On Smackdown, crowd chants for old-time favorite Bob Backlund

On July 19, I sat at ringside at the DCU Center in Worcester — we locals still call it the Centrum — to watch the draft between WWE Raw and Smackdown. And one of the biggest surprises for me of the night was the crowd’s reaction to former three-time WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund.

If you don’t keep up with wrestling these days, 66-year-old Backlund is back on TV, playing the role of a coach to current WWE wrestler Darren Young. Backlund has even gone as far as to “allow” Young to use his old finisher, the cross-face chicken wing.

In Worcester, at one point during Young’s match, the crowd erupted into a chant: “Backlund! Backlund! Backlund!”

 

It was great to see the audience in one of Backlund’s old WWF strongholds recognizing the WWE Hall of Famer after all these years.

Backlund first beat Superstar Billy Graham for the belt in Continue reading

The 1984 steel cage card in Hartford that I never heard of

I like to think of myself as having a vivid memory of 1980s WWF wrestling, and I can recall most angles and wrestlers from that decade. The last time I was truly surprised by something I never knew from that era was the original Royal Rumble that One Man Gang won in St. Louis.

But my friend, Ed, who is another long-time fan, mentioned to me a card he had just learned of from the early ’80s at the Hartford Civic Center that featured an unusual array of steel cage matches.

 

I’m not sure how or why I’ve never run across this, but sure enough, the great The History of WWE website lists the results as part of a show called “Steel Cage Turmoil,” which took place on November 23, 1984.

The highlight was a 19-match steel cage gauntlet, in which the winner of each contest kept advancing until they lost or won the whole thing. In the end, Big John Studd beat Continue reading

Blackjack Mulligan, known for an infamous assault by fan in 1971 at Boston Garden, has died

For long-time wrestling fans in Massachusetts, the death of Blackjack Mulligan brings up an incident 45 years ago at the old Boston Garden that has lived in infamy since then.

Video tribute to Blackjack Mulligan released by Highspots.com, via Youtube

On May 15, 1971, Mulligan challenged new WWWF Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales. During the bout, a fan jumped into the ring Continue reading

Thirty years ago, WrestleMania 2 put people to sleep

This year marks the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania 2, a lousy card that took place on April 7, 1986.

I’m not sure what to say about this show. Having just rewatched it recently on the WWE Network, Mania 2 was just as bad today as I remembered it back in the day. Even by 1980s standards, the matches felt rushed and there was no showstealer that you’d expect to see today.

This may have been the worst WrestleMania ever, with the only possible competition being WrestleMania IX.

 

The event — which took place on a Monday night — emanated from three arenas: Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY; Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) outside of Chicago; and Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Vince McMahon — who clearly believed Continue reading

Grand Wizard’s suit, Killer Bees mask spotted at Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame

A few months back, I took road trip out from Boston along Interstate 90 to visit the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame during its last weekend at its location in Amsterdam, NY. In 2016, the hall will reopen in Wichita  Falls, TX.

I don’t know much about Wichita Falls, but I have visited Amsterdam a couple of times, and it’s a depressing old city that used to be a center for carpet factories. Now, the downtown where the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame was resembled a ghost town on a Saturday afternoon, with only some restaurants and a used clothing store open.

Hopefully Wichita Falls brings a better vibe to the hall of fame.

Inside, the hall was a two-story journey through wrestling history, with tons of framed posters, ring robes, and arena programs.

hall of fame 1

One of the Grand Wizard’s suit coats, as displayed at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame

Continue reading

Famous jobber Iron Mike Sharpe has died

I’m sorry for the lack of posts in the past several weeks — I have a lot to write about and it’s coming soon. But I wanted to quickly chime in and note the death of Iron Mike Sharpe, who passed away this past weekend.

I wrote about Sharpe not that long ago, and there isn’t more to say from my prior post. Sharpe was very well-known prelim wrestler who was given more credibility than a typical jobber, as he had a great name and leather forearm pad gimmick.

I ran across this old Piper’s Pit with Sharpe that I had forgotten about. Concerning the forearm pad, Sharpe tells Piper, “I break skulls with this thing.” Sharpe was 67 years old.

 

Del Rio as ethnic draw? Take some pages from Pedro Morales

I have to shake my head when the WWE tries so goddamn hard to manufacture an ethnic superstar. Alberto Del Rio’s recent return has as much to do with his Mexican heritage as it does his alleged star power.

I’ve learned through hindsight that one of the key differences between current WWE head Vince McMahon and his late father, Vince McMahon, Sr., is that the latter understood that ethnic heroes like Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Argentina Rocca, and Victor Rivera came from grass-roots support. In other words, the fans wanted to love these guys.

Vince Sr. didn’t decide one day that the WWWF needed a Latin superstar and started to push around Morales. Instead, the fans reacted to Pedro, and the build followed. It worked for 12 years for Morales, who was WWWF Heavyweight Champion and later among the biggest names who established the new Intercontinental Title.

I remember when Vince Jr. did the house show promos for his dad’s TV, Morales would go off on his opponent in Spanish, which must have thrilled folks in the area who spoke that language because it let them connect with Morales on a personal level (check out 2:00 into the clip below).

Does anyone ask Del Rio to speak a few words outside of English? Nope. But that might Continue reading