Talking Schmidt

Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric, Wrestling from Chicago, 25 September 1953 (Chicago Wrestling)

I've been hard for Hans Schmidt (1925-2012) for over a year. I have a framed vintage Exhibit wrestling card of the six-foot-four pseudo-German heel hanging in my hallway. His ring career started at age 24, wrestling in Michigan and Quebec (his actual birthplace) under the name Guy Ross (a tweaked version of his birth name Guy Larose). He turned heel in late 1952 or early 1953 (sources vary), adopting the "Teutonic Terror" gimmick so popular for a couple of decades after World War II. The gimmick clicked. Schmidt was reportedly one of the best paid wrestlers of the 1950s. He retired from wrestling at age 51.

I love Schmidt for his bruiser style in a golden age of bruisers before the triumph of attitude and corporatism. (I like attitude too, but it's nothing compared to rock-em-sock-em roughhouse.) In this two-out-of-three-fall contest against a shorter (6'1") but heavier Yukon Eric, another roughneck, he takes on an apparently insurmountable obstacle. Schmidt shows no fear. Already at age 28, his reputation was built on his desire to cripple his opponents. He was especially respected for his backbreakers and piledrivers. I think he's swell at working a man against the turnbuckle, also. At times he seems to prefer crippling opponents to winning matches.

Bear hugs figure heavily in this contest. Understandably, the bear hug would be one of Eric's signature holds. Schmidt attempts a reverse hug at the 05:12 mark, but Eric expands his barrel chest for an almost effortless escape. At 05:49, Eric clamps the hold on Schmidt, but the German hasn't a stout enough chest to bust loose and has to kick the corner ropes to propel himself free (only to immediately find himself caught in a scissors hold). Minute 15:52 introduces the main crisis point for Schmidt when Eric locks him in a chest-to-chest hug. I love the way Hans writhes and kicks, sexy as a muddy fuck, rendered virtually powerless in Eric's grip (see GIFs 4 and 5 above). The hold lasts 30 seconds and leads to Yukon Eric's first-fall win by three count.

Schmidt resorts to increasingly brutal attacks in his attempt to beat his tank-sized opponent. I wouldn't call Schmidt a particularly wily or strategic fighter. Instead, he fights like a cornered Rottweiler. He wallops his opponent and keeps walloping him till the guy stops fighting back. More brawler than wrestler, Schmidt relies on his animal instincts and utilizes every inch of his iron-boned body to bludgeon whoever steps in the ring against him.

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