Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Rant #893: The Real Champion
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I often write about professional wrestling.
I have been a fan of this "sport" for the better part of my life, and my son's interest made me get into it all over again.
Anyway, with the WWE's Wrestlemania coming up, there is potentially very, very big news in the world of pro wrestling, news that would even interest people who aren't necessarily fans of the sport.
Reportedly, the WWE is trying to work out an agreement with pro wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino to appear at their Hall of Fame event, which directly precedes Wrestlemania, this year being held at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.
The Hall of Fame event is being held at Madison Square Garden, the very arena where Sammartino, and the WWE under its various monickers, made a name for itself in the 1950s to the 1980s, Sammartino's heyday.
This is very, very big news. Sammartino and the WWE--and in particular, its chairman, Vince McMahaon--have been on the outs for at least 20 years.
Most people have speculated that it is a money matter, but Sammartino has never liked the phoniness that pretty much governs pro wrestling. He didn't like it when he was wrestling, and he doesn't like where it has gone today.
There is probably something else that went awry between Sammartino and McMahon, and we may never know what happened, but McMahon's son in law, who goes under the name Triple H and is himself a former wrestler and now an executive with the company, is trying to iron out a deal.
This is big news, as Sammartino is really the Babe Ruth of pro wrestling.
Without his popularity, pro wrestling would have never reached the heights that it occupies today.
Sammartino, born in Abruzzo, Italy, but who adopted his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as his own, was the real deal in the 1950s through the 1980s.
He was probably the only pro wrestler that anybody took seriously as a true athlete during that time.
He was the face of the WWWF, as John Cena is the face of today's WWE.
He was the champion many, many times, and he was the guy who pulled pro wrestling out of the Gorgeous George phase into something more athletic.
Sammartino was the one who would appear on the Tonight Show, showing Johnny Carson his wrestling moves.
I mean, would you take, say, an Iron Sheik for his words or Bruno Sammartino?
He single handedly saved pro wrestling from being a total side show, a mockery of the Greco-Roman style.
Sure, Sammartino was probably in a number of questionable matches over the years, but he was really the real deal, way before the Hulk Hogans and the Ric Flairs and those types of wrestlers brought the sport to another level.
Sammartino wrestled in more dumps and dives than there are garbage disposals on the planet. Today, when the WWE fills arenas like they do during Wrestlemania, when 60,000 or more people attend, they all owe it to Sammartino, when he was wrestling in front of maybe a couple hundred people.
This guy is the real deal, and if they can work out their differences, I guarantee you that this even will be covered by mainstream media.
Heck, my mother knows who Bruno Sammartino was, and is.
Sammartino, and for that matter, McMahon, are not getting any younger. One of the stipulations is that McMahon have nothing to do with Sammartino's appearance, and I do mean nothing.
There remains a lot of bad blood there, but maybe a Band-Aid can be put on that, just maybe, for a moment.
Let's hope Sammartino and the WWE can get together on this.
It is something that needs to be done.
Posted by Larry at 2:59 AM