SPORTS TALK: Bruno Sammartino was the American Dream personified

by James McCarthy- April 28, 2018

We say it can’t happen here, right? And then it happens.

Toronto had that attitude for the longest time until April 23, when Mr. Tough Guy took a van and slaughtered 10 people doing nothing except living their lives. Hogtown is my hometown and I spent a lot of time up in the Yonge and Finch area where the attack occurred so it hit home a little bit for me. The best part is that the city will recover. It always does because that’s what we do.

On to less important things:

Farewell to the Living Legend

Paul Heyman once called Bruno Sammartino the best territorial champion in professional wrestling history and he’s not wrong.

Sammartino was called the Living Legend for a reason – he was a legend. I remember watching him as a kid (yes, I’m that old) and he could still get the job done. Not anymore, though, because Sammartino died on April 18 at the age of 82. He was the World-Wide Wrestling Federation’s heavyweight champion in 1963 and held the title for eight years before losing it to Ivan Koloff in 1971. He would win it back in 1973, eventually holding the title for more than 4,000 days.

He was king of New York City’s Madison Square Garden, a place he would sell out 187 times in his illustrious career, but it was Toronto where he would become a household name, which made sense. Sammartino was born in Italy and the second Toronto’s Italian community heard one of their own was coming to town, they stuffed Maple Leaf Gardens full. Same deal at the Montreal Forum when he went there.

Bruno Sammartino, right, stands with a bronze statue of his likeness with Paul Michael Levesque, better known by the ring name Triple H, which was unveiled in 2014. Sammartino died on April 18 at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy like no other in professional wrestling. photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Beyond the Italian diaspora, Sammartino was a hero to anyone who was a member of the working-class or an immigrant because that’s who Sammartino was. He went to the U.S. after World War II, surviving the Nazi invasion of Italy. He was the epitome of the American Dream. He made it big and millions of people looked up to him because of it.

Sammartino soured on the business in his later years because, in his opinion, it had strayed away from wrestling and moved closer toward the entertainment side of things, and not all of it was PG. He wasn’t wrong. The Monday Night Wars provided some very questionable story lines, some of them were fun, but mostly they were an attempt to draw ratings. Thankfully, he reconciled with Vince McMahon and accepted his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Long-time wrestling writer Bill Apter said Sammartino’s theme music was 21,000 people chanting his name when he came to the ring. That’s probably the best way to describe it because every time he came to the ring, thousands of people would chant his name. Without Bruno Sammartino, there would be no World Wrestling Entertainment. His impact on professional wrestling can never be doubted by anyone.

Bruno Is Uno and will always be Uno.

I’m no. 78!

So Pizza Hut is the new pizza sponsor of the National Football League and had a rather interesting yet clever promotion for the 78th overall pick in this year’s entry draft.

Whoever got picked 78th this year will receive a year’s supply of pizza courtesy of Pizza Hut. You’re probably wondering why that number? Simple. The 78th overall pick is the 14th pick of the third round; each round has 32 picks because there are 32 teams in the NFL.

Now, take the number of the round (3) and the pick number of that round (14) and put them together. What do you have? Pi or 3.14. Since pizza is considered a pie, that’s how it came about. In your life, could you come up with a better promotion. In case you’re keeping score, the Kansas City Chiefs hold the pick.

Nice touch, Nipawin

The Nipawin Hawks are the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champions after beating the Estevan Bruins in the final earlier this month, winning Game 7 of the series and doing it in one of the best ways possible.

The Hawks were in the midst of their semifinal series against the Humboldt Broncos when the tragedy struck on April 6. With that in mind, the Hawks decided to wear green helmets in honour of the Broncos for the entire series against Estevan.

Nipawin now moves on to the ANAVET Cup series against the Steinbach Bombers, champions of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, with the winner representing the west region at the RBC Cup in B.C., which starts on May 12. I think the helmets will be worn there as well, don’t you think?

And finally …

Good Idea: Passing to an open man.

Bad Idea: Passing to absolute thin air.

Romania and Estonia were doing battle at the Group B World Hockey Championship in Lithuania on April 25.

It’s scoreless and Romania has a chance to draw first blood thanks to an Estonian turnover. The Romanian player breaks in on goal and … no-looks it to no one. Yup, this guy just decided to lay it off and hope for the best. If you watch the video, you’ll see one of his teammates simply throw his hands in the air and wonder what in the holiest of craps he was thinking.

Estonia would go on to win the game by a score of 1-0 and there’s a pretty good chance that Romanian player got some extra attention at the team’s skate the next day, like how to finish off a breakaway.

Until next time, folks …

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