Chris' Blog

Bruno Sammartino: Wrestling’s Living Legend

Bruno Sammartino is the number one reason no one can take the WWE’s hall of fame seriously. How do you create a hall of fame for your company and not feature the man who built the company and the company was centered around for eleven out of the first fifteen years. Bruno is the man with the longest title reign in history, seven and a half years, and headlined shows from the early sixties right into the mid eighties, with a few sabbaticals in between. The night Bruno lost the WWF title the first time the entire building was in shock, when Ivan Koloff was handed the gold people were in shock. This was unimaginable and no one could believe what they saw, you could never have that kind of emotion over a title change nowadays. We’re celebrating that CM Punk is coming close to a full year as champion, but that’s nothing compared to seven plus years for Bruno’s first reign. Even Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan pale in comparison to Bruno’s illustrious reign. Sadly this tape is the only record of Bruno as the WWF has completely snubbed the Living Legend for so long, according to rumors he was asked to be a part of the 2013 hall of fame and refused. I don’t know how true that is, but I don’t blame him if it is. He should have been one of the first inductees and deserves a proper DVD set for people to see how champion could maintain the level of success that Bruno had for over twenty years, John Cena only wishes he had the fan support Bruno had back then. This tape is a pale yellow color, should have been bright gold, and advertises Bruno versus Killer Kowalski, plus a tag match with Bruno and Paul Orndorff versus Roddy Piper and Bob Orton. Should be some hidden gems on here as well, and I can’t wait to see.

Mene Gene welcomes us to the show and introduces his guest host and it’s Bruno Sammartino himself. Gene goes over some of the matches we get to see tonight, including Baron Von Raschke, George Steele, Roddy Piper and Killer Kowalski, should be some some good stuff.

1. Bruno Sammartino v. Nikolai Volkoff

Bruno says Nikolai was a brutal opponent who came in to destroy his opponent and he knew he was in for a fight. See, unlike Cena, Bruno didn’t have to disparage his opponent or call him a poopy head. Bruno uses his underrated skills to work the arm of Nikolai and changes to the headlock. Shoulderblock sends Bruno down, but Bruno goes back to the arm and tries to power Nikolai down, but Nikolai able to bridge out of it, that’s impressive. Nikolai overpowers Bruno and almost gets a pin but the crowd charges up the champion who powers his way to his feet, but Nikolai takes him back down and stomps the champ. Nikolai gets busy arguing with the ref and this gives Bruno the chance to catch his breath and make the comeback. Bruno unloads on the challenger and covers, but Nikolai makes the ropes. We clip forward as they collide and both men crash to the mat but Bruno gets the advantage back first and smashes Nikolai’s face into the mat, now how’s he going to sing Cara Mia? Bruno continues to stomp a mudhole in Nikolai, and the ref keeps pulling Bruno back. Nikolai has to use the ropes to pull himself up and then headbutts Bruno to the midsection to take the champion down and now Nikolai back in control. We clip again and Bruno send Nikolai to the corner then quickly rolls him up for the win. 7/10 a very good start to the tape with a good match even with the clipping.

