Superstar Billy Graham On The Rock Not Mentioning WWE, Bruno Sammartino Entering The HOF, More
|By Daniel Pena | March 25, 2013 | Comments|
"It's like Moses parting the Red Sea water it's a tremendous turnaround. From having the uttermost hatred for Vince and the WWE to totally embracing them and just this admiration that he has now publicly for the WWE is bizarre. I don't blame him at all for taking a huge payoff at all, congratulations on that, but I don't understand between you guys, and you are very intelligent gentlemen, why wrestling out of all other sports, if Kobe Bryant got a bonus of like $10 million it would make the news. If LeBron James got $100 million, those types of things make the news.
"I don't know why wrestling has always been so secretive, especially now that its been revealed that all of our matches are predetermined and everything in that nature is wide open to the fans, there's no mystery anymore, why we still have to be secretive. I suggested in the beginning when Triple H was calling Bruno Sanmartino personally trying to get him to go into the HOF, I suggested to Bruno through our mutual friend to just say, 'well, look Vince, if you want me in your HOF give me $2 or $3 million, make it worth my time and Ill go in.' Its strictly a money and business thing. That's chump change to Vince McMahon.
"I don't know the exact amount but it is huge money. From his confidence that he's put in our mutual friend it is an absolutely enormous amount of money and I told my friend, 'why didn't you just tell Bruno from day 1?' He says, 'Bruno says 'Triple H is really a nice guy, he's been calling me every week, twice a week trying to get me into the HOF and I just don't want to go in.' This is going on and on and I told my friend, 'well why doesn't Bruno step up and say give me a couple million to get me in and why doesn't Vince step up to the plate and say 'well I want you in so bad, here, you're worth two or three or four million to go in, lets get this thing done.' The fans would be happy. I would be happy to know that. I'd be happy for Bruno and his family and all of that, but to keep everything so secretive and to put the heat on Bruno, forcing Bruno to tell his fans that he's only getting five grand is like a slap in the face to all of us.
On his relationship with Vince McMahon: Horrible right now. We've had a love hate relationship for years and I don't know if its because I've been so independent but I've never come close to revealing the bitter hatred to Vince and the WWE. I mean, Bruno Sanmartino hates Vince McMahon with the uttermost hatred. I mean, he hates him like the venom of an Arizona rattlesnake coming out of Vince's mouth every time he utters a word he hates him so much. My relationship is severed forever with Vince. I can't even remember what happened. We've had so many back and forth's going on.
What happened after Bob Backlund won the title: That was the biggest mistake in the history of our business. I really believe it was the biggest mistake. I was ready to be a huge babyface. All we had to do was have Ivan Koloff, my tag team partner, turn on me. I was a natural babyface but he said he had a handshake deal with Backlund and he's a man of his word, this is Vince Sr. talking, and despite the fact that Bob Backlund being a very nice young man who's had to live with this 'howdy doody' tag on him, my god, to be a champion and be tagged as a howdy doody character is really sad to have to live with that.
That was a huge mistake for me to pass the baton back over to Backlund but I did as I was also instructed to. That was set up a full year before it actually went down. Vince Sr. brought me down to Ft. Lauderdale, his home, and along with Eddie Graham, he was still alive when I was wrestling in the Florida territory, to make this agreement that I would take the title from Bruno on April 30th 1977 and then give it to Bob Backlund on, I believe, February 20th of '78, almost a year later, and this was all agreed upon a full year ahead of when it actually happened. The thing with Sr was, he was always a man of his word and he felt that he had to keep his word even though it was a struggle, we had to support all the under card, all the matches. Once I gave that belt back over to Backlund, if he would have been left on his own to draw, it would have been horrible attendance records. We had to support that card underneath that kid with Andre the Giant, with Dusty and I, and all kinds of huge support to draw and make that thing work.
Why he never had a great feud with Backlund: He never had a real feud with anyone, never had a hot thing going on with anyone because he was not hot. He was not over. He was force fed down the fans throat and he didn't have it. He didn't have the charisma. On our return match in the Garden, when I gave the belt to Backlund, when I laid down for Backlund, on the return match you go back and look in the photo archives and remember when Backlund was wearing those long boxing robes in the beginning with a towel around his neck, that was his ring attire, and on the return match in Madison Square Garden, and
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