WRESTLING NEWS
Giant Baba: What Only Hardcore Fans Know About The Founder Of All Japan Pro Wrestling
By DAVID BIXENSPAN
Three Titles in Three Weeks
February 1964 is considered the peak of Shohei "Giant" Baba's stardom in America. This is because within just a few weeks time in that month, Baba got shots at three "legitimate" world heavyweight titles at the National Wrestling Alliance, the World Wide Wrestling Federation, and the World Wrestling Association.
His Political Power in Japan
Baba wielded his political prowess to get Steve "Dr. Death" Williams out of legal trouble when he was caught with cannabis at Narita International Airport in Japan, resulting in a one-year suspension from AJPW. However, because of Baba's influence, Williams returned to All Japan one year later.
HIS Retirement Match
On May 2, 1999, AJPW held a memorial ceremony for Baba, which served as a posthumous retirement match. The Destroyer, Gene Kiniski, and Bruno Sammartino took their positions in the corners, Joe Higuchi served as the honorary official, and Baba’s widow, Motoko, placed his boots in the ring for the memorial ten-bell salute.
Pitcher For Yomiuri Giants
As a teenager, Baba was a baseball player, having a fruitful minor league career and a brief major league stint as a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants when he was just 19. Although he only pitched three games for the Giants, he had an earned run average of 1.29 as his height made his pitches tricky to hit.
His Pro Wrestling STREAK
The baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. played 2,632 games over the course of over 16 years, a feat only Baba achieved in pro wrestling. Giant Baba made his bookings for 3,764 consecutive matches from his debut in 1960 until April 1984, while Dave Meltzer wrote that the actual figure "is more than 4,100 because his American matches weren't included."