Before we start, a great response from KJ Gould on Lou Thesz:
"Like: Likely invented the powerbomb in pro wrestling, but didn’t invent the STF like many believe (wrestling books pre-dating Thesz’s career feature it). Certainly didn’t invent the German Suplex (not even Karl Gotch did when he used it as the ‘Atomic Suplex’. Likely came from Finnish Greco Roman wrestlers.). Brought an incredible amount of credibility to pro wrestling and was the face of the NWA for the decades he worked in. Speaking of decades, he had one of the longest pro wrestling careers out of any body, and could still work well as an old man in the early 1990’s. Had some legitimate skills that meant he could keep hold of the title for the NWA even when others might try to go into business for themselves and shoot on him. He is an icon of what ‘legit’ pro wrestling was, in the confines of a predominantly worked environment.
Dislike: For as much as his skills were lauded, it’s difficult to accurately assess how good he was in a shoot environment as he never competed in amateur wrestling (where as Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson had up to an international level). He made some mistakes with who he endorsed later in life (my opinion) which meant the few guys worthy of his endorsement get very little recognition (eg Mark Flemming who took over coaching for him in Japan and I think USA). He also never got to work a match with Ed Lewis who was already an old man and almost blind when Lewis managed and promoted him. I believe Thesz had remarked this was a regret of his since behind the scenes and in the gym, Lewis despite his handicaps still got the better of Thesz when it came to Catch style wrestling. Thesz also didn’t train any future MMA fighters like Gotch and Robinson had which unfortunately leaves a little bit of a question mark over his talents, but not enough to detract from his pro wrestling legacy."
What you loved:
- Innovator - Gave us the Powerbomb and Lou Thesz Press. Also helped popularized the German Suplex and the STF.
- Mount Rushmore - When we get into this topic he's usually in the conversation of being one of the true greats.
- Longevity - Debuting in 1932, Thesz wrestled officially until 1979! Even as an older man he still possessed the skills to go in the ring.
Not trends, but other items mentioned; Held the NWA title (over multiple reigns) for 10+ years and had excellent drawing power for the time.
My favorite comment comes via StuckInAfghanistan:
"I once had dinner with Lou Thez. Just him and me and a mutual friend hearing stories and being amazed to be at the same table with the man.
I do remember he had GIGANTIC hands that felt like vice grips whenever we shook hands. This was probably 15 years ago or so. He was also really short – like shorter than me, and I’m 5’9".
Like: He was a big fan of chicken Florentine.
Loathe: His handshake left red marks on my hand for 10 minutes afterwards."
What you loathed:
- Time - Unfortunately his era was before many of us were fans, so it's tough to really appreciate what he did. It's much more difficult to see his work both in books or on film. WWE Network would be a great outlet for some of these old-school guys.
Other things mentioned: known to be stiff in the ring, and not around today to take Cena down, jack!
On to the poll! With 109 votes, Lou Thesz's average score is 4.6.
Thanks, Cagesiders! Tomorrow's pick is one of the longest reigning champs in the history of pro wrestling.