Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: LeDuc! Lamban! Modesto! Teddy Boy!

Nikolai Zigulinoff vs. Robert Gastel 10/30/58

SR: JIP match. Zigulinoff is some Bulgarian sheepherd. He had that kind of aura only some mythical figure can have. Robert Gastel wasn‘t quite Les Matraquer du Rings at this point, he was actually quite the blue eye, although he sure had his dirty tricks already. He reminded me a bit of Dick Murdoch. He was dealing some serious hurt on the Bulgarian madman, who just walked through the punishment. Fascinating little clip.

MD: We get about seven minutes of this. We've seen Gastel before, much older, and he's the same guy here back in the 50s. Mean punches, meaner headbutts and hairpulls (including standing on his opponent's giant fro). Stooging. Zigulinoff is quite the character. Crazy hair. Big stocky body. Bulgarian shepherd gimmick. Bearhugs and overhead clobbers and not too much else. At one point Gastel ties his hair to the ropes, as if he was Octagon. This was pretty goofy but the fans seemed to enjoy it and I don't mind our JIP slots being taken up by a few minutes of this sort of thing where we get to see the variety of the characters that were around in the late 50s.

Gilbert LeDuc vs. Rocco Lamban 10/30/58

SR: 2/3 Falls match going about 30 minutes. Rocco Lamban, El Estrangulador~! It‘s a testament to the greatness of the Spanish workers that pretty much anytime one of them shows up we get a great match. Lamban, like Adolf Kaiser, uses the Dragon Sleeper as a finish. While he is not quite as comically evil as the Doctor of Philosophy (though he does look like a sophisticated fellow), he sure was willing to do every despicable thing not in the rulebook to get the advantage. He could wrestle, too, and that makes this such a compelling match up. They go from some nice wrestling exchanges with Lamban earning the respect of the audience with a nice hip throw to Lamban punching the shit out of Leducs ear and Leduc stepping on his face nicely. Leduc is impeccable as a gentleman technician who will forearm the shit out of you in these matches. You can say it about almost any face worker in France, but damn did this guy have great european uppercuts. We also get to see him play Bridge between the falls and that was really cool and now I‘ll forver dub Leduc as „The Gambler“ in my mind. I loved when Lamban decided to try and bite his way out of a hold, Leduc went Tyson on him biting his ear. Lamban is good enough that he doesn‘t have to rely on choking all the time. When they do get to working around the Dragon Sleeper, its some really compelling work thanks to both Lamban having a variety of ways to get the hold and Leduc having a variety of ways to get out of it. When Lamban finally sinks the hold in deep and chokes Leduc out it‘s gritty as hell. One thing I like in these old French matches is even the referees will get violent to get a heel to break a hold, usually facelocking them like riot cops pulling off protesters, in this case the referee just decided to punch Rocco in the face. The 3rd fall was really great and probably the best build to a finish we‘ve seen in this entire project with Lamban trying everything to get the Dragon Sleeper again and Leduc, being clearly wobbly, throwing body punches and left-right forearms. Actual finish was a thing of beauty.

PAS: This was tremendous. We have seen LeDuc before, he is the master of La Toupie (his Santo style spinning headscissors) and there is some really cool stuff early with Lamban blocking and countering his attempts to put it on. This had some of the most vicious breakdowns into violence that we have seen with LeDuc hitting these incredible one-two short forearm combos and Lamban trying to rip, tear and punch off LeDuc's ear. All of the stuff around the Dragon sleeper was elite, with Lamban just brutalizing him with it to win the second fall, and some really cool spots with him trying to get it on and LeDuc flipping and countering out of it in the third fall. Such a cool match, with Lamban being a great villain and LeDuc looking like an all time great babyface.

