(Photo by Andrea Kellaway…)
No, this has nothing to do with The Rock. But it's still just as relevant to say. Finally. FINALLY.
The news of WWE's latest Hall of Fame inductee broke Monday afternoon. When I read the name, I got goosebumps. A smile on my face. It was one of those moments as a pro wrestling fan where you can't believe what you are reading. As if hell just froze over.
While watching Raw, everything seemed to take a backseat, for this night only. CM Punk and Chris Jericho had a terrific match. Brock Lesnar bulldozed The Miz after Paul Heyman delivered another MVP performance on the mic. Big Show and Del Rio did more good business.
Me, I was waiting. Waiting for WWE's slick production values, waiting for that emotion-infused video montage that every WWE Hall of Fame inductee gets when their name is announced.
First, an image of Madison Square Garden. Comments from Vince McMahon Sr. and Mike Tyson. The legendary Howard Finkel announcing: "From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." And then, there he was, in his prime and in his glory, on WWE television in 2013. The "Living Legend," Bruno Sammartino.
To say that many people never thought this day would come would be an understatement.
There is a reason Sammartino hasn't been inducted until now. Issues between Bruno and WWE include Sammartino's opinions on the company's past handling of drugs, the content of WWE's product (particularly during the Attitude Era), and treatment of the wrestlers themselves. WWE invited Sammartino in the past numerous times, but the longest reigning WWE champion ever declined every time.
It seemed to become a pet project for Triple H -- who, at the Royal Rumble, revealed that he is booking the Hall of Fame -- to have Bruno Sammartino be part of the 2013 Hall of Fame ceremony, especially since it is being held at MSG, where Sammartino headlined more than 190 shows.
Finally, after meetings and phone calls, Sammartino accepted the invitation, and he will take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
Some people are skeptical. Why now, after so much bad blood and ill words? I remember at last year's Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Ceremony, where Bruno picked up his ring 10 years after being inducted, he claimed that that particular Hall "was the only one that mattered, a real Hall of Fame." Maybe that was before he had spoken to Triple H. Though you can't take words back, sometimes comments are built up from one core issue. Triple H and Bruno Sammartino seem to have resolved this issue. In fact, Triple H is planning to organize a sitdown meeting between Bruno and Vince to clear the air and bury the hatchet. To be a fly on the wall during that meeting.
However we got to this point, we got here. And Sammartino will have a chance to "sell out the Garden" one more time, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania 29. A bonus: as part of the Hall of Fame recognition portion of the big event, Sammartino will most likely also appear on the WrestleMania telecast, making only his third WrestleMania appearance. At WrestleMania 1 (at MSG), he accompanied his son David to the ring, and at WrestleMania 2 he took part in the 20-man over-the-top rope Battle Royal, won by Andre the Giant.
Welcome home, Bruno. There won't be a dry eye in the house when you speak April 6 in the house that you built. I can't wait.
... and there was an episode of Raw, too!
** CM Punk is getting nuclear heat these days. In a recent interview I conducted with Roddy Piper, he had nothing but praise for the "People's Champion" (as he is now calling himself), especially with the added restrictions he is facing.
** Ryback beat Antonio Cesaro.
** Jack Swagger beat Santino Marella. Jack Swagger sort of looked like this guy.
** Alberto Del Rio beat Cody Rhodes, with new T-shirt in tow. Though I don't like Team Rhodes Scholars broken up, I don't mind either man in a singles capacity. The Shield as tag-team challengers would be interesting.
** Mark Henry returned to destroy Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio. He looked great decimating two guys a third of his size.
** Randy Orton beat Wade Barrett. The one thing that I didn't like on Raw was that both secondary champions lost their matches. I'm never a fan of "closer to main event" talent beating secondary champions. How does that help the champion or the championship, even if they look competitive in the match?
** Fannnnn-dangggggg-oooooo. That is all.
** It was a terrific match between CM Punk and Chris Jericho.
** Del Rio and Big Show will meet at Elimination Chamber. This will mark the first time that an EC PPV does not have a top title match inside the massive structure. Good back and forth between these two guys again on Raw, with a final beatdown at Show's hotel room.
** The Shield get the worst of it on Raw thanks to John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus, with an assist to half of the WWE locker room. Looks like an Elimination Chamber/War Games match is coming here.
Arda Ocal is an on-air personality with theScore Television Network. Watch his latest interviews with Bret Hart and Beth Phoenix.