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#1 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 04:02 PM

So, is Thesz the Godfather? The Granddaddy of them all? I started watching matches to find out.

 

The Don Leo Jonathan match from Chicago was a decent watch. DLJ was a fun big man and not really spoken about enough as we all know. I loved the way he pinched Thesz' cauliflower ears during the ref's explanation. That set the tone for a World of Sport style bout where there's plenty of needle and finally they start with the forearm smashes. That's been my favourite style of Thesz match so far. I don't find his matwork super impressive, but I do love the way he retaliates to inside moves. I think the crux of it is that because he's a hooker he knows dirtier moves than the heels and more ways to hurt people. DLJ was spry for a big man, but I don't think that matwork was truly his game. Still, he gave it a decent shake. 

 

Next up was Thesz vs. The Mighty Atlas. Atlas had this neat little moustache and gave a much better all-round performance than in the Snyder bout. It was all shtick, but effective shtick for the era he worked in. Thesz didn't appear to have any misgivings about working this style of bout despite his grumblings in later years.

 

Interspersed between longer bouts are the numerous shorter clips of Thesz from YouTube. Highlights against Rocca, Gene Kiniski and Mr. Moto. There's not much to be gained from watching these unless you've seen a lot of Thesz and know what you're looking for. To me it was just a blur of holds. I did enjoy the short Vic Christy bout from Los Angeles where he gave Christy quite a bit of offence for what was essentially a squash. The Moto bout was filmed like a movie and had plenty of unusual angles for a filmed match.



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Posted 18 May 2016 - 05:40 PM

I enjoyed the shorter of the Buddy Rogers matches. I think it's the one from Wrigley Field. It was clearly an important fight and there was a step up in intensity from Thesz. I've noticed that his matwork isn't the showy type where he does a lot of cool holds. It's far more subtle. You need to pay attention to where he's positioning say his wrist or forearm to pick up on the details. I was quite taken with Rogers in this bout and ended up watching an interview with him from a 1981 episode of Jim Barniak's Sports Scrapbook where he never once broke kayfabe. It was beautiful to watch -- an old-time wrestler with a glint of bullshit in his eye. I've always thought of Rogers as an all-action type -- bumping, stooging, flying about (back when flying about meant running the ropes) -- but he showed just enough toughness here and just enough credibility on the mat to hang with Thesz as a star if nothing else. I'd love to start a Rogers vs. Flair thread, but I don't know if the board's frayed nerves could handle it. 

 

Thesz vs. Matt Jewel (Bearcat Brown) is a fun squash and the highlights of the Rocca match from Buffalo had some nice action. 



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Posted 19 May 2016 - 04:58 PM

Thesz vs. Walter Palmer is a really good bout that might get overlooked these days as Palmer isn't a huge name. He was an amateur turned pro who was a favourite of Chicago promoter Fred Kohler and the inventor of the spinning toehold. Davis tells us Thesz vs. Palmer is a match the fans have been wanting to see and they deliver a nice mix of technical wrestling and grit. It lacks the gravity of a title match, but tempers flare, and like the best Thesz matches it has plenty of needle. Comparable to a strong WoS bout.  .  



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Posted 23 May 2016 - 04:25 PM

Watched one of the Rikidozan bouts. The one with the colour film of his road trip in America, which stood in stark contrast to the mood and atmosphere in Tokyo. I thought the bout was a real feather in the cap of Lou the worker. For him to get something compelling out of a guy who, in all honesty, was more limited than the Mighty Atlas or Mr. Mojo, was one of his finest feats so far. 

 

I also enjoyed his matches against Tom Rice and Wild Bill Longson, two McManus type characters. Lou was particularly badass in the Rice match. Just constantly on the prowl looking to slap Rice about. Longson is the first guy I've seen hightail it when Lou is looking to dish out a receipt. Longson's piledriver was sweet. 



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Posted 31 May 2016 - 04:14 AM

The one hour draw between Thesz and Rogers is an excellent bout. I continue to be impressed with Rogers' toughness. He only knew a smidgen on holds compared to the truly elite wrestlers, but he knew how to execute them well, and you never felt like he was out of his depth or that Thesz should be eating him alive. The dynamic between the pair was tremendous, and I loved how it was a scrap every inch of the way.

