Bob Backlund v Pat Patterson (WWF, 7/30/79)
So the PWO crowd just got done running a greatest WWF/E wrestler ever poll on Facebook and this was mentioned as one of the Pat Patterson matches worth checking out. I figured it was a new discovery, but it's actually on Goodhelmet's Backlund comp and that's been kicking around for like a decade. I thought I'd watched everything on that set but I don't remember this at all. Either way it was excellent. Backlund is one of the better US mat workers of the era and his arm work here was really good. He might not be the same kind of hold-for-hold grappler as Bockwinkel and it's not Finlay level rugged, but if he's working a body part he tends to keep it interesting, working in and out of holds, continually engaging and never content to just slap something on and sit in it. He really yanked on Patterson's arm, cranking and twisting, digging the point of his own elbow into the elbow joint of Patterson, doing his big row boat spot where it looks like he's trying to full on tear a guy's arm out the socket. They come up for air, work in interesting teases of Patterson gaining the upper hand, but Backlund keeps taking him over and going back to the arm. Patterson sells all of this great and eventually takes over when Bob takes a spill outside, coming up selling the leg. The dueling limbwork section after this feels unique for the WWF and the fact it remains a theme right until the end is pretty cool. At one point Patterson is working a leg lock so Backlund just starts punching him in the arm to release it, then goes for a slam, but the leg buckles underneath him and Patterson is back on top. They went about it in simple ways, but they never let you forget about those injuries. I loved all of the stuff built around the ring post, too. Bob runs Patterson into it shoulder-first a few times (a couple times out of desperation), Patterson wraps Bob's leg around it, then later Backlund uses it to cut Patterson open (following an awesome face-first bump into the barricade). Towards the end they start hucking wild bar room punches at each other, and I love how Bob ducked a big right hand and hit the atomic drop only to crumple in a heap because of the bad leg. The finish is one of the better ones like it and can you imagine if there was a Jim Cornette in the WWF at the time to rile up these pro-Backlund crowds with shenanigans? Bob was as over in MSG as anybody I've ever seen anywhere and there probably would've been riots. I think my favourite thing about Backlund's title defences is that they're always littered with teases that lead to big payoffs and this was no different. I can't imagine the cage match (which I think IS a newer discovery) doesn't rule and there's another match sandwiched in between that you could probably bet doesn't suck. I'm a big Backlund fan and I feel like I should check out more Patterson so I'll definitely watch those other two matches soon.