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BRUNO SAMMARTINO EXPLAINS WHY HE CHANGED HIS STANCE AND JOINED THE WWE HALL OF FAME

By Mike Johnson on 2013-02-05 08:44:58
Bruno Sammartino was interviewed by CBS' Pittsburgh, PA affiliate last night discussing his reasoning for accepting an invitation into the WWE Hall of Fame, ending decades of strife between himself and WWE.

In the interview, Sammartino noted that he had spoken out against the industry for changes, specifically drugs and steroids in the business but can see that WWE has made positive changes with their Wellness Policy and that since he's started to watch their programming again, he can see they "are not on drugs."

The story actually credited Sammartino's criticisms with changing the business for the better, which, while it makes for a nice story, isn't the case. WWE didn't start policing itself until the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero, which broke the hearts of everyone who ever worked or knew him and then didn't really begin evolving their Wellness Policy until the Benoit tragedy took place. A major factor in the fallout of each of those instances was the fear of bad publicity and government intervention into the industry. So, while there are major positives that WWE should be applauded for, Sammartino's voice was not the tipping point - although one could argue it should have been, a long time before.

As I mentioned in the Elite section yesterday, one of the reasons Sammartino changed his mind was the involvement of Dr. Joseph Maroon, who oversees the Wellness Policy and once operated on Sammartino. WWE sources believed that Sammartino's discussions with Maroon, who Bruno did not see as a "WWE guy" helped give him insight into how the company operates to protect their talents today and that began softening Sammartino's resolve to never go into the Hall.

It's interesting to note that when I interviewed Bruno last year, two other issues of contention he had with the Hall still exist today - the lack of a physical building and the company's decision to induct celebrities like Drew Carey and Pete Rose into the Hall over actual wrestlers who helped build the company. It should be interesting to see whether Sammartino's induction spurs movement into building a Hall (which has been an on and off again discussion) and in whether a celebrity is inducted this year as there had been talk of perhaps inducting Cyndi Lauper at one point.

Below is the complete story from CBS: