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/15 July 2000
Pro Wrestling Classics by Miguelito Fierro




(Original date sometime in 1956)

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the Classic Pro Wrestling recap! Brought to you courtesy of CRZ (of course) and my trusty K6-2/333Mhz computer. And ESPN Classic, of course. And any advertisers that ESPN is able to get to advertise on a show that airs at 6:00am in Colorado.

Okay, here is what we know about this week's card (thanks to ESPN Classic's helpful "Today's matches in really crappy graphics" bumper): Joe Louis will somehow be involved in a match between Hans Schmidt and Argentine Rocca. And we will see Primo Carnera take on Jim Londos.

I find it strange that, the further back in time we go, the crappier ESPN Classic's music-overs get. This week's music sounded like a really bad soundtrack for the newsreels they used to run in movie theaters. My ears actually hurt from hearing the music. OUCH!

(If they were going to try and get some period music, why not get some Chuck Berry? Or any of the other 50's rockers? Why this crap? Why am I asking so many questions this early in the recap? I don't know either. So let's get to the ring!

Action this week takes place at International Amphitheater in Chicago, IL. These matches were taped sometime during 1956 (ESPN Classic is not nice enough to let us know exactly when). We actually hear the name of our play-by-play man tonight (Russ Davis), which is kinda cool. I feel bad not being able to give credit to the commentators. Especially the one who called the matches during the last couple of shows. He was actually quite knowledgable about the sport, and added a lot to the excitement and atmosphere of the show (not to mention the RING PSYCHOLOGY).

Anyway, we are NOT introduced to our ring announcer, but he kindly introduces us to the special referee for this match. The current boxing World Champion, the Brown Bomber Joe Louis! The crowd gives Mr. Louis a great ovation (as well they should). I find it interesting that last week, we had a match with Rocky Marciano as the guest referee. Fritz Von Erich got to taste Rocky's devastating right hand in that match. This match is taking place seven years before that; could this match have been the inspiration for the match in 1963? In other words, is the heel going to get KO'd by the champ? If you know pro wrestling, then you should already know the answer to that question!

Okay, enough babbling. It is time to see one of my favorite wrestlers, Argentine Rocca take on Hans Schmidt. Louis asks both men to the center of the ring to give some directions. Louis then takes some time s troking Schmidt's hands. The hell? Oh, I get it. Roccca complained about the length of Schmidt's fingernails, so Louis is checking them. Louis apparently decides that they are not THAT long, and the match should go on. Davis gets off a pretty funny line, impersonating the German Schmidt. "No more would I use my fists than I'd use my nails." Commercial time!

We are back from commercial, and everyone is still in the middle of the ring with their jackets on! Louis may have been able to keep control in a boxing ring, but he's having trouble in the wrestling ring. Finally, the bell rings. Collar-and-elbow into a snap mare by Schmidt. Into the ropes, and Schmidt sneaks in a couple of knee lifts. Tie up, back into the ropes, and Schmidt sneaks in a couple of forearm smashes. (Can you tell who the heel is?)

Both men have buzzcuts. Davis: "Louis won't have to worry about either man trying to pull the hair." Schmidt takes Rocca down with a hammerlock. Oh, yeah, this is a best two-out-of-three falls match. 60 minute time limit. We may be here for awhile!

Schmidt with a headlock, as Rocca thinks about slipping into "face-in-peril" mode. Schmidt turns this into a side mare takedown, now a headlock on the mat. Rocca trying to spin out of it, but Schmidt won't relinquish the move. Rocca finally makes it to the ropes, forcing Schmidt to break. Schmidt gets a couple of cheap shots in, though, which ticks off the crowd.

Oh, god, it is the return of the "Annoying ESPN Classic Voiceover" (AECV). Which signals a commercial break. We are averaging about three minutes of commercials to four minutes of content. I think ESPN Classic actually wanted to put an infomercial here, but couldn't find anyone who'd actually buy into this time frame. It just means I'll have to put up with the AECV far too many times.

Back from commercial, and Schmidt grabs Rocca in a bearhug. Rocca thinks about either choking Schmidt, or popping hiim in the ears. Instead, he simply powers out. Rocca trying to get fired up now. Rocca dancing, then ties him up. Kick to the side of Schmidt's face! (Davis: "That's an open foot, Rocca. We know that.") Another tie up, another kick to the face!

