WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino dies at 82

Brenda Watkins
April 19, 2018

Bruno Sammartino, a WWE Hall of Famer who headlined and sold out Madison Square Garden 188 times during his legendary career, has passed away at the age of 82. Bruno would hold the belt for nearly eight years, a record that stands to this day and will likely never be broken in the WWE or any other promotion.

Sammartino was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To try and best explain the impact Bruno Sammartino had on professional wrestling would be hard by today's measures, largely because there are simply no easy modern comparisons.

Sammartino struck a cord with those who could relate to his struggles, including Peter Gene Hernandez, whose father nicknamed him "Bruno" by his father due to the resemblance to Bruno Sammartino.

The two met in 2017 for the first time, and both couldn't stop singing each other's praises after meeting.

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A rocky relationship between Sammartino and the WWF (now WWE) burdgeoned following his exit from the company in the late '80s, as he was an outspoken critic of current company executive Vince McMahon and WWE, lambasting the direction of the industry.

Sammartino's post-WWE run also saw him stand firm as an outspoken critic of McMahon regarding topics such as steroid abuse, undiagnosed head trauma and the raunchy "Attitude Era" of the 1990s that he felt was wrong within the business he loved.

In 1963, he defeated Buddy "Natural Guy" Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever World Wrestling Entertainment champion in front of almost 20,000 fans at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City. His second reign began after getting retribution against Ivan Koloff and lasted more than three years. During this time, he entered some of the most notable rivalries in WWE history as he faced the likes of Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele. We'd say "rest in power" to Bruno, but we're sure that's the only way he knows how to do it. A true role model and hero.

- Bret Hart (@BretHart) April 18, 2018Very saddened by the news of Bruno Sammartino's death. Bruno made his professional wrestling debut in 1959.

My thoughts are with his entire family.

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