Updated: Aug 17, 2020
So when I started watching wrestling as a kid, back in the early 1980s, I was interested in the current product of that time. While I eagerly awaited for what was to come the next weekend, I never worried about what happened in the past. That was pretty apparent when they always talked about Bruno Sammartino being the greatest wrestling champion of all time. I knew he was doing commentary with Vince McMahon on WWF matches, but didn't have the slightest clue who he was before that.
A few nights ago, while cruising through the available content on the WWE Network, I stumbled upon a biography of Bruno Sammartino, titled Bruno. Even after all this time of watching wrestling, I still didn't know who he was. So I pressed play.
I won't spoil it for you, but what a great documentary. Bruno went from almost being executed by Nazis as a kid, to setting a bench press world record, to holding the WWWF heavyweight for almost 11 years, with his first reign lasting seven years and eight months.
According to the documentary, Bruno's title reign lasted longer than Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and John Cena's reigns combined.
While it was mentioned that he left the WWF in 1988, due to the fact he didn't like the direction Vince was taking the company, I wish they would have mentioned his stints in the UWF and WCW. But that's part of the learning curve when researching former wrestlers.
As they mentioned that Bruno sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times, another cool thing to watch was the fans chanting his name as he came to the ring. There was no entrance music back in the 60s, but the fans chanted "Bruno, Bruno, Bruno" as he made his way down the aisle, which must have been cool to be part of.
So now I leave you with a homework assignment of sorts. Think back to when you started watching wrestling, and watch a documentary, or a couple of matches, of a wrestler before that time. Take a moment to look back at the past, and see how that wrestler shaped the future of the sport. Think of that WWE tagline, "Then, Now, Forever," and let's all learn a little something about "Then."
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