Happy birthday to all-time WWF great Bruno Sammartino, who turns 75 on October 6.
Those of us who grew up on 1980s WWF pro wrestling didn’t get to enjoy Sammartino in his prime, but I still have many memories of “The Living Legend,” including:
- His feud with Rowdy Roddy Piper that started with a live house show Piper’s Pit in Madison Square Garden, but turned out to be a huge hit in the Boston Garden in late 1985 and early 1986.
- His matches and angles with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, which occurred in the Northeast cities after Savage “injured” Ricky Steamboat’s throat, but before Steamboat and Savage had their classic match at WrestleMania III. I remember one angle on Superstars of Wrestling during which Savage joked about injuring Steamboat, and Bruno yelled at him, “You think that’s funny, you scum!”
- Sammartino’s fairly horrendous color commentary in the mid-’80s with Vince McMahon during the WWF’s Saturday morning squash matches (although it sure sounds like Bruno wishes he didn’t have this job in hindsight).
Bruno wrestled frequently at the old Boston Garden in 1980 and 1981 before he retired, including matches with Ken Patera, Larry Zbyszko, Stan Hansen, and Killer Khan. He came back occasionally for big matches in Boston, the most noted being his steel cage match with Piper, which capped off their feud in February 1986. Having seen Sammartino fight Piper live at the Garden in an earlier encounter, I can tell you Bruno got a thunderous ovation even at that point in his career, so I know old-school wrestling fans in Boston admire him.
What a shame (maybe a crock) that McMahon hasn’t inducted Sammartino into the WWE Hall of Fame. Sammartino, regardless of whether he chooses to accept the honor, should be in the Hall of Fame, and his absense makes the whole thing seem like a charade.