The I.W.G.P. Days

1981/10/08 - Kuramae Kokugikan
Rusher Kimura (10'35" disqualification) Antonio Inoki

In the first match against Kimura, who came to New Japan after I.W.E. closed, Inoki was totally excited and ignore the rope break for a DQ loss. Rusher was a total heel which is unbelievable for what he is today.

1982/01/01 - Kourakuen Hall
Antonio Inoki (3R 3'16" DQ) Roland Bock

During the European tour of 1978, Bock defeated Inoki, who was not familiar with the European rules, by judge. Bock later had an automobile accident, and at the time when he first came to Japan, he was not who he was in 1978.

1982/01/28 - Tokyo Gym
Antonio Inoki (14'52" DQ) Abdullah the Butcher

When Abdullah jumped from All Japan, the fans wanted to see the dream match. However, the long waited match ended up being boring.

1982/11/04 - Kuramae Kokugikan - Handicapped Tag Team Match
Rusher Kimura, Animal Hamaguchi, & Isamu Teranishi (27'07" COR) Antonio Inoki
1. Inoki (13'03" cross arm scissors) Teranishi
2. Inoki (9'27" pin) Hamaguchi
3. Kimura (4'37" COR) Inoki

One of Inoki's best matches in his career. Although Inoki told the I.W.E. Army "I'll beat all three of you at once", he was tired after defeating two of three.

1983/05/28 - Takamatsu Civic Culture Center - I.W.G.P. Final League
Antonio Inoki (12'57" pin) Akira Maeda

Maeda, who participated the IWGP final round-robin tournament as an European representative, received attention from the fans as a growing star, but he was defeated with Inoki's enzuigiri.

1983/06/02 - Kuramae Kokugikan - '83 I.W.G.P. Final
Hulk Hogan (21'27" KO) Antonio Inoki

Inoki passed out with Hogan's axe bomber and was hospitalized. It was said to be the "Fall of Fighting Spirit Myth". The long-waited IWGP final ended up being a nightmare.

1984/04/19 - Kuramae Kokugikan - Regular Army vs. Ishingun : 5 vs. 5 Elimination Matches
Antonio Inoki (13'44" TKO) Riki Choshu

This was a 5 vs. 5 elimination match during the fued against the Ishingun. Yoshiaki Fujiwara had a draw with Animal Hamaguchi, and the finalists faced each other without previous matches.
Choshu was doing well against Inoki, but Inoki put the second fylfot hold on Choshu for a referee stop. After releasing the hold, Choshu could not get up.

1984/06/14 - Kuramae Kokugikan - '84 I.W.G.P. Final
Antonio Inoki (17'15" DCOR) Hulk Hogan
Extension: (2'13" DCOR on the apron)
Extension: Inoki (3'11" COR)

Inoki won the IWGP for the first time. However, Choshu was involved for the finish while Inoki and Hogan were outside the ring. The angry audience almost caused a riot for an unclear ending.

1984/08/02 - Kuramae Kokugikan
Antonio Inoki (29'39" ground abdominal stretch) Riki Choshu

A great match against the leader of the Ishingun. Inoki also showed the first german suplex in three years.

1985/04/18 - Ryogoku Kokugikan
Antonio Inoki (26'20" DCOR) Bruiser Brody

New Japan, which was going downhill after the departure of the top wrestlers including Choshu and Maeda, took Brody from All Japan. This was a big match which New Japan booked to get back on the top.
Brody injured Inoki's left arm in the dressing room before match, but Inoki, who used a Thesz-like back suplex for the first time in a while, put an exciting great match. Although the match ended as a double countout of the ring, it showed the "Return of the Fighting Spirit Myth."

1985/09/19 - Tokyo Gym
Antonio Inoki (35'29" TKO) Tatsumi Fujinami

Thesz was a special referee for the match between Inoki and Fujinami for the legendary Karl Gotch championship belt.
In the match known as "Basic of New Japan", Inoki defeated Fujinami by a referee stop with fylfot hold. Inoki showed that there was still a little bit of difference between Fujinami and himself.

1986/02/06 - Ryogoku Kokugikan
Antonio Inoki (19'37" sleeper hold) Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Fujiwara won a round-robin tournament to determine which UWF wrestler challenges Inoki.
A kick to lower stomach and elbow to avoid Fujiwara's headbutt made Maeda to misunderstand that Inoki was hitting Fujiwara's lowblow. Maeda got so angry saying, "so, Inoki is forgiven for anything he does?" and gave a high kick into Inoki's head after the match.

1986/06/17 - Aichi Prefecture Gym - I.W.G.P. Final League
Antonio Inoki (9'30" arm hold) Andre the Giantb

Inoki became the first wrestler to defeat Andre by submission. The finish hold was an arm bar on Andre's left arm which was similar to a cross arm scissors.

1986/09/16 - Osaka Castle Hall
Antonio Inoki (60min time limit draw) Bruiser Brody

The last match between ended as a draw, and two didn't settle the feud after all.

1987/10/04 - Ganryujima Island
Antonio Inoki (2:05'14" TKO) Masa Saito

A men's drama with no referee or audience. Inoki's longest match in his career.

1988/08/08 - Yokohama Cultural Gym
Tatsumi Fujinami (60min time limit draw) Antonio Inoki

The I.W.G.P. championship match which people talked about Inoki retiring if he loses ended as a draw.
Until this day, I never imagined about Inoki's aging or retirement, but this match made me realize Inoki would have to retire someday. I had a mixed emotion with a pleasure that Fujinami finally stood in the same line with Inoki, a sadness that Inoki could not defeat Fujinami, and a feeling that Inoki could still go on. A very memorable match which makes me speechless.
To me, this was actually the retirement match of Inoki.

1989/02/22 - Ryogoku Kokugikan
Riki Choshu (15'29" pin) Inoki

With the debut of the Soviet wrestlers such as Salman Hashmikov, Inoki's status as a promoter had one step up, but Inoki as a fighter was defeated by a series of the lariats by Choshu. This was probably the match to crown the new top start of New Japan.

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