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Found 33 results

  1. PWF Heavyweight Champion Giant Baba vs NWA Missouri Champion Harley Race - AJPW 12/9/75 Harley Race is still in Handsome Harley Race mode with his bleached blond hair. During one of the long headlocks early, I was thinking about Race's tattoos and how unique they are, but do they depict exactly? They just look dark blobs on his arms. The first half of this match is dullsville. Baba works the headlock well and anytime Race gets up it is usually chop, throw, and headlock. Race is able at one to get a kneelift to set up a chinlock, but it is not sustainable. They establish Baba's dominance especially in terms of stand up over Race. The match gets good once Harley takes over. It develops into actually the most heated 70s puro match yet, which offers an interesting departure from the consistently great Brisco matches and the escalation towards a hot finish. Harley is able to turn Baba over on his side in a headlock and bury the knee thus negating the stand up advantage. Harley gets a pair of kneedrops to head, his headbutt and a piledriver to set up a wicked headscissors. They both worked really hard in this hold and the struggle of Baba to get out between Harley's thighs was compelling as it was a bit funny. When he came up gasping for breath and discombobulated, it was amusing. Baba sold disoriented well and they end up doing the best head collide spot yet. Harley picks up and slams the Giant, but Baba comes back with the big boot and then stands on Harley and jumps on him. Throughout the match, they used rope escapes well to protect finishes. Harley throws a beautiful suplex. Harley was definitely a trend setter. He follows Baba to the outside, which was a bad decision as Baba throws him into the post and he is left bloody. Baba tries to finish off with a pair of dropkicks, but Harley hooks the ropes on the second one and he is bleeding a gusher. Again, Baba is using the chop to set up his offense like t]he Russian Legsweep which won a fall over Brisco and then the backbreaker. He is pouring it on, but Harley comes back with punch to throat, second piledriver, a pair of headbutt and now seeing this is his best chance goes for the top rope headbutt, but crashes and burns! I totally bite on this being Baba's opportunity to win the match. He starts throwing awesome overhand chops to the cut. Baba is frustrated and Harley is hanging on for dear life. Baba nails a big boot, but it is too late as time has run out. This match definitely had the hottest finish of the 70s puro matches I have watched so far, but the first half of the match was pretty dull. I thought they did an excellent job with the headscissors, which sadly would be an anachronism in today's landscape. Harley was definitely a forward thinking wrestler taking the press slam off the top, blading and throwing suplexes and slams at will. His piledriver is not Backlund piledriver. Baba is great as hero and giant of All Japan. He uses his size well and throws a mean chop. The last half is really high quality stuff so check it out for that. ****
  2. Superstar Sleeze

    [1974-12-02-AJPW] Jack Brisco vs Giant Baba

    NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco vs Giant Baba - AJPW 12/2/74 2 out of 3 Falls Giant Baba is just one freaky looking dude. i had to get it out there. Those shoulderblades are something else. Great sporting contest from these two wrestlers for the World Heavyweight Championship. It was a breath of fresh air to watch two men work so hard at surfboard taking the time to widen their base or drop to a knee to really sell the hold. I loved the opening matwork. Brisco looked world class taking the Giant down at will. He had a game plan go after the legs and he was tenacious with his drop toe holds and leg pick ups. The only thing keeping Baba in it was his natural size. When he got a hold of Brisco in that surfboard, he demonstrated how damn athletic he is being able to put a foot between Brisco's shoulderblades in a standing surfboard. I loved Brisco's reaction to the surfboard to start letting the fists fly. He was feeling vulnerable so the wrestling went out the window. Baba responded with GIANT CHOPS! Dropkick and Russian Legsweep score one for the hometown hero. Baba starts off hot, but Brisco backs him into the ropes and refuses to give him a clean break. Brisco is just wrenching a nasty chinlock. I love all the tests of strength in this match. They trade suplexes and Briscos follows his up with a figure-4 to even the match. I surprised they did not go with the quick submission, but Baba writhed in pain for a while before the ref called it. The last fall was very dramatic. It was definitely the best selling of the match with Baba playing up the knee injury and Brisco tenaciously working the leg. Baba responds with GIANT CHOPS to avoid the figure-4 and Brisco does a great job selling these. The Russian Legsweep that won the first fall is used a false finish with Brisco making the bottom rope. That was a expertly laid out spot. Baba hits a clothesline similar to Kobashi falling clothesline to win the match and the World Heavyweight Title. That makes that Kobashi move all the cooler knowing it is a tribute to Baba. I really enjoyed this match as a struggle between two opponents for the world title in a classic game of human chess. Yes, Brisco was a bit of a dick here and there, but overall, it was a relatively clean fight. It is funny, I think if all wrestling was like this, I probably would not be a fan. It is too similar to real sports in the sense that it is two talented performers executing at a high level, but it just lacked that narrative to really sink my teeth into until the closing stretch. That is a minor quibble because what they presented was awesome. If Brisco moving from the mat to strikes back to the figure-4 all the while selling Baba's chops like death. Baba worked hard in this match and was great at providing the highspots. It did not click with me on that next level, but still something I would have as a MOTYC in any year. ****1/2
  3. Microstatistics

