Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bruno Sammartino

He is the man Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold and The Rock could only strive to be. When you talk about legends at the top of that list is Bruno Sammartino. No doubt the greatest wrestler of all time. Bruno Sammartino was born on October 6th 1935 in Pizzoferrato, Italy the youngest of 7 kids. He had four older siblings pass away during his time in Italy. During the later stages of World War II Bruno's family hid from German soldiers in the mountains. His mother would sneak into German occupied
towns and where she was once caught and shot in the shoulder. In 1951 he moved to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh, PA. He was bullied in school because of his poor english so he began lifting weights to get stronger and working out with the University of Pittsburgh wrestling team while still in highschool. He became known for performing strongman stunts until a carny wrestling promoter recruited him to wrestle a Organgutan. During a match Bruno became frustrated by the injuries he was sustaining so he punched the ape getting DQ'ed. In 1959 he began doing studio wrestling for a Pittsburgh promotion that aired on WIIC Channel 11 and quicky became popular. In 1966 Bruno bought the promotion which also had Gorilla Monsoon, Bill Watts, George Steel, Bobo Brazil Johnny Valiant and The Crusher. In 1971 he sold the promotion and began booking wrestling events for out of state promoters until 1974 when Vince McMahon Sr's WWWF (WWE) purchased the Pittsburgh territory. Within 6 months from debuting in WWWF, Bruno was headling Madison Square Garden teaming with Antonino Rocca. He left WWWF a year later but would later return when the promotion he jumped to folded. Due to not being booked and low pay He once again told Vince that he was leaving causing the athletic commission to suspend him due to him missing a match in Baltimore that he didnt even know he had. He then found out he was booked in Chicago that same night. Vince Sr had set him up by double booking him as a way to punish him. Promoter's Toots Mondt and Vince Sr cleared it up with Sammartino by paying his fine. Bruno then took off to Canada to wrestle in Toronto where he won his 1st championship, the NWA International Tag Team Championship. In Febuary 1961 Bruno wrestled a match against Chick Garibaldi. During the match
Bruno bodyslammed Chick and noticed his eyes roll to the back of his head. By the time the refree checked on him he was already dead in the ring of a heart attack. This still haunts Bruno to this day. Vince Sr called Bruno several times begging him to return after a few weeks he was promised a shot at Buddy Rogers' WWWF World Heavyweight Championship. He agreed and on May 17th, 1973, Bruno beat Rogers for the championship in just 48 seconds. Bruno would hold on to the title for 7 year's, 8 months and 1 day. Still to this day he is the longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion in history. In 1965 he was picked by the NWA to defeat Lou Thesz, which would of made him the 1st and only wrestler to hold both the NWA and WWWF World Heavyweighg Titles at the same time. Bruno was already doing to many bookings and knew that taking on NWA along with WWWF bookings would have him wrestling for several months without any time off so he turned them down. In September of 1965, Bruno went into a restaraunt in Times Square. When he came out he found his car window shattered and his suitcase containing the title missing The title, which was valued at $10,000 was uninsured but was quickly replaced by WWWF. On Ivan Koloff. After the pin the crowd stayed completely quiet sunned. The announcer came into the ring with the belt but didnt give it to Ivan. Ivan left the ring while Bruno stayed in the ring to distract the fans away from him. As Bruno left people began crying. In 1972 he left WWE again and went to Los Angeles, CA where he won a battle 22 man battle royal that was named the 1st ever Pro Wrestling Illustrated .Match Of The Year. In 1973 Vince Sr called him up again wanting him to return. At 1st Bruno refused but he later agreed after being promised a percentage of all gates and a decreased work load. On December 10, 1973, Bruno captured the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship for the 2nd time by beating Stan Stasiak. He remained champion for 3 year's, 4 months and 20 days. His 1976 match with Stan
Hansen was named the 1976 PWI Match Of The Year. His 2nd title reign was only sopposed to last a year but every year WWWF kept offering him bigger payoff's to stay on. In early 1977, after suffering a broken neck and several other injuries he informed Vince Sr. that he was done with his 2nd reign. On April 30th 1977 he lost the title to 'Superstar' Billy Graham in a controversial ending. Graham had both feet on the ropes while pinning Bruno. After losing the title he traveled the world wrestling, even wrestling then NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race to a 1 hour draw. He would later return to the WWWF, now called the WWF, where he had a huge fued with his student Larry Zbyszko in late 1980's. He retired from wrestling full time in 1981 but later returned to WWF to help launch the career of his son David Sammartino. David relized that he was being used by Vince Sr to get his father to wrestle and draw huge crowd. He became angry and quit WWF. Bruno kept wrestling in hopes of getting Vince Sr to take David back. Bruno then found out that Vince Sr cheated him on the gate percentages that he was promised so he filed a lawsuit. Vince Sr died and Vince McMahon Jr took over WWF and settled out of court. The settlement included Bruno doing commentary for WWF. He was once again brought out of retirement in 1985 in hopes of David getting a push. Bruno and David fueded with Brutus Beefcake and in the WrestleMania 2 battle royal. His last fued was in the summer of 1985 when Bruno fueded with The Honkey Tonk Man. IN Bruno's final WWF match he teamed with Hulk Hogan to defeat King Kong Bundy & One Man Gang. He continued doing commentary for WWE until March of 1988 when he left to do commentary for the UWF as they attempted to go national and compete with WWF and NWA. In July of 2004,
Bruno met with Vince McMahon Jr in Pittsburgh about doing a WWE released dvd about him and havin him do commentary for WWE 24/7. Bruno declined telling Vince he didnt want to be a part of the current product. Vince invited him to RAW later that night but Bruno declined because he didnt want to be seen endorsing WWE after learning the main event was going to be Chris Benoit vs Triple H. He told Triple H that he would of stayed if Benoit would of been wrestling Kurt Angle. During his career Bruno had his share of backstage incidents In the 1960's he attacked PA Athethic Commissioner Joe Cimino after Cimino critisized the finish of a match he had in McKeesport, PA. Also he was in a infamous fight with a pro football player backstage. Bruno saw 6 men backstage in a restricted area and they would get in trouble if security spotted them. Pittsburgh Steeler Rooster Fleming extended his hand. When Bruno shook it, Rooster squeezed his hand and called him a washed up old man. Bruno said he isnt to washed up to take care of him Rooster swung at him, Bruno blocked it and punched Rooster knocking him out cold. The other 5 men jumped on Bruno. The Iron Shiek came out of the showers, hearing the comotion and jumped in helping Bruno clean house. While at the arena for his 2004 meeting with Vince, Bruno claims that Ric Flair, who insulted Bruno's wrestling ablity in his book, saw Bruno coming down the hall so he quickly turned and rushed away. Flair claims that Bruno refused to shake his hand. From being the longest champion in history, holding up Vince Sr for money, beating up pro football players, and scaring away the Nature Boy, Bruno has had a career that todays top star's can only dream about.

1 comment:

  1. Wow.. the writing of these articles started to deteriorate immediately and got worse as the page went along. I have to say, so far, this piece on Bruno Sammartino is so poorly written, I have no idea what the author was saying at times as he left out key pieces of information making it difficult to understand. It's not just the grammar that's bad, it's the overall presentation of information that ruined the reading experience. Sorry!