Bruno Sammartino Interview Transcript (2005)

bruno sammartino interviewThe following interview features former WWWF world champion the “Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino. The always outspoken Sammartino talks about getting his big break, Vince McMahon SR., Frank Sinatra, Larry Zbysko, and more. The interview was taped May 28, 2005 and was broadcast on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Eric Gargiulo: Bruno, how are you doing? Are you still doing those morning runs?

Bruno Sammartino: Yes I still maintain six days, three days a week I do road work and three days a week I pump iron. Sundays are my day of rest but not really, those are the days I love to fuss around the house with the grass, and the shrubberies, and all of that kind of stuff.

Eric: I saw some pictures of you from last year and it looked like you had lost some weight.

Bruno: Right now I’m about 217, 218, somewhere around there.

Eric comments that he doesn’t think there is a man in this country in better shape at Bruno’s age. (Bruno is 70)

Bruno: Well I don’t know, thank you. I do work at it hard because as you know in wrestling all of those years I did some things, injuries to where I had back surgery, hip surgery, knee surgeries so I have done a lot of rehab on my own and I am a strong believer that if you work out hard and work out well, watch your diet to a certain degree, keep your weight under control that the benefits are going to be there for you.

Eric: Speaking of injuries, what was the specific injury that you incurred back in 1968 that forced you to give up using the back breaker as your finisher?

Bruno: Well I had a number of injuries one was in my back that stopped me. Because remember when I used that back breaker, for example if you remember these names ; Bull Ramos he was 365 pounds, Klondike Bill another 370 pounder, Jess Ortega was close to 400 pounds and you know taking a lot of hard falls and then picking these guys up like that. I did some vertebrae damage on my back and I found that I started having problems way back in the sixties, late sixties, so I kind of got away from those power moves because in all honesty it took an awful lot of strength to do those kind of things and it put an awful lot of stress on your back.

Eric: Is it your back that over the years has absorbed the most punishment and injuries?

Bruno: Yeah in my case no question because when one of the world renowned neurosurgeons, Doctor James Moroon who did the surgeries on me, he told me that he could see how hard I had trained and the kind of condition I was in but he also the tremendous kind of abuse that the back took and when he did the couple of surgeries he had to remove a total of sixteen spurs on my back and three vertebrae he had to remove and I still have a lot of problems that to this day I’m in much better shape but to tell you that I am totally pain free wouldn’t be accurate either, but thank God I am feeling great and everything else.

Eric: Speaking of lifting heavy guys, is it true that when you lifted Haystacks Calhoun it really turned your career around?

Bruno: Well it certainly helped me tremendously because up to that point I couldn’t get any kind of a break, I just couldn’t get a break, I mean no promoter wanted to take a chance and put me as a headliners even though they thought certain things about me were impressive as far as my strength, my physical appearance, and that. But in those days they would rather continue on with established names and it’s pretty hard to get established if somebody doesn’t give you a break. So when I picked up Haystacks Calhoun then it got such a tremendous reaction that I became known as the strong guy from Abruzzi, Italy that picked up Haystacks Calhoun and no question that did help me considerably from that time forth.

Eric: How did you wind up meeting Vince McMahon, SR. for the first time? Was it through Frank Tunney?

Bruno: No, not at all. I was here in Pittsburgh, I was competing, doing both amateur weightlifting and amateur wrestling competitions, and I had been in Oklahoma City where I became the North American Weightlifting title I had won. When I was in Pittsburgh I was on a television show for a fellow that read in the paper that I had won a contest and while I was on that show a gentleman by the name of Rudy Miller was in town from Washington D.C. because the following day on a Saturday they would do studio wrestling here in Pittsburgh and he happened to be here the night before and he saw on television while I was being interviewed about this weightlifting contest that I won and the gentleman asked me if I was still working out with the wrestling part. So when this Rudy Miller heard about me doing both weightlifting and wrestling he inquired to the studio if anybody knew who I was and it happened that one of the guys by the name of John Kurtzhonis went to high school with me, he says, “Yeah, I live on the same street as Bruno,” and this Rudy Miller asked him if he would ask me to come down the following week, the following Saturday because there was a live tv show every Saturday here, and the following week I went down there, he looked me over real good and he asked me if I would come to Washington he wanted to have somebody meet me, which was Vince McMahon, SR. and Toots Mondt, and they took me to an arena with a couple of guys that I didn’t know, they wanted to see what I could do, couldn’t do, and I worked out in the ring with them, and they seemed pretty impressed, and that’s when they sat me down and they said, “How would you like to become a professional wrestler?” And that’s how it started.

