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Bruno Sammartino Lashes Out on Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Vince McMahon; A Fan’s Take
Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino had a few choice words for 80s mega superstar Hulk Hogan, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon when he surfaced on the "Busted Open" radio show recently. Sammartino was a professional wrestler for Vince McMahon Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation from the 60s and 70s. He also worked for McMahon Jr. when he purchased the company from his father. Sammartino is still the longest reigning WWE Heavyweight Champion, since the WWE championship lineage is linked to the WWWF. Sammartino held the title belt from 1963 to 1971. As a pro wrestling devotee for the last 20 years, I do not necessarily affirm with Bruno about the Hall of Fame, but I find it easy to digest Sammartino's opinions on McMahon, Hogan and Flair.
During the interview, Sammartino expanded on why he did not want to be a part of the WWE Hall of Fame. For Sammartino, it seems he was irritated that he was not extended the courtesy of being the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame when it was originated in 1993. Besides having vexed feelings about the exclusion from the inaugural class, Sammartino has always been outspoken about how McMahon transformed the pro wrestling business into a three ring circus. I can certainly understand Sammartino's disdain for sports entertainment. The thick muscular Italian comes from an age when pro wrestlers were rugged men who knew how to fight, not male models who flew through the air. It's very comparative to when your grandfather talks about how automobiles from his generation are better than the cars of today. It's not necessarily true, but grandpa is just remembering the familiarity and fondness of bygone days. Same as Sammartino. To him, the wrestling of yesteryear was better and more of a sport than today, but his fondness and familiarity of yesteryear comes out in bitter tirades.
Bruno also lambasted Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair for their continued service to the wrestling business. On this end, I can categorically endorse. Sammartino expressed abhorrence at the aging superstars embarrassing themselves in the ring. I even wrote an article about Hulk Hogan's continued dishonoring wrestling career. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair should have left the building several years ago. Hogan's last great match of significance was in 2005 against Shawn Michaels. Coincidentally, Ric Flair's last great match was also against Shawn Michaels, but Flair has been floundering since the beginning of the decade.
As much as I understand Sammartino's view on Hogan and Flair, I disagree with his decision not to be elected into the WWE Hall of Fame. As an Italian-American myself, I completely understand how stubborn we can be. But at some point, you have to bite your pride for the sake of better business. And the WWE Hall of Fame will always be incomplete without Bruno Sammartino.
Ryan Drew is a 30 year old independent pro wrestler from New England. He was trained by former WWE star Spike Dudley. He can be followed on Twitter@OhThatDrew.
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