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[1968-08-07-JWA] Giant Baba vs Bruno Sammartino


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Compared to Baba, Bruno is an Italian terrier with a bite, backing a defenseless Baba into a corner, aggressively sinking his teeth into Baba’s arm, using his boots, elbows, and knees to strike at him, before a peeved Baba ragdolls Bruno across the ring. Terrific psychology throughout the first fall, with Baba targeting the leg and Bruno really selling it as he hobbles from ringpost to ringpost. Again, the simple nuances are what really elevate this. For example, there’s a part where Baba is working the leg and Bruno starts fighting back with strikes, so Baba traps the arm but in turn, Bruno begins to assert control of Baba’s previously worked over arm and Baba has to bail out to his feet when Bruno nearly has it. Awesome stuff. Bruno wins the first fall with an impressive over-the-shoulder backbreaker rack and throughout the second fall, he keeps going back to the bear hug, which Baba is able to avoid, ultimately evening the score with a dropkick. At the start of the third fall, Bruno is still selling the leg and Baba takes notice, going back on the attack. In a great moment of stubborn determination, Bruno tosses Baba to the outside and does everything he can to prevent him from re-entering the ring, to the point where Baba has to chop his way back inside. The finish was underwhelming but played into both guys trying to get the win via count out -- Baba succeeding with a little help from a foreign object at ringside.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1968-08-07-JWA] Giant Baba vs Bruno Sammartino
  • 2 years later...

NWA International Champion Giant Baba vs WWWF Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino - JWA 8/7/68

Been about a year & half since these two hooked it up. They have good chemistry lets see what they got in store for us this year. 

First Fall: Bruno dominated on the mat for the first five or so minutes. Worked the arm, hammerlocks, wristlocks, you know the deal. Baba's has some serious fillings going on. As a man with many fillings due to the witch doctor as a teenager, I notice these things. Baba is such a great seller. Baba starts to target the leg. I have not seen the Kiniski or Fritz matches, but this is the first time I have seen serious long-term body part psychology in Japan. Bruno sold really well throughout the fall, hobbling and limping. Baba went back to it repeatedly, wrenching the knee across the apron. Big Boot! I thought for sure that was the finish, got me good. Bruno comes back attacks the arm. I love that Bruno is always moving forward. They trained their babyfaces well in New York back in the day. Baba attacks the leg again. It looked like Baba had all the momentum on his side when all of sudden Bruno literally whipped Baba from pillar to post. Then hung him up in a modified Argentine Backbreaker. I say modified because Baba is literally a Giant, he did not get the waistlock on properly instead it more like he had Baba hooked for a Backslide but didnt go for the backslide if that makes any sense. Fun little fall. Like Bruno's tenacity and Baba's selling. Bruno 1-0. 

Second Fall: Explosive Second Fall! Bruno immediately lunges for the Bearhug, but Baba retaliates with a GIANT CHOP~! Honestly, this is my favorite aspect of Baba vs Bruno, Giant Chop vs Bearhug! Baba is fighting from his back and throwing chops and kicks wildly to stave off the charging headlong Bruno who is going for the kill with the Bearhug. Giant Chop is a great false finish. Mega Dropkick! 1-2-3! It is all knotted up. This is shaping up to be my favorite of the trilogy. Lets see if they can take it home in grand fashion! Tied 1-1. 

Third Fall: YES THEY DID! Awesome fall to complete an awesome match! :) Baba goes back to the leg which I liked a lot. I think that explains Bruno's dogged determination for the Bearhug in the second fall. He knew he was hurt and wanted to go in for the kill and make it a clean sweep. Great offensive work from Baba. While Bruno's defense was great here with the bolo punches and the knees. What really put this over the top for me was the excellent King of the Mountain Bruno did here. Baba was surrounded by the young boys trying to get back in and Bruno keeps knocking back with those knees. Finally Baba CHOPS his way back in! We get the bitchin' finish! Baba dropkicks Bruno out of the ring! Remember the dropkick won the second fall so it is explosive move. They brawl into the crowd! Baba crowns him with a chair! YES! YES! YES! Countout victory for the national hero! 

I would say I'd like the Dick The Bruiser match just a frog's hair more just a little more violence but these two are neck & neck for 1968 match of the year. ****1/4

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