Antonio Inoki

Birthdate: February 20th, 1943
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs.
Debut: September 30th, 1960
Retirement: April 4th, 1998
Background: Trained by Rikidozan
Alliances: Teamed with Giant Baba in the JWA and teamed with Seiji Sakaguchi in New Japan
Attire: Black trunks
Promotion History: JWA (1960 to 1972) and New Japan (1972 to 1998)
Major Tournaments Won: JWA 11th Annual League, New Japan Annual World League (1974 and 1975), New Japan Annual MSG League (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981), New Japan Annual MSG Tag League (1980, 1982, 1983, and 1984), and the New Japan IWGP League (1984 and 1986)

Championship History:

IWGP Heavyweight Championship:
- Defeated Masa Saito on 6/12/87 and Vacated on 5/2/88

WWF Heavyweight Championship:
- Defeated Bob Backlund on 11/30/79 and Vacated on 12/6/79*
*unrecognized by WWE

WWF Martial Arts World Heavyweight Championship (Held 2 Times):
- Awarded Championship on 12/18/78 and lost to Shota Chochoshivilli on 4/24/89
- Defeated Shota Chochoshivilli on 5/25/89 and Vacated in 1989

All Asia Tag Team Championship with Michiaki Yoshimura (Held 3 Times):
- Defeated Ike Eakins and Waldo Von Erich on 5/26/67 and vacated on 10/31/67
- Defeated Crusher Lisowski & Al Mahilik on 8/9/69 and Vacated on 10/10/69
- Defeated Mr. Atomic and Buddy Austin on 10/30/69 and Vacated in December of 1971

All Asia Tag Team Championship with Kintaro Ohki:
- Defeated Tom Jones & Buster Royd on 2/3/69 and Vacated on 7/3/69

NWA International Tag Team Championship with Giant Baba (Held 4 Times):
- Defeated Tarzan Tyler and Bill Watts on 10/31/67 and Vacated on 1/8/68
- Defeated Crusher Lisowski and Bill Miller on 2/3/68 and lost to Hodge and Snyder on 1/9/69
- Defeated Danny Hodge and Snyder on 2/4/69 and lost to Dick the Bruiser and Lisowski on 8/11/69
- Defeated Dick the Bruiser and Crusher Lisowski on 8/13/69 and lost to The Funks on 12/7/71

NWF Heavyweight Championship:
- Defeated Jimmy Powers on 12/10/73 and Vacated on 2/12/75
- Defeated Tiger Jeet Singh on 6/26/75 and lost to Stan Hansen on 2/8/80
- Defeated Stan Hansen on 3/3/80 and Vacated on 4/17/8`
- Defeated Stan Hansen on 4/17/81 and Vacated the next day to wrestle in IWGP League

UWA World Heavyweight Championship:
- Defeated Tiger Jeet Singh on 4/13/80 and lost to Tiger Jeet Singh on 10/24/80

Biggest Matches:
- October 12th, 1966 vs. Johnny Valentine
- October 31st, 1967 with Giant Baba vs. Tarzan Tyler and Bill Watts
- March 6th, 1972 vs. Karl Gotch
- December 10th, 1973 vs. Johnny Powers (title win)
- October 9th, 1975 vs. Lou Thesz (title defense)
- June 26th, 1976 vs. Muhammad Ali
- November 30th, 1979 vs. Bob Backlund (controversial title win)
- September 25th, 1980 vs. Stan Hansen (title defense)
- June 2nd, 1983 vs. Hulk Hogan
- September 19th, 1985 vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
- June 17th, 1986 vs. Andre the Giant (Andre's only submission loss)
- June 12th, 1987 vs. Masa Saito (title win)
- October 4th, 1987 vs. Masa Saito (jungle match)
- August 8th, 1988 vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
- January 4th, 1994 vs. Genichiro Tenryu
- April 29th, 1995 vs. Ric Flair
- January 4th, 1996 vs. Big Van Vader
- April 4th, 1998 vs. Don Frye (Retirement match)

