Giant Baba (c) vs Fritz Von Erich
Two out of Three Falls Match for the NWA International Heavyweight Championship
Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 10/18/2018) I think it’s easy for a lot of fans to get it in their head that stiff wrestling is somehow a recent invention. Sure, those territory era guys were potatoing each other and sure, the Four Pillars threw some mean elbows, but for a lot of people hard-hitting wrestling only came about when Hot Topic started selling t-shirts that said ‘strong style’ on ‘em. Wish those folks would watch this, because Jesus H. Christ is Fritz beating the shit out of his man here. In general Fritz is a marvel in this match. He attacks Baba before the bell with these vicious kicks to the chest and when he still manages to drop the first fall he applies his signature Iron Claw between rounds. The dude throws his entire weight into everything, from the aforementioned kicks to smacking his head off tables at ringside to plain ol’ grousing at the referee. It’s all great stuff, occasionally shocking, and makes you want to see Baba win like nothing else. Fritz was no small guy, being a pro football player who stood 6’4”, but he’s almost dwarfed by the massive Baba. Still, he comes across like a fucking Universal monster at points in this match and that is endlessly impressive to me, impressive enough to overlook any of the awkwardness inherent in wrestling of this era (and especially Baba’s stuff).
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: I wish there was a villain so compelling as Fritz in Shawn/Taker. To be fair that wasn’t the sort of story those guys were telling, but to phrase it another way I wish there was anything as compelling as Fritz’s performance here in the entirety of Shawn/Taker.
VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25