Eric: During the heights of your career did you ever wind up meeting Frank Sinatra or any of the Rat Pack?

Bruno: Did I ever meet him? Oh my goodness I knew them all, I became good friends with Jilly Rizzo if you remember that name? That was Sinatra’s right hand man he had the night club in New York called Jilly’s. Through him, yeah my goodness I was in Frank Sinatra’s company at least a dozen times if not more, so I got to know Frank, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, what’s his name, Lawford? I got to know Richard Conte, I don’t know if you remember him, the actor because he used to hang out with Frank a good bit. After a Madison Square Garden show whenever they would be in town, Jilly would always make sure he’d send a driver for me and I would join them right at Jilly’s for the evening.

Eric: I know you worked a few times with Ray Stevens for Roy Shire, what do you remember about working with Ray?

Bruno: Yeah I not only wrestled Ray in California several times but I wrestled him here, in New York, in Boston, I forget all of the towns, but I have wrestled Stevens a lot of times. He’s another guy who I had a lot of respect for. Stevens was very, very good in the ring.

Eric: Yes, I wanted to get your thoughts on him since he is regarded as one of the best workers of your era.

Bruno: Absolutely, without question, he certainly was.

Eric: What happened to the big rematch scheduled between you and Buddy Rogers at Roosevelt Stadium in 1963? What was the story behind it? Did he pull out of it?

Bruno: Who, Buddy Rogers?

Eric: Yes.

Bruno: No there was never a rematch scheduled with Buddy Rogers, I don’t know if they did publicity or something but no there wasn’t because remember, a lot of people don’t remember this but I wrestled Buddy in a non-title match on television two weeks before that Madison Square Garden match and it went the same way. The match lasted, I don’t know about thirty, forty seconds where I took a back breaker then we went in the (Madison Square) Garden, I heard your announcement in the beginning (a clip of Bruno’s title win was played during Bruno’s introduction earlier in the program) where McMahon (Junior) said it was in fifty-five seconds, it was forty-eight seconds. No, that was the end with Buddy, there was bad, there was always bad feelings between me and Buddy Rogers, I don’t know if you never knew that or not? We just did not like each other, simple as that, we just did not like each other. You know a lot of people have no idea how that match even came about but it was a story in itself (Bruno went into more details of the match and heat with Rogers on an earlier appearance in 2003 on Pro Wrestling Radio Click here to read that interview). But no after that it was the end of Buddy Rogers as far as his career.

Eric: Billy Graham has told a story that you had advised him to work a knee injury after your cage match with him in Philadelphia, PA just days before his scheduled loss to Backlund, so he would not have to drop the belt. Is this true?

Bruno: Wow (laughs). That’s a pretty good story I certainly have no recollection of anything like that. That’s news to me. That’s the first time I have ever heard that story.

Eric: Larry Zbysko has said in interviews that the heat between you and he stems from him going over your head to the office and pressuring you to do the program with him. Is that accurate?