1. Bruno Sammartino pinned Nikolai Volkoff 7/10

2. Bruno Sammartino v. Baron Von Raschke

Baron jumps the champ before the bell and stomps on Bruno before dropping an elbow and choking the champion. The ref is trying to get control but Baron is relentless with the choking and hits a nice hiptoss then drops more elbows for a one count. Baron goes for the claw but Bruno kicks him in the stomach and starts to get up, then shoots him in the corner and unloads on the challenger. Bruno hits a stiff knee to the side of Baron’s head and decides to take a breather to the apron. Baron catches Bruno coming off the ropes and powerslams him then drops another elbow for a near fall. Baron stocks Bruno but gets caught and Bruno backdrops Baron then follows with a series of armdrags sending the Baron outside again and some more clipping as Baron jaws with the crowd. Baron slow to get in and Bruno catches him, tying the challenger in the ropes and nails Baron with a running boot. Bruno hits a second one as the ref tries to get Baron out of the ropes, and now Baron catches Bruno with a thumb to the throat then goes to the classic neck massage rest hold. Bruno fights free and works the midsection but again runs into a powerslam however this time Baron misses the elbow. A shoulderblock sends both men to the mat and Bruno up first nearly scores the win. Baron makes the comeback again and stomps on the champion but takes too long and Bruno goes back to the midsection of the Baron as we see the crowd watching intently. Bruno clobbers the big man with a series of rights and lefts and covers, but Baron gets a foot on the ropes as we clip forward. Bruno continues to work over the challenger and an uppercut sends Baron to the floor, and Bruno tries to follow but Baron trips him and tosses him in. Baron grabs a chair and clobbers Bruno with it as Bruno’s foot is caught in the ropes. Baron chokes the champion and the locker room empties to save the champion. 7/10 another good solid old school match, although a finish would have been good.

2. Bruno Sammartino defeated Baron Von Raschke via DQ 7/10

3. Bruno Sammartino v. Ken Patera

Joined in progress as Bruno has a rear chinlock on the Olympian, Bruno releases so he can stomp the back of Ken’s head. Ken tries to beg off and Bruno won’t have any of it and unloads on the challenger in the corner. The ref checks on Ken and this gives him the chance to catch the champion with a boot to the gut. Ken pounds on Bruno then sends him hard in the corner, and Bruno crumples to the mat, Ken drops an elbow but the second one misses. Both men collide on the shoulderblock, again, does Bruno like that move or what? Ken up first and drops the forearms across the back of Bruno’s head, but misses and now it’s Bruno in command. Bruno hits an atomic drop, sending Ken to the apron. Bruno pulls him back in and continues to work over the challenger before backdropping him for a near fall. The ref checks on Ken, again allowing Ken to get a cheap shot in on the champion and both men are down. Ken slowly gets to his feet first and works over the back and neck of the champion with a series of knees, Ken sends Bruno to the corner and catches him coming out with a big scoop slam and covers. Bruno kicks out with powers, sending Ken across the ring and both men exchange punches, with Bruno getting the better of his challenger. Ken falls to the apron and ducks a Bruno forearm locking on the full nelson, Ken gets back in the ring and maintains the hold, but Bruno kicks off the buckle and falls back on Ken. Bruno scores the win as Ken gets pinned while holding the champ in his finisher! Ken thinks he won but the ref raises Bruno’s hand, and Ken is furious. 6.5/10 not a bad match, but not a big of Patera, although the ending was cool, almost the same as the end of Austin/Hart from Survivor Series 96.

3. Bruno Sammartino pinned Ken Patera 6.5/10

4. Bruno Sammartino v. Killer Kowalski

Once again joined in progress as Killer has Bruno in a leg scissor. Killer best known for training Triple H, Chyna, Saturn, and others from the Boston area. Bruno calls Killer the toughest man he ever faced, and I think Killer would have made a fantastic champion. Kowalski is relentless as he stomps on the champion before climbing the ropes. Bruno catches him and tosses Killer across the ring and slams him down for the pin attempt. The ring looks huge for this show, like twice the normal size, just seems weird, like Howard Finkle with hair. Bruno gets fired up and pounds on the challenger but Killer fights back and locks the claw on Bruno’s abs. There’s a classic finisher we don’t see anymore, as Killer climbs the ropes and drops a big stomp on the champion. Bruno sends Killer to the apron and then tosses him into the post before driving the knee into his head, Killer slowly gets back in the ring and catches Bruno in the chokehold. Killer with a nice dropkick sending Bruno out of the ring, and Bruno slow to get back in the ring, right into the attack of Killer who slams him down hard and gets a near fall. Killer chops Bruno and again sends him out of the ring, and some old lady starts screaming at Killer, that’s hilarious, as she gets right to the ring as there were no barricades back then. Bruno struggle to get back in the ring and Killer punches and bites the champions head, the old lady is still screaming at him! Killer doesn’t care as he continues to clobber Bruno, who’s now a bloody mess and the crowd is getting antsy. The cops are holding people back, now that’s some heat on the challenger, as Bruno starts to fire back and smashes Killer into the buckle. This crowd has exploded as Bruno is tearing Killer apart now, but Killer bites him and they exchange punches as the bell rings. The locker room empties as everyone is trying to get these two apart, and the crowd is rabid. 8.5/10 a great brawl and the heat from the crowd was off the charts, amazing to see.