MD: This is a match where El Strangulador, Rocco Lamban, another master of the pre-1960 Dragon Sleeper, tries to cheat and shove the ref away for cheapshots, and just outright strangle his way to victory, with Gilbert LeDuc just having none of it. At one point LeDuc has him in that revelatory hold, the double leg nelson, and is just slamming Rocco's face into the mat. Rocco escapes with a bite to the leg. So what does LeDuc do? He bounds up and takes a chunk out of Rocco's ear. Immediately thereafter, Rocco uses harsh whips against the ropes into a knee to the stomach, once, then twice, then a third attempt despite the ref's admonishing. LeDuc catches the leg the third time and takes him down. A little later Rocco grinds a knuckle in LeDuc's eye, so LeDuc punches Rocco directly in his. He's got no time for any of this. He was the sort of guy who would attack first on a heel handshake attempt after a cheapshot. That said, later in the second fall, he didn't, and that's when Rocco really locked in his dragon sleeper. There are certain structural advantages of a 2/3 falls match. Having something win an earlier fall can build the drama of it reoccurring in the next fall. By the time the third fall started, Rocco's dragon sleeper was the most dangerous thing in the world and that let them really struggle over it. Rocco would do anything in his power, including rabbit punches and using the top rope as a weapon to lock it in; LeDuc would go so far as to pull the hair to get out. In the end, Rocco went too far to achieve his objective and the ref would break it at key moments. It was, ultimately, Rocco's only viable path to victory, and that certainty let LeDuc finally counter it for another great, 40 years before its time finish.

ER: Loved this, a match that looks like another fun Catch romp before taking a sudden violent left turn at the end of the 2nd fall. LeDuc came out of the gates showcasing all of his great arm strikes, quick forearms, hard elbows, hooking uppercuts, all thrown with different timing. Sometimes he would do a simple 1-2, next time he'd do a 1-and-a-2-3, next time he'd just come in with one hard uppercut. They all looked great, and what really put it over the top was the incredibly strong selling from Lamban. He had that Finlay-like knack for anticipating how hard he was going to be hit and bumping accordingly. Modern strike bumping has turned into bad stand in place selling or fast back bumps, but Lamban treated each strike appropriately. He would get staggered by some shots, get dropped to a knee on others, fall into the ropes, always looking like he was reacting to the strike being thrown. That has to be incredibly difficult, as you have no idea how well your opponent is going to throw a strike, and yet all of his movements felt like the perfect call and response. Lamban's selling was really important to the pace of this match, as LeDuc was so aggressive that this really could have turned into strike overkill. Instead, Lamban was providing space and breath with his selling, making strikes mean more. He had a couple other unique bumps (is there any 50s French Catch wrestler who doesn't have a couple unique bumps?), with my favorite being his belly flop bump after getting bucked from a full nelson. LeDuc popped his hips back, Lamban flew back and flopped on his stomach. It felt like a slightly straight take on a bump Candido would do.

This was shaping up to be a real LeDuc showcase, until Lamban choked the life out of him with his dragon sleeper to take the 2nd fall. And with excellent selling being the theme of the match, LeDuc sold the dragon sleeper as if he had been waterboarded. He was leaning forward, drooling, coughing, rubbing his throat, while ring attendants rubbed his shoulders and toweled him off. All of them were acting like their fighter was just waking up sitting on a ring with no memory of how he got there, and LeDuc's selling made that dragon sleeper hang heavily over the entire 3rd fall. Seeing how decisively LeDuc was put down, it made a quick 3rd fall finish a possibility every time they came into contact. Lamban had cool downward strike elbows, and every snapmare battle felt like something that could quickly end LeDuc. The finish was innovative and unexpected, a snap reversal of a suplex leading to a reverse suplex, a Sliced Bread finish during a time where actual sliced bread was not yet common. I loved the pacing of this match, a match that felt like it was going to be a LeDuc showcase but turned into so much more.

