The Way Too Long Review of Legends of Wrestling: Hulk Hogan & Bob Backlund

This disc was an exclusive to Best Buy.  With six matches, it is the smallest of series.  And the round table discussion is by far the most boring.  Nothing of note was said of either guy, and basically no stories that haven’t been heard were told.  The panel gives both guys a verbal blowjob.  Everything is sunshine.  The end.

Now to the matches.

Match #1
Hulk Hogan, Greg Gagne, & Jim Brunzell vs. Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, & Ken Patera
8/8/81 AWA

Seems hardly fair that Ventura and Patera are stuck with Heenan.  Then again, Hogan and Brunzell have to deal with Greg Gagne.  Audio-visual quality is horrible.  Looks like it was filmed on fan-cam.  Big six-way brawl starts.  The faces overcome the incredible odds of having shitty Greg Gagne on their team and manage to take out the heels.  Things settle down while Greg holds his face like a pussy, apparently having been punched earlier.  The poor thing.  I’m sure he’ll tell you a story about how he made Ventura’s career by taking that punch.  We stall for a good long while.  And it looks like it’s going to start with Jesse and Hogan.  They trade wristlocks, but Hogan wins out and hangs up Ventura’s arm on the ropes.  Jesse bails to his corner and tags out to Patera.  He gets beat up by everyone and slammed by Hogan.  Pretty big slam too.  Greg tags in and hits a crappy kneelift.  Stall is followed by a crappy armdrag and a crappy wristlock.  Greg could very well be the most worthless wrestler ever.  Even the truly bad ones like Giant Gonzales or Boogeyman at least served some purpose.  Tag to Brunzell after all that action, leads him getting a flying knee.  Brunzell with a keylock but Patera uses muscle to get him to the corner.  Faces are pissed that a heel has the nerve to fight back and they run in.  The ref chases them off giving the heels a 3-on-1 advantage.  Whip to the corner on Brunzell, but another doesn’t work and Patera takes a nice bump.  Tag to Gagne who acts all macho and stuff.  He puts up his dukes and acts like he’s king shit.  I guess it was Bobby Heenan who took the bump in the corner.  Hell if I can tell, the camera is so shitty and the announcer is no better. Hogan comes in and throws punches, then noggin-knocks the heels while Ventura uses a blatant choke on Gagne.  Powerslam on Gagne gets two, and then Patera puts a bearhug on.  Ventura in for his own bearhug.  Greg fights out of it but still gets clubbed around.  Ventura slaps on a backbreaker submission, but Brunzell cheats and runs in to save.  Gagne makes the tag but the ref doesn’t see it.  Patera in with an atomic drop and some grounding and pounding.  Armdrag gets two.  Ventura in but Greg fights back.  Jesse holds him back and the heels help him cut off a tag.  Patera in with a sledge off the ropes.  He loads up for a piledriver but Greg backdrops out of it.  Greg tries to fight back but he’s in the wrong corner.  Greg crawls on his hands and knees and makes the tag to Brunzell.  He beats up Patera, who tags to Ventura.  Figure-four to Ventura but Patera saves and tags in.  Suplex to Brunzell gets two.  Brunzell tags Hogan.  Punches for all.  Backdrop to Patera, who tags in Heenan against his wishes.  Hogan slings him into the ring, shoots him off and punches him in the gut.  Ventura and Patera are slung into each other.  Bodyslam and legdrop by Hogan to Heenan gets the pin.
*1/2 Pretty dull match.

Match #2: Handicap Match
Hulk Hogan & Andre the Giant vs. Bobby Heenan, Bob Duncum, Nick Bockwinkel, & Ken Patera
11/7/82 AWA

