Written By Alfredo Esparza
All Japan Retro #1: Shohei “Giant” Baba
Just like the New Japan Classics TV series, there are several versions of the All Japan Classics TV series that have aired over the years with most primarily airing on SamuraiTV or the G+ Network. They usually aired in either in 1-hour or 2-hour episodes. I recall the All Japan Retro series started sometime in 2002-2003-ish and usually focused on one All Japan wrestler. The first episode of course featured All Japan co-founder, Shohei “Giant” Baba.
Shohei “Giant” Baba vs. Jack Brisco © in a 2/3 Falls Match for the NWA World Title
Taped 12/2/1974 at Kagoshima Prefectural Gymnasium in Kagoshima, Japan
FIRST FALL: Brisco tried keeping Baba on the ground as much as he could. He worked on his left leg trying to keep him down as much as possible. Every time Baba would escape and finally get back up, Brisco would charge at him and take him back down to the ground. Baba struggled to keep Brisco off him and kicking him off him when he’d stand over him when he was on the ground. Baba uses his size and strength advantage to work on Brisco’s back and arms. Brisco tries to break out of Baba’s grasp, but he’s unsuccessful as Baba keeps hold of him until Brisco jogs around the ring and heads towards the ropes to break away from Baba. Brisco goes with a couple of knees at Baba’s stomach and then throws a couple of punches. Baba responds with some chops and then hits a dropkick on Brisco! Baba leg sweeps Brisco and goes for the pin in the first fall!
A shot of a very sweaty and tired Jack Brisco before the next fall starts.
SECOND FALL: Baba gets Brisco early with a neckbreaker and gets a pin attempt on him. Brisco shoves Baba into the ropes and shoulder blocks and punches him. Brisco gets a near pin on Baba after dropping a knee on him. Brisco gets Baba in a sleeper hold and demands that the ref ask Baba if he gives up. Baba can’t break out of Brisco’s sleeper hold despite a few futile attempts. Brisco breaks the hold to drop a couple of elbows on Baba. Baba hits Brisco with a big boot and tries for another pin, but Brisco kicks out. Baba goes for an atomic drop on Brisco and follows for another pin. Brisco recovers and gets Baba with a backdrop and then puts on the figure-four leglock on him. Baba can’t break out and submits to Brisco.
THIRD FALL: Brisco goes back to working on Baba’s left leg. He tries for a spinning toe-hold but Baba chops his way out of the move. Baba uses his leg to knock Brisco down but immediately grabs at his left leg in pain. He goes for another leg sweep and pin on Brisco, but Brisco reaches for the bottom rope with his foot. Brisco regains control by grabbing at Baba’s left leg. Baba surprised Brisco with a running clothesline and gets the pin on him to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title! The All Japan crew in his corner including The Destroyer celebrate Baba’s victory! Good match.
WINNER: Shohei “Giant” Baba wins the NWA World Heavyweight Title
Baba & Brisco shake hands after the match. Baba does a post-match interview celebrating his win.
Shohei “Giant” Baba © vs. Abdullah the Butcher in a 2/3 Falls Match for the PWF Title
Taped 8/31/1979 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
FIRST FALL: Abdullah attacks Baba before the bell rings and knocks him down with a head-butt. He even goes for a pin before the bell rings. Abdullah drops a running elbow on Baba for another pin attempt. Abdullah hits Baba with a bunch of head-butts until Baba makes a comeback with some chops. Abdullah The Butcher goes for a chokehold on Baba and drops him down to the mat. Baba escapes the chokehold and chops Abdullah’s hand which leads to Abdullah The Butcher screaming like a little kid. Very funny! Baba stomps on Abby’s right hand and start working on it including stepping on it again. Abdullah The Butcher screams loudly again! Baba breaks away from Abdullah and Abdullah uses this to make a comeback and kicks and chops at Baba and then drops another elbow on Baba. Baba drags Abdullah to the outside and slams his right hand on a table. Baba then climbs on the table and steps on Abdullah’s right hand! Baba gets Abdullah back in the ring and goes for a big boot and chop. Abdullah is able to toss Baba out of the ring. Abdullah slams Baba’s head into the table. Abdullah lays Baba on a table while trying to choke him. Referee breaks them apart and Abdullah goes back to the ring. Baba hits a shoulder tackle and then hits the ropes again, but Baba catches him with a dropkick and gets the pin.
SECOND FALL: Baba throws some chops at Abdullah in the corner. Baba starts chopping at Abdullah’s right ear and it starts to bleed. Baba continues his attack on a screaming Abdullah with a few boots at his now bloody head. Baba whips Abdullah to the ropes for a big boot, but Abdullah chops him. Abdullah then charges and drops an elbow on Baba. He goes for the pin and gets the win over Baba. Short fall.
