Bruno Sammartino Receives Ten-Bell Salute at WWE Live Event

Bruno Sammartino Receives Ten-Bell Salute at WWE Live Event

Bruno Sammartino Receives Ten-Bell Salute at WWE Live Event

Bruno Sammartino, WWE Hall of Famer and record-holder for longest championship reign, passed away this week at the age of 82. Speaking virtually no English when he arrived in the United States in 1950, Sammartino put in the work to become a success and prove the American Dream was real.

Sammartino took the title from Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden on May 17, 1963, before relinquishing the belt after a loss to Ivan Koloff on January 18, 1971. His first title loss to Ivan Koloff in 1971 snapped a almost eight-year reign of 2,803 days as champion that still stands as a WWE record.

Sammartino's star power and influence will always be remembered and was finally validated when Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Even during a time when the prestige of territorial wrestling championships still meant something thanks to how little they changed hands compared to today, Sammartino still stands alone for his longevity and consistency as a top draw.

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In 1968, he wrestled in three title matches against Ed Farhat, better known as "The Sheik", at Madison Square Garden, with the Sheik winning the first and being disqualified in the second, and Sammartino taking the third in a bloody battle billed as a "Texas Grudge Match".

As we previously reported, Sammartino passed away at his home in Pittsburgh at the age of 82 after recently dealing with undisclosed health issues. According to the WWE, he retired from the ring in 1981 and a few years later he returned as a broadcaster until 1988.

Especially popular in the Northeast, Sammartino wrestled for the first time at the "new" Madison Square Garden - the stadium now standing above Penn Station - just eight days after it opened in 1968; he sold out the arena 187 times out of 211 appearances, according to the Post-Gazette. "Everything I learned was from Bruno". Triple H described him as a "true friend...and one of the toughest people I've ever met", while Ted DiBiase called him an "icon amongst icons". An argument can be made that Sammartino was the first WWE superstar, dating all the way back to the late 1950s just as television was taking off. RIP Bruno. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.

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