Janos Vadkerti vs. Roland Daumal 10/13/60

SR: About 12 minutes of this were shown. Largely technical bout, and they had some good stuff going on. Vadkerti was a Hungarian wrestler, and that‘s nice to see. Daumal, who was in the veteran role, looked like a good worker. He had a leg stretch that was either cool or stupid depending on where you stand, and his ranas were slick as hell for a guy who looked to be balding and aging. There was also some nice body scissor work. Vadkerti was here to hit explosive dropkicks and he was good at that.

MD: This was the semi-finals of a lightweight tournament, with Aledo vs Teddy Boy the other semifinals. It was an international affair as one might expect. Vadkerti is Hungarian and we only have one more JIP match with him later. I hope it gets some time. This did, about 12:00, JIP. Daumal is French and I don't think we see him again, and in both cases it's a shame since this was a really solid pairing. Athletic, hard-hitting, with some good holds and escape attempts, especially a Daumal leg nelson that Vadkerti was really fighting to get out of and, of course, this amazing but admittedly ill-conceived leg-splitting mutilation thing by Vadkerti that I've never seen before. Even just the bodyscissors and leg-splitters had a lot of fight to them. Vadkerti was so lean that every time his strained you could all but see his skeleton putting up a fight. There was a running, twisting 'rana by Daumal early on that was jawdropping and another attempt right at the end that led to a completely compacting power bomb and the finish. We are somehow both spoiled and starved by this footage.

Modesto Aledo vs. Teddy Boy 10/13/60

SR; 1 Fall match going a bit over 20 minutes. Another reason why this is the greatest footage find ever: Getting to see a guy like Modesto Aledo. Aledo was a Spanish lightweight champion whose claim to faim is fighting George Kidd in a holy grail match in England. You can easily see how he was world champion material. The holds and moves he used weren‘t a ton different from what everyone else (in France) did, but he moved in a sublime way and had a cool unique way to do things. This is also Teddy Boys first appearance, and he gives a rather impressive heel showing. Aledo is a wrestler who just keeps moving and moving, giving his opponent no breaks, so while Teddy Boy got in some slick moves of his own it soon became clear that he would have to use rough tactics to get the advantage. And that‘s just about what he did, punting Aledo with some hard kicks and then doing the unthinkable and overhead throwing Aledo over the top rope. To say that those apron bumps were insane would be an understatement. Boy pulled that move several times and you could tell the crowd was getting really unruly as he kept attacking Aledos spine. Aledos selling was great, not to mention the insane bumping, he was moving hunched over like someone who had trouble moving. Aledos eventual comeback was like the Euro version of a Jerry Lawler strapdrop as he seized the advantage and blasted Teddy Boy with everything he had before a dramatic finish. Really amazing match that went from graceful to super intense. Just insane that pro wrestling 60 years ago was like this.

PAS: Wow was Aledo impressive, he reminded me of some of the all time great grapplers, like watching Blue Panther or Terry Rudge. He spent the first part of the match showing his skill, just countering and tooling Teddy Boy with all of his counters. It was some all time slick stuff that kept Teddy Boy on his back foot, and he responds with vicious results. His belly to belly throws over the top rope were truly shocking, the kind of crazy shit you would expect to see in a crazy indy match or an All Japan 90s match. Super dangerous, really violent and a hell of an escalation. I loved the finish run too, with Aledo throwing big forearms and ducking under Teddy Boy's legs with an upkick. Then he gets tossed one more time to the floor, only to get tossed back in and press slammed for the pin. Great stuff, super skills, crazy bumps, and a wild violent finish. The hits keep coming.

