I make no bones about it. I'm a Lou Thesz mark.
In part it's because he's become an ambassador to history, between his book and his radio appearances, not to mention his web-board. Sure, sometimes his stories might not be consistent with accepted history, but how much more life is there in hearing him tell them?
A big part of it, however, is the little snippets of his work I can find, like this. He's announced as the International Champion, which puts this match in the late sixties and Lou in his early fifties. Still he's bursting with energy throughout the match and delivers a smiling and friendly promo before it starts.
It's a face versus face match and it takes place all with wrestling. The only strikes in the match are Thesz's "spunky old man playing with the youngster" slaps. That's the story of the match. Both Christy and Thesz are skilled wrestlers, still Christy is extra cautious in deference both to Thesz's already legendary status and his still sharp skill. After the initial love-slap Christy looks worried during breaks, thinking that Thesz will hit another one. The crowd takes great delight in the young man worrying about the old man and Thesz plays it up.
The work on the mat is superb. It's not the stylized matwork of lucha libre, but it's still great to anyone who likes, well, wrestling. Daniel "OJ" Lyttelton recently asked me if matwork ages. It does, and like fine wines and cheeses it ages well. As Thesz and Christy exchange submission attempts on the ground, one can see Battlarts forming in the great artistic ether.
This is why I love Thesz. He took a five and a half minute squash and turned it into an interesting story, bringing the crowd into it along the way. He's unrelenting in his desire to keep wrestling about wrestling and he foreshadows the way it could evolve.
Some places it's evolving his way.
return to contents
©2001 by the author