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Billy Goelz and other 50s finds

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#41 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:13 AM

I ended up rewatching Hard Boiled Haggerty, El Shereef & The Preacher vs. Mr. Moto, Paul Diamond & Enrique Flores, It was actually quite a fun match. Not so dissimilar from a lucha trios match and with the usual hot LA crowd. The heels were big bruiser types and ran some fun FIP spots with the smaller Enrique Flores. More fun than the usual heel vs. face skullduggery. 


Next up was another Lord James Blears showcase. This time against Ivan the Terrible. If you wanted any more proof that Lord James Blears was the Lord Steven Regal of his era then look no further than this match. Ivan the Terrible wasn't the most technically skilled opponent that Blears could have faced but Blears worked around Ivan's limitations and ensured they both put their best foot forward. Quite a pro this Blears.


Dory Funk Sr. vs. Abe Kashey is apparently the only footage of Dory Sr. there is. He was working heel in the match. Think Dory Funk acting like Terry and you'll have a pretty clear picture of what it was like. The footage of Duke Keomuka vs. Black Guzman was too brief to gain much of an impression but it was interesting to see some Texas stuff.


Chief Don Eagle vs. Dan Miller was my boy doing his thing this time against the "Spike Dudley" of the Miller brothers. Match ran for longer than the usual Eagle showcase since Miller had more cred than the usual job boys but the result was the same. Nobody can survive the Indian Deathlock.


The Great Togo & Tony Morelli vs. Ernie & Emil Dusek was heel vs. heel. Togo is starting to grow on me. The only thing he's really good at is working aggressively in the clinch and smacking people in the chest with chops but he's hardnosed about it which I like. It worked well against the Duseks, who were hard as nails. There are heels and then there are bad men and the Duseks were a pair of bad men. They enjoyed taking Togo's chops and dishing out their own punishment. The match had a gritty edge to it and nobody calls a strike quite like Jack Little. Originally, it was supposed to be Red Berry with Togo but Morelli was a last minute replacement. Berry would have made the match more comedic, though they did work some miscommunication spots and the match ended with the pair bickering, which is how the Berry version would have played out, I'm sure. Decent bout.


Roy Asselin vs. George Temple is a short squash match that's notable for the fact that George Temple was the brother of Shirley Temple. Didn't help him much s he dropped the bout.


Finally, Leo Garibaldi vs. Billy McDaniel was a nice clean technical match with some great holds. I particularly enjoyed the second fall which I thought had some excellent wrestling. Some idiot in the crowd kept pretending to be Woody Woodpecker, which was distracting at times, but the work between Garibaldi and McDaniel was pretty classy for a middle of the card type contest. If you like the 50s technical style this is one I'd recommend if you want to see it at the midcard level. 

#42 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:09 AM

The Miller Brothers vs. Whipper Billy Watson & Bobo Brazil was a typical Buffalo match. Not a territory I'm particularly crazy about but it's consistent. You know what you're getting when four big men square off like this, especially when it's the Millers and Bobo Brazil: a bunch of roughhousing, underhanded tactics and retaliatory headbutts. For many people, that's what they paid to see. You could imagine the highlights of this match pieced together for some matinee newsreel with circus music and some corny commentary. To me, it's the most generic pro-wrestling possible but it may also be the most quintessential. In any event, it lacked the intensity that is needed to make a match like this stand out for me. 


II'll you a match that surprised me, though, and that was Jesse James vs. Al Costello of the Fabulous Kangaroos. At first, I thought: "ah, the Kangaroos are involved. This is going to be filled with cheating and shit." But right from the get-go, Costello was outstanding. He looked to impose himself physically rather through underhanded methods and showed a ton of wrestling skill that you'd never guess at if you were only familiar with his tag work. There were times when James would cop a right hand to the mouth from Costello and James gave him a bit of payback throughout but that made the bout seem like more of a fight than the Bobo stuff. They were working so hard on the mat that sometimes they punched one another. How cool is that? You've gotta love that sort of thing if you like bare-bones, minimalist wrestling. Great bout. One I'd recommend without hesitation.


Watched a bunch of Londos footage. Londos was small but he had a low centre of gravity and was a beast in the ring. Most of the newsreel clips of him show the finishes to his bouts where he typically throws his opponent a couple of times before hitting an airplane spin or a bodyslam and pinning him with a full body press (none of this hook the leg malarky.) Londos' attacks are violent and intense. The best finishes are the ones where his opponent fights the body press but almost everyone succumbs in a fashion that makes it seem like Londos was your typical formulaic star. But longer footage like the match against Shikat shows what a talented wrestler he was and how intense he was during the smallest exchanges. The man had a huge engine and was constantly taking the fight to his opponent. Shikat is wonderfully European. You watch him and see a spiritual heir to Horst Hoffman or Volk Han. A wonderful piece of footage, though it did look like Shikat lay down for Londos at the end without trying to make it look good. Perhaps it was my imagination.


