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)
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)
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)
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)
We pick up in the mid-1970s in Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography: “Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion”. Bob is making an impression on many promoters, not the least of which is a guy named McMahon in New York.
What happened that night certainly diminished my respect for Jack [Brisco]. He was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and was supposed to be a role model both for the fans and for young wrestlers like me.
Backlund has a very strict set of ethics, which can come off as a bit pious but I respect it particularly in this regard. He was riding with Jack Brisco who just happened to be smoking dope at the time. On a personal note, before I got my drivers license early in my junior year of high school, I carpooled with others in my town and a classmate of mine gave me a ride one day. He drove 70 in a 30 while smoking a joint which scared the shit out of me. Needless to say, I never rode with him again. So I can get why Backlund might be pissed off. Continue reading Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 2 (The Rise of Backlund Edition)
When most people sit on the beach, they will read a book of fiction that will be escapist. But for me, I sat there and read Bob Backlund’s 2015 autobiography: “Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion”. As I’ve started to dive in and watch WWF footage from 1978-83, I was curious to get insight from the man who defined the era. This will be set up similarly to my series on Bret Hart’s outstanding book where I pull a quote and comment on it.
It is hard for me to have any respect for that man. I know that Erhardt ended up as a head coach with the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator with the New York Jets, but I just didn’t have any respect for the way he conducted himself, the way he treated his players at NDSU, or the way he unilaterally downplayed my NFL prospects.
I am not sure why I was surprised that Backlund wanted to play football growing up; it’s probably I’ve just never imagined him as anything but a wrestler. But this passage and story really jumped out at me because people know who Erhardt is and Backlund takes him to task. Erhardt was coach of the Patriots from 1979-81 and went 21-27, though the final 2-14 year in 1981 was plagued by bad luck and close losses. Given Backlund’s feelings, it is ironic that Erhardt was fired by Patriots owner Billy Sullivan for “being too nice of a guy.” Continue reading Highlights from Bob Backlund’s Book: Part 1 (The Early Days)