It was vintage Bob Backlund this week on Monday Night Raw

It was a surreal moment on Monday Night Raw this week to see Bob Backlund walk down the ramp, looking like he stepped out of the year 1982, to take on Heath Slater in a legends confrontation (I’m pretty sure there was never an official bell for a match).

Backlund, who is almost 63, was in incredible shape for a guy that age. I give him credit, because I was never under the impression Backlund used steroids, as he was dedicated to his training and conditioning, and it looks like he’s kept up with it. Even though he doesn’t come across like a large guy, having seen Backlund walk by me at Orlando Airport, he is big and has good genetics.

Anyway, on Raw, Backlund got in the ring and started doing mannerisms that many of us who saw him wrestle in his heyday will remember, including his quad stretches. He got Slater in the crossface chicken wing, which was one of his signature moves from his days as WWF Heavyweight Champion.

After the match, WWE.com interviewed Backlund, which made me laugh because as always, Backlund was and is a terrible, straight-laced promo man. It was vintage Backlund to be sure.

Still, it was great to see Backlund back in a WWE ring for a brief moment. Let’s hope this appearance leads to a nomination in the WWE Hall of Fame.

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8 comments

  1. Evan J Rodgers

    Another thing about Backlund being almost 63=A strong,well conditioned older
    man can still kick many a younsters ass. If we eat properly and exercise daily
    we can all grow old with dignity.I wouldent want to mess with Backlund and I”m
    41.A martial arts instructor told me that a 70 year old man with a black belt can
    defeat young men.I’m not trying to glorify violence-but it is to Backlunds credit
    that he has kept up his conditioning.It doesent surprise me,as he was always
    a fitness MONSTER!Again,I found him to be a boring champion,but his very
    real wrestling skills are NOT BORING! He held the WWWF/WWF title around
    seven years-and that was when the title REALLY MEANT SOMETHING.I think
    if he had wrestled more in the NWA and AWA he could have been champ there.It seems that promoters didnt get exited about him after he lost the WWF
    title.Thats sad.Maybe he lost intrest in wrestling and traveling by then-this part
    of his carreer is a mystery to me.He grew up poor-his family had NO ELECTRICITY and look at all he has acheived.Still, Swede Hanson should have been champ-he almost defeated Backlund in 1979-at MSG for the belt.
    Swede had a way of captivating a audience that Bob didnt have-shame on Vince Sr. and Jr. for not properly utilizing this legends talents.Bravo Bob,Mucho
    Bravo Swede!!!

    • bostongardenbalcony

      On the surface, it kind of sounds crazy for Hanson to be WWF champion, but then I think back to the fact that Stan Stasiak held the belt. If Stasiak was a transitional champion, why couldn’t Hanson have been, too?

  2. Evan J Rodgers

    I have actually given alot of thought to Bob Backlunds title reign, Ive seen him
    defend the old title in Baltimore many times (sorry folks,Ive never been to Boston but I respect Boston and I know it was a great wrestling city).Back in the
    day I despised Backlund.I liked “bad guys” and I still think Backlund didnt have
    the chaisma, flash and personality of many of his opponets.But looking back and
    seeing older matches now on WWE on demand, I must say Backlund had great
    skills and was always in great shape.His matches ARE interesting to watch NOW, especially all the holds he came up with.He was a more interesting champion to watch than Hulk Hogan.Backlund was a shooter and I dont think he was ever into steroids,drugs and alcohol.He has earned my respect. He faced so many legends, its amazing.Still I must say that Swede Hanson would have been a better WWWF/WWF champion.Swede had the charisma,talent and total strength to be a great champion. He nearly defeated Backlund for the
    title in 1979 (I think October) in Madison Square Garden.In a real shoot it could
    have gone either way as they were both very strong and very talented. Thats why in 1982 when Backlund wrestled Hanson on TV and won easily it was not
    credible-that is the match when Superstar Graham came in seconds after
    Bob’s victory and destroyed the belt.Its a disgrace that the company relegated
    Hanson in his last run, because he still got fans attention and was actually quite popular and a draw,with very real size and strength. Getting back to Backlund, he was and is a talented wrestler who worked hard and I now have
    the utmost respect for him.He should be inducted into the Hall of Fame and
    so should Swede Hanson!!!!

