So finally, WWE and Bruno Sammartino have come to a truce and Sammartino will finally accept the honor of being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as the headliner. For years Bruno Sammartino has turned down the idea of being inducted into the Hall of Fame because he didn't like the direction the product had taken during the attitude era.
Bruno has now seen that WWE has made great strides to clean up their brand, and apparently he liked what he saw enough to finally take this honor....well that or WWE paid him big money to finally accept the spot, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that having your longest reing champion OF ALL TIME in the Hall of Fame bring some legitimacy to the WWE's most important marketing tool.
By the time that I was born, the sun had basically set on Bruno Sammartino's career, so a lot of what I learned about him came from books, DVDs, and YouTube. The man gets mad props for selling out Madison Square Garden 187 times, and he also wrestled some of the greatest stars of all time in "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, Gorilla Monsoon, "Superstar" Billy Graham, Lou Thez, and he also had a big time feud with his protege Larry Zybysko that sold out Shea Stadium on January 22, 1980. Bruno Sammartino definitely helped make Vince McMahon Sr.'s WWWF the place to be when it came to the territory era of pro wrestling. Now he gets to accept the induction in the same place where crowds used to cheer his name, the same place where he defended his World Title, and the same place he sold out those 187 times.
Bruno Sammartino is also important to someone like me who is a native Pitts-burgher where Sammartino has resided since moving here from Italy as a teenager. He was one of the first Pittsburgh wrestling heroes long before Kurt Angle came along. Bruno Sammartino was very important to the Pittsburgh territory in the 60s and 70s that was known as "Studio Wrestling". He not only wrestled in the Civic Area, but he also did shows at smaller venues such as the Palisades in McKeesport a place that my kids and I sometimes walk past when I am taking them to the playground, and in the early 2000s was still home to independent wrestling shows.
I respect Bruno for sticking by his guns and standing up for what he believed in when turning down induction multiple times before, but I respect him even more for accepting his proper induction. While the WWE Hall of Fame may be home to guys like Koko B. Ware and Johnny Rodz, let's also look at how it is home to Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Roddy Piper, and now Bruno Sammartino. Bruno did the right thing for all of his fans, and it's a shame that he wasn't able to be inducted way sooner. The guy is what they would call in the NFL a "first ballot" Hall of Famer. In combine reigns he held the title for 4,040 days. That kind of title run would be unheard of in this era.
In the end, when Sammartino finally makes his acceptance speech it will put an end to all the animosity between him and WWE. It can also give people one less thing to whine about when it comes to who is or isn't in the WWE Hall of Fame. I hope that we will get a DVD about his career, so that fans both old and new can hear his story of how an immigrant from Italy picked up himself by his bootstraps to become one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. This induction has been a very long time coming for him, and I hope that the moments is special for him and all those fans who have been waiting to witness it. I think this wait makes this moment that much better for both him and the WWE.
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