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Shohei "Giant" Baba (1938-1999)


Real Name - Shohei Baba
Lifespan - 1/23/38 - 1/31/99
6'8" 275 lbs. - Sanjyo, Niigata, Japan

Athletic Background - Baseball [NPB - Yomiuri Giants]

Teacher(s) - Rikidozan, Great Togo, Fred Atkins

Professional Background - JWA(`60-`71), US(`61-`6?), All Japan(`71-`99)

Aliases - Baba the Giant

Groups - none

Peak Years - `63 -`74

Finisher(s) - 
- Falling Neckbreaker 
- Coconut Crush (Headlock into Knee Smash)

Favorites - 
Northern Chop (Overhead Chop)
Side Russian Leg Sweep
Falling Armbar
Swinging Neckbreaker
Big Boot 

Ringwork Rating - 

 Move Set

Intangibles Rating - 

 Heat 10 
 Legacy 10 

Place in History - At first look one might poke fun at the barrel chest, skinny limbs and abnormal hieght, but Shohei Baba did so much for pro-wrestling that juvenile comments only display ignorance. Rikidozan, Japan's greatest pro-wrestling hero, would have his ace position contended for by two men: Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. Baba first became a success in the United States, where he did unprecedented feats for a Japanese wrestler before returning to Japan as a superstar. The JWA was dying due to television deals and internal conflicts, so Baba left and formed All Japan Pro-Wrestling and the so-called "King's Road" began. Baba was the top star for the company's first decade or so, but he quickly found successors in Jumbo Tsuruta and later Genichiro Tenryu.  He also embraced a more Americanized style of wild brawling, non-finishes and over-the-top characters, throughout their formative years, All Japan brought in and made regulars of gaijin talent like the Funks, Abdullah the Butcher, Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy, Bruiser Brody and Steve Williams.  When this style had run its course, Baba transitioned to a style with clean finishes and the Triple Crown being the ultimate prize.  The development of Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi and Akira Taue as key talent and a still excellent core of gaijin talent, turned All Japan into arguably the greatest pro-wrestling promotion of all-time.  Their matches were, and perhaps still are, unchallenged by any in terms of physicality and psychology.  Baba was himself working low on the card now, but maintaining a legendary status and amazing popularity.  As the 1990s drew to a close, his health decline, the product was losing steam and the company would be torn apart in the aftermath of his death.  For a failed baseball pitcher, Shohei Baba made a career in pro-wrestling that few can match.