Autographs are free, but WWE Hall Of Fame ceremonies obviously are not - Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Apparently, Bruno Sammartino drove a very hard bargain in return for legitimising the WWE Hall Of Fame with his presence this year - he's believed to be getting a main event level "WrestleMania" payoff. He also procured a public admission from Triple H on "WWE.com" that his past gripes with WWE were "completely justified".
As everyone should know by now, Bruno Sammartino has finally buried the hatchet with WWE and was announced as the latest inductee in the WWE Hall Of Fame on Monday (Feb. 4).
Most wrestling insiders thought hell would freeze over before that ever happened, but once Bruno spoke to Triple H at length, he became impressed about how the promotion had cleaned its act up by implementing serious drug testing and removing the blood, profanity and raunchiness from all of its programming.
Unfortunately, Bruno went overboard with his glowing praise of the WWE Wellness policy that's overseen by his local back surgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon, as scepticism still remains over how effective that program truly is.
Some may feel that by offering such a ringing public endorsement, whilst suspicion prevails that WWE plays favourites with who gets punished or tested, that Bruno has sold out his principles. Especially when, to him personally, this is nothing more than a savvy business deal.
From reports in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it sounds like Bruno may end up making around a million dollars for his WWE appearances over the next year, which shows the lengths Vince McMahon will go to force his enemies to eat crow and hold their nose while putting over his company again:
"Sammartino approached this as a purely business decision, giving HHH a price that he thought would be turned down. In a number of conversations, he spoke of the deal as something he didn’t expect to happen. There was a long period before there was any answer from WWE, with him figuring that Vince McMahon likely nixed the deal due to price. The WWE could obviously afford the price, in line with what one of the company’s top stars would earn for a WrestleMania payoff. Really, it was a question of ego and precedence more than anything....
Unlike everyone else who had entered the Hall of Fame, nobody had ever asked a deal anywhere near that level. At that point, the ball was in McMahon’s court, even though HHH was the point man. They decided it was worth it to them as a business decision, and ultimately, that’s what this is, with those close to the situation saying it was a win/win."
To recoup their significant investment, a Bruno Sammartino DVD compilation is expected to be released at some point. He's also expected to be used as a talking head on other DVD releases, most noticeably one commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of WWE; also to be featured on the WWE Legends Round Table series on 24/7 Classics on Demand, (a show in which some of McMahon's kiss asses once tried to downplay his stardom in the 1970s).
WWE Films may even end up producing the screenplay about Bruno's life story that has already been written by Paul Guay of Liar Liar fame, and is being shopped around to various studios.
Meanwhile, WWE.com has posted an exclusive interview with Bruno Sammartino and Triple H, where they both gave the corporate spin about how and why the deal was made. "The Living Legend" also reflected on the highlights of his career (his WWWF title matches with "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden, and headlining three Shea Stadium events against Pedro Morales, Stan Hansen and Larry Zybysko), while "The Game" discussed what he hopes today's WWE Superstars will learn from having such a veteran mind around.
However, most notable was Hunter making the admission that, "Bruno has had his gripes about the company in the past and they were completely justified." Wow, even Bret Hart didn't get such vindication when he got inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2006, eight years after the Montreal Screwjob. I imagine that statement was harder to procure from the McMahon family's mouths than all that cash.