Antonio Inoki vs Andre the Giant – NJPW (12/15/1974)

Antonio Inoki (c) vs Andre the Giant

NWF Heavyweight Championship

12/15/1974

Estadio de Pacaembu, Sao Paulo, Brazil

(reviewed 05/05/2019) Great fun, if not a great match. This is only their second singles match ever (Andre pinned the man back in March) and it really feels like it, as these guys are swinging wildly at each other and getting knocked on their asses in a bunch of different ways. No one has a strategic attack or considered approach just yet other than “yo, kill that other dude”. What results of that simplicity is lovely stuff, whether it’s Andre’s vicious uppercuts, Inoki sending the giant flying with dropkicks, or Andre side-stepping his opponent to send him crashing face-first into the ropes. I think a lot of folks who have only seen his late period work think Andre’s something of a mindless, plodding oaf but stuff like this proves he was anything but that. Not only does he effectively roll around on the mat or apply oversized hammerlocks, he also cleverly outthinks Inoki’s reversal attempts in a way you’d never expect from a guy his size. Only thing more dangerous than a giant is a smart giant. Only thing more fun, too.

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