Abdullah threatens to jump off the 1st rope onto the fallen Baba. He then just runs and drops another elbow on Baba. Baba grabs at his neck while Abdullah gets his hand checked.
THIRD FALL: Abdullah attacks and drops another elbow as soon as the fall starts. He gets a 2-count on Baba. Abby hits a spin-kick, chop and goes for another elbow drop on Baba! Abdullah’s trying to end the match quickly as he’s covered with blood. He gets in another kick, but Baba’s back up and throwing more chops at him. Baba bites at Abdullah’s ear. He hits a big boot at Abdullah for another pin but Abdullah kicks out. Baba with a series of kicks at Abdullah’s head. Baba kicks Abdullah and he goes down which Baba follows up with a splash for another pin attempt! Baba gets Abdullah with a leg sweep but Abdullah fights him off in a pin attempt. More screaming from Abdullah after he gets kicked. Baba with a couple of double chops at Abdullah. Abdullah blocks a kick and chops Baba. He follows it up with another elbow drop. Abdullah goes for another running elbow but Baba rolls out of the way and to the floor. Abdullah follows him and they fight outside. Referee tries to get them back in the ring, but they continue to fight. Match ends in a double countout.
This was good with the crowd really being into it with Abdullah bleeding a lot. Baba and Abdullah’s comebacks during the match were fun.
Shoehi “Giant” Baba © vs. Stan Hansen for the PWF Title
Taped 2/4/1982 Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan
They start by showing you Stan Hansen backstage. You see Stan Hansen warming up before his introduction and behind him you see a few of the All Japan foreigners including Nikolai Volkoff. This is Hansen’s first big singles title match in All Japan since joining them after leaving New Japan.
Crowd is really hyped for this Baba vs. Hansen match. Really loud. Baba and Hansen run the ropes and bump into each other. Hansen gets knocked down by Baba. Big boot from Baba sends Hansen down, but he gets back up and attacks Baba! Baba gets a near pin after a leg sweep on Hansen. He starts to work on Hansen’s left arm and stomps on it. Hansen gets back up and starts kicking at Baba to knock him down. They go to the ropes and exchange chops. Baba goes back to working on Hansen’s left arm. Hansen goes for Baba’s left leg and knocks him down trying to keep the Giant grounded. Baba throws in a few chops trying to escape, but Hansen drops a few knees on Baba’s left leg. Crowd cheering for Baba to break out of Hansen’s grasp. Baba is able to break out by grabbing Hansen’s arm and putting him in an armbar. Baba goes back to working on Hansen’s right arm. Chops and punches are exchanged! Hansen whips Baba into the ropes and hits him with an elbow and then kicks him out of the ring. Baba gets backin and puts Hansen in a submission hold but Hansen breaks out and drops several knees on Baba. Baba keeps hold of Hansen’s arm and throws more chops at his left arm. Hansen escapes, slams Baba and drops an elbow on him. Wild back and forth action with the crowd really enjoying it. Hansen whips Baba into the ropes and hits him with the lariat! Baba goes to the outside and Hansen follows dropping an ax-handle on him. The two fight outside the ring with Baba throwing chops and Hansen punching at Baba. Referee tries to break them apart but he gets knocked down! Hansen throws a couple of forearms on Baba and the rest of the All Japan crew tries to stop Hansen. He knocks a few guys down. All Japan crew tries to break them apart but Baba and Hansen continue! Hansen leaves! Match ends in a double DQ. Wild match with tons of heat.