MD: This was absolutely excellent. It was the second semifinal of the tournament. Aledo, the Little Bull of Valencia, is Kamikaze I, who's considered, by rep, to be one of the best Spanish wrestlers of all time and who we had no real footage of. He's a wizard. I thought Teddy Boy was awesome. He came out with a leather jacket with his name on it. He had this Rebel Without a Cause greaser vibe and was just absolutely cruel. Just pure attitude. He also seemed apt to target a body part more than almost anyone we've seen in the footage, though it wasn't the story of the match or anything. Aledo took the early portions with finesse. There were some roll up exchanges which we'd say were well before their time but by now we know that was obviously just a perception issue due to lack of footage. Aledo did one cool thing after another, with my favorite maybe being his cavernaria style straightjacket submission, but he had some breathtaking through the legs spots too, the best of which being tied to a takedown. When Teddy took over, the match changed completely. For the most part he targeted the midsection: front, back, and side, with stomps and rib-breakers and the ref desperately trying to hold him back. There was a point in the midst of this where I thought he was going for a bear hug but he leaned against the ropes and launched Aledo with a belly to belly suplex over the top instead. Then he did it again. And, following the rule of three, he got jammed on the third only to hit a gut punch and actually get it. Mindboggingly brutal. Obviously the fans were going to be engaged after that (not that they weren't given Aledo's slickness and Teddy's unfurled attitude). The finish followed from everything that came before, with Aledo too exuberant in his comeback and Teddy launching him out one last time so that he could pick at the bones after the overeager crowd helped him back in for an easy pin. Just great stuff.

ER: This was so good! And I would have loved it even if they hadn't had that wild gear shift that lead to Aledo flying over the top to the floor several times in between having his guts dented. I mean, really, the match won me over before it even started once I saw Teddy Boy in his cuffed dark denim jeans and black leather ring jacket. Dude looked like the coolest possible Squiggy or like a cool Sha Na Na bassist. Aledo quickly won me over with a ton of gravity defying headscissors and armdrags. I must have skipped back 10 seconds a dozen different times in this match, trying to figure out how they got into the positions they got into, trying to figure out the physics and who was lifting who. Some of them I couldn't even figure out how they wound up where they did, even though every single moved looked to be executed exactly as planned. There was a sunset flip where the man I predicted would come out on top, was the man who wound up being pinned. It's been 25 years and wrestlers are still aspiring to Malenko/Guerrero roll ups, when there was THIS out there 35 years before THAT! Dream bigger, modern wrestlers, there's a world of possibility on French Catch. Now, the best part of these armdrags and headscissors is that there doesn't appear to be any cheating. They aren't going through with a bump if the move isn't delivered properly, they are bumping according to the move being delivered, and it makes the implausible feel and look plausible. Teddy was a great base for all of Aledo's tricks, but when he took over this got crazy.

Teddy was real mean and threw some punishing strikes to the gut, and just started working over Aledo's core any way he could, really softening him up. But nobody could have expected those belly to belly suplexes. As he gripped Aledo in a bear hug it looked like Aledo was purposely walking him to the ropes to force a break, and instead Teddy just launched him straight overhead to the floor. Aledo slowed his momentum somewhat by getting a hand on the ropes on his way down, but nowhere close to enough to break the fall. And then it happened again. Then, it happened again...except Aledo blocked it...only momentarily, because Teddy Boy punches him right in the liver and throws him anyway. I loved Teddy's punches to the liver, and a hard front kick that Aledo sold like it had ruptured his spleen. I loved how those big bumps over the top played directly into the finish, with Aledo going over one last time before getting pinned. When the violence gets to an unexpected level, it's cool when that violence actually results in the finish. We often see matches where things get violent, but the wrestler taking the violence just goes back to his early match strategy and wins anyway. That didn't happen here, and that made it look even more amazing 60 years later.

PAS: Another big week, and we decided to make Teddy Boy vs. Modesto Aledo our inaugural 1960 champion on our Ongoing All Time MOTY List.

ER: The committee also decided to place LeDuc/Lamban as our NEW 1958 champ, bumping off the Royal/Hessle team after just one week! Two matches placed on our All Time MOTY List the same week is cause for celebration, and these two matches are incredibly easy to celebrate.

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Blogger maskedoutlaw said...

when did johnny kidd wrestle aledo in the uk ? it def wasent on tv

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Jetlag said...

Yes, it was actually George Kidd. I got the two mixed up.

5:57 AM  

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