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Teddy Boys (Jean-Claude Bourson/Robert Le Boulch) vs. Gilbert Cesca/René Ben Chemoul

 

Teddy Boys, for those of you who don't know, were teen rebels influenced by American rock 'n' roll music. The subculture started in London in the 1950s and spread across the UK, and was characterised by an overly macho, gang led philosophy that often led to violent clashes with rival subcultures such as the mods. Because of this violence, the Teddy Boys, along with rock 'n' roll were blamed for most of the social ills of the 1950s. It also meant that a lot of heels in the UK, as well as across the channel, adopted a 'Teddy Boy' look even if it wasn't entirely in keeping with how actual Teddy Boys dressed. In the 60s, it merged with the 'rocker' look and was basically a juvenile delinquent look. Even when you get to the 80s, rockers are still portrayed as heels, which is in stark contrast to the babyface rocker teams in the US. I'm not sure if Bourson and Le Boulch teamed regularly as the Teddy Boys, or if Le Boulch was just Bourson's partner for this particular evening, but Bourson did the Teddy Boy gimmick for years. Unfortunately, the VQ on this footage is terrible with the picture breaking up every few seconds and the tape cuts off before the finish, so it's really only snippets of what looked like a fun match.

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Les Copains (Dan Aubroit/Bob Plantin) vs. Les Blousons Noirs (Claude Gessat/Marcel Mannevau) (5/15/64)

 

"Les Blousons Noirs" were the French version of the 1960 UK rocker subculture, and like the Teddy Boys from the 1950s were seen as hooligans and young thugs. This was a match which never saw the light of day because around the same time some les blouson noirs destroyed the seats at the Paris Olympia during a Johnny Hallyday concert, and the ORTF, the national agency which provided public radio and TV at the time, decided they didn't want to encourage these juveniles by airing a match where they went over. Fortunately for us, the footage was discovered in a drawer somewhere and can see some French catch that was never broadcast. Les Blousons Noirs are pretty tame in terms of heat-mongering, but their cheating was effective. Aubroit and Plantin, with the awesome team name of "the Buddies" bring the lucha-esque moves, and all in all this is another good tag.

 

Bernard Vignal vs. Grand Vladimir (5/15/64)

 

Whoah, Grand Vladimir in the 60s. I've only seen him in 80s footage so it was fascinating to see him so young. This was a nice little forearm smash contest until Vladimir was disqualified. I guess this proves that French Catch had throwaway nothing TV bouts as well.

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Some corrections:

 

Gilbert Cesca/Ben Chemoul vs. Anton Tejero/Pierre Anou(sp?) (3/12/65)

-- Pierre Anou was apparently called Inca Péruano, and Ben Chemoul should really be René Ben Chemoul.

 

Kader Hassouni/Jean Corne vs. Albert Sanniez/Jacky Richard

-- This is rather surprisingly from 9/3/83.

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Francis Sullivan/Albert Sanniez vs. Bernard Caclard/Tony Martino

 

Wonderful lightweight match. Just a beautiful display of athletic dropkicks, head scissors takedowns and rapid lucha style exchanges mixed in with the usual strikes and heel tactics. Martino was the standout. This balding little man with an outstanding physique, who looked like he had a boxing background and used it to devastating effect. A vicious little shit, the working over he gave Sullivan in the second fall instantly made him one of my favourite guys in catch. As good as Martino was, a match can't be any good without the faces being valiant and their technique here was of the highest calibre. They also had a brilliant post-match celebration style, as though they'd just won the men's doubles. You've got to love a babyface team that can celebrate well. If this is indicative of French lightweight wrestling then it was a worthy counterpart to the UK scene.

 

Note: The video has the wrong wrestlers listed for each team

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Jack de Lassartesse/Robert Duranton vs. Andre Drapp/Bernard Vignal (1/20/61)

 

Another gem in the treasure trove.

