Segunda Caida

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

1968 Match of Year

Jean Ferrer vs. Franz Van Buyten French Catch 1/20/68

PAS: This is the earliest Andre match we have, and just showed up on the internet. Agility of Young Andre is off the charts, Buyten actually takes him over with a pair of hurricanrana's and Andre bumps like a monstrous Juventud Guerrera. He also really is ferocious, his bear hug looks like he is squeezing human juice out of a toothpaste tube, and I loved his huge press stomach breaker. Buyten looked good too, some really fun grappling takeovers, and some stinging uppercuts, and the reversal of the stomach breaker was an awesome spot. Nothing I love more then a unearthed gem and this was a flawless one.

ER: This is probably the most important historic wrestling "find" of the last several years, maybe since the first batch of French Catch showed up and we were all awakened to what was happening in France 50 years ago. This is by far the youngest Andre we've seen, and he has the posture and Army jacket of a shy quiet high schooler. Watch how bashful he looks kissing a lady on the cheek before the match! Van Buyten would look strapping and powerful against most other wrestlers (especially 50 years ago) but here is lean, toned, muscular Andre making him look tiny. Andre is gigantic but does not move like a giant at this point. He moves like a normal man, making Van Buyten just look like a tiny man. There is no lumbering Andre yet, he's just a normal man who happens to be gigantic.

It's wild to see someone working takedowns with Andre, but Van Buyten looks super credible, and his leg work looks like he was trying to snap Andre's legs in multiple spots. I want to see Sabre or Thatcher steal some of his legwork, it looks just as painful if not more. With Andre on his back, Van Buyten straightens Andre's leg vertically, begins twisting at his ankle, then starts putting all his weight on the sole of Andre's foot, forcing his one leg to hold up all his weight. It really looked like something that could immediately cause a leg to hyperextend or buckle, really dangerous looking. He works a couple early calf crusher variations, really bending Andre's calf around. The rana takeovers were really cool, as they weren't smooth at all, there was struggle, and you don't often see a rana snapped off with the guy taking it fighting against it. Here the fight was because Andre towered over him, so he couldn't just hop up and flip Andre over. Van Buyten basically had to scale Andre's body like a climbing wall and then whip him over, and Andre get rana'd into the ropes made it look like it shifted the entire ring. Not a sight I ever thought I would see. Once Andre starts getting his mitts on Van Buyten, we get a ton of awesome Andre offense that we've never seen: these huge press slam gutbusters and backbreakers that seem like they should snap a man in half, a bearhug that looks like he is entirely engulfing Van Buyten, and my favorite, a couple European uppercuts that seem like they should be outlawed. Andre hits that first uppercut and I realized "I have no idea who Van Buyten is, this match may be the cause of his death". Andre hits this picture perfect European, as fine as any you've seen from any of the modern masters like Regal or Finlay, except thrown by a man twice their size. The fact this match got discovered and brought to the masses is a treat in and of itself; the fact the match is as great as it is, is just a true gift to wrestling fans.


La Compl├Ęte et Exacte French Catch


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