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Review of "Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling's World Champion"  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 08:19 pm
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bpickering
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Mike Johnson @ pwinsider.com

There have been many a book written about working in and around the WWF and WWE as well as working with Vince McMahon but until the release of  "Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling's World Champion" by former WWF champion Bob Backlund (Sports Publishing, officially released tomorrow), there has never been a book that focused on what it was like working with Vince McMahon Sr.

Backlund's excellent autobiography changes all that as the framework of the book begins with McMahon asking to speak to Backlund and telling him that they'd like to move the championship belt to him after Bruno Sammartino drops it to Superstar Graham.  Although the book flashes back to Backlund's journey into the business and through the territories, including Amarillo, St. Louis, the AWA and Florida, the bulk of the book consists of Backlund recounting, in a first person narrative, his run at the top of the WWWF/WWF, breaking it down in chronological order.

While there have been many wrestling autobiographies, Backlund's lands in the upper rung of that countless list of books as, unlike many of his peers from that era, when the show was over, he went to hotel and to bed or home to his wife.   While he was seen as something of an outsider by others in the locker room for not doing what the other boys did at the time, it allowed Backlund's mind and memory to remain sharp, which is easily the best attribute of the book. 

While others who worked the same era as Backlund have released books, many have "foggy" memories due to whatever debauchery the road brought them to at the time or they are cautious to tell the entire story to protect themselves and others.  With Backlund's history and background, he has none of those problems or concerns, allowing the reader to get a much grander, vibrant picture of what was going on at the time.

One of the best features of the book is that as champion, Backlund was often the person involved when it came to WWF making deals with other territories and promotions, since he was the champion and would be the one heading to Japan or Florida or whatever other place McMahon Sr. requested he go and perform.  Unlike some books where talents explain where they want, Backlund breaks down the "why" and goes into detail on why matches against then-NWA World champion Harley Race were booked.  He doesn't just discuss defending the belt outside of the WWF in Florida but why McMahon Sr. wanted him to go there.  Across the book, you get a pretty solid picture of how the inner-workings and cooperation among different promotions in the territory era worked.

Of most interest to fans of history may be the chapter dealing with the WWF title change that is often forgotten in history, Backlund dropping the belt to Antonio Inoki in Japan and then returning to the United States following a twist finish that saw the belt held-up...none of which was ever acknowledged to the WWF audience.  Backlund explains why the title change happened, what was supposed to go down at the end of the tour, whether there was actually a screwjob on him as people have often theorized, and why when he returned to the States, Inoki wasn't involved in a blow-off to get the belt back on Backlund.  It's interesting, detailed stuff from one of the principals involved.

Backlund's title reign is recounted with great detail, breaking down the three-tier program that McMahon Sr. often used for challengers coming in to face the champion.  Backlund has great stories of working with The Grand Wizard, Jimmy Snuka, Sgt. Slaughter, Ken Patera, Ivan Koloff, Superstar Graham and many more.  If you had even a passing interest in that era, you'll find more than enough information on the territory.

The book also delves into some of the legends and myths of Backlund's title reign, including claims that Ken Patera was supposed to be the champion, that Backlund couldn't draw without Bruno Sammartino also on the card, whether Jimmy Snuka (as he has claimed) was in line for the WWF title, the origins of the "Howdy Doody" comments behind the scenes, why Backlund turned down the chance to be a heel during Hulk Hogan's initial WWF title run and much more. 

During the introduction to the book, co-author Robert Miller noted that for him, Backlund epitomized a time period of his life, similar to how Star Wars and other pop culture icons did, almost as a chapter of his life.  It's perhaps fitting in some ways that the book pretty much concludes with Vince McMahon Sr. asking to speak to Backlund and explains to him that they'd like him to drop the belt to The Iron Sheik.  Backlund admits to being hurt by the end of his run (likening it to the way Broadway actors feel when their show is going to close for good, which is a great analogy) but still comes up with the finish where Sheik defeats him after Arnold Skaaland throws in the towel.

While there are several additional chapters as Backlund recounts witnessing the WWF landscape change to the Hulk Hogan show, pretty much admitting that it happened around him without his knowledge, his exit from the business and return as "Mr. Backlund" in the 1990s, the lion's share of the book is about Backlund's run with the belt. 

"Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling's World Champion" features a foreword by the late Roddy Piper writing about the class act Backlund is as a person.  The book also features a number of quotes and comments from others Backlund worked with in the business including Harley Race, Tony Atlas, Ken Patera, Sgt. Slaughter, Bruno Sammartino and more. 

