Sammartino vs. McMahon: Inside the 25-Year WWE Feud and Its Shocking Resolution

In The Beginning

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated, WWE.

Bruno Sammartino and Vince McMahon used to share the stick as commentators for the then-WWF in the early 1980s, but a heated feud between the two of them kept Sammartino away from WWE for over 25 years.

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A Tense Animosity

Photo Credit: WWE.

It’s no secret. Bruno Sammartino and Vince McMahon did not like one another. This animosity kept "The Living Legend" away from WWE for years, creating quite a tense moment when the two of them were left behind closed doors for the first time in over twenty-five years before 2013’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony!

The 25-Year-Plus Feud Between Bruno Sammartino and Vince McMahon

Photo Credit: WWE.

In a 1991 interview with Lee Benneka, Bruno Sammartino remarked, "I’m hoping some wrestling-minded people will come back into the scene and perhaps start back from basics, get some good-looking athletes, get away from the steroid crap and painted faces."

No Respect for Steve Austin

Photo Credit: WWE.

Sammartino was also quite frank about the main event performers during WWE’s boom period of the Attitude Era, once saying, "I don’t care for Steve Austin because of his mouth. He is a very, very vulgar individual, and anybody who is like that I can never be a fan of. So, any of his positives are overshadowed by the negatives."

This summed up his mindset of the company for many years.

Bruno’s Hall Of Fame Induction

Photo Credit: WWE.

Before the passing of our "forever champ," Bruno Sammartino opened up on the NB Show about meeting Vince McMahon for the first time in years before his 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Bruno and Vince Meet In Private

Photo Credit: WWE.

"The private meeting that took place was at Madison Square Garden that evening [of the Hall of Fame], his son-in-law Triple H and Stephanie [McMahon] came to my dressing room – I had my own dressing room – and they asked me, you know, Vince is waiting in his dressing room down the hall and if I minded going over there.

"I went. Stephanie opened the door, and I went in, and she shut the door, so Vince and I were alone.”

Alone With Vince

Photo Credit: WWE.

"He was standing toward the back of the room, and as I came in, I was waiting for him to make the first move to see what he was going to say before I responded.

"Actually, as I walked in, he looked at me and he smiled and said, ‘Bruno, welcome home.’ Just like that.

"I said, ‘Well Vince, I’m glad to be home, but we both know the situation and what brought me back home. I have been very critical of you.’

"I told him right to his face, ‘You know I have been very critical of you, but I also will recognize the fact that you have made drastic changes, and for that, I applaud you.”

Making A Better Product

Photo Credit: WWE.

Bruno continued, “‘But for all these years, I did not like what happened to the business that I spent 25 years in and the turns it took.’

"Vince said, ‘Well Bruno, I know you were always very outspoken about what you believed. I hope now you are satisfied with the changes. They are in the past, we want to go forward, and we want to do a better and better product. And we are very happy that you are back.’

"He did say this to me, which I appreciate.”

Making Amends and Moving Forward

Photo Credit: WWE.

Bruno stated to Vince, "‘When it was the World Wide Wrestling Federation, you were the main reason for this organization to become as big as it did. So we want this [Hall of Fame induction] to happen, and we’re thrilled that it has happened.’ And that was it.

"I said, ‘Thank you. As long as things stay that way and keep moving forward with improving the product. At this stage of my life, there is not much I can do to contribute, but if there is something, especially with young talent, I’d be willing to do that. As long as the product gets better and better.’"

Vince McMahon has been known to make amends with many of the people he’s had a strained relationship with over the years, and it’s great to know Sammartino was not an exception to this.

12 Times The WWE Failed To Recognize Talent: Notable Hall Of Fame Omissions

These twelve legends are more than worthy of a WWE Hall of Fame induction but have been done wrong despite being on Vince's radar for years.
Photo Credit: WWE.

We pay tribute to the legends who were done wrong by Vince McMahon, despite being clearly on his radar. Sadly, many of them will never receive this honor.

Read: 12 All-Time Legends the WWE Hall of Fame Did Wrong

Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End

Rick Rude was more than "Ravishing."
Photo Credit: WWE.

“He refused to budge.”

Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.

Learn His Tragic Story.

Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro with some tandem offense on Kofi Kingston.
Photo Credit: WWE.

“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”

These individuals’ lives were irrevocably altered while doing what they loved.

Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt

Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title
Photo Credit: WWE.

When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.

"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”

Read: Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title

Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

RIP Owen Hart (1965-1999).

VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”

On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.

Learn more in Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

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Matt Pender is an old-school wrestling fan who currently lives in New Zealand. He is also a musical performer with his band OdESSA who can be investigated at the link above.