by Daniel Johnson
Verne Gagne at 218 lbs outweighed his opponent, Red Bastien by more than 30 lbs in this performance preserved by Chicago Film Archives through the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970. Whereas today there might even be more guys under 200 lbs in the world of wrestling than there are over it, in the 1950s, in wrestling programs held at the Chicago International Amphitheatre by Fred Kohler’s NWA territory it was far from the norm.
The bout is similar in execution to one Bret Hart and 1-2-3 Kid would have years later on a 1994 episode of WWF Monday Night Raw. It was a battle between a heavyweight regarded as possibly the best in the world and a much smaller wrestler in a fair and honest face versus face contest.
For readers who have only seen footage of Verne Gagne from the last 40 years or so it may be surprising to see him with a full head of hair. This is also far from the norm of how most remember him. Heck, who am I kidding? You don’t even have to look that closely to tell he was balding even back then.
Russ Davis on commentary has his usual dry sense of humor throughout the match. After Bastien has Gagne in an elbow lock for an extended period of time Gagne gets out of it by delivering some headscissors. This leads Davis to joke, “That’s what I was going to tell you Mr. Bastien, to look out for things like that.” Later Gagne does the same move two more times, but misses the fourth and falls outside the ring. This causes the Chicago crowd to noticeably gasp because flying out of the ring also wasn’t that common then.
Before all is said and done Gagne gets a cut on his head and more obviously Bastien has a busted nose. Davis continues to joke even about the bloodshed saying that they may look like stuck pigs, but they’re not bleeding enough to fill a bottle of Chanel No. 5.
For the finish Gagne pins Bastien by wrestling him down with his legs. True to his good sportsmanship image, Gagne gives Bastien a pat on the back after the performance.
The full match can be seen right here:
Categories: Wrestling Clips