Hall of Famer journalist Bill Apter recently explained Vince McMahon Sr.'s one mistake that was unfortunate for the late WWE legend Billy Graham's wrestling career.
Billy Graham, 79, died on Wednesday, May 17, after battling health concerns for several weeks. WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair tweeted that the Superstar "just left us."
On October 25, 1975, he made his WWE/F debut, winning a tag team match alongside Spiros Arion. After a few years, Graham returned to the ring owing to a temporary deal with the NWA. He defeated Bruno Sammartino for the Heavyweight Championship on April 30, 1977.
This was the pinnacle of his reign since several wrestlers challenged him, but he maintained the championship for nine and a half months. Before Graham captured the title from Bruno Sammartino, Vince McMahon Sr. told Graham when and to whom he would be handing over the belt.
On February 20, 1978, Bob Backlund defeated Billy Graham for the WWE Championship, and because of disagreements with Vince McMahon Sr., he returned to the NWA.
While speaking to Sportskeeda Wrestling, Bill Apter pointed out Vince McMahon Sr.'s mistake when he took the WWF title from Superstar Billy Graham and handed it to Backlund. The legendary wrestling journalist felt that it was on Vince McMahon's conscious, but Graham, at that time, was a fan favourite and had every potential to be an ideal "Superstar."
"What I didn't like about Superstar Graham's career is that Vince McMahon Sr.'s decision to take the belt, the WWF belt off of him, and put in on Bob Backland when Graham was so hot at that particular time. I think Graham should have been left champion—no disrespect to Bob Backland. Bob Backland was that nice, clean, all-American guy, right?" Apter mentioned. [4:07 - 4:37]
Check out the full video below:
Why was Vince McMahon Sr. at fault, according to Bill Apter?
Dusty Rhodes and Billy Graham were the best professional wrestlers during their time. Their unrivalled story-telling abilities made their rivalry much more interesting, and Vince McMahon Sr. took that away.
Several times between 1977 and 1978, The American Dream challenged Graham for the then-WWWF Championship. One of the most notable was when they met in a Texas Death match at Madison Square Garden.
During the same interview, Bill Apter stated that despite having a fantastic feud with Dusty Rhodes and Bruno Sammartino, Graham deserved to be a world champion because people were there to see him.
"But as a draw with Back on there, they (WWE) loaded the cards with Mil Máscaras, Dusty Rhodes and other superstars there. One with Superstar Billy Graham as The American Dream would call him, was out there. You didn't need anyone else on the card. People were there to see Superstar Billy Graham. And his feud with Bruno (Sammartino) was amazing," he continued. [4:38 - 5:03]
The 79-year-old was exceptional, and his charm, demeanour, and overall in-ring persona operated like gravity, attracting professional wrestling fans to the stadium. In 2004, Triple H inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Sportskeeda Wrestling sends condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.
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