The WWE Hall of Fame has already announced the entry of Mick Foley, Bob Backlund and Trish Stratus into this year's inductee class. ESPN reported on Feb. 4 that another name was added, and it is the biggest name of them all. Bruno Sammartino is joining the WWE Hall of Fame.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Gardens is the biggest thing in my life,” Sammartino said in an exclusive interview for ESPN Playbook. “Anytime that people feel that you accomplished enough to enter into a Hall of Fame, of course this is a tremendous, tremendous thrill for me. I had a lot of my success due to appearing at the Garden. I wrestled there over 200 times, it’s where I won the title, and it’s where I picked up 630-plus pounds of Haystacks Calhoun.”
Before John Cena, Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan, there was Bruno Sammartino. The Irish-American wrestler is easily the best professional wrestler of all-time, at least prior to the modern era. He only held the WWF title twice, but those two title reigns lasted over 11 years.
CM Punk held his title for over 400 days, the most since Hulk Hogan in the '80s. Even Hulk Hogan, the biggest name of the modern era of professional wrestling, held the title for five years less than Bruno Sammartino. Hogan held the title six times.
There wasn't a bigger star in wrestling. Sammartino had a huge fan base and was the most popular wrestler in the world for over a decade. When he lost his last world championship to Superstar Billy Graham, he said the entire arena was hushed and shocked. He said he feared for Graham's life.
Wrestling was different in that era.
There should never be a WWE Hall of Fame that does not include Bruno Sammartino. Thankfully, Triple H was able to meet with the legend and iron out the issues that have stood between him and Vince McMahon for over a decade.
“From a legitimacy standpoint, it’s important for us to get Bruno in,” Triple H said. “He’s one of the biggest names there has ever been in the business. So for us to not have him in there, for the legitimacy of the whole thing, it was a major issue. For me, the more important thing was that nobody deserves to be recognized for being a big star and paving the way for the stars of today more than Bruno. Everything that we have today in the business, Bruno was a cornerstone of that foundation. He truly is a living legend."
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