It's been a long time since I played MKT but I think a big part of Baraka's threat is that his blade spin has very little startup, very little recovery, it lifts them off the ground so you can do two consecutive spins midscreen for a big chunk of damage, and then get another hit afterwards (standing HK? Uppercut maybe?).
And even if you flub the timing of the spin, he can move around so quickly while spinning that he can still avoid counter attacks.
EDIT: And the range! The spin has so much range even just a few frames after startup.
The Blade Spin is like combining Gief's movable Lariat with Kung Lao's spin on some level. It's pretty ridiculous that he can move around while doing it and it stops pretty quickly. The MKII damage, plus the fact that he has an easy 60% combo off one Blade Spin, be it an anti air, ground counter, punisher, what have you. Plus he's got his MKII normals, so a bastardly JP and JK, fast sweep, wicked Roundhouse, the no block release needed Blade Swipe, which also works from down+back+block and cancels jabs.
He's inarguably top 10, I would say most people familiar with MKT would say he's very well top 5. His ground combos are weak, it's sort of like Kitana where she only has the low damage 4 hitters, but Baraka can add some damage with his sweep after the HK, HK, B+HP, F+HP combo, which is most useful for zoning and I believe he can do it to anyone except Shang. It's a good range landing so if they jump back it's a Blade Spark, if they jump forward it's a Blade Spin, or Blade Fury if you're old school!
Of course he has the corner infinite which is easy as pie to attempt after a Blade Spin but not as easy to complete. I would go as far as to ban using two Blade Spins in the corner in tournaments because it's a game breaking glitch an easy to reproduce, but I wouldn't ban Baraka over it because it's corner only and it's 100% possible to prevent from doing by accident. I think it only happens if second Blade Spin connects when the opponent is as high as they can be in the air. The higher they are, the easier it is to get at least 100% out of his inf before the chance to lose them.
In the corner: Blade Spin, Blade Spin, aaHP, Blade Swipe, aaHP, Blade Swipe, Blade Fury = 100%.
Free Blade Fury after corner combos = perfect push back for Blade Spin aa counters. It's a nightmare of zoning fear vs Baraka and his mega easy damage.
Mid Screen: grounded Blade Spin, Blade Spin, JK = 54%, or RH = 59% 3 hits vs Human Smoke's 10 hits to achieve the same damage, so an aaBlade Spin = huge damage even mid screen with aaBS, BS, aaHP, RH for 66%, or simple BS BS uppercut for 62%. Basically anywhere on screen a blocked teleport punch vs Baraka = virtually game over with a fairly easy 67% punisher and with a little effort 72% for aaBS, BS, Run in aaHPHP, RH
Damn, that's insane. Last night night I was playing MKT for N64 w/ AC1984 and nodoubt, but none of us really know Raiden, Johnny Cage and Baraka too well. Is the PSX and N64 versions of those characters much different? Do we have character profiles for those 3 w/ move lists, juggles, - the whole 9? That's one thing I failed to really find ...aside from the post Shock just made, very in depth character forum of the lesser-known/used additions like you guys have for UMK3. Can I have some help, Fellaz?
I seem to be pretty decent w/ Raiden (N64), but I would really like to learn him 100% as much as possible, and then also screw around w/ some of this Baraka stuff aforementioned.
Some downsides to Baraka, at times the no block Blade Swipe can actually be a nuisance even though it is useful inherently, and also it's actually possible to easily miss the Blade Spin on counters because the timing of the start up doesn't coincide with the actual animation. It's actually possible to jump in and out of the Blade Spin somehow and even possible to combo Baraka in the middle of the Blade Spin animation because the collision alternates both sides very quickly as you tap block. The Blade Spark has a very fast knock down to it and little recovery for your opponent so the move itself can be a risk even to hit. I'll list some more stuff later and maybe work on a comprehensive MKT Baraka strategy guide tomorrow. In N64 MKT btw, Baraka has a 5 hit combo, HK, HK, HP, B+HP, F+HP, which for some reason he doesn't have on PSX and so far as I can tell he cannot combo sweeps or much of anything after it.