Robert Lee "Bob" Backlund (born August 14 1949), is an American professional wrestler and actor with an in ring career that spanned over 27 years. Over that time, he went on to become a two-time WWF Champion (his first being in the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation).
Backlund was also an accomplished amateur wrestler wrestling for the North Dakota State University Bison in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Backlund continues to work in the pro wrestling business in various capacities. In 2000, Backlund unsuccessfully ran for a Connecticut seat in Congress on a Republican ticket.
In mid 1975, Backlund started working for Georgia Championship Wrestling where he would team up with Jerry Brisco to win the NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (not to be mistaken with the Georgia Version of the NWA Tag Team Championship) from Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji in October 1975. The Brisco/Backlund team would only hold the Georgia gold for 2 months before being defeated by Les Thornton & Tony Charles. In 1976 Backlund moved on from the Georgia territory and worked in Florida for Championship Wrestling from Florida (NWA Florida) where he teamed up with Steve Keirn to defeat Bob Orton, Jr. and Bob Roop for the Championship Wrestling from Florida. Backlund and Keirn would lose the titles to “The Hollywood Blondes” (Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown) in October of 1976. Backlund split his time between working in Florida and working in St. Louis, Missouri for Sam Muchnick’s St. Louis Wrestling Club where he defeated wrestling legend Harley Race to win the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship on April 23. He held it until Jack Brisco defeated Backlund on November 26
Only days after winning the WWWF gold, Backlund clashed with the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race in a rare “WWF Vs NWA” title match. Neither title changed hand as the two fought to a time limit draw. Defending against other champions became a recurring theme in Backlund’s run with the title as he faced both the AWA and the NWA World Champion in highly publicized matches. Backlund would also take on and defeat the Florida Champion Don Muraco and “International Champion” Billy Robinson.
On August 9, 1980, Backlund teamed up with Pedro Morales to capture the WWF World Tag Team Championship from The Wild Samoans at Showdown at Shea. Backlund and Morales were forced to vacate the titles due to a WWF rule stating that no one can hold two championships at the same time.
The first instance saw NWF Champion Antonio Inoki pin Bob Backlund in a match in Tokusima, Japan on November 30, 1979 to win the title. Inoki was then billed as both NWF and WWF Champion in subsequent matches. On December 6 Inoki and Backlund fought over the WWF title once again; this time, Backlund pinned Inoki but had the result thrown out by WWF president Hisashi Shinma due to outside interference. After the match, Inoki refused to accept the WWF title back and Backlund appeared in the US days later as the WWF champion with no official announcement of the title change ever being acknowledged by the WWF.
It is also claimed by some sources that because Backlund’s WWF title was held up after a match against Greg Valentine on October 19 1981 when a dazed referee ”accidentally” gave the title belt to Greg Valentine (Storyline) that it constituted an “interruption” of Backlund’s title reign. Arguments against this constituting a break in the lineage is supported by the fact that Backlund was billed as the WWF Champion in other cities in the days following the ”controversy”. In the early part of the 1980s where no federation had national television deals, it was not an uncommon practice to “hold up” the title in one area to build interest in a rematch that the champion would win while ignoring this fact in other parts of the territory. On November 23, Backlund pinned Valentine for the "Vacant in New York only" WWF title.
In the summer of 1994, Backlund took part in what was billed as an "old generation vs. new generation" match with Bret Hart, with Hart's WWF Championship on the line. Over a number of weeks, viewers of WWF Superstars were treated to vignettes of Backlund working out and training for his match with Hart. Hart won the match, after Backlund misconceived his own victory and helped Bret to his feet, but afterwards Backlund "snapped", slapping Hart in the face and placing him in the crossface chickenwing submission hold, laughing hysterically. When he finally released the hold, Backlund stared at his hands in shock. Soon afterwards Backlund would start to suddenly snap during a match, go into a blind rage, and would viciously attack his opponent with a crossface chickenwing. Afterward, Backlund would seemingly snap out of his trance and be horrified by what he had done (this of course was all kayfabe).
