WWE fans is what makes it fun. However, I did the speech mainly to tell the world all the amazing things about Bob and I fear some of those things were not heard.

Below is my speech. I’m hoping you’ll print it for a good friend, a great champion, and one of the most incredible human beings I know.

Thanks and God Bless,
Maria Menounos.

===== Maria’s Hall of Fame speech =====

To induct anyone into the WWE Hall of Fame puts you in the company of the greatest artists, athletes and performers in the entire world. I CHALLENGE ANYONE who disagrees to show me another kind of entertainer who can recite monologues, in character, without the use of teleprompters and before world audiences, performing improv drama and comedy while flying through the air and taking bumps, 300 nights a year.

But for me tonight is even more special for I am not just inducting anyone into the WWE Hall of Fame. I’m inducting someone who encapsulates the word champion. Someone whom I’m a great fan of…Someone whom is my friend.

Growing up Greek and not speaking English, wrestling was one of the few things on TV I’d watch and be able to understand. I was five when Bob Backlund lost his title to The Sheik. I was 14 when “Mr. Backlund” returned. I was eighteen when I met Bob in person and I remember being in awe. It was on the set of my first movie and Bob was literally the most positive and striking force I have ever encountered. He was funny when we needed laughter – the man has an incredible and underrated sense of comedic timing – strong when we needed support and sensitive when we needed a friend.

While Working on Bob’s congressional campaign, a story came up about the Iron Shiek and his Persian Clubs. the Iron Shiek apparently had an exercise where he would swing these heavy wooden “Persian Clubs” behind his back. He had toured the nation’s gyms with the clubs and, apparently, no other strong man in the country could perform the exercise, nor could anyone on the WWF roster – except Bob, who did it….on his FIRST TRY. When I asked Bob how, he told me ‘when you believe you can do something…you can.’ The very next day, bob said he was going to perform an exercise of his own-the harvard step test in front of city hall on his election day. Twenty years earlier bob set a personal record doing the step test for two straight hours. The goal was to match that. we all thought he was crazy as he was well into his 50s by that time. Bob was not able to match that record. He made a new one. It wasn’t three hours. It wasn’t four hours. He did his harvard step test for eight hours straight!!! Once again reminding us all, if you believe you can do something, you can.

Speaking of Hollywood, one of the first days I was hosting the Today Show, John Cena and Vince McMahon happened to be guests. Of course, I’m huge fans of theirs, too, but I couldn’t help but threaten John that Bob would one day come back to put him in the chicken wing! They both had great things to say about Bob but I’m sure they thought I was a little nuts, as people have thought Bob was a little nuts. But along with everything else Bob taught me, its okay to be a little nuts.

I’m sure people thought Bob was more than a little nuts, when after an unprecedented 5 year run with the title, he refused to turn heel. He believed it would let down his fans which included many troubled youth who had looked up to him and in those days, it would have. In so doing he surrendered millions of dollars from the new age of rock and wrestling as well as the career he loved most.

Not only did Bob Backlund hold the title for almost six consecutive years – he did something perhaps even greater when he came back a decade later. He completely reinvented himself and his character. When you think of performers who’ve been able to successfully reinvent their characters, even in Hollywood, few names come to mind. Bob not only created an entire new persona he also went on to become wrestling’s number one heel and regained his title in one of the most successful comebacks in sports entertainment history.

But, most people know that. Like the greatest champions Bob Backlund carries himself with humility – which is why many of the facts I’m about to reveal are not known.

In a Pennsylvania match against Hulk Hogan, whom he pinned on several occasions, Bob Backlund picked Hulk up over his head with one arm. It’s a feat Hulk, and his own late father, often reflected on in astonishment.

Bob Backlund has only been to the doctor twice since 1973.

Bob Backlund has never done a drug. As he says and I quote, “I wouldn’t know what to do with them.”

Bob Backlund, within a three month span, won the NCAA wrestling championship and the National college football championship. He is perhaps the only man in history to hold that distinction.

In that championship football game, Bob Backlund recorded 22 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries. To give perspective, a team averages about 65 plays in an entire game.

