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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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Didn't Backlund already write an autobiography years ago? 

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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This sounds like the book Bruno should have written. No kayfabe and greatly detailed. I'm looking forward to this.

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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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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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Sounds worth a read, at least because it won't be like him screaming in character in a shoot interview

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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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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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Give it a little while and an ebook version will show up on one of the torrent sites.

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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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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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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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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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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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Might be have to a must get for Christmas.

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Finished the book and to me this is the greatest wrestling book ever written. To pick up from my last post, Bob went over his peak years of 1981 and 1982 where the WWF was awash in great heels who could all work. Then into 1983 where it starts to fall apart. Bob admits when he fucked up like his over-reaction to Kung Fu Billy Graham ripping up the belt. He had kind words on about 95% of the guys he worked with. The only ones he wasn't too hot on were Stan Hansen, Eddie Gilbert, Angelo Mosca and my personal favorite Nazi after Hermann Goering, Bulldog Brower. Bob put to rest the rumor that he wouldn't drop the strap to Eadie because he wasn't a wrestler. He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings. He goes into quite a lot of detail about the NWA/WWF unification match with Flair. Naitch was actually afraid Bob was going to shoot on him and asked Bob not to hurt him before they went out. If Bob had his way, Vince Sr. would achieve sainthood before that slattern Mother Teresa. He touched briefly on his comeback and even had kind words about Kevin Nash. I couldn't recommend this book any higher to anyone who watched WWWF/WWF wrestling before Hulkamania.

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WongLee wrote: Finished the book and to me this is the greatest wrestling book ever written. To pick up from my last post, Bob went over his peak years of 1981 and 1982 where the WWF was awash in great heels who could all work. Then into 1983 where it starts to fall apart. Bob admits when he fucked up like his over-reaction to Kung Fu Billy Graham ripping up the belt. He had kind words on about 95% of the guys he worked with. The only ones he wasn't too hot on were Stan Hansen, Eddie Gilbert, Angelo Mosca and my personal favorite Nazi after Hermann Goering, Bulldog Brower. Bob put to rest the rumor that he wouldn't drop the strap to Eadie because he wasn't a wrestler. He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings. He goes into quite a lot of detail about the NWA/WWF unification match with Flair. Naitch was actually afraid Bob was going to shoot on him and asked Bob not to hurt him before they went out. If Bob had his way, Vince Sr. would achieve sainthood before that slattern Mother Teresa. He touched briefly on his comeback and even had kind words about Kevin Nash. I couldn't recommend this book any higher to anyone who watched WWWF/WWF wrestling before Hulkamania.
What did he say about Gilbert?

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When Gilbert came into the territory, Vince Sr. actually really did ask Bob to mentor him. Even in the WWF, Gilbert had a raging drug problem and Vince the Elder wanted Backlund to help keep Eddie in line because Bob really didn't have any bad habits. After about two weeks Backlund said fuck this shit, this kid doesn't want to help himself at all. Another few weeks later they are both on a card in Springfield MA and Gilbert was so fucked up he could barely stand up in the ring. Bob completely broke kayfabe and went out to the ring in the middle of Gilberts match and dragged him back to the locker room before he killed himself or his opponent. Vince Sr. got wind of it and Backlund was relieved of his babysitting duties much to Bob's relief.

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WongLee wrote: Another few weeks later they are both on a card in Springfield MA and Gilbert was so fucked up he could barely stand up in the ring. Bob completely broke kayfabe and went out to the ring in the middle of Gilberts match and dragged him back to the locker room before he killed himself or his opponent. Vince Sr. got wind of it and Backlund was relieved of his babysitting duties much to Bob's relief.
I'd like to see results from Springfield that confirm that incident.  I have my doubts that it happened.

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WongLee wrote:  He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings.

Does anyone know exactly when Jr. got Hogan's committment?  Because it would seem that as soon as Hogan put his name on a contract, Backlund's reign was all but over.  Does Bob say anything in the book about what he knew regarding Vinnie's plans for Hogan and how it would affect his status with the company?

I'm really looking forward to getting this book. 

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In working on a Gilbert record book, which is far from complete... There is a 12/04/83 Springfield show where Gilbert beat Swede Hanson but Backlund is not on the show. The on camera mentoring stuff started in 1983. Gilbert came back from his car crash after about 9 weeks, and even after the Masked Superstar reinjury angle, he worked a tour of Japan while selling it. I can imagine Eddie on painkillers might have been part of that equation.