This was how things used to operate before the WWE went global.  A babyface would have the odds stacked against him and call in Andre the Giant for backup.  It worked in every territory in the US and was the established formula.  Andre would stick around long enough to help out the big babyface and win a battle royal or two, then leave.  Anyway, this could be a good match.  Bockwinkel was AWA Champion here and in a big feud with Hogan that would draw huge but ultimately go nowhere, leading to the death of the AWA.  How bad did the AWA suck at this point?  Ring introductions take five minutes.  We don’t get any action until 5:40 after pushing play.  Ugh.  Same shitty audio/visual quality too.  The heels huddle to discuss the game plan but Andre and Hogan jump them and they all bail.  And then we stall.  Hogan and Duncan start, and Duncan gets Hogan to the heel corner for some cheap shots.  Andre runs in and destroys the heels.  Hogan fights them all of as well.  Hogan beats up on Duncan, smacking him around.  Clothesline and an elbowdrop gets two.  Patera hits a flying knee to Andre, then goes after Hogan but fails.  Hogan hits a press-slam on Patera, dropping him into the ropes.  Andre fights off the heels.  On the outside, Hogan gives Duncan a backbreaker on the non-camera side.  There is only one angle, and it’s a wide shot.  I know it’s 1982 but come on, WCCW and to a lesser extent WWE had already changed the standards of production for wrestling at this point.  The ring isn’t even microphoned, so you can’t hear any of the action.  Back to the match, where Andre tags in and smacks Duncan around.  Andre was starting to deteriorate at this point.  He wasn’t totally out of it, but was getting close.  Make no mistake, Andre was very agile in the 70s, but by time the 80s rolled around he had trouble moving.  He still manages to duck down for a leapfrog spot on Bockwinkel, but then sticks his butt up and Bockwinkel wipes out, no pun intended, on it.  Patera in to try and fight off Andre but he’s totally no-sold and punked out by the faces.  Andre even resorts to biting him.  Patera tries to slam him but that doesn’t work.  Patera gets shot off but hits a running kick which actually takes Andre down.  Heels try desperately to beat on Andre while he’s on the canvas, but Hogan makes the save only to be told to sit and wait.  This leads to a four-on-one beatdown.  Hogan won’t stand for it and runs in to save.  Hogan takes a chair to Bockwinkel on the outside while the three heels in the ring still beat up Andre.  Things breakdown but Hogan is terrible at making saves it would seem.  He keeps picking on just one heel, allowing the others to keep their three-on-one beatdown on Andre going.  And hell, the heels fight off Hogan then and he’s getting his ass kicked.  Duncan and Patera double team Andre and manage to suplex him (!) for two.  Heenan is left alone in the ring with Andre, in the babyface corner.  This won’t end well.  Andre fights him off, tags Hogan, and the babyfaces clean house.  Andre butt-smashes Heenan in the corner.  Andre is so big you can’t even see Bobby.  Noggin-knocker to Bockwinkel and Heenan.  Hogan gets a hanging chokehold on Bockwinkel.  Andre holds him for a free shot.  Whip off the rope and a punch to the throat.  Whip to the corner but Hogan misses a charge and wipes out in the turnbuckle.  Duncan in to stomp away at Hogan, who is now the face-in-peril.  It breaks down to four on one.  The ref is totally cool with this, but when Andre tries to save, the ref chases him away.  Wrestling logic, gotta love it.  The faces beat on Hogan with various brawling moves for a while.  Duncan slaps on an armbar, which is an odd mid-match rest hold if I’ve ever seen one.  Hogan gets a hiptoss out of it and a couple of the WORST armdrags I’ve ever seen. Hot tag to Andre.  Punches for all.  Headbutts and noggin knockers.  Andre kills all the heels and tags in Hogan.  Big boot and the legdrop to Duncan for two in what appears to be a bit of a blown finish.  It looked very weird.  Big boots by Andre to Patera and Duncan, then he slams Hogan on Duncan for the pin.  Big brawl breaks out after the match.
*3/4 Pretty disappointing overall.  Just very average, slow, and not well planned.