Shortly after his match with Hart, on an episode of Monday Night RAW, a changed Backlund explained that he should still be considered the legitimate WWF Champion, as the Iron Sheik had never pinned him, nor had he submitted to the Camel Clutch. Backlund continued wrestling under the new gimmick of an out of touch, yet highly dangerous, maniac out to teach the new generation a lesson. He often appeared in business suits, had a hyperactive personality, and used (or, often, misused) large words to sound important. He also demanded that he be addressed as "Mr. Backlund". He would only sign autographs for wrestling fans if they could recite the names of all of the US Presidents in chronological order. On several instances, he attacked wrestlers and other WWF employees and placed them in the crossface chickenwing. These victims included Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, WWF Magazine writer Lou "The Count" Gianfriddo, and his former manager Arnold Skaaland, whom he blamed for costing him the WWF Title eleven years earlier.
On November 23, 1994 at the 1994 Survivor Series PPV in San Antonio, Texas, Backlund faced Bret Hart in a "Throw in the Towel" submission match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship, with Bret's brother Owen Hart in Backlund's corner (carrying what Backlund claimed to be the same towel Skaaland threw into the ring in 1983) and The British Bulldog in Hart's. The object of the match was to place your opponent in a submission hold and make his cornerman throw in the towel. Late in the match, Backlund took advantage of a mistake by Hart and locked the crossface chickenwing in. Hart was locked in the hold for an unheard of eight-and-a-half minutes, but refused to give up. Finally, Owen went over to his mother Helen, who was at ringside, and pleaded (not meaning it) with her to throw Bret's towel in (Bulldog had become incapacitated during the course of the match). After several minutes, Helen Hart threw the towel in, giving the match and the championship to Backlund. The match is also notable due to its 35-minute length and display of outstanding mat wrestling from both men.
Backlund's second reign as WWF Champion was short-lived, however, as he lost the title on November 26 to Diesel at Madison Square Garden, home of many of Backlund's victories in the 1970s and 1980s. This match stands as the quickest World Title match as the towering Diesel simply kicked Backlund in the stomach and hit him with a Jackknife Powerbomb, pinning him a mere eight seconds after the bell rang. For weeks afterwards, fans jeered Backlund with chants of "Eight seconds! Eight seconds!" In a 2005 interview for the Pro Wrestling Torch, Nash fondly remembered how Backlund sold his Jackknife Powerbomb by crawling up the aisleway back to the dressing room area of the Garden. Nash said, "He couldn't have put me over any stronger." (This match, in addition to being the quickest WWF Championship match ever, was also the last time that the WWF Championship changed hands at a non-televised event.)
After the title loss Backlund started to work less and less, never again reaching main event status. His final noteworthy WWF match was an "I Quit" match against Bret Hart at WrestleMania XI on April 2, 1995. He lost, though many viewers have noted that Backlund never actually said, "I Quit." He screamed unintelligibly into the microphone, which special guest referee Roddy Piper seemed to interpret as "I Quit.
Following WrestleMania, the WWF ran an angle where Backlund declared his candidacy for President of the United States. Several vignettes were shown on television, including one depicting Backlund campaigning at a beach. However, this angle was dropped without fanfare, possibly due to lack of fan interest and because the U.S. presidential election would not be held for another year and a half.
For a brief time in 1996 and 1997, Backlund joined forces with his old nemesis the Iron Sheik to manage The Sultan in the WWF.
Possibly inspired by his fake presidential candidacy in 1995, Backlund also unsuccessfully ran for a Connecticut seat in Congress as a Republican in 2000. He went on to operate a bail bond company in Connecticut.
It was reported on TNA Wrestling's home page that Backlund would begin to make regular appearances on TNA Impact!. During his appearances on Impact! he has been seen as crazy and weird by announcers Don West and Mike Tenay.
Backlund made his in ring return at Slammiversary and defeated Alex Shelley. He would go on to lose to the team of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin (managed by Nash) with his partner Jerry Lynn at Victory Road and he has not been on TV since.
When TNA redesigned their website, Backlund's profile was quietly removed, which signaled the end of his run with the company.
Backlund is of Swedish descent.