When I started watching wrestling he was the champ, and he is still one of my favorites. He could really work a match, you truly believed he was on his last legs, and he'd pull out a desperation move to win (and he never hulked up, lol). His matches with Big John Studd were classic.
If there was one superstar whose entire career I have witnessed,it's Bob Backlund.I was there when he first won the title and also when Scaland threw the title that ended his reign.Sheik was supposed to be just another opponent but it was the single biggest shock to me in all my years as a wrestling fan.I had just seen my favourite wrestler lose the title he held for so many years.
I have seen people say Backlund wasn't a huge draw.Do people know he headlined MSG when the same card featured Andre,Hogan(before Hulkamania) and Bruno Sammartino.Bob Backlund.Bob had some of the greatest matches against legends like Sgt.Slaughter,Billy Graham,Stan Hansen,Jim Snuka and Ken Patera.
Two peoplwhom I loved Bob performing against was The Masked Superstar and Don Muraco.Hogan vs Warrior wasn't the first World Champion vs IC Champion match.Bob vs Don had done that many years ago.The first match ended in a draw while the rematch was won by Backlund.
I have seen people wanting to see Randy Savage and Owen Hart into the Hall of Fame.Well,Bob definetly deserves it even more.Is he a forgotten legend-No doubt.The only two wrestlers of the past that get any mention here are Lou Thez and Bruno Sammartino.I am not sure whether it is because they truly know about them or they mention their names just because everyone else does it.
Backlund is one of those guys that they trusted with the belt because he was such an outstanding worker. He really was a technical wizard in there4. I actually watched a match he had with HULK HOGAN of all people and got a very good 30 minute somewhat technical match out of him.
However, there wasn't much to him beyond that. He was just a pasty white guy that could work, and that's it. Not a whole lot of charisma or likeability beyond that. It felt like he only got the belt because Bruno left and they didn't know what else to do besides give it to a guy that could work. One could argue that guys like Bret Hart were sort of the same thing in that Bret only got the belt because he was the best worker and all the big guns (Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Piper) had left, but Bret put a lot more into his presentation than Backlund did as champion.
I first saw Backlund when he came back in 1992 and I thought "This guy was champion for six years?". He just didn't look like a main eventer, talk like one, or act like one. He was just a guy that wrestled and that's it.
Now the flip side of all of this is that Backlund's heel turn in 1994 was ONE OF THE BEST CHARACTER CHANGES EVER!!! It was a story that I understood and bought into INSTANTLY! So much so that it almost felt like it was planned from the moment Backlund lost the title to The Iron Sheik the way he did. He lost the title without actually submitting (his manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel when he was in the Camel Clutch) and when he snapped and turned on Bret, I totally believed that his loss at the hands of The Sheik had slowly driven him to insanity. It just made perfect sense that a loss like that would eat away at even the purest of souls and when Bret beat him in a match on Superstars, he fucking lost it and when he became this psycho that locked in The Crossface Chicken Wing to anyone within arm's length, they had a dangerous psycho heel on their hands!
His promos? Awesome. He totally sounded like a psychopath. They actually took a guy in his 40s and had his big 6 year run over a decade earlier and made him one of the most compelling characters in wrestling. It was unbelievable. And then, much to my shock, they actually had him win the title! And I was OK with it! He was the best heel and he got the belt. It was a great move in my book. And now, Backlund had a strong character to mix in with his great technical skills, which resulted in one of my personal favorite matches of all time, the match where he defeated Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1994. That match had EVERYTHING from drama, to technical expertise, to emotional tension, and a great ending. It was Pro Wrestling at its finest.
So OK, they have this major hot heel. What do they do with him? Oh, they just have him drop the belt to a completely unprepared Diesel at a house show in a match that only lasted 7 seconds.....FUCK THIS COMPANY!!!
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Character wise, I used to hate goody-two-shoes Backlund when I was a kid and always cheered the opposing heel. The match quality was fantastic though.
Was a bigger fan of 'delusional and crazed' reboot of the 90s, though none of his matches quite lived up to what he'd already accomplished.