Match #3
Hulk Hogan vs. Harley Race
3/12/88 Saturday Night’s Main Event
As Seen On: Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology (Bonus Disc), The Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event

If the WWE hadn’t fucked up so bad with Harley, this could have been quite the dream match.  But Race got saddled with a horrible gimmick.  Hogan chases Bobby Heenan away to start.  Race catches some elbowdrops as Hogan gets back in the ring, but Hogan no-sells them.  He hits a few headbutts.  They haven’t even cut Hogan’s music yet.  Three punches knocks Race down.  Clothesline.  A second clothesline sends Race over the top rope and onto a table.  Man, that looked sick.  Hogan picks up Race and throws him into the ring post.  Bobby is back, so Hogan chases him.  Race goes for a piledriver on the outside but Hulk backdrops out of it.  Atomic drop on the outside.  Hogan breaks the ref’s count, then slams Race on the outside.  Hogan chops at Race then clotheslines him.  Hogan chokes with some tape.  Jesse Ventura is freaking out on commentary and McMahon denies any cheating.  It’s disturbing how the babyface announcers always justified or outright denied Hogan’s horrible sportsmanship.  I guess “Train, say your prayers, take your vitamins, and cheat and deny” doesn’t sound good on a Wheaties box. Hogan goes after Heenan again, so Race takes control with some headbutts.  Belly to belly suplex and a kneedrop.  Piledriver and some stomps.  Race sets Hogan on a table, but misses a splash through it.  The table breaks a little.  Wow.  This is 1988, mind you.  Race doesn’t really sell it and throws Hulk back in the ring.  Diving headbutt off the top rope for two as it’s Hulk up time.  Three punches, whip to the corner, clothesline, clothesline, legdrop, see ya.
*** Typical Hogan match from the period.  Race bumped like a madman to make it worth watching.  That said, this is the third time this match has shown up on DVD, if you count the bonus disc for the Hulk Hogan Ultimate Anthology.  Overkill.

Match #4: WWWF Championship
(c) Bob Backlund vs. Spiros Arion
3/25/78 WWWF Philadelphia Spectrum Show

This is a little over a month after Backlund took the title from Billy Graham.  Backlund is toned here, which is weird.  Like he was trying for a body-builder look.  Looks like Opie on steroids.  Lockup, waistlock but it goes nowhere.  Arion gets his own waistlock but Backlund reverses it.  Arion gets a rope break to huge heat.  Ahhh, for the old days.  Another waistlock by Backlund and again Arion gets to the ropes, but Backlund drags him to the center of the ring.  Ref still makes him break and we have a standstill.  Arion goes for a headlock, then changes his mind and tires the waistlock again.  Backlund reverses, then bridges it on the canvas for two.  Another bridge gets two.  Arion tries to elbow out but Backlund won’t let go.  Backlund holds the waistlock and gets to his feet, then delivers multiple atomic drops, but Arion bulldogs him into the turnbuckle and snapmares him.  Backlund turns an armdrag into a backslide for two.  Backlund with an amateur takedown but Arion rolls over on it and gets a blatant choke, then another.  Backlund goes onto defense as Arion stomps away.  Scoopslam, but a second one is turned into a small package for two and Arion bails.  Back in, they fight over a knucklelock test.  Arion gets Backlund down to the canvas, but Backlund outwits him by crawling between his and flipping him over.  Never saw that one.  Pretty cool though.  Backlund to his feet and he dances around a bit.  Arion tries to lure Backlund to the corner but Bob is too smart for that.  Arion tries to kick Backlund but gets caught and hit with a kneelift.  Arion bails to the corner.  Backlund grabs a leg but Arion rakes the eyes multiple times and punches him down.  Shoot off the rope and a horrible looking kick by Arion.  Backlund tries to fight back with some headbutts.  Backlund counters a shoot off with a sunset flip for two and again Arion bails to the corner.  Arion sneaks around and goes for a kick but Backlund again catches him and fires off a leg whip.  Elbowdrop to the thigh and then a stand ankle lock.  He falls down and tugs on the ankle.  It gets a near fall.  This move goes on so long they actually clip part of it out.  Backlund lets go of it and kicks Arion in the leg.  Arion needs to use the ropes to hold himself up.  Arion removes the turnbuckle pad and slams Backlund into it.  He quits selling the leg and uses it to stomp and kick at Backlund.  Fucking lame.  Nothing more obnoxious then a guy spending five minutes in a hold only to get out of it and act like it was nothing.  Arion kicks Backlund out of the ring.  Bob barely beats the count in.  Arion drags Backlund in the ring and hits a gut buster out of a highly blown suplex for two.  Arion was well past his prime at this point and wasn’t putting in any effort, it should be pointed out.  Backlund kicks at Arion, but still ends up in the Canadian Backbreaker submission hold.  That’s what he was going for when he dragged Backlund out of the ring.  Backlund flips out of it but can’t hold a backslide.  He slams Arion into the turnbuckle, hits a facebuster with the knees, then fires off a piledriver for two.  Oddly enough, fans didn’t buy that as the finish.  Bulldog into the turnbuckle, then the big atomic drop, which was his finisher, but Arion’s feet wiped out the referee.  Jesus Christ, they couldn’t find a match with a clean finish for this set?  Arion recovers and slugs it out, so Backlund fights back.  They’re using closed fists so I’m thinking this will be a double DQ.  Jay Strongbow and Peter Maivia run in, along with the rest of the locker room, and the match is scrubbed.  The guys get loose from the rest of the wrestlers and continue to brawl.  Indeed, it’s a double DQ.
*** Worthy of a passing grade but this wasn’t a good choice to showcase Bob Backlund.  He was a great wrestler, but his true specialty was grudge matches.  The final chapters of the feud, when things got personal.  That’s where Backlund shinned.  Nobody closed a chapter better then him.  They should have dug out the finale to the Arion feud.  Those matches were excellent.  This was just the beginning.

