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[1979-11-30-NJPW] Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki

Superstar Sleeze

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WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki - NJPW 11/30/79

I have seen their July 1978 (amazing) match and their April 1980 Florida match (underwhelming). I love Bob Backlund like it is my fucking problem. :P

I could watch these two shoot in on each other all day long. Great struggle and rhythm. Look how hard each man works to stay upright on those hipblock takedowns. When is the last time someone blocked a hipblock and went full Greco-Roman wrestling? That's the shit missing. You have earn even the most basic takedown here. Backlund has two spectacular bridges early on. Inoki looks to control with the headscissors. Backlund has to fight hard to get out of it and finally get a headlock. Backlund hits a kneecrusher, but it is a red herring besides a toehold, it does not stick. Tempers flare on the ropes. I love Backlund reaching around and slapping Inoki in the face. He was going to get his receipt. No one will confuse Inoki with Steamboat firing up on Flair, but the energy does pick up for a hot second when Inoki starts unloading, before settling back down. Inoki applies a short arm scissors, a hold I love and of course allows Backlund to his feat of strength. He not only places Inoki on the top rope, but slaps the taste out of his mouth and causes him to tumble back to the mat. Inoki looked astonished that he was disrespected like that. I love Bob Backlund like it is my fucking problem. Backlund then sells on the subsequent lock ups by retracting his left arm because of the short arms scissors. He is the best. 

Inoki gets a flying headscissors takedown that spikes Backlund on his head and Backlund powders. From here, the match turns into a wicked bombfest. They are throwing suplexes out like candy. They tease a vertical suplex to the outside but Inoki brings in Backlund the hard way. Backlund is thinking atomic drop but hits a back suplex instead. Inoki too close to the ropes. BACKLUND PILEDRIVER! Inoki too close to the ropes. Now it is Backlund's turn to be too close to the ropes after an Inoki Bombs Away Kneedrop and an atomic Legrdrop. I love how they tussle over an abdominal stretch. Backlund is working hard not to let it becomes the Octopus Stretch. It is all about how you sell it even the abdominal stretch can be fearsome and epic down the stretch. I loved the side salto suplex and Butterfly suplex each hits out of the move. OCTOPUS STRETCH! Backlund is in deep trouble! But he makes the ropes. Tiger Jeet Singh effectively runs the Entrance Music Distraction finish of the 21st century. The Japanese wrestlers hold him back, but Inoki is distracted. ATOMIC DROP! 1-2-3-No Kickout at 3. I think Backlund thinks he has won!?! Inoki hits a backdrop driver for the 1-2-3-Kickout. Backlund did the whole kickout at 3 to protect himself and the title. 

Baba had won his second NWA Championship just a month prior. I don't know if this was a case of keeping up with the Jones' but Inoki did manage to get that big World Championship title victory over an American on Japanese soil and even if it didnt stick and it was controversial it was another feather in his cap to continue his mystique and legacy. As far as controversial finishes go, I thought this was pretty ok. I am not a huge fan of "I thought I won, but I didnt", but Inoki's kickout was kind of late so it was sold well. I thought the match started out great as a catch wrestling contest. My complaint would be there was not much sense of progression in regards to the narrative it was just great wrestling filled with struggle. Neither of these guys will be confused for Ricky Morton, but I thought down the stretch could have used more selling or at least more move consequence, there was a definitely a lot of bomb throwing. It was the tale of two matches, the wrestling at the beginning and the more All Japan style suplex-heavy ending. I think was did make the home stretch really good was how well the abdominal stretch was used. ***3/4




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