In an announcement that sent shockwaves through the wrestling world, “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino finally came to terms with WWE and has accepted an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2013. This is something that, just a year or so ago, fans all over the world would have deemed impossible. Bruno has had a long-standing rivalry with Vince McMahon and his company since leaving in the early 80’s, and has vehemently opposed nearly everything involved with the world’s #1 wrestling promotion. So, when it was finally announced that Bruno, after rejecting several invitations into the Hall, finally joined, it was major news in the wrestling world, and for a very good reason.
Let me explain something here. You may or may not know this, but there’s more to the Bruno Sammartino story than just what “Da Brune” has to say. While he certainly has some good points and can validate them, he’s not totally innocent in this thing. There’s a little bit of information that many fans seem to either a) don’t know about, or b) fail to mention because they want to still keep Bruno as the angel to Vince’s devil.
Bruno and Vince parted in the 80s on bad terms, and a lot of it had to do with Bruno disagreeing with Vince’s vision of the future of pro wrestling. That much is true, and a lot of old school fans agree with Bruno’s side on that. That’s fine, and I completely understand. He’s always made good points about the steroid use and lewd angles over the years, and while I may not always agree with everything he’s said, he’s certainly passionate about those views and has some intelligent arguments to back them up, something I have complete and utter respect for.
However, over the years, things have changed. While Vince is certainly no angel, he has done a lot to distance himself from stigmas associated with wrestling in the past, such as lewd or crude angles and steroid/recreational drug abuse. While those steps have been far from perfect, Vince has done what he can in order to try and separate his company from that kind of thing in hopes of making it family-friendly once again. One of the things he has done to improve the image of the company that does involve Bruno was, a few years ago, Vince sent out nearly 1000 letters to former employees (basically every former employee still living at the time), telling them that if they ever needed drug rehabilitation, the company would pay for it, no questions asked. Since then, Vince has been true to his word, as many wrestlers such as Sean “X-Pac” Waltman have not only gone to WWE-sponsored rehab, but are grateful for the opportunity.
One of the wrestlers to receive this letter, as you would expect, was Bruno. It was not meant to be personal. As I said, Vince sent the letter out to nearly everyone who ever worked for him. Bruno could have just seen this for what it was, and that being Vince covering his bases to include everyone, he instead took it as a slap in the face, and allowed his hatred for Vince to grow even stronger. Basically, for those that don’t know, Bruno was straight edge before it was even a thing, and always prided himself on living clean and not using performance-enhancing drugs and the like. As a result, he took this as a personal attack, even though it was never intended as such.
Since then, Vince McMahon has attempted to smooth things out with Bruno on numerous occasions (and even before then), and Bruno, being a very prideful-albeit-pigheaded human being, has refused to accept a truce. As for the Hall of Fame, this has been part of Vince trying to smooth things out over the years, as he has reached out to Bruno at least once a year the past five years or so, trying to get him to accept an induction. Every time, Bruno has rejected him, thinking he’ll be going against everything he stands for as well as his fans if he does.
Enter Triple H. Since taking over more control backstage the last couple of years, “The Game” has been more vehement than anyone in getting Bruno into the Hall of Fame. Last year, he spent a lengthy amount of time on the phone with Bruno, trying to convince him to come in for the HOF. While Bruno rejected it, he did state that he was very impressed with Triple H’s candor and professionalism, and appreciated how welcome Triple H was trying to make him feel. This year, Trips did one better and said that he would actually visit Bruno’s home and talk to him face-to-face if that’s what it took to get him to accept a HOF offer. Although this has not been confirmed to have taken place, it would certainly seem to be the case, as Bruno has finally accepted his spot.
So, after nearly 30 years, Bruno Sammartino and WWE will come together once again, if for just one night. And while it is great that this is happening, it’s just such a shame that it took so damn long. Like I said, Vince is no angel, but he has his moments, and he has certainly tried mending fences with Bruno over the years. While I’m glad to see Bruno finally accepting this spot, it’s bittersweet, as he should have accepted years ago.
The fact is that life is too short to be this bitter for so long, and let’s face facts: at 77 years old, Bruno isn’t exactly a spring chicken, and there’s no telling how many years he has left. While I appreciate that he, at least for a night, has managed to bury the hatchet, it shouldn’t have taken him this long. There are always two sides to every story, and it’s too bad most would only listen to his. If they had been more objective, they might have seen that both sides were right and wrong on several things, and maybe if his fans had seen that sooner, they could have convinced him burying the hatchet was the right thing to do (he’s pretty vocal about listening to his loyal fanbase), and this induction could have taken place years ago.
However, considering they are two of the most pigheaded men in wrestling, I might be asking too much.
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[amazon_link id=”1440476985″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Bruno Sammartino: An Autobiography Of Wrestling’s Living Legend[/amazon_link]