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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Deserving of the Hall of Fame!
September 7, 2006 by Steven Matthews


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He's probably the most under-appreciated wrestler to ever walk into a ring. Bruno Sammartino had come to America looking for work at the age of 15. Who knew that this young construction worker would become one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time"

In 1959, Sammartino entered professional wrestling and only four years later, he captured, quite arguably the biggest prize in the wrestling business, the WWWF Championship. He defeated Buddy Rogers with a Bearhug in abut 47 seconds to capture the belt. This would go down as one of the greatest championship reigns in wrestling history, lasting eight straight years. In January of 1971, Ivan Koloff took the championship from Sammartino; however, Sammartino was not out of the title picture at all. After a long, intense 76 minute bout with Pedro Morales at New York's Shea Stadium about three months later, Sammartino defeated Stan Stasiak to win the WWWF Championship again. This also marked the first time that someone had held the championship on two separate occasions. Sammartino then had many brutal, classic bouts, many at Madison Square Garden. He rekindled his feud with Ivan Koloff, this time winning two battles, including a steel cage match in front of 30,000 plus at MSG. Then, Sammartino defeated Billy Graham after a Graham sustained a serious amount of lacerations from the champion. It was indeed Billy Graham that would be Sammartino's biggest adversary. As a matter of fact, Graham ended Sammartino's second reign as WWF Champion on May 1, 1977, using the feet on the ropes for leverage. After this happened, Sammartino began to tone down his schedule.

In 1984, wrestling promoters began to profile Bruno Sammartino as the "living legend." This was truly the title of a man who had demonstrated incredible wrestling features. However, after well over twenty years in the business, Bruno began to really cut down on the number of matches that he would have. Sammartino never left the ringside area completely, managing his son, David Sammartino. However, towards the late stages of 1985, Sammartino began another run in the company that lasted through the middle of 1986, which included a spot in the WrestleMania II Battle Royal. In 1986, Bruno Sammartino retired, and entered the unfamiliar world of color commentary.

The hidden truth that maybe some wrestling fans don't know is indeed how much hatred there is between Bruno Sammartino and Vince McMahon. The story goes like this. David Sammartino wanted to be a wrestler and Vince McMahon gave his a job and still went after Bruno, to be a color commentator and a wrestler, again. Bruno went along with it and after a certain amount of time, David quit and Bruno was stuck in the WWF. The only reason Bruno stayed, was to maybe save the career of his son. However, Bruno quit the WWF, too embarrassed with the gimmicks at that time. Also, Bruno was very critical of the topic of steroids and drugs in wrestling, which made a lot of enemies. Bruno was a clean cut athlete and the closest drugs came to the Sammartino name came in the form of his son, who fell into the trap.

Today, we watch professional wrestling as sports entertainment, and we are "entertained" by people like Umaga, The Boogeyman, The Spirit Squad, Eugene, Vito and other gimmicks. We also see buffed up big guys, the Hulk Hogans, the Batistas and the Chris Masters, among others who are almost definitely on steroids. When Bruno Sammartino proudly professed himself as a wrestler, tasteless gimmicks and steroids weren't a huge deal, and shouldn't have been. Look at the aforementioned gimmicks and the drug issues. This is exactly why Bruno Sammartino left Vince McMahon. However, hopefully, Bruno will set aside his differences with Vince McMahon for at least one day and take his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.

By Steven Matthews


Andrew Betts wrote:
I 100% agree Bruno Should be in the hall of fame but i understand why he wants nothing to do with vince and his bunch but i do hope Bruno will put his personal feelings aside for the sake of getting the honor he deserves if Bret Hart can do it maybe Bruno can but in any case Bruno is The "Living Legend"
Joe from CA wrote:
Nice write-up! Bruno was one of the strongest men to ever set foot in a ring. His legacy speaks for himself. However I disagree with your conclusion. Bruno is a principled man who will not bend or compromise his sense of right and wrong to gain entrance in the WWE HOF. His differences with Mr. McMahon aren't only for the reasons you mentioned but also the direction that the WWE has taken concerning pro wrestling. According to his website he refuses to speak in any of the WWE DVDs compiled about his career. I respect the man's decision and don't expect him to become a living member of the WWE HOF. I hope Mr. McMahon gives a terrific speech about Bruno on his behalf when that fateful day comes.
[I didn't Sign my Name] wrote:
Bruno Sammartino has been offered a spot in the WWE HOF multiple times. He has turned them down every time and wants nothing to do with WWE or Vince McMahon, because of the way there relationship on a bad note.
Jimmy Nance wrote:
Bruno Sammartino definitely deserves to be inducted, whether he appears to accept the honor or not. He was one of a kind; and should be inducted while he is still alive. Vince should do whatever it takes to make it so.
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