Put Your Pretty Teeth Back in Your Head

Lou Thesz vs Buddy Rogers, Wrestling from Chicago, 26 January 1951 (Chicago Wrestling)

A classic Upstanding Hairy Brute vs Mean Blond Beauty match from the olden days showcases Thesz and Rogers in their prime. Was wrestling better back then? Not being a wrestler, I can't say with certainty, but I like it better. The wrestling, that is. We have dreamier, musclier stars today, but what's the body without the body contact? And we have amazing acrobatics, but I'll take roughhouse like this any day of the week. Yet I ask myself is this preference just posturing on my part--or something tangible and real? Well, if my boner counts as tangible and real, I'd have to flat-out say Yes it's considerably more than posturing.

In early 1951, Buddy Rogers had just turned thirty. He was still wrestling when I was beginning to get into pro wrestling in the late '60s, early '70s, and retired in 1982. Kayfabe billing weight aside, he was about 5'11", 195#. From all reports, he and Thesz really truly despised each other, and the real-life hostility added heat to their repeated run-ins with each other. At this time, Thesz was just about to turn thirty-five and had already been wrestling for 19 years (about 7 years longer than Rogers). I remember him mostly as a highly respected sideline figure, though he wrestled until 1990, fighting his last match at age 74 in Japan.*

The takedown of my dreams. (04:50)

In-your-face agony, up close and personal. (07:12)

How to apply the headscissors hold. (12:59)

Thesz spikes his elbow to Rogers's ear. (13:46)

Long grueling holds interspersed with spastic moments of magnificence like this. (15:37)

Work your man in the corner. (17:54)

Fuck this test-of-strength shit! (23:03)

Buddy hangs himself on the ropes, and the fans love it. (33:58)

* As a point of comparison, Paul Jones and Ivan Koloff are 74 this year and stopped wrestling decades ago, Jimmy Valiant, also 74, retired in 2005. Mil Mascaras, 74, is only semi-retired.


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