Schmidt is ticked and comes running right into a drop toe hold. Rocca ties him up, trying for a modified surfboard? Rocca working on Schmidt's leg, but Schmidt powers out with forearm smashes. Back up, Schmdit grabs a headlock. Nice half-nelson takeover into an armbar. (Davis: "Hey, these guys are wrestling!") Rocca manages to reverse the armbar, but Schmidt immediately gets to the ropes.

Both men up, and Schmidt starts complaining to Joe Louis. (Can you smell it yet?) Schmidt working on Rocca with forearms. Throwing him into the turnbuckles. Again! But Rocca somehow gets out of the corner.

Both men back out. Schmidt with a nice go-behind takedown. Schmidt is now CHOKING Rocca! The fans don't like this very much, and neither do I, because we are going to commercial again. ESPN Classic unwritten classic pro wrestling rule #1: if someone chokes their opponent, go to commercial. Rule #2: If a match starts getting entertaining, go to commercial. Rule #3: Fuck it, go to commercial.

We are back from commercial, and Schmidt is once again working Rocca over with forearms. Schmidt has him back in the corner, throwing him into the turnbuckle. Again. Again! Louis is trying to get between the wrestlers now, to no avail. Snap mare. Another. Rocca looks out on his feet. Schmidt with a knee lift, then a punch. Louis steps in, and Schmidt acts like he's going to throw a punch at Louis! (It's almost ready!) Louis talks him out of this, which distracts Schmidt enough for Rocca to get in a dropkick. And another. And another! And a fourth! A fifth! A sixth!!

Rocca gets him up in a Torture Rack! And Rocca is actually tossing Schmidt up in the air a couple of more inches, then catching him on his way down and applying more pressure! WOW! That is a great looking move. And it gets the submission (it sure the hell better!) at (15:42). The move is officially called the South American Back Stretch. Whatever it was called, it looked great!

Hey, will Dennis Miller still shill cheap long distance once he starts doing Monday Night Football? And will Sprite actually make random women walk up and start feeling a guy's ass? Commercials inspire all of life's important questions.

We are back, and Schmidt is complaining to Joe Louis. (it's still a little too early.) Lockup, and Rocca is on the offensive. But Schmidt puts an end to that with a choke, followed with a knee lift. Collar-and-elbow.. Schmidt backs him into the ropes then sneaks a knee in. Snap mare to take him down. Schmidt with a front facelock, then starts choking Rocca. Louis doesn't notice this, though, as Schmidt uses his body to shield Louis from the choke. (RING PSYCHOLOGY!) Louis finally sees the choke, and makes Schmidt break.

Collar-and-elbow to the ropes. Schmidt with a forearm. Rocca off the ropes with an axe kick! Three dropkicks in a row by Rocca. And he's trying for the Stretch! But Schmidt is smart enough to get to the ropes.

Tie up, Schmidt takes him down with the leg. Schmidt has Rocca's legs tied up, and has a knee in Rocca's back. Schmidt driving the knee to the back as he taunts the crowd. (Do I even need to say the phrase right here?) Rocca finally gets to the ropes.

Collar-and-elbow, and Schmidt starts nailing Rocca in the kidney with forearm smashes! Schmidt is all over Rocca! Snap mare. Cover only gets one, but the kickout knocks Schmidt onto Louis. Louis gives a dirty look, but that's all.

Rocca now slips in a rolling head scissors! But Schmidt rolls throw for the advantage. Reverse chinlock. Schmidt is choking Rocca when Louis isn't looking, much to the crowd's disfavor. Schmidt again to the kidneys! Schmidt tries to tie Rocca to the Tree of Woe, but Rocca slips out. Schmidt picks up Rocca and slams him into the turnbuckles. Louis warns Schmidt.

Backbreaker! Another one. And a third! Schmidt covers, and gets the pin! (6:36) Schmidt once again complains to Louis, complaining that Louis won't let hiim work over Rocca in the corners. Sounds fair to me! OH MY GOD! It's the AECV!

"When I go, I go!" I don't need to know that about the Old Spice pitch man. That's WAY more info than I need!

