Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Saulnier! Cabrera! Renaud! Genele! Falempin! Ramirez! Batman! Gonzalez!

Michel Saulnier/Pedro Cabrera vs. Teddy Boys (Guy Renaud/Bobby Genele) 6/7/73

MD: This is a runback of a match we saw and loved in 71, and it was still certainly top notch juniors tag action. This time it was in more of a studio style setting and just one fall. Genele was an all time jerk and Renault could work super smooth, very fast, very complex exchanges with Cabrera and Saulnier, the sort of stuff that makes you look at Malenko and Guerrero and realize that things weren't all that novel, just forgotten. They wrestle pretty clean for the first ten minutes and then less than clean but with the stylists coming out on top again and again for the next ten. Every time it starts to really pick up on a heat level, they come back. The last ten has more considerable periods of control by Renault and Genele, including some great tombstones by Renault and just as good, if not entirely different, cheapshots by Genele. The hot tag, therefore, does feel rather hot and the comeback fiery. It's all good stuff, but it's stuff we've seen a chunk of. This is one of those matches where if you'd never seen any French footage, you'd be absolutely blown away but it serves here more now as just more evidence of what we already know: the standard quality of the work in French juniors tags was absolutely exceptional.

Michel Falempin vs. Paco Ramirez 7/19/73

MD: We get the last four and a half minutes out of an almost 25 minutes match. Good action with plenty of heat. Ramirez was billed as Andalusian, unless I'm mistaken, and had a gimmick where he wanted to be a matador but ended up wrestling instead. We'd seen him team with Batman before but he was working rougher here. He hit hard with some big corner whips, using his size. Falempin, of course, was one of the Celts with Jean Corne, and the crowd was behind him and his comebacks. There were a couple of near-falls I bought but they were primarily to make sure someone landed on the ref in the kickout before a quick rope running sequence led to the actual finish. We haven't seen a ton of high cross body blocks in the footage and Falempin put a bit of extra oomph into his here. Shame we didn't get this whole one.

La Batman vs. Jose Gonzalez 7/19/73

MD: We've seen Gonzalez a few times now, but it's been hard to place him alongside guys like Peruano/Montoro/Tejero/Viracocha. I'm not saying they're all interchangeable, but we usually see them in tags so it takes a few matches for a guy to stand out. Gonzalez, however, does stand out. He's one of the best stooges we've seen in the footage, up there with Delaporte and Bollet, with Bollet's energy when it counts. Early on, when Batman was winning holds, he'd whine and wheedle and retreat to sell. He's the sort of guy who'd ask for a handshake and then kick you in the face twenty seconds later and then go to show off a bicep to the crowd like he had performed a feat of strength. He also had a high dropkick and some good rope running and, in the last big comeback spot missed a charge towards the ropes and ended up choking himself in them. Batman looked a bit smoother than last time I saw him, hitting cartwheels and dropkicks clean. He had a great sense of timing, of playing to the crowd, of knowing when to make a big comeback shot matter, of getting tit-for-tat revenge spots that would lead to a big pop. He was technically sound but a big showman as well, probably up there with Wiecz/Carpentier and Ben Chemoul towards the top of the stylists we've seen along those lines. This match was good on its own but important personally in solidifying Gonzalez' strengths to me. We'll see him a few more times before the end. 

ER: Gonzalez is great. He has the straight posture of Richard Harris with the face and hairline and mustache of John Astin going on 70s game shows without his piece. We've gone through a lot of hairstyle phases in the last 50 years, but the one that doesn't appear to be coming back is for balding dudes to just grow their remaining hair long. Watch any cop drama from the 70s and you'll find a dozen different example of male pattern baldness with every one of them coping with it in different, increasingly wild, ways. Combover ridicule no doubt lead to bald men mostly accepting their fate, but few bald men are brave enough to let their remaining strands grow and fall where they may. Maybe the acceptance is more of a French thing, as the Rick Rubins of the world are hard to find, and Jose Gonzalez understands that. He has a kind of combover but his attempts are not serious. He is not Charles Nelson Reilly or George Kennedy, starting his part just above his ear. No, Gonzalez just kind of sweeps his remaining top strands to the side and lets the rest of it hang long to his shirt collar. I think his hair really adds to the smug buffoonish way that he takes bumps, and he bumps great for Batman. Gonzalez took a big bump over the top after getting dropkicked in the back, and took a phenomenal bump when he missed a torpedo charge and wound up trapping his own neck in the ropes. Batman had one of the coolest cartwheels I've seen, done with Gonzalez at point blank range. Alex Wright used to kick guys in the head all the time when he did a short arm cartwheel, and Batman just defies physics as he avoids Gonzalez. I enjoyed watching this in the bathroom at work. 

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Blogger Catcheur said...

Hi Matt, I just read the letter that you sent to Bob Pantin. He published it on his site dedicated to French catch. I like the way you expressed your gratitude and respect to him and I am sure that he has been touched by your words. It’s true that thanks to his passion and all the documents that he has published, we learnt a lot of things about the golden era of French catch. Yourself and your friends show and share a genuine enthusiasm about this period. I hope that there are more gems to come. Thanks, Ben.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Catcheur said...

Bob Plantin.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Matt D said...

Thanks, Ben. I think he's been sort of a sole light shining the way over the the years before the arrival of this footage. Cesca/Catanzaro got out somehow but everything else was something he posted and most of the context from his efforts. One of my big regrets with this is that we have gotten the footage now and not ten years or twenty years ago or even five years earlier, as so many of these wrestlers have passed away over the last decade. I honestly had no idea if even a guy like him who documents the get togethers and passings was even aware that people here are watching it. I wasn't expecting him to post it, and wasn't even sure he'd read it, being a long message in another language, but I'm glad he did.

1:20 PM  

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