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Charles (Loss)

[1981-11-23-WWF-MSG, NY] Bob Backlund vs Greg Valentine

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I think it's about time I start posting about the matches we've seen on Titans. Hopefully somewhat regularly. We'll see.

 

Anyway, this is an awesome, awesome match. Arguably Backlund's career best match IMO and a top 10 Valentine match. No holds barred war coming off a previous match at MSG that ended with the WWF belt held up because the dazed ref thought Valentine pinned Bob, when actually Bob pinned Valentine. But they were both wearing black trunks, you see. OK, not the greatest finish ever, but it's a really good match otherwise.

 

This encounter rules though. Backlund comes to the ring pissed off as all hell and jumps Valentine before the bell, who is strutting around like a peacock with the belt he did not earn around his waist. What follows is a back and forth struggle with both men working over each others leg in a race to see who can apply the figure four first. Great stuff. Backlund prevails with a sweet German suplex and the Garden comes unglued, with fans jumping up and down in pure joy, hugging strangers. Backlund's win basically brings peace to NYC after the dark days of the 70s.

 

Watch this immediately

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Solid work here, though a bit too sparing in all facets, especially for a no holds barred match. 1981 wasn't THAT long ago, ha. But what is there is very meaningfully done and the massive heat is well-earned.

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I would argue the no holds barred stip was more to ensure a decisive winner because the belt was held up and not because this was a blood feud, though there was no love lost between the two, if that makes sense

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Parv, if you want to talk peak Greg Valentine sexiness, did he ever look better than with a World's Heavyweight Championship Belt around his waist.



Bob Backlund vs Greg Valentine - MSG 11/23/81 WWF Heavyweight Championship, No Holds Barred



This is the rematch from last month's disputed finish show where The Hammer walked out the Champion, but did not win the match. Thus the championship is held up and there must be a winner! Backlund is red-hot to start and beats Valentine's ass from pillar to post. The Hammer was great here at selling, begging off and bumping for Backlund making him look like Superman. Valentine goes for broke rushing into the corner with double knees and jams them in the turnbuckles. Backlund gives a taste of his Hammer's medicine to the Hammer working over the leg. I will say the one thing that did bring it down for me was Backlund's kicks to the leg were not the best. I recognize this is not Shoot-Style Japan, but Backlund has those killer headbutts, punches and forearms it makes his kicks look extra weak. Valentine is selling this for all its worth and when Backlund does use his fist to work the leg or an actual hold it is better for it. Valentine tries to dig himself out of this hole with desperation lunges, but it seems too deep at first with Backlund headbutting and punching his way back into control. On a figure-4 attempt, Valentine is able to punch Bob in the head and pounce on his leg. Valentine takes Backlund to school. No disrespect to the champ, but this is how you do it. Backlund fights him off and throws some wicked European Uppercuts to Valentine's leg from ground. Holy shit, both their legs are just shot and I am loving the double leg psychology. Valentine just grabs Backlunds ankle and scoots out and wraps his knee around the post. There is no avoiding it this time, Backlund is taken into the Figure-4 twice and his mettle is tested, but GOSHDARNIT HE IS BOB BACKLUND AND HE NEVER GIVES UP. With every fiber of his being and muscles bulging, Bob turns Valentine into the ropes. Both men are just exhausted. Valentine is the first one to try a suplex for a victory, but he can't capitalize. Backlund hits a magnificient, textbook German with a beautiful bridge to win the match! MSG explodes and Backlund leads him in a proto-Yes chant. I agree with the Titans this feels like the climax of Bob Backlund's reign. I thought this was exactly on par with the original 1981 match. I thought the original one just felt a bit grittier. Valentine was more frustrated and Backlund scrappier, but this one had sweet feel-good finish. It is a total toss-up; both are all-time classics. ****1/2


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