A WWF rematch 31 years in the making is taking place next week as former WWF Champion Bob Backlund will return to the ring to wrestle former WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera.
The match takes place on August 12, 2011, at the Legends & Icons show put on by Juggalo Championship Wrestling, the group run by the crazy hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse.
Backlund and Patera had a series of matches in Madison Square Garden in 1980 that culminated in a no-holds-barred Texas death match on May 19, 1980. Back then, readers of the Wrestling Observer voted it match of the year.
The match starts off slow, but picks up about 15 minutes in when Patera busts Backlund open after hitting him with one of the belts. It’s funny to watch Patera wailing on Backlund outside the ring just feet away from Backlund’s manager, Arnold Skaaland, who just sits there and does nothing. Skaaland was always a curious choice for a manager to me, because first off, he was bland, and second, why did babyfaces like Backlund and Bruno Sammartino need a manager?
During the match, just listening to the crowd reactions for spots we would consider basic ones now shows how much pro wrestling has changed in 30 years, although you’ll see more chair shots in this match than you will in WWE today.
One of the things I always liked about Backlund was when he won a match, he celebrated like he had just survived a battle, as this post-match scene shows. It made his victories seem more important.
By the way, fans of the old WWF should check out some of the other matches being held at the Legends & Icons show next week. Tito Santana vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, anybody?