Bruno: No that’s not accurate the reason there was bad feelings was because we were supposed to have a work out. The idea was not to have a wrestling match, the idea was a work out I don’t know if you remember the work out? It was supposed to have been just a work out and the idea was that he felt at that stage of our lives that I was over the hill and he was coming into his prime and he felt that if we had a work out where we were trying to out-maneuver each other that people would have new respect for him and not just look at him as a protégé of Bruno Sammartino but perhaps my equal or even better and he was honest, you know he says, “You know Bruno, it’s not because I am saying that I am better than you or anything, but let’s face it. Age catches up with all of us and it has caught up with you. You’re not what you used to be but I’m coming into my prime. It is only normal that I should be able to out-maneuver you a little bit,” and I told him, “If you can out-maneuver me in this work out thing, fine. But don’t think that I am going to help you with it because I have a lot of pride and I am going to look as good as I can look.” We agreed with that but when he got a little frustrated because people started getting him a little bit, why I got mad because a lot of people don’t know is, he really clobbered me with that chair. I mean he hit me so damn hard that I was really bleeding bad and I did. I got very upset and angry with that and I lost a lot of respect and after that I just had a completely different feeling about Larry.

Eric: So a lot of that work out was a shoot?

Bruno: Oh yeah, he really wanted a, it was just strictly a work out. It wasn’t like we went out there with the idea of trying to beat each other it was trying to out-maneuver each other just so that he felt that people could respect and appreciate his talents by out-maneuvering me. I don’t know what he said because I never heard any of his interviews but I am just telling you what I know.

Eric: On a brighter note, what are some memories you have of your program with Cowboy Bill Watts?

Bruno: Oh boy that was early on in my career that was in the sixties the middle sixties I guess it was. You know he was a big guy, he was a three hundred pounder, and a strong guy, could move well for his size. I thought we had some good matches but I have to be real frank with you, to say that those matches stick out in my head like some of the ones that I had with Ivan Koloff, or (Killer) Kowalski, it wouldn’t be truthful of me because again, it was in the middle sixties, 1965 maybe, I don’t know, I don’t remember the exact years, but they were good matches, I am not taking anything away from Bill for God’s sakes because he was very good for a big guy. My matches with Koloff, Kowalski, and even (Toru) Tanaka, and even (Gorilla) Monsoon, for a guy over four hundred pounds he could move well and I had some pretty good matches with him. Hans Mortier I enjoyed because we used to do a lot of wrestling when I wrestled him. It was a lot of good, clever, wrestling moves and I loved that. In fact, what I don’t like is when I see myself and I don’t see myself too often now, some of these tapes that are out there they are always like of a blow-off match. When I mean a blow-off match is like with Koloff let’s say. The first match we ever did would have been great, a lot of arm-dragging, a lot of drop toe holds, scoop slams, and back drops and all, but by the time the second or third match came it would become a brawl, and it seems like I see more of those kind of matches that they put on tape rather than those ones that lead up to that brawl, so to speak, and that bothers me because I wish that people could see more of those fast-moving, a lot of arm-drags, a lot of great action like I did with Ray Stevens in California. I wish that there were a lot more of those (tapes of matches) out there for people to see rather then the finale match where there was a lot of brawling and stuff.

Eric: The last time I had you on the show you had just had an informal meeting with the WWE in Pittsburgh, PA. Where do things stand now between you and the WWE?

Bruno: Not good, I don’t want to have anything to do with that organization or him (Vince McMahon) and I’ll tell you what, I appreciate some of the fans that have talked to me and they said, “Don’t you belong into the WWE Hall of Fame,” they’d like to see me in the Hall of Fame, but I wish that they would understand my side of it. If you go far back enough, I’ve been appalled by a lot of the stuff that McMahon has been doing for many, many years. For example, I was very appalled when I saw the widespread of drugs and I’m not talking about just steroids I’m talking about drugs and a lot of steroids! I was very appalled by that and I was very outspoken on that. If you remember I went one on one with him (Vince McMahon) on the Donahue Show, on the Larry King Show, Geraldo Rivera, and then we started bringing in the girls, beautiful ladies but always with a g-string or something with access where a breast would pop out, and the kids twelve, thirteen years old were going to come to the arena to see a strip-show is what it amounted to, and then all of the vulgarity came in. Well, the point is that I was so outspoken about all of this stuff, so outspoken about it, what kind of a hypocrite would I be now if I went into their Hall of Fame? That is to say that everything that I was talking about, everything I knocked about and resented about what he (McMahon, JR.) had done to the business, now because I have an opportunity to get into the Hall of Fame, it’s OK, everything is fine now, it’s just that I am in the Hall of Fame. By refusing it, it keeps me, I believe in my heart, my stance stays straight that I am appalled with everything that he did and I want no part of any of it including his Hall of Fame which is part of it.

