It is now safe to go ice skating in Hell as WWE announced today that Bruno Sammartino is the 4th member of the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Class. In the annals of WWE history, Sammartino is the third most important wrestler to ever work for the company, behind Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Sammartino became the face of the WWE, then known as the WWWF, defeating Buddy Rogers to become World Champion in 1963 and holding it for eight years before losing it to Ivan Koloff. During that time he sold out Madison Square Garden more times than anyone can count, becoming the hero for the scores of Italian immigrants that made their home in New York City (and the surrounding areas). Sammartino would win the gold once again in the 70’s and hold it a few more years before dropping it to “Superstar” Billy Graham in 1977. Sammartino would continue to be a big part of the WWE as the years went on, feuding with Larry Zbyszko and eventually even returning to the ring part-time in the 1980’s during the company’s national expansion.
With such a storied and impactful career, it seemed almost ridiculous for Sammartino not to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame but a fallout between Sammartino and the WWE has prevented this from coming to fruition for the past few years. Sammartino has been highly critical of the WWE product and where it brought wrestling, and distanced himself from anything WWE-related instead making appearances at independent wrestling promotions and conventions (most notably in Ring of Honor). But after a talk with Triple H and a chance to watch the current-day product, Sammartino is finally comfortable enough to accept the Hall of Fame induction. And considering it’s being held in the same building he helped make a wrestling mecca in the 60’s and 70’s, it’s almost too damn perfect.
The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame takes place at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 6th the night before Wrestlemania 29. Joining Sammartino thus far in the 2013 class are Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, and Trish Stratus.
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