Antonio Inoki‘s foray into North Korea is one of the biggest and most controversial wrestling shows of all time.
The trip to the pariah state has been the subject of many TV shows and books (as well as its own episode of Dark Side Of The Ring), becoming one of the most controversial events of all time.
Kim Jong-Il tasked Antonio Inoki with putting on a spectacle that drew over 300,000 fans to two shows – but that’s not exactly the truth behind the record crowd.
Here is why the North Korean “Collision in Korea” show isn’t really the biggest wrestling show of all time.
Collision In Korea Had The Biggest Crowd Ever
Collision in Korea drew 150,000 fans each to two shows, making it the biggest wrestling crowd of all time.
This dwarfs the record set by AEW last week, when they sold 81,035 tickets for their debut show in Wembley Stadium.
However, AEW still hold the record for the largest paid audience – and that is the key here.
For the show in North Korea that was headlined by Ric Flair vs Antonio Inoki, they did not sell a single ticket.
Instead, the crowd was state-mandated. Citizens were forced by the great leader to cram into the stadium to witness the spectacle brought to them by Kim Jong-Il.
The show was a show of force by Kim, who wanted to stamp his authority on the world after his ascension to leader of North Korea, following the death of his father, Kim Il-Sung.
The fans didn’t have much choice to attend. Despite having never seen pro-wrestling, they were shepherded to the stadium through threat by Kim and the North Korean army.
Given the country’s reputation for punishing an entire three generations for one person’s crime, it makes sense why the North Korean people were eager to not disobey the Great Leader.
190,000 fans were alleged to have crammed into the stadium for the second night of Collision in Korea to see a main event of Antonio Inoki vs Ric Flair.
Despite staying silent for the bulk of the matches, they came alive once they realized Inoki was trained by Rikidozan, who grew up in North Korea.
Their hatred of American also made Ric Flair an easy target, giving the final match more of an atmosphere.
However, this show is not usually counted among the biggest wrestling shows of all time. It was basically propaganda, with fans forced at gun point to attend.
It lacked any legitimacy of an All In or a WrestleMania, and should not be considered alongside them as the biggest events in history.
Collision in Korea does not count as the biggest paid audience in wrestling because the fans were forced to attend. Because of this, AEW’s All In London remains the biggest paid crowd in wrestling history, selling over 81,035 tickets for over $10 million in revenue.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.