One of the biggest knocks on the WWE Hall of Fame is there is no physical building housing many of the promotion's artifacts which have accumulated over the past 60 years.
Ring gear from legends long gone, vintage posters advertising a house show and championship belts from the past.
And if those who felt this way needed any ammunition, a story out of Avon, NY would provide them with more than enough. Our friends north of the board at SLAM! Sports have this incredible tale of wrestling history lost and found.
A fellow by the named of Johnny Barend passed away last September so his widow began cleaning out their attic with the intention of moving back home to Hawaii.
What did she find? I'm sure the usual: christmas lights, photo albums and the original World Wide Wrestling Federation Championship won by Bruno Sammartino?
Wrapped in a bath towel was one of pro wrestling's most important pieces of history.
It was quickly decided the belt was in fact the same Buddy Rogers brought and used as the initial WWWF World Heavyweight Championship when the promotion split away from the National Wrestling Alliance. Rogers was crowned champion and sat atop the mountain for 18 days before Sammartino came along.
More after the jump.
Dave Millican, who makes belts for WWE had this to say:
"It makes you wonder what else is stashed away in people's attics. It makes you wonder what other historical belts, and not just belts, but pieces of wrestling history, are stashed away in attics that people don't even realize they have. Annie didn't even realize what she had -- and why would she?"
Millican ended up buying the title -- along with a second belt, an old WWWF United States tag team strap -- from Barend.
SLAM! contacted Sammartino for his take. He says he never knew what happened to the belt he beat Rogers for but the strap he wore for nearly a decade is safe at home with him.
"That belt that Buddy had, they thought, I don't know what they thought, they felt it wasn't a good belt. I don't know who had it, who gave it to them, whatever, but they didn't think anything of it. They went and made the one that I wore all those years. Phil Zacko and [Gorilla] Monsoon gave it to me. That one I have. I had it polished up, because it was kind of worn."
But how did the belt end up in the Barend household?
He and Rogers were good friends and often worked together, Barend being a wrestler himself. And seeing as how his picture is on the belt, it's assumed by Millican he may have defended the belt during its United States Championship days.
So start digging in your attics, Cagesiders, you have find a piece of pro graps history.
Shout out to Cagesider Christopher Gates for bringing this to our attention.