Bob Backlund was a top shoot fighter if not THE top shoot fighter in the world of professional wrestling.

Bob Backlund intentionally NEVER squashed his opponents as he believed it would harm their future earnings.

Bob Backlund is in better condition than 99 percent of men…a third his age.

Bob Backlund has a diverse portfolio of stocks and real estate and has NEVER IN HIS LIFE PAID A DIME OF INTEREST!

Bob Backlund has a beautiful wife and daughter.

And at the end of the day, Bob Backlund justs want to help others in need.

Bob Backlund is simply one of, if not, THE greatest personal success stories for wrestlers, fans and people in general.

I know it wasn’t always easy in your career, Bob. But, in the face of shortcomings and disappointments, you never gave up or succumbed like so many of us understandably would. Instead, you continued working out, educating yourself and, always, helping others and donating your time to charity. Through it all you kept your faith and your resolve and here you are on the greatest stage being honored by your greatest peers. I’m excited for tonight, your book being published and all the amazing things you remain to accomplish in your journey. And, I believe there’s one more WWE run in that journey for you Bob, because ‘When u believe you can do something, you can.’

Some know you as Bob Backlund. Others as Mr. Backlund. I just know you as my champion, my hero and my friend. Thank you to the WWE Universe for allowing me to welcome to the stage, Mr. Bob Backlund!

Daniel Pena

Daniel Pena is a longtime wrestling news reporter and the webmaster of PWPix.net

  • http://twitter.com/ZackStinson Zack Stinson

    Vince McMahon – Wait a minute?!! They don’t like celebrities in wrestling?!!!!

  • Hitmaniac

    For such a formal occasion, I felt it was unnecessarily rude. The people there should have had some decorum at an event of that type.

    • http://twitter.com/ZackStinson Zack Stinson

      She really had no business being there. What just because everyone was dressed nice the’re supposed to not let their voices be heard? Maria inducting Bob Backlund was a joke, and noone buys her story of them being such great friends. Bob Bucklund was an incredible wrestler, and too have a celebrity induct him just so Vince can brag is ridiculous, and not too mention its a NYC crowd.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Goodison/508986551 Adrian Goodison

        She had every business being there as that was who bob backlund wanted to induct him. She is a close personal friend of his (the truth dose not have to be believed for it to still be the truth). Seriously just because its an “nyc” crowd dose not give you entitlement to be a dick for no real reason.

    • cm2012

      I definitely agree… I mean, christ. Forget manners for a second. Why the fuck would you boo someone as fine as Maria!?!? People have no class… and it’s not for the fans to decide who has business being there and who doesn’t. Who are any of them to say she can/can’t be there? I don’t think she fits, personally… but fuck. I’m not gonna boo the poor girl. Besides it was a fine, well thought out speech. Fucking low life marks are the type to boo her… OR Trish for that matter. What’s the excuse to boo Trish? Poor girl can’t mention her husband? Fucking pieces of shit.

      To paraphrase an Iron Shiek tweet, they can go choke on dog shit taco from the taco bell!

  • 3Tears

    LOL you gotta love the New York crowd!

  • http://twitter.com/KudosHaven Haven

    I agree with her, The WWE fans were disrespectful. Booing someone just because they are a celebrity is immature. Thats like Booing a WWE Superstar or Diva for presenting a Musical Artist with an Award at the Grammys just because the WWE Superstar/Diva isnt in the Music Industry.

  • http://twitter.com/AJCampbellNYG Andrew Campbell

    The fan response to Maria Menounos during her speech was disrespectful to both her and Bob Backlund. She was starting to get tearful, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

    • http://twitter.com/ZackStinson Zack Stinson

      I think its funny to be honest.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732542390 Donte Shoshona Gopual

        yea seeing you on stage crying a stumbling on your words would be even better jackass

        • http://twitter.com/ZackStinson Zack Stinson

          U MAD BRO?

          • heterosexual

            no, but u stupid gurl

        • Kent

          Bitchy..U PMS’ing?

