Porky is flying the friendly skies; Louis Cyphre is wearing extra heavy winter garb; and the moon is navy blue.
The original Living Legend Bruno Sammartino -- who for years expressed ill feelings toward WWE CEO Vince McMahon and the company -- finally accepted an invitation for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Sammartino would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer, no doubt, but his perception and pride would not allow it.
• Sammartino noted positive changes in WWE helped him make his decision to join the Hall of Fame, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
• Sammartino, 77, is a proud Italian-born American professional wrestler who captivated the Northeast when the World Wide Wrestling Federation powered that territory in the 1960s and 70s. WWWF, then owned by Vince McMahon Sr., later became WWF under the direction of McMahon Sr.’s son, Vince Jr.
Sammartino forged a solid working relationship with Vince McMahon Sr., but as the company evolved, changing hands from one generation of McMahon to another, Sammartino began to dislike it, especially the attitude, language and risqué segments.
Sammartino, a powerful combatant, was the Hulk Hogan of his era (in his terriotry). Where Sammartino dominated Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWWF in the Northeast, Hogan took the company to new heights globally through the leadership of Vince McMahon Jr.
It stands to reason now why WWE crafted a recent angle where CM Punk noted how long he continued to wear the WWE title. Sammartino’s two title (marathon) runs spanned more than 11 years. No one comes close to that. His first lasted eight consecutive years (1963-71), the longest reign in professional wrestling history. His second tour with the belt four years (1973-77). Very popular with fans and a positive role model, he held the belt with character and pride.
Sammartino became an announcer for the comapny after his in-ring career. Things soured stemming from how Sammartino perceived the way Vince McMahon Jr. handled his son, David, a wrestler in the WWF in the mid 1980s, as well as the direction Vince McMahon Jr. took the business.
Sammartino publicly criticized Vince McMahon Jr. on numerous occasions and refused any involvement with WWF/WWE ever.
Well, never say never in WWE.
The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013 ceremony is at the famous Madison Square Garden on April 6, a place Sammartino sold out more than 200 times, astonishing. The Garden served as the home base for the company during those territory days, and Sammartino stood tall as king of the Garden. A testament to his greatness, Sammartino put many “butts in seats,” and that is still an indicator of wrestling success today.
• Billed from Pittsburgh, Sammartino is residing in Ross Township, Pa. Sammartino was good friends with the late Dan Marino Sr., the father of NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino. Sammartino and Marino Sr. grew up in the same neighborhood, and Dan Marino, the quarterback legend, was a huge Bruno Sammartino fan.
As a kid, Marino first watched pro wrestling with his grandfather. “Studio Wrestling” was the live professional wrestling show broadcast from WIIC-TV Ch.11 in Pittsburgh every Saturday. The family tie made Sammartino an instant wrestling favorite of the Marino household.
• Legendary pro wrestling photographer and writer Bill Apter posted an audio interview classic at 1Wrestling that he did with Bruno Sammartino from 1971, just four months after Sammartino dropped the belt to the Russian Bear Ivan Koloff which ended Sammartino’s incredible eight-year title run.
• Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Mick Foley and Trish Stratus are part of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013 on April 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Backlund and Sammartino, two fan favorites and champions, were managed by the late Golden Boy Arnold Skaaland.
The WWE HOF is a featured event during WrestleMania Week.
WWE WrestleMania 29, the Super Bowl of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, is the following night, April 7, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Tickets to the Hall of Fame ceremony are on sale at the MSG box office, online at Ticketmaster, various Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Ticket prices range from $50 to $150; additional fees may apply.