Bob Backlund Talks About His New Biography, Roddy Piper, Not Wanting To Turn Heel, Who Made The Biggest Impact On His Career?

Bill Pritchard

wwe hall of fameWWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund recently took part in an interview with Ring Rust Radio while promoting his new biography, BACKLUND: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion.

Backlund talks about why now was the right time to write the book, why he didn’t want to turn heel earlier in his career, why turning worked later in his career, who influenced his career most, and much more. You can read a few excerpts and listen to the interview in the player below: 

Backlund on why he wrote his book now, what he hopes for it: 

I have been working on this project ever since I stopped wrestling. I actually didn’t think anything was going to happen with it. I was turning 60 years old and didn’t think I was going to find the right person to write the book. Somebody wrote me a letter back in 2009, he said I was his childhood hero and his name was Rob Miller. He wanted to write a book about me. When we met in Glastonbury, CT in a library to discuss the book, I found out he was the man I wanted to write the book. He had a lot of compassion for the business and he respected the things I went through. He wanted to meet with me to see if I was really that person he was idolizing when he was a boy. He saw there wasn’t much difference between what I was doing in the WWE at that time and my real life. We have been working on it for five years and now the story of my life is in a book and I am very proud of it. I am very excited and every day I am enthusiastic to get out there in the world and meet more kids and meet more parents. Our goal is to have mom and dad want to have their children read the book.  

Backlund comments on Roddy Piper: 

I met Mr. Piper when he was a young person getting in the business in the Olympic theater in Los Angeles.  He was just starting and I had the championship for a while.  I was over in Japan and they had asked me to go over and have a match with Roddy for 59 minutes and 30 seconds.  He says some great things about the match and my goal was to put him over and make him look like a champion.  It was a pleasure to wrestle with him and he was very advanced for how little time he had in the business.  He credits me for helping him launch his career in the business and I was really proud of him to say that.  He left a message on my phone about three weeks ago saying it was ok to use him as the forward for the book.  I listened to the message, the next day I deleted it, and the next day he passed.  I liked him a lot and had a lot of respect for him.  I thought he would never leave this earth.

Who made an impact on him?

Billy Superstar Graham dropped the WWF title to me, and that had the biggest influence because it changed my life.  I know he actually didn’t want to do that, and in the book I explain that a lot.  A lot of people were trying to talk Vince McMahon Sr. out of doing that with me because I was new and I wasn’t a proven commodity yet.  Vince McMahon gave his word and he stuck with it.  I loved wrestling.  I couldn’t wait to get in the arena and get in the ring.  I love the arena and I love the people.  I didn’t love the dressing room and I didn’t care for the activity in the dressing room back then.  I’d go in there, get dressed, and go out and do the Harvard step test and the wheel for an hour.  I enjoyed the time in the ring because I was trying to entertain people and give them a show for their hard earned money they spent to come to the show.  I worked as hard as I could in the ring to make the matches enjoyable as much as I could.

Why didn’t he turn heel and drop the WWF title to Hulk Hogan as it was rumored?

This is explained pretty well in the book, but I had a daughter that was six years old about to start school.  I went around the country talking about amateur wrestlers, hosting Bob Backlund kids wrestling tournaments, and I always talked to them about things I wouldn’t do.  I wouldn’t turn because I made a lot of promises to a lot of kids and with my daughter starting school I didn’t want her to have problems in school.

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