Following the glory of his 1995 pay-per-view special Collision in Korea, attended by over 150,000 obedient North Korean citizens (but more like 350,000 if you ask the North Koreans) in Pyongyang, Japanese former pro-wrestler turned pro-wrestling promoter, vitamin water and condom salesman, who does some politics on the side Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is in the midst of putting on his second international professional wrestling showcase in North Korea.
Inoki not only put on the first Collision in Korea, North Korea’s first attempt to gather up the world’s top pro-fighters, he headlined it. Instead of the world’s top fighters, they got Ric Flair getting his ass kicked by Inoki. George Foreman turned down the offer to participate. The line-up was mostly Japanese fighters and some undercard American WWF personalities, with Muhammad Ali sitting in a VIP box watching his former rival take down Nature Boy.
In 1976, shortly before his retirment, Ali went to Tokyo for a watered down MMA exhibition and went up against a sassy, spandexed Inoki. Ali talked his classic smack, called his opponent an Oriental, and dissed karate. That was before Inoki butt-scooted around the boxing ring kicking the crap out of Ali’s legs, and ended up Asian Squatting on his face.
For the revival of Collision in Korea, Inoki has brought in mostly US and Japanese athletes, with the only name making headlines in the US being Bob “The Beast” Sapp. Bob Sapp made it into Giant Robot every once in a while in our “Ask Eman” column and a less than flattering mention in our interview with Enson Inoue. Sapp is big in Japan and seems to be the perfect mix of Ric Flair and Dennis Rodman for North Korean celebrity tastes.
The event kicked off with arm wrestling well-fed North Korean kids, meet and greets, judo demonstrations, cultural tours, and tug of war. Watch the video on the DPRK’s state television’s Youtube channel to witness the foreign guests shuffle around tourist sites uncomfortably and pull a Korean tour bus with a giant rope.
Young Pioneer Tours, the folks that helped break Pacman and Peso’s musical career with a music video filmed in Pyongyang, set up a tour package that includes access to the event. VIP seats are a steal at $200 bucks. The cheap seats are going for $50.
Why North Korea? Inoki’s first trainer was a Japanese wrestling icon and war hero of North Korean descent. He recruited Inoki in Brazil in 1960, where Inoki’s family was part of Japan’s post-war emigration wave. All reports say Collision in Korea isn’t a diplomatic mission, but Japan is making efforts to move talks with the DPRK forward for the release of Japanese abductees. They’re reaching out through North East Asian coalitions for regional security and Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister has announced official talks with the DPRK to take place next spring in Sweden.
I don’t think they’re inviting any minor celebrity athletes.