Match #5: WWE Championship, Cage Match
(c) Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka
5/19/80 Madison Square Garden

Cage doesn’t seem very tall.  Snuka slowly makes his way into the ring.  Backlund drags Snuka in and starts to brawl.  Snapmare and a twisty foot to the face.  Slugoff, and Backlund headbutts for the advantage.  More slugging, and Jimmy goes for the door, but doesn’t come close.  Snuka uses his Fiji Island chops and a headbutt to take control.  Knees to the midsection, and Backlund is thrown in the cage.  Kneedrop.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz fist drop by Snuka.  Jimmy goes for the door, but Backlund makes the save.  Jimmy whips Backlund hard into the cage.  Backbreaker, knee drop, forearm drop off the second rope (popping the crowd huge, go figure).  Backlund makes the save as Jimmy goes for the door.  Backlund blocks a punch and hits a roundhouse.  He kicks Snuka while Jimmy is on all fours, but then sells some kind of block that Jimmy did, even though he didn’t do anything.  Weird.  Backlund rams Snuka hard into the cage, busting him wide open.  Slingshot into the cage, cage raking, punching.  Jimmy fights back.  Backlund goes for the door, but Snuka catches him and back-kicks him in the chest.  Chops by Jimmy, scoopslam, and Jimmy drops a knee off the second rope.  Elbow drop, kneedrops, and now Jimmy is feeling cocky, with a big grin on his face.  Well that’s odd looking.  Suplex by Snuka, and he climbs the cage.  Superfly splash off the top of the cage misses, and Backlund crawls out the door for the win.  Fans are going crazy.
** It got OK at the end, but the opening was boring as hell, with neither guy doing much of anything.  Still, a better match then Snuka’s non-classic with Don Muraco.

Match #6: WWE Championship
(c) Bob Backlund vs. Buddy Rose
8/30/82 Madison Square Garden

Buddy Rose has a young Sherri Martel with him, looking about the same as she did during her Hall of Fame induction.  He also has the Grand Wizard with him.  Meanwhile, Backlund gets one of the biggest face pops I’ve heard, almost blowing out the microphones.  So yeah, fans are a bit hot for this one.  Fans are just totally, totally behind Backlund here.  Anyone that says he wasn’t over (including Backlund himself) are fucking nuts.  This guy had a type of charisma that can’t be defined.  He wasn’t showy enough to be a star during the Rock & Wrestling era, but he wasn’t some kind of no-heat champion like they make him out to be these days.

