Giant Baba vs Dick the Bruiser – JWA Dynamic Series 1968 Day 6

Giant Baba (c) vs Dick the Bruiser

Two out of Three Falls Match for the NWA International Heavyweight Championship

02/28/1968

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan

(reviewed 11/07/2018) Shame that the footage we have of this isn’t quite full, especially considering the match’s already short run time, but I’ll take every opportunity to see more of my dude Dick. He doesn’t leap off the page quite as much as someone like another supposed Nazi, but he does more than well enough to make this match sort of great. After being plagued by Baba’s arm wringers and finding that his own cheating technical trickery wasn’t enough for the jab, he decides to smash the man’s knee against the ring post and goes after it in a big way, tearing off the tape from an existing injury and clawing at it with his nails to draw some blood. Baba submits to a single leg crab to hand Dick the first fall.

I love Baba’s selling of the injury between falls and likewise love Dick digging into some classic heelishness by slyly procuring a bit of rope from his tights, hiding it from the referee throughout a few minutes of searching, and choking the big man with it. It’s a real simple thing but feels real big here, punctuated with a few mean jabs to the face behind the ref’s back for added flavor. Eventually Baba’s brain chops are enough to force this match to the floor, where Dick looks to have things under control before the champ sends him headfirst into the ring post. Baba slides back in the ring to win the second fall by countout.

After that we get a lengthy break between rounds as Dick wanders around the ring, composing himself and being sure to show off the cut above his eye. The no man’s land between bells allows these men to get into a bit of brawling, where Dick smashes a pair of folding chairs over Baba’s head and the champ retaliates by choking him with a cord at ringside. I wish they milked parts of this match a little more but this brawling is real chaotic and cinematic in a way I really like, so that helps. The fall truly gets underway once Baba starts choking his man back in the ring, though Dick’s able to go back to the knee to take over before long. Baba’s chops take a lot out of him, though, especially when he’s losing blood, so after he gets launched into the turnbuckle all it takes is a big chop across the chest to put him away.

As I mentioned this one’s pretty short and I think it sort of suffers for that shortness, though in a sense the wild nature of this thing also benefits from the brevity. Because this differs so much from the usual broadways associated with main event matches of this time, both in content and in length, it stands out in a big way that I appreciate.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: These ones are always tricky, as Shawn/Taker occasionally knocks it out of the park in aiming big but it also collapses under its own weight after a while, and I’m not always sure if something smaller and less effecting is necessarily better for it. I like to think that I prefer being left wanting more than being left bloated and pleading for it stop, but I think it also depends on what we mean by that former concept. This match leaves me wanting more not just from these two but from Dick in particular, who feels oddly laid back here. In comparison to other foreign heels I’ve covered thus far in this project he feels tame, which isn’t what you want in a thing like this, especially with someone like Baba who isn’t always a surefire hit. I think the match succeeds mostly despite these elements but the thought lingers in one’s mind all the same. If we’re comparing a match that is small and feels smaller for one man’s timidity and a match that is big and briefly feels just right before expanding too much, I think I have to side with the one that gets it right for whatever small stretch of time.

VERDICT: Worse than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25

Also, check out how fucking huge the cameras were for this match:

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