Wrestlers, promoters, announcers, and organizations have paid tribute to Antonio Inoki, whose passing was announced last night.
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced via its global Twitter account:
New Japan Pro-Wrestling is deeply saddened at the passing of our founder, Antonio Inoki.
His achievements, both in professional wrestling and the global community are without parallel and will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts are with Inoki’s family, friends and fans.
The news circulated while WWE SmackDown was on the air, and an impromptu tribute was delivered by Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
WWE remembers Antonio Inoki.
— WWE (@WWE) October 1, 2022
WWE’s Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque tweeted:
One of the most important figures in the history of our business, and a man who embodied the term “fighting spirit.” The legacy of WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki will live on forever.
The National Wrestling Alliance posted a tribute featuring a photograph of Inoki wearing the NWA United National title in 1971, with Japan Pro Wrestling accounting manager Kokichi Endo on his left, and booker Mr. Moto on his right.
The National Wrestling Alliance sends its condolences to the friends and family of pro wrestling pioneer Antonio Inoki.
An NWA Tag Team and United National Champion and most importantly, a legend that will forever be remembered in our business and beyond. pic.twitter.com/sqyG8Y26QC
— NWA (@nwa) October 1, 2022
Countless words will be written and spoken in the coming days and weeks, and nothing will come close to completely conveying just how important Antonio Inoki was. Not just a moment in professional wrestling but in global history. Rip.
All Elite Wrestling owner Tony Khan wrote:
RIP Antonio Inoki, a pioneer in the pro wrestling industry. Inoki’s influence and his achievements will live on forever in the wrestling world; he’s an inspiration to all of the dreamers. Thank you sir.
Pro Wrestling NOAH paid tribute and condolences on its global Twitter account:
Upon hearing the news of the passing of Antonio Inoki, one of the greats of the Japanese professional wrestling world, Pro Wrestling Noah would like to express our heartfelt condolences at this time.
— Pro Wrestling NOAH Global (@noahglobal) October 1, 2022
IMPACT Wrestling also commented on Twitter:
.@IMPACTWrestling would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Antonio Inoki. We are saddened to learn of his passing and know his legacy will live forever. pic.twitter.com/acCxKxDNK7
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 1, 2022
Wrestlers from all over the world also paid tribute to the Japanese legend.
Shinsuke Nakamura took to Twitter to post a photograph of himself with Inoki, along with a message of thanks.
— Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) October 1, 2022
Keiji Muto also posted a tribute:
— 武藤 敬司 (@muto_keiji) October 1, 2022
Many of the top stars of the NJPW roster are currently in London, England, for the Royal Quest II show, where tributes are expected to be paid later.
William Regal posted a photograph of himself and Inoki in the ring, noting that they became friends after wrestling at 1994’s Clash of the Champions 28. Regal has claimed that Inoki defeated him in that match with a genuine sleeper hold.
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Antonio Inoki, the legendary Japanese Pro https://t.co/eB0872a4FJ Inoki chose to Wrestle me in 1994 and then we became friends,kept in touch and was always very kind to https://t.co/jqwYii836k deepest condolences to his family & fans. pic.twitter.com/qqvk8j4Vak
— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) October 1, 2022
Natalya posted a photograph of her maternal grandfather Stu Hart together with Gene Kiniski and Inoki:
My grandfather had so much respect for Antonio Inoki and his passion for pro-wrestling.
(Gene Kiniski, Stu Hart, Antonio Inoki) pic.twitter.com/OlVPOklZ9K
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) October 1, 2022
Samoa Joe commented: “I found my road… Thank you for everything Inoki-sama Rest in Power.”
Taz noted that he had wrestled on several tours for Inoki:
Very sad to hear the passing of a true icon of Professional Wrestling worldwide. Antonio Inoki inspired so many wrestlers for so many decades including me in my in ring days. I had the opportunity to wrestle on several tours for Inoki in NJPW – he truly changed the game. RIP 🙏 pic.twitter.com/WSyAKB9XCY
— taz (@OfficialTAZ) October 1, 2022
Adam Cole tweeted: “RIP Antonio Inoki…a legend in every sense of the word.”
Eric Bischoff stated:
Some of the moments in my career that I am most grateful for are a result of the friendship that evolved from our business together. Inoki san was a visionary. In some ways-too ahead of his time.
Konosuke Takeshita noted in a tweet that his first exposure to professional wrestling was watching Inoki’s retirement match with his father when he was two years old:
— Konosuke Takeshita 竹下幸之介 (@Takesoup) October 1, 2022
KAIRI also tweeted a message of thanks:
— KAIRI /カイリ🏴☠️ (@KAIRI_official) October 1, 2022
John Pollock and WH Park will be recording a special edition of Post Puroresu looking at the career and legacy of Antonio Inoki, scheduled for release early on Monday.