Wrestlers from across Japan came together to commemorate the legend of Giant Baba on Thursday. The event, which took place at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, honored the All Japan Pro Wrestling founder and biggest star who passed away on January 31st, 1999, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
The opening six-man tag featured Jinsei Shinzaki, who American fans may best remember from his time in the WWF as Hakushi, teaming New Japan’s Tomoaki Honma & Mitsuya Nagai to defeat Andy Wu, Osamu Nishimura & freelance sensation, Alejandro.
An eight-man tag match deemed “The Giant Baba Memorial Match” featured eight veteran performers who were peers of the show’s namesake. The legendary Atsushi Onita, former AJPW junior heavyweight champion and a protegé of Baba himself, teamed with Masa Fuchi, the Great Kojika & Shiro Koshinaka to defeat Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Takao Omori, Tiger Mask II & Arashi.
The only singles match on the card featured a cross-promotional battle of Junior Heavyweights. Los Ingobernables’ BUSHI of New Japan defeated All Japan’s high-flying Atuski Aoyagi.
One of AJPW’s fastest rising stars, Yuma Aoyagi teamed with former IWGP champion Yuji Nagata to defeat the special ex-Pancrase team of Minoru Suzuki and AJPW’s Hikaru Sato.
The main event showcased the top three promotions in Japan: Keiji Muto teamed with Satoshi Kojima and All Japan Triple Crown Champion Suwama to beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kaz Hayashi, & Masayuki Kono. Representing Pro Wrestling NOAH, Muto challenges Go Shiozaki for the GHC title on February 11th at Budokan Hall. Kojima, fresh off an explosive match with Will Ospreay, and Tenzan have a storied rivalry/partnership that stretches back to 1996. Suwama is the Triple Crown holder, the top title in the company founded by Baba.
The Japanese wrestling sphere will often have top stars from various promotions in both major and small shows. An event honoring one of the most influential figures in the sport’s history is one such reason to bring these veterans together.