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.williams.545 Steve Williams

    WWE got upset with the fans? What you gonna do? Kill us more with your boring stuff? Make Cena beat Undertaker at WM?

    • Super dude

      they are gonna punish us by having super cena be champion for a whole decade T_T

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732542390 Donte Shoshona Gopual

        now that something i would tune into bitch

      • Y2J

        Wrestlemania 29 was punishment enough.

        • Rub

          I watched a 1999 episode of smackdown on Youtube. It was by far way better the past 3 WM’s

          • Y2J

            Wouldn’t doubt it one bit.

      • Rodriquez Antonio

        Keep quiet lol They may just do that!

  • Damn It, Miz

    As long as they cheer, it’s okay, but anything else is frowned upon? As far as I see it, if the ‘E wants to try and feed their fans shit, they should be prepared when the fans fling it back. And this is in no way condoning the behavior, even though I can’t say much since I didn’t watch the event. Being hypocritical doesn’t sit right with me with all the ‘E has done over the years is all I’m saying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732542390 Donte Shoshona Gopual

      its a fuck HOF ceremony what do you mean by feeding their fans shit. Did the fans expect a fucking iron man match??? The fans bought tickets to see those amazing performers get inducted into their hall of fame but paid more attention to a tv host inductor rather than the performer getting inducted

      • Damn It, Miz

        Preach elsewhere. The ‘E brought her in knowing the fans weren’t going to buy into it. Big whoop, they booed the TV host, how’s that a sign of disrespect? If it was toward one of the inductees, outside of Trump, I would understand. Poor Miss Pseudo-celebrity should have known what was going to happen, especially since she was only there as being somewhat famous to begin with. As I said, I don’t condone the behavior at an event that is supposed to celebrate the careers of people within the business, but feeding the fans shit won’t be ignored by the fans.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732542390 Donte Shoshona Gopual

          LOL shit?????? how many fucking famous bob backland fans are there. shes a huge bob backland fan and there is almost no one left that could have inducted him. Im all about booing wwe on a regular show for puting out shit E, but this was a ceremony and a celebration of these amazing performers careers not a fucking brawl for all

          • Damn It, Miz

            Yes, shit. I am not against how ‘E chooses to branch out to famous people since that is one of the longest standing practices under the company’s belt, but that does not mean it has to be liked as it was plainly demonstrated, as I’ve read, as I’ve already mentioned not seen the event. For a third and final time, I do not condone the behavior that was demonstrated during such an event, but the company and yourself should get off the high horse and quit pretending there’s no hypocrisy in this with all that ‘E has done over the years.

  • Keith

    The reason why they hassled her is because they are still little boys at heart. They’re not men. They are undisciplined bitch-males. It doesn’t matter how much they thought she sucked or if they thought that she didn’t belong there. Grown men don’t do that to a female that did nothing to them.

    • backblack25

      Hard on for her?

      • Keith

        I’m just saying it like it is brutha.

      • cm2012

        Any shame in that? I sure do! Again. You are little boy at heart… (apparantly not only at heart, based on your comments)

        • cm2012

          Sure do have hard on for her, that is.

  • backblack25

    proper manners, refinement and decency. When has Pro Wrestling ever had any of this?

    • cm2012

      Yea, and the IWC wonders why the rest of the world looks down upon them. Great!

  • omega riddler

    How will Vince McMahon respond to people booing what’s her face? (I seriously have no idea how she got famous or what she does). Not allow fans to attend next years Hall of Fame then the year after that, say he allow them to attend if they are not as rude as they were before.

    • backblack25

      here how they fix it. Don’t have people on stage that don’t belong there.

    • heterosexual

      the first five words of the article tell you what she does, how did you miss that

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.wadelin Stephen Wadelin

    The booing was unneeded she wasn’t a random celebrity inducting a legend of the business. She is a hardcore fan of Backlund and I don’t think this was common knowledge. It’s disappointing that the idiots in the garden couldn’t show respect. Be nice if they had put as much effort in to being a dick at the HoF in to there reactions when attending WM. That PPV seemed so quiet that you could hear a rat piss on cotton.