Eric: During your last three appearances on my radio show you have been very vocal about steroids not only in pro wrestling but in high school and college athletics. What are your thoughts on the fact that during recent congressional hearings about steroids, professional wrestling was not investigated?

Bruno: That’s why I am very turned off by people like McCain, and Waxman and all of these people. I am very turned off with these people and I will tell you why. For example, all of the stuff that you are reading now about baseball, and Steve Courson, I don’t know if you remember his name, he’s from here in Pittsburgh, who played for the Steelers? He spoke about 95% of all of the football players were on steroids. In baseball, we know now about (Jose) Canseco, and others who have been speaking about it and so forth, and now they have these congressional hearings or whatever, but there have been no deaths (baseball) that we really know of. Twenty something years ago when I was so outspoken about the steroid problems and we were on these shows that I just mentioned like the Larry King Show, and Donahue, and all of that, you mean to tell me that these guys, the McCains, the Waxmans, and all of that never heard about any of this stuff? No, it was because it was professional wrestling and they didn’t care. Wrestling wasn’t the glamor sport like baseball, football, whatever. Now with baseball, all of these congressional hearings and that, there haven’t been any deaths where in wrestling and I am sure you heard this yourself Eric, there is supposed to have been over the last twenty years over seventy guys that have died from drug related things. My God, shouldn’t that bring more attention than anything to where there are that many deaths that have occurred and young guys yet? In baseball there have been no deaths that I know of, in football they talk about Lyle Alzado, but the point is that in wrestling there have been that many deaths and yet they ignore it all of the time, maybe if they have paid attention twenty-five years ago or so when I was talking so much about it, maybe then they would have taken some action that maybe would have curbed the baseball, football thing to get into those kind of drugs! Maybe if they would have taken action that much earlier, the leagues themselves to try and prevent it from happening, but no they never did. Now they are doing all of this investigation of football, baseball, basketball, but still you don’t hear the name wrestling amongst them and this is where the most deaths have occurred. Does that make any sense? With all of the deaths, all of the tragedies that we have had in this game, I just don’t understand it but it appalls me that these people aren’t doing something about it.

Eric: Dusty Rhodes recently took some shots at you in his new book. He tells a story that you were jealous when he came into a nightclub after a New York show where the two of you were and steal the attention away from you. What are your thoughts on those comments?

Bruno: First of all I have never been a nightclub with Dusty Rhodes. I was not a nightclub person, I didn’t go to nightclubs. I have never been in one. I heard he also said that whenever we had an autograph session that people would all rush to him and leave me. I don’t know if this guy is that egotistical or he convinces himself of these ridiculous lies, Dusty Rhodes was never a big deal in the northeast. When did he ever headline Madison Square Garden or any of the other big arenas around here? Not during my era, and he was certainly there during my era. You know somebody else told me that he said that and I said that all I have to say is that this guy is as sick as he is fat because it never happened!

Eric comments that after Dusty Rhodes’ book came out a lot of people that know Bruno disputed the story for the exact same reason, saying Bruno never went to the nightclubs.

Bruno: And I never did! I never did, so I don’t know why these people write this kind of garbage in their books, is it to sell books? I don’t understand why they fabricate these ridiculous stories! I just don’t understand it, I just don’t.