 

Lassartesse was so young here it was almost like watching Christopher Lee's Dracula compared to the 200 year-old version from the 1980s. He was this lanky, amazingly long-limbed brawler who just seemed to swallow people up like a spider. His partner was the famous Robert Duranton, a bodybuilder turned wrestler who worked a subtle exotico gimmick. As far as bodybuilders-turned-wrestlers go, his work was superlative, but it was his valet Firmin that made the act special. The heels had cool, detached personas, and sauntered about the ring while Firmin dialed up the heat at ringside. French crowds weren't afraid to have altercations with the performers, and Firmin was grabbed a few times at ringside, but the place came unhinged when he had a go at Roger Couderc. The usually good humoured and jovial Couderc dropped his mic and socked Firmin, forcing a policeman to drag Firmin away. Couderc went back to calling the match and was later shown holding a shoe and asking if anyone had lost it in the melee. The faces for their part were fine. Drapp was another guy with a tremendous bodybuilding physique. I believe he wrestled in the US as well, and was a member of the French Resistance, which is pretty cool. After all the commotion at ringside, the heels took the opening fall thanks to the world's boniest knee drop from Lassartesse, then the video cut out just as the second fall began. Obviously, I would've liked to have seen the entire thing, but if this is all that exists (which I kind of doubt), then it's still a valuable historical document, especially when you consider you've got Lassartesse, Duranton and Drapp all together in the same ring.

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Gilbert Cesca/René Ben Chemoul vs. Chéri Bibi/Pierre Bernaert

 

This looked like it was from some sort of 70s or 80s retrospective as it kept cutting back to colour footage of what may have been Ben Chemoul talking about the match. Cheri Bibi is a great name for a heel. Every time Couderc called his name I got a kick out of it. The match was pretty close to what you'd associate with classic 50s and 60s pro-wrestling w/ the heels bumping and stooging and the babyfaces working athletic payback spots. Bernaert got his head caught in the ropes at one point, and Bibi did the classic Andre caught up in the ropes, and the faces made them pay with slingshots to the gut and dropkicks off the top rope. Fun match with some neat comedy, but nothing distinctly Euro.

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Jean Ménard vs. Pierre Mercier

 

Colour footage of a house show match. Pierre Mercier was a skinny young fella and this was like the catch equivalent of those 1980s World of Sport bouts where veterans would wrestle the "boy apprentices" such as Kid McCoy or Richie Brooks. Menard showed his class once again, but it was a fairly straight forward match and not a particularly great carry or anything like that.

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Francis Louis vs. Bob Plantin (1968)

 

This was the match that had people thinking it was George Kidd vs. Modesto Aledo, which did take place in the 60s but at the Royal Albert Hall in London. To add to the confusion, ALPRA uploaded it twice, the first time with the correct names and the second time calling it "LUTTE CLASSIQUE à l ' Elysée Montmartre en 1968." L'Élysée Montmartre being the famous music venue. While it may not be rare George Kidd footage, it's still a decent enough bout, though nothing too revolutionary when it comes to studying lutte. There's a lot of cool wristlock takedowns and other tricked out moves, but loses focus a bit with a running joke between Plantin and referee Jean Louis Maresse.

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Isha Israel/Jean Corne vs. Les Blousons Noirs (Claude Gessat/Marcel Mannevau) (4/21/60)

 

This was a looong Les Blousons Noirs tag match. They actually started out wrestling but it wasn't long before they were up to their usual tricks, and boy did they have a bunch of them. Mannevau's favourite trick was to get a wrestler in their corner and work a bunch of cheap shots from the apron, then pretend he was holding onto the tag rope. It was like a silent comedy with the ref playing the constable and Manneavau twirling the tag rope with his fingers. He'd whistle at the sky, minding his own business, then as soon as the officer's back was turned he'd throw another cheap shot. It reminded me of Steve Logan and Mick McManus and I can see why Les Blousons Noirs were over in the UK.

 

Isha Israel and Jean Corne were fine stylists, similar to the reoccurring tag team of Cesca and Chemoul, but this was more of a fight than a wrestling bout and most of what they dished out was retaliatory. There were also a lot of comedy spots with Jean Louis Maresse, who was the French Max Ward and got involved a lot. In the second fall, Manneavau tore his pant leg off, which the crowd found tremendously entertaining. I like a good bit of comedy, but Maresse chews the scenery at times.

