Johnny Valentine

The biggest rival during Tokyo Pro days, and the match in the opening card is the origin of Inoki's strong style. Known as "Blond Monster", he specialized in the vicious elbow moves. Although he also appeared on New Japan cards, he was past his prime and unable to revive the great match against Inoki. Retired after a plane crash. His son, Greg, also became a wrestler and came to New Japan. Former US Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1929, Washington State. 190cm - 115kg

Lou Thesz

Known as "Iron Man", Thesz holds 936 consective professional wins and became World champion for six times. Also defended the title against Rikidozan. After refereeing for Inoki-Gotch match, Thesz returned to the ring and had a good match against Inoki though it was after his prime. The best user of the belly-to-back suplex known as "Back Drop" in Japan. Former NWA World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1916, Michigan. 191cm - 110kg

Karl Gotch

Rather than a rival, Gotch was a wrestling teacher for Inoki. Gotch had a big influence on not only Inoki but also the UWF wrestlers including Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Akira Maeda. Both octopus/fylfot hold and Riki Choshu's scorpion deathlock(Bret Hart's Sharpshooter) were also taught by Gotch. Because he was so stiff, he didn't make many "achievements" as a pro. However, he was strong enough to defeat Inoki even after his prime, and he is known by the fans in Japan as "God of Pro-Wrestling."
Born in 1922, Belgium. 188cm - 110kg

Billy Robinson

A British technical wrestler from Billy Riley Gym a.k.a. the Snake Pit. Very famous for the Double Arm Suplex. Although he had only one match against Inoki, it received a big attention from people as "a match between the top technitians of the world." For its quality, it was one of the best matches by Inoki. Former British Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1939, Great Britain. 191cm - 118kg

Dory Funk, Jr.

Dory had two great matches against young Inoki in his JWA days for the NWA World Heavyweight title. With Dory Funk Sr. as his father, he was born to be a wrestler. He was also popular in a tag team with his younger brother Terry. Dory was also rumored to be one of Inoki's opponents for a Final Count Down match. Former NWA World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1942, Indianapolis. 190cm - 110kg

Nick Bockwinkle

Won AWA World Heavyweight title from Verne Gagne and held it for 4 years and 8 months. During the JWA days, Bockwinkle teamed with Big John Quinn against Inoki and Kantaro Hoshino in the final of the 1st Annual NWA Tag Team League which went for 72 minutes. He also attended Inoki's 30 anniversary event. Former AWA World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1938, St. Louis. 188cm - 120kg

Muhammad Ali

The biggest boxing superstar in the history who had a match of the century againt Inoki. Inoki's biggest opponent as well as biggest friend in fighting. Inoki's entrance music, "Fighter of the Fire" was originally a theme music for Ali's biographical movie, which was presented to Inoki. Although his illness is getting heavier, he attended the Peace Festival in Pyong Yang. Ali was the last one to hold the torch for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and received a big response from the world. He also came to Japan for Inoki's retirement match for old friendship. Former world heavyweight boxing champion.
Born in 1942, Louisville, Kentucky. 191cm - 102kg

Willem Ruska

A judo gold medalist in the Olympic Games in Munich. He heard about the Inoki-Ali match, challenged Inoki, and became the first opponent for the mixed martial arts match series. After the match, Ruska consistently went after Inoki and became a pro-wrestler. He also made a comeback for the Final Count Down and attended Inoki's retirement event.
Born in 1940, Netherland. 196cm - 120cm

Roland Bock

He became the top wrestler of Europe with his strong style. He also threw Andre the Giant with a suplex in his prime. Shocked the Japanese fans when he outwrestled Inoki at the end of Inoki's European tour. Because of his look, Bock was known as the "Undertaker." Because of the auto accident he had in Europe, he was unable to show his strength when he first came to Japan.
Born in 1944, West Germany. 192cm - 120kg

Johnny Powers

Known as "The Death", Powers used the figure-8 leg lock, which was said to be twice powerful as the figure-4 leg lock. In the early days of New Japan, Powers had great matches against Inoki for NWF Heavyweight title, which was the main title of pre-IWGP New Japan. Former NWF World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1941, Canada. 192cm - 118kg

Tiger Jeet Singh

The "Carzy Tiger from India" suffered Inoki many times with his fighting style. In the other hand, he could compete with Inoki in a fair wrestling match. Singh has many grudges with Inoki, including the fighting in a Tokyo street, arm-breaking during a match, etc. Among many rivals, Singh is probably the best rival of Inoki. In Inoki's 30th anniversary event, Singh went beyond the grudge and teamed with Inoki.
Born in 1944, India. 190cm - 120kg

Andre the Giant

Inoki was suffered many times by the big body and power of Andre, who was known as "Human Mountains". Inoki put him in a submission but was never able to win via pin fall. It's very sad that the awfully strong man is no longer alive. Former WWF World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1946, France. 223cm - 256kg

Stan Hansen

With his famous lariat, he became the top wrestler of both New Japan and All Japan. Inoki's opponent in the last NWF Heavyweight title match. Fans still remember Hansen's very xciting matches in New Japan against Andre and Vader. Former AWA World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1949, Oklahoma. 192cm - 135kg

Bob Backlund

The "Emperor of New York" was the top wrestler of WWF before it became an "entertainment" company. He was indeed a legit wrestler who was able to compete with Inoki in strong style. He had many great matches against Inoki for WWF Heavyweight title. Inoki defeated Backlund and became the first Japanese to win the WWF Heavyweight title. Backlund also attended Inoki's retirment event.

