Highlights From Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 6 (Hatchet Edition)

A lot less time between blog posts this time, as it’s on to part 6 of the highlights of Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography.

“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch!” Oops.

The first hot angle with Backlund as champion was against “High Chief” Peter Maivia, the grandfather of The Rock. Maivia attacked Backlund’s manager Arnold Skaaland while teaming with Bob and it was a real shock and not just because it meant Skaaland actually did something other than go to the back and play cards. In the promo afterward, Backlund lost his way wondering if the whole world was against him, and declaring that he would “kill” Maivia, a real no no.

Antonio Inoki was here for that card as well, and was being billed as the “Martial Arts Champion,” as the front office was trying to figure out what to do with him to make him a draw in America, where he was still virtually unknown.

Inoki was a hero in Japan but never got any traction in the United States, which I chalk up to two things. First, the concept of a Japanese hero was something that hadn’t really been considered in U.S. wrestling, as they were usually the cliché foreign bad guys. Second, his working style was not something that was easy to digest for fans of American wrestling. Personally, I hate him for the Muhammad Ali fiasco because the joke of a match damaged Ali’s legs to the point where he was never the same athlete. Continue reading Highlights From Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 6 (Hatchet Edition)

Highlights of Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 5 (Early title reign edition)

After an even longer hiatus as I have focused more on the Greetings From Allentown podcast, it’s back to more highlights of Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography

Billy has also said over the years that he and Bruno talked on the night of their steel cage match in Philadelphia about pulling a last-minute screwjob over on the promoters.

I’m going to suggest that Graham is full of crap on this one. Bruno didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would participate in such a thing, especially since it would be putting the title back on him which is something the Living Legend was precisely trying to get away from so it makes zero sense. Losing the world title really screwed with Graham’s mind.

Billy’s face was blank and emotionless—quite a change from the usual. I could tell he was really struggling with it all.

Backlund making my previous point, and something that virtually everyone has pointed out. While it’s probable that Graham would have been a success as a babyface champion, the issue of his longevity wouldn’t have changed. His body was going to break down whether he was happy with wrestling or not. Continue reading Highlights of Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 5 (Early title reign edition)

Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 4 (Bruno and Mascaras)

After a bit of a hiatus, the review of Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography finally resumes!

At a lot of the hotels and motels where we stayed, Andre had a great deal of trouble getting a comfortable night’s sleep or even taking a hot shower in the little tub/shower combos that those places had—so he preferred to just stay up most of the night drinking.

I will never get tired of Andre the Giant drinking stories and it is one of those things where I don’t care if they are 100% accurate. Legends and myths are often more entertaining than the truth and it’s not like something to do with Andre would break open a Watergate. Though the mother of a friend of mine had met Andre in the 1970s, and that story turned out to not be much of anything. Oh well. Continue reading Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 4 (Bruno and Mascaras)

Greetings From Allentown Episode 12: 1991 WWF!

Take a trip back to the mini-Attitude Era with a look at WWF Superstars from April 13, 1991.

– The trouble with Kerry Von Erich beyond his horrible theme music
– Jake the Snake Roberts as babyface bully
– Explaining (and defending!) the Berzerker gimmick with a look at the etymology and Icelandic literature(?!?)
– The great Sean Mooney hosts an Event Center….with no specific event to plug
– The trials and tribulations of Barry O
– Bret Hart’s singles push begins, for real this time I swear!
– The Nasty Boys: are they this podcast’s “house band”?
– A comprehensive second by second breakdown of the Ultimate Warrior being locked in a coffin and the “attempts” to get him out. Plus, useful information on how YOU can best survive if you find yourself in a similar spot
– Tugboat as the great palate cleanser
– How many late tax filers are there during tax season and why is IRS so concerned about them?
Plus: the return of YouTube comment theater, and an extended jag about the awesome WWF on NESN theme music

Greetings from Allentown Episode 8: WWF 1988

Episode 8 of Greetings From Allentown is now out! Included:

  • Recaps of WrestleMania 4: Randy Savage’s journey and Demolition climbs the mountain
  • The weirdness of Rick Rude and why he never had a feud with Hulk Hogan
  • Bam Bam Bigelow’s excuse for his 1988 run being cut short
  • Andre the Giant tries to laugh off Hacksaw Jim Duggan before trying to choke him to death

Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book Part 3 (WWWF Edition)

Time for part three in a peek at Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography “Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion”. At this point we are in 1977 and Backlund is navigating the world of Vince McMahon Sr.’s locker room:

There was a definite clique in that dressing room, comprised of Bruno, DeNucci, Rodz, Garea, Chief, and Scicluna. They were a strong and tight-knit group. Fortunately for me, Vince McMahon Sr. went out of his way to make me feel welcomed and at home.