The Rikidozan draw, on the other hand, is a drag. An hour of Rikidozan is way too much Rikidozan. Thesz works the touring champ bit though I'm not sure it was necessary given much the Japanese respected him. Mostly it's a stalemate between Thesz trying to pin Rikidozan's shoulders to the mat and Rikidozan trying to apply an armbar. The shorter of their bouts on tape was more compelling.

Now the Gagne one hour draw is Thesz' masterpiece. Despite only being in his early 30s, Thesz works the bout as a total veteran vs. youngster fight and gives the lion's share of it to Gagne, though I suppose in that era being in your early 30s really did amount to being a veteran. What was impressive about Thesz here wasn't his holds or the way he'd go on the prowl. Instead, it was his selling. Much of the bout was spent on Gagne softening Thesz up for his sleeper hold. I'm not one to praise a match that's headlock based, but this was one of the toughest, grittiest, best sold matches of its ilk. Thesz sold in a way I really didn't think he was capable of. It was a masterclass in being put through the wringer. On top of that, he made sure he got offside with the Chicago crowd by working a few illegal holds and a couple that weren't but had some venom behind them. . He allowed the younger man to run him ragged and by the end of the bout he was out with only the time limit saving him. I can't imagine there was anyone who watched that fight and didn't think Gagne was breathing down Thesz' neck for the World's Heavyweight Championship. I'd rank the bout alongside any veteran/youngster match you care to name, it was that good.

#6 Ricky Jackson

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 08:42 AM

That Thesz vs Gagne match is one of the matches I've enjoyed watching the most in the last decade. Amazing

Need to get around to some of these other matches you're pimping, especially the Broadway with Rogers

#7 Iron Anderson

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Posted 01 June 2016 - 01:15 PM

The one hour draw between Thesz and Rogers is an excellent bout. I continue to be impressed with Rogers' toughness. He only knew a smidgen on holds compared to the truly elite wrestlers, but he knew how to execute them well, and you never felt like he was out of his depth or that Thesz should be eating him alive. The dynamic between the pair was tremendous, and I loved how it was a scrap every inch of the way.

The Rikidozan draw, on the other hand, is a drag. An hour of Rikidozan is way too much Rikidozan. Thesz works the touring champ bit though I'm not sure it was necessary given much the Japanese respected him. Mostly it's a stalemate between Thesz trying to pin Rikidozan's shoulders to the mat and Rikidozan trying to apply an armbar. The shorter of their bouts on tape was more compelling.

Now the Gagne one hour draw is Thesz' masterpiece. Despite only being in his early 30s, Thesz works the bout as a total veteran vs. youngster fight and gives the lion's share of it to Gagne, though I suppose in that era being in your early 30s really did amount to being a veteran. What was impressive about Thesz here wasn't his holds or the way he'd go on the prowl. Instead, it was his selling. Much of the bout was spent on Gagne softening Thesz up for his sleeper hold. I'm not one to praise a match that's headlock based, but this was one of the toughest, grittiest, best sold matches of its ilk. Thesz sold in a way I really didn't think he was capable of. It was a masterclass in being put through the wringer. On top of that, he made sure he got offside with the Chicago crowd by working a few illegal holds and a couple that weren't but had some venom behind them. . He allowed the younger man to run him ragged and by the end of the bout he was out with only the time limit saving him. I can't imagine there was anyone who watched that fight and didn't think Gagne was breathing down Thesz' neck for the World's Heavyweight Championship. I'd rank the bout alongside any veteran/youngster match you care to name, it was that good.

Great review.



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Posted 01 June 2016 - 10:19 PM

Thesz vs. Carpentier was so-so. Kohler was pushing Carpentier as the World's Heavyweight Champion despite the NWA refusing to recognise the title switch. We got to see a different side of Lou as he was pretty fairly ornery in trying to win his title back. Carpentier wrestled far more defensively than a lot of Thesz' other opponents (at least in this bout.) He got real low with his grappling stance and was extremely cautious. When he did strike, he was like a cat and used flashier and more agile moves than many of his contemporaries. Personally, I thought he lacked the toughness of a Rogers or Gagne and Davis even mentioned that he wasn't able to take a licking. He was shorter than Thesz and a few pounds lighter, and it didn't seem like he could quite match him physically. Some good moments but it flaked out a bit in the third fall. 



