The 6-day WWE title reign that was erased from history

WWE Championship Commemorative Title Belt
WWE Championship Commemorative Title Belt

November 30, 1979. Japanese pro-wrestling legend Antonio Inoki took on WWE Champion Bob Backlund in a title match. The match was held in Tokushima, Japan, and ended with Inoki pinning Backlund to become the new WWE Champion.

It has been 42 years since Inoki's WWE title win. Interestingly, the company has erased this victory from its history and doesn't recognize it in its record books. Let's take a look at exactly what happened during Antonio Inoki's six-day World title reign.

Bob Backlund is regarded as one of the greatest World Champions in the history of this business. He won the title on February 20, 1978, from fellow Hall of Famer Billy Graham. Backlund faced Antonio Inoki in late 1979, with the prestigious belt on the line.

You can watch the full match below:


Inoki surprisingly pinned Backlund and won the belt. A rematch was held on December 6, 1979. Backlund won the match, but the bout was marred by interference from Tiger Jeet Singh. Then-WWE president Hisashi Shinma declared the match a no-contest due to the interference.

In an interesting turn of events, Antonio Inoki refused to accept the title belt, thus forcing officials to declare it vacant. As the title didn't have a champion, a WWE Championship match was set up between Bob Backlund and Bobby Duncum shortly. The "Texas Death Match" ended with Backlund defeating Duncum and winning the world title again.

WWE doesn't officially recognize Inoki's reign

WWE doesn't recognize Antoni Inoki's short-lived title reign, and its official records reflect the same. Instead, the promotion recognizes Bob Backlund's first world title reign as a single uninterrupted run from 1978 to 1983. On December 26, 1983, The Iron Sheik defeated Backlund to win the WWE title, thus ending the legendary run.

Antonio Inoki's Wikipedia page lists him as an 'unrecognized' one-time WWE Champion. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010. Three years later, Bob Backlund was inducted as well.