4. Bruno Sammartino and Killer Kowalski went to a draw 8.5/10

We go back to the studio with Gene and Bruno as they talk about his sell outs at Madison Square Gardens. Gene asks about his career and how long he’s been active, and they go over how Bruno started in wrestling. We get some great black and white photos from Bruno’s career. They talk about the legendary match with Pedro Morales from Shea Stadium, would love to find a good full version of that. Bruno says they wrestled for over an hour and it was the greatest scientific match he ever did. Bruno talks about his philosophy on life and says not to let success spoil them. Gene asks about the wrestlers of the eighties versus the wrestlers of the sixties, and Bruno says the best thing about his era was they were good wrestlers and less screaming as he takes a shot at Hogan! Gene says Bruno is an inspiration and asks if he wants to come out of retirement, Bruno says no he wants to prove a point that he can keep himself in condition and still be a good athlete.

We get a live Piper’s  Pit from Madison Square Gardens, as Piper mocks the New York crowd before bringing out Bruno. Bruno comes out to a loud ovation and Piper offers him a chair, Bruno grabs the mic and demands Piper get rid of Bob Orton now. Bruno says otherwise he will get someone to come out and watch his back, so Piper tells Orton it’s OK and to leave. Piper says he has nothing to fear and asks Bruno if he’s happy now, and they sit down, Piper asks if he’ll be able to get up the makes fun of Bruno’s breath. Piper says they want him to call Bruno the Living Legend, and Bruno says he’s call that because he’s met many people and shut their mouth. This brings both men to their feet, and calls Bruno washed up, as Bruno says he’s wrestler in the Gardens 211 times and kicked butt. Piper makes fun of Bruno losing his hair and Bruno responds by making fun of Piper’s kilt. This makes Piper angry and he starts to make fun of Bruno’s son, and Bruno warns him to interview him like a man. Piper asks if Bruno in his prime could have come close to beating Piper, Bruno says he would have squashed him like a grape and would now. Piper calls Bruno a stupid wop and Bruno snaps pushing Piper backwards over the chair. Bruno then makes a huge mistake turning his back on Piper as Piper smashes Bruno with the chair and beats Bruno down. Piper strips Bruno of his shirt but Bruno starts to come back and gets the chair, so Piper bails out as Bruno stands tall in the ring. A great segment and the crowd was ready to kill Piper as he got the crowd so riled up, amazing stuff.

5. Bruno Sammartino v. Roddy Piper

Bruno has the early advantage as he pummels Piper sending him to the floor then tosses him into the chairs. Bruno drags him back in and Piper is busted open already as Bruno knocks Piper down. Bruno continues to unload on the Rowdy One and shoves the ref, but this gives Piper a chance to get a low blow on Bruno. Piper pummels the face of Bruno and tosses him out of the ring, Bruno comes back in and kicks Piper back. Piper bails out and heads to the locker room, Bruno catches him and throws him back in the ring, and Piper takes off again, as they fight in the aisle way and Bruno throws him back in. If this was NYC this crowd would be insane right now, as Piper gets a thumb to the eye and then clobbers Bruno across the back of the neck. Bruno again fights back and here comes Bob Orton to attack Bruno and causes the DQ. Bruno fights off both men, as Piper nails the ref and Bruno tosses out Orton. Bruno chokes Piper, but Orton back in and nails Bruno with the cast. Both men double team the Living Legend and the crowd is furious, 8/10 a great brawl but once again no ending, however it does lead to our next match.