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Eric plays the following clip from Terry Funk’s appearance on Pro Wrestling Radio the previous week in which Eric asked Terry about Bruno. Terry said, “I love Bruno. Let me tell you there is a very honorable man. There is a guy that certainly protected his profession and I don’t mean this bad whenever I say this. I’m not knocking Dusty. Bruno certainly protected his profession more than Dusty. Certainly protected his profession more than Ric Flair. Certainly protected his profession more than Hulk Hogan. But also he certainly protected his profession more than Terry Funk. I think that’s a wonderful trait and I think that he’s one hell of a man, and gosh I really mean that. I have always admired him to no end. He dog-gone almost split up with Vince McMahon, SR. Because Shoei Baba, and he met him, and they became friends. Whenever you become one of Bruno’s friends, well he’ll never let you down, he’ll never forget that. Vince, SR. went with Inoki. Bruno says, “I’m not going to do that Baba’s my friend,” he went with the threat of Vince McMahon, SR. going ahead and destroying his career. If he took the belt from him he would have destroyed his career but he went with that threat. He went right over there to All-Japan, which was Shoei Baba’s company and wrestled for him because Baba was his friend and he would not in any way perform or do anything to hurt him and I know for a fact he went over there for a pittance of what he could have gotten. Just expenses because he wanted to help the guy out, because he was his friend. How can you knock a guy like that?”

Bruno: I appreciate very, very much what he said. I don’t want to pat myself on the back but you know, yeah, I love the business. When I speak against the steroids and stuff like that, and the deaths, and everything else it is because pains me so deeply of what they have done to this business, but I always protected it, you’re darn right I did, because I loved it, I loved the business, I respected the fans who supported us, and I had so much respect for so many of the wrestlers. If anybody has read my book you don’t hear me speaking of individuals like that, so I thank Terry Funk for what he said, it’s very flattering all of the kind words that he said, but it’s the truth. For example, in Japan Vince McMahon (Senior) and I had wars because he was making a lot of money sending talent for the Inoki organization and he said to me, “How does it look for me for you going for Shoei Baba when I’m dealing with Inoki?” I said, “I’m sorry for how it looks for you but I was going for Baba before you got involved with Inoki and now I should change just because it serves you?” I said, “Hey if you don’t like it do what you want but I will only go for that organization.” And I did until the very end, and no McMahon or anybody else was going to have me turn my back on a commitment that I made with a person. And so Funk is very aware of that because his father (Dory, SR.) became the booker for Shoei Baba and when Shoei Baba started that’s right, I went there just for expenses, just to help him out because I felt that he was an honorable man. So, here’s a Ric Flair who knocks me here’s a guy that has a lawsuit for exposing himself on an airplane with airline stewardesses. Here’s a guy who was known to get loaded, go up on bars and moon everybody in the bar. Here’s a guy who wouldn’t pay his income taxes, where they almost threw him in jail and Jim Crockett had to work out a deal with the government to keep him out of jail and make monthly payments for back taxes. Here’s a guy who’s admitted using drugs for over twenty years, and this guy should be criticizing anybody?

Eric comments that after hearing some of the negative things people have had to say about Bruno, that he thought Bruno would appreciate the kind words from Terry Funk.

Bruno: I do appreciate it very much, yes, what can I tell you? That’s very nice of Terry to think that way, to feel that way about me. But he knows me for a long, long time, you know? We go way, way back, not that we have been great buddies or ever hung out, or anything like that, no. But, I think there has always been mutual respect because of our careers, you know?

Caller (Ron from Levittown, PA): What is your son David doing these days?

Bruno: David lives in Georgia, he’s got a wife and a daughter, and he’s out of the wrestling business obviously, and he lives there, and he works there, and that’s his life now.

Caller (Scott from Michigan): Why do you think that so many wrestlers today are trying to tarnish your legacy? You carried the WWWF on your back for seven years and then another four years. Why do you think guys like Ric Flair and all of those guys want to tarnish your legacy like that?

