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[1978-12-14-NJPW] Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki

Superstar Sleeze

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WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki - NJPW 12/14/78

The action-packed Backlund vs Inoki match! A real false finish, big bombs, run-ins, blood and total pandemonium. 

I loved the beginning so much. Inoki starts off with a fast break of dropkicks that totally catches Backlund off guard. Table tops him. 1-2-3! NEW WWF HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION! Wait! What? The ref says it was 2! I love how they sold this with the bell and everything. Wrestling needs more intentional shit like this. Blown calls and then reversals are apart of pro sports. Sometimes wrestling can be too neat, clean and tidy. This was good shit. 

Restart and Backlund has escaped by the skin of his teeth. Now here comes the hard-fought tussle we expect, but it does not last long. These two had two one hour draws in Japan over the summer. This is wrestled in such a way you know it is not going to a 60 minute broadway. Inoki slaps Backlund. Backlund does not take too kindly to this and slaps him right back. Inoki chops him and Backlund sells it like he chopped high into the throat. Great selling by Backlund. Between this and the early dropkicks, Inoki came to play. Inoki follows up with a choke/sleeper, but Backlund resists enough to turn it into a reverse chinlock. Backlund tries to make this a game of strength which where he will win, but BANG! ENZIGUIRI! ROCKS BACKLUND! Inoki is on fire in this match. Backlund has his bell rung and powders. He comes back in and when Inoki looks to suplex him. He hoists him up into a Fireman's Carry and SLINGS HIM DOWN! Think Wasteland from Wade Barrett! Backlund using his best asset to physical strength to take control. Inoki responds with sliding leg kicks to soften Backlund up for a Figure-4! It really does feel like Backlund is in deep trouble against Inoki in this match. Backlund fights off another Inoki figure-4 attempt, but Inoki kicks him through the ropes. I love how hard fought this is. Inoki is just pouring it on. Backlund looks like a defeated champion in a heap. Inoki big time suplex back into the ring gets a big pop, but cant pin the champion. Nice floating Butterfly Suplex but Backlund bucks him off. Backlund hits a desperation back suplex but misses the leg drop. INOKI BOMBS AWAY KNEEDROP! MISSES! Backlund attacks the leg. This is Backlund's opening! ATOMIC DROP! HOLY SHIT! 1-2-NO! WOW! Backlund almost escaped with the win there. He goes for it again. Inoki evades and hits a backdrop driver. Backlund does the smart thing and powders. 

A bleach blond Ueda and a young Saito attack and bloody both wrestlers. For some reason, the ref lets this continue. They trade dropkicks and then Inoki dropkicks low and Backlund sells it like a nut shot and the ref does not do shit! What the fuck! First the chop to the throat and now this! Where the hell is Arnie Skaaland when you him? :P

They end up tumbling to the outside. Backlund rams Inoki's head into the ringpost, but Inoki goes bezerk and just starts bashing Backlund's head into the post and wins the match by countout. This is unlike any of there other matches. It is pedal to the metal from jump with Inoki dropkicking and almost winning the match in the first minute. There are some awkward moments to be expected. Backlund and Inoki are probably the two most on un-rhythmic wrestlers. There is a certain rhythm a match takes shine-heat-comeback-finish, but these guys totally abscond from that tradition, but while maintaining the integrity of the contest. They just make odd duck choices here and there and sometimes arent on the same page, but this is a lot more hits than misses. I really liked the story of Backlund being in deep trouble throughout the match, which is very unusual in a Backlund match. It makes the Atomic Drop feel huge like holy shit he survived and he might win! I think I would have preferred the No Contest/Run-In finish OR the countount win, the combination was definite overbooking. This is my favorite Backlund/Inoki match so far, but I do remember really liking the July 78 Broadway. ****1/4 


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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [1978-12-14-NJPW] Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki

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