I’m a big sucker for pro wrestling memoirs and when I heard Bob Backlund was writing one, I jumped at the chance to get it. The truth is, while I’m a huge fan of the 80s and 90s wrestling scenes, I know next to nothing about the 70s, which is where Backlund rose to prominence, so this was going to be material that was mostly new to me. Bob held the WWE Championship for nearly six years from the tail end of the seventies into the middle of the eighties, so my interest was piqued into how a reign of this length was sustained.
Unfortunately, new doesn’t always mean exciting or interesting. As far as wrestling memoirs go, this was drier than a ski hill in the summer. Bob Backlund was straighter than parallel parking, and his story had the intensity of a grocery list. I’m not faulting the guy, he made a lot of the right choices throughout his career – it’s probably why he’s still above ground, clear of any addictions and also on his first marriage. While most of his peers were running around ripped on cocaine, binge drinking and finding love in all the wrong places, Bob was hopping into bed early in the hopes of a vigorous morning workout.
There are some interesting bits here and there given Bob’s experience working all over the United States during the territory days but you’re out of luck if you’re looking for any dirt. There are very few, if any, instances where Bob would criticize a guy. It seemed that everyone he worked with was “great”, which is fine – but it doesn’t make for a compelling read.
The most disappointing aspect of the book had to be that he didn’t begin to talk about his return to the spotlight in 1992 until the 95% mark (read this on my Kindle) and it’s all of about four pages in length. I did like that his conservative, preachy character was inspired by a loudmouth rant from Rush Limbaugh on the radio – but that’s about as much insight given with regards to that portion of his career.
Backlund’s memoir was an OK read at best that really dragged in the middle when all the stories seemed to blend together. I can’t say I would recommend this above other more nuanced and enthralling reads about the carny lifestyle of a pro wrestler.