 

I've noticed that the opening fall, or premiere manche as it's called in French (see, I'm learning something), is often the longest fall in these tag matches with the logic being that as the wrestlers tire the falls become shorter. The opening fall here was a good 20 minutes plus and a match in itself really. Unfortunately, the third fall is missing, which is a bugger after 40 minutes of tape watching, but I still thought this was a good match and fun to watch the Blousons Noirs again, especially Manneavau who I think would win a lot of love for his performance here.

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Michel Allary vs. Jack de Lassartesse (1/22/60)

 

Rene Lassartesse has got to be one of the best heels in the history of European wrestling. The swagger with which he walked to the ring has rarely been duplicated in the 54 years that followed, and the tilt of the head and air of superiority had everyone in the building recalling in disgust that he should view them as so inferior. He was ridiculously long and used every inch of his frame to full effect, but he had plenty of comedic timing as well and knew when to show ass and follow it up with a cheap shot and strut. His opponent here was a popular heavyweight who had his career cut short when he broke his back in London wrestling the Australian heavyweight Bill Verna. This turned into a total forearm smash contest and was similar to those four round bouts Mike Marino or Tibor Szakacs would have in the 70s where it was more of a showcase than an epic bout, but it was a blast to see Lassartesse bump and stooge and rile everyone up.

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Walter Bordes/Michel Falempin vs. Jean Menard/Gerald Bouvet

 

This looks like it might possibly be from the 80s, which makes it their maestros match. And it's a pretty cool maestros match. It's not a technical showcase as such, but more of a maestros version of those heel vs. face tag matches from the 60s where they'd do the slingshot into the guy caught in the ropes and other crowd pleasing spots. Menard continues to look great. Really an accomplished rudo. I'd love to see something from his prime.

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There are 2 films, documentations about catch, on RTS from switzerland (un match de catch; le monde du catch),

 

http://www.rts.ch/archives/tv/information/continents-sans-visa/3449979-un-match-de-catch.html

 

http://www.rts.ch/archives/tv/information/continents-sans-visa/5060952-le-monde-du-catch.html;

 

some german catchscenes from 50's, to 70's are to find in the "Bundesarchiv";

 

http://www.filmothek.bundesarchiv.de/

 

If you write " Catchen" in the search field ("Suchbegriff eingeben) you will find 10 films; if you get to the link of the film, you can find the scene pictures under "keyframes";

 

the films show some not too serious scenes of catchen in germany, which was very popular in the 60's and 70's.

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Jean Rabut vs. Venta Costella (1/22/60)

 

Costella was a real Spanish wrestler not like the supposed Modesto Aledo video. About 10 minutes of this aired. Decent lightweight match with the pin attempts being pretty sensational.

 

Angelito vs. Albert Sanniez (1977)

 

This was a fun match with a lot of neat holds in the maestros style. A bit exhibition-y, but fluid. If this were a classic lucha match, I'd be over the moon with the discovery. I'm starting to think Euro wrestling delivers more than lucha when it comes to the matwork and exchanges.

 

Fred Magnier vs. Bob Plantin

 

Magnier was a fun heel. A tubby little guy with an ugly mug. Plantin did all sorts of Euro style escapes here, including an awesome spin out on his head, but this was a mauling and Plantin's corner finally threw in the towel. Referee/promoter Roger Delaporte had trouble separating Magnier from Plantin and finally the pair came to blows. Somewhat amusing considering Delaporte was one of the biggest heels of his day. Kind of reminded me of McManus playing the elder statesman after retiring.

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Pierre Lagache/René Cabellec vs. René Ben Chemoul/Bob Plantin (1978)

 

In one of the versions of this bob ALPRA uploaded he said it was Chemoul's final bout. Personally, I found it kind of lacklustre. The heels were nowhere near as interesting as most of the pairings we've seen so far and the action was average. Once again the video cut out after the first fall. To me this was skippable.

