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Giant Baba vs. Bruno Sammartino (JWA 3/7/67)

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I prefer their match frp, the following year but this was still a solid contest, with a lot of dedicated work from both guys down the stretch. Great first fall with Baba rolling around the mat, trying to shake Bruno’s arm control before turning the game around on Bruno. Sammartino has some nifty escapes but Baba keeps him in check. When Bruno goes for an arm drag, Baba just deadweights him to counter, reasserting control. The crowd digs the sportsmanship as the two go back-and-forth targeting the arms, trying to weaken their opponent’s respective offense – Bruno with the bearhug and Baba with his giant chops. At times, the match feels sluggish and repetitive, and the execution isn’t quite as smooth but it picks up again when Bruno starts with the bear hug attempts. Bruno starts unloading on Baba during the third fall -- really great knees. By the end of it, they’re both past the point of exhaustion, with Bruno desperately lunging after Baba with the bearhug attempts and Baba trying to end it with chops, but due to all that prior hard work, neither is effective as the time runs out.

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