WWE is bringing their annual spectacular Wrestlemania 29 to the New York and New Jersey area with a week of festivities during early April culminating in the Wrestlemania 29 show itself at MetLife Stadium on April 7th, but the night before the company will honor it’s legendary figures in the WWE Hall of Fame 2013 Ceremony being held at the world famous Madison Square Garden.
This year’s induction class is one of the strongest in the company’s history with former WWE Champions Bob Backlund and Mick Foley as well as former WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus being inducted. The biggest and most surprising name to get the nod this year is the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time, Bruno Sammartino who since the 1980’s was a vocal opponent against anything and everything WWE.
Sammartino’s turn against WWE included his opposition to the steroid and performance enhancing drug scandals that haunted the company in the 90’s and became an issue again in the 2000’s. As WWE and the pro wrestling industry changed and progressed with wellness programs and new regulation, it seems Sammartino’s perspective changed as well.
In an interview published last week online through WrestlingINC, Sammartino explains how those changes in WWE and his dealings with WWE Vice President of Talent Relations Triple H all helped agree to finally accpet his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Wrestling INC: It seems like you were ahead of the curve on that issue. After you spoke out about a lot of these things, you started seeing these tragedies happen. Wrestling finally did change for the better and it's a much healthier sport and a much healthier business. When did you realize that changes were being made for the better?
Bruno Sammartino: Well, I hadn't followed it for many, many years. As you said, I had been very outspoken about all the different things that had been bothersome for me. Then I found out after a good period of time -- probably close to 2 years -- that nobody seemed to care. State Athletic Commissions or any other organization or anyone -- nobody seemed to care to want to take any steps to bring any changes.
So, I finally thought 'I gave it my best shot, it didn't do anything. So, it's time for me to go on for the rest of my life.' So, I was OK with that and I moved on. So, I never followed it anymore and I didn't watch it anymore.
Then, Triple H contacted me and he introduced himself -- not that I didn't know who he was I certainly knew his name because he was one of the superstars in wrestling. But he introduced himself and he seemed very nice on the phone. He started telling me that he more or less wanted to get introduced to me so we could discuss the situation. He said that he understood my feelings in the past, but he wanted to assure me that steps had been taken and changes had been made and they were continuing to make more changes.
It was all sounding good to me but I guess I was still a little skeptical even though he came across very straight-forward and very honest and sincere about everything he was saying. Then, I started watching it and noticing that these guys were no longer beefed up like they had been. They looked like athletes but they didn't look like the Hulk Hogans, the Billy Grahams, The Ultimate Warriors, the British Bulldogs -- you know, all those guys. There were many, many other but I'm just naming a few. But, there were so many that it was very, very obvious what they were doing.
Besides wrestling, in my younger years, I also competed in Olympic lifting and power lifting. I knew a little bit about training and what it took to transform your body into something impressive looking. It takes a lot of years, a lot of hard work and a lot of discipline. When you see people transform themselves in a matter of months, it's very obvious what's going on.
Read the entire interview at the following link: http://www.WrestlingInc.com/wi/news/2013/0225/560668/bruno-sammartino-talks-his-last-meeting-with-vince/#ixzz2MzQR9f7Y
Pro Wrestling Examiner's Perspective:
Sammartino being back in the WWE fold just feels right. He helped established the company before it became a global sensation and is one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time. It's very insightful to hear Sammartino elaborate his stance against PEDs in this interview, which is a must-read if your going to attend the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony at MSG on April 6th. Also check out this video posted with this article with Sammartino along with Triple H and WWE medical official Dr. Mulroon.