By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki died at age 79 at his home in Japan on Saturday, according to Yahoo Japan. Inoki dealt with various health issues over the years, including systemic amyloidosis, though the cause of death was not listed.
Powell’s POV: Inoki founded New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972 and was the first IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He sold his shares in NJPW in 2005. In addition to his legendary pro wrestling career, Inoki also served two terms in the Japanese House of Councillors. Inoki is among the most iconic figures in the history of the business. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.
Update: WWE acknowledged Inoki’s death during Friday’s Smackdown. Michael Cole and Corey Graves were shown on camera and spoke of Inoki’s passing while noting that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Their comments took place roughly one hour and 24 minutes into the Smackdown broadcast.