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#41 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 12:17 AM

One thing I'll say from watching a lot of 70s and early 80s is that Baba went to the double count out an awful lot with his finishes.

#42 jdw

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 12:31 AM

COR, DCOR, DQ, DDQ.

 

Last week I watched a 2/3 fall tag match. Flair pins Baba in the first. Flair beats Jumbo with a COR in the second fall.  Next week's show had a tag with a DQ finish. Common.

 

New Japan did too.



#43 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 04:46 AM

In fairness to Baba, I'm not sure the perfect booker exists. They all tend to be reactionary, and when they stumble upon a good idea they milk it for every last cent. If they were able to prevent their product from stagnating, the business wouldn't be quite so cyclical. Even the Matsunagas, who deliberately retired their stars to prevent them from becoming stagnant, couldn't transition smoothly from one era to the next. Pro-wrestling is in essence show business, and certainly in Japan was competing with other forms of show biz for TV time. In any form of show biz it takes time for the next big thing to come along, and everything stagnates with time whether it's your favourite TV show, comic book run, sports team, musician or film director. Most pro-wrestling is shoddily booked, which makes Baba better than most, and I also think he has longevity in his favour as he was able to book a number of hot runs over 25 years. There were certain elements of his *promoting* that kept All Japan a solid number two, and he was certainly conservative, but so are "serious and stable" CMLL and they've survived longer than anybody, so is that inherently a bad thing?

 

Another possible criticism of Baba as a booker was that he wasn't great at finishing angles he started, but again that's true of most bookers who don't have an end goal in sight. I wonder if ticket gates and nightly houses don't play a part in this. It's easy to apply film or literary criticism to wrestling and critique the lack of narrative structure, but unlike a film or a play, the booker is making it up as he goes along and not fretting over his story ideas until he's ready to show it to the public. Sure, it would be great if they had some idea of the bigger picture, but their deadline is tighter than any creative type with a nightly show to produce. I doubt many bookers in wrestling history have thought more than a few months ahead, and certainly none of them have had a final destination in mind. 



#44 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 05:12 AM

Baba's key strengths as a booker were patience and sticking to something he'd already set his mind on. This was very good for CREATING STARS, making wins and losses count for something, and producing long-term rivalries.

If I was to do a best booker / promoter list right now it would be something like:

1. Vince Jr.
2. Giant Baba
3. Vince Sr.
4. Bill Watts
5. Paul Heyman

Baba and Vince Sr are comparible in a lot of ways in that both had a system and really stuck to it and were both 100% men of their word. Watts is the best pure storyteller, and also the best for putting heat on his heels to make payoffs really mean something. Vince Sr. probably the best at executing angles when he did do them (every single one we've seen on Titans has been PERFECT). Heyman the best for getting the most out of limited talent. Vince Jr. the best at crafting recognisable and marketable identities which sell tickets and "postcard moments" you remember forever.

I don't really see any others coming into the conversation, unless someone lived to watch all of Eddie Graham's Florida or Shire's SF territory and can tell us about it.

#45 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 05:44 AM

The problem I see with that is that New Japan were bigger and made more money than All Japan. 



#46 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 05:57 AM

How much of that is down to Inoki's personal legend?

I will say, though, that I see Riki Choshu talked up as a great booker a lot and have yet to watch through most of NJPW. It's my next big "to do".

#47 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 06:14 AM

How much of that is down to Inoki's personal legend?

 

I'm not sure. It's not something that's been properly explored. 



#48 DGinnetty

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 06:21 AM

How much of that is down to Inoki's personal legend?

I will say, though, that I see Riki Choshu talked up as a great booker a lot and have yet to watch through most of NJPW. It's my next big "to do".

 

Based on the research I have done so far, NJ was more successful than AJ in ratings, attendance, and revenue all the way up to 84 or 85.

85-88 or 86-88 was in AJs advantage in average attendance and total attendance, most likely revenue as well.

 

In 1983, Inoki was out "injured" for almost 3 months, and NJ continued to sell out

 

For the tour that Inoki missed (Summer Fight Series  7/1/83 to 8/4/83, plus the first 2 shows of the next tour), NJ averaged 4111 per show over 35 shows; 

for a total of 143900

 

 

Once NJ started running in the Tokyo Dome, they never looked back. attendance-wise, or revenue-wise.