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12/04/82 vs Swede, can't edit from my phone..

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One Fan Gang wrote: In working on a Gilbert record book, which is far from complete... There is a 12/04/83 Springfield show where Gilbert beat Swede Hanson but Backlund is not on the show. The on camera mentoring stuff started in 1983. Gilbert came back from his car crash after about 9 weeks, and even after the Masked Superstar reinjury angle, he worked a tour of Japan while selling it. I can imagine Eddie on painkillers might have been part of that equation.
If Backlund dragged Gilbert to the back in the middle of the match, the result should be a countout loss or no-contest.  I don't know how complete WWF Springfield results are for '82-'83, but it seems like it shouldn't be too hard to find if it happened.  I kinda doubt it though. 

I also have to question the necessity of Backlund getting involved.  I imagine Swede or any veteran heel at the time who was working with a kid too impaired to take care of them properly would be able to handle the situation himself, swiftly and violently.  They wouldn't be waiting for Backlund to help them out. 

Last edited on Wed Sep 30th, 2015 11:56 pm by srossi

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srossi wrote: WongLee wrote: Another few weeks later they are both on a card in Springfield MA and Gilbert was so fucked up he could barely stand up in the ring. Bob completely broke kayfabe and went out to the ring in the middle of Gilberts match and dragged him back to the locker room before he killed himself or his opponent. Vince Sr. got wind of it and Backlund was relieved of his babysitting duties much to Bob's relief.
I'd like to see results from Springfield that confirm that incident.  I have my doubts that it happened.

How dare you doubt Bob.
Actually the story does reek of wrestling book bullshit. However, virtually everything else in the book seems right on the money so why would Backlund lie. No one remembers Eddie Gilbert so there's no celebrity recognition. I checked all my '82 and '83 Massachusetts stuff and couldn't find anything even though there were at least 5 Springfield cards I had where Gilbert and Backlund were on the same card. Who knows....

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WongLee wrote: srossi wrote: WongLee wrote: Another few weeks later they are both on a card in Springfield MA and Gilbert was so fucked up he could barely stand up in the ring. Bob completely broke kayfabe and went out to the ring in the middle of Gilberts match and dragged him back to the locker room before he killed himself or his opponent. Vince Sr. got wind of it and Backlund was relieved of his babysitting duties much to Bob's relief.
I'd like to see results from Springfield that confirm that incident.  I have my doubts that it happened.

How dare you doubt Bob.


I would never doubt El Dandy, but Bob's a different story. 

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KGB wrote: WongLee wrote:  He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings.

Does anyone know exactly when Jr. got Hogan's committment?  Because it would seem that as soon as Hogan put his name on a contract, Backlund's reign was all but over.  Does Bob say anything in the book about what he knew regarding Vinnie's plans for Hogan and how it would affect his status with the company?

I'm really looking forward to getting this book. 

Backlund says he had no idea at all they were going to take the strap off him until the early December TV tapings. He didn't even know Hogan was coming in until a couple of weeks later and when they approached him to have Hogan come out to "second" him on TV in late December against the 9 Samoans, he knew Hogan would be the face of the company. Bob also said that Vinny Mac had told him he would be winning the strap back on the 1/84 MSG card after the 12/83 loss. However, a week later at the TV tapings, Vinny told him the plans had changed. Soon after that, Vinny started to plant the seed for Bob turning heel which he turned down flat.

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WongLee wrote: KGB wrote: WongLee wrote:  He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings.

Does anyone know exactly when Jr. got Hogan's committment?  Because it would seem that as soon as Hogan put his name on a contract, Backlund's reign was all but over.  Does Bob say anything in the book about what he knew regarding Vinnie's plans for Hogan and how it would affect his status with the company?

I'm really looking forward to getting this book. 

Backlund says he had no idea at all they were going to take the strap off him until the early December TV tapings. He didn't even know Hogan was coming in until a couple of weeks later and when they approached him to have Hogan come out to "second" him on TV in late December against the 9 Samoans, he knew Hogan would be the face of the company. Bob also said that Vinny Mac had told him he would be winning the strap back on the 1/84 MSG card after the 12/83 loss. However, a week later at the TV tapings, Vinny told him the plans had changed. Soon after that, Vinny started to plant the seed for Bob turning heel which he turned down flat.

