Class of 2013
2x WWF Champion, 2nd Longest Reign in WWE History, Crazy Old Coot
Hall of Fame Rating
8 out of 10
Bob Backlund was Vince McMahon Senior’s last chosen champion. Wrestling was different in the 1970s during the World Wide Wrestling Federation, and the biggest goal for the Northeast territory was to maintain a popular champion who drew every month at MSG and a couple of times a year in Philly, Baltimore or Washington DC. Backlund followed in the lineage of Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales. In fact that is it. Three faces held the WWWF championship from 1961 til 1983. Interspersed between was normally a one month (or one week) reign by a heel champion who acted like a transition (thereby starting and defining the term traditional champion, sorry Stan Stasiak)
But Backlund is slightly different than Bruno or Pedro, he defeated a long running heel champion in Superstar Billy Graham. When Graham became champion in 1977, wrestling had started to transition. Characters were becoming more common and the idea of a fighting champion who fights and fights and fights and wins all the time was getting old. Graham was a heel who cheated and cheated and cheated while claiming his dominance. Enter Bob Backlund.
Backlund was trained by Verne Gagne and debuted in 1972. He moved about throughout the mid-western and southern territories until finally coming to the WWWF in 1977. Backlund was different from the all the previous champions. He was technical and an actual wrestler. Sammartino and Morales were amazing heroes and men to admire. Backlund was a hard worker individual, not common for the champion of the Northeast.
In fact Backlund himself was a representation of a common wrestling tradition, when business starts to go down and your “superhero” wrestler isn’t there anymore, go with a technically sound wrestler. This man will wow the audiences with his performance, even if his character leaves something to be desired. WWF did this later in 1992 with Bret Hart and we could soon find ourselves in another one of these once Super Cena retires.
Backlund also was WWWF version of the Jack Brisco like champion. He worked extremely hard and proved to be good enough of a draw to hold the championship for almost six years. During his reign two important life changing things happened in the WWWF. In 1979, Vince SR rejoined the NWA (basically making Backlund’s championship secondary to the NWA World Heavweight championship) due to business not being great and finally sold to Vince JR in 1982.
Backlund was quickly replaced with another superhero in Hulk Hogan and faded away for many years.
His return in 1992 was part of the resurgence of actual wrestlers in the main event and McMahon may have brought him in to be in the main event. Unfortunately for all involved, wrestling as sports entertainment was not a strong suit for face Bob Backlund.
This brings us to my favorite time for Bob Backlund. He turned heel and went crazy on screen. We as fans always talk about when a wrestler embraces who he is, he suceeds more. Well Bob Backlund is legitimately insane. Take a look at this website below. Crazy Pants McGee got nothing on Bob Backlund.
Mr. Backlund made no real sense but his promo when he won the WWF title in 1994 is so underrated and should be looked at as an example of why Backlund is so great. Perhaps if he had been let actually perform (even as a heel) his career with the organization may have been longer.
Where are all my rings?- Bob Backlund
Backlund turned down the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. (Sadly replaced by Don Muraco) Backlund, at the time, believed he still had another run in him. I am personally glad the WWE didn’t allow him to try. Imagine 60 year old Backlund versus 60 year old Flair in retirement matches. My head just exploded.
Still, the Hall of Fame looks to be hitting its stride in the last few years. 2012 was one of the most solid classes in a long time and 2013 is starting strong with Mick Foley and now Bob Backlund. Here’s hoping at least. Tune in more as more nominees become available.
Opens Door For?
Those who have turned down in the past including Bruno, Honky Tonk Man and Ultimate Warrior. Looks the E always forgives.
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Crazy Bob Backlund may have a CRAZY BOB BACKLUND speech. It will be fun.