World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has a new hall of famer: William Shatner, who took part in WWE events when he wasn’t patrolling the universe as Captain James T. Kirk of “Star Trek.”
Shatner will be inducted into the celebrity wing in an April 6 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony that will stream on Peacock and held remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year’s event, which kicks off a WrestleMania Week that builds to two nights of WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (April 10-11, also on Peacock), combines the classes of 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic. Shatner is part of the 2020 group.
Shatner called the honor “fantastic” and showed impressive trash-talking skills when asked, in an interview, about a 1995 WWE appearance in which he monkey-flipped WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler.
“Jerry Lawler was nothing. Nothing! He was a little bird,” boasted Shatner, who inducted Lawler into the hall in 2007.
Asked if he was larger than life, as many WWE superstars appear to be, Shatner at first responded literally. “I’m on a diet to correct that, but it doesn’t work well,” he joked.
He then feigned modesty before upshifting to full-on, tongue-in-cheek bravado – as a hall of famer is entitled. “I am not larger than life. I’m life itself. OK?”
Shatner, known for his spoken-word recitations of popular songs, interpreted WWE performers’ entrance themes when he hosted “Monday Night Raw” in 2010.
He said the energetic vibe at WWE events is similar to a “Star Trek” convention.
“It’s very much the same, the approbation, the joy,” he says. “The enthusiasm the wrestling audience shows toward its favorite people is not dissimilar to the enthusiasm ‘Star Trek’ fans show.”
Other new hall-of-fame honorees include nWo, an abbreviation for wrestling group New World Order (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman), The Bella Twins, Kane, Rob Van Dam, The British Bulldog, JBL. Molly Holly, Eric Bischoff and the Great Khali.
Past inductees in the celebrity wing include William “Refrigerator” Perry, Bob Eucker, Drew Carey, Mike Tyson, Mr. T, Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg, Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The hall of fame ceremony is part of a busy schedule for Shatner, who turned 90 on March 22. “Senior Moment,” which co-stars Jean Smart and features Shatner as a former test pilot who loses his license after drag racing, opened last week, and he has a new album on the way and an upcoming podcast about space and technology.
Shatner, whose other credits include “T.J. Hooker” and “Boston Legal,” along with time as a Priceline spokesman, revealed, tongue in cheek, how things might have gone differently after his original “Star Trek” run, which featured Kirk fighting Spock in “Amok Time,” gladiators in “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and the reptilian Gorn in “Arena.”
“I’m going to admit it now. I missed a career when ‘Star Trek’ was over,” he said. “I should have gone into wrestling as Captain Kirk.”