Eric Bischoff has done a lot during his 20-plus years in the pro wrestling business, including some noteworthy things that many may not be aware of.
The former WWE and WCW on-air performer and behind-the-scenes executive recently appeared as a guest on Busted Open Radio for an interview, during which he spoke about the passing of Japanese pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki and how he helped facilitate a reunion between the NJPW founder and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview where he touches on this topic with his thoughts and shares his memories of that legendary reunion.
On helping facilitate a reunion between Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali in 1994, nearly 20 years after their famous mixed martial arts fight in Tokyo, Japan: “The Japanese culture is so different than our culture at every level, particularly when it comes to business. Because things deteriorated as badly as they had, there was a lot of money involved, between WCW and New Japan, I thought it was highly unlikely I was going to be able to resurrect that relationship because it was hostile.”
On how he helped facilitate a reunion for Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali years after their marquee exhibition matchup: “One of the things that I think really helped turn a corner is I got a call from Brad Riggins. Brad was kind of like the American liaison, he worked very closely with Masa Saito, and Brad Riggins and I had been friends since high school so we had a long relationship. Brad called me and said, ‘Hey, Mr. Inoki is coming to Denver and he would really like to become reacquainted with Muhammad Ali. They had lost touch. There had not been any conversation subsequent to their fight, whenever it was, back in 76, 75, I can’t remember. So they had completely lost touch and I the year before had done some business with Muhammad Ali and had become, I don’t want to say friends, but friendly. I could call. I could talk to his wife. When Brad called and said, ‘Hey, Antonio is going to be in Denver, he would really, really love an opportunity to become reacquainted with Muhammad Ali, I called Muhammad’s wife and said here’s the situation and Antonio Inoki would love to meet Muhammad and here’s the dates, and next thing I know I’m sitting in a hotel room in Denver with Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki seeing each other for the first time since that fight. Me being able to make that happen and facilitate that probably went a long way for Antonio Inoki and it was one year later that now I’m on a jet flying to Pyongyang, North Korea sitting next to Muhammad Ali.”