Bruno Sammartino will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6, 2013 from Madison Square Garden in New York City, ESPN has confirmed.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Gardens is the biggest thing in my life,” Sammartino said in an exclusive interview for ESPN Playbook. “Any time that people feel that you accomplished enough to enter into a Hall of Fame, of course this is a tremendous, tremendous thrill for me. I had a lot of my success due to appearing at the Garden. I wrestled there over 200 times, it’s where I won the title, and it’s where I picked up 630-plus pounds of Haystacks Calhoun.”
Bruno credited Triple H for explaining to him the company's new PG initiative, resulting in him changing his mind after initially rejecting an offer to be inducted.
“But as Paul explained to me, WWE made a lot of other changes. There’s no more profanity, there’s no vulgarity in the current product, and that stuff had bothered me as well. When Paul first spoke to me and told me all the changes, I started watching it again and I was very convinced that they are doing amazing things. I see the wrestlers and all the changes they made. There’s no profanity, there’s no vulgarity, and it’s a family-friendly program. That’s what it used to be, and that’s a huge role in the whole factor.”
ESPN also got quotes from Hunter regarding the induction:
“From a legitimacy standpoint, it’s important for us to get Bruno in,” Levesque said. “He’s one of the biggest names there has ever been in the business. So for us to not have him in there, for the legitimacy of the whole thing, it was a major issue. For me, the more important thing was that nobody deserves to be recognized for being a big star and paving the way for the stars of today more than Bruno. Everything that we have today in the business, Bruno was a cornerstone of that foundation. He truly is a living legend.
“As we started getting into Hall of Fame season, it’s almost like this storyline wrote itself. To have Bruno Sammartino brought into the Hall of Fame in Madison Square Garden, a building he sold out more than anybody in the world, that’s a remarkable achievement. It was an opportunity to honor Bruno, but it was also an opportunity for our fans.
“There has been this bad blood between Bruno and the WWE for years, and we’re not trying to hide any of it, but I just felt like we are at a point where a lot of it can be resolved. Our wellness program and the way our programming is now, a lot of people are unaware of it, so I felt like if I could get Bruno on the phone and I could run down a list of those things that he didn’t like, I could show him how we changed. We’re PG, family-friendly entertainment with a wellness program that is truly based on the wellness of our performers. We want them to be healthy and live long, productive lives. So I just felt that if Bruno knew about those things, he might feel differently, and eventually, that’s what came to be.”
Hunter also said he discouraged both Vince McMahon and Bruno from speaking over the phone and that they should get together in the same room where they can shake hands.
We reported a couple weeks ago here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that Triple H had put forth an intense effort to get a deal done that would place Sammartino in the WWE Hall of Fame. Sources told us that Hunter was confident at the time a deal would get done. They were right.