Bruno: I think guys like Ric Flair, I never knew him too well. I was never around him all that much. In the Garden when he first came, Crockett sent him over to give him some publicity, that’s the time when I was champion, but he was preliminary, I think he wrestled a guy by the name of Pete Sanchez. And whenever I was in Japan with him he was in the preliminary and I was the headliner. In Ric Flair’s case I think it’s strictly jealousy, he’s an ego maniac, he wants to put himself above everybody in the whole world (laughs) of wrestling, and I think that he thinks he can achieve that by putting others that may have had a better reputation by putting them down, I don’t know any other way to explain it. I don’t know what’s in the guy’s head, but like I say. Whatever he thinks he has done and the way he has conducted himself, I think that speaks volumes for what Ric Flair is all about.

Eric: Is it true that Vince, SR. came to you when the Inoki-Ali match was tanking and you came back for your match with Stan Hansen way too early?

Bruno: I got the doctors on my back, my family, because Vince McMahon (SR.) was calling me at the hospital, after I was recuperating from my broken neck, the thing was such a disaster financially and if anybody remembers or knows, it was the biggest bomb world-wide as far as that match, every place it was seen. And Vince McMahon, SR. told me that if he didn’t make the match between me and (Stan) Hansen, that he was going to go into bankruptcy because he had committed so much money with a fight manager named Bob Arum for the closed-circuit that Vince McMahon had gotten into. They thought that the fighter vs. wrestler would be a big bonanza. It would have been if it had been anybody but Inoki because Inoki was known in Japan but he wasn’t looked upon that big anywhere else. McMahon kept calling and calling, and my doctors and everybody else said, “You’re not ready, you’re not ready.” Anyway, long story short, I came back just to bail him out and we did bail him out, because every place they showed the match with me and Stan Hansen on the closed-circuit, it was a big bonanza, and not only bailed McMahon out but made him a lot of money at the same time.

Caller (Joe from Philadelphia, PA): I hear you are coming to Philadelphia in June for the Italian Sons and Daughters of America?

Bruno: Yes I just came back from Washington D.C. where they honored me there. The I.S.D.A., the Italian Sons and Daughters of America and the 26 th of June I believe I will be honored in Philadelphia, PA.

Caller (Joe from Philadelphia): What’s this I hear about Larry Zbysko challenging you to a match?

Bruno: Funny thing is because if you look at the website, wrestlerunion.com, you will see me there responding to him and then you’ll even see me take my sweatshirt off and give a pose to show everybody what I look like at this stage of my life.

Eric: Is there anyone at that Wrestlereunion convention that you are looking forward to seeing?

Bruno: Well, look I went to Tampa and I didn’t want to do it, I turned it down because after these surgeries I took so much time to recuperate, to train, to get back in shape, and I just didn’t want to travel. Anyway my good friend Sal Corrente said to me, “Bruno please you got to make it, we are calling it the legends,” and all kind of stuff like that. I went and I was thrilled to death. There were a lot of wrestlers there and unfortunately I didn’t get to see half of them because I was so busy with the fans, signing autographs, having photo sessions, question and answer thing, and that’s what I really loved. So I devoted all of my time more to that than trying to get together with some of the wrestlers. Not that I don’t want to but I felt that this was the fans day, this was for the fans, and that’s where the time should be devoted to and it’s going to be the same thing in Valley Forge. Yeah it’ll be nice to see some of the guys but more importantly this is an opportunity to be able to meet with the fans, to answer the questions, listen to their comments, take a picture with them, or whatever it is that is going to happen and yeah, I am looking forward to it.

Caller (Larry from Rhode Island): Waldo Von Erich, Spiros Arion, and Bobby Duncam, who was the best wrestler? Who was the best brawler?

Bruno: Bobby Duncam is a name that you don’t hear too much about and he was great, I absolutely loved wrestling him because he used to accomplish with a lot of big wrestling moves, he was a big guy who could move real, real well. Von Erich I think probably more brawling, not that he couldn’t wrestle because he certainly could. And with Spiros Arion he used a combination, some wrestling and some brawling, but out of the three for me the best match would be with Bobby Duncam.

