Kayfabe! Timeline The History of WWE 1963-69 As Told By Bruno Sammartino
Posted by Mike Campbell on 12.10.2013
The WWWF Champion takes a trip down memory lane to the first days of the WWWF.
Timeline: The History of WWE 1963-69 as told by Bruno Sammartino
Is there anyone more appropriate than Bruno to discuss this time period? Well, aside from Vincent J. McMahon or Toots Mondt? Even better is that Bruno is famous/infamous for how bitter he became at how the business changed when Vincent K. McMahon took over, so KC just steers clear of that and lets Bruno talk about the good old days. That leads me to the only criticism I can levy at this program: It’s really geared toward a much older demographic than the usual KC release. This is the sort of thing that my late Grandfather would have loved, since he was watching wrestling when all this was going on. But, the typical KC consumer (age 18-34) wasn’t even born during the time period that Bruno talks about. He drops some names that I recognize, like Wahoo McDaniel, but there are many more that I’ve never heard of, so the stories had no relevance to me.
The thing that really jumped out at me were the stories of how much Vince, Sr. and Bruno respected each other, and it really makes it make sense why Bruno disliked the changes to the business and had his twenty-five-year falling out with Vince, Jr. As the WWWF Champion, Bruno was wrestling all over the place, and in his travels, he’d come across some great talent. He’d tell Vince that he needed to check them out, and Vince would bring them right in, because that’s how much he respected Bruno’s opinion. During the late ‘60’s the NWA was on its ass with Lou Thesz as champion, because he’d been champion forever and was getting old. So, when Gene Kiniski won the strap, they were set to unify the NWA Title with the WWWF Title. At the time, Bruno was given off two Sundays per month to see his family, and he knew that was going to go away. He told Vince and his cronies that he didn’t want to do it, and that he wanted four Sundays off to see his family. As a result, the merger never happened. The Sheik and Bruno had issues over money, when Bruno felt that he wasn’t paid fairly for his going into the territory as WWWF Champion, and, after he lost the title to Koloff in ’71, Bruno and Dick the Bruiser started teaming up in Bruiser’s territory. Bruiser was moving into Detroit, so Sheik called Vince to complain and Vince just told him that he couldn’t stop Bruno from working with Bruiser.
Bruno tells some great stories about near riots in the Garden. Freddie Blassie beat him by countout with a low kick, and the police needed to get him out. Bill Watts wound up leaving the territory due to an incident. A fan took a shot at Bill, and he went to retaliate, and wound up shoving a few cops out of his way to do it. Law suits started flying around and The Cowboy had to ride into the sunset. Bruno remembers working Gorgeous George, and how much the fans were riding him to retire, and made up his mind that he wasn’t going to stick around past his expiration date. He planned on finishing up with the Larry Zybyzsko feud, but then David started wrestling and Vince, Jr. wanted him to come back to help him, and Bruno didn’t want his son to think that he’d stalled his career, so he did it.
There are a few myths that Bruno brings up and addresses. The major one being that Buddy Rogers had a heart attack a few days before his match with Bruno where Bruno won the WWWF Title. It never happened. Rogers wrestled for about two weeks straight right up until he lost to Bruno. He address the rumor of Inoki shooting on him during a match in Japan, which Bruno doesn’t know if he really was or not, only because of how the Japanese work. The other one is the notion that Bruno nixed Gary Hart coming into the WWWF as Ivan Koloff’s manager when Bruno was dropping the strap to him. Bruno debunks that one as well. He didn’t even know there were plans for Gary to come in.
The 411: For entertainment value, this is second only to the '97 Timeline with Cornette. But, for sheer volume of information, and insight as to how the business was in the old days. This leaves Cornette in the dust!