  3. Joe Lowry

    I read Superstar Billy Graham’s book, Tangled Ropes and this storyline of him returning to the WWF with the “karate/martial arts” character was something he did not want to do. He was just getting clean and sober at the time and it was Vince’s idea to have Graham go on tv and destroy the belt. Graham’s body was deteriorating due to his hepititas C (from all the blading he did) and his steroid use. Both Graham & Backlund knew beforehand that a new title belt was in the works and that this storyline would benefit both wrestlers. Also according to the book, Graham asked Vince for years for the actual title belt. Previous champs got to keep their own unique straps. But Vince did not want to do that. Thus creating this storyline.

  4. Joe Lowry

    I am truly becoming a big fan of this blog. Call it therapy or call it whatever but these strolls were taking back in time get me thinking of those old days at the Garden. Here are a few of my most memorable Bob Backlund moments at the Boston Garden. Not sure of the timeline of these matches, but the memories are still there.
    1 – Bob Backlund defeats Playboy Buddy Rose. The hype of Buddy Rose coming into the WWF from the Pacific Northwest was weeks in the making. yet it took one Boston Garden title defense for Backlund to turn this challenger away empty handed.
    2 – The meaningless final and third battle between Backlund and Snuka. This one had Pedro Morales as the guest referee and this was one week out from the now famous NYC Madison Square Garden cage match. Why didn’t the Boston Garden get a Backlund/Snuka cage match??
    3 – Bob Backlunds manager Arnold Skaaland gets a neck breaker outside the ring courtesy of the Masked Superstar. Skaaland gets carried to the dressing room via stretcher. Backlund is in tears. I knew something was up for this match with the TV cameras rolling around the ringside area.
    4 – Backlund & Muraco wrestle for one hour to a time limit draw. If it were not for Muracos heat, this match was forgetable.
    5 – Bob Backlund vs. George The Animal Steele for the one millionth time..UGH!!
    6 – Bob Backlunds one and only return title shot against the Iron Shiek. Hulkamania is born one week later.

    I am sure there are many other for everyone but these matches stand out in my mind. This blog is now on my smartphone. Looking forward to more strolls back in time!!

  5. Joe Lowry

    Interesting story here…as an avid collector of Wrestling Belts and historian of this era, my one and only true belt I seek out is the original one worn by Bob Backlund. This prestigious wrestling belt is rarely replicated nor designed. As I searched out back in 1998 for this belt, it took me nearly two years to actually find out why this belt is not duplicated nor designed. Back in 1982 when Superstar Billy Graham returned to the WWF, the storyline was to have him destroy the WWF title belt won and worn by Bob Backlund. This led to the actual destruction of the belt on national tv and can be seen on you tube. The actions of The Superstar caused Backlund to scream “why..why…why…?” Anyways, when I met up with Bob Backlund at the RAW taping (i previously posted) I inquired about the title belt and what happened to it. Backlund handed me a business card with his old website http://www.backlund2000.com. I thought maybe he was to busy to tell me anything being at such a public venue. I got home and emailed the webmaster in regards to the WWF title and so forth. It turns out Backlund has the whole belt. The destroyed molding and casting as well as the strap are upstairs in his attic. I acutally pitched an idea to them that it would be a great to not only recreate the belt but to have Bob Backlund personally deliver the belt. Of course this was all contingent upon the customer paying big bucks for it. The idea ran its course and never did pan out. But at least we now know where the actual belt is located. I periodically check up on the belt in hopes of one day that we can re-create this prized possesion. There is alot of history with this belt and I hope I can get a piece of it.

  6. Joe Lowry

    I first remember seeing Bob Backlund wrestle on tv when I started watching wrestling on Saturday mornings. He was athletic and inspirational. The All American Boy as some pundits called him. Then I vividly remember my first time attending the matches at The old Boston Garden. It was June of 1981 and Backlund defended his WWF crown sucessfully against King Kong Mosca. What I remember most about that night was the huge fan reaction Backlund received. The place always went into a frenzy when this red headed boy from Princeton, MN made his way to the ring. He no doubt got the loudest “pop” of the night and thus turned me into a huge wrestling fan. Backlund was the “all american” boy, he was the humble champion. HIs scientific abilities were superb. His strength was uncanny which made him more of a weapon. His legendary battles with Muraco, Valentine, Mosca, Steele, Slaughter (the list is endless) were memorable. Of course the most memorable match was when he and Jimmy Superfly Snuka battled inside the steel cage at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. It was around this time that the fans and the industry started to turn on the champ. I met Backlund at a RAW taping back in 2000. He was running for a seat in CT for Congress. I introduced him to my son and I told him that Mr. Backlund was the champ back when I was a kid. He was my champ growing up. It was good to see him on RAW the other night. If there is a strong candidate for the WWE Hall of Fame this year it has to be Bob Backlund….my champion.

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