RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, June 4

MOTYOTD: Backlund vs. Patera (May 19, 1980)


I have decided, as a classical exercise in internet futility pretending to be a high curation of low brow culture, to endeavor upon a new wrestling project, because I know a lot of new school people through real life and the internet who love professional wrestling, and also have a number of people who have followed the Raven Mack chronicles over the years (decades) who know I grew up horribly disfigured at a metaphysical level by watching wrestling. I am the psychic son of Jimmy Valiant, to this day, without a doubt.
Wrestling in the age of internet was like a flood in the late ‘90s early 2000s, but then the flood receded, and mold-like opinions blossomed everywhere, except nobody stripped out the flood damage and the mold has gone wild, to the point wrestling as filtered through the internet is a horrible wretched thing, in a strange polar way to how professional wrestling has always been a horrible wretched thing at basic decent society level.
Dave Meltzer is the King of this Internet Wrestling Mold, and is considered the be-all end-all authority on professional wrestling, which I guess somebody has to be, but also to take a long-standing carnival tradition, and let a single housebound guy be the arbiter of truth, who likely has been worked himself over the years, or at least follows the kayfabes of personal bias, well it’s a futile endeavor itself. But the internet has no shortage of futility, and since Dave Meltzer and his Observer of the Professional Wrestling was the original Kinko’s Bible of smart marks, which has transferred inside the 0s and 1s of cybertronical living, then I shall use that as a foundation for this entirely useless and perhaps easily abandoned project.

Using Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Awards, fuck it, let’s go from the first year’s winners and placers (no honorable mentions), up until now, for as long as I can handle it. Meltzer started awarding these awards, which meant nothing originally but now wrestlers themselves are marks so are considered Very Important Shit.
Now I grew up on Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, which became the flagship NWA territory, which became World Championship Wrestling. In the psychic struggle about what’s real – Hogan or Flair – I side hard Flair. The WWE was always a joke to me. But let’s abandon all that and take this one match of the year at a time stroll through professional wrestling history.
The Match of the Year in 1980 was Ken Patera challenging Bob Backlund for the WWF title on May 19, 1980. This was Hulkamania, but you can hear a young Vince McMahon doing commentary. Patera had recently beaten Pat Patterson for the Intercontinental title (which he is wearing), thus earning the title shot against Backlund. Patera has Grand Wizard as his manager, and of course there are toxic masculine suggestions that they are perhaps slightly homosexual, thus weak. Backlund has a manager in Arnold Skaaland, who looks like a car salesman from 1983, just hanging out, as good guy manager, which remains a rarity in most of wrestling, but the WWE has always seemed to employ some sort of babyface manager, just usually not a bland Maytag repairman type like Skaaland.
Of note, this is a Texas Death match, so it is punches from jump. Also of note, despite this being pre-obvious steroids era wrestling (in WWE specifically), you can already see McMahon’s bodybuilder fetish playing out in these two guys.
Traditionally, I have found Bob Backlund to be painfully boring, but I blame this on southern cultural norms, of which I was raised. Backlund is clean cut, normal looking, like a shop manager or supervisor. Nobody truly southern likes supervisors, much less southerners who Venn diagram into Greater Appalachia as well. All supervisors are cop sympathizers, and thus cops themselves. Thus, if All Cops Are Bastards is a natural fact (which it is) then it stands to logically reason that All Supervisors Are Also Bastards (ASAAB).

The great thing about wrestling almost 40 years ago is you will have a three minute long bearhug spot, with two grown ass men clutching hard, and essentially leaning up on top each other in the middle of ten thousand other human beings. But then one will bust his way out.

And the crowd will go wild as the long getting squeezed good guy lifts the bad guy into the air, simple rear waistlock, but the bad guy holds his legs high into the lights in emphatic giant V, and they will stand there like that, upper body strength utilized casually for dramatic theatrical effect, and then the bad brought down onto his legs from which he bounces as exaggeratedly as he can, and the crowd is wild because it is absurd theater of reality where that fuckin’ asshole Ken Patera is dead because he landed on his legs like a normal human being does one hundred times a day.
(By the way, thanks to leatherface70 for putting this match upon youtube. It is a shame how capitalism applies intellectual property to everything on Earth, and instead of full curation of all these matches of over the years, I’m sure massive chunks of them are missing from free internet, because somebody “owns” them. KNOWLEDGE even idiotic professional wrestling knowledge WANTS TO BE FREE!)
The great thing going on here is though it is a Texas Death match, they are teasing the crowd with a ton of near pinfalls, which has them hyped for a normal three-count, which if my memory of normal Texas Death rules, doesn’t mean shit, because you have to have the dude knocked the fuck out. But the crowd is getting worked into thinking that pinfall will be it. (Of course this is WWF thus northern rules apply, so they may have perverted a Texas Death into a New York Not Really Dead Just Inconvenienced So Fake R.I.P. Dead Death.)
In fact, Patera is in an abdominal stretch, and slowly makes his way to the ropes, but it means nothing (as Vince reminds us), and then Patera flips both of them over the top rope to the outside (which also means nothing in this type of match), and starts beating Backlund with a title belt.

Of course this is an excuse for Backlund to be laid out ringside, face down, and blade himself, to legitimize the theater of violence with legitimate blood. The WWF did not show blood often, so it was saved for moments like this, to show how brutal this sport is when the combatants are real about it.

Thus when Backlund is thrown back into the stage of the ring, he sits there, bloodied, while Patera stalks from far, pointing it out to all the onlookers. “See this man bleeding, in this match for a title belt; this is real, or else there would not be true human blood involved. Though there may be whispers of this being staged, what man in their right mind would willingly bleed for unreal purposes?”
Backlund regains his senses enough to throw Patera over the top rope. He comes out, and gives Patera  a slam to the ringpost, to return the self-blading favor, to double legitimize the pretend violence.

Patera is a mess of blood, and is playing the dazed fool schtick to perfection, as Backlund throws big over exaggerated fists at him. It continues to escalate until Patera has brung a chair into the ring, and though anything goes the ref is attempting to remove it. However, Backlund commandeers control and gives Patera a couple of whomps with it, but can’t get the three. He hits a cross bodyblock from the ropes though and gets the three-count, and celebrates like an elated schoolboy, as the crowd goes wild.

The aftermath, Patera takes the mic, and it seems for a second perhaps he will say, “What a fine and valiant battle… I give you your due, Bob Backlund,” but instead he babbles “YOU’RE A DAMN CHEATER BACKLUND!” and though the match is over and the ring announcer announces this victory, they are standing off with cocked fists, and Patera bull rushes in for one more final piece of ass whipping, to show he has not given up, not even close, but also is a total loser, as all bad guys should be in the theatrical sport of wrestling, because how else will we uphold the meritocracy myth that good attitude and hard work shall always triumph over evil?

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