To the match.  They trade waistlocks but that goes nowhere.  Backlund rides him around like a horse, so Rose bails.  Circle and a drop toehold by Rose, but Backlund uses amateur wrestling to escape it.  Headlock by Backlund becomes a full nelson for Rose.  Backlund uses his ass to escape, leading to a FUCKING SICK AND AWESOME bump where Rose slides between the bottom and middle ropes and takes a header on the concrete.  Well that’s just nasty.  In the ring, Rose tries to out think Backlund during a shoot off sequence, but considering he must have had brain damage from that last bump, it doesn’t work and Backlund dropkicks him out of the ring for another awesome bump.  Back in, Rose chops away at Backlund and grabs a headlock, then takes him down with it.  Backlund gets to his feet so Rose grinds it on.  Backlund shoots off and gets hit with a shoulderblock, then armdragged down and back into the grounded headlock.  This goes on forever.  To their feet, Rose grinds it out.  Backlund shoots him off and gets shoulderblocked.  Backlund catches Rose and slams him.  Rose fights off his follow-up attempt and slams Backlund, then stomps away.  Headlock takeover and the fans groan.  This eats up a few more minutes.  Backlund to his feet and he tries to shoot off by Rose holds on and grounds it out.  He leans on it to get a two count.  Backlund fights out with a headscissors.  Headlock takeover by Rose is counted into a headscissors again.  They repeat this sequence a few times until Backlund manages to be the one to grab the headlock.  Fans pop huge for it.  Seriously, to get to the point where you can pop a crowd with a headlock requires a psychology unheard of in wrestling today.  And Backlund not only grabs it, he grinds it, with the fans counting with each grind.  Backlund twists his boot into Rose’s face, then slaps on the headlock.  He grinds it and the fans count along again.  This is insane to watch.  Rose goes limp and the ref drops his arm three times.  Whoops… Rose remembers it’s not over and raises his hand while the ref looks on dumbfounded.  Match continues. Shoot off and Backlund gets a shoulderblock, then grabs another headlock takeover and grounds it down.  He holds it for a while then grinds on it to give the fans something to do, and they once again count along.  He ends up on his feet.  Rose backdrops him but Backlund holds onto the headlock and really twists on it.  If Rose didn’t have cauliflower ears before, he has them now.  Backlund releases and Rose falls to the canvas in a lump.  Backlund goes for another headlock but Rose picks him up and rams him crotch-first into the turnbuckle.  Rose tosses him into… the ropes??  Backlund sells this like he hit the turnbuckle.  Rose then stomps away and Backlund falls out.  Rose stomps and punches away, then drags Backlund back in and fires off a backslide for two.  That’s about as close as Rose ever got to the world title.  Backlund reverses a whip and sends Rose to the corner, then sends him to the other and fires off a monkey flip.  Rose begs off to the corner, but Backlund punches away.  Shoot to the corner and Backlund goes for a monkey flip but Rose fights it off and bridges a pin for one.  Flying backelbow barely gets two.  Elbowdrop misses and Backlund starts to attack the arm to set up for the chickenwing, but Rose rams him to the corner.  Scoopslam and Rose climbs.  Backlund moves out of the way, but Rose catches himself then dropkicks him.  Rose goes for a suplex but Backlund slaps on the chickenwing out of nowhere for the submission.
***1/2 Pretty good match.  Fans of today would have no patience for it.  But even in 1982 a headlock was not THAT big a move and the fact that these guys could carry an entire match using it, and have the fans eat up the whole thing, is really all the proof you needed that Backlund’s overness is vastly underrated.  And Rose’s selling and bumping were also top notch, at least for the era.  Fans of today might want to have the fast-forward button on standby for a couple of the headlocks.

BOTTOM LINE: A pretty weak entry into the Legends of Wrestling set.  The panel was a total snooze fest and truly the only one where nothing of note was said at all.  The match selection is terrible, and considering this is likely Backlund’s only shot at having a DVD, they could have done better.  And what’s up with only having six matches?  The other sets have between 7 and 12.  With the Hogan disc in theory being the most popular one at the checkout stand and possibly the introduction for some of the series, they should have gone more out.  I paid less then the $12.99 price tag for it (it was buy two in the set, save $10, and I bought the whole set this way), but I still feel this was not worth it.  Thumbs down.

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