The legendary Rikidozan, a figure often compared to the likes of Muhammad Ali in Japan, was the first major pro wrestler in the land of the rising sun. Interestingly enough, Rikidozan was not even Japanese himself. He was a Korean born during the Japan invasion period. But it was in the land of the rising sun where he became a legendary figure and a national hero.
In a time of national and international tension, Rikidozan would beat “evil” gaijins (foreigners) and become an icon of Japanese wrestling. He had two major students – Antonio Inoki and Shohei “Giant” Baba. Both of them would go their own way in 1972, with Inoki forming New Japan Pro Wrestling and Giant Baba forming All Japan Pro Wrestling.
For nearly half a century, New Japan Pro Wrestling has been a major player in the industry. They’ve had their ups and downs, but they now stand comfortably at #2 in the world. Here are some interesting facts about the promotion that you didn’t know.
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