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16 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Hopefully, Phil can shed more light on it, but this blog alludes to some trouble between the promoters and the TV producer, Raymond Marcillac. 

http://nostalgiecatch.blogspot.com/

I've also read that the promoters had an issue with Claude Darget, who was constantly "demystifying" catch during the broadcasts and in print. 

Well, apparently Marcillac wanted pro-wrestling to go under the umbrella or "entertainment" and not "sport" on TV.

Also, apparently L'ange blanc was like Doink, he could work in several different towns on the same night (and Le bourreau de Béthune also).

Gotta love the "Bring back pro-wrestling as a sport, without the bullshit and the circus" under the third picture... Damn, these people were killing the business back then, it was not like it used to be...

I remember Carpentier saying Claude Darget had a bit of an ironic sense of humour while he was announcing.

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I've now gone backward and am currently researching 1957 (and will do 1956 & 1955 next). I thought this was kind of interesting. Here's an advert for a live event at Palais des Sports where Andre Drapp is billed as "Mr. Wrestling Television".

UCVFJL8.jpg

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Roger Delaporte vs. Roger Guettier (aired 5/30/59)

My take on this was that with Delaporte renouncing his evil ways, Guettier was looking to beat some sense back into him and goad him into a heel-like response. Delaporte battled with his inner rage throughout and it damn near tore him part. Not a bad little sideshow, but more fuel for the fire in the sport vs. spectacle debate.

Isha Israel vs. Jean Rabut  (aired 6/4/59)

Isha Israel was a heck of a wrestler and owned it as World Lightweight champ, though European title histories being the mess they are, it's difficult to know if this was the Spanish version of the belt, or the Italian, or the French, or just some random belt. Rabut was quick. I mean really quick. This was wrestled in front of a tiny crowd in an empty Elysee Montmartre, but they put on a classic. Definitely the "sport" to Delaporte's "spectacle." Not sure if the crowd was telling, but one of the best matches in the collection for sure. 

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Eddy Wiecz vs. Andre Bollet (aired 9/21/65)

Aside from Andre, Edouard Carpentier is probably the most famous guy in the collection. You'd think it would be a major coup getting all of these matches of his, but it's not. For starters, he barely wrestled anything like the way he did in the States. In fact, he's barely recognizable as Edouard Carpentier. You could easily mistake him for another wrestler. A generic US heavy, too, not one of those cool, stoic French baby faces from the 1950s. This match was pure nonsense. A slow ass brawl with endless stalling and shitty ref spots. Bollet has been such a disappointment after my early pimping of him. Strictly a tag guy. His late 60s singles work is boring as shit. There was some good stuff here and there but a bunch of crap in between. I disliked this so much they put it in the collection twice. 

Andre Bollet & Jack Rouxel vs. Eddy Wiecz & Warnia de Zarzecki (aired 11/14/65)

This was a massive improvement over the Bollet vs. Carpentier singles matches. Hide them in tag matches and cut the bullshit. What really helped here was that Rouxel was a straight mechant who didn't chew up the scenery like Bollet or Delaporte. I can't begin to explain how much I appreciated the lack of bullshit in this match. 

Andre Bollet & Roger Delaporte vs. Eddy Wiecz & Warnia de Zarzecki (aired 1/9/66)

This swapped Rouxel for Delaporte, so there was more bullshit by default, but it was still better than the singles nightmare. Delaporte's act was a bit stale by this point. His late 50s tags are like watching Fats Domino whale away on a piano. They were rollicking joints. This had a bunch of ref bullshit, and I'm not fond of the ref or the bullshit. Bollet plays off Delaporte better than anything he does on his own, though. 

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Marcel Parmentier vs. Bob Plantin (aired 6/19/59)
Serge Reggiori vs, Jacques Bernieres (aired 6/19/59)

Look, it's a French catch tradition: the finish to a Marcel Parmentier match. If I'm not mistaken, Bob Plantin is our old friend, Bob ALPRA. This was a strange broadcast. I guess the promoters thought Davies would be a draw due to his size. I think I'd rather have seen Reggiori vs Bernieres in full, or better yet, L'Ange Blanc vs. Johnny Stein. It's odd that they kept L'Ange Blanc off TV for so long. I know there was a lot of trouble with imitators, but all of a sudden the TV feels dead.