 

Dan Ginnetty



#49 MJH

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 07:48 AM

Re: my comment, there's no actual quote as such, I've always thought it was people getting a bit carried away with the "Baba was actually very good" argument given how he's liable to strike someone at first glance (especially in the '90s, say)... it's literally just something I've seen written enough times to where perhaps it's a 'thing' for some people.   



#50 Childs

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 09:34 AM

How much credit (or blame in some cases) does Baba get for the development of the in-ring style? Would he have been intimately involved in discussing the big matches with his top guys? Or did he just pick his players and let them run with it?

 

Obviously, he gets some of the credit because he was the first ace of the promotion. But beyond that ...



#51 Matt D

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 09:56 AM

Personally, I want to know what the heck he's saying on commentary most of the time. 



#52 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 10:07 AM

Someone told me once that that lower voiced guy is not always Baba, that there is in fact, another guy in the promotion who sounds a lot like him.

#53 Wade Garrett

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:07 AM

I like Baba a lot. Knows what his strengths are and that has a lot of footing with me. Odd pro wrestler to judge overall. He was a owner/booker/wrestler. He did know his role within his company and played it well. Maybe better then anyone? He will be on my list. Late edition though.



#54 jdw

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:30 AM

 

Another possible criticism of Baba as a booker was that he wasn't great at finishing angles he started,

 

Baba typically finished the Angles he started, because frankly he ran very few angles.

 

What Baba didn't do was finish "storylines" that he started. He really didn't think in those terms.

 

But for angles, he did tend to finish them. Misawa elbowed Jumbo. Jumbo got pissed. It set up a singles match. They had a singles match, and everyone was happy with how it turned out. Tenryu knocking out Hansen was an angle. The payoff was a singles match.

 

That he didn't have a finish to the Misawa-Jumbo storyline, or the Hansen-Tenryu storyline... that's just kind of his mentality. He tended to be open ended on storylines. Part of that sprung, as I said, from coming out of the 60s and 70s when your "angles" tended to be contained to one series, then the next batch of gaijin would come in. Dealing with a closed crew, and native vs native within that crew (as opposed to the external IWE in the 70s) caused a change in narrative.

 

We tend to add that Misawa & Kawada failed in the 1990 & 1991 Tag Leagues before winning in 1992, and that Kawada & Taue failed in 1993-95 (all to Misawa & Kobashi) before finally winning in 1996 as great narratives. The reality is that Baba didn't sit down in 1990 and block out when Misawa & Kawada were going to win, or in 1993 when Kawada & Taue were going to go over. We see narrative from how it *happened* over the years, not necessarily how it was planned or scripted.

 

On the other hand...

 

One benefit from avoiding hot shot booking is that sometimes stories like Kawada & Taue can kind of evolve. You look up as a booker and go, "Hey... we haven't done this. That might work here and have some payoff."

 

Or it just happening without much thought being given to it by those doing it. ;)



#55 jdw

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:34 AM

Baba's key strengths as a booker were patience and sticking to something he'd already set his mind on.

 

Again, we don't have any great insight into him sticking with something he set his mind on. We don't really know how far into the future he plotted stuff out. It's clear that he had elements of 1993 blocked out in Carny '93 and coming out of it. But everything through the rest of the year? Not terribly clear.



#56 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:38 AM

Baba's key strengths as a booker were patience and sticking to something he'd already set his mind on.

 
Again, we don't have any great insight into him sticking with something he set his mind on. We don't really know how far into the future he plotted stuff out. It's clear that he had elements of 1993 blocked out in Carny '93 and coming out of it. But everything through the rest of the year? Not terribly clear.


I am talking on a more macro level, such as when to pull the trigger on a certain guy going over against the ace. See Jumbo, Tenryu, Kawada, Kobashi, etc. There is reason to believe Misawa was rushed because of Tenryu's exit.

#57 Loss

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:44 AM

Baba's key strengths as a booker were patience and sticking to something he'd already set his mind on. This was very good for CREATING STARS, making wins and losses count for something, and producing long-term rivalries.

If I was to do a best booker / promoter list right now it would be something like:

1. Vince Jr.
2. Giant Baba
3. Vince Sr.
4. Bill Watts
5. Paul Heyman

Baba and Vince Sr are comparible in a lot of ways in that both had a system and really stuck to it and were both 100% men of their word. Watts is the best pure storyteller, and also the best for putting heat on his heels to make payoffs really mean something. Vince Sr. probably the best at executing angles when he did do them (every single one we've seen on Titans has been PERFECT). Heyman the best for getting the most out of limited talent. Vince Jr. the best at crafting recognisable and marketable identities which sell tickets and "postcard moments" you remember forever.

