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Bruno Sammartino

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16 hours ago, Ricky Jackson said:

Oh, and Bruno's MSG matches with Patera in 77 are great too

I had the Patera Texas Death match pulled up the other day but held off and wanted to ask you for recs before diving in. Glad to hear these are worth checking out! Thanks you all! 

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I really enjoyed the Waldo Von Erich match. Its super basic and I can imagine not some not liking it but I don't know what the possible criticism would be other than "its too basic." But you don't really get more logical than a match like that. Good stuff. 

The pop Bruno gets here made me laugh again at all the people who were like "CM Punk return biggest pop ever!" when it doesn't compare to this like average reaction to Bruno. Those NYC crowds were amazing. 

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2 hours ago, elliott said:

I really enjoyed the Waldo Von Erich match. Its super basic and I can imagine not some not liking it but I don't know what the possible criticism would be other than "its too basic." But you don't really get more logical than a match like that. Good stuff. 

The pop Bruno gets here made me laugh again at all the people who were like "CM Punk return biggest pop ever!" when it doesn't compare to this like average reaction to Bruno. Those NYC crowds were amazing. 

I would argue the Bruno vs. Larry feud features some of the hottest crowds you'll ever find on tape (NY, Philly). At MSG Vince ends up shouting despite having a microphone ...

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So my family sold me on Bruno when I was 6 years old. He was a beloved icon and considered legit, like a HOF Yankees baseball player or World Champion boxer in the northeast, where I was raised. He is without a doubt the best WWE champion of all time.

When I first watched his matches as kid from Coliseum Home Video I noticed two things:

  1. He had the biggest pops I ever heard, even if he just glanced up at the fans.
  2. He mostly punched and kicked.

When I was able to watch video off the net, I devoured all his available matches and am still on the lookout for new drops. He is the master of crowd control and is charismatic without any flair. There's not much to say about his in-ring work- he likes hammerlocks, wristlocks, headlocks, and bearhugs. When David Sammartino tried this in the 1980s he was a complete bomb.

Bruno wasn't as technical with his grappling like the NWA champs. He didn't bump much. He selling was passable just so the heel could get the heat in and then he made the Bruno frenzied comeback. He didn't have much speed or movement generally. But everything he laid in looked real. Vince Sr basically booked him the same forever- if the heel drew well, there would be 2-3 matches and Bruno would utterly destroy him in the blowoff with 95% of the offense. So his matches are basically all part of a storyline, and his success was tied into his booking as the unbeatable champ.

His Giant Baba matches are interesting, but I expected a masterpiece based on his own reviews of Baba. They were "realistic" and showed flashes of brilliance, but mostly were slow.

As far as skills go, for his time he was one of the most powerful men in wrestling, had great stamina, and a natural psychology.

The Larry feud was off the charts in every way. Would have liked if WWE released its vault with complete TV packages and MSG matches featuring another wrestler who backstabbed Bruno- Bill Watts or Bruno's various feuds vs Gorilla Monsoon, and the dream match with Pedro Morales.

If GWE was about historical significance, drawing power, popularity, and championship runs, Bruno would be in my Top 5. But as I view this list, it's not for people like him, Dusty Rhodes, Rock, Steve Austin, and Hulk Hogan.

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15 minutes ago, CurtainJerker said:

 

If GWE was about historical significance, drawing power, popularity, and championship runs, Bruno would be in my Top 5. But as I view this list, it's not for people like him, Dusty Rhodes, Rock, Steve Austin, and Hulk Hogan.

 

I think these folks all have as good an argument for the top 100 as just about anybody. Hogan & Rock are definitely making my top 100. Still haven't decided on Bruno, Austin & dusty yet

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As far as Bruno's speed in the ring goes, I watched this match recently and was struck by how fast he moved. This was 1987, Bruno was around 51 and would only have a handful of matches left. Watching a bunch of WWF from around this time, Bruno was arguably as quick as anyone in the territory. Faint praise perhaps considering some of the wrestlers in WWF at the time, but point is the guy could flat out go and wasn't just someone coasting on his popularity and relying on smoke and mirrors 

 

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I'm genuinely surprised he didn't get into one of those old school Raw or anniversary Raw battle royals after he made up with Vince and was in insane old man body builder shape in his 70s. 