5. Bruno Sammartino defeated Roddy Piper by DQ 8/10

6. Bruno Sammartino & Paul Orndorff v. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton

This should be an exciting main event, as this is the follow up to the previous match. We start with a pier six brawl, as all four men battle in the ring and Orton sent out, and both men double team Piper. Orton slung back in the hard way and has his head cracked into Piper’s and we finally have order. Paul chokes Piper in the corner and Orton tries to save but gets clobbered. Bruno wants the tag, and so does the crowd, so Paul obliges and Piper quickly tags Orton back in. Bruno shoulderblocks Orton down and goes for a second one, but Orton catches him with the cast and now they double team Bruno. Bruno fights back but gets caught outside and Piper smashes him with a chair on the floor. Paul helps Bruno back up and helps him in the ring where Orton stomps him. Piper pulls Bruno back out and drives his head into the ring post. Paul quickly comes to check on his partner, and Bruno gets back in and lays the beating on Piper in the corner. Orton gets involved and eats a punch. Piper misses the clothesline and Paul tagged in, Paul smashes the cast of his own on Piper. Paul goes for the piledriver and Orton hits Paul with the cast and Piper rolls over for the pin, but Paul just kicks out. Piper rams Paul’s head into the buckle and taunts Bruno, which brings Bruno in, allowing a double team from Piper and Orton. Orton goes to nail Paul with the cast, Paul moves and Piper gets cracked instead, but he’s still able to prevent the tag. This match has been chaos since the start, as Paul goes for the sunset flip and we get a moon over Boston! Gorilla says the referee has lost control, did he ever have control? Orton goes for the piledriver on Paul, but Paul fights out with a backdrop and hits a big clothesline and both men are down. Piper gets the tag, but so does Bruno and we have a brawl as Bruno tosses Piper outside, as Paul and Orton battle in the ring. Bruno misses with the chair and the bell rings, Piper and Orton take off to the locker room quickly. 9/10 a non stop brawl, very exciting and wild.

6. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton defeat Bruno Sammartino & Paul Orndorff by countout 9/10

7. Bruno Sammartino v. George Steele in the Steel Cage

It’s a very dark looking cage, almost like chicken wire, very strange looking as we join in progress with Animal clobbering Bruno. Animal unloads on Bruno in the corner but Bruno pulls himself up slowly. Steele looks confused as Bruno keeps coming towards him, he’s like some kind of non-giving up guy. Bruno smashes Steele then whips him hard into the cage, as Steele tries to climb out but Bruno throws down hard then smashes his face into the cage repeatedly. Bruno calls for the door and walks out to retain the World Title. No rating as we only got about three minutes of the match.

7. Bruno Sammartino defeated George Steele NO RATING


1. Bruno Sammartino pinned Nikolai Volkoff on October 25, 1976 from New York City 7/10

2. Bruno Sammartino defeated Baron Von Raschke via DQ on March 28, 1977 from New York City 7/10

3. Bruno Sammartino pinned Ken Patera on August 29, 1977 from New York City 6.5/10

4. Bruno Sammartino and Killer Kowalski went to a draw on April 29, 1974 from New York City 8.5/10

5. Bruno Sammartino defeated Roddy Piper by DQ on December 7, 1985 from Boston, MA 8/10

6. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton defeat Bruno Sammartino & Paul Orndorff by countout on January 11, 1986 from Boston, MA 9/10

7. Bruno Sammartino defeated George Steele on July 25, 1970 from Philadelphia, PA NO RATING

A great tape covering a great career, would love to see a two or three disc set of Bruno’s matches, as this was a great start. It might not appeal to current fans, as it’s very slow style but it’s a great historical reference. The only bad watch was Patera, but it’s Patera, he’s like the Alex Riley of the seventies and eighties, sadly there’s an entire tape of him coming. That might be worse then the hillbilly tape. Our next tape is Best of the WWF Volume 7 as we continue our journey through the eighties!


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