There's another Blears match online. This time it's a technical showcase against Enrique Romero. Some really nice wrestling from his Lordship. It's too bad that the LA crowd seemed disinterested but Strongbow talked us through it at home and we got to see some nice holds from Blears. 

#43 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 12:58 AM

Finally got to see my boy Chief Don Eagle have a feature length main event. Some clipping here and there but we got the lion's share of a one hour draw with Dangerous Danny McShain. As you would expect with a one hour draw there was a lot of time spent in hammerlocks and similar holds with McShain using a lot of punches and inside moves. But despite there being a lot of down time, the match was fluid and enjoyable to watch. McShain was a great heel and Eagle more than held up his head on the babyface side. It took a long time for Eagle to do the war dance but when he did it was a good 'un. 


Back to Chicago now. Great Karpozilos vs. Great Yamato was better than I expected. Karpozilos was a short Greek wrestler with huge muscles and Yamato was another of the 50s Japanese heels. As with other Japanese heel workers, they didn't spend a lot of time on the mat as most of the "action" took place in the clinch. Yamato was a decent worker but it's hard to tell with these Japanese American workers as they're playing to type. 


I think I've seen Angelo Poffo vs. Jerry Christie before. It's easy to lose track of what you've seen across these 50s YouTube channels especially when there are multiple versions of the same films. The crowd got right behind Christie in this fight so Poffo must have done something right. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting... the midgets. Actually, Ivan the Terrible was a dwarf and Tiny Roe was a midget. They worked a fairly straight forward match and avoided many of the comedy trappings of midget matches. Instead, Russ Davis mostly took digs at the Russians. Not bad. The match that is. 

#44 conker8

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 01:11 PM

That Al Costello vs Jesse James match was pretty good.

Same opinion as you on the Kangaroos as a team (I have to rewatch as it's been a while I saw those matches).


On that card, the semi-main was Dick Hutton vs Roy Hefferman. I hope it was taped because a Hutton bout is the Holy Grail.

#45 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 01:35 AM

More wrestling from Chicago:


Mr. Moto vs. Ivan Rasputin had all the makings of a terrible match but it wasn't that bad actually. It was fought in the clinch like most of the Moto and Togo matches and there were some nice looking blows throughout. Ivan was a big Russian bear who threw a commanding forearm smash. He reminded me a bit of the British wrestler John Elijah in terms of being a robust power guy. Some of the commentary was inane but the match itself was worlds better than I expected. 


Jim Dobie vs. Lou Britton was a great match. This was right up my alley. It was a technical match with cheating so you got the best of both worlds, heel/face stuff for the crowd and mat wrestling. Lou Britton was completely awesome. A great wrestler and fine technician with a wonder Mexican moustache that was perfect for his role as role as the wrestler looking to take short cuts. I have no doubt he would be one of the finds of the 50s if there were more footage of him. Dobie was good too but Britton stole the show. Definitely a guy I won't be forgetting in a hurry.


Fuzzy Cupid was a great dwarf heel. He had a bit of a Lord James Blears gimmick going on and amazingly fuzzy hair. He took on an Ethiopian dwarf named Haile Selassie, who was really some guy from Philly. Quite a good match. The crowd were really into it and showed their support for the wrestlers. It was nice to see the midgets taken seriously as entertainers. Definitely the best midget bout so far.


Carl Engstrom looked like a decent young talent but he was stymied by having to work with Matt D's boy, The Mighty Atlas. Some nice holds here and there but too much of Atlas' strongman shtick grinding everything to a halt. I enjoyed the short Bozo Brown vs. Jim Graham match more. Brown was a fat boy wrestler with solid brawling skills and worked a good match before succumbing to a soft count out. Hope to see more of him in the future. 


All in all, quite good variety in these Chicago Archives. You really get a sense of how Fred Kohler promoted his cards from top to bottom. Valuable stuff. It's just a shame they ran out of money and didn't convert the rest of the collection. 

#46 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 07:44 PM

Violet Viann vs. June Byers was a decent match. Viann was this sassy, diminutive worker who kept chewing gum the entire bout and Byers, while lacking in charisma, looked better than in any of her other bouts. I think it was because she was working in favour of her size advantage instead of just looking to brawl and draw heat. Apparently, some of the modern WWE women watched this match and borrowed one of Byers' signature moves. Mechanically, she was strong in this.


