Sammartino vs. Piper: The angle began at MSG, but the feud lit up Boston

In a prior post I remembered how Piper’s Pit occasionally hit the road on house shows as an added attraction.

WWF legend Bruno Sammartino appeared on two of these Piper’s Pits: one at the Boston Garden and a far more notorious one in Madison Square Garden.

The one in Boston, which took place on November 9, 1985, (thank you History of the WWE) actually followed up the big angle that occurred in the New York City version, where Piper called Sammartino a “stupid wop” and had a pull-apart brawl with Bruno.

Ironically, their singles feud played out in Boston, not New York, as Piper and Bruno didn’t fight in the Big Apple. “[Piper] never had a rivalry with Sammartino in MSG – their big program was in Boston,” the Wrestling Observer noted in its November 23, 2009 issue. Sammartino and Paul Orndorff feuded with Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton at the Philadelphia Spectrum in the summer and fall of 1985, however.

Piper and Sammartino had their first one-on-one grudge match in Boston on December 7, 1985, a match I was in attendance for. The ovation for Bruno was thunderous, and the two fought to a quick disqualification after Orton interfered.

A rematch of sorts in January 1986 saw Piper and Orton beat Sammartino and Orndorff by countout. The feud culminated on February 8, 1986, when Bruno bloodied and beat Piper in a steel cage match. According to records I saved of old newspaper clippings, attendance at the Boston Garden that night was 16,180, one of the largest wrestling crowds ever in the old arena. The only bigger Boston Garden crowd I can find records for is for a February 1987 card that jammed 16,441 into the building – to see Sammartino battle Randy Savage.

And to tie things together nicely, the February 1986 show is more famous as the night Savage defeated Tito Santana to become Intercontinental Champion, a title he still held when he fought Bruno a year later.


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  3. ricemillbill

    This is not entirely accurate. Piper and Sammartino did meet at MSG, but before the bout could get started, Piper attacked Sammartino outside the ring. Bedlam ensued and those of us in attendance felt cheated…. Luckily, that same night Andre had a match against multiple oppenents, so the evening wasn’t a complete waste…

    • bostongardenbalcony

      Hmmm, do you definitely remember that match at Madison Square Garden? Everything I’ve ever read or heard about the feud noted that the two never ended up wrestling at MSG despite the angle happening there. I double-checked the History of WWE website, which has probably the best rundown of MSG results I’ve seen, and there’s no match between the two listed in the 1980s at MSG:

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  9. Eric

    You know I have had Bruno on my radio show a ton of times. He really hated Piper, specifically Piper calling him a WOP. He took it really personal and still holds a grudge on it.

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