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Grimmas

Giant Baba

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I want to find a spot for him on this list but going through who's on it right now, he might be one of the last guys out for me. Loved his stuff as ace and he has one of my all-time favorite tag matches in the RWTL match with Rusher vs. Tenryu and Hansen. Hope I can find a spot for him.

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i've figured baba would be one of the main beneficiaries from all the new footage we have compared to the last time this was done. will be interesting to see how right i turn out to be!

 

i guess him having such a bad rep beforehand makes it harder for him to gain from that, compared to a billy robinson or verne gagne or someone...

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In retrospect, 30th is way too high. Baba is enjoyable, but not that enjoyable. I think I had him in the 80s.

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Im really shocked at that result and wonder if it was just on the strength of big Japanese name some voters recognized.

 

Having said that, I have a pretty good soft spot for Baba and think he was good even up to his limited role in the late 90's. He has some spry stuff from his 70's and 80's. I especially liked the big time nature of his series with Hansen of him protecting the natives spot and then we get the old guy phase of Baba's career with him as a thorn in the side of the up and comers and duking it out with other legends. He will be low on my ballot but I would be real surprised if he doesn't make it.

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Baba may be the smartest worker of all-time. Not the best, and nowhere near the most athletic. But he was Andre with possibly even better smarts and better longevity even as his body was going through similar problems. #30 is nuts, but I definitely want to make room for him.

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30 doesn't seem like a high vote at all. A few months ago Ditch uploaded a 6-man from 1998 with Baba at 60 hanging just fine with Kawada and Kobashi. That is crazy considering that he was having classics 30 years before that, maybe even more impressive than what we're seeing with Casas and Panther given how much more taxing Baba's style was and how much it changed. There's also the deal with him masterminding the best TV ever put out.

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Baba has to rank. He simply has to. In far too many great matches to ignore. He's been great in stuff I've seen vs. Dory, vs. Race and vs. Brisco, and -- at least in my view -- he's having better matches with all of these guys than Inoki and in some cases better matches than Jumbo.

 

Baba is weird, he looks weird and he works a bit strange, but it's almost like getting into Tom Waits or something: once you're into him, you don't notice the voice as much. I said this earlier:

 

... if wrestling is a human chess match, then Baba is a grandmaster.

And I'd stand by that. Hard to think of many workers who just GET psychology as well as he does. And this makes up for some of his other shortcomings.

 

I haven't even seen his matches with Billy Robinson yet. #30 on the 2006 list looks high, but I get it and certainly think that you could put together a decent case for him as a top 30 guy based on 70s work alone.

 

He has a lot more great singles matches to his name than Arn Anderson, as one example, and I'd argue that his psychology is just as good as Arn's, if not better.

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I enjoy Baba but often he is just there and I don't recall any singles matches or tags where he was the better guy. The 1989 tag with Rusher is awesome and you want him to work like that more often but he just doesn't. The supposed "chess match" thing is something I don't see at all - he was good at working holds, but often he was just filling up time like many other workers. I think he's a fun worker but his "smart" working is way overrated. Also, way too reliant on his opponent to make his lousy offense look effective at all. Is "solid all around" and "never did anything wrong" enough to merit ranking him above genuinely outstanding workers?

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70s Japan has been one of the things I've been trying to watch more of lately. It's improved my opinion of almost everyone I've seen with the exception of Baba. He was in some good matches, but usually in spite of his work. Implausible offense and look, zero charisma, no selling. He was a massive star and had the cultural cache, but his execution on everything was awkward as can be. As Jetlag notes, he constantly looks like he's killing time, even in the most heated parts of matches.

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Baba had a legitimately great match in four decades:

 

3/5/69 vs Destroyer

7/24/76 vs Billy Robinson

2/4/82 vs. Stan Hansen

11/30/93 w Hansen vs Misawa/Kobashi

 

I understand people not being into him but selling isn't a weakness for him, at least in the 60's and 70's footage we have. As his body started to break down by the late 70's, his selling became different. Whether that was good or bad selling is in the eye of the beholder I guess

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Baba is awesome. He's more likeable and charismatic than the later AJ headliners. He contributed a great deal to his (many) great matches. Yeah, he don't have the best execution but that's not something that bothers me especially when it's timed so masterfully. Plus seeing his guys take huge bumps for his chops is part of the fun.

 

Also, top 10 commentator.

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Baba may be the smartest worker of all-time. Not the best, and nowhere near the most athletic. But he was Andre with possibly even better smarts and better longevity even as his body was going through similar problems. #30 is nuts, but I definitely want to make room for him.

 

This.