Those six guys were all mainstays of the New York territory and rarely ventured elsewhere to wrestle. Baron Mikel Scicluna and Domenic DeNucci wrestled each other approximately 35,000 times over the years. Tony Garea was a multiple time tag champion and later became one of the agents and guys who come from the back to breakup brawls. The “Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz mostly worked as a jobber to the stars but later became a trainer extraordinaire. Chief Jay Strongbow was popular in the northeast but wasn’t a great wrestler and was divisive as a backstage presence, considered a stooge by many. And Bruno Sammartino was the undisputed leader. Continue reading Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book Part 3 (WWWF Edition)

1992 Royal Rumble: This is Your Life, Ric Flair

Just over a year ago in my Royal Rumble series, I made clear that the ’92 Rumble is my favorite match ever because it is a This Is Your Life story for Ric Flair. But how exactly can you connect Flair at some point in the Nature Boy’s career to everyone else in the match? I managed to go 28 for 30.

1. British Bulldog: Bulldog was on the set of the Flair For The Gold segment in 1993 that featured the infamous Shockmaster incident.

2. Ted DiBiase: They had been on the same team at the 1991 Survivor Series, but more famous is their 1985 match in Mid-South for Flair’s NWA World Title.

3. Ric Flair: Wrestled himself on numerous occasions, such as a drug addled Kerry Von Erich in Texas in the 80s. Continue reading 1992 Royal Rumble: This is Your Life, Ric Flair

Saturday Night’s Main Event #19 – 01/07/1989

Ask any wrestling fan what the greatest year in the history of the business is and you’ll hear a few answers. The years 1997-98 saw the explosion of wrestling into mainstream culture, 1984 saw the WWF expansion along with several strong territories. I’ll guarantee that under Family Feud rules (ask 100 people) that the number one answer would be 1989. The NWA (WCW) had classic Ric Flair feuds with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk, along with the emergence of Sting and the Great Muta. Territories like Memphis and World Class were running interesting angles. Japan saw the legendary Jumbo Tsuruta-Genichiro Tenryu matches. And of course, the WWF machine hummed along starting with a Saturday Night’s Main Event on the first Saturday of the year.

But first, a personal story about this show. I never saw this until the WWE Network came along even though I was watching religiously 28 years ago. As a lad of 9, I wasn’t staying up until 11:30 PM ET to see the show live so we would run the VHS on a timer. However, my father messed up and it never taped and I was furious that I missed the hair vs hair blowoff between Brutus Beefcake and Outlaw Ron Bass. Such are the priorities of youth. (Four years later, my father accidentally taped over Larry Bird Night with something, probably a game show. But he made good and purchased the commercial VHS, which I still have.) Continue reading Saturday Night’s Main Event #19 – 01/07/1989

WWF Championship Wrestling – 12/31/1983

How you doin’?

As we turn 2016 into 2017, it is appropriate to look back to a show that also aired on New Year’s Eve (sort of, more on that later) and on the precipice of the wrestling world being changed forever. I already covered the episode after this one, but let’s take a look at what preceded it.

The theme song of this time is “Cruise Control” by the Dixie Dregs and is now also my ringtone. It would be replaced with an instrumental from Michael Jackson’s Thriller in about 2 ½ months. This version ends with Backlund holding the belt amidst the fake mob, and maybe we’ll find out something on that front today. Our hosts are Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson, who offer the same old platitudes in telling us what’s coming up, no sign of perhaps a shocking announcement or anything like that. Continue reading WWF Championship Wrestling – 12/31/1983

Saturday Night’s Main Event #18 – 11/26/1988

Big guy getting comeuppance or victim of light terrorism?

It has now been over a full year since I started this sojourn through all the WWF Saturday Night Main Event shows and I hope at this point next year I will have wrapped with the weird FOX editions from 1992. But for now, we are at Thanksgiving weekend 1988, two days after the Survivor Series. Of course this was taped ten days before that PPV and it wasn’t referenced at all on the show. No newly turned Demolition is what that means since that would be tough to explain to the live crowd in Sacramento at the Arco Arena, home of the Sacramento Kings. On the night this aired, the Kings lost to the New Jersey Nets at Arco to drop to 1-9 on the year.

Despite being in a less glamourous part of California, Jesse Ventura reminds you that he is a Hollywood star and that makes him more important than Vince McMahon. He also says he’s got a better physique than Vince, who no doubt took that shit personally. I appreciate their dynamic so much more now than I did 15-20 years ago. Continue reading Saturday Night’s Main Event #18 – 11/26/1988