Thursday, 12 July 2007

Lou Thesz: Strong & Beautiful - Video Review

Following on from my review of the MSG Oldies compilation tape, yours truly stays old school with another look into the past, this time a Japanese compilation looking at the legendary Lou Thesz, titled Lou Thesz: Strong & Beautiful.

The tape starts with a trip back to 1948, as Thesz takes on Tom Rice. Fought over the best of three falls, the line between face and heel is clearly drawn here as Rice uses punches, pulls hair, chokes and eye gouges to get the upper hand. But it isn’t enough as Thesz gets the win 2-0, getting the final pin after an aeroplane spin.

Forward to 1955, as Thesz takes on Don Leo Jonathan. Thesz is still NWA World Champion here, and Jonathan is a huge man who moves around the ring well, who also uses underhanded tactics whenever he can. Again, Thesz defeats his man 2-0, getting the second fall after a back suplex as Jonathan applied a headlock. A very good match here.

Next up, we move forward twelve years to 1967, as Thesz takes on Gene Kiniski. There’s only brief highlights here, which looked like it was shot on a home movie camera, and no sound at all. It’s very much a clip and miss affair here, and a little difficult to watch because of it, as Thesz picks up the win after a back suplex.

Back to 1951, as Thesz tackles Ruffy Silverstein. A good, but rather quick bout here as Thesz pins Silverstein after a dropkick, and is then awarded the KO victory.

Finally, we move forward to 1955, as Thesz takes on Hans Schmidt. Unlike the previous matches this bout goes to the third fall, after a strong showing from both men. The end comes in a somewhat controversial manner, with Schmidt thinking he has Thesz pinned with a back suplex and bridge, not realising that Thesz has raised his shoulder while his own are planted firmly on the mat. Another good bout here, and probably the best of the collection.

In conclusion - this is a gem. I’ve heard a great deal about Thesz over the years, and it was great to finally see him in action. There was nothing flashy about any of the matches, just good, solid, wrestling action, and these matches had that certain something that seems missing from professional wrestling today. The sad thing is that you’ll have to look hard to find a copy of this tape. I stumbled across by copy by accident, and it’s not a first generation copy.

And before you ask, Thesz did perform the Steve Austin Press here.