What changed Sammartino's mind about going into the WWE Hall of Fame: "I said I would refuse, I would not go in because I would be a hypocrite, because I had been very critical of some of the things that were going on. I felt that there was a big drug problem with the steroids and probably other things. I also didn't like the nudity and the vulgarity and the profanity that was going on in the organization. For that reason I said I would be hypocritical for going in because I had been critical of all these things. Therefore, how can I go into that Hall of Fame. A lot of people supported me and some did not. But I had to go in what I believed in.
"So I stuck by my guns for a lot of years. But let me tell you what changed my mind. Paul Levesque (Triple H). I don't know if I can say he runs the organization , but he is certainly a heavyweight in that organization. He has been involved in a lot of decision making and so forth. He contacted me probably five or six months ago. I didn't know too much except that he was one of the superstars known as Triple H. I didn't know Paul too well. When he called and introduced himself, we started a conversation and he wanted to open the door, so to speak for us to talk about the Hall of Fame. He told me how much he would like for me to be in there. That's how it all started.
"What did it for me is that Paul comes across, and I believe he is from what everyone has told me is that he is a very sincere guy. He comes across sincere, very honest, very straightforward. He started telling me all the changes they made, for example, when he mentioned that Dr. Joseph Maroon who had the drug testing with the WWE, that was big because I know Dr. Maroon.
"Dr. Maroon is a world renowned neurosurgeon. He operated on me three times on my back. I couldn't function anymore because I did so much damage to my back. But because of him here I am today. I know what kind of dedicated man he is. When he took on this challenge with the WWE and the drug testing, I knew they were sincere about fixing this problem. I have to take my hat off to them because they did take the proper steps where some other organizations did not.
"Paul then started talking about the changes in making it more family-friendly. He knew and understood some of the things I objected to. He told me all these things have changed, like the nudity and vulgarity. So I started watching it again. I haven't watched wrestling in many, many years. I was totally turned off on it. So I started watching it again and what Paul told me, he absolutely made me a believer. Let's talk about the talent itself. I see a world of difference. I don't see steroid users.
"These guys look athletic but certainly I don't see the likes of what we saw ten, fifteen years ago or even later. But I saw there was no nudity, I saw no vulgarity. All these long interviews and no profanity. Paul told me everything that they changed. He also told me the direction that he wanted to go in. It was all positive for me. I had said years ago, yes I would be a hypocrite if I went in when I was being so critical. In different interviews, I have also said that if they changed I would reconsider my feelings towards the Hall of Fame. The only problem was I never thought I would see it happen."
How persistent was Triple H: "Well it didn't happen overnight. We kept talking and this went on for months and months. Finally after so much time elapsed and everything we discussed , I finally became convinced that Paul absolutely wanted to take the business into a different direction. He was trained by Killer Kowalski. He was a student of the old days. He was a student of my era. He loved that and thought a lot of that. So he wants to make changes that goes back to that era. Everything he said, he convinced me because most of all I believed him. I absolutely believe his sincerity. The changes are there. Now I see these guys and the current guys are not on that stuff. Paul convinced me this is the way it is and is what they want going forward. So I said yes I'm interested and if I could help in any way as long as they keep going in that direction. I would make myself open to it."
Sammarinto in his relationship with Vince McMahon: "Here is how I feel. As I criticized Vince as you guys are fully aware of. But I also know that these changes came about because Vince was a part of it. I'm sure Vince is the big boss. I'm sure Paul and Vince had many serious conversations and obviously Vince had to agree to everything. My feeling is yes I criticized, but I will also praise him because he took all the steps. I will criticize you if you deserve to be criticized, but I will praise you when that's proper. He has made all these changes and I praise him for that. I have not talked to Vince. I have not seen him. But when the time comes, probably when I get there, I'm sure a meeting will be held. I will be glad to meet with him and have conversations with him."
On rumors that he doesn't have to deal with Vince McMahon: "That's a lie! I have heard so many different things that goes on in this internet and I don't understand where it all comes from. Where do people get this information? People have told me so many things that they saw on the internet. That is nonsense. I absolutely have never suggested that the conditions be that I would not have anything to do with Vince or see him or anything like that. Absolute lies. I resent people writing these things when they have no idea what the heck they are talking about because there is no truth to it at all."
On the emotions he will likely feel in Madison Square Garden: "I'm wondering myself.... (Continues on next page)