    [1969-03-05-JWA] Giant Baba vs The Destroyer

    Far and away the best display of old style matwork I have ever seen. Innovative, intense and fluid, just amazing stuff. Destroyer is simply brilliant as the vicious, cheating heel using every dirty trick in the book to gain the advantage while Baba is great as the top guy relying on skill and toughness. Along with the French Catch stuff, the highlight of the 60s. **** 1/2
  4. Baba's 60th birthday. This is all about Old Man Baba Does All Kinds of Improbable Things. Including: blocking chops with his matchstick arms! Technical wrestling! Test of strengths with Kobashi! The crowd is hot for all things involving Baba, while the rest of the match was somewhat dry. I guess there's no reason to bring the workrate when you are there to make your geriatric boss look good. Mossman got smacked and stretched good, and Misawa did almost KO Kawada with an elbow, but nothing ever amounted to much. There was also plenty of „take punishment, then no sell back to offense“. Fuchi hits the Greatest Fistdrop at one point, but it's all lost in a stream of things happening. It's kind of cool these guys can go 30 minutes with corpselike Baba and have a match that never drags, but I was hoping for something a little less mindless.
  5. Well, for better or worse, this was a Sheik match. That means you get some stabbing, some blood, and if you're lucky some brawling that's more chaotic than meandering. We obviously got lucky because this had a hint of pandemonium about it. Tenryu was the focal point and much of the match was built around him getting stabbed with a broken bottle and poked in the eye with a stick. By this point Sheik really needed someone who was willing to play the game for his shtick to be interesting. Tenryu was willing, as he bled and came back with his own stabbing while Baba (who also took a stabbing) acted as back up. The crowd even started throwing stuff in protest to the pieces of wood being jabbed into eyes and Bugsy grabbed a piece of it and conked Baba in the head. Tenryu as spunky underdog will never not be at least a wee bit surreal and this was a fun spunky underdog Tenryu performance.
  6. A very fast paced big match. So fast paced that it almost feels rushed at times. First fall had some nice armlocks, mostly carried by Terry Funk being really great at making even a basic arm hold seem meaningful. He always adds so much urgency to his wrestling - and Terry was pretty on point here in general, throwing punches and doing his ridiculous selling including at one point being draped upside down over the announcers table. He added some much needed drama to the match with his in-peril selling, on the other hand Jumbo and Baba barely seemed to be in trouble. They use tag psychology and double team moves in pretty clever ways building the bout nicely with bomb throwing, toe-to-toe strike exchanges and character work. I don't find Baba to be a very exciting worker - yes I know we are supposed to look at him and remark how smart he is, but his matches always go back to him hitting his signature moves. Dory is mechanically sound, but I was glad his role in the match was limited. At one point, Jumbo grabbed him and launched him in the air with this awesome deadlift suplex, but seconds later Dory was back on offense. Dory really lacks some of the things Terry has to an obscene degree, while Terry is the complete package. Finish was funny in the way life will sometimes leave you on your back and we can all feel on bord with Terry's reaction to it. Good match and a piece in japanese wrestling history as the tag psychology here felt like the same that was at work in all those great 90s tags.
  7. Every wrestler here fit their role perfectly. The standouts were Baba with decades of skill and experience, Fuchi with smarts and skill and Tenryu, the god of grump. No one is better than Tenryu in showing strength and weakness simultaneously...other than Kawada and Terry Funk IMO. One really felt that the Triple Crown champ was on the ropes when 1000 year old Rusher Kimura was head butting him but, seamlessly, Tenryu would chop Kimura in the fucking throat and change the momentum. Brilliantly, Fuchi would storm in like Jr. Tenryu that he is and get brutal even on the bully champ. Fuyuki and Kawada were perfect lackeys in this match and kept their schtick simple. This benefitted Kawada the most. Here he looked like the Kawada who would bloom fully in late 1991 and 1992. Godbless Dangerous K. This period of wrestling is full of diamonds in the rough and this is a perfect example.
  8. Talk about it here.
  9. Ah, that old 60s/70s style of matwork. I remember years ago when I was obsessed with this stuff and downloading everything from Ditch I could find. If you've seen lucha title matches, british matwork or really anything modern this stuff will seem rather prehistoric to you, but there's lots of good stuff here. The star of the bout was Gene Kiniski as he has such a simple, yet cool style. He did a number of nifty holds and all of his offense was extremely painful looking. It was almost like incubatory ground and pound, as he would get Baba on the mat and then just stomp and knee drop him into oblivion. He does have really great stomps and knee drops and he was constantly attacking Baba's throat. His selling for Baba was also off the charts. Baba - well, I am not the biggest fan of this guy. He is a good wrestler - much better than you expect a weird giant with matchsticks arms to be, but watching him against these legendary guys I always wonder what they could do against someone a little more gifted. Also, no matter what they do on the mat, his matches always turn into Baba throwing a guy around with his signature offense and chops. To his credit, I liked his use of his freaky long legs to reverse Kiniski's holds, busting out the flying headscissor which is a pretty crazy spot for him. The famous "Smart Baba" was also present as this 2/3 falls match had 3 very good, genuinely surprising finishes and some dramatic selling in the last 3rd. Very fun contest if you can stomach watching something slow.
