WWE stars react to Bruno Sammartino's passing

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"WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino passed away at age 82", WWE said. The only details on his passing at this time are that he'd been battling health issues for the past several months, and that he died peacefully.

He was originally from Italy, after being born in Pizzoferrato, Abruzzo, in 1935, but moved to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh.

Nicknamed "The Italian Superman", the powerful Sammartino was the second-ever WWE Champion, defeating Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden in 1963 for the belt.

He held the WWE Championship for eight years before dropping it to Ivan Koloffin 1971.

"Sammartino began his wrestling career in 1959, and soon became a popular attraction, making his debut at Madison Square Garden a year later".

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Sammartino was unabashedly proud of his Italian heritage and knew that many of his fellow Italians had to deal with instances of ignorance and racism, so it came as no surprise when this was incorporated into a 1985 feud with the always-controversial Roddy Piper.

As a personification of the American dream and an incredibly charismatic performer, Sammartino charmed and won the adoration of many wrestling fans.

Those title reigns are indicative of Sammartino's place as the centerpiece of Vincent J. McMahon's WWWF, which later became the WWF and then the WWE.

Following his retirement from the sport in 1981, Sammartino would later serve as a commentator. "But as an arm to a quarterback, looking at the series, I'm hoping that in the future-when they may go ahead and start shooting one, two, or three of them-they do it sequentially, utilizing the same Jason and similarities between the directors and the writers, so the scripts have some continuity". He joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950. An Icon amongst Icon's, Bruno Sammartino has passed away. "A true friend...and one of the toughest people I've ever met", tweeted Paul Triple H Levesque. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Carol, and his three children.

As word of his death spread, WWE Superstars past and present took to social media to pay their respects to the legend.

We at Wrestling Rumors extend our deepest condolences to the entire Sammartino family during this hard time.