Claude Montourcy vs. Robert Gastel (aired 6/26/59)

For some reason, Montourcy is doing a judoka gimmick here. I think it had something to do with Calderon wrestling von Chenok on the same card. Generally speaking, I'm a fan of wrestlers using judo in their matches, but not as a gimmick. This was kind of drab. Montourcy dislocated Gastel's shoulder at the end, and Calderon popped it back in for him, which was the same finish they used in the Calderon/Gastel match. They even did the same ringside interview afterward. 

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Vassilios Montopoulos vs. Anton Terejo (aired 10/21/67)

This was all right. Terejo was a decent foil for Montopoulos' style of wrestling, but I would rather watch straight catch than lightweight wrestling at this point in time. 

Pat O'Connor vs. Paul Vachon (aired 5/23/65)

No, Pat O'Connor is not that Pat O'Connor. It's the Belgian Pat O'Connor that no-one's ever heard of. Yes, Paul Vachon is that Paul Vachon. Hard to take anything away from this. Pretty typical heavyweight scrap. O'Connor wasn't a great opponent for showcasing how good Vachon may have been. 

Guy Mercier vs. Karl von Chenok (aired 12/16/67)

There are times when Guy Mercier looks like a poor man's Gilbert Leduc, and then there are times when he looks like the second coming. This was definitely one of those matches where he looked like our savior. Karl von Chenok was an extremely limited worker, but he had a relentless, single-minded focus on that one nerve hold, and in this match, Mercier just keep hitting him in the face over and over again to break the hold. Every time he hit von Chenok, Chenok would dig in just a little bit more. These are the kind of minimalist bouts I love to watch. Simple execution, but beautiful to watch. It loosened up a bit toward the end, but if this isn't the best Mercier fight in the collection then I'd like to see one that's better. 

Francis Sullivan & Albert Sanniez vs. Bernard Caclard & Tony Martino (aired 10/21/67)

This match was already available thanks to Bob ALPRA. I actually had no memory of watching this, but it's nice to see I sang its praises a few years ago and still liked it on the rewatch. I'm not sure how well it stands up now that we have so much footage to compare it to, but in the context of the late 60s, it's one of the better matches to make TV. The action is good, the heels are solid, and Sanniez is involved. The faces were a bit too peppy perhaps. I kind of prefer those stoic ones that get pissed and throw a dozen manchettes, but that's a small gripe. 

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Quick plug before I start this post. I just posted a big article on L'Ange Blanc over on Wrestling Classics. You can find it here. Some of the stuff I have mentioned here previously, some of it is new. I figure some of the posters here would like to give it a read.

In researching him I've come to find out we're missing two TV matches of his:
October 3, 1963: L'Ange Blanc & Jack de Lasartesse vs. Gilbert Leduc & Robert Gastel in a, essentially, relevos increibles match
October 9, 1964: L'Ange Blanc & Gilbert Leduc vs. Hercules Cortez & Robert Gastel

The first match ties with something ohtani's jacket had asked earlier. According to the TV listing for the match catch had been off TV for a while and the viewers were asking for it to return so the network insisted that all four Paris promoters come to an agreement. They did and that's how this match came to be. I don't know more details beyond that, but it definitely seems like there were some issues there.

On 8/28/2020 at 3:09 PM, ohtani's jacket said:

Gil Voiney vs. Georges Kasbarian (aired 7/11/65)

As suspected, Voiney could work. He was on the French national team, but turned professional after France decided not to take any heavyweights to the '56 Olympics (a common theme among a lot of the guys we're watching now is not making the '56 Olympics.) This was a nifty bout for a couple of heavyweights. The finish was a bit silly, but the work was good. The only problem with Voiney is that he's pretty big for this era and it looks like they needed to match him against other big men, so I'm not sure that he had the best opponents. He seems like a guy who would have been better off overseas.

NB: I'm not sure if Gasparian is the right name, but that's what I'm rolling with for the time being. 

EDIT: I'm pretty sure it's Georges Kasbarian.

Yes, that's Georges Kasbarian indeed. Here's the interesting thing though. Watch this match and then watch the L'Homme Masque match from 1959. Look at the frames of both Voiney and Kasbarian. To me it very much looks like not Voiney, but rather Kasbarian was L'Homme Masque in 1959. Plus, Kasbarian had a bit of a bodybuilding background I believe and the 1959 L'Homme Masque looks like someone with such a background. I'll throw in the third suspect Great Zorro in there for good measure.

