Bob Backlund

Bob Backlund
Real Name: Bob Backlund

Stats: 6' 1" 242 lbs.
Born: 1950

Bob Backlund's emergence served as a defining point in the evolution of professional wrestling as he seemed to serve as the end the old school, babyface, technical wrestling as the industry became more corporate and full of glitz, glamour and bigger than life characters. Some would argue, therefore, that he was the last of the great champions recognized for their in-Ring skills more than for their personalities.

Backlund was a wrestling star at North Dakota State University where he won the 1971 National Division II 190 pound amateur championship. He entered professional wrestling in the Minneappolis-based American Wrestling Association in early 1974. He quickly became a fan-favorite based on his nice guy appeal and his technical prowess. He moved through the National Wrestling Alliance territories and teamed with Jerry Brisco to win the NWA Georgia tag title belts in late 1975 and then teamed with Steve Keirn a year later to grab the NWA Florida tag titles. In singles action, he wrestled throughout the Midwestern United States held the NWA Missouri championship throughout the summer of 1976.


In 1978, Backlund set his sights on the Northeast region of the United States and entered the World Wrestling Federation. A much-loved babyface, Backlund was quickly matched against the top rulebreakers of the day. On February 20, 1978, he the best of the best in Superstar Billy Graham, defeating him for the WWF World Heavyweight championship. Backlund's reign as a WWF champion was different than what most WWF fans had been used to. For years, the WWF champions had been slow, plodding strongmen such as Bruno Sammartino and Ivan Koloff. Backlund, however, possessed a speed, quickness and Ring intelligence that enhanced his technical abilities and outclassed his adversaries. In late 1979, Backlund traveled to to Japan where he faced the great Antonio Inoki. He was shocked when Inoki defeated him but retained his title belt when the WWF refused to recognize the title change and Backlund continued to carry the belt proudly for the next four years.

In 1983, fans began to tire of the nice-guy image and began to cynically view him as the "Howdy Doody" character that was pinned on him by the Grand Wizard of wrestling. Promoter Vince McMahon, Jr., looking to push new stars tried to convince Backlund to paint his face green and turn heel - Backlund would have none of it. On December 26, 1983 Backlund wrestled the Iron Sheik with the title on the line. When the Iron Sheik applied his patented Camel Clutch, Backlund's manager Arnold Skaaland quickly threw in the towel, conceding the title to the Sheik. Crushed and humiliated, Backlund left the federation and seemed to fade into the background of wrestling as the era of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair emerged.

In 1994, Backlund returned to the WWF as a moral fanatic, ranting and raving about the golden days of wrestling and the apple pie days of the United States. Mr. Backlund, as he demanded to be called, surprised then champion Bret Hart, defeating him after applying his finishing hold, the cross-faced chicken wing.. His new title reign was brief, however, as he lost the title on November 26, 1994 to Kevin Nash, then known as Diesel, thus ending Backlund's remarkable comeback. In recent years, Backlund has become involved in politics and has seriously considered running for a Congressional seat in Connecticut but occasionally pops up on occasion to chastise wrestling fans about their lack of morality.

Bob Backlund faced many of the top stars of his time and was considered by many as he most technically sound wrestler of the all. In an industry based on gimmicks, perhaps his best gimmick was no gimmick at all.

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