WWE Hall Of Famer Bob Backlund was recently interviewed of The Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling podcast about a number of interesting topics including his relationship with Bruno Sammartino, his rivalry with Jimmy Snuka and Hulk Hogan.
Below are the highlights:
His relationship with Bruno Sammartino and what they have in common:
“Bruno Sammartino is the greatest wrestling champion ever in the world. I wrestled more than he did but he was a strong man, he pushed a lot, threw people around and he was the greatest. I actually did more wrestling maneuvers then he did but that wasn’t his thing. He out powered people, he beat them up. I just barely won in the matches and when I came out here Vince Sr. was looking for an ‘All American Boy’ in 1977 and I don’t think he talked it over with Bruno very much and I didn’t know Bruno and Bruno didn’t know me. I shook his hand the first day I was there and I’m sure he would have liked for one of his people that he knew to be the WWF Champion but Vince picked me and it took Bruno and I about two years to find out that he and I were almost mirrored as far as moral values are concerned. We both wanted to walk the walk not just talk the talk. We weren’t friendly at all back then but we are now. I questioned him and he questioned me but we found out and it took us a long time but we are pretty close now.”
His rivalry with Jimmy Snuka and the manner Snuka carried himself outside the ring:
“In the ring he was a genius. But out of the ring he was an embarrassment to society. I didn’t know him outside of the ring at all, I just knew him in the ring. I didn’t hang around and wasn’t out there with him but I know he was very good in the ring and as good as it gets. If he would have been a decent person then he would have been the WWF Champion but he didn’t have the qualifications and didn’t meet the standards or else he would have been. Vince McMahon Sr. would have made him the WWF Champion if he would have been an honorable person. I didn’t hang around the guys and I didn’t ride in the cars with him. I had an instance riding in a car with him in Georgia and I never rode with him again. I don’t know what was going on at all and I didn’t want to know. My business was wrestling and I wanted to be ready to go in the ring and do my best and I didn’t have time to worry about what was going on behind the scenes and I didn’t want to know.”
His reaction to not getting a rematch vs. The Iron Sheik and the original plan:
“As far as I know the plan was for me to get the championship back from the Iron Sheik and two weeks before the match I was taken out and Hogan was put in. If you watched it two weeks before the match they took me out and put Hogan in. There’s not much I could do about it. But it was an eye opener for me. When Vince Sr. passed away I should have just stopped. He was the one that was his character, he picked me and I was sort of his ‘All American Boy’ and when he was gone it was basically that the ‘All American Boy’ was gone. I wasn’t close to hardly anybody. I understand the saying ‘it’s lonely at the top’.”
Being asked to turn heel by Vince McMahon Jr. in 1984:
“I said no. I said no because I had a daughter that was six years old at the time and I didn’t want to have her have problems in school. I’ve heard a lot from the Savoldi’s. Mario Savoldi said that they had a lot of problems when his Dad was a bad guy and I didn’t want to do the same thing to our daughter and also I sponsored Bob Backlund’s kids tournaments and I made a lot of promises to kids that I wasn’t going to be doing this and that and would be doing good things they could be proud of and I didn’t want to let them down either.”
Thoughts on The Rock and Wrestling Era and Hulk Hogan:
“I thought that he didn’t meet the standards and I know Bruno would have thought if I had been doing all that goofy stuff he was doing he wouldn’t have liked me being champion and I’m sure that Bruno feels the same way. He (Hulk) didn’t meet the standards outside the ring to be able to represent the WWF. Did the WWE fire him recently? Because, I would have fired him thirty years ago. He was saying one thing and doing another.”
The 1992 return and the plans to finally turn heel:
“I went in there to do the ‘All American Boy’ again. But it was also the time that I said I wanted to be bad now. I wanted to be bad because the good guys were lying, cheating and swearing. Let me be bad by being good and I became a bad guy by being a good person.”
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