Hulk Hogan

When he first came to Japan, he was rather a big man with no skill. However, through the matches against Inoki, he improved and finally became the top wrestler of America. He made us remember the final of the 1st IWGP, in which Hogan destroyed Inoki's dream with an "axe bomber." Currently(as of 98), he is a heel in WCW and the leader of the very popular WCW. Former WWF World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1955, California. 201cm - 145kg

Bruiser Brody

He was one of top stars of All Japan, but after jumping to New Japan, he revived the "Fighting Spirit Myth" which had been destroyed by Hogan. He had great matches against Inoki, but without clean finishes, he was expelled by New Japan after several nos-shows because of a contractual dispute. His big pride always caused him troubles with promoters, and he was killed by Jose Gonzales in Puerto Rico.
Born in 1949, Pennsylvania. 198cm - 135kg

Big Van Vader

He first appeared as a wrestler from Takeshi Puroresu Army, lead by the famous comedian "Beat" Takeshi Kitano. In his first match against Inoki, Vader destroyed him in a short match, which was the second match for Inoki in the card. The unsatisfied audience caused a riot at the hall, and New Japan was banned from Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) for a year. Later, Vader started receiving more recognition and because the top foreign wrestler of New Japan. After jumping to UWF International, he returned to New Japan for the Final Count Down and had a great match against Inoki.
Born in 1956, Denver, Colorado. 195cm - 185kg

Ric Flair

Mr. American Pro-Wrestling, who was NWA World champion, never seemed to have any connection or relation with Inoki. However, New Japan and WCW reached an talent exchange agreement, which lead to Inoki's WCW appearance. After the post-match party, Inoki and Flair got along, and they wrestled in the main event for the Peace Festival in Pyong Yang. It was an unexpected great match. Former NWA World Heavyweight champion.
Born in 1950, Minnesota. 185cm - 110kg

Strong Kobayashi

The match between Inoki and the former top star of the IWE was the first match between top Japanese stars since Rikidozan vs. Masahiko Kimura. Kobayashi, who was defeated, joined New Japan and became a big supporter in the early day of New Japan.
Born in 1941, Tokyo. 188cm - 125kg

Hiro Matsuda

Lonewolf in the U.S., Matsuda was a good partner of Inoki while he was in the U.S. earlier in his career. He appeared in New Japan as the leader of the "Wolf Army", which consited of the freelancers and wrestled in the final of pre-Japanese Championship against Inoki.
Born in 1937, Yokohama. 186cm - 105kg

Seiji Sakaguchi

With the big achievement in judo, Sakaguchi joined JWA. After jumping to New Japan, he became a big supporter of Inoki as the number two star of the promotion. Known as "The Eagle of the World", his famous move was the atomic drop. Everybody admits that he was the strongest and thought he retired too early. Sakaguchi is currently the chairman of the New Japan board.
Born in 1942, Kurume, Fukuoka. 196cm - 130kg

Giant Baba

The world-famous giant and the head of All Japan Pro-Wrestling. Baba joined Rikidozan's camp the day after Inoki did. They are the Top Two of puroresu, as there wouldn't be Inoki today without Baba and visa versa.
Born in 1938, Sanjoh, Niigata. 209cm - 135kg

Masa Saito

Originally from JWA, Saito was also one of founding members of Tokyo Pro. After Tokyo Pro folded, he went to the U.S. by himself. As a mentor of Riki Choshu, he returned to Japanese scene as the leader of the original Ishingun. He also had the memorable long match against Inoki in the famous Ganryujima island.
Born in 1942, Tokyo. 180cm - 115kg

Riki Choshu

Joined New Japan after wrestling in the Olympic Games in Munich. Formed the original Ishingun and had the famous feud against New Japan's regulars. His "Great Match Counting Song" with Tatsumi Fujinami was one of the reasons for New Japan's golden era in the early 80s. After forming Japan Pro and wrestling for All Japan, he returned to New Japan. He retired in 98 before Inoki did and is currently the top director of New Japan.
Born in 1951, Tokuyama, Yamaguchi. 184cm - 115kg

Tatsumi Fujinami

Unlike Choshu, Fujinami always supported New Japan with Inoki. He also operates his own promotion "Muga" with Inoki vs. Gotch as the basic of puroresu. He is a big follower of the New Japan strong style. After surviving the long break with back injury and philosophical trouble in pro-wrestling, he continues to be a main eventer.
Born in 1953, Oita. 185cm - 108kg

Akira Maeda

After leaving New Japan, he became the top star of UWF and received the status as the "New Fighting King" after Inoki. He became popular by criticizing Inoki and the existing form of puroresu. Currently, he continues to realize the vision of his martial arts style in RINGS organization.
Born in 1959, Osaka. 192cm - 115kg

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