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Lou Thesz vs Verne Gagne (01/25/52)

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This is probably the best Thesz match I've seen so far. I particularly liked all of his heel schtick; he slaps Gagne at rope breaks, cheap shots, stalls to stretch, and uses the ropes to his advantage but all of those things are done in subtle fashion. Overall I'd say this was a good match though it had some of the flaws you associate with a broadway. There was some filler and some things just went on to long. Still, the good stuff makes this worth a watch. Outside of Thesz's heel tactics I thought the grappling looked really snug, even Gagne's headlock looked painful. I thought Thesz using the backdrop to counter the long headlock and take the first fall made for a great turning point in the match.

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This was a good. match. Thesz's subtle heel work was tremendous. All the little shots off the rope breaks reminded me of a more low key Jim Breaks. The suplex that Lou gave Verne was brutal . I enjoyed Verne using the headlock in the 1st fall though it did drag at times. The 2nd fall loving Lou going for the Sleeper only to be to close to the ropes. Until finally he got it. The 3rd fall was the NWA touring champ finish forever. Other things to take away from were the strikes, and the precision of them. Can't wait to see more of these guys.

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Just since he's getting overlooked here, Gagne is terrific in this match. Plays ultimate babyface to perfection, sells his ass off for Lou when he needs to, and kicks this shit out of Lou when he needs to. Lou has a lot of middling matches. Matches that tend to stand out are (i) Schmidt kicking the fuck out of him, and (ii) Verne being terrific. The difference between this and the hour draw with Buddy is that Verne brought out a better Lou here.

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I don't have much to really add here, that wasn't already said. But, I absolutely loved this! The work was very engaging, and Lou was exactly what he needed to be. I especially loved Verne getting fed up with the cheap shots and just going to town on Lou during the second fall. The crowd heat also made this a lot of fun. Every time Lou went for the ropes to halt a Verne comeback, they went nuts.

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This was a fascinating match. Yes, it's a 60 minute match from the 1950s, so prepare for long holds, but the intense struggling over the whole duration made it interesting all the way to the end. The wrestling moves, altough extremely basic, were incredible. Gagne looked like he would rip right through Thesz if given the chance. There were also some greatly timed spots, such as an abdominal stretch cradle that made me jump. Then you also have the story of Thesz acting like a dick and dealing out some serious punishment on Gagne: punching at the cheek, grinding on his head, hitting him in the back of the head, etc. When Thesz is throwing those knees to the head it's a total assault. The work around the sleeper hold is quality and you can see the NWA title match structure was already perfectly in place. Gets a little repetitive/primitive at times, with the constant repetition of the cheap shot in the ropes, and I felt it could've delivered a little "bigger" considering how amazing it was when Verne was hammering Thesz with punches or when they were struggling on the mat, but other than that this was a tremendous match regardless of all.

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