The pro wrestling world is mourning the losses of “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino and “No. 1” Paul Jones.
Sammartino died Wednesday morning at the age of 82. Cause of death is currently unknown, but family friend and former World Championship Wrestling commentator Chris Cruise said he had been hospitalized for two months.
Funeral services will be held Monday.
“One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business,” WWE chairman Vince McMahon said. “Bruno Sammartino proved that hard work can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. He will be missed.”
“Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man,” said WWE star and executive Triple H. “A true friend … and one of the toughest people I’ve ever met. My thoughts are with his entire family.”
Sammartino lived in Pittsburgh.
“Bruno Sammartino was one of the greatest ambassadors the city of Pittsburgh ever had,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. “Like so many of us, his immigrant family moved here to build a new life, and through his uncommon strength and surprising grace he embodied the spirit of Pittsburgh on the world stage. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are of sitting in the basement with my grandfather on Saturday mornings and watching Bruno wrestle. They both came from the same part of Italy, and when my grandfather – who was 5-foot-8 – would watch Bruno wrestle he became 6-feet-10. I consider it a great personal honor that Bruno and I later became friends. I join all other Pittsburgh residents in saying ‘Thank you, Bruno’ and we will miss you.”
Sammartino is the longest reigning WWE champion of all time, holding the title from 1963-1971 and 1973-1977.
He sold out cards at Madison Square Garden a total of 187 times.
For years, Sammartino turned down WWE invitations to join the hall of fame, having issues with McMahon and the business in general on how it evolved over the years, referencing to drug and steroid abuse and sometimes crude storylines.
But Triple H pursued Sammartino, convinced him that the business has changed for the better and was able to broker a deal, which led “The Living Legend” to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at MSG on April 6, 2013.
Sammartino is survived by his wife of 59 years, Carol, sons David, Danny and Darryl and four grandchildren.
Then news broke later on Wednesday that former wrestler and manager “No. 1” Paul Jones passed away near his home in Atlanta.
Cause of death is currently undetermined. He was 75.
Jones wrestled in the Mid-Atlantic (1968-72, 1974-89) and Championship Wrestling from Florida (1972-74, 1980) promotions and had 23 championship reigns.
He managed some of the all-time greats from 1982-89, including Abdullah the Butcher, The Assassins, The Barbarian, Manny Fernandez, Dory Funk Jr., “Superstar” Billy Graham, Ivan Koloff, Kamala, The Masked Superstar, Dick Murdoch, Baron von Raschke, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Rick Rude, Ken Shamrock, The Warlord and Shaska Whatley.
He retired in 1991 and opened up a body shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.
WWE superstar shakeup fallout: Another interesting WWE superstar shakeup took place this week.
Stars that were moved to the RAW brand were Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh, The Riott Squad, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, Breezango, Natalya, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, Mike Kanellis, The Ascension, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable.
Stars moved over to SmackDown were The Miz, United States champion Jeff Hardy, Absolution, Samoa Joe, Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain), Big Cass, Asuka, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Cesaro and Sheamus, R-Truth and Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega.
‘Greatest Royal Rumble’ on Friday: There are some changes WWE’s “Greatest Royal Rumble” event, which will take place at 11 a.m. Friday at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and will air live on the WWE Network.
Bray Wyatt and Kane have been removed from the 50-man royal rumble match.
Chris Jericho was recently scheduled to replace Rusev in the casket match against the Undertaker, but Rusev is back on for that encounter.
Some stars who will be involved include Daniel Bryan, Big Show, Braun Strowman, Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Titus O’Neil, Elias, Goldust, Rawley, Ziggler, Corbin, Gable, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Shelton Benjamin, Sin Cara and Jericho.
Brock Lesnar will defend the universal title against Roman Reigns in a steel cage.
AJ Styles will defend the WWE championship against Shinsuke Nakamura.
John Cena faces Triple H.
The Bludgeon Brothers will defend the SmackDown tag team titles against The Usos.
Seth Rollins defends the Intercontinental championship against The Miz, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe in a ladder match.
Jeff Hardy will defend the U.S. title against Mahal.
Cesaro and Sheamus will face Matt Hardy and Wyatt for the RAW tag team titles.
‘Backlash’ update: Two more matches were made for the May 6 “Backlash” pay-per-view event. Nia Jax will defend the RAW women’s title against Alexa Bliss, and Jeff Hardy defends the U.S. title against Randy Orton.
Other matches are Reigns vs. Joe and Rollins (c) vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental title.
Cena, Nikki Bella call it quits: WWE stars John Cena and Nikki Bella informed Us Weekly last Sunday that they’ve broken up and ended their engagement.
“While this decision was a difficult one, we continue to have a great deal of love and respect for one another,” the couple said in a statement. “We ask that you respect our privacy during this time in our lives.”
The couple dated for six years, and Bella accepted Cena’s marriage proposal at “WrestleMania 33” last year at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
Impact PPV ‘Redemption’ Sunday: Impact Wrestling’s “Redemption” pay-per-view takes place Sunday in Orlando, Florida.
In the main event, Austin Aries will defend the Impact world title against Fenix and Pentagon Jr. in a triple-threat match.
Matt Sydal defends the Impact X Division title against Petey Williams.
The Latin American Xchange defend the Impact world tag team titles against Eli Drake and Scott Steiner.
Ohio Versus Everything (Dave Crist, Jake Crist and Sami Callihan) will face Tommy Dreamer, Moose and Eddie Edwards in a house of hardcore match.
The latest matches that were added include Allie (c) vs. Su Yung for the Impact Knockouts title, Taiji Ishimori vs. Dezmond Xavier, vs. El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Brian Cage vs. DJZ vs. Trevor Lee and Aerostar vs. Drago.
Byron Robinson, an Advertiser producer, can be reached by email at email@example.com.