Story: Larry Zbyszko was an excellent heel as both a performer and a commentator, but he is perhaps best known for being Bruno Sammartino’s protege. Bruno would prepare him for the cutthroat business well and when the time came, Bruno would headline an epic feud in 1980 with Larry, which sold out venues and delighted those packed crowds. Zbyszko would tangle with countless big names in his WWWF tenure, but no feud reached the kind of levels he did with Bruno, which makes sense, since his mentor was a true legend of the business. In this Timeline episode, Larry walks us through 1980 through his eyes, with a special focus on his program with Bruno.
Entertainment Value: No better choice in my opinion to guide us through 1980’s events in the New York territory than Larry Zbyszko, who was involved with Bruno Sammartino in the company’s hottest feud and main evented the year’s premiere card. The interview runs just under two hours in duration and as always, is hosted by Sean Oliver, who keeps the episode on track and at times, prompts for additional information on some topics. Larry is always fun to listen to and like most wrestlers, he loves to talk about himself and his career, so this is a brisk, talkative interview. Larry is candid and admits his connection to Bruno served him well, from his position on the card to how other workers treated him and he details how Bruno even helped him avoid doing jobs he didn’t want to do. I appreciate that Larry is open about that, since so much time here is devoted to his feud with Bruno and by turn, his relationship in and out of the ring with Sammartino. He has memories of working with Bruno, the crowds and other workers on those cards, and the old school New York territory scene in general.
As much as I love listening to Larry’s stories and memories, as with a lot of wrestlers in these kind of interviews, he makes some bold and unsubstantiated claims. But then again, what’s a shoot style interview without some unproven claims, right? I also wish the interview ran a little longer to allow some of the months to be better fleshed out, but as I’m no expert on the 1980 ins & outs of the business, so perhaps there weren’t many other topics to hash out. In any event, some of the topics are sparsely discussed and I wouldn’t have minded more depth on those, as well as expanded looks at some months, should there have been adequate reason to discuss. By and large however, Larry is a pleasure to listen to and he provides some great first hand accounts of his historic feud with Bruno, so this Timeline is well worth a listen for old school wrestling fans.