Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

1950 Match of the Year


Buddy Rogers v. Lou Thesz Chicago 6/21/50


PAS: This is from Wrigley Field and was uploaded in glorious quality by the Chicago Film Archives. Really simple but effective matwork starts the match out, both guys really know how to make a headlock grind. Really picked up when they got on their feet. I love the way Rogers runs the ropes, he really looks completely out of control and makes a rope running exchange look like a highspot. Rogers is also an athletic bumper in the Hennig/Michaels vein and he takes a couple of violent spills out of the ring, and the finish of the third fall is a loony Foley ear loss hangman where he gets counted out. I also loved when he got nasty, throwing some sick uppercuts and a snap piledriver. Thesz was more subdued, clearly the grandfather of the Briscoes and Dory Funk Jr. I did love when he got chippy too; he caught Rogers with a huge kneelift which was probably the highlight of the match. I liked they did 3 falls in about 35 minutes, didn't drag, kept a nice pace and it felt like a big deal. Really great piece of history and a hell of a match.


ER: These Chicago Film Archives releases are really terrific, this beautiful vivid black and white video with amazing depth, and crystal clear audio, a real gift to wrestling fans and history in general. The announcer makes a bunch of comments alluding to Rogers being a fruit, scoffing at all of his glamour. And whatever, because Rogers' bejeweled singlet is a thing of beauty that I can only hope is in some sort of museum somewhere. Not even a wrestling museum, that thing needs to be in the Smithsonian. Rogers slips off that ornamental singlet and is ready for business, and Rogers is so killer here. He and Thesz grapple, with Rogers doing all these great hair flips to play Thesz's slaps to the back row, and things get great once Rogers starts bringing the cheapshots. And these aren't theatrical cheapshots, these are violent cheapshots. He throws all of these different uppercuts that look like they should be busting Thesz open under and over his eyes, throws sick short kneelifts (some of the best I've seen), eye gouges and short punches while halfway keeping up appearances of throwing legal palm strikes. I'm glad Phil mentioned the rope running because that was my favorite. Rope running is so controlled and silly, easily the main thing we all overlook while enjoying fake fighting. But this is clearly how rope running is intended to be used. Rogers would be flung recklessly into the ropes, crash into them unevenly, and then recoil the way you would if you were losing your footing and trying to not fall, like when I stepped on my own shoelaces while jogging and went flying forward bent at the waist through a crosswalk. Every time he would fly into the ropes he would fly back just as recklessly, sometimes barreling through Thesz with a shoulderblock, other times getting caught in a rough but skilled drop toe hold. Thesz responds to Rogers' antics in kind, never going for cheap shots but blatantly answering Rogers' cheapshots. Rogers throws uppercuts in a headlock? Thesz grabs a headlock and takes him down with it. Rogers throws several knees in a headlock? Thesz throws one giant knee. It made for a nice dichotomy between them; Thesz maintained dignity while Rogers cheated yet never looked outgunned. The finish is spectacular and I cannot imagine my reaction had I been there. Rogers flying high speed into the ropes and hanging himself looked like it should have popper his head off like a grape. The finish made me jump up watching it NOW; 65 years ago I imagine I would have instigated a riot or something.


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