  • BOSS

    Maria Menonos #HEEL VS The Larger Bella Twins at WM30 babay.

  • ADementedJim

    As I have previously said, I was there, and myself, along with 10,000+ others, booed her enthusiastically. I don’t care how good of friends she is with Backlund, I don’t care that she actually competed (using that term very loosely) for the WWE, she simply appreared clueless, no stage presence, and frankly, whether it was Backlund choosing her or the WWE’s decision, it was a HUGE mistake. Backlund was a great champion (I saw him wrestle 11 times)..he deserved someone who inducting him who fit his legendary status. and the bottom line is: when you pay $100 for a WWE ticket, whether it is for a wrestling event or a HOF presentation, you are allowed to express your views–positive or negative. And I, along with the rest of my NYC brethren, got our money’s worth between her and Donald Trump.

  • currygoi

    Stop talking Maria – just show some titties!

    • Ouch

      Thats disgusting, show some respect.

      • currygoi

        i show respect and maria her boobies – fair trade.

  • Marko

    They could have at least cheered Maria because of Bob Backlund and his sake and this was totally disrespectful to both of them, especially Backlund. Yes, we fans have made the WWE what it is and we are entitled to cheer and boo who we want but that doesn’t mean fans can sometimes look like gigantic jackasses.

  • fiestychick

    Why would the wwe be mad with fans, the fans normally chant and shout their opinion. I don’t like maria and think she has no business wrestling or giving inducting anyone. I have been a wrestling fan since I was four and I’m not presenting anyone in the hall of fame. We pay our tickets and keep vince and others wrestlers wealthy so we can express our opinion if we want. Maria is annoying and I didn’t like her in wwm before last. In my opinion i didn’t think she should have been there. They should allow the fans to induct their favorite wrestle into hall of fame. She is no wrestler and should stick with extra or access hollywood whatever she is on. Don’t know why wwe is so high on her. She is not even a real celebrity. There are other more appealing so call celebrities out there

  • TheUndertakerFan

    Some Fans Are Disrespectful and just dont care But I dont mind celebrities being involved in wwe

  • Kickass

    wwe got what they deserve..

  • fiestychick

    I don’t understand why vince is mad with the fans. The fans are basically his boss. It is the fans who buy tickets and pay for pay per views and him and wrestlers are getting rich on what we pay. Based on that he hasn’t been getting fans what they want. I am sick of cena and the crowd has been chanting boring with him and vince makes him champion. He can’t shove things down our throats and except us to buy into it. Fans didn’t accept maria. That is our right as buying customers. I’m not saying to call her names but I’m not a fan and think she didn’t belong. That honor she have went to an actual wrestler who had fought backlund in the past. I’m a huge wrestling fan so next year I want to induct someone.

  • cm2012

    Dear WWE, please make the HoF a private televised banquet again. And please keep letting Maria on stage to talk, she is hot and fine as hell, and if she is a true fan, that’s a plus.

    Dear (*low-life members of the IWC, not all as some of the people here aren’t that bad*) You have every right to say and do what you will. But you choose to come to pay money and/or spend your time to partake in their activity, in essentially their house, so to speak… show a level of class, if you are even capable of such a thing. You wanna boo someone, stick to booing Donald Trump. (Outside the Hall of Fame) He’s a royal piece of shit. Don’t boo Maria.

  • Jesse

    What do you think the fans would do if they brought Larry King into the NFL hall of fame?


  • Belfast Brawler

    So it’s ok to boo Maria because Bob Backlund should have been inducted by a former competitor rather a friend of his? Remind me who inducted Bruno and what reception did he receive? (clue: it was a friend who had never competed in WWE or against Bruno)

  • CMscout

    F*ck wwe. Insulting fans who paid their own money to be at an event where they can freely express themselves.Thats why we watch wrestling SHITHEADS! Not to see hoes like maria garbage menunos or crap snooki

  • AW

    Sorry! Unfortunately they cannot script the fans! Blame bob for being crazy on stage, Maria for pooping herself at WM 28, and Donald for being a real life jerk.

  • haha

    What a stupid speech!