The Name on the Marquee: Wrestling's Living Legend, Bruno Sammartino (1986)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 04.05.2009
Coliseum Video pays homage to the father of David Sammartino.
-Your hosts are Mean Gene Okerlund and Bruno Sammartino.
WORLD TITLE: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (Champion, with Arnold Skaaland) vs. NIKOLAI VOLKOFF
-Mean Gene pegs this at 1975. We’re in MSG and we start with a test of strength. Volkoff gets the upper hand initially, but Bruno breaks free with a kick to the stomach. Bruno takes Volkoff off his feet with a wristlock and switches it to an armlock. Volkoff makes it to the ropes and they trade shoulderblocks, with Bruno getting the worst of it. Volkoff tries another one but gets armdragged and Bruno works the arm again. He goes for a series of pins, which Volkoff breaks by bridging. They go back to the test of strength. So far, I know, this recap reads like one resthold after another, but it’s better than that because they’re not just taking turns falling asleep on top of each other. There’s a story here. Volkoff is decisively proving that he’s stronger than Bruno, while Bruno just wants to wear down the arm.
-Bruno kicks and rams Volkoff into the turnbuckle. Series of punches gets a two-count. Integrity preservation takes us to a shoulderblock that wipes out both men. Bruno revives first and goes right for a pin that gets two. He rams Volkoff into the mat a few times and just stands there, waiting for him to get back up. And when he finally does, Bruno gives him a boot to the head. Well, that was certainly worth the wait. Bruno kicks Volkoff out to the floor. Volkoff makes it back in and gets greeted with a flurry of punches. Volkoff headbutts Bruno down and works the midsection with a series of boots. Two-count and he tries a side headlock. Attempted Irish whip is reversed by Bruno and he rolls up Volkoff immediately for three. 0 for 1. This started off really well, with both guys telling a story, but they lost it along the way and it turned into a fistfight leading to a finish that didn’t pay off anything that took place.
WORLD TITLE: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (Champion, with Arnold Skaaland) vs. BARON VON RASCHKE (with Classy Freddie Blassie)
-Baron attacks at the bell and chokes the life out of him right off the bat. Irish whip and an armdrag by the Baron. Elbow gets a two-count. Baron goes for the claw, but telegraphs it, so Bruno kicks him away and starts firing off punches. Irish whip and he goes for a splash but the Baron meets him with a boot. Bruno no-sells it and punches away. Bruno kicks Baron in the head and Baron takes a breather. Back in, Baron slams Bruno and drops an elbow for two. He goes for the claw, but Bruno keeps him away with punches. Irish whip and a backdrop by Bruno get two. Armdrag and another one by Bruno and the Baron goes to the floor.
-Back in the ring, Bruno wants a test of strength. Baron refuses, so Bruno just boots the piss out of him until he gets tangled in the ropes. Then he boots him some more. Baron unties himself and takes a few shots at the throat. Nerve hold by Baron Von Raschke, a noted Samoan. Bruno punches his way to freedom and kicks Baron while he tries to shake off the pain in his arm. Armdrag with the good arm gets a two-count for Bruno. Baron slams him and tries an elbow, but Bruno moves. Shoulderblock wipes out both men. Punches and knees by the Baron get a two count. More fists of fury from Bruno for another two-count. Bruno kicks the Baron a few times and punches him so hard he goes over the top rope. Baron brings a chair into the ring and KOs Bruno with it, then locks in the claw. Tony Garea, Larry Zybysko, and somebody I don’t recognize off-hand break it up. 0 for 2. Bit of a mess here.