Come on.  Backlund had to know that any promise of winning the belt back in January was hogwash.  What would be the point in dropping it in the first place?  Knowing about Koloff, Stasiak, and, to an extent, Graham, he must have seen the writing on the wall even if he didn't know who would replace him.   

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KGB wrote: WongLee wrote: KGB wrote: WongLee wrote:  He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings.

Does anyone know exactly when Jr. got Hogan's committment?  Because it would seem that as soon as Hogan put his name on a contract, Backlund's reign was all but over.  Does Bob say anything in the book about what he knew regarding Vinnie's plans for Hogan and how it would affect his status with the company?

I'm really looking forward to getting this book. 

Backlund says he had no idea at all they were going to take the strap off him until the early December TV tapings. He didn't even know Hogan was coming in until a couple of weeks later and when they approached him to have Hogan come out to "second" him on TV in late December against the 9 Samoans, he knew Hogan would be the face of the company. Bob also said that Vinny Mac had told him he would be winning the strap back on the 1/84 MSG card after the 12/83 loss. However, a week later at the TV tapings, Vinny told him the plans had changed. Soon after that, Vinny started to plant the seed for Bob turning heel which he turned down flat.

Come on.  Backlund had to know that any promise of winning the belt back in January was hogwash.  What would be the point in dropping it in the first place?  Knowing about Koloff, Stasiak, and, to an extent, Graham, he must have seen the writing on the wall even if he didn't know who would replace him.
According to the book, no. Throughout the entire book, Backlund made it clear that Vince the Elder went over everything with him twice a month. Once at the TV tapings, and then at MSG. By December of '83 the company was more or less in complete control of Vinny Mac. According to Backlund it was when he saw Hulk at the tapings he knew the jig was up. Sheiky supposedly was promised a one year run with the belt.
Title changes in the WW(W)F(E) were not always known ahead of time by the boys. Stasiak didn't know he was going over Pedro until the agent was laying out the match for him in the dressing room. Stasiak was completely surprised. Not sure about Koloff or if the 1971 locker room knew that Bruno had had his fill.

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My point is that given the fact that Koloff, Stasiak and Graham had all been short-term transitional champs from one babyface to another, why would Bob entertain the fantasy that he would be getting the belt back from Sheik? History showed that the long-term champ who dropped the belt didn't get it back (or, in the case of Bruno, had to wait a couple years).

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KGB wrote: WongLee wrote: KGB wrote: WongLee wrote:  He said Vince the Elder told him he was losing the strap to Sheiky at the 12/26/83 MSG show on the 12/3/83 TV tapings.

Does anyone know exactly when Jr. got Hogan's committment?  Because it would seem that as soon as Hogan put his name on a contract, Backlund's reign was all but over.  Does Bob say anything in the book about what he knew regarding Vinnie's plans for Hogan and how it would affect his status with the company?

I'm really looking forward to getting this book. 

Backlund says he had no idea at all they were going to take the strap off him until the early December TV tapings. He didn't even know Hogan was coming in until a couple of weeks later and when they approached him to have Hogan come out to "second" him on TV in late December against the 9 Samoans, he knew Hogan would be the face of the company. Bob also said that Vinny Mac had told him he would be winning the strap back on the 1/84 MSG card after the 12/83 loss. However, a week later at the TV tapings, Vinny told him the plans had changed. Soon after that, Vinny started to plant the seed for Bob turning heel which he turned down flat.

Come on.  Backlund had to know that any promise of winning the belt back in January was hogwash.  What would be the point in dropping it in the first place?  Knowing about Koloff, Stasiak, and, to an extent, Graham, he must have seen the writing on the wall even if he didn't know who would replace him.   
He said in the book that he was surprised they took it off him because the houses were still excellent all through the territory. Also, Backlund says he never got involved whatsoever with how Vince the Elder ran his business unlike Sammartino. Up until the very end it was Vince Sr. who gave him his bookings for the month and finishes for the Garden. He had little interaction with Vinny Mac. Maybe it's a case of ignorance was bliss.

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FWIW, Tom Burke.posted a 10/01/83 lineup from Springfield and a Mark Tomol wondered aloud if this was the show Backlund refers to. Eddie was booked against Butcher Vachon and Bob headlines vs. Slaughter, however the results list Vachon faced and defeated Chuck Tanner with no mention of a substitution. Burke did not attend the card to verify anything. Is Mark Tomol here?