OHB8RAJ.jpg
L'Homme Masque (1959), Georges Kasbarian (1967), Gil Voiney, Great Zorro

And then there's this interesting Paris line-up right here:
November 13, 1961 at Palais des Sports: The Great Zorro vs. L'Homme Masque... Lucky Simunovich vs. Josef Kovacs... Jimmy Dula & Bob Martin vs. Jose Arroyo & Pepe Marques... Gil Voiney vs. Elie Azria... Georges Gueret vs. Spencer Churchill
 

On 9/7/2020 at 12:50 AM, ohtani's jacket said:

Hopefully, Phil can shed more light on it, but this blog alludes to some trouble between the promoters and the TV producer, Raymond Marcillac.

I've also read that the promoters had an issue with Claude Darget, who was constantly "demystifying" catch during the broadcasts and in print. 

Apparently, there was a big controversy with Darget in 1957. It happened during the Hayes vs. Casi match on December 7. Darget said the following during the match: "All that doesn't matter, don't worry, in wrestling nothing matters. I have ten minutes on the air, in ten minutes the match will be over". That comment pissed off the promoters big time and they insisted that he no longer does commentary going forward. Raymond Marcillac, the head of sports at the network, did like Darget however and decided to smooth things over. He set up a meeting between Darget and the promoters, but Darget refused to make amends and walked off, slamming door. Marcillac kept pushing and ultimately an agreement was reached for Darget to return to commentary. That happened at the end of March 1959.

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Thanks for the info, Phil.

Voiney could have done double duty on that card. It wouldn't surprise me if there was more than one wrestler who played L'Homme Masque, but the 1959 version was a lot more muscular than Kasbarian. There is a L'Homme Masque match from later on where I thought he resembled Kasbarian. Perhaps the match against Drapp. Now I have to check out all of the L'Homme Masque matches. 

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The only doubt I have over Kasbarian being the original L'Homme Masque is that it appears that you can see some hair sticking out of the bottom of the mask, and the hair appears to be blonde. 

L'Homme Masque vs. L'Ange Blanc (aired 12/13/69)

This was better than I expected. I'm pretty sure this was Voiney as he had a huge build. Voiney was shorter than Kasbarian but he had a bigger build, especially his legs. I spent an absurd amount of time comparing their calf muscles. The next thing you know, I'm gonna be reading bodybuilding magazines. The real reason I think this is Voiney is that L'Homme Masque was surprisingly good at working working holds. That's something I've seen from Voiney before, but not Kasbarian. L'Homme Masque flat out dominated this match. He took maybe 80% of it. It was kind of weird because L'Ange Blanc was all smiles and waves, but he got his ass pinned to the mat. A balding, happy-to-lucky L'Ange Blanc is not really my idea of some avenging angel, but this match was weird in general. Some dude showed up half way through with a pelican. I kid you not. I have no idea why he brought a pelican to ringside, but I kind of felt sorry for the poor thing as he was grasping it by the neck and it's head was flailing about. Despite there being a pelican at ringside, L'Ange Blanc couldn't seem to draw any inspiration. L'Homme Masque beat on his ass until finally he got himself disqualified. Then L'Ange Blanc actually celebrated and bowed to the audience like he'd accomplished something. A fitting idea to a surreal bout.

Mammouth Siki vs. L'Homme Masque (aired 8/21/71)

This was pretty damn good, and I never thought I'd catch myself saying that about a Mammouth Siki match. It was mostly strength holds with barely any movement except for two guys trying to hold each other down, but with the right sort of intensity you can get a contest out of that. Shit, I'd rather see two guys pin each other to the mat than waste my time doing shitty wear down holds. Again, this had to be Voiney because Kasbarian wasn't this good a worker. I usually hate ref involvement in a match, but this had one of the best ref spots I've seen in a while as Siki absolutely flung the ref into L'Homme Masque. That dude was like a torpedo. I should probably add that L'Homme Masque had his mask removed at one point, and it looked for all money like it was Voiney under the hood.

I think it's definitely Voiney in these two bouts. I'm leaning towards it being Voiney in the '59 match, but the L'Homme Masque in that match is nowhere near as good a worker as in these two bouts. I have my doubts over the L'Homme Masque in the '62 match against Drapp. He seems taller and his legs are skinnier. 