WINNER: Double DQ
Shoehi “Giant” Baba & Rusher Kimura vs. Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu – Real World Tag League tournament match
Taped 11/29/1989 Nakajima Sports Center in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
As Baba and Kimura make their entrance, Tenryu hits a tope suicida at Baba!!! Tenryu then goes after Kimura in the ring as Baba is still on the floor and being attended to by the AJPW crew. Kimura valiantly fights off Tenryu and Hansen. Hansen and Tenryu are able to double-team Kimura. Tenryu hits an awesome lariat at Kimura and knocks him to close to the ropes to get a pin. Tenryu with some chops at Kimura. Kimura counters with some head-butts. Tenryu with an enziguri! He tags in Hansen and more of the all-out attack on Kimura! Hansen grabs a table and places it in the ring post corner and slams Kimura on it. Kimura is shown bleeding as Hansen stomps on his forehead! Hansen tosses him again into the table. Baba is shown rubbing his tummy trying to recover! Hansen & Tenryu continue their attack on Kimura! Kimura kicks out of a Hansen pin attempt. Baba finally gets up but is still holding his stomach. Hansen and Tenryu take turns beating on Kimura and going for pin attempts but he keeps kicking out. Baba finally climbs up to his corner. Baba saves Kimura from a pin by kicking at Hansen’s head. Tenryu throws some hard chops at Kimura. Baba roots on his tag partner. Tenryu goes for a top rope reverse elbow but Kimura kicks out of the pin. Hansen gets back in and kicks at Kimura. The attack on Kimura is relentless. Tenryu chops Baba in the corner. Baba wants to get tagged in. Kimura stops Tenryu’s attack with a head-butt and tags in Giant Baba! Baba chops at Tenryu and Hansen! Baba kicks Hansen down and goes after Tenryu. Baba gets Tenryu with a leg sweep for a 2-count as Hansen makes the save. Hansen and Tenryu double-team Baba. Baba knocks down Tenryu and heads to his corner to tag out but Kimura’s on the floor. Baba hits a clothesline on Tenryu and goes for another pin but Hansen makes the save again! Hansen grabs a chair and hits Baba in the stomach. Tenryu goes for a lariat but Baba ducks and puts him in an abdominal stretch. Hansen makes the save again. Hansen and Baba exchange chops. Tenryu throws a few forearms and chops at Baba in their corner. Hansen drops an elbow on Baba and gets a 2-count. Tenry and Hansen chop Baba on the ropes. Tenryu charges at Baba but Baba raises his boot and Tenryu gets dropped. Baba gets a couple of pin attempts on Tenryu. Baba continues to fight his opponents off while still searching for his tag partner. Baba goes for a small package roll-up on Hansen. Hansen breaks out and continues to kick at Baba. Double-team shoulder tackle sends Baba down. They follow it up with a double-team suplex. Baba refuses to give up. Tenryu goes to the ropes, but Baba catches him with a backdrop. Hansen slingshots Tenryu into Baba for a clothesline. They go for a double-team piledriver on Baba, but Baba kicks out of the pin attempt. Flurry of elbow drops from Hansen and Tenryu on Baba. Double-team power bomb on Baba! Kimura is finally back up and grabs Hansen’s foot to knock him down. Hansen turns towards Kimura and hits him with a lariat! Tenryu and Hansen both miss on lariats at Baba. Tenryu grabs Baba for a power bomb but Baba flips him over. Tenryu gets back up and grabs Baba again for a power bomb and this time it works out and he gets the win for his team! GREAT MATCH!!!
WINNERS: Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen
Shoehi “Giant” Baba & Stan Hansen vs. Steve Williams & Big Bubba Rogers – Real World Tag League tournament match
Taped 12/3/1993 Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan
Big Bubba Rogers is dressed as his more famous WWE/F character The Big Bossman. Williams and Rogers attack Hansen and Baba before the bell rings. Baba hits a big boot on Dr. Death. They edit the match a bit here as we skip to Baba and Williams in the ring and Big Bubba breaking a Baba abdominal stretch. Baba goes back to chopping Dr. Death. Baba kicks Doc a few times. Big Bubba comes in and saves Doc again. Doc hits a suplex on Baba and goes for a pin. Hansen tries to save Baba. Dr. Death goes for the Oklahoma Stampede on Baba but Hansen makes the save! Baba tags in Hansen. Hansen gets in some hard chops before Doc gets him in a bear hug and tags in Big Bubba. Big Bubba drops Hansen on Dr. Death’s knee. Doc continues the attack on Hansen and puts him in a Boston Crab. Baba makes the save for Hansen by hitting Doc across the head. Double shoulder tackle by Doc & Bubba at Hansen. Big Bubba drops a few haymakers at Hansen. Hansen gets splashed by Bubba in the corner and then Dr. Death follows with a cartwheel into an elbow. Hansen reverses an irish whip and kicks Big Bubba and tags in Baba. Baba chops at Big Bubba a few times before Steve Williams makes the save. Big Bubba escapes a few kicks and chops from Baba and slams him to the mat and hits a splash on him. Bubba tries for a brainbuster but Hansen stops him. Baba hits a DDT on Big Bubba. Hansen gets back in but so does Williams. Hansen throws Big Bubba at Baba for a big boot. Baba throws Big Bubba at Hansen, but he ducks the lariat. Baba goes for a leg sweep on Big Bubba but doesn’t get the pin. Everyone is in the ring and Hansen then hits a lariat on Big Bubba for the win. Good match.
WINNERS: Shohei “Giant” Baba & Stan Hansen
SHOW THOUGHTS: Good show with that Baba & Kimura vs. Hansen & Tenryu tag match being great! That was a very well-booked match. It was also fun to watch Kimura in a non-comedy match that he was more known for as he got older. Tenryu and Hansen worked flawlessly as a tag team. Must-watch match. Baba’s singles matches with Jack Brisco, Abdullah The Butcher and Stan Hansen were all really good too. The Hansen match had tons of heat. The edit of the last match only went for about a minute so it wasn’t a lot that was lost. A really fun show to watch from start to finish.