The professional wrestling world is mourning the loss of one of the all-time greatest in-ring performers, Bruno Sammartino, who died at age 82.
Sammartino is widely recognized as the longest-reigning WWE champion in history and one of wrestling’s most iconic stars.
WWE released the following statement about the passing of Sammartino.
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 the Latino, Greek and Jewish communities, 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.
Enzo Amore Kicked Out of Survivor Series
Former WWE superstar Enzo Amore made his presence known at WWE Survivor Series, but not in a good way, as he caused such a commotion that he was promptly kicked out, and ultimately banned from the arena during Sunday’s show.
— LEE SHENKER (@TuftsGuy) November 19, 2018
— First Lady Of PWG (@carrie_palacios) November 19, 2018
Shawn Michaels Talks Crown Jewel, In Ring Future
WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels was a recent guest on E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness and discussed a number of topics including his work down at NXT with the younger superstars and his recent in-ring return at Crown Jewel.
“I’m glad to say that I did it, but I don’t want to try it again.” Michaels said regarding his match earlier this month.
Michaels also refuted the idea that he did it for the payday.
“I didn’t want to be put in that position because I’m good with the performances that I’ve had at WrestleMania. I wanted to end those the way that I ended them” Micheals said, saying that all 4 men in a tag match was like KISS and the Rolling Stones playing their greatest hits.
Michaels also said that he is happy he returned, but does not want to get back in the ring again.
“Fighting With My Family” Movie Trailer Released
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions’s ‘Fighting With My Family’, produced in conjunction with WWE Studios and Film 4, which is based on the life of the Knight family, including WWE’s Paige, has finally dropped a trailer.
According to the synopsis:
“Based on a true story, FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY follows reformed gangster Ricky, wife Julia, daughter Paige and son Zak as they make a living wrestling together in tiny venues. When Paige and Zak get the opportunity to try out for WWE, the family grabs a once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn their wildest dreams into a dazzling future. However, brother and sister quickly discover that to become superstars, both their talent and their relationship will be put to the test.”
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