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By his own admission, Bruno thought his mid 80s run was embarrassing by his high standards and he felt he wasn't giving the fans a quality performance. He really only worked because he was asked time and again to pop a house and he didnt want David to take any heat by association if he refused. Although he probably would've looked great for his age at 76-77 for a one off spot, his pride would've never allowed it to happen

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1 hour ago, elliott said:

 

I think these folks all have as good an argument for the top 100 as just about anybody. Hogan & Rock are definitely making my top 100. Still haven't decided on Bruno, Austin & dusty yet

I do agree that everyone has an argument, and I did not mean to be controversial in any way. I have a feeling many others have hesitations about where to fit such popular stars. I hope discussions here, the official GWE podcast. and Discord channel can make things more clear to me on what I am judging when I watch video.

It's a different debate/thread and I haven't made up my mind for sure, and I certainly don't want to gatekeep anyone's choices, but to me Hogan and Rock are so dependent on their total career value, drawing power, pops, booking, big moment opportunities, mic work, storylines, access to the best opponents, and marketing that if I just focus on in-ring, there are probably 100 wrestlers who were better. Tito Santana was a better wrestler than Hogan, unless we insist it was Hogan's psychology that made him millions and not his looks or booking. I do appreciate Hogan's selling and the Rock's timing. Both are masters of psychology, and I still am befuddled how to account this list for crowd connection.

If crowd connection is such a valued attribute, then our lists would be the most popular wrestlers of all time. Or if it was based on titles, main events, and awards, I'd just copy + paste my spreadsheet that ranks that, and give it to Flair, Thesz, Londos, Bruno, Hogan, and friends.

I think, say, Rick Steamboat does everything better than Hogan/Rock except make more money, and if I was doing some kind of draft the only reason why I'd choose Hulk or Rock over Steamboat would be because of charisma/drawing power, not because of wrestling skill. In my world, Bob Orton, Jr and Paul Orndorff actually wrestled better than Hogan in the 1980s. X-Pac was technically better than The Rock in the 1990s. I view Bob Backlund as being more of an "actual" pro wrestler than an entertaining strong man like Hogan, just as Dory Funk, Jr. is more "technical" than Bruno. Pat Patterson was probably a better ring general and bump taker. Terry Funk once observed that joshi he saw were better than the men- they "did more", were faster, had innovative highspots, worked stiffer, showed more toughness, etc. In a vacuum, Hogan, Rock, Dusty, Bruno, and Austin are rough around the edges in ring, more comparable to Mid South Jim Duggan or The Crusher than to all around, classic athletic performers like pre-Model Rick Martel or Jack Brisco. Those rough guys had more exciting matches, though. So excuse my ramblings.

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On 11/8/2021 at 7:41 PM, Ricky Jackson said:

By his own admission, Bruno thought his mid 80s run was embarrassing by his high standards and he felt he wasn't giving the fans a quality performance. He really only worked because he was asked time and again to pop a house and he didnt want David to take any heat by association if he refused. Although he probably would've looked great for his age at 76-77 for a one off spot, his pride would've never allowed it to happen

That's weird to me as I've just happened to be putting on Old School shows before bed and am right in that run and besides his hair being a lot thinner I didn't notice any particular difference in how he was working or the quality of it compared to matches of his I'd seen in his prime. 

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Oh, I love old man Bruno too. It's just that the man himself didn't have the highest opinion of his output as it was happening. I get it, he was a lot older than the other wrestlers and felt a bit silly still going out there in trunks pretending to fight dudes 

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In his interviews, I have also seen him lament the fact that most of the surviving tapes from his prime are from his blowoff matches, where he basically worked the same match - 90% offence, righteous anger, just eat your opponent and spit him out for the rabid fans - against different opponents, and that the first matches of his feuds have rarely survived, where he would - apparently - do scientific wrestling, go to 60-minute draws, and often sell his ass off. Maybe he is thinking of such matches when he draws a comparison between his prime run and his 80s matches. From his prime, you can tell that while he is not the smoothest, he has a lot more balance and co-ordination than, say, Hogan or a lot of the roided 80s WWF guys, despite being as big as those guys, if not bigger. He could run the ropes more convincingly, his snapmares and headlock takedowns would have a smoothness that someone like Hogan's just didn't have. My guess would be that this is what he meant when he said - and he said it often - that his 1980s WWF run was embarrassing, and he felt he could not perform to his own standards and expectations. 

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In that recent batch of MLG footage that surfaced, you see a young Bruno manage a perfectly competent dropkick ... I think it's highly unfair to characterize Bruno as some kind of lumbering strongman. By modern standards did he have a large variety of moves? No, of course not. But those he did do are deceptively smooth. He moved surprisingly well in the ring and was great at fundamentals like an armdrag, for example, in the great feud vs. Larry.

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