BRUNO SAMMARTINO vs. KEN PATERA
-Uh…okay, it seems like the logical thing to do would have been show the rematch from the last thing, but…We’re joined in progress at a rear chinlock by Bruno. He switches to a headlock but quickly gets bored with that and goes to stomping and stomping. He punches Patera and Patera fights back with kicks. He screams “Get up boy!” Then Patera throws kicks. Then he yells “Get up boy!” Then he kicks. Slam by Patera and he drops an elbow. Another elbow misses. Another one connects. Bruno fights back with punches. Patera drops a series of forearms on Bruno. Bruno moves out of the way and rams Patera’s face into the mat. High knee by Bruno. Slam gets two. Bruno punches. Atomic drop sends Patera through the ropes. Bruno puts the boots to him. Patera gets back in the ring and Bruno puts the boots to him. Backdrop gets two. Bruno throws a punch and Patera equalizes things with a low-blow. Patera puts the boots to Bruno from the second rope. He chokes Bruno and slams him. Two kneedrops get a two-count. They trade punches. Bruno kicks to gain control. Then he punches Patera. Irish whip and Patera goes to the apron for a breather. He locks in a full nelson from outside. Bruno yanks him back into the ring and kicks himself off the turnbuckles to land on top of Patera, and we get the “double-pin and one guy accidentally pins himself” finish, with Bruno getting his hand raised. 0 for 3.
WORLD TITLE: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (Champion, with Arnold Skaaland) vs. KILLER KOWALSKI
-Joined in progress at a crucifix by Killer and they roll around for a while, with Killer trying to get the pin and Bruno repeatedly getting out of it. Killer stomps Bruno and goes for a choke. Killer goes to the top rope, but Bruno yanks him off by the hair and slams him for two. Bruno drives a knee into the back. He pounds Killer in the corner; Killer fights back with shots to the midsection. Abdominal claw by Killer is resisted by Bruno, so Killer stomps him from the second rope and tries it again. Bruno gets to his feet and hangs Killer over the top rope, then stomps his upside-down opponent. And there we see Bruno’s true brilliance. No matter what position you have in the ring, Bruno can find a way to stomp you. Killer gets himself upright and Bruno stomps him in that position (a “classic stomp,” if you will) and back in the ring, Killer punches and kicks him. He dropkicks Bruno all the way out to the floor, catching Bruno off-guard with his “do interesting things” strategy.
-Back in the ring, Killer throws a few punches that send Bruno back to the floor. Killer bites Bruno and throws punches, and the camera gives us a great shot of Bruno having a rather pleasant chat with Killer while no-selling the punches. Kowalski bites away until Bruno blades, but Bruno starts lighting into Killer with punches of his own and goes on quite the rampage from one end of the ring to the other. Irish whip and a few kicks by Bruno, and Killer starts to fight back with punches. Referee calls for the bell, and we apparently have a double-DQ for excessive punching. Hell, how often do you see THAT rule actually enforced? As in the Baron Von Raschke bout, the Spandex Cavalry arrives from the locker room to break things up. Again, this would suggest that the next thing we’ll see on this best-of collection is a rematch…Oh yeah, 0 for 4, this was shit…Anyway…
MEAN GENE OKERLUND INTERVIEWS BRUNO SAMMARTINO
-Your lie of the night sees Bruno, in 1986, saying he’s been wrestling for 22 years, which would mean he wrestled his first match a year after he won his first title. Bruno manages to get through the entire interview without stomping on Gene, so we’ll give it a point. 1 for 5.
PIPER’S PIT LIVE!
-Hey, NOW we’re talkin’. Piper starts to say “Ladieeeeeeeees and gentlemen!...” but then remembers he’s in New York, so he changes his intro to “Peopllllllllle!” That’s pretty damn funny. Bruno arrives and makes Cowboy Bob leave immediately. Bruno keeps up with Piper’s jawing pretty well. Bruno boasts that he can keep up with Piper, even after all these years. Piper calls him a wop, so Bruno shoves him right on his ass. Piper attacks him from behind with a chair and the microphone. Bruno gets his hands on the chair, though, and Piper runs for his life. Good segment. 2 for 6.