Another masked wrestler:

Daniel Boucard vs. Red Demon (aired 2/6/66)

Man, Red Demon had some shitty ring attire. He had this weird gimmick where he would stop and freeze every time he landed a move. it seemed like he was some kind of Kamikaze ripoff, but every time he tried something athletic he was unbelievably awkward. I mean, he could barely get any height on the athletic spots he tried and almost fell on every landing. It just goes to show you the sheer athleticism that Kamikaze possessed, but Christ, who wants to be Kamikaze with lead feet? Apparently, a poor wrestler named Francis Bertin, that's who. 

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I agree with that. The L'Homme Masque in the L'Ange Blanc and Mammouth Siki matches is shorter and wider. Definitely not Kasbarian. Could very well be Voiney.

The guy in the Drapp match is not the same guy. He looks similar to the original L'Homme Masque. Also, I'm not sure if you just mistyped this, but I'll point it out just in case - the date for the Drapp match is March 4, 1966. Not 1962.

EDIT: I was trying to dig a little bit more into Voiney himself. Turns out we missed out on a Voiney TV match in 1962. Voiney vs. Red Eagle was advertised to air on November 16, but only Dula/Martin vs. Montreal/Minissini aired, it seems. It sure would have been nice to have footage of Voiney from 1962 and to compare that with the 1959 L'Homme Masque.

cSNRkIv.jpg

It's also worth pointing out that at the time Voiney was World Heavyweight champion (French version) and had been since December 1961.

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Dug a little bit more into Voiney. Here's another two interesting match-ups that popped up.

October 22, 1965. L'Homme Masque vs. Gil Voiney.
0VisOMg.jpg

March 25, 1966. L'Homme Masque and his brother vs. Gil Voiney and Andre Drapp. No idea who this supposed brother was.
Dn1VjMk.jpg

Another guy I forgot to mention earlier, who's also been known to have performed as L'Homme Masque, is Freddy Robert. So, he's another suspect. Not for the original L'Homme Masque, but certainly for the later version or versions.
bgMYtRF.jpg

 

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For what it's worth, I ran my L'Homme Masque theory by Bob Plantin yesterday. Bob was working as a preliminary wrestler back then, although not on the same Paris cards as L'Homme Masque, but I figured he may know. Bob says that it was The Great Zorro (Jacob Grobbe) under the mask. I do think Zorro performed as L'Homme Masque too on occasion, but I don't buy the idea that he was the L'Homme Masque in the footage that we have. To me that's clearly someone else. Also, as luck would have it, Bob is having lunch with Kasbarian this coming Saturday.

I also randomly asked Bob about who was the best Spanish wrestler, in his opinion. He said Modesto Aledo, without question. Bob said in his opinion Aledo was one of the top three European wrestlers back then. That good. Man, I really wish we had more Aledo footage.

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You get a better look at him in this video:

I'm not sure that Great Zorro is out of the question, especially with those eyes and lips:

42d650d134c88e9776186974afcf5a06.jpg

Also, it seems that whoever is playing the role is not a native French speaker. 

Mortier ended up in the States, which would suggest the need to have another wrestler don the gimmick. Interestingly enough, Mortier and Voiney tagged together in the States and both seemed to use the Brigitte Bardot bodyguard gimmick at one time or another. 

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4 hours ago, Phil Lions said:

I also randomly asked Bob about who was the best Spanish wrestler, in his opinion. He said Modesto Aledo, without question. Bob said in his opinion Aledo was one of the top three European wrestlers back then. That good. Man, I really wish we had more Aledo footage.

It's a shame that the Bob Remy match doesn't appear to be available. 

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Jacky Corn vs. Georges Gueret (aired 7/9/59)

Now that we know catch wasn't broadcast every week, and how many promoters there were in Paris vying for television time, it seems that there are a disproportionate number of Jacky Corn matches shown on TV. And sure enough, there's dad, and matchmaker, Robert Lageat being interviewed before the match. I don't think it was a secret that they were father and son, but he definitely made sure that his boy got plenty of TV time. Not that I'm complaining since I'm a Jacky Corn guy. This wasn't the best Jacky Corn match in the collection, but it had a classic Jacky Corn finish. Gueret reminded me of a French version of Emilio Charles, Jr., and drew tremendous heat. That spectator at ringside looked a bit touched in the head, though. 

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