An excellent presentation, it's well worth reading if you like wrestling history, grew up in the Backlund era and especially if you want a clear, concise picture of how the WWF ran before Vince McMahon took the company to a national entity.

Last edited on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 08:22 pm by bpickering



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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 08:21 pm
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srossi

 

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Didn't Backlund already write an autobiography years ago? 



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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 08:26 pm
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bpickering
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srossi wrote: Didn't Backlund already write an autobiography years ago?
I did a search in 2013 It was reported that a book called "The All-American Kid: Lessons and Stories On Life From Wrestling Legend Bob Backlund"   was to come out in 2014. However it was postpone. Finally coming tomorrow under a new title.



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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 08:40 pm
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WongLee
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This sounds like the book Bruno should have written. No kayfabe and greatly detailed. I'm looking forward to this.



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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 09:25 pm
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khawk
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Me too. The Kobo version is priced at 33 bucks though. Yikes!

I think the hardcover is cheaper through Amazon, but not by much.

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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 09:29 pm
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bpickering
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khawk wrote: Me too. The Kobo version is priced at 33 bucks though. Yikes!

I think the hardcover is cheaper through Amazon, but not by much.

$20.33 on Amazon.



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 Posted: Mon Sep 14th, 2015 11:13 pm
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Sounds worth a read, at least because it won't be like him screaming in character in a shoot interview

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 Posted: Wed Sep 16th, 2015 09:08 am
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HBF



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Robert Miller = Backlundcollector over at KM from years ago. He's a good guy.  BJ, did you ever invite him to OSW or here?



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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2015 08:13 pm
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JB5



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Finished the Backlund book last night.
Really good read. Lots of booking insights of the NWA and WWWF Titles.
Highly recommended



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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2015 08:27 pm
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Give it a little while and an ebook version will show up on one of the torrent sites.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2015 03:12 am
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HBF



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I like Rob and will buy a copy.  One of those things where I like to pay the bands I like that don't make any real money (Indigenous, Chris Duarte). 

Torrenting stuff from Feinstein, etc......I have no issue with whatsoever and highly encourage.



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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2015 07:28 pm
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I'm halfway through the book now. It's a very good read. Like what JB5 said, he really paints a vivid picture of how the territories were booked back in the day. The story about how he was considered for a run with the NWA title is one I never heard of before and to have Terry Funk and Harley Race cosign on the story was pretty interesting.

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 Posted: Wed Sep 23rd, 2015 01:45 am
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WongLee
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I went to Barnes & Noble the first day it came out. They didn't have it but said ok give us your email and we'll order it for you. I got an email from them 4 hours later saying they couldn't get it in. I guess I'll just go with Amazon. I'm not that big a fan of wrestling books but this one is right in my wheelhouse and a must have.



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 Posted: Tue Sep 29th, 2015 02:21 am
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Kriss
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Just got the Backlund book. Read the chapter on Amarillo and it's full of mistakes and has lots of vague information that could have easily been researched fully. It's almost as if the author padded out the chapter based on a quick look at results on the internet and a brief chat with Backlund. I could have written a better, and certainly more accurate, chapter without talking to Backlund at all. Makes me wonder how much of the rest of the book is factually accurate.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 29th, 2015 04:49 am
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WongLee
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Kriss wrote: Just got the Backlund book. Read the chapter on Amarillo and it's full of mistakes and has lots of vague information that could have easily been researched fully. It's almost as if the author padded out the chapter based on a quick look at results on the internet and a brief chat with Backlund. I could have written a better, and certainly more accurate, chapter without talking to Backlund at all. Makes me wonder how much of the rest of the book is factually accurate.
I'm about 3/4 of the way through it and I find the WWWF stuff as one of a kind writing.
Backlund, or should I say his ghost writer, go into fantastic detail about the mind of Vince the Elder and his booking strategies. Bobby is straight up about how he feels about the other boys. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a book written about the WWWF in this time period that goes into such great detail. The errors that I have found are very nit-picky and take absolutely nothing away from the quality of the book.
The only slightly negative thing that jumps out to me is that the book was clearly not written by Bob but rather dictated to Bob Miller (Backlundcollector on the boards). Some stuff in there that I didn't know like the part where SSBG was trying to get Bruno to go into business with him before the amazing Spectrum Cage Match in order to keep the belt off of Backlund. Maybe Ron can shed some more light on that. Also, that Patera was "promised" a run with the strap but McMahon went with Graham instead.
I haven't gotten to the Snuka parts yet nor the benchmark year of 1984 and I can't wait. Just a fantastic book especially if you grew up in the Northeast.



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hello @Paula_Deen you have midget pig dick and dead dog tits I hope I see you I break your fucking fat neck bitch
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