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RIP Bruno Sammartino


The Reverend
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Blimey, that's a shock. Shouldn't be really as he's 82. Not someone I've seen an awful lot of beyond some of the title switches and the Larry Z feud. A real throwback though. Certainly not something we'll ever see again, a guy that popular with "his people". Had a great look and a great manner. Worked hard and was rewarded for it. Probably lucky in a lot of ways but paid it back in spades.

Terrible commentator!

Edited by tiger_rick
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Now confirmed by WWE - http://www.wwe.com/article/bruno-sammartino-passes-away?sf187243793=1

 

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WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino passed away at age 82.

The story of Bruno Sammartino is the story of the American dream.

During his childhood in the small Italian mountain town of Abruzzi, Italy, Bruno Sammartino heard stories about how the streets in the United States were paved with gold. Though he believed it literally at the time, Sammartino would experience fortune and fame first-hand as the longest-reigning WWE Champion and the most beloved competitor in the history of the squared circle.

Life wasn’t always so glorious for The Italian Superman. Bruno’s brother and sister both passed away at young ages, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces seized their town, but Bruno persevered. He and his mother hid in a mountain called Valla Rocca during the German occupation and eventually joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.

Sammartino began lifting weights as a young man and grew to become one of the strongest men on the planet. After setting a world record in 1959 by bench-pressing 565 pounds, Sammartino caught the eye of Vincent J. McMahon, and became a sports-entertainer.

Bruno became an overnight sensation, connecting with not only fellow Italians, but also Latinos, Greeks and Jews, successfully bridging the gap in America’s melting pot of wrestling fans. His legend continued to grow on May 17, 1963, when Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever WWE Champion in front of nearly 20,000 fans at the old Madison Square Garden.

Bruno held the WWE Championship for nearly eight years — by far the longest reign of all time, and a record for all professional wrestling champions, no matter the organization. A household name all over the country, the beloved hero defended his title in legendary rivalries against WWE Hall of Famers Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George “The Animal” Steele.

In early 1968, Sammartino headlined the first wrestling event at the brand-new Madison Square Garden, just eight days after it opened. The Garden truly was the house that Bruno built, as he sold it out an astounding 187 times. When he lost the title to Ivan Koloff in 1971, grown men in the crowd were seen weeping, but on Dec. 10, 1973, Sammartino became the first two-time WWE Champion and held the title for an additional three-and-a-half years.

On Aug. 9, 1980, Sammartino defeated his former protégé, Larry Zbyszko, inside a steel cage at New York City’s Shea Stadium in front of more than 35,000 people. The heated grudge match broke box-office records for wrestling events, and Bruno retired from the ring the following year.

Bruno returned to WWE in the mid-80s as a broadcaster alongside Mr. McMahon and as a mentor for his son David, who was just beginning his grappling career. Now known as The Living Legend, Bruno also engaged in several rivalries with a generation of WWE’s greatest villains, including “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and The Honky Tonk Man.

The star power and influence of Sammartino was exemplified by the fact that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was the 188th and final time that Sammartino headlined and sold out Madison Square Garden.

WWE extends its condolences to Sammartino’s family, friends and fans.

 

 

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A rare class act in a classless business.

With his life story, he's as good an example of the ideal of the American Dream as you can think of - poor immigrant surviving poverty and Nazi persecution, coming to America as a sickly runt, and within a decade setting weightlifting records and going on to make a fortune, and become a hero to millions. Won't see his like again.

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Ahhhhhhhh fuck. I loved watching old matches with Bruno. I just enjoy the old MSG and shows from that time period full stop. In a world and business that increasingly seems to delight in characters that are shades of grey, I really enjoy going back and seeing Bruno as a proper babyface and a massive deal, especially for those from an Italian background who saw their boy do good. Still unexpected, despite the age. Always took care of himself and sounded fantastic for an octogenarian when I last heard him on Meltzer's radio show, he was still lifting weights at the time!

Also, a massive, massive, massive draw. It's easy to forget because it was pre-Vince and there is less tape, but the bloke was a megastar in a sizeable part of the states for a long time. 

How on earth Superstar Graham is still going and Bruno isn't is one of great philosophical questions of our lifetime. 

Edited by Gus Mears
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Sad news. I never got the whole "bitter" criticism of him. Rather, he seemed to get that label because he dared to have some valid criticism of Vince and his company. In reality, whenever I've heard him in several interviews he was a sweet old man, who just happened to be one of the all-time greats. If you haven't I really recommend tracking down his interviews with the Wrestling Observer. I've listened to them a few times because Bruno's story is a bit mad, coupled with the fact he's a charming presence/storyteller.

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Very sad news. I can't pretend to have watched much of his work but by reputation alone I've always thought of him as one of the greatest ever. That Madison Square Record alone speaks for itself - incredible. RIP Bruno. Hopefully now he got back on terms with WWE they'll give him a proper tribute in the weeks to come.

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Like many, I haven't seen much of his work at all, but obviously know all about his legacy. From what I've heard he was one of the few truly class acts in the business who when he gave you his word, it was a cast iron guarantee.   

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Touching tribute from Meltz there, right up there with Lance Storm's words when Balls Mahoney kicked the bucket.

Really sad news about Bruno, he always looked tremendously fit and well for his age so I thought he'd go on for a good while yet. He was such a class act in any interviews I ever heard him do.

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