Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WWWF Title Match:Bob Backlund v. Ernie Ladd-October 23, 1978

Bob Backlund w/Arnold Skaaland v. “King of Wrestling” Ernie Ladd w/The Grand Wizard
October 23, 1978 New York, NY Madison Square Garden Referee:John Stanley
This match started slow with Ladd working underneath initially but it really picked up in the home stretch. As much as I consider myself a WWWF/WWF/WWE historian, I admit I think this may be one of the only matches I have seen of Ernie Ladd. I like how, in submission situations like ankle locks, he would use his long legs to kick himself free. Also, he was very agile and played the heel role smoothly. He sold pretty well too.

It was played up that Ladd had a taped thumb from a previous injury. Vince McMahon said that this match “has the makings of a real humdinger.” I imagine him using this terminology still today. Bob wanted a handshake and got it clean from Ladd. Backlund started work on the left leg/hamstring early, and this was Ladd's weakpoint during the whole match. A lot of times, Ladd would get the upper hand only to have one leg shot take him back down. Prior to the match, The Grand Wizard gave Ladd a foreign object that he stuffed in his tights. Ladd wanted another handshake but Bob was not buying it. Ladd got some good strikes in, finally, but he missed a flying shoulder tackle in the corner, and Backlund went back on the leg. 

Bob had his leg, on the mat, and was rowing it back-and-forth but he caught a big kick to the throat and left him open for a Ladd comeback. Lots of strikes from Ladd, and then, he reached in his tights for the foreign object and blasted him in the throat a couple times. Backlund sold this like death. John Stanley tried to check for the object in his hand/tape but Ladd had already put it back in his tights. Ladd caught him with a big boot and a leg drop but only got a one-count. All this time, I guess Hogan stole his finishers from Ladd.

Ladd got in some chokes, including a lift but Bob began his comeback. He hit a big back drop out of the corner, followed by a leg drop and a near fall.

 Ladd ate a strike and got caught in the ropes. Backlund got some shots in but ran into another boot that stopped him. Ladd had the object again and nailed him in the throat. However, Bob fought back, and hooked in a headlock and got whipped into the ropes. They collided and Ladd actually got sent to the mat. Ladd really gave a lot to Backlund in this match and it showed with that kind of stuff. Backlund ran into the ropes and Ladd dropped down and then hit a leapfrog followed by a big dropkick and a nearfall. 

 Ladd hit the same big boot and leg drop combo but he tried to add a big splash but missed.

 Backlund got behind him and hit the atomic drop for the pin.

On a side note, Backlund teamed with Peter Maivia to beat Ladd and Crusher Blackwell on Septermber 19 in Philadelphia. Ladd would go on to beat Backlund, via blood stoppage, in New Haven, CT, on March 18, 1979 but failed on June 3, in Toronto. 

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