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!”Embed from Getty Images
Backlund first beat Superstar Billy Graham for the belt in Continue reading
I can’t believe it’s been three decades since a moment that until many years later was probably the single most shocking thing I had experienced as a young pro wrestling fan: The Iron Sheik winning the WWF Heavyweight Title from Bob Backlund.
The match took place on December 26, 1983, in Madison Square Garden. The Sheik had attacked Backlund a few weeks earlier on WWF Championship Wrestling and clobbered the champ with a pair of Persian clubs. None of this really indicated a title change, as Backlund was always involved with angles with his challengers on TV.
During the match, the Sheik applied his finisher, the camel clutch, to Backlund in the middle of the ring. As Backlund struggled, his manager, Arnold Skaaland, threw Continue reading
It seems to me that when the WWE started its Hall of Fame, the top five or 10 longest reigning WWF Heavyweight champions should have automatically been inducted in the initial years. As we know, that has not happened, but a big step in the right direction occurred on Monday Night Raw this week with the news that Bob Backlund was going into the hall’s 2013 class.
Backlund is technically a three-time former WWF champion, although I believe the official record books still say two-time. That’s because in 1979, Backlund did a quickie title exchange in Japan with Antonio Inoki that was not publicly acknowledged at the time (and still isn’t talked about often).
Taking the brief Inoki run out of the picture, Backlund held the belt from February 1978 until December 1983, nearly six years. Take that, CM Punk.
As was the case back in those days, Continue reading
A while back, I got a kick out of listing some of the great one-liners that Vince McMahon user to utter during his play-by-play announcing days, and since then I have looked forward to the day I also review Gorilla Monsoon’s memorable quotes.
So here goes, with a nod to Monsoon as an announcer and as co-host of Prime Time Wrestling (the precursor to Monday Night Raw on the USA Network): Continue reading
Before the first WrestleMania ever hit Madison Square Garden in 1985, the WWF ran a series of outdoor supershows over an eight-period that were known as Showdown from Shea.
The venue was the old Shea Stadium in Queens, NY (former home of the New York Mets), and in all three events, Bruno Sammartino was the headliner: Continue reading
Happy birthday to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 today.
It’s easy to forget that Ali was a big part of the promotional machine behind the first WrestleMania in 1985. He served as a special guest referee for the Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff main event.
I don’t know if the WWF’s intent was to ever allow Ali to actually be in the ring officiating the match; what I do know is that Ali stood outside the ring for most of the bout, with WWF official Pat Patterson serving Continue reading
Here’s a sad fact noted on Monday in the Wrestling Observer’s daily update: Miz is the longest reigning WWE Champion in at least two years.
“He just became the first person in more than two years to pass 100 days as WWE champion. HHH was the last guy to last 100 days,” the Observer said. “Since that time, the title has changed hands 16 times and was vacated once.”
You know how many times the WWE/WWF Title switched in the 1980s? Continue reading
Bob Backlund gets a bad rap these days. Most fans either remember him as the nutty heel who turned on Bret Hart in 1994 and briefly won the WWF Title before losing it to Diesel (better known as Kevin Nash), or worse, they remember his tenure acting as a kook for TNA Wrestling.
But for those of us who grew up watching pro wrestling in the early 1980s, Backlund was one of the biggest stars. Continue reading
In 1978, Bob Backlund defeated Superstar Billy Graham for the WWWF World Title. Soon after, Graham left the federation.
When he returned in 1982, he had shaved off his trademark bleached-blond hair, grown a mustache, and assumed a martial arts gimmick. But his return was big enough that even five years later, he immediately was put into the WWF World Title picture to chase Backlund, who still had the belt (save for a brief title switch from Backlund to Antonio Inoki, back to Backlund in 1979).
Those of us watching pro wrestling in 1982 will remember well the angle in which Continue reading