- A kick to Ali

Featured Signature Moves:
- Abisergeri
- Enzigieri
- Octopus Hold

Other Signature Moves:
- Cross Armbreaker
- Diving Knee Drop
- Seated Armbar
- Sleeper Hold

Career History:

One of the most important and influential figures in wrestling history, Antonio Inoki single handedly changed the wrestling landscape during his career. Even prior to creating New Japan, Inoki was considered one of the brightest young stars in Japan. Trained by the great Rikidozan, Inoki and Giant Baba were expected to lead puroresu to new heights. Already accomplished in the tag division, Inoki and Baba would split in 1972 to form two wrestling promotions: New Japan and All Japan. Almost immediately the two promotions began seeing success, as New Japan attracted many of the most talented American wrestlers to come to Japan to wrestle. From 1972 to 1998, Inoki would not only play an important role behind the scenes but also be one of the best wrestlers in the ring.

March 6th, 1972 - the beginning of a new era. On this date the first New Japan card was held in front of 5,000 people, with Inoki main eventing against American great Karl Gotch. Even though Inoki would lose the match, over the next four years he would find success as a four time holder of the NWF Heavyweight Championship (New Japan's top belt). Defeating wrestlers ranging from Jesse Ventura to Masa Saito to the great Lou Thesz, Inoki led New Japan from a new promotion to a global powerhouse in only a few short years.

In order to increase the promotion's exposure, in 1976 Inoki had a match against boxing great Muhammad Ali. Even though the match was universally panned as boring and uneventful for 15 rounds (which it was, since Inoki refused to get off the mat), it helped New Japan gain international exposure. Inoki next went after the WWWF Champion, Bob Backlund. After drawing with Backlund in the summer of 1978 (with each wrestler having one fall when time expired), Inoki would finally win the belt on November 30th, 1979. They would have a rematch a few weeks later, which Backlund would win due to interference. The commissioner at the time said that Inoki still deserved the belt, but Inoki refused it. This led to Backlund facing Duncum Jr. for the belt back in America, and the title switch went unrecognized by the WWF. Still though, it was one of many highlights that Inoki would have in his career.

In 1981, Inoki would disband the NWF Heavyweight Championship in favor of the IWGP League. Each May/June from 1983 to 1987, a tournament was held to crown the winner of the IWGP League. After losing to Hogan the first year (in controversial fashion), Inoki would win the League in 1984, 1986, and 1987. After his win in 1987 it was decided that Inoki would become the first ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Besides his successes in the IWGP League, Inoki also accomplished the impossible during this time period - in June 1986 he defeated Andre the Giant by a submission. This would be the only time in his career that Andre the Giant would lose by submission and one of the few times that he was defeated period prior to his late WWF run.

By the early 90s, Inoki was getting older and decided that it was best for the business if he only wrestled on special occasions. In 1992, he announced that he would have a special eight match retirement countdown that would span until 1998. For his first match in 1994, he defeated The Great Muta with the sleeperhold. After his 4th match (defeating Yoshiaki Fujiwara) in 1995, Inoki made a special match with Ric Flair to take place in North Korea. Inoki would win the match, solidifying himself as one of the top wrestlers in the world.

At the Tokyo Dome Show in 1996, Inoki would face Vader in his 5th of eight "official" retirement matches. Even though Vader brutalized Inoki, Inoki still managed to come out with the victory. In 1997 for his 7th retirement match, Inoki faced off in a classic encounter with the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama. Again, Inoki would come up victorious. Finally, in 1998 Inoki would win his last match, defeating Don Frye with the ground abdominal stretch in less then five minutes. The in-ring career of the great Antonio Inoki was officially over.

Even though Inoki was done in the ring, he still felt he had a lot to accomplish out of it. Noting the increase in popularity of MMA and shoot fighting, Inoki attempted to incorporate MMA into New Japan. While opinions vary on the success of this idea, it was another example of Inoki always trying to stay one step ahead for his company. One of the greatest wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle, Inoki will always be remembered for his contributions to Japanese wrestling.

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