Hulk Hogan comments on the death of Antonio Inoki
“It seems like I spent half my wrestling career working with New Japan, after many years I became accepted and traveled on the Japanese bus,worked out, lived, and sometimes fought the Americans,” Hogan wrote. “Inoki was truly ICHIBAN, rip my brother, love you Ax Bomba.” ‘Ichiban’ means number one in Japanese.
The Hulkster beat Inoki via knockout in the IWGP League 1983 final, becoming the first champion. Inoki eventually defeated Hogan in the IWGP League 1984 to win the title himself after Hogan carried the belt for 378 days. This was the title that was defended annually and was replaced in 1987 by the one which is used now.
Hogan appeared several times in NJPW between 1980 and 1985 even while he worked for the then WWF.