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One Fan Gang wrote: FWIW, Tom Burke.posted a 10/01/83 lineup from Springfield and a Mark Tomol wondered aloud if this was the show Backlund refers to. Eddie was booked against Butcher Vachon and Bob headlines vs. Slaughter, however the results list Vachon faced and defeated Chuck Tanner with no mention of a substitution. Burke did not attend the card to verify anything. Is Mark Tomol hereThis Tomol guy is the scum of the earth. I hear he has Al-Qaeda ties and has a YouTube channel dedicated to him drowning beagle puppies. Beej would never let a guy like that in here.

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So WongLee = "Tomol the Scummy"? :)

Last edited on Fri Oct 2nd, 2015 07:50 pm by khawk

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khawk wrote: So WongLee = "Tomol the Scummy"? :)
I'm just an Italian/Hungarian kid from Queens who was adopted by a WWWF jobber from Hong Kong who worked in a Chinese restaurant on Queens Boulevard when he wasn't being broken in two by Steele, Tanaka, Stasiak, Jonathan and Hennig.

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You can be just another Mark around these parts.

Forgive me, for often, I know not even who I am myself.

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One Fan Gang wrote: Forgive me, for often, I know not even who I am myself.
You're a 6'8", 400+ lb bisexual former pro wrestler. You transformed at one point into a large African white dude that liked to dance.
Hope that helps!

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WongLee wrote: When Gilbert came into the territory, Vince Sr. actually really did ask Bob to mentor him. Even in the WWF, Gilbert had a raging drug problem and Vince the Elder wanted Backlund to help keep Eddie in line because Bob really didn't have any bad habits. After about two weeks Backlund said fuck this shit, this kid doesn't want to help himself at all. Another few weeks later they are both on a card in Springfield MA and Gilbert was so fucked up he could barely stand up in the ring. Bob completely broke kayfabe and went out to the ring in the middle of Gilberts match and dragged him back to the locker room before he killed himself or his opponent. Vince Sr. got wind of it and Backlund was relieved of his babysitting duties much to Bob's relief.I'm just finishing this book and have some other thoughts that I'll post later, but I wanted to revisit this topic.  You got the city wrong, WongLee.  Backlund said that this match took place in Salisbury, MD, not Springfield, MA (p. 429).  However, something still doesn't add up.  According to the history of the WWE website, Gilbert wrestled twice in Salisbury during this time frame.  The first time was on 2/13/83.  On that day he was in a tag team match and Backlund main evented against Fuji, who was subbing for Graham.  But Backlund said the incident in question happened during a singles match.  Gilbert wrestled again in Salisbury on 4/10/83 and this time it was a singles match, but Backlund was wrestling in Fairfax, VA that day. 

So, if it did happen, it must have been the February card and Bob's simply forgot that it was a tag match.  That might actually make more sense as the match could have gone on without one of the participants.  But in the end, I think this one smells like something of a concoction by Backlund. 

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Yes this is a good book. I as a youth was a big Backlund fan. I seen him dozens of times in Philadelphia. He talked of drinking beer with Andre and I was surprised by that. I would give this book a decent review.

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Finished this the other day and I have to say it is absolutely money well spent.  Not only does it go into great detail about a time and place in wrestling history that few others have addressed, but it does so in a way that's very satisfying.  In fact, there are very few questions left from the Bob Backlund W(W)WF era; he's provided background on just about every major angle of that era.  In some ways it reads like a fleshed-out version of a Wrestling Observer obituary in terms of the details it includes and the history it brings to life.  The fact that Backlund was a rarity -- a clean living wrestler -- helps with the credibility of the book as you feel you can accept as fact his recollections. 

Just a few thoughts I have:

1) I wish he would have included something about the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid MSG matches, such as how they were viewed by the rest of the talent and what did Sr. think of the long-term prospects of high-spot based wrestling? 

2) I thought it was very odd that he basically said nothing about winning the tag titles with Pedro at Shea Stadium.  Having a world champion become one half of the world tag champs was rare and it begs all sorts of questions about why Sr. went this route.  Why take the belts off the Samoans if you were just going to immediately strip the new champs?  I get that you're trying to create the draw of a TV tournament to crown new champs but they just put the belts right back on the Samoans.  The entire scenario was odd and I feel like Backlund would have been the guy to provide answers.

