As announced on Raw Monday, the longest-reigning WWE Champion of all time, Bruno Sammartino, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania 29 at Madison Square Garden. Jim Ross offered his thoughts via Jrsbarbq.com on the “Living Legend” taking his place in the Hall.
Ross wrote, “The Bruno Sammartino video package, as I tweeted earlier in the day @JRsBBQ, I expected to be heavy duty and it was. Bruno’s career IE body of work will never be replicated in today’s marketplace within the genre. An eight YEAR run ON TOP in the #1 territory in the world is unfathomable if one gives that accomplishment any serious, intelligent thought. Students of the game ‘get it’ while squeaky wheel, attention seeking, Keyboard Warriors simply want to be defiant while refusing to acknowledge the career of a man like Bruno. Instead of celebrating a legit legend getting a WWE HOF nod after years of waiting by his long suffering fans and who, just recently, overcame philosophical differences with WWE, many who follow me on Twitter used Bruno’s induction announcement as another vehicle to drive ad nauseam the Macho Man HOF questions of the day.
“I realize that there is a generation gap as it relates to many fans between Bruno and Savage, even though their careers actually overlapped, but these are two separate entities with two, separate agendas. Older fans and fans especially those who had family growing up in the Northeast United States revere Bruno who was considered a “Sports God” to his fans. Bruno was just as big a celebrity as any professional athlete in the NE on any team during the Italian strongman’s heyday….and still is to an entire generation of fans.
“I can simply tell you that when I got in the business in 1974 that the goal of virtually every wrestler that I knew was to get booked in WWWF aka WWE and if said wrestler was a villain the ONLY goal was to get your ‘run’ with Bruno which guaranteed that one would earn big money. A few months run with Sammartino in WWWF would be more money than most wrestlers would make in a year of territory wrestling.
“I recall how happy General Scandar Akbar was to get the WWWF call and leave the Oklahoma territory on occasion to go to the WWWF TV’s and destroy some willing souls as Ak prepared for his title challenge against the Living Legend. Unfortunately, Bruno was severely injured against Stan Hansen and the Bruno vs. Akbar rivalry never happened.
“Cowboy Bill Watts career as a legit main eventer was validated by Watts tag teaming with Bruno in the WWWF and Watts subsequent turn on his partner which resulted in Cowboy Bill Watts headlining Madison Square Garden vs. Bruno in only Bill’s third year in the business. Bruno liked Bill and they sold out MSG three times versus each other in the 60’s which was unheard of at the time as usually a talent only got 1-2 shots vs Bruno in the Garden.
“It cannot be overstated how big it truly is for Bruno Sammartino to be inducted into the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame which makes this class, even if he was going in solo, the best WWE HOF class ever in my humble opinion and that includes my own class in 2007. I pray for good health so that I can join my Pittsburgh wife and attend the most special of nights, April 6, 2013 when the Steel City’s own Bruno Sammartino once again sells out MSG but this time, I’m assuming, he will go on last which is something that the main eventers never did back in the day at MSG.
“The potential projects that Bruno can be involved with in the future with WWE are virtually limitless and his mere presence adds massive credibility to what ever project is being marketed. I hope that I get to work with the Living Legend on something in the future. It would be a great honor, I assure you, for this fan who grew up not seeing Bruno wrestle but instead by reading the monthly, pro wrestling magazines which allowed my imagination to carry me from Westville, Oklahoma to far away arenas thanks to the photos that were utilized and the intriguing copy that accompanied the memorable photos. Bruno Sammartino was to pro wrestling what John Wayne was to western movies…the ultimate hero who always overcame the odds by doing things the old school way.”