Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Saturday, October 08, 2016

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD: 1962: Aubriot v. Bernaert VS. Rikidozan v. Freddie Blassie

Rikidozan vs. Freddie Blassie WWA 3/28/62

PAS: This was super minimalist wrestling, with Rikidozan using judo chops and Blassie throwing punches and chops. I don't mind minimalist wrestling when stuff looks good and Rikidozan's chops look like they crack bones and separate shoulders, and Blassie has a nice looking straight punch to the forehead and a nice timing for his choke. I really liked how Rikidozan wouldn't attack a downed Blassie because of the rule differences between Japan and the US. Still the match was a bit repetitive and the end of the match was super anticlimactic with a curfew time limit draw and the ref giving the title to Rikidozan because of his first fall win. I am happy I watched this, as I don't think I had seen any Blassie before, but this was more of a fun piece of history then a great match

ER: Pro tip: Follow the above link to the match in question. Don't just go on YouTube thinking "How many 1962 Rikidozan/Blassie matches could be online??" Well, there is at least one more, and it is not very good. I only realized it was a different match when it actually had a pinfall finish, which didn't match up with Phil's accounts. That other match actually started to put me to sleep, which is actually pretty rare for pro wrestling. I have notably fallen asleep both times I attempted to watch the Hart/Michaels iron man match, but that's been 15-20 years ago. So anyway, don't watch that, watch this. This one is way better. Way better. There is a possibility I really liked this because I really disliked that other match, but I think this match stands on its own. Freddie Blassie was my grandfather's favorite wrestler around this same time period. They lived in southern California, and according to my mother wrestling was on TV a LOT. If there was something my mom (who would have been 11 in 1962) wanted to watch, but pro wrestling was on, my grandpa would say her show was a rerun. I'm sure that is why my mother was so thrilled when I started watching wrestling. He also forever mortified my mother by calling her school principal a "pencil neck geek". Whenever grandpa would come down from Oregon to visit he would always watch wrestling with me. He was a quiet, gruff, grizzled man, a former lumberjack with all of his brothers. He rarely spoke when we watched wrestling, or at all really, though I remember him making comments while watching a match from Terry Funk's '98 WWF run. But YouTube wasn't a thing then, and I had no access to classy Freddie Blassie matches. My grandpa passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 91, which is obviously a nice, long life. But it would have been really great to watch a Freddie Blassie match from the Olympic with him.

And this one would have been ideal, as it was really good. Blassie throws great straight right punches and bites at Rikidozan's eye, and Rikidozan would gamely fight back with big chops and awesome running shoulderblocks. And the match didn't need a whole lot more than that. Blassie would work over Rikidozan's eye, and to get space Rikidozan would back away and then just charge off the ropes at him and send Blassie flying, and there were also great moments where Riki would show off his sumo strength by whipping Blassie into the ropes and leveling him with a big chop. Blassie must have really been hated in LA, as Rikidozan gets cheered wildly the whole time. Some guy in the front row stands up and yells at the ref that Blassie is biting Riki. Those shows must have been wild. But yeah this was a neat look at wrestling history.

Verdict

PAS: Pretty easy win for the French Catch rep, Aubriot v.  Bernaert had all of the stiffness and violence of Blassie v. Rikidozan with a bunch more tricked out cool moves. Only thing the WWA match had in it's favor was historical significance, and that may only be because of our ignorance of French wrestling history.

ER: I agree with Phil. This was something I'm really glad is out there, and I really enjoyed. But Aubriot and Bernaert smoked it. Phil also makes a great point about French wrestling history.

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