Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Le Lion de Lorraine



















The tall blond bad guy is Jack de Lassartesse. His blond partner, bodybuilder Robert Duranton, is the guy who looks like a cross between Kevin Sullivan and Ravishing Rick Rude. (Almost definitely one of Rude's entrance robes was modeled on the robe Duranton wears at the beginning of this match.) Both the heroes in the opposite corner have dark hair. The smooth-chested good guy is Bernard Vignal. His hairy-chested and lusciously stacked partner is the legendary Lion of Lorraine, André Drapp, the French Resistance Nazi-killer turned bodybuilder, wrestler, and connoisseur of Grecian sculpture.

This complete 44-minute match (from January of 1961) is available at last on YouTube in two parts. (Watch the first round here and the rest of the fight here. Thanks to bob ALPRA.) I like every showdown between hairy-chested Drapp and the effete Duranton, the most closely matched of the competitors, physically, and the most dramatically contrasting in character. Duranton and Lassartesse's double-teaming raises the fan heat to volcanic. Duranton's valet Firmin attacks ring announcer Roger Couderc and gets a slug in the jaw at the 26-minute mark of Round 1. The crowd also attacks Firmin, prompting the police to drag the interfering valet away (more for Firmin's protection, I suspect, than anything).

Duranton's dirty tactics gain him the pinfall on Vignal that ends Round 1, but also put him in the crosshairs for some tasty second-round payback. The crowd seems to want a Drapp-Duranton faceoff as much as I do. Duranton cagily avoids him and Vignal, letting his tall partner feel most of the good guys' wrath--the kind of just-asking-for-it cowardice I like to see in a heel. Then, the last six minutes give me everything I could possibly hope for. Firmin returns, and things get messy before justice at last is served.

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