3) I liked that in the first half of the book he included dollar amounts on payoffs for the various territories, up to and including what he would get as WWWF champ for an MSG main event, but I wish he would have provided even more details such as his yearly take.  Did he make more in 1983 than in, say, 1979?  What was he spending on travel as champ?  If he did a show for Eddie Graham or Sam Muchnick did they pay for his travel and lodging or did it all come out of his pocket?  What could he expect to make on a typical Japan tour?

4) Similarly, I wish he would have been explicit on what Jr. offered him to turn heel in 1984.  He said he still has the contract.  I'm sure that with some strategic redactions it could have been included in the photo section. 

5) It sounds like the biggest, and maybe the only, disappointment with the book is how it essentially tails off after he leaves the Fed in 1984.  There must have been some more Pro Wrestling USA insights.  How could he competely ignore his stint in the UWF (Japan), where he was in main events and wrestling a professional style that he lamented was disappearing?  And of course the Mr. Backlund era was also lacking.  Here also was where there were a couple factual errors.  For example, it's mentioned that the WWF was foundering and was losing the Monday Night War to WCW, when Nitro didn't even debut for another year and it would take longer than that for WCW to consistently win in the ratings.   

But all in all, this is the best wrestling book I've ever read.  Maybe you have to have been from the Northeast and have experienced this era, but even if you weren't, even if every name and event in this book is foreign to you, it's still a great read.  I can't recommend this any higher.   

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I can tell you from a fans perspective that the Tiger Mask/Dyno match left virtually everyone in the Garden with their jaws dropped to the sticky floor. There had never been anything even remotely close to this in the Greater New York area. Not even the palest of pale imitation. When one of them teased a dive from the top rope on to the floor the crowd let out an audible gasp as if Christ came down off the cross right in front of us. Looking back on the match now it seems quaint at best.

It would have been nice if Bobby fleshed out the Shea card more. He went into such great depth on how McMahon booked I too would have loved to hear what he had to say on the little pre-match meeting no doubt held right near the Mets dugout.

I'm one of the few it seems who thought that the amount of time and space he used to delve into the post 1984 stuff was just about perfect.

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I've gotta get a copy of this.

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I would have figured you to be the guy at the front of the line to get this!

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I'm a little more than halfway through and it's fantastic so far, but I'll save a review until I've finished it.

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One Fan Gang wrote: In working on a Gilbert record book, which is far from complete... There is a 12/04/83 Springfield show where Gilbert beat Swede Hanson but Backlund is not on the show. The on camera mentoring stuff started in 1983. Gilbert came back from his car crash after about 9 weeks, and even after the Masked Superstar reinjury angle, he worked a tour of Japan while selling it. I can imagine Eddie on painkillers might have been part of that equation.
Backlund did team with Gilbert on a 12/25/82 television match and he rarely had tv matches in those days. Perhaps behind the scenes they may have him start to mentor Gilbert before the car accident.

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khawk wrote: I would have figured you to be the guy at the front of the line to get this!Right?  And I know Rob Miller as well so I've got no excuse.  

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I've got to dig into this book soon. I bought a kindle version off Amazon back in November, but have been busy catching up with some other books. Sounds like it could be the best pro wrestling book I've read since Bret Hart's.

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Might get this for my birthday.

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HBF wrote: khawk wrote: I would have figured you to be the guy at the front of the line to get this!Right?  And I know Rob Miller as well so I've got no excuse.  

Mine is that I've got a Kobo reader. Kobo wants $33+ for it digitally! Amazon is only charging $14.84 and from what I have read Amazon stuff can't be read on a Kindle.
Kobo must have had to pay out the ass to get a chance to offer it. 33 for a digital download is insane. I'll order the hardcover first.

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The best part of the book is the way Backlund passive aggressively obliterates Superstar Billy Graham for dozens of pages, especially when he says he's going to take the high road because of what a trainwreck he's become only to follow it up with a subtle dig. But my favorite is when he explained the psychology of his matches with SBG and how they tried to make it speed vs. power, even though "in reality I was far quicker AND stronger than he was." Lol.

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srossi wrote: The best part of the book is the way Backlund passive aggressively obliterates Superstar Billy Graham for dozens of pages, especially when he says he's going to take the high road because of what a trainwreck he's become only to follow it up with a subtle dig. But my favorite is when he explained the psychology of his matches with SBG and how they tried to make it speed vs. power, even though "in reality I was far quicker AND stronger than he was." Lol.Backlund picked up a 300 lb+ Hulk Hogan in Japan and the Spectrum in 1980 with one arm, so he might be right.

