UNDATED: Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino is declared the champion. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)
Bruno Sammartino's 48-Second Match Led to a WWWF Title Run That Lasted Nearly 8 Years
One of the greatest stars to grace a WWE ring, Bruno Sammartino holds the record for the longest WWE Championship reign in history at 2,803 days. On May 17, 1963, Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers for the title — then known as the WWWF Championship — in Madison Square Garden within just 48 seconds.
Rogers never got his rematch for the title following this loss, as Sammartino went on to defend the title against multiple challengers. Over the course of his nearly eight-year-long reign, Sammartino defended the title against legends like Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon, and George Steele.
Sammartino successfully retained his title 653 times, including 62 defenses in MSG alone, before finally losing it to Ivan Koloff in January 1971. To this day, the closest anyone has gotten to match Sammartino's record-breaking reign in the company is Bob Backlund, with his WWE Championship reign lasting a total of 2,135 days.