In this latest series of posts, titled ‘Remember When?‘, we take a look at one off or fleeting moments in wrestling history. In this post we remember when Bruno Sammartino wrestled his final WWE match as he teamed up with Hulk Hogan for the one and only time.
In WWE history, two of the biggest names are Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino. Due to combined WWE title run of 6, 225 days, over a total of six reigns, there would be little argument that a WWE Mount Rushmore would feature the face of both men.
Bruno would hold the then WWWF title for a staggering 2,803 days on his first reign – lasting from May 1963 through to January 1971 and then a further 1,237 from December 73 through to April 1977. For the best part of fifteen years, Sammartino dominated the WWWF title scene for Vince McMahon senior. In fact, throughout the 80s his son, Vince jr., would try to take advantage of the drawing power of Bruno, particularly in attempts to get David Sammartino over.
While John Cena might now be described as “the face who runs the place”, there is no bigger face in WWE history than that of Hulk Hogan. The man was front and centre as Vince McMahon took the company he purchased from his father and turned it from a North East territory to a global phenomenon. Hulkamania ran wild from January 23, 1984, when he pinned the Iron Sheik to lift the gold for the first time, through to 1993. Hogan would make several returns thereafter, in no small part to the drawing power, like Sammartino before him.
The only real period of crossover for the pair came during the 80s. By this point, it was Hogan that was at the top of the mountain while Sammartino was largely occupying a fill-in position on shows and attempting to help his son, David, become a WWE superstar.
Although Bruno had retired in 1981, a lawsuit against the WWWF on claims he was cheated by Vince McMahon Sr. on the promised gate percentages for his entire second title run was settled out of court and included him returning to do colour commentary.
Bruno’s PPV appearances were limited, he would be in the corner of his son at the inaugural WrestleMania as the younger Sammartino fought to a double DQ with Brutus Beefcake. The ending came when the Sammartinos began brawling with Beefcake and his manager Johnny Valiant. This prompted an in-ring return as the Sammartinos teamed up to face Beefcake and Valiant at Madison Square Garden. They would also team-up to face the likes of Paul Orndorff and Bobby Heenan at various arenas.
Sammartino was in such good shape that he would enter into a programme with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. This started after Sammartino became irate at Savage bragging about injury Ricky Steamboat. It lead to a Lumberjack match at the Boston Garden for Savage’s Intercontinental championship, which Bruno won via count out.
At the second WrestleMania, Sammartino competed in the 20-man battle royal at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago. Sammartino was eliminated from the match by Killer Kowalski’s protégé, Big John Studd.
By 1987, Bruno had been relegated to largely working as a sort of standby fill-in on shows. Filling in for the likes of Big John Studd when they didn’t appear at house shows. It was also the year of his final WWE match, which is the focus of this post, which took place on 29 August in Baltimore.
It might not come as a massive surprise that this show was captured on film but it was the one and only time that Bruno Sammartino would team up with Hulk Hogan against King Kong Bundy and the One Man Gang. In the bout itself,
Hogan took the heat, then Bruno came in to clean up before and Hogan pinned Bundy to win the match.
Courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com, here is the card:
WWF @ Baltimore, MD – Arena – August 29, 1987 (12,000; sell out)
SD Jones defeated Barry Horowitz
Sika defeated Jerry Allen
Demolition defeated Chavo Guerrero & Sam Houston
WWF Women’s Champion Sensational Sherri defeated the Fabulous Moolah
Butch Reed defeated Superstar Billy Graham
Tito Santana pinned Hercules
The Junkyard Dog defeated Kamala via disqualification
Brutus Beefcake fought Ted Dibiase to a 20-minute time limit draw
WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan & Bruno Sammartino defeated King Kong Bundy & the One Man Gang when Hogan pinned Bundy (Sammartino’s last match)
Were you there or have a story from that show? Leave it in the comments below.
You can read all previous ‘Remembering When’ pieces here.