 

Marc Mercier vs. Alex Sanniez (1978)

 

Mercier was a young French talent who appeared on WoS once facing Marty Jones. He had a car accident in 1989 that forced him to retire and later became a promoter reactivating the defunct FFCP promotion in 2006. Here he was a skinny second year man, and if you're familiar with Euro wrestling you'll know that skinny means skinny. This was quite a decent bout and I thought Sanniez did a great job of keeping it tight. But again there was no finish, perhaps deliberately so to only upload part of the footage.

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Michel Allary vs. Johnny Stein (1960)

 

Johnny Stein was a big, strong shaven headed German who bore an uncanny resemblance to Triple H. Michel Allary was the promising young heavyweight from the Lassartesse match whose career was cut short by injury. The first ten minutes of this was an enjoyable heavyweight contest. It was mostly strength holds, but it was tough, physical looking stuff that was well sold, and Stein was a beast. After a while, he began roughing Allary up and the bout became a bit shapeless, though it did succeed in drawing the ire of the crowd. Allary made various comeback attempts during the bout and dished out some retaliation before the big German was disqualified for repeatedly stomping Allary in the ropes. Allary lashed out after the bell choking Stein with a towel, which drew a healthy bloodlust from the crowd. A couple of policemen from 'Allo 'Allo! had to make sure things didn't get out of hand, and Stein must have been pleased with how the night went as he made his way back to the locker room. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of that initial hard fought heavyweight contest, but the heat mongering was a decent enough spectacle.

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.Johnny Stein was Kurt von Stroheim and the 2nd Kurt von Brauner so that would be a great find to compare his work... if there is anything out there from his latter days. I assume that his first US gimmick was Kurt Stein

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The Israeliens (Georges Cohen/Gaston Doukkhan) vs. Pierre Payen/Daniel Boucard

 

This was another fun tag match with a real Euro flavour to it. By now the sequences aren't that special as we've seen them played out in numerous tags from the 60s and 70s, but I thought Daniel Boucard was a real dynamo and when the Israeliens started throwing forearm smashes they were very cool.

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Gilbert Leduc vs. Quasimodo

 

Ha, Quasimodo was awesome. I haven't seen this much commitment to character since Lon Chaney Sr. You could almost swear he was a hunchback and that the lump on his skull was some sort of cranial deformity. The match itself was nothing special. Quasimodo mainly worked nerve holds, which made it the French version of a Kamala match or something similar. But the eerie atmosphere made it seem like an old silent horror film and it would make a good bout for Halloween. Catch wrestling sure had a colourful rogues gallery. It's like the golden age of wrestling villains. Hell, there's even a Batman gimmick worker that I'm hoping to see soon, though I'm not sure if he actually plays the actual Batman or does a bat gimmick.

 

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I'm excited to finally see some footage of Quasimodo and Le Bourreau de Bethune pop up. Quasimodo's not going to be confused with Billy Robinson, but that unique stungun move he busts out at around the 12:50 mark was a true holy-shit spot.

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That's interesting. I always heard from Spanish historians and old hands that Quasimodo was a very decent worker but that may also refer to his pre-Quasimodo days.

 

I will watch that match later. I remember watching as a child a re-run of a NO-DO (the Franco Dictatorship news footage that would air before movies at the cinema) with highlights of one of his matches but I thought I'd never see footage with him again.

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Gilbert Leduc vs. Le Bourreau de Béthune

 

This started off with some decent grappling and a lot better work than the Quasimodo bout, but soon descended into a methodical knockout of poor old Leduc. The Executioner's heel work wasn't particularly outstanding (at least in this match), but he looked like a fair worker. He had a tremendous physique for a guy his size and his upper body and torso were so big compared to his legs that he almost appeared like a caricature. Again there was a neat comic book aspect to this.

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Ah, my father told me once that when he was a teenager he and some friends would sneak in to watch Le Bourreau de Béthune and L'Ange Blanc.

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