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Posted 02 June 2016 - 04:41 AM

Why would the WWE claim a copyright infringement on Lou Thesz vs. Ruffy Silverstein? Have they got that big Ruffy Silverstein DVD coming out? 



#10 gordi

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 10:37 PM

Why would the WWE claim a copyright infringement on Lou Thesz vs. Ruffy Silverstein? Have they got that big Ruffy Silverstein DVD coming out? 

 

 

That's hilarious but I may in fact have an explanation. 

 

There is an independent wrestler out of Toronto scene who got his start in Stampede, who took the name "Ruffy Silverstein" presumably as a tribute. He worked some squash matches for the WWF in the mid-2000s. Most likely, the WWE legal department ran a search for his name...



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Posted 04 June 2016 - 06:26 PM

Finally got to see the full length Thesz/Gotch vs. Inoki/Sakaguchi tag. It's exhibition-y, but not as exhibition-y as it would have been if I hadn't watched a run of Thesz heading into it. On the flip side, it was noticeable that Thesz was having difficulty hitting his signature spots like the Lou Thesz Press and the back suplex. In general, I thought he as an excellent maestro though, particularly on the mat. I really dug his Memphis squash match against David Oswald. 



#12 Memphis Mark

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Posted 21 July 2016 - 07:17 PM

 There is no footage available , but Lou Thesz  work as a heel in Memphis during the 1970's. Lou team with Jerry Lawler for a  short time and they were managed by the late, great  Sam Bass. . Lou would just verbally abuse  the local talent. He would call them Mickey   Mouse wrestlers and proceed just beat the crap out of guys. Lou would back his opponent against the ropes and just lite them up with fore arms. . He would take guys to the mat and just grind his fore arm into their face. Lou and in his 50's and was in better shape than any other wrestler.  Thesz made you believe that he could beat the shit out of anyone at anytime. It was not really much of a stretch because he could

 

 The only guy I was that was close to Lou was Danny Hodge. Hodge was a legit shooter. As a young boy I was in awe of those two.



#13 Al

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 10:17 AM

There's one match from that run on Youtube...

 



#14 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:25 AM

Thanks to the poster, Seabs, I got to see the Thesz vs. Silverstein bout that WWE put a copyright claim on. Steve Yohe wrote a long and fascinating post on this match once on Wrestling Classics about whether Thesz was deliberately trying to make Silverstein look bad -- http://wrestlingclas...10;t=004421;p=0 For the uninitiated, it looked like Thesz was playing the role of heel champ with his baiting and deliberate cheap shots. Whether he was stiffing Silverstein is something I'll have to watch out for when I view it again. It wasn't one of Thesz' better bouts but if read Yohe's account that may have been Thesz' intention. Another viewing is in order me thinks. 



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Posted 12 October 2017 - 01:38 AM

Thesz vs. Ray Gunkel was a classic while it lasted. The amount of energy and effort expended in the opening fall was amazing to watch. It may be the greatest opening fall in the history of NWA Heavyweight title matches. I recall a debate with dear old Professor Von Kramer about whether Thesz did anything different on the mat from later NWA champs. I've never seen matwork with the intensity of Gunkel vs. Thesz from any other NWA champ. Unfortunately, the amount of energy they expended was a signal that this wasn't going to last the distance and sure enough after Thesz jackknifed Gunkel to win the second fall, Gunkel was unable to continue the bout. Which was a shame really because it deserved a third fall. 

 

One of the things I love about Thesz is when he gets frustrated and starts needling his opponent. Supreme wrestler that he is, he's not above using questionable tactics to break his opponent's concentration and regain the upper hand. It reminds me of the All Black rugby legend Colin Meads, who played at the same time that Thesz was champ and wasn't above taking the law into his own hands when dealing with opposing players. It's awesome whenever Lou starts using the heel of the hand and other little tricks. He does it against Gunkel in the second fall and it's almost a mark of respect for how well Gunkel wrestled in the first fall. I love the edge that it brings to his bouts especially in longer bouts. He's also surprisingly good at selling. He's not iconically great or anything like that but he knows how to sell well in a wrestling sense as opposed to more theatrical types like Flair or Buddy Rose. Right now I would put Thesz on a Rushmore with Londos.  






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