Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Tejero! Bordes! Mantopoulous! Lynch! High Chief!

Anton Tejero vs. Walter Bordes 8/29/67

MD: Phil and Eric reviewed this back in 2014, and thought it was epic and a good addition to the slowly building canon, but we know so much more now and can put this into context. The fact that Tejero is from Peru and teams with Peruano means something. The fact that Bordes is only 20 and a disciple of Ben Chemoul means something. The fact that Marshall is the ref means something. And so on. This was a welterweight match (which generally means something too) and it really felt like a slick, sly guy with a lot of stuff, in Tejero, up against a very game young stylist who was going to do every ambitious spot he had in mind. There was elaboration on some of the chain wrestling reversals and in and outs of holds that were as complex as anything we've seen lately in the footage and it all looked very good. 

Tejero kept it clean for the first ten minutes and even when he started introducing knee shots after that, there was a strong sense of back and forth and quick escapes and kick offs until he really started to get dirty. Once he did, this had a good flow to it, building to a comeback moment of Bordes hefting Tejero over the top, but one he couldn't fully capitalize because of Marshall slowing him down in the ropes or Tejero trying anything he could to ground Bordes (none of which really worked except for an eye rake). They had another transition where Tejero trapped Bordes' neck in the ropes and then took over with grisly neckbreakers and a tombstone and when Bordes came back again, it was the real comeback, firing hard at him with everything, from forearms to sweeping dropkicks to just trapping him again and again and headscissors looking great. Tejero tried to turn the tide again (including a beautiful uppercut to the back of Bordes') head but the tide was against him at that point. This was excellent, made all the better when you keep Bordes' youth in mind. I'm not sure how many 20 year olds in history could have had a match like this, even with a guy like Tejero on the other side. 

ER: I really liked both guys here. Bordes immediately reminded me of Johnny Saint, not only in the way he moves but in specific things he does. It's not too much of a stretch to watch Bordes and assume he had a major influence in how Johnny Saint wrestled. Bordes has all sorts of cool escapes and will occasionally surprise you with some stiff shots. At one point he hits a mean shoulderblock that sends Tejero sprawling into the ropes. Both guys are super athletic, doing all sorts of cool roll ups and escapes that need to be stolen by some non-lousy indy worker. Tejero's athleticism is surprising, as at first glance he looks like my old landlord. Then he does intricate armdrags and takes crazy bumps and he seems nothing like my old landlord (who admittedly was really good at landlording). At one point he flies ass over elbow into the top and middle ropes off a monkey flip, like an absolute lunatic version of the bump Eddy used to take. My favorite thing about their exchanges is how natural they come off. Not necessarily uncooperative, but somehow done without looking like rehearsed-to-death dance recital. Somehow they're able to weave these intricate exchanges and make them look like the natural course of action. I'm not sure how it's possible to move at the speeds these guys do without each guy knowing exactly where the other is supposed to be and how he's supposed to get there, but there's no tell in either guy's face. It really breaks down everything I've experienced in wrestling, as they're able to make silly things like leapfrogs look like something that would believably happen.

PAS: Crazy to think Bordes was that young in this match, that is definitely not something we knew when we watched it the first time. He looks like a super nova here, Jun Akiyama, Rey Mysterio Jr. level of having it all together at his age. Tejero is clearly a maestro, making all of Bordes' offense look great and really getting vicious when he needed to with body shots and a pair of nasty neckbreakers. I am really excited to see how Bordes develops, and how he looks when he isn't opposite such a masterful rudo. 

MD: This is our one look at Peter Maivia in the footage. He's around 30 here. We have four minutes here and this felt more like an attraction than something more attuned to the style. Maivia looked like Snuka with the hair and patterned Polynesian gear. Lynch was a big bruiser with a lot of heft and hammering blows. This was mostly him bullying Maivia until the headbutts could begin. They quickly led to Lynch being busted open, flying over the top, and eating a bodyslam for a loss. This match could have happened anywhere in the world and the crowds would enjoy it once. Maybe not more than once though. 

