Bruno Sammartino was often referred to as a “Living Legend” throughout his illustrious career. Sammartino was the Hulk Hogan of the 70′s, the WWE’s top dog. He held the WWE heavyweight championship thoughout a majority of the seventies. Back then, there was only one championship belt.
Sammartino turned to commentary with Vince McMahon Jr. in the early eighties for a couple of years. Unfortunately, he and McMahon could not agree on his role with the company, and Bruno left mad. He still dislikes Vince McMahon and refers to him as “the promoter who used to do steroids himself“.
In the above clip, Sammartino is interviewed live at Madison Square Garden by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The video quality sucks but the audio is worth a listen as Piper calls Sammartino a WOP – a racial term used against Italians meaning With Out Papers. I bet nobody could use that word today. Anyway, it is a pretty entertaining clip and you could tell that Bruno would not have fit well in today’s “attitude” and storyline world of wrestling.
Here are 5 matches I would love to have seen against todays top guys:
Bruno Sammartino vs Kurt Angle. This would be like the battle of Pittsburgh. Both of these guys were superior amateurs and it would truly be a good wrestling match without the need for todays gimmicks.
Bruno Sammartino vs Jeff Hardy. Can you imagine Sammartino trying to sell the “Twist of Fate”? McMahon would probably make hardy jump off the roof or something crazy to get a clean pin, but what a neat contrast of styles.
Bruno Sammartino vs Santino Marella. This would be entertaining only if Santino had the microphone for a few minutes before or after the match. The Italians used in wrestling are usually only one per federation when branded as an Italian.
Bruno Sammartino vs John Cena. I would love this. Cena is always acting respectful to the veterans and really does know who to thank for his successes. What would prevail? Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” or Sammartino’s “You Can’t Understand Me”.
Bruno Sammartino vs The Big Show. Somehow the writers would find a way for Bruno to win this one. He would match power even though he is a foot and a half shorter than show. Really, Bruno is only slightly taller than Rey Mysterio.
Bruno Sammartino was the guy. Wrestling in the 1970′s was so much different than today. There were hardly any wrestlers jumping off of the top rope, there were very small storylines, and the blue collar wrestler was the champ. It should also be noted that there were not nearly as many wrestlers from this particular era on steroids. One bulging example was Superstar Billy Graham. In the last 10 years, 104 wrestlers have died before the age of 50, meaning they competed in the eighties, nineties or in the last few years. Sammartino is still very vocal about the use of steroids in this sport and has appeared on Larry King, Phil Donahue, and other talk shows pointing the finger at one guy — Vince McMahon.