WWWF/WWF #9 Page #2
At an earlier meeting, I think at Madison Square Garden, Iron
Sheik attacked Backlund with his famous clubs after a demonstration,
injuring Backlund’s shoulder. Backlund,
I believe then had to face the Masked Superstar either the same night or
shortly after. Superstar’s
favorite maneuver was the neckbreaker, and although Backlund escaped
with the title, Superstar further injured Backlund’s neck, along with
his shoulder. Shortly after
that, Backlund was scheduled to meet the Sheik at the next Garden card
and Backlund wrestled heavily favoring his shoulder and neck, while the
Sheik spent the whole match working on that area of his body.
I have this match on tape, and it is great, but slow.
It really tells a story like all great old school matches used to
do. Finally, Backlund
executes a move on Sheik, but really hurts his injuries doing so. The Sheik poised, readied, and finally slapped on the camel
clutch, but Backlund would never submit.
Seeing that his man was risking his career, Arnold Skaaland threw
in the towel for his man, and we have a new WWF Champion.
Back on TV, shortly after the Sheik wrestled, they announced
Backlund was hot on his tail and was starting his comeback in a tag team
match the following week with a mystery partner against the Samoans.
Then, when the following week came, they announced that Capt. Lou
Albano, being the crafty manager of the Samoans that he was, had up and
refused the tag match because he could not train his men for an unknown
opponent. Instead, Backlund had to face one of the Samoans himself.
I believe it was Samoan 3, Samula, he faced, but it could have
been Sika, # 2. Afa, I
believe, was injured at the time. During
the match (of course) all three Samoans and Albano ran in for the DQ to
lay out Backlund, when who should come out to help but the
“Incredible” Hulk Hogan! He
laid out all 3 Samoans and Albano in one fell swoop, while Backlund
continued to roll around on the canvas.
Now I just want to take a second right here and point out
that this is why, even at the age of ten, I knew there was something
wrong here, and why I didn’t fall for all this Hulkamania stuff.
The Samoans were pushed as the toughest wrestlers in the WWF at
the time, and Hogan wiped out, not one, not two, but all three of them
and their double tough manager Capt. Lou in one tirade.
To even a boy of ten this was the dumbest, most unbelievable
thing I had ever seen in my entire life.
I knew wrestling was pre-determined, but they had always done
everything in every match to build around the premise that this at least
COULD happen. With Hogan,
that was all gone. That’s
why today I refer to Hogan as simply the anti-Christ of professional
Back to the show, Backlund and Hogan then did an interview
and set up their battle next week against another one of the top tag
teams at the time, Mr. Fuji and Tiger Chung Lee (Mr. Saito had already
left the promotion and Lee, a Korean, looked similar to Saito, so he was
Fuji’s new partner). The
following week, it was more of the same.
Every time Backlund was in the ring they worked his injured
shoulder and neck, and every time Hogan was in he cleaned house,
eventually landing the big leg drop and pinning Lee for victory.
I think there was another week in between, but then the show
started with a new beginning and new music.
The entire beginning was centered around a recent MSG match where
Hogan defeated the Sheik for the World Title.
They talked about the match at the beginning and said Backlund
was too injured to receive his rematch against the Sheik and that Hogan
took his place and won the title. They
then announced that next week they would show the match in it’s
entirety. The match had
Hogan doing everything Backlund couldn’t do in his encounter with the
Sheik. Hogan powered out of the Boston crab, and then did the
unthinkable, he broke the seemingly unbreakable camel clutch with sheer
The new direction of the promotion was obvious, not only were
they selling Backlund down the river for their new star, they were also
selling wrestling down the river for power and showmanship.
Backlund’s motto was “to every hold there is a counter, and
to every counter there was a counter.” He could wrestle hold for hold anyone in the business, and
out do most, if not all. Hogan
broke holds with sheer power and brute strength, and showed little if
any wrestling ability. Everything
changed after that. Every
show became more and more polished, every match more and more
“entertainment,” and less “sport.”
That’s why, while almost every other writer on this website starts off their column by saying how lucky they were to have grown up seeing their respective promotion’s matches, I didn’t. While I certainly consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to write for this great site, I’m one of the unlucky ones who was force-fed Vinnieland wrestling from an early age because my local TV and arena carried no other alternative. To all you other writers, I consider you the lucky ones.
I’ll look at a far more cheerful point of 1984, when “Rowdy” Roddy Piper entered the promotion.
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