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HBF wrote: srossi wrote: The best part of the book is the way Backlund passive aggressively obliterates Superstar Billy Graham for dozens of pages, especially when he says he's going to take the high road because of what a trainwreck he's become only to follow it up with a subtle dig. But my favorite is when he explained the psychology of his matches with SBG and how they tried to make it speed vs. power, even though "in reality I was far quicker AND stronger than he was." Lol.Backlund picked up a 300 lb+ Hulk Hogan in Japan and the Spectrum in 1980 with one arm, so he might be right.

I have no doubt that he's right. Backlund had a powerlifter physique, SBG had a bodybuilder physique aided by chemicals. 

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SBG also use to lift with Arnold and Arnold wasn't a lightweight in the lifting department. Backlund had better pure strength, while SBG had more "timed" strength.

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One of the more interesting tidbits that Backlund discusses is the tension between Inoki and Vince Sr. over how to present him in NY.  Vince Sr. wanted him to come in as a foreign heel like all the others to get his main event run with Backlund, but Inoki wanted to show the footage back in Japan and insisted on coming in as a babyface.  Vince Sr. wanted the relationship with NJPW to work out and conceded, but refused to ever give Inoki his big title shot at the Garden.  Backlund went into great detail talking about the Japan title switch and how NJPW kind of made up the "help-up" title thing themselves thinking that it would get Inoki his match at MSG on the Dec. card that was going to be simulcast in Japan.  But Vince Sr. still refused because his priority was selling out the Garden and he didn't think Inoki would draw, so he booked the "held-up" title match between Backlund and Bobby Duncum instead, with Inoki facing Hussein Arab (Iron Sheik) on the undercard.  Backlund says Vince Sr. was 100% right because even against Sheik during the hostage crisis, Inoki wasn't over that night in NY at all.  Backlund joked that he can't imagine how the Japanese announcers made sense of the title situation to the NJPW fans.  Backlund also mentioned that the title loss in Japan was completely approved by Vince Sr. though, but for years Backlund would pretend it was a screwjob at fan conventions and in shoot interviews just to have fun. 

Last edited on Thu Jan 14th, 2016 12:05 am by srossi

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Backlund was very streamlined and sculpted while not being overly muscled he was certainly strong as a bull. He was also one of the best conditioned athletes of his time. He was one of my child hood heroes.

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Never understood the love for Inoki. Boring as fuck.

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I think the Wifey ordered this for my birthday. If so, can't wait to read it.

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Frank wrote: Backlund was very streamlined and sculpted while not being overly muscled he was certainly strong as a bull. He was also one of the best conditioned athletes of his time. He was one of my child hood heroes.
Until sometime in 1982, I would agree.  At that point, Backlund stopped weight training and did all cardio and endurance training, and he lost all of his bulk and most of his tone.  What's a shame to me is that had he continued doing what he'd done for the prior 6-7 years, he would have been an extremely interesting guy to have on the card whether as a secondary babyface (considering the touring schedule, he'd have made a lot of cash), or if Vince finally convinced him to somehow turn heel and fight Hogan.

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Backlund went the Karl Gotch route and decided to stop lifting. Worse decision he ever made.

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Superstar wrote: What's a shame to me is that had he continued doing what he'd done for the prior 6-7 years, he would have been an extremely interesting guy to have on the card whether as a secondary babyface (considering the touring schedule, he'd have made a lot of cash), or if Vince finally convinced him to somehow turn heel and fight Hogan.

I wonder if he'd have been up for that, though.  Yes, he did shots in Florida, St. Louis, and Japan as WWF champ, but he seemed to relish living in Connecticut, where most of the WWF territory was driveable for him, where he could get home most nights.  I think the grind of WWF travel in the second half of the 80s would have been a huge turnoff for him. 

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I've read 266 pages so far and it's in my top 3 wrestling books I've ever read.

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KGB wrote: Superstar wrote: What's a shame to me is that had he continued doing what he'd done for the prior 6-7 years, he would have been an extremely interesting guy to have on the card whether as a secondary babyface (considering the touring schedule, he'd have made a lot of cash), or if Vince finally convinced him to somehow turn heel and fight Hogan.

