by Daniel Johnson
Ricki Starr vs. Hans Hermann
I logged onto the Freakin’ Awesome Network (FAN) message board on September 30 and was disappointed to see that Ricki Starr had passed away at the age of 83. WWE made a brief announcement earlier in the day and described him as a “British sensation.” SLAM! Wrestling also reported on the death and did perhaps as thorough a job as is possible in detailing the life of someone writer Steve Johnson described as, “[T]he JD Salinger of wrestling.”
According to the SLAM! Wrestling piece, the St. Louis, Missouri born Starr had an amateur wrestling background before immersing himself in ballet in 1951. Although Starr had worked some non-marquee pro wrestling matches in the early 1950s, when he decided to mix some of his ballet skill set into his wrestling performances in 1954 is when he really started to break out. From there Starr enjoyed success in America until 1963 when he moved to the United Kingdom. Starr wrestled in the UK for 14 years and wrestlingdata.com lists his last match as having occurred on July 11, 1977 in Austria.
About 18 years before Starr’s final performance was this two out of three falls match he had with Hans Hermann in the legendary Chicago International Amphitheatre for the NWA on July 17, 1959. Preserved masterfully by Chicago Film Archives through the the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970 a real treat in this clip is that before the match, an announcement is made that Gorgeous George could not wrestle due to a broken finger and promoter Fred Kohler will have to book him for a later date. Starr then starts putting his ballet slippers in George’s face before throwing them into the crowd. Commentator Russ Davis points out that this is in response to George handing out Georgie pins to the crowd. In a way Starr and George were similar in that they played larger than life, flamboyant characters, though they took considerably different approaches to how they played this type of character and how they wrestled in the ring.
Despite being billed from Boston, Massachusetts, Starr’s opponent for this match, Hermann played a straight up Nazi and gave the Nazi salutes multiple times in this clip. Yeah, wrestling was a little different back in those days. As least this gave a little more reason for Starr to have the fans in his pocket as the 199 lbs man messes with the big German brute by hiding behind the referee and giving him cheap shots. Davis does a great job of summarizing Starr’s character by saying, “I’ve seen a lot of things in my my time, but this guy Ricki Starr slays me,” Davis continues, “Because believe it or not he’s a real tough wrestlers. He can be tougher than all get out.” Nevertheless Starr only gets awarded the first fall of the match due to Hermann choking him.
The second fall sees Starr make a great comeback for the finish as he claws Hermann’s eyes in one corner than flips backward off of him. Starr takes Hermann down multiple times before finishing the affair with a body press.
The full match can be seen right here:
For more in the Old School Flashback series featuring another match from the Chicago International Amphitheatre click here or take a look at a match from Indiana that took place a few decades later here.
Categories: Wrestling Clips