January 17, 2005
November 22, 1982
New York City, NY
Madison Square Garden
WWF World Champion Bob Backlund vs. Superstar Billy Graham
Backlund defended against all comers during his multi-year reign - from Ivan Koloff to Don Muraco, Greg Valentine to George Steele. In 1982 alone he survived a bloody feud with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka before moving on to another winning rivalry against Bob Orton Jr.
And just when it seemed like there was no one else to wrestle, Backlund was once again face to face with the man he took the title from on February 22, 1978.
Superstar Billy Graham had returned to the territory after an absence of several years. Though still possessing an impressive physique, the Superstar now professed to being a karate champion and began adding karate chops and thrusts into his repertoire. And he wanted his title back.
He wanted revenge for the championship that was “stolen” from him so many years before. And he had a valid claim to the championship. After all, Graham did have his foot on the rope when the referee counted to 3 and awarded Backlund the championship in their intial match at MSG.
The previous meeting at MSG on October 4 saw the champion be disqualified and Graham busted open. Would Backlund finally silence his challenger in this rematch or would the Superstar once again climb to the top of the mountain and reclaim the title?
Once Graham’s manager, the Grand Wizard, was led backstage by officials (as was the custom), Backlund went right to work on his foe. The challenger eventually turns the tide following a Ric Flair-esque low blow which is missed by both the commentary team (Vince McMahon & Gorilla Monsoon) as well as referee Danny Davis.
Superstar begins pounding on Backlund on the mat but the champion starts fighting off the pain and pulls off almost a Hulk Hogan comeback, eventually sending Graham with force into the corner. Backlund soon sets the challenger up for the dreaded atomic drop and hits it, sending the Superstar to the floor.
Back inside the ring, the champion catches a knee to the face while running into the corner. A forearm blow keeps Backlund on the mat and, after throwing the champion into the corner, Bob is eventually caught in a potentially fatal bear hug.
The champion fights for all his worth while caught in the hold but Graham is relentless in cinching up on the submission. Eventually Backlund utilizes a headbutt to the facial area to release the hold. Superstar fights off the pain and once more traps the champion in the hold.
Backlund once again hits the headbutt, followed by a thumb to the eye, but Graham lands a karate chop to the throat which sends the champion out to the floor. McMahon & Monsoon discuss the legality of the blow just as Graham takes off his wrist tape and begins choking the champion with it. Davis soon sees the infraction and begins counting the challenger until he releases the choke.
With Backlund’s head resting on the middle rope, Graham continues his assault with a series of knees and stomps to the head before laying his knee across the champion’s throat in an attempt to choke the life out of the title holder.
Davis gets too close to the action, as Graham has Backlund in the corner, and the challenger throws the referee across the ring. Backlund mounts a comeback and sends Graham to the floor, with the challenger pulling Backlund outside the ring as well.
The Superstar and the champion trade vicious blows on the floor and battle their way backstage as the ring bell is sounded.
Howard Finkel makes his way into the ring and announces that both participants have been disqualified at 10:14.
Not the greatest match you’ll see from these two. As was the tradition, the first match and this rematch built to a third MSG bout with an added stipulation. In this case, it led to a lumberjack match the following month with another controversial finish involving guest referee Swede Hanson.
Is this worth seeing? Well it’s not bad to the level of Mark Henry vs. Viscera but it’s definitely not memorable. I’d give it *½ .