 

The think with Andre is that he was smart in knowing his character as he evolved from young Monster into Andre. He wasn't as narrow of a character as say Kamala, which is credit to Andre for giving himself some depth and breath. But...

 

Baba's character in his prime was as much straight ace champion "wrestler" like most other aces than Big Huge Giant Baba. He could and would work big man stuff, but when you watch him go 60 with The Destroyer... he's working largely as a straight top champion babyface right down to the technical stuff.

 

As the working style evolved, Baba seemed to keep trying to add stuff that fit into being a "wrestler" in that era. Dude added a DDT because wrestlers in his promotion did moves. If you count up the moves he did in 1969 with the Destroyer (or other similar late 60s / early 70s stuff on tape), than chart what he added after that, it's pretty amazing how he evolved as the sport got more spotty / higher tech. He was freaking Baba, a major star and didn't have to do it. But he was smart.

 

Baba is basically The Best Akira Taue Ever. Considering Taue was pretty choice at his peak, and plenty of people like him before and after that peak, that's not a low end compliment of Baba.

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Baba may be the smartest worker of all-time. Not the best, and nowhere near the most athletic. But he was Andre with possibly even better smarts and better longevity even as his body was going through similar problems. #30 is nuts, but I definitely want to make room for him.

 

As the working style evolved, Baba seemed to keep trying to add stuff that fit into being a "wrestler" in that era. Dude added a DDT because wrestlers in his promotion did moves. If you count up the moves he did in 1969 with the Destroyer (or other similar late 60s / early 70s stuff on tape), than chart what he added after that, it's pretty amazing how he evolved as the sport got more spotty / higher tech. He was freaking Baba, a major star and didn't have to do it. But he was smart.

 

How difficult is it for wrestlers to add moves to their repertoire? I don't have a sense for how difficult or easy that is.

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Baba was 35 in 1973. How many guys in their mid-30s in the mid-70s were adding more shit to what they did?

 

Terry Funk did, like adding the moonsault when he was an old coot. But Terry was also nuts. :)

 

Contrast it with Bock, who was four years older than Baba. Nick had what he did, did it very well, and worked on doing it better. But he didn't really feel the need to add a ton of stuff. Dory was younger than both, and pretty much did what he did. I'm thinking about Brisco in his last run with the WWF, or even in the series with Steamer & Youngblood in 1983... pretty much what you've seen of Brisco before.

 

"Hard" really isn't the right word. It's an awareness that the business, and even his own company, was evolving. He went with it.

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Baba may be the smartest worker of all-time. Not the best, and nowhere near the most athletic. But he was Andre with possibly even better smarts and better longevity even as his body was going through similar problems. #30 is nuts, but I definitely want to make room for him.

 

As the working style evolved, Baba seemed to keep trying to add stuff that fit into being a "wrestler" in that era. Dude added a DDT because wrestlers in his promotion did moves. If you count up the moves he did in 1969 with the Destroyer (or other similar late 60s / early 70s stuff on tape), than chart what he added after that, it's pretty amazing how he evolved as the sport got more spotty / higher tech. He was freaking Baba, a major star and didn't have to do it. But he was smart.

 

How difficult is it for wrestlers to add moves to their repertoire? I don't have a sense for how difficult or easy that is.

 

 

I don't think it's "difficult" but not very many people do it. Talking about Baba adding the ddt is more an example of pointing to him being smart. Its not that he "added a move" it's that he added an easy to execute yet high impact move to help stay relevant while the guys around him are doing moonsaults and powerbombs. He didn't have to do it because he was already one of the 3 biggest stars in the history of Japanese wrestling. But he did. And thats awesome. Konnan talked about when he got more famous he could get away with doing less in the ring. Baba was a bigger star than Konnan ever was and felt it was important to add things to stay more "current" (well as current as he could).

 

This is often pointed to as comp vs someone like Flair who as he aged dropped more and more of his former signature (offensive) spots.

 

I don't want anyone to think I'm arguing Baba is great because he started doing a ddt in his 50s. That's crazy talk. But it's a pretty easy example to point to Baba being smart.

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I don't have a problem with Cena adding stuff.

 

Though it would be a stretch to call what Baba added as being indyriffic. Or Tenryu or Jumbo and Hansen adding the powerbomb to their moveset.

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The indyriffic thing was just a reference to Cena with him busting out (really ugly) Code Reds and stuff now.

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Yeah I wasn't saying that Baba's moves were indyriffic. Just Cena's. The point is that they were/are both adding moves to keep up with the current style du jour even though they've been on top for over a decade and don't really have to at this point. The style Cena is adapting to happens to be indyriffic.

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