BRUNO SAMMARTINO vs. ROWDY RODDY PIPER
-After what we’ve seen so far, it’s actually pretty amazing that we’re getting this match. We’re at Boston Garden, joined in progress at Bruno absolutely tearing into Piper. He rams him face-first into the post and Piper hits the floor. Bruno follows him out and rams him into the barricade and an occupied set of chairs, and Piper is already bleeding. Back in the ring, Piper gets a faceful of turnbuckle and a gutful of boot. Bruno continues laying into Piper with punches until Piper gets a low blow in. He goes for a pin but only gets two. Piper keeps laying into Bruno with punches. Bruno punches back. Piper sends him to the floor and gives him his own taste of barricade. Back in the ring, Bruno kicks and stomps Piper, and Gorilla says “The Sammartino of old is evident.” No shit. Piper tries to call it a night, but Bruno chases him and brings him back to the ring the hard way. Kicks and punches are traded. Piper tries to lie about a low blow, but the referee refuses to stop the match. Bruno looks to finish Piper off, but Bob Orton arrives on the scene for an attempted 2-on-1 assault. We now have three men in the ring with blue tights and black boots attacking each other, so good luck following the action, guy-in-the-cheap-seats. Bruno gets tied up in the ropes and Piper slaps & spits on him. 3 for 7. Bruno showed more life when he was in there with Piper.
BRUNO SAMMARTINO & “Mister Wonderful” PAUL ORNDORFF vs. ROWDY RODDY PIPER & COWBOY BOB ORTON
-Here’s a perfectly logical follow-up. Orndorff is wearing a plaster cast to counteract Orton’s plaster cast. Faces absolutely decimate the heels. Orndorff chokes out Piper with the tag rope and takes out Orton when he attempts to intervene. Double tags bring in Bruno and Orton. Shoulderblock by Bruno, shoulderblock by Orton. Piper tags back in and slaps Bruno. Bruno throws a punch and Piper runs for his life. On the floor, he wipes out Bruno with a wooden chair and sends him into the stairs. Orndorff checks on his partner while Piper & Orton do Snuka poses in the ring, which is amusing. Back in the ring, Bruno surprises Piper with a series of punches. Orndorff comes off the top rope with the cast and goes for the piledriver, but Orton comes off the top rope with his own cast, and both men are out. Piper recovers first and gets two. Piper rams him into the turnbuckle and a fan throws one of Leaping Lanny Poffo’s Frisbees in the ring. Piper throws it to the opposite side of the crowd and gets a huge laugh. Orton tags in and keeps up the attack until Orndorff reverses an Irish whip. Piper rushes back in and pounds Orndorff. Orndorff attempts a sunset flip by pulling the tights. Piper kicks out and Orton & Piper double-team Orndorff with Piper’s ass hanging completely out. Hot tag to Bruno and he sends Piper right to the floor. It’s a brawl on the floor and a brawl in the ring too. Bruno gets frustrated and throws a chair right at Piper’s head. It misses and Piper rolls back into the ring to beat the ten-count. Bruno doesn’t make it in time, and Piper & Orton go home with the win. 4 for 8. Fun and intense action.
STEEL CAGE, WORLD TITLE: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (Champion) vs. GEORGE “The Animal” STEELE
-Yeah, because who wants to watch Bruno exact his revenge against the top heel on a best-of-Bruno tape? We’re joined in progress with Steele mauling Bruno with chokes and stomps. And more stomps. And more stomps. Bruno gets to his feet and kicks the shit out of Steele. Steele tries to escape, but Bruno yanks him down and sends him into the cage a few times. Steele is out cold and Bruno calmly goes to the door and retains his title. 4 for 9. Whole lot of stompin’ goin’ on.
The 411: Really, a Roddy Piper fan is going to enjoy Bruno's tape more than Bruno fans will. I know I'll be reamed for this because the guy is a legend, but even accepting that it was a different time, Bruno's stuff has just never done it for me. I watched this and found myself looking back at Ole Anderson's comments to RF Video about Hulk Hogan and thinking that Bruno might be the same story. He lasted for years only because he was in a massive territory where fans could go months at a time without seeing him wrestle and wouldn't notice how limited he was. And man, say what you will about Hogan being a formulaic wrestler, but somebody at Coliseum Video made it a point to select the matches for his tapes carefully enough that it made him look for versatile, this thing was ninety minutes of stomping. Take a pass.