Pro wrestling great “The Livng Legend” Bruno Sammartino died on April 18, 2018. He influenced generations of wrestlers and fans during his career and in retirement, and he carried himself with grace even during difficult situations. Here is my open letter to Bruno after hearing of his death.
I start watching wrestling in 1981, so I never saw you in your heyday fighting the likes of Superstar Billy Graham, Larry Zbyszko, and Spiros Arion. My first recollection of you was a house show promo you did for a match against Stan Hansen at the old Boston Garden in either Feburary or March of ’81. It was clear to me even as a kid that you had an aura about you, as if you represented something greater than just a wrestling match.Embed from Getty Images
As a I learned more about your history in the WWWF and WWF by reading the Apter mags, I was excited that I got to see more of you as the early 1980s progressed. You took another tour of duty as a color commentator for the syndicated Saturday morning shows on Channel 56 here in Boston, and then you accompanied your son, David Sammartino, when he debuted.
Little did I know until many years later how unhappy you were to be involved with Continue reading
What a shock to hear from my coworkers today that the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes had died suddenly at age 69.
The first time I saw Rhodes in person was at a WWF show at the old Boston Garden in June 1989, when he substituted for Jake “The Snake” Roberts to wrestle “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Rhodes rolled up DiBiase for the pin and then proceeded to take some of DiBiase’s money and throw it to the crowd at ringside, which resulted in a huge roar from fans. It was a great scene.
The thing about Rhodes is that no matter what gimmick he had — polka dots, anyone? — and no matter who his opponent was, the guy was able to talk his way into fans’ minds and hearts. His promos should be studied by anyone who hopes to succeed in wrestling, because Rhodes understood emotion, how to connect with the audience, and how to sell big matches.
Sure, Rhodes was goofy in his WWF days. I know many people remember one of his early vignettes where he pretended he was a plumber, and got called to a house to unclog a toilet with shit in. “Is it brown? You talkin’ about sshocolate brown?” Rhodes asked the hilariously bad skit.
Rhodes didn’t wrestle at the Boston Garden all that much — three times in the 1980s, to be exact (thanks to The History of WWE website’s archives for the stats). Ironically, the first of those trio of matches was for the debut card of the NWA in the Garden, which was Continue reading
Yes, you could argue about the historical veracity of the WWE’s Hall of Fame. No Lou Thesz. No Jim Londos. No Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
But Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Vince McMahon, Sr.’s driver, James Dudley, have gotten the nod.
Those arguments aside, within the WWE’s own history book, until recently no names were bigger omissions in the hall than Bruno Sammartino and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Sammartino finally got his due in 2013 after Triple H personally interceded to break the deadlock between Bruno and Vince McMahon, Jr.
And now, nearly four years after his death, the WWE will induct Savage.
Sammartino long resisted overtures into the Hall of Fame, and Savage also indicated he was against going in unless Continue reading
I’ve got to hand it to Chris Jericho: He conducted an awesome podcast with WWE exec and multi-time champion Triple H about his early days in wrestling and getting hired by the WWE.Embed from Getty Images
One of my favorite parts of the interview was when Triple H briefly talked about watching pro wrestling on TV in his youth. Triple H is 45 and grew up in southern New Hampshire, so it will be no surprise Continue reading
It’s crazy to think that the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase just turned 60. Talk about a character who is timeless.
DiBiase talked about his classic character’s development with Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly website during a recent podcast. DiBiase said the circumstances that allowed him to create the Million Dollar Man gimmick aren’t around any more.
“I had time to develop my own character because I would watch Continue reading
The past couple of years have seen some long-time grudges being forgiven by the WWE.
Last year, Bruno Sammartino’s entry into the WWE Hall of Fame marked the end of a cold war between the WWWF icon and Vince McMahon. Now, word that the Ultimate Warrior is heading into the Hall of Fame also strikes me as reconcilliatory.
Warrior was certainly a unique character even by wrestling standards, both in the ring and outside. He was a limited worker, and had a promo style that Continue reading
Anyone who’s an inside fan of the WWE or wrestling in general will enjoy the interview that Triple H recently did with the Grantland website. He talks openly about behind-the-scene doings and his relationship with father-in-law Vince McMahon.
There are a few points in which he references the nostalgia of the 1980s WWF scene, or even earlier WWWF memories, including the following: Continue reading
So, this weekend, in the shadow of WrestleMania 29, two of the biggest omissions in the WWE Hall of Fame will be corrected.
Madison Square Garden has lost its luster as the “Mecca of professional wrestling,” as Gorilla Monsoon used to call it, but it is appropriate that Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund — each of whom headlined dozens of cards at the arena during their tenures as WWF Heavyweight Champion — will get their due tonight at MSG during the Hall of Fame induction.
As I’ve written many times on this blog, Continue reading
It was 25 years ago today in 1988 that the WWF Heavyweight Title tournament took place at WrestleMania IV.
The tournament came about after the infamous title switch during which Andre the Giant pinned Hulk Hogan and then attempted to bequeath the belt to the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Then-WWF President Jack Tunney ruled that while Andre had indeed won the title, he could not hand it over to someone else, and thus had vacated the belt. Tunney ordered the champion to be determined at Mania IV.
These days, title tournaments are commonplace, but in 1988 in the WWF, there had not been a championship tourney Continue reading
The Camel Clutch Blog recently posted a great interview with Bruno Sammartino about his upcoming induction into the WWE Hall of Fame this year at Madison Square Garden as part of WrestleMania XXIX.
Among the topics discussed was the fact that Bob Backlund will also go into the Hall of Fame on the same night, which for fans of the WWWF and WWF in the 1970s and ’80s, is a huge double bill. Continue reading