ER: Johnny Lynch is a small boulder, a man who appears to be 5'8 or 5'9, but shaped exactly like a rock solid little King Kong Bundy. You can call him Little Daddy or Ding Dong Bundy, but he is a big bumping round man and I love it. Maivia looked pretty simple in the ring here, with a big uppercut his best feature (and even was helped out by Lynch flying hard for it). He had a funny babyface caveman movement to him, which is different from later islanders being more babyface Tarzan. He was explosive enough for his look, but Lynch was the real find. He had a big missed avalanche in the corner that drooped all of the ring ropes as he bounced and hung on them, and his huge over the top bump to the floor was humongous. Think the exact midway point between Jake Milliman and Bundy, flying fast to the floor. That bump was so damaging that I bought him staggering back into the ring to get pinned by a bodyslam. 

MD: Mantopolous is amazing to watch. Once they get into the holds and counterholds, he's just endless twisting and torquing, snatching up limbs whenever he can to incredible effect. Tejero's a game opponent, a base that feeds into one holds after the other, that can credibly escape through skill or strength or, more likely, by cheating. Unlike the Bordes match, he never really had a shot at control, but he was always competitive. Mantopolous always just had an extra flourish, an extra hold, an extra counter. He was relentless, always able to slip through the legs or get a monkey flip or kick up or headscissors flip in. When there was distance between them, Mantopolous stooged him all the more, jumping in to causing him to recoil, giving a limb freely only to capture Tejero as he tried to take advantage or turtling so Tejero could do nothing. They went slow, they went fast, Tejero bumped around the ring. Occasionally, rarely, he'd get some shots in, but more likely it would be Mantopolous running a circle around him to get his own shot, and Tejero not even able to sneak up on him. But since Tejero had the size and the persistence, and was so eager to cheat, it never felt like a wasteful mismatch. The fans ate up every moment of it and now, decades later, you sit back and watch this, just glad to see the mastery and imagination and commitment in the next exchange whatever it may be.

PAS: I think if we hadn't had Petit Prince, Mantopolous would be completely brain breaking. Prince is slightly faster and jumps a little higher, but Vasilios is still incredible for this time period. Tejero is a perfect opponent for all of his horseshit. He is a great lucha base, big bumper, hard hitter, sort of like La Fiera or Bestia Salvaje. He's he guy you want on the other end of a phenom. I loved all of the tricks Mantopolous played here, like teasing an arm only to trap Tejero when he goes to grab it, a killer series of straight jacket reversals, big monkey flips and ranas which sent Tejero flying. Tejero never seemed close to solving the puzzle, but it was a blast to watch Mantopolous construct it. 

ER: Tejero is so great, the perfect person to be opposite a wild energy sprite like Mantopolous. Tejero as a La Fiera is a really great comp, as they have a very similar bumping style that is all about the highest backdrop bumps and the farthest distance on monkey flips. Tejero is a master of taking bumps that go past where a normal man's stopping point would be, getting flung into the ropes several times, bouncing off the bottom ropes and recoiling back into the ring. He's really great at utilizing the ropes into his bump physics, and good at keeping Mantopolous's sillier (and be sillier I mean "extravagant and cool") stuff grounded in reality. There is a lot of Mantopolous offense that requires Tejero to get kicked or launched chest first into the ropes and then stumble back into something cool, and Tejero comes off like a skilled guy who is always stumbling into another Vasilios trap. Mantopolous had all of these cool ways to tie Tejero up, grabbing a wristlock and then intertwining his own wrists and arms, getting enough leverage to flip a larger guy like Tejero believably over his back. Tejero is so wary of Mantopolous and has the body language to back it up. It's not easy to get tricked 30-40 times into getting flipped onto your back or splatted onto your stomach, but Tejero has this great foolhardy attitude while also making all of these "why ya gotta flip me again?" faces. 

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