I wonder if he'd have been up for that, though.  Yes, he did shots in Florida, St. Louis, and Japan as WWF champ, but he seemed to relish living in Connecticut, where most of the WWF territory was driveable for him, where he could get home most nights.  I think the grind of WWF travel in the second half of the 80s would have been a huge turnoff for him.
I listened to a great shoot with Bob and that's one of the things he confirmed. His decision not to go heel was to keep heat off his daughter in middle school. That's living the kayfabe dream, baby.

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Haven't gotten any farther in my reading, still can't wait to read the rest.

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Getting near the end of the book and I have to say it might be the best wrestling book I've ever read.

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Just thinking of one thing about this book that made me roll my eyes, which is Backlund's claim that in his day refs didn't know the finish to matches and so guys had to be careful to kick out in time. He eventually claims that the ref in his match with the Iron Sheik (who was it, Dick Kroll? Dick Woehrle?) didn't know the finish ahead of time which is why he looked so shocked. Come on! The angle was that he hadn't seen the towel get thrown in. So what if it had come from a fan? Would he still call for the bell? I can't believe Bob's co-author couldn't get him to drop that bit of nonsense from an otherwise honest account of the business.

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Dick Kroll btw

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KGB wrote: Just thinking of one thing about this book that made me roll my eyes, which is Backlund's claim that in his day refs didn't know the finish to matches and so guys had to be careful to kick out in time. He eventually claims that the ref in his match with the Iron Sheik (who was it, Dick Kroll? Dick Woehrle?) didn't know the finish ahead of time which is why he looked so shocked. Come on! The angle was that he hadn't seen the towel get thrown in. So what if it had come from a fan? Would he still call for the bell? I can't believe Bob's co-author couldn't get him to drop that bit of nonsense from an otherwise honest account of the business.
That stuck out to me too and I kept forgetting to post about it.  Even for more traditional finishes, I think the ref really needs to know the finish.  Now back in the '70 and early '80s there were a TON of botched finishes compared to today.  Seriously, watch any MSG house show and there seems to be at least one per show where the 3 count is made and the match continues or a 2 count is made and the match ends, because the ref and the workers weren't on the same page.  This was business-exposing more than any Young Bucks match ever could be.  So I can buy this to a degree, but the scripted finish was still the finish.  It is not as Backlund says that if you're supposed to win and you don't get the shoulder up in time you're out of luck.  No, what happens is the match continues anyway after some standing around and talking and the match looks like shit.  So I'm not sure if this is just really bad referees (especially the commission guys) or the finish really not being communicated, but I'm betting the former.  Also, in the particular case of the towel, just watch the match a few times and you know Kroll knows it's coming.  There's no doubt about that one.     

Last edited on Mon Feb 22nd, 2016 09:33 pm by srossi

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Indeed. The WWF likely had Dick Kroll in the ring in order to ensure the finish was not botched.

Last edited on Mon Feb 22nd, 2016 09:35 pm by tamalie

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By the way, I don't think Backlund is "lying".  The book seems very honest to the best of Backlund's ability and fact-checked with accurate dates/locations by the co-author, who is a big fan of the era.  And Backlund never pretends that anything is a shoot.  It just goes to show you that these guys brains get scrambled and years go by and none of them have any idea the difference between fact and fiction anymore.  At some point, probably decades ago, he convinced himself of this ridiculous misstatement and now he believes it.  If one of the more honest books could have such a huge pile of bullshit in it, imagine a Hogan or Piper book. 

Last edited on Mon Feb 22nd, 2016 09:41 pm by srossi

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srossi wrote: By the way, I don't think Backlund is "lying".  The book seems very honest to the best of Backlund's ability and fact-checked with accurate dates/locations by the co-author, who is a big fan of the era.  And Backlund never pretends that anything is a shoot.  It just goes to show you that these guys brains get scrambled and years go by and none of them have any idea the difference between fact and fiction anymore.  At some point, probably decades ago, he convinced himself of this ridiculous misstatement and now he believes it.  If one of the more honest books could have such a huge pile of bullshit in it, imagine a Hogan or Piper book. Fully agree with this. From conversations I've had with Doc Delaware, he says Bob is approachable but a nutball with kayfabe. It's likely he's gotten truth and and fiction mixed about things and why I've never had much desire to meet him.

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beejmi wrote: Dick Kroll btw

Reminds of the movie The Whoopee Boys, when Paul Rodriguez and Taylor Negron are discussing the Dick Sargeant/Dick York change in Bewitched.  "You can't just change Dicks mid-stream!" 



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