I don't have an endpoint here but just wanted to pose a question to everyone in the class regarding Lou Thesz. We all read (or at least we're supposed to have) Dave Meltzer's detailed biography of Lou's career, and we also read a portion of Lou's biography. What is your take on this, the most revered of characters in wrestling history? We've seen him in video, back then and more recently, and we know that he is very critical of other performers. Hulk Hogan is a 1 or a 0 as a wrestler, even if he's a good entertainer, and Lou's grandmother could do a better legdrop. But think about some of his other quotes about his contemporaries:
Buddy Rogers "He couldn't wrestle but that's beside the point...In my opinion, he was the best PERFORMER (emphasis mine) this business has ever had. It doesnt' mean I liked him, though...He was very self-centered..." and we get those stories about how Buddy only cared about himself but then Lou describes how, after Buddy criticized Strangler Lewis, he would never let Buddy beat him, since Thesz could whip Buddy in real life. Does this make Thesz a tough guy standing up for what's right, against a punk who is talented but has no respect for the history of the business? Or is he an unprofessional bully? Or is it either/or?
Gorgeous George We know that he respected George Wagner because he believed Wagner could really wrestle but bemoaned the fact that George didnt' show the fans his wrestling ability very often. He said he always gave George a good show, but "a lot of the gimmick performers who came along in his wake didn't know a wrestling hold from a handshake, and I always refused to dignify their in-the-ring stuff when I was booked with them...My 'gimmick' was wrestling, and I wasn't about to abandon it for the sake of making these characters look good." Again, Lou seems proud of this, but some question whether he should have been or not.
Antonino Rocca Lou makes it clear that its Rocca's fault that wrestling became a complete sideshow, and others like him, who took wrestling away from wrestling. I think his comments about Rocca are most revealing: about the shifts television brought along and what it meant for wrestling (Lou's comments about how TV changed the game are great because he was an established star both before and after, so he knows well about this divide), but also about the questions posed in earlier blog posts about the relationship between promoters and stars. What do you make of the description here of Rocca's relationship with Vince Sr., Toots Mondt (his name always pops back up, doesn't it?), and other promoters? My favorite quote..."While Rocca lacked grey matter, he was compensated in his jock strap--Mother Nature's sense of balance, I guess, or maybe humor."
Would love to get some reactions across the class about Lou's place in wrestling history as the standard of what makes a REAL wrestler, etc., especially among older wrestlers, historians...and....well....Lou himself, of course.