I don't really see any others coming into the conversation, unless someone lived to watch all of Eddie Graham's Florida or Shire's SF territory and can tell us about it.

 

I'd put Jerry Jarrett, Bill Dundee, Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan ahead of Paul Heyman.



#58 jdw

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:46 AM

Re: my comment, there's no actual quote as such, I've always thought it was people getting a bit carried away with the "Baba was actually very good" argument given how he's liable to strike someone at first glance (especially in the '90s, say)... it's literally just something I've seen written enough times to where perhaps it's a 'thing' for some people.   

 

People get carried away with wrestlers they like. Not just guys at Baba's level, but we can include stuff on every GoaT candidate. Their most vocal supporters will wax poetically, other vocal supporters will run in to join in, while others just kind of roll their eyes at the over the top nature of it. No doubt people or matches that I've waxed on have had the same reaction.

 

Baba was ripped for ages in hardcore circles, going back to the early days of the WON. It kind of was a meme that he wasn't any good, got over because of his size and look, and that Inoki was the good worker.

 

There were cracks in that in the 90s, but it's not like a lot of good Baba stuff was in circulation... at least in the sense of widely watch. Something like Baba-Destroyer wasn't flying out of the tape sellers shelves like Dream Slam.

 

Overtime, more Baba became available via Classics, as did more Inoki. More examples of Baba younger, and more examples of Baba in the 70s where he started slowing down by still had good/smart matches.

 

Then more stuff was not only was available, but dvd's and the interwebs made it easier to access cheaper and quicker, while also increasing the circle of people talking about it.

 

So Baba got rethought. A chunk of it was by people who weren't tied to the old hardcore meme, and part of it was people who were familar with the meme but checking out that 60s and 70s stuff that hadn't been out there before.

 

"Baba was good" became a valid point to make.

 

Did the biggest Baba lovers go overboard on it?

 

I don't think that was the case when people first started to make the point. We might have praised the shit out of something like Baba vs Billy as a great match, but I don't recall any of us saying Baba was a Top 10 Worker All-Time. It seemed more than we were trying to get across that there was a decent amount of evidence that Baba could work, or in the case o that match that Billy wasn't the bland vanilla worker that the old hardcore memes also like to claim. But it was far from over the top in putting over the workers as GoaT's.



#59 jdw

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 11:56 AM

 

 

Baba's key strengths as a booker were patience and sticking to something he'd already set his mind on.

 
Again, we don't have any great insight into him sticking with something he set his mind on. We don't really know how far into the future he plotted stuff out. It's clear that he had elements of 1993 blocked out in Carny '93 and coming out of it. But everything through the rest of the year? Not terribly clear.

 


I am talking on a more macro level, such as when to pull the trigger on a certain guy going over against the ace. See Jumbo, Tenryu, Kawada, Kobashi, etc. There is reason to believe Misawa was rushed because of Tenryu's exit.

 

 

There isn't a lot of evidence that Baba had a long term plan of when Kawada or Kobashi were going over Misawa. Or that he plotted out a grand storyline for it. Shit just kind of happened over time.

 

Trigger on Tenryu going over the Ace Jumbo? It's hard to see that there was a key long term plan there. Tenryu "won" their first singles matches after they split up. Jumbo won the third a year later, but not in a really dominating acey way. Jumbo got the pin in the 4th won. It really had nothing to do with long term planning: Jumbo just unified the Triple Crown, and based on that Baba was going to finally let him pin his rival to confirm that Jumbo the Unifier was the Ace.

 

Now, did Baba at that time know he'd be putting Tenryu over for the belt two months later? We could say probably. That he would go back to Jumbo later in the year. We could say probably.

 

But 1989 almost certainly wasn't plotted out by Baba back in 1987. Was it generally plotted out in 1988 at the time of their singles match that year? I'm not sold that it was.

 

We see booking and storyline in All Japan from how it happened, not how it probably was planned out in the long term.



#60 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 04:41 PM

 

 

Another possible criticism of Baba as a booker was that he wasn't great at finishing angles he started,

 

Baba typically finished the Angles he started, because frankly he ran very few angles.

 

What Baba didn't do was finish "storylines" that he started. He really didn't think in those terms.

 

 

Yeah, that was more what I was getting at. But again, it's not like the majority of bookers are any better.  






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