Bruno Sammartino’s audio interviews with Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on the Wrestling Observer website are great, and Sammartino’s most recent discussion this week brought up a tidbit of Boston wrestling history that I did not know about.
Back in 1985, Sammartino had returned to the WWF as color commentator with Vince McMahon for Championship Wrestling, and Bruno also seconded his son, David, at the first WrestleMania. Later that year, with David’s career not exactly going places, McMahon approached Sammartino, he recalled during the Observer interview.
The crowds in Boston were down, so McMahon asked Sammartino to step out of retirement to wrestle on a show or two at the old Boston Garden.
“I said, ‘No Vince. I’m here to do color commentating, I’m not going to put on the tights,’ ” Sammartino said.
Word got back to David that if Bruno got in the ring, it might boost David’s career, and David noted to his father that it could be a big career break (which in hindsight it was not).
So Sammartino agreed to the matches, even though by his own words, he was embarrassed to be out there because he didn’t feel he was in good enough shape any more to wrestle at age 48 or 49. “I’m an old guy, I’m all broken down, I have no business in the ring,” he told Alvarez.
This is what led to Sammartino’s feud in Boston with Rowdy Roddy Piper, which I’ve previously written about. McMahon’s hunch was right: Sammartino’s return did increase business in Boston.
But he didn’t enjoy his matches or his color commentating days. “This was a very, very unhappy time for me because I didn’t want no part of it,” he said. “I despised it” because he saw the changes coming to the wrestling business in the 1980s and didn’t like it.
Wow, Sammartino does not mince words.