Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Andre the Giant Will Race to the Bottom of a Glass

Geant Ferrer vs. Scarface French Catch 1/1/68 - FUN

PAS: This might be the earliest Andre match available, and while it isn't the classic that Franz Van Buyten match is, any chance to see young Andre is a treat. This is basically a brawl, with Scarface being this cheap shot artist, who is always looking for an advantage, with babyface Andre fight back valiantly. I loved all three of them (including the ref) spilling out over the top rope, and there was some good clubbing by both guys. I really liked Scarface's almost cartoon selling, when he got clubbed on the head, it felt like the way Elmer Fudd might sell being hit by a frying pan.

ER: This was a real fun disjointed mess. Scarface is a real jerk who looks like a beefed up Mr. Bean, who was really aggressive about attacking Andre and tying him up with tough headlocks, even having the stones to grab a bearhug! Grabbing a bearhug ON Andre! Scarface has really great kicks to the stomach. He'd muscle Andre down by the arm, or in a headlock, ref would break it up (really the ref spent 20 minutes trying to break up everything. I was over it.), and Scarface would push kick Andre in the stomach as he was walking away. At one point Andre just picks Scarface up over his head while Scarface was holding a headlock, and the crowd shrieks as it looks like Andre is going to throw him into the 4th row. Andre was somehow turned into a sympathetic giant with how aggressive Scarface was being, and this whole thing peaked when both men (and the intrusive referee) tumbled over the top to the floor, and Andre and Scarface really started beating the tar out of each other, two big guys throwing big shots right next to people. It's fascinating to see this earliest Andre, so we can see Andre with actual terrible offense. He is still throwing amazing European uppercuts this early (and while it's cute that Scarface sells them by puffing his cheeks and exhaling, these looked like murder blows and really should have been treated as such), but Andre also has these really terrible overhand shots, and I'm not really sure what they're supposed to be. He lifts his arm up fast and violent, tucks his elbow like he's coming down with a Dusty elbow, but then kind of lightly extends his fist to barely bonk Scarface on the chest, and even makes his hand "explode" as if he just did a fist bump. They're really perplexing and bad strikes, and a few weeks later during his excellent match against Franz Van Buyten they are completely gone. Still, this was a fun look at the earliest Andre, and I believe our first time seeing old cranky Scarface.

Andre the Giant/Giant Baba vs. The Land of Giants AJPW 11/25/90 - FUN

ER: Sadly, I couldn't quite go EPIC on this one, even though I wanted to in my heart. While it's probably not the best tag in All Japan history (and I'm sure there will be some out there that consider it the worst, which is not unfair), what they fail to note is that it is - in all likelihood - that it is probably the tallest tag match in All Japan history, and that still means something in this world. Andre the Giant Versus Skywalker Nitron sounds like a disappointing 50s sci fi flick, or a bad down period Marvel comic, and the same things can be said for Giant Baba Versus Butch Masters. I know these words but that sentence makes no sense. So you have two tall white guys, one a future Michael Myers and X-Man, one a future Giant Warrior, against two broken Giants, and it's weird and amusing and then it ends. I give Skywalker Nitron credit for doing his best against our lovable old duo, both because he really knew when to ham it up properly, and also because I'm likely never going to get the chance to write the words "Skywalker Nitron" again. Nothing here will knock your wrestling socks off, but there are moments of joy to be had, like Skywalker Nitron being put into double arm breakers by Andre and Baba, and kind of jumping and yipping every time they bring his arms down over their shoulders; or Andre working a really cool knucklelock spot that I've never seen, where he grabs Walker's hand in his literal Giant hand, squeezes it, and then rears back and punches Masters in the hand; or the way Baba sold Skywalker Nitron's punches with disdain; or Baba actually doing a drop toehold (well, we knew it was supposed to be a drop toehold) on Skywalker Nitron. Baba and Andre's finish is almost adorable, as Andre whips Masters into a big Baba boot, and then Andre unexpectedly drops an elbow. Now, the elbow was...basically Andre widening his legs until he was just about close enough to drop onto Masters, but just seeing Andre hit the mat in any way was pretty unexpected at this point, and it was tough seeing him slowly pull himself up by putting a lot of weight on the referee's shoulders. But, Skywalker Nitron and Butch Masters were good sports, I still can't take my eyes off of barely mobile Andre, he's still somehow utterly compelling and I like that this happened.

PAS:  I thought Nitron and Masters were pretty terrible, nothing they did looked like it had any impact at all. I can see why you wouldn't want to hit Baba hard (he really looked like he was made of porcelain at this point), but Andre was solid enough that you could make contact at least. I thought Andre looked pretty good. I love when he lurches his arm out to grab someone by the throat, and while that elbow drop wasn't graceful, it sure landed with a thud. Even in his last days he still had an aura about him. Honestly this was a pretty bad match, but as a spectacle it is definitely worth watching.


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