The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

Breaking News: Hell Frozen Over Again — Antonio Inoki to WWE

Posted by invizweb on February 1, 2010

To Appear WrestleMania Weekend? (C) Antonio Inoki via Puroresu Central

According to this article on the Wrestling Observer, news out of WWE’ Japan’s office currently is that Antonio Inoki has been invited to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, with Stan “The Lariat” Hansen as his inductor.

Antonio Inoki last did business with the then WWF in 1985, shortly after current WWE CEO/chief shareholder Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr implemented his national expansion program after his father, former CEO Vincent Jesse McMahon Sr’s death in 1984.   It was Vince Sr on December 18, 1979, who had awarded Inoki with the WWWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship Title.  This title was supposedly for the purposes of legitimate shoot fighting contests.  As part of their business arrangement, Inoki briefly won the WWWF World Heavyweight Title on November 30, 1979 from Bob Backlund in a phantom title run due to Inoki’s refusing of the title after retaining it due to the interference from Tiger Jeet Singh.  The WWE still does not recognize the run til this (probably exact) day.

Ali vs Inoki (C) ESPN

Of course Antonio Inoki’s apex was “the Joke That Could Have Ended Muhammad Ali’s Career” on June 26, 1926 at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan when he battled Muhammad Ali to a 15 Round Draw in one of the first internationally televised Mixed Martial Arts matches in history.  It goes without saying that the WWWF helped Inoki co-promote the show on Closed Circuit viewing in their territories at the time.  It is said that Ali’s leg injuries caused by Inoki’s Low Roundhouse Kicks from the Butt Scoot hospitalized the Champ.  The match was also reviewed as boring at the time.  Other career highlights include headlining 4 or 5 (depending on how you like to count it) Tokyo “Big Egg” Dome shows drawing 45,000 +, in excessive of average gates of $2 million (his retirement on April 4, 1998 supposedly netted  agate of $7 million, drew 57,000 spectators, and garnered a 10.2 rating on top TV network TV-Asahi on taped delay); promoting a tour in Pakistan August 1984 supposedly drawing 30,000 + spectators in each of the 5 shows held; being the first promoter to hold international shows in the Soviet Union (1989), the People’s Republic of China (1990), and Iraq (1990); and the purported coup de grace:  the Pyongyang Sports Festival held in the North Korean capital’s Pyongyang Stadium drawing apparently 150,000  spectators (and $7.5 million) the first day and 170,000 (8.5 million) the second, guest starring a young Chris Benoit, Yuji Nagata, Bull Nakano, Akira Hokuto, Too Cold Scorpio, Road Warrior Hawk, the Steiner Brother, Inoki himself, and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (a funny story to come out of this event was that special guest Muhammad Ali stood up and called Kim Jong-Il out as a dictator during dinner prompting Ric Flair to soil himself).   In addition, he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996, won the Observer’s Promoter of the Year Award in 2001, and inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and  Museum in 2009.  In 1989, Inoki was elected into the Japanese Parliament, serving until 1995, taking credit during his career for opening relations directly with Fidel Castro in Cuba and successfully negotiating for the release of Japanese hostages from Saddam Hussein in Iraq 1990.  Inoki appeared in the movie, the Bad News Bears Go To Japan (with Yoshiaki Fujiwara) and Fox Sport’s Best Damned Sports Show with Chyna in 2002.  Inoki was an adviser to both the K-1 and PRIDE promotions in the early 00s, promoted his  own Inoki BomBaYe MMA shows, and managed the Tokyo Sabres franchise of the International Fight League in 2006.

A close confidant of Inoki, Hisashi Shinma, was the figurehead WWWF President from 1978 to 1984.  As for Stan Hansen, he refused Vince’s invitations throughout the late 1980s to the 1990s to return to the WWF so it remains to be seen how this deal came about.  One wonders if Inoki will kayfabe his ability to speak English as “Kami-Sama” has residency on the island of Manhattan for quite a number of years now.

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