Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bruno Sammartino Asked to Accept WWE Hall of Fame Induction!

Reports are circulating that former two-time WWE (then known as the WWWF -- World Wide Wrestling Federation) Heavyweight champion "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino is being courted to accept the WWE invitation to be inducted into the organization's hall of fame next year.

Sammartino has repeatedly turned down WWE's invitations into the hall of fame because of long-standing differences he has had with the company and its direction.  Also, there are reports that Sammartino believes he is due revenue from merchandising.

I unabashly say that Bruno Sammartino is and for as long as I have been a wrestling fan, my favorite wrestler.  My early days as a wrestling fan were spent at the old Capital Centre in Landover, MD to watch Sammartino take on the likes of Ivan Koloff, Stan Hansen and Larry Zbyszko.  The battle against Zbyszko, his former protege, was a lumberjack match that drew the first wrestling sellout in Capital Centre history -- 20,000 -- a week after the two drew 41,000 at Shea Stadium in New York.

What is well known about the history of the WWE is that, without Bruno as champion and its main draw during the 60's and 70's, the company may have never experienced Hulkamania or Wrestlemania.  There were a number of times that the McMahon Family looked to Sammartino to pull them out of financial despair.  Sammartino still holds the record for the longest championship reign (eight years from 1963-1971) in WWE history.  Sammartino's second reign was three years.

While I have always applauded the WWE's Hall of Fame efforts in chronicling the history of the business, I have always felt that the Hall of Fame was not legitimate without Sammartino's inclusion.  There are other longstanding alumni of the WWE that have not been recognized as yet including another long-time world champ in Bob Backlund as well as one of the greatest tag-team wrestlers of all time, Tony Garea.

Reports are saying that Triple H is trying to set up a personal meeting with Sammartino to discuss this situation.  I'm not holding out too much hope that "The Living Legend" will accept the invitation but it would make things very complete if he did.

Bruno Sammartino was the first and only pro wrestler to be featured on the old syndicated sports TV show "Greatest Sports Legends" (sometimes known as "Classic Sports Legends").  Here is that episode, hosted by hall of fame baseball pitcher Tom Seaver.

Bruno Sammartino -- Greatest Sports Legends 1979

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Freebird Buddy 'Jack' Roberts Passes!

Another tough loss for the old-school wrestling fan.  Buddy "Jack" Roberts has passed away at the age of 65.  Roberts had been battling throat cancer for some time.

Roberts was best known as one-third of the greatest three-man tag team ever -- The Fabulous Freebirds.  Roberts was the veteran mentor to young wrestlers Michael "P.S. Hayes and Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy.  Their battles with the Von Erich Family are still talked about in Dallas, TX and the rest of the wrestling world.  Prior to becoming a Freebird, Roberts was one half of the original Hollywood Blonds with Jerry Brown (There would later be a Hollywood Blonds team with Stunning Steve Austin and Brian Pillman).  Roberts and Brown would be a championship team led by Sir Oliver Humperdink among others.

Hayes and the "Undercover Freebird," Jim Garvin are the only remaining official Freebirds remaining.  Gordy passed away at the age of 40 in 2001.  Ironically, Brad Armstrong, who passed away earlier this month, was in a later edition of the Freebirds as the masked wrestler Badstreet.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Brad Armstrong Passes Away at 51!

Once again, more sad news about a wrestler passing away too young.  Brad Armstrong, who wrestled primarily in the Georgia, Mid-South (UWF) and NWA/WCW territories, passed away on November 1 at the age of 51.

The oldest son of "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, Brad Armstrong had won a number of junior heavyweight titles but was best known for his work in tag matches either with his father as his partner or with "White Lightning" Tim Horner as "The Lightning Express."  Brad's brothers, Steve, Scott and Brian (AKA Road Dogg Jesse James) were also wrestlers.  In 2011, Brad helped induct his father into the WWE Hall of Fame.

I was a big fan of Brad Armstrong either in singles or in his work with Tim Horner.  The Lightning Express, in my opinion, were one of the most underrated tag teams of the mid-to-late 80's, which were stocked with quality tag teams.  Here they are wearing the UWF Tag Team title belts.  No official word on cause of death.

Friday, October 19, 2012

WWE Roundtable About African-Americans in Wrestling!

I happened to find this video on YouTube.  If you notice, the first post on this blog was my interview with legendary wrestler Claude "Thunderbolt" Patterson.  That was by design because I really felt that his contributions as an African-American wrestler were legendary and needed to be noted.

Recently, I came across a wonderful roundtable discussion that the WWE did about the role of African-Americans in the wrestling business and I was interested to learn that Patterson wasn't the most appreciated black wrestler in this business -- and that includes by other black wrestlers and performers.

That was just one of the many things that learned watching this EXCELLENT roundtable discussion that is part of the WWE's "Legends of Wrestling" series.  It first aired during Black History month and was called simply "Soul."  The moderator is Jim Ross and the guests are "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas, Teddy Long and Cowboy Bill Watts.

RIP Mike Graham!

I know I haven't done much with this blog but every now and then I will be posting something.  Many times, it will be in tribute to someone who has left us.  Such is the case with this post.

I received word that former Florida great Mike Graham was found dead today in Daytona Beach, FL.  He was 61 years old.  Graham was the son of the legendary hall of fame wrestler and promoter Eddie Graham -- one of the Golden Grahams along with Dr. Jerry, Crazy Luke and Superstar Billy.  Where the Grahams weren't brothers by birth, Mike was indeed Eddie's son.

I didn't see a lot of Mike Graham during his career but I read a lot about him in the magazines, especially in moments like these:

This was when Graham (right) was the co-holder of the United States Tag Team championship in the Florida territory alongside his long-time tag partner Steve Keirn.  This was probably in the mid-to-late 70's prior to Keirn's legendary tag team with Stan Lane -- The Fabulous Ones -- in Memphis and the AWA in the 80's.

Graham followed in his father's footsteps as a promoter when he took over the Florida Territory in the 80's just before the WWE's national expansion.  He also trained and worked with many of the superstars of wrestling in the 90's up until today.

There are also reports that Graham may have followed his father in another, more tragic way.  Eddie Graham committed suicide in 1985.  Reports say Mike Graham may have done the same.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RIP to Chief Jay Strongbow!

Sorry I haven't posted here in a while and I'm also sorry I come back at a tough time, for we lost a true legend in the one and only Chief Jay Strongbow. This man was a mainstay of the old WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) during the 70's.  He won the WWWF Tag Team Titles four times with Sonny King, Billy White Wolf (AKA Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie) and twice with his "brother" Jules Strongbow.

He was never a world champion but he was the epitome of a "People's Champion."