I want to thank my new friends at Camel Clutch Blog for posting a piece I wrote on “25 signs you’re a 1980s WWF wrestling fan.” The article got a mention on Sports Illustrated’s “Hot Clicks” column. I appreciate everyone reading it.
Camel Clutch Blog is also a good place to check out news about MMA and other major league sports. And what a name for the blog, I love it.
Just the mention of the camel clutch brings me back the Iron Sheik and the shock I personally had in late December 1983 after hearing that Sheik had beaten Bob Backlund to win the WWF Championship. I had been a pro wrestling fan for nearly two years at that point, during which Backlund held the title the entire time (in fact, Backlund kept the belt for almost six years, except for a few-day quickie switch with Antonio Inoki in Japan in 1979).
The Sheik was a transitional champion, as less than one month later, Hulk Hogan beat him to usher in what is considered the modern era of pro wrestling. At that point, Vince McMahon had already staged battle plans to take the WWF national with Hogan as the front man.
Backlund faded out of the WWF soon after, in part because he refused to turn heel as McMahon wanted. There’s little doubt that had Backlund gone bad to feud with Hogan, his career would have taken a much different turn, as I think Backlund would have been a hugely hated adversary (and he was still pretty good at it when he feuded with Bret Hart in 1994 and 1995). It’s actually not hard to imagine Backlund in WCW’s NWO had he taken a spin as a heel in 1984, given how many 1980s stars resurfaced during WCW’s heyday.