Add Bob Backlund's name to the list of wrestlers who prefer creative freedom in their matches.
Appearing on the Duke Loves Rasslin podcast, Backlund was asked to compare his World Title run of six years to Lesnar's Universal Title run of 504 days. Backlund credited his longevity with the belt to his ability to make every match different.
"How big of a repertoire did he have of move in the ring? Two? One? Suplex city? How many times can you suplex someone? Compared to the All-American Boys large repertoire," said Backlund. "It got so they would do it over, and over, and over and it's all they knew. My goal was to slowly draw people into the match. Slowly, and control that. Listening to the people is important. And it's pretty simple."
A big complaint in today's wrestling, especially from older wrestlers, is that matches are too structured. Shelton Benjamin recently spoke about wrestlers being too reliant on planning and not being able to change a match on the fly depending on the crowd. SmackDown fans are currently at war with head writer Road Dogg and his insistence on trying to make Becky Lynch a heel, even though she receives the biggest cheers of the night.
Backlund discussed the importance of listening to the audience and adapting in the ring.
"We knew how we wanted to end the match. When we got into the ring, the people told us how to get there and when we were going to get there," said Backlund. "You start off slow -- I used to walk slower than I would normally walk. You want people to be down as low as you can. Then you get them a little excited, then a little more excited, then you're gonna have a blow off and you're gonna go home at the end. At the peak. When you have a set program in your match, you can't do that. You can't change it, you have to keep it that way."
Stephanie McMahon recently stated that WWE became a global juggernaut due to their ability to listen to the audience. The audience disagreed. And so do many old school wrestlers.