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peachchaos, April 8, 2016 in August 1982
I like that newspaper clipping a lot.
WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Buddy Rose - MSG 8/30/82
Buddy Rose checks the most important box to be an enjoyable Bob Backlund challenger and that is to be a great bumper. Now you do NOT have to be a great bumper to be a great Backlund challenger (see Valentine, Greg and Hogan, Hulk), but if you are, then it is almost a guarantee that the match will be great.
Bob Backlund is over like rover! Before the bell, he leads the crowd in a thunderous proto-yes chant! Buddy Rose is playing his Playboy character to the hilt. He has his ladies in Vegas show girl tuxedos preening him while each gives a kiss and then "one for the Grand Wizard" - Vince McMahon adds slyly. Early on Backlund has the Playboy betwixt & between. He does not know if he is coming or going. On a couple amateur sequences, Backlund is like the Tasmanian Devil on the mat rendering Buddy Rose discombobulated on the outside wondering what just happened. Buddy Rose tries charging but a series of single leg pickups result in him on his ass repeatedly. He tries a Full Nelson, but Backlund thrusts his ass backwards and Buddy Rose ends up going through the ropes and taking a seat on the cold, concrete. Rose avoids the O'Connor Roll only to eat a dropkick goes back sailing over the top rope. He might as well take residence on the outside given how much time he is spending out there. No that was not a Vince McMahon line, but that does sound like a funny old-timey thing to say.
The transition is a little weak (we do miss it the very beginning because we are watching the replay of the dropkick). Rose slams Backlund's head into the turnbuckle and gives him a chop for good measure before taking him over with a side headlock. They do some great work in and out of the Rose headlock. They do this spirited headlock and headscissors counter sequence. Eventually, Backlund grabs his own headlock. Then it is on! Backlund cranks Buddy's neck to the point where you think he is going to screw it off. The crowd counts with him on four separate occasions and at one point counts all the way to 14! I like that anytime Buddy showed any signs of life, he would crank on that neck to bring him to heel. At one point, he just lets go of the headlock and Rose falls face first to the mat lifeless. Perfect!
Buddy mounts his comeback by atomic dropping Backlund on the top turnbuckle. Ow! Rose gets vicious. He starts stomping Backlund mercilessly until Backlund is forced off the apron to fall onto the apron. Rose bounces his head off the apron and then two closed fists to the head. That's the other thing you need as a Backlund challenger is a mean streak because Backlund will gobble you up. Backlund whips him into the buckles after a chop and monkey flip! He goes to the well one too many times and Rose hooks the ropes. Rose with a jackknife pin for two. Buddy misses the elbow drop. Backlund starts uppercutting the arm which can only mean one thing, but Rose senses it and drives Backlund back into the turnbuckles. Buddy goes up top, but Backlund moves Rose lands on his feet. Dropkick! 1-2-NO! Robinson Backbreaker? No! CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! THE PLAYBOY GIVES IT UP!
I liked the submission finish. I think what keeps this from other upper tier Backlund matches is that Backlund never feels in trouble. Slaughter has the Cobra Clutch, Valentine has the figure-4, Hogan & Patera have size & strength. This is a very fun match, but it lacks drama down the stretch. I didn't like the Adonis match from '82 that everyone loves (I am tempted to rewatch it), but I thought this was still the 1982 WWF Match of the Year. Backlund's offense in this match is wicked fun from the beginning to the headlock crank and Rose bumps and sells so well. ****1/4
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