  10. This is a weird to match to rate because of Wild Angus. He looked.....somewhat servicable. Hit some solid clubbing blows but was pretty bad at tying his offence together and selling. He wasn't of much use. However-this was pure magic whenever Billy Robinson was in the ring. Completely enchanting performance by him. It's not just that he himself looked great, everyone looks better than they usually are when they are matched against him. He brings a certain intensity and legitimacy that instantly transform his matches into something special. Jumbo aggressively shoved him aside when Robinson was going for a hold and hooked his leg to pick him up for a Piledriver which I really liked. I like how wrestlers go for the rope break instantly when they are near the ropes here and dive to break up pins and make actual contact when doing so. I love how Robinson sold Baba's big chop like he ran him over. I love how he counters moves mid sequence in ways other wrestlers don't that totally make sense and are incredibly aeshetically pleasing. ***1/4-***1/2
  11. More Horst Hoffman fun! I don't buy into the idea Baba was ever a superworker, but he could certainly hang his own on the mat-which you're going to get plenty of in 70s All Japan. Hoffman's kicks to the back as a means of countering an armbar are great. This also had quite a lot of striking, Hoffman blasted Baba with vicious forearms, knees etc. and while Baba gets a bad rep for weak strikes his strikes here looked really good, his big chop was awesome as were his knee strikes. Hoffman looks like a really great seller, I loved how he sold Baba's chop and he put over his Russian Legsweep and Neckbreaker so well you'd totally buy him being KO'd, I also love it when wrestlers sell Bodyslamming someone bigger than them like he did here. ***1/4
  12. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race vs Giant Baba - AJPW 10/31/79 Having seen a handful of Harley's matches from the 70s and another dozen or so from the 80s, I think his entire wrestling psychology can be captured by one particular bump as he takes a huge flat back bump off a Giant Baba chop but still maintaining his forward momentum. It looks ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Race believed in bumping big, always keep the action moving and the babyface is always right. This has led to some less that stellar matches that ought to have been classics, but on this one night the stars aligned Harley Race pulled off his personal masterpiece. The beginning of the match was what you would expect Baba working a headlock, Race working an angle up against the ropes not giving the clean break, but ultimately when he tried to create movement succumbing to the headlock. You get great bumps off a big boot or a back drop out of the piledriver. It is established that Baba is a better wrestler and it is a consistent thread. Eventually, Race is able to combine some offense off work in the ropes working the neck with a swinging neckbreaker, piledriver, knees to head and neck and then a head crank. This has been a drawback of Race is his ADD in the ring where he will just throw out spots and bumps willy-nilly. Here was working more focused and more vicious as we will see. Going for the gutwrench suplex was a deviation from strategy and Baba made him pay with one of his own. When Race put his foot on the rope, Baba came back with a huge double stomp. Race takes a great tumble over the ropes remsicent of HHH (so thats where he got it from!) and then takes a back drop on the outside. Baba misses a dropkick, which is a favorite Race transition move. Race unloades heavy knees to the forehead and busts Baba open who rolls to outside to escape the punishment. Race works the cut efficiently with fists and even diving headbutt, but Baba rolls out again. Baba bleeding profusely, This time, Baba slams Race's head into the post and busts him wide out. DOUBLE JUICE! Race is bleeding all over his arms. Baba swats him multiple time with huge double chops which Races sells like gunshots! Awesome! The violence of this match is really carrying the day over the usual Harley Race spotfests. Harley Race gets one more hope spot, but is press slammed off the top. Baba riles up the crowd, running clothesline for the 1-2-3 and crowd goes wild as Baba wins the World's Heavyweight Championship for the second time. Harley was able to focus his offense more and the blood helped him ratchet up the violence. A lot of his matches will feature a lot of throws without struggle so by focusing on one body part and working a cut it lent itself to more drama. Baba is a great opponent because he is so large and such a force of nature that you can buy all of Harley's ridiculous bumps. The finish stretch brought this match way up, but still could have used more struggle, right about the level of most the top tiered All Japan stuff from this era that I have seen. ****1/2
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