We are back, and Schmidt quickly picks up where he left off. Schmidt tries to bodyslam Rocca into the corner again, but Louis gets in between them and PUSHES on Rocca! Since Schmidt still has Rocca in a bodyslam position, this means that Rocca falls right on top of Schmidt, covering him. 1-2-3!!! Joe Louis just gave the assist to Rocca, then counted the pin for Rocca? Can you guess who isn't going to be happy about this? (Total Time: 24:23)

That's right, Schmidt is PISSED! As Rocca dances around the ring in celebration, Schmidt gets right into Louis' face. Schmidt backs off to kick the ropes, but then comes up at Louis again. Schmidt throws a towel right at Louis' feet! Are they going to go? Schmidt decides to take a step back. And Louis is actually going to make it out of the ring without knocking out Schmidt. That just ain't right! To make things worse, it's time once again for the AECV!

We are finally back from commercial just in time for the start of Primo Carnera -vs- Jim Londos. Hey, this is from a different show! This is from 1951, and an unknown arena in an unknown state. <sigh> ESPN Classic isn't even trying anymore! Carnera is about a foot or so taller than Londos. This is sorta like watching the Big Show take on Chris Benoit. This should be interesting!

This should also be a squash; this match is also a best two-out-of-three falls match. There simply isn't enough time left in this show for a multiple-fall match, unless the match is a squash. Max Baer, another former boxing world champion, is our referee for the match. We start out with Londos tryiing to stay away from the big guy. Or, in other words, trying to STALL!

Finally, a collar-and-elbow. But nothing comes from it. Finally, Carnera grabs a headlock. Into the ropes, and a clean break. Back into a headlock, and Carnera isn't even trying to do anything else. It is WAY too early in the morning for this much stalling! Finally, Carnera does something interesting, poking Londos in the eye when the ref's back is turned (a la Roddy Piper). The crowd is still pretty quiet, though.

Londos finally gets out of the hold, and is now running around the ring. Carnera and I, at the same time, say, "The hell?"

Londos tries a snap mare, and doesn't come close to taking the big man down. Carnera instead takes Londos down with a body scissors. But Londos is fast, and he quickly reverses this into a Boston Crab! Is that enough to get the submission? It is! (39:38, about 10 minutes of which was shown.)

Wow... I don't know if the ring announcer just really was off in the time he gave, or if ESPN Classic did some MAJOR cutting of this match. That sure wasn't 39:38, however. It was maybe 10 minutes. I didn't see any obvious edit points in the match, so I am going to assume that the ring announcer just screwed up.

And suddenly, we go to a freeze-frame. I am pretty sure that this wasn't in the original show, so I am putting this down as an ESPN Classic enhancement. I let this go on for about three minutes before I realize that there might be something wrong here. It looks like my cable company hosed the deal, so we are going to have to call this match for Technical Difficulties.

Not that that's a big loss. That match was really shaping up to be a suckfest!

So, since I am about 10 minutes worth of recap material short, I'll fill the hole with a letter (I do get them!):

    Once again, wonderful recap, man. However, reading through the reports, I get the feeling that the wrestlers of yesteryear were, in fact, a bunch of lousy no-workrate buffoons. The difference? They didn't bother with mic work, and instead used your oft-lamented ring psychology. However, the reason they look so good in retrospect is because ring psychology really is a wrestling-related skill. Calling everyone "brother" and eating your vitamins cannot be used in the middle of a match to make it more interesting.

    I dunno, maybe I need to lay off the Dimetapp. Still, Fierro rocks. Good night.

The thing to remember here is that ESPN Classic isn't showing us the whole picture. We are missing out mainly on interview time. Wrestlers of the past did give far fewer interviews, but not as few as ESPN Classic is showing us here. For example, at the end of the match where Buddy Rogers won the NWA World Championship, Rogers got a whole 15 seconds for a post-match interview, after what was the biggest match ever in the history of pro wrestling (at that time). Rogers did get more mic time; we just didn't get to hear it.

As for the workrate, it goes back to the "yes and no" answer. There actually were some wrestlers who actually worked in the ring (Luis Rivera, Argentine Rocca, Verne Gagne). But there were also a lot of wrestlers who just lumbered around the ring (Ox Baker). There was just a completely different type of "work" being done back then.

And thanks for the recap-love!

Everyone else, I am outta here! I hope you have a wonderful week! I'll be back next week; hopefully AT&T will have figured out the problem with ESPN Classic by then.


Miguelito Fierro
[slash] wrestling

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