After years of reeling, reeling and more reeling, WWE finally landed the big fish it was after for years when Bruno Sammartino agreed to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The bait that the company used was something that many in the WWE Universe are not going to want to hear.
In an interview with ESPN (as reported by WrestlingNewsSource.com), WWE Executive Vice President Paul “Triple H” Levesque says he tried to alleviate some of Sammartino’s concerns over future WWE programming. According to the report, Triple H explained to Sammartino that WWE’s PG rating and its increased attention to a Wellness Policy for its roster are in place and not going anywhere:
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.
In a separate WrestlingNewsSource.com report, Sammartino reinforced what Triple H had told him:
Triple H contacted me and started telling me all the things that had changed and everything that was going on with WWE. I started watching it after talking to him and when I saw it, I was very, very impressed.
It was his beef over the direction that WWE took in the late 1990s and the early 2000s with its Attitude Era programming and reportedly rampant steroid use that caused Sammartino to practically renounce his affiliation with the company.
Back then, when the promotion was known as WWWF and Sammartino was its king, any kind of Attitude Era-like antics were never considered. The premise of wrestling was clean-cut: Good Guy vs. Bad Guy.
Then, when the Attitude Era brought WWE through the front door, Sammartino went out the rear door and never looked back. He did not want to have his good name associated with a product that had sunk to such levels of bad taste.
When WWE made its turn toward more family friendly programming later in that decade, perhaps Sammartino thought that might just be a ruse. Maybe he wanted to see if a PG promise was just that—a promise.
Several years into the PG era, Sammartino apparently now is convinced. And so should everyone who still yearns for the sex and rock-and-roll storylines of that Attitude Era.
The Attitude Era is dead. Triple H has spoken its eulogy.
And now, Bruno Sammartino’s HOF induction has buried it.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.