Caller (Ted from Virginia): How is Vince, JR different from his father and Toots Mondt, and why didn’t you ever wrestle heel?

Bruno: As far as to compare Vince McMahon, Jr. to Vince, Sr. and Toots Mondt, Toots Mondt to those who may not know who he was, he was truly one of the greatest wrestlers of his era, he was a tough, tough guy, great wrestler, was partners with Vince McMahon, SR., a lot of people didn’t even know that. Vince McMahon, SR., yeah I am not going to tell you that it was a 100% smooth ride, we had our differences but overall I respected him too because he wanted the best for wrestling and so on and so forth, he really was for wrestling. His son, I cannot compare him. If his father was alive and saw what his son did, I don’t know what his father would do because I knew darn well the way I knew Vince McMahon, SR. he would never have approved of what his son did. Heel (laughs)? Sometimes I think I acted like one when I was wrestling the Kowalskis and the, I think I was as much of a heel with my actions in the ring as any of them were.

Eric: Dusty Rhodes said on my show it was common for other promoters to try and get a champion to jump with a belt. Did either the NWA or the AWA make you any offers to jump with the belt?

Bruno: No, there was talk where they (NWA) actually had meetings when (Lou) Thesz was champion. He was getting old as we all got old in time, and he wasn’t effective anymore and they (NWA) felt that they wanted a unification of the titles where I was going to be that but they could never get together as far as what’s his name, Sam Muchnick who was the head of the NWA, he needed like 17, 18 dates a month on the champion because of all of the commitments that he had with NWA members around the country. Vince McMahon who felt he had the biggest arenas anywhere in the country and all of these major cities and he needed 17, 18 dates, so they were battling back and forth as to who was going to get how many dates on me, and what happened was when I found out about it, because I was never in any of the meetings, I held a meeting of my own with Vince McMahon, Toots Mondt, and a guy named Willie Gilzinberg and I said, “I don’t care how you people to divide my time around the country but know this; my parents are still living and they are up there in age, I never get to see my own wife and my son, Sundays have to got to be mine. Wrestle me six days a week, put me on the road, and I’ll go for it, but four days a month are mine.” That really killed it because now they had like 26, 27 dates to work with in no way were they going to get enough dates to please both. So that’s when Toots Mondt told Vince McMahon, “Why do you even care about that (NWA), we have our own territory, we’ve become number one world-wide as far as recognition. Let them be them and let us be us,” and that’s what happened.

Editor’s note – Bruno goes into much more detail back in a 2003 appearance on Pro Wrestling Radio. Click here to read that interview.

Eric: Lou Albano was on my show a few years back and credits you with suggesting that he go from wrestler to manager. Is that true?

Bruno: Well, he wasn’t doing that good as a wrestler. He wasn’t doing that well and all but I noticed that he was a pretty good talker, he was always talking and there was a certain style of his that I felt that he could be very effective because some wrestlers weren’t well in promoting themselves. For example, they were going to wrestle in Madison Square Garden, let’s say against me when I was (WWWF) champion and they couldn’t promote themselves on interviews and I thought that Albano had such a gift of gab and his wrestling skills were really mediocre, I thought he’d be a better manager and I one time suggested that they should do that and even told Vince McMahon. I said, “This guy ( Albano) would be a much better manager than he would a wrestler.” So they tried him out and as they say, the rest is history.

Eric: Bruno, thank you so much for doing the show. This is your fourth appearance and hopefully I can have you back soon for a fifth?

Bruno: I hope so Eric, it’s always nice doing the show with you and I truly, truly enjoyed talking to all of your listeners. I really mean that. Anytime, just let me know.

Bruno’s autobiography, Bruno Sammartino: An Autobiography of Wrestling’s Living Legend.

The collectible WWE Classic Superstars Series 10 Bruno Sammartino Action Figure.

See Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Graham and Killer Kowalski on the WWE – The History of the WWE Championship DVD.

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

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