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Charles (Loss)

[1980-04-16-CWF] Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki

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WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki - CWF 4/16/80

 

I had high hopes for this one, but I thought this was fairly disappointing. I consider their '78 NJPW match a classic, but it has been a while seen that. Both these guys are acquired tastes and are very unique. No one really wrestles like Inoki or Backlund. In fact, they are probably more similar than any other two wrestlers in history. Both have strong shoot credentials and wrestle really dominant and do not really wrestle the conventional shine-heat-comeback-finish formula. I am a mark for amateur stuff in matches, but I didn't think a lot of this was well-executed. It seemed really loose and far too easy to move in and out of holds. Inoki seemed more uncooperative and was imposing himself more even though there were a plenty of Backlund spots. Inoki gained the first advantage with the headscissors, but Backlund got himself out and then it was to the short arm scissors for the Backlund deadlift spot. I did not feel like we got the classic Backlund shine of showing up his opponent and what replaced was not that interesting. Inoki grabbed a double wristlock after the big deadlift spot. Stuff like that where he did not really sell the moment makes sense in a shoot, but it is no fun in a worked environment. Backlund bodyslam and elbow, but Backlund acts like this is the 30th minute does that cover reversal spot he is so fond of very strange. Then Inoki grabs a sleeper to set up the Backlund monkey flip. They are just throwing shit out there willy-nilly. Another example was Inoki grabbed an ab stretch and Backlund just burst out with a butterfly suplex. There was struggle at times and then there would be none. It was very strange and uneven. There was good stuff like Inoki enziguiri Backlund falls back on his ass and then a nice suplex by Inoki. That was a great exchange by Inoki, which sets up the classic Backlund move of hitting a delayed vertical suplex to show up Inoki. There were great moments they just were not stringing them together. Loved Backlund's piledriver in this! He goes for a second time about 5 minutes later only to get back dropped out. Inoki misses a kneedrop (weak looking) and Backlund goes to town! We needed this like a good ten-fifteen minutes earlier. Backlund was great working the leg, wicked energetic and convincing. Figure-4 is red hot in Florida with Dusty as their top star and being a big spot for NWA Champions of the past. Backlund teases the atomic drop, but falls back with it for two. Backlund comes off the ropes and Inoki throws him over the top rope for the DQ.

 

Very uneven. Lots of really good stuff, but nothing to put it together. It was the best hits of Backlund in a mixed up order with an opponent that was not committed to making him look good. Hell, Inoki really did not do much to make himself look good. Backlund was great working the leg would have liked to seen more of that in this match and in his career. Good match, but nothing great. ***

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