Bruno Sammartino Talks WWE HOF, Flair & Hogan Still Wrestling, Kurt Angle & More

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"But as far as wrestling, like I said, he stunk then and he still has the audacity to go in the ring today once in a while. I don't understand it, why these guys do that. I'm sure financially they must be okay 'cause they were in it when the big money came into it. So I don't know if they have no shame or what. But to watch these guys… I never watch wrestling, but I watched a couple times because friends call me up and say, hey you wanna see Hogan he's gonna be in the ring, or Flair. And I look and I shake my head and I say, My god these people have no shame, no self-respect, no pride, nothing'."

Being the main guy in wrestling in the 1960's: "Well the '60s especially, they were just great, you know. There was a famous club in New York called Jilly's and Jilly Rizzo was the owner, and he was Frank Sinatra's right-hand man. And I mean, when you went into that place you'd run into anybody. But anyway, through him, yeah I did get to know Frank, and Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Peter Lawford, and Richard Conte. And I hung out with those guys through the years. It was a lot of fun. For me it was a big kick because I used to see these guys in the movies and what have you, and to be with them in person, it was quite fascinating. I was very fortunate because in my travels around the world, I got to meet a lot of great people. For example when I went back to Italy for the first time, I get to meet the President of Italy who came and I spent some times with. It's just been one tremendous experience. I' made like twenty tours of Japan alone. And Australia, many many tours. The Philippines, all through South America, South Africa, North Africa, been all over Europe… So it's been quite a ride to be perfectly honest with you. For a kid who barely survived World War II, and then I came down sick with rheumatic fever which nobody expected me to live. And to have the opportunity then to come to this great country. I came here as a human skeleton and I built myself up to a 275-pound guy, did some good weight-lifting competition I did very very well. And so it's been like I say, quite a ride."

On Kurt Angle: "Kurt Angle—we all know, right, he was an Olympian and a gold medalist—but even in the ring as he made the transition from amateur to professional, the guy can do some phenomenal, good, solid stuff. And he's got that background so nobody can question or deny that he's a wrestler. Yeah, I wish there were more Kurt Angles in there. And even if not in his caliber, in my day there were a lot of guys who were not Olympic champions or anything like that but they were great wrestlers in that ring. And it's gone. They knew—as we put it—they knew how to tell a story. They knew how to make this match, if there's gonna be a return match to where the people couldn't wait for that return match to come. Because these were great talent, they knew what they were doing in the ring, they looked good, they weren't a bunch of steroid freaks, but they were genuinely big guys who knew how to wrestle who were athletic. And now it's a completely different thing. Yeah, Kurt Angle is one of the greats and too bad there aren't more of him."

WrestleReunion: "I think the first one we had was in Florida. It was awesome because we had eighty or ninety wrestlers from yesteryear and present, signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans, and having lunches and talking with the fans. It was kind of unique and they have done that now every year. They have gone to different parts of the country. This one coming up in Toronto is very special, especially for me, because that is where I got my big break was in Toronto, and I have not been back since. So when I was invited to go there, because I am retired I won't travel much anymore, I agreed to do this. I am excited about it and they are extremely special and they are awesome these Wrestle Reunions."

Raj Giri is the owner of WrestlingINC.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking the "Follow" button:

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