Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Rocco! Gasparian! Le Mao! Israel!

Henri Le Mao vs. Isha Israel 8/22/65

SR: 1 fall match going 30 minutes. Holy shit this was great. A technical match with a serious violent streak. It‘s not about the things they do, but the intensity at which they do them. They did the usual French style hold for hold work, but in a grinding fashion. At one point, Israel put this hold on Le Mao where just pushed his knee into his eye. There are a few chinlocks and headlocks in the match, and while these are not normally exciting moves, they were here as these guys just tried strangling the shit out of each other. During one hold exchange Israel really wrenched Le Mao with a headlock, then dragged him up and dropped him with a sick neckbreaker. Le Mao looked rough after that and it got the crowd buzzing. Israel put another headlock on Le Mao, and it looked painful to break out of. The whole match was like that, hold exchanges building to explosions, and really great at that. Later Le Mao reverses a throw, tossing Israel into the ropes where he almost got strangled in another sick spot. Israel came back groggy but was able to sink into another sleeper hold which looked as deep as any other sleeper in history. It looked like he was about to pop Le Maos head off. By the end both guys were engaging in some strike exchanges that were up there with anything else in this footage. Israel popped Le Mao with some Futen level headbutts, bloodying him. Both guys seemed punch drunk and Le Mao carried on with the stoic determination of a true catcheur as the blood streamed from his brow. His big comeback forearms were awesome. Some rough as hell turnbuckle bumps come into play, too, and they have the crowd by the balls working narrow nearfalls. Really an ultra physical match, and while the match didn‘t have the most tricked out technical moves it felt up there with the best in this style due to sheer intensity.

PAS: This was right up there with the very best stuff we have seen from this footage. Israel was a complete fucker in this, reminded me of Tony Oliver. He really took most of the early part of this match with really punishing holds, tight chokes, nasty armlocks including one where he drove the point of his knee into Le Mao's eye. Le Mao had some fun escapes, but was mostly getting violently steamrolled. He was able to get back into the match when he tossed Israel into the ropes and Israel flips into a Foley loses his ear strangle hold. We get some hyper violent strike exchanges including Le Mao getting split with some gross headbutts and Israel driving his forearm right into the cut. This ends in a draw but I have no problem with a match ending with both guys trying to rip each others heads off with uppercuts.

MD: About halfway through this one, and knowing it was heading to a draw, I had a write-up in mind talking about the sheer, overall quality of the footage. This seemed like just another match. I'd never heard of Le Mao before and while Israel seemed to have put on a little mass, it was a lot of what we'd seen before: excellent holds hung on to, deep struggle, clever (and as the years go on more elaborate counters), a real testament to just how good any random match in the collection seems to be as we're a year and a half into the project and around ten years into the footage. Le Mao was definitely able to hang, no question there. There were some fun specifics like Israel's neckbreakers or the fact that the chinlock, which I really swear I haven't seen much before 65, was treated the same way the rear naked choke was treated when it first got used in pro wrestling, a sort of mean and a nasty move to be feared, as opposed to something we're so complacent about now (I'd argue that it' s the single move we take the most for granted in pro wrestling having watched a thousand 80s WWF matches). Usually with a draw like this, they'll build to the slugging over the last few minutes, or they'll take it up a few times earlier and bring it back down and let it start to boil over as the bell was about to ring. Here, though, they shifted gears with around ten minutes to go and it became a much fiercer, more contentious bout for the whole way in, only slowed down in the last few minutes due to exhaustion and selling the damage already done. Ultimately, it ended up one of my favorite stylist vs stylist draws in the footage.

SR: 1 fall match going about 20 minutes. This wasn't bad, but not all that good either. They just had about a regular catch bout. Lots of technical work for two heavyweights. Rocco was this Italian guy and acted like quite the ass. He really liked the nerve hold and kicked the shit out of Gasparian here or there, but the match never turned into an all out brawl. Bit repetitive, but all in all decent catch that suffers from the match the week before being a whole magnitude above.

MD: When you get a match between heavyweights, you really want a lot of hard hitting and big thumping and you get that in the last couple of minutes here, but the twenty or so minutes before that doesn't quite live up to what you'd want. Of the rest that we do get, the best of it is Rocco cheating, a lot of nerveholds turned into eyeraking, and Gasparian mounting spirited comebacks, be it stepping on the hand or tying him in the ropes. There's a couple of fun short arm scissors moments and a few spirited headbutts here and there throughout, but in general, I left this thinking I would have rather seen Rocco bully someone smaller or maybe get flummoxed by someone like Ben Chemoul or even one of the judo guys.

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Blogger Catcheur said...

Thank you for those matches. Le Mao vs Israel is really great. Other Le Mao still to come ?

3:34 AM  
Blogger Matt D said...

We have one match from 66 vs Thadee Kojiesky which is supposed to be another good showcase for him. It's a shame we don't have more.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Catcheur said...

Thank you

12:43 PM  

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