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[1967-03-07-JWA] Giant Baba vs Bruno Sammartino


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I prefer their match frp, the following year but this was still a solid contest, with a lot of dedicated work from both guys down the stretch. Great first fall with Baba rolling around the mat, trying to shake Bruno’s arm control before turning the game around on Bruno. Sammartino has some nifty escapes but Baba keeps him in check. When Bruno goes for an arm drag, Baba just deadweights him to counter, reasserting control. The crowd digs the sportsmanship as the two go back-and-forth targeting the arms, trying to weaken their opponent’s respective offense – Bruno with the bearhug and Baba with his giant chops. At times, the match feels sluggish and repetitive, and the execution isn’t quite as smooth but it picks up again when Bruno starts with the bear hug attempts. Bruno starts unloading on Baba during the third fall -- really great knees. By the end of it, they’re both past the point of exhaustion, with Bruno desperately lunging after Baba with the bearhug attempts and Baba trying to end it with chops, but due to all that prior hard work, neither is effective as the time runs out.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1967-03-07-JWA] Giant Baba vs Bruno Sammartino
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NWA International Heavyweight Champion Giant Baba vs WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino - JWA 3/7/68 2 out of 3 Falls

This is less than a week after their first match which was worked in a Clash of the Titans style. Bruno won the first fall with an excellent bearhug and Baba won the second fall in a rousing comeback using the big chop to the head. The third fall was a big melee as Bruno was dogged in try to use the bearhug and Baba was using the Big Chop to break free.

First Fall: This is worked very much in the NWA Championship style but with two people who dont have much flair on the mat. I would say for the most part Baba has the upper hand working an assortment of armbars, wristlocks and hammerlocks. When Bruno does try things, he ends up getting bodyslammed, monkey flipped or bieled for his troubles. There is an amusing moment when they both try arm drags and they both fall down. Bruno finally starts to get something going with a Full Nelson and gets a cover. From there, he is able to take more control again with an assortment of armbars, wristlock and hammerlocks. Shortly before the 20 minute mark, Baba revs up and just kicks Bruno ass, whipping him into the ropes and throwing him around at will. Giant Chop and a kneedrop and Baba picks up a very pedestrian, run of the mill first fall. Baba 1-0.

Second Fall: Much better than first fall. It revolves around Bruno working the arm of Baba tenaciously. This is much better because Baba has such skinny, little arms that it looks like Bruno could snap them at any moment. Plus Baba is much better working underneath and selling. His face told the story of anguish. He was really good. Lastly, they would work hope spots in the arm work that Baba would break free, come up short and FINALLY he would get the headlock. The first time the crowd and I popped huge. They worked the exact same sequence again to diminishing returns. Again they kick the wheels into motion. In some rope running, Bruno applies the dreaded Bearhug! GIANT CHOP TO HEAD! Baba bodyslams Bruno. He goes again, but Bruno leaps up and topples Baba with a crossbody for three. Much more entertaining fall. Tied 1-1.

Third Fall: They sure made up for those first two languid falls, they WENT BALLS TO THE WALL HERE! It was twenty minutes of non-stop action. 2020s workrate has nothing on 60s workrate they fucking let it fly. If you JIP'd to the third fall, you'd be duped into this was a great match. The third fall was build around made their last third fall great the Bearhug vs The Giant Chop. What took to the next level was the tenacity of both men! Bruno was just lunging at every chance to apply the Bearhug. He would do it traditionally, he would do it from behind, he would do it from his knees, he would do it on the mat, he did it everywhere! If Baba let his guard down, Bruno was wrapping his arms around him. Nobody sells the Bearhug as well as Baba! When he was not using the Bearhug, he was throwing these awesome uppercut closed fists and WICKED knees! Baba was using the Giant Chop so well and then also mixing in kneelifts sometimes it looked precariously low and well-timed rope breaks. No will confuse these two for the deepest arsenals, they definitely repeated spots, they did double knockdown on the shouldertackle three times. They made it up for intensity. Baba was fighting from his back and knees, throwing chop and kicks to keep Bruno at bay. He would catch a Giant Chop or Big Boot but couldnt get the three count. Really enjoyable, not much in the way of psychology or narrative, but they made up for it in intensity and you totally bought in how bad each man wanted to win. 

I cant go higher than ***3/4 when the first two falls (35 minutes) were such a snorefest. 

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