WWE locked in their deal to induct Bruno Sammartino into the WWE Hall of Fame two weeks back after Triple H personally traveled to Sammartino's home in Pittsburgh, PA. The contract was officially signed on Friday 2/1.
As I mentioned in the PWInsider Elite section last week, there had been talk within the company for a few weeks that the deal was done, although sources close to Sammartino would not confirm it. They wouldn't because he hadn't signed the deal and did not feel it was a done deal until it was.
Sammartino's deal is expected to be more than just the induction as WWE wants to really use him going forward for DVDs, etc.
All I can say is that Triple H is a hell of a salesman, as Bruno turned him down the first time. At the time, told me in an interview he doubted he would ever agree to the induction while "Vince McMahon was around" and also noted his issues with the celebrities who were inducted as well as the lack of a physical Hall of Fame. I am told Triple H remained respectful but persistent over several additional phone calls but finally got Sammartino to change his mind. It took about seven months for the entire process to happen, but in the end, he got Bruno and not a lot of people can say they've gotten Bruno to change his mind once it's made up.
WWE issued the following press release on this "Hell freezing over" moment:
BRUNO SAMMARTINO, “THE LIVING LEGEND” TO ENTER WWE® HALL OF FAME
STAMFORD, Conn., February 4, 2013 – WWE (NYSE:WWE) announced today that Bruno Sammartino will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Madison Square Garden.
Sammartino, nicknamed “The Living Legend,” is a two-time WWE Champion and the longest reigning WWE Champion in history, holding the title for a combined 11 years. His first title reign began on May 17, 1963, where he defeated “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden. After losing the Championship in 1971, he regained the title on December 10, 1973, defeating Stan Stasiak at Madison Square Garden, holding the Championship until April 30, 1977. When he retired from the ring, Sammartino became a color commentator for WWE’s syndicated Superstars program and stepped back into the ring on special occasions. After his departure in 1988, Sammartino was openly critical of WWE, and for many years declined the offer to be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame, citing concerns with WWE’s content and culture.
“For my fans around the world, I am pleased to be joining the WWE Hall of Fame, especially at Madison Square Garden,” said Bruno Sammartino.
“Having sold out more than 200 shows at Madison Square Garden and being the longest reigning WWE champion in history, Bruno Sammartino is truly ‘The Living Legend,’” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman and CEO. “This is an extraordinary and historic moment to have Bruno take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.”
Tickets for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are currently available through all Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. All tickets are subject to service charges and facility fees. For more information on Bruno Sammartino, please visit www.BrunoSammartino.info.