To say this induction is long over due would be a vast understatement.
“The Living Legend” is a bonafide living legend in the pro wrestling industry. He is a cornerstone of WWE and the longest reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion in company history.
Sammartino defeated “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers for the then-WWWF World Championship in under a minute inside the hallowed Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 17, 1963. Sammartino would then go on to hold that same Championship for nearly seven and a half years uninterrupted.
“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff stopped the record-breaking reign on January 18, 1971.
Sammartino would regain the Championship a second time when he defeated Stan “The Man” Stasiak on December 10, 1973. This second reign would last over three years before losing the Title to “Superstar” Billy Graham on April 30, 1977.
After that second reign Sammartino would remain with the WWF for many years. He had a legendary feud with his student Larry Zbyzsko that led to a blow off inside a steel cage match in Shea Stadium in 1980.
During his time in WWE he went on to sell out Madison Square Garden a staggering 187 times.
He then transitioned into wrestling less and became work as a color commentator. He eventually left the WWF for good in 1988, fed up with Vince McMahon and the way he changed the WWF and the wrestling business in general.
This led to severe bad blood between Sammartino and the WWF in general. While Sammartino praised legit wrestlers like Kurt Angle and made appearances for other wrestling organizations, he refused to have any part of the modern WWE.
The induction of Sammartino has been a personal mission of Triple H, one of WWE top executives these days. He personally reached out to Sammartino numerous times and showed him how WWE has changed for the better.
It is without saying that is a monumental and far, far overdue induction into the Hall. Sammartino finally getting induction gives the WWE Hall some semblance of credibility it was missing. He is easily one of WWE’s biggest stars of all (arguably alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan and John Cena) and this is a welcome inclusion.
With Sammartino added to this year’s Class, it easily makes for the strongest Class in WWE Hall of Fame history. He now joins fellow former WWE Champions Bob Backlund and Mick Foley and former WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus as part of the 2013 Class.
No inductor has been announced for Sammartino yet, but it is very likely that Triple H will do the honors himself.
This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be on Saturday, April 6, in New York, New York inside the famed Madison Square Garden, the place that Sammartino built, the night before WrestleMania XXIX.