Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, June 07, 2018

1951 Match of the Year

Donn Lewin vs. Leo Garibaldi California Wrestling 4/30/51 

PAS: Man was this cool. It was a very nifty type of grappling contest, with both guys taking turns synching in holds, and then pitched battles to escape and counter out. For example Garabaldi sinks in a nasty bodyscissors, and Lewin tries multiple escapes including turning it into a giant swing. Lewin puts on a headscissors and there are lots of cool counter attempts out of that. No lying in holds, just constant counter grappling. I am a total mark for a short arm scissors spot, and Garibaldi did some really interesting things locking one on. There are some nice flat back dropkicks by both guys and a really energetic finishing run, with lots of upkicks and snap mares.  Fans of grappling will be really into this as both guys were clearly really skilled on the mat.

ER: This stuff is great. My parents were each born in 1951 (in fact 4/30 is literally the exact midpoint between their days of birth), and growing up I've always used their birth as some kind of measuring stick when watching something, listening to something, experiencing something. This I assume is what a farmer might do, only comparing everything to hay bales or calves. "That man was about as tall as three stacked hay bales, or, as tall as a cow with a hay bale on its back." So I'm regularly making both mundane and disbelieving observations based around their year of birth, stupid statements like "How crazy is it that Frankenstein had been a movie for 20 years before my parents were born; also, I wonder how often they used a Whites Only drinking fountain." But this is wrestling in the year of the birth of my oldish parents, and it's great. Both men are wearing bulky diaper-like wool trunks (obviously trunk technology was not where it would soon be, much like bathing soon tech), and we get a bunch of great grappling without any of the fantastical gymnastics of the French Catch grappling, but we get several neat surprises and other things that I hadn't seen before in a pro wrestling ring, like World of Sport but without the wink. Nobody really cares about seeing rolling cradles anymore, we all lived through the 90s (that sounds like a sentence that Carrie Bradshaw would write, if she wrote about pro wrestling instead of *I've not watched that show so I'll stop this comparison), but a rolling key lock is a cool twist, and you can see these guys really straining to keep that lock and break that lock. It's a cool sight to see one man hanging onto his own forearm for dear life so that his arm doesn't get yanked loose while rolling around a ring. The mat stuff around the headscissors was tremendous, and far and away my favorite part of this; at one point Garibaldi leaps in with a headscissors takedown that could have been lifted by Volk Han, not flying at Lewin's neck but grabbing around the waist and letting gravity work. Lewin tried to pop Garibaldi's head off like a grape with his own headscissors, and would roll through his seated headscissors into a short piledriver, which someone needs to steal. We all know the Canadian Destroyers need to leave wrestling (especially lucha, get the fuck out of Mexico, Flipping Piledriver Variations!), but someone like Gulak or Ohno would be able to work a short headscissors piledriver into their moveset and it would seem fresh. Garibaldi scrambling and trying to break free from the headscissors made my own neck hurt, and I liked how the escapes combined artistry with a caged animal sense of escape. The finishing run was fast and showed off the impressive gas tanks, with cool snapmares and a glimpse at Garibaldi's cool finish, a kneelift that's set up similarly to a short arm clothesline. That kneelift looked awesome and it looked weirdly physics defying, enough that I went back to it several times. The way Garibaldi would twist his body while lifting into Lewin left him facing almost entirely away from his opponent, like he was delivering a short arm butt-butt, and Lewin sold it like a cannonball to the gut. Damn I need to catch up to the modern age and actually figure out how to do GIFs.


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