When It Got Real
While strength, dexterity and a fancy finishing move are all important to professional wrestling, the primary ingredient is acting -- you have to know how to throw yourself across the ring even though your opponent only nudged you. But about two minutes into the match, the Great Antonio made it very clear that he wasn't going to be doing any of that.
In fact, you can almost see the moment when he realizes, "Wait a minute, only one of us has 'The Great' in front of his name. I should be winning." So when Inoki threw a kick at him, instead of "selling" the move (that is, stumbling backward as if he'd been hit with a real blow), he just stood there. In other words, he basically just told the crowd, "See? All of this is fake."
Except the gut. 1970s special effects couldn't fake that.
This technique is also known as "completely defeating the purpose of professional wrestling." The video, and the ugly result, is amazing:
As you can see, Inoki tried to keep the match moving along. He continued to flop around as though he was actually locked in a vicious battle with the dozy buffalo standing still in the middle of the ring. But Inoki started to lose his temper.
Finally, the Great Antonio lumbered in for the kill, clubbing Inoki in the chest and the neck as hard as he could with one of his ham-sized arms. Inoki patiently accepted the blows and then carefully explained to the Great Antonio that they weren't playing anymore, in the language of fists.
The Great Antonio responded in the language of Jell-O.