Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Gilbert Leduc! Zarzecki! Di Santo! Allary!

Gaston Maujean vs. Guy Cavillier 5/30/57

SR: JIP with about 6 and a half minutes show. Cavillier is a weird looking guy in leopard trunks. He seems to have a freakish wingspan and a big head. The much shorter Maujen mostly beats the piss out of him. It almost has the flair of a rookie beat down because Maujean kind of blows off Cavillier's attempts at offense and continues to slap and stomp him like a bug. Cavillier had one really cool armlock takeover. Despite mostly taking a beating here, he manages to secure the win when Maujean eats a nasty upkick.

MD: At first glance, and this was admittedly not much of one, Cavillier was the least impressive guy we've seen so far. At the very least he had the worst uppercuts. Good wild clubbers though, and some strikes that were actually unique in a positive way. Some. A lot of what he did seemed like trudging through molasses, and when Maujean took over, he really brutalized him, to the point where you have to wonder a bit (which at worst is just good believable wrestling, right?). Even the iffier of the matches we've seen so far had some cool stuff, like Cavillier's takedown where he trapped Robin's arm with his leg off the ropes, or the finish which had a dire back body drop into a kick off and deep pin. I'd have to see more of Cavillier to really tell, but I don't think we have more to see.

Gilbert LeDuc vs. Warnia de Zarzecki 5/30/57 - EPIC

SR: 1 fall match that goes a little over 30 minutes. This was face vs. Face, not something that you saw on TV much. It felt a bit like something you‘d see in 70s AJPW, two guys doing some nice stuff in a long quality contest. Because it‘s France they do really try to take each others heads off with european uppercuts here and there and once in a while a guy will eat a nasty kick or elbow in the middle of an exchange, but they play nice all the way through. The wrestling was classy with both heavyweight looking guys busting out cool flying headscissors and working hard. Leduc is introduced as a world champion, while he didn‘t show a ton of charisma, he looked like a classy worker, and his escape where he headspins out of an armlock is spectacular. There was some excellent bodyscissors work and a handful of fantastic rope running exchanges that you would‘ve bought as plausibly ending the match. One of my favourite spots in old euro matches is the hip throw where the other guy has his arm behind his back and lands on his shoulder in nasty fashion, it‘s so simple but brutal looking. The match also had some of the more elaborate double leg nelson work I‘ve seen, which is one of the coolest old school holds. Great finish, too.

MD: This was excellent. It was a hard hitting technical match with a number of holds worked in and out of with extended "hanging on" spots. LeDuc was the de facto favorite as the Frenchman (my favorite bit of applause was when he hung on to a leglock while de Zarzecki was taking his face off with his foot repeatedly) but the match was worked cleanly and they'd begrudgingly give de Zarzecki applause for a solid counter.

The mid-match bodyscissors by de Zarzecki was one of the best sequences of its kind that you'll see (and we'll have a direct comparison in this week's other match too). The struggle as Leduc tried to escape and was slammed around the ring was perfect and they completely got me on a 'hope spot' out only for de Zarzecki to catch him again on a leaping pin attempt. And how he got out? It was that same sort of cradling lift up that we've seen previously, but this time instead of turning it into a slap, LeDuc just clobbered his skull with a forearm.

They then followed it with a bunch of mean strikes and a kip up that was reversed by an 85% complete Code Red. This is the sort of stuff that just happens in these matches, almost as commonplace. To great effect too. Here's a sign of how into this the crowd was: they count along with the ref to the ten count after LeDuc clobbers de Zarzecki with an Andre the Giant style knee to head crusher. I don't think we've quite seen that in any of this French footage so far. The match keeps building and building, escalating to this really cool LeDuc waistlock pick up into a submission with a leg behind the head that he seasons by peppering de Zarzecki's skull with lightning fast kicks and rubbing his face on the mat. The inevitable escape gave us our first French footage Boston crab. Then the whole thing finishes with an amazing flip up 'rana-attempt-into-an accordion powerbomb finish. Just top notch stuff. I feel like we get to say this every other week but this is one of the best matches we've seen.

PAS: Apparently LeDuc was the master of a La Toupie which is his headspin counter out of a headscissors, and it was awesome to see him break that out a couple of times to big acclaim. He also broke out the headspin when he put on the headscissors, and there was this great moment early when Zarzecki brick walled the attempt only to get smashed with an upkick. So many cool counters and reversals in this match, and also more chippiness then we see in the match next week. It breaks down multiple times including some really nasty forearms as ways to counter out of holds, and LeDuc doing some nasty smashing of Zarzecki's wrist and grinding into his face. Felt like Zarzecki was a bit of a dance partner in the LeDuc show,  but man is it a great show, and I am excited to watch much more of him in this footage.

Lino Di Santo vs. Michel Allary 6/7/57 - GREAT

SR: 1 Fall match going about 27 minutes. Well, seems we have hit a friendly stride in the French TV year, because this was another clean, fair contest. Maybe even the friendliest match so far, because not a single forearm smash or European uppercut was thrown until about 25 minutes into the match. This wasn‘t as good as the match between Leduc and Zarzecki the week before, but it was a neat match in it‘s own right: you had the theme of grizzled, older looking Lino di Santo trying to deal with his young, athletic opponent. Lots of good technical work throughout as we know it from the French grapplers. The key moment came when Allary locked in the short arm scissor and Di Santo, after trying several one armed deadlifts was unable to escape. Di Santo looked mentally defeated at that point, he tries to hit some uppercuts, but is too worn out. One of the coolest uses of such a simple hold I‘ve ever seen. Di Santo narrowly avoids defeat, sinking in a double leg nelson and hitting his brutal neckbreaker, but Allary has him on the ropes soon. In the end, Di Santo was able to survive just long enough until the time limit runs out. I‘m not sure whether this match had a 27 minute time limit or something, but it seems complete enough. This kind of „young, good looking guy gets the rub by going to a draw against a veteran“ is a staple of European wrestling, and Di Santos performance made it very worthwhile.

MD: Weirdly similar to the last match, worked friendly, with another long bodyscissors spot with a similar, but not as good, rope-running escape, and that same waistlock pick up into a submission with a leg behind the head but without some of the cool flourishes LeDuc utilized. Some of this was just too similar to be a coincidence even if I can't figure out exactly what was going on. This one suffered from LeDuc vs de Zarzecki being so good and so comparable, but picked up big in the last few minutes, with some great dead-arm selling by Di Santo (even as he was trying to throw forearms) and some big spots like a leaping 'rana and two killer Rude Awakenings.

PAS: I am a huge fan of the short arm scissors, and this had some of the niftiest short arm scissor work I can remember, with Allary really locking in this super tight scissors and DiSanto trying multiple methods of counter before finally maneuvering Allary into the ropes,  his arm is so numb that he can't even hit forearms which was a cool bit of selling. Much of this was solid technical wrestling although I don't think either guy did much to distinguish themselves amongst the pool of great French technical wrestlers (it's a great pool though, that is no dis). I did love the jumping rana into a kind of triangle. So much of this French footage has been on the shoulders of great heels, so naturally a face versus face match like this is going to miss a bit of spark, although the work was still very good.

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