Next up was the Zaharias Brothers vs. Rudy Kay & Al Williams. This was a short brawl between four barroom brawler types. FIne while it lasted. Vittorio Apollo vs. Miquel Torres was a short squash match designed to introduce Chicago to the latest Argentinian sensation. Apollo worked just like Rocca and bounced all over the show. One Rocca is probably enough for my money. 


Also on the short side were Johnny Gilbert vs. Jack Terry and Bearcat Wright vs. Big Moose Cholak. Terry was an old campaigner with a busted nose and cauliflower ears that kept giving his opponent judo "licks" while Gilbert was a younger, flashier opponent who liked putting Terry in a head-scissors and smashing his face into the canvas. Wright wasn't a great worker and Cholak was a huge lug who drew good heat but their bout was interesting enough for the time it last. 

#47 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 07:31 PM

Ramona TeSelle vs. Sharon Lass was a fairly generic 50s match with the heel cheating until she won. Russ was depressed by the result but hoped we liked it. Oh yeah, Russ, we're pumped.


Billy Darnell vs. Hans Hermann was another match with endless cheating. Matches like these never get started. The heel cheats, the face retaliates and you get the occasional flash of offense. Darnell looked like a decent worker but they were taking it pretty easy.  


Dick Afflis vs. Ivan Rasputin was apparently Afflis' debut in the territory as Davis knew nothing about him. Afflis was a mean bugger but the only time his work is compelling is when there's an extra edge to it like in the Gomez fight. Rasputin continues to be a fun worker. If you have an appreciation for journeymen you'll dig Rasputin. 


Great Yamato vs. Len Rossi was long but somehow Yamato manages to work decent matches with very little wrestling involved. That takes a fair amount of skill, I guess. It helps that he's a short, stocky guy who hits hard and like Rasputin looks like he has a strong center of gravity. Both of them look immovable which is a cool trait for a wrestler to have.


Tom Thumb vs. Little Beaver was a neat midgets match. Little Beaver looked like a minis version of Chief Don Eagle and knew how to work a hold. Competitive bout with both men working hard, There was a lot of niggle in the clinch as there often is in 50s wrestling but it was gritty and tough. The midgets represented. 

#48 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:10 AM

Chest Bernard vs. Tarzan White was a typical 50s heel vs. face bout with plenty of rule bending. Some nice comedy spots from Bernard but fairly run of the mill.


Angelo Poffo vs. The Mighty Atlas seems like it would be Matt D's favourite 50s match. They don't seem to do much of anything but got tremendous heat for it.


What followed was a run of Atlas matches. Bill Melby & Billy Darnell vs. The Mighty Atlas and Bob Orton was notable for the fact that it was in colour. If you've watched a ton of older footage you owe it to yourself to watch a match in colour even if the tones are too dark. The coolest thing about the match is Melby working toe holds where he teases poking the guy in his eye with his own foot. 


Atlas did a strongman exhibition where he snapped a 3/4 inch rope in half with his leg strength. Then I watched him have a long match with Chief Lone Eagle. Lone Eagle worked like a dumb savage who had a "squaw" who beat a "tom tom" drum to motivate her man. They cut a decent pace but Davis was over the top with his mock "brave" imitation. 


Rose Roman & Lorraine Johnson vs. Shirley Strimple & Ramona TeSelle was the first gal tag match I've seen and it surprised the shit out of me. Instead of being the usual rule bending affair they worked a straight up tag match that showcased how gals could wrestle too. Davis commented that TeSelle behaved like Katherine Hepburn which I dug but the focus on wrestling instead of the heel/face dynamic made this match stand out to me. 

#49 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 03:07 PM

June Beyers vs. Penny Banner was one tough wrestling match. If you had asked me a few years back what I imagined women's wrestling was like in the 1950s I would have said catfighting and hair pulling. But these women could wrestle. And not only that, they worked at a faster pace than the men and took bigger bumps. For some reason, Russ Davis was extremely dismissive of "gal wrestling" but it's been some of the more enlightening footage from the Chicago region. 


Next up was Angelo Poffo vs. Maurice Roberre. Poffo isn't really a favourite of mine but he did more wrestling here than usual even if it was mostly grinding away at a hold. Roberre showed some nice agility for a big man and looked like he had more to give. I'll keep an eye out for him in other matches.


Finally, Lorraine Johnson vs. Shirley Strimple was another hard-fought women's bout. The women's matches may not be the glamour pieces of the Chicago collection but they're consistently good and some of the best footage from the Archives. Both women's wrestling and midget wrestling have been a revelation for me thus far. It seems Kohler was intent on presenting both styles as serious wrestling and not a sideshow. There's still a fair share of xenophobia in the promotion and a lot of casual racism but the girls and he midgets shatter any stereotypes you may have of 1950s wrestling.  

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