WWE Hidden Gems – 1952

We continue along with the Hidden Gems collection with 1952, which features three match including Killer Kowalski, more Lou Thesz, and Rito Romero. Each match is about twenty minutes long, so I figured I’d do it as one post for all three. Let’s go to the ring.

1. Killer Kowalski v. Mr. Moto and Duke Keomuka

This match is from April 29 of 1952 and is a handicap match. Moto is also known as Tor Kamata and is a multiple time tag team champion through out the United States wrestling territories. Duke was a big star in the Texas era in the fifties and is the father of Pat Tanaka. The referee goes over the rules, Kowalski is attacked by George Bollas, who was also known as the Zebra Kid, and this allows Duke and Moto to get an early advantage. The ref pulls everyone off Kowalski and he gets back to his corner as the match finally begins and Moto goes right after Kowalski unloading on him. Kowalski fires back and takes down both men, a big dropkick sends Moto to the mat. Moto comes back with a sleeper, but Kowalski powers out as we are informed Kowalski has to beat both men. A double dropkick sends both men to the mat as Kowalski is holding his own and cinches in a hammerlock on Moto then sends him to the ropes. Kowalski drops Moto to the mat and then drives the knee into Moto before going back to the hammerlock. Moto gives up and is now eliminated from the match, Kowalski continues to hammer Moto as the ref pulls Kowalski off him. This makes it a one on one match as Kowalski faces off with Duke after the intermission. Second fall begins and Kowalski gets blinded by something, as the bell rings and the announcement is made that someone threw something in the ring and it hit Kowalski. The ringside doctor comes in to check Kowalski’s eye, They determine he can continue so the match is back on, as Duke unloads on the eye of Kowalski. Kowalski is irate as he drives a knee into the face of Duke and a snapmare as Kowalski unloads on Duke. A body scissors is locked on Duke, who’s squirming to try and get out, he breaks free and works the midsection of Kowalski. A thumb to the eye is followed by chops sending Kowalski to his knees, Duke with a rear chinlock and chop to throat but Kowalski snapmares Duke. Kowalski drops a knee across the face of Duke, followed by a big slam but Duke lands near the ropes to prevent a pin. A series of forearms sends Duke to the mat, Kowalski pulls him and gets sent in the ropes. Duke catches him with chops but Kowalski off the ropes with a pair of dropkicks, but the third misses. This gives Duke a chance to unload, but out of nowhere comes George Bollas with a series of big splashes to end the match.

1. Killer Kowalski over Duke Keomuka and Mr Moto by disqualification *1/2

Nothing bad about the match, but nothing spectacular either. A cheap ending didn’t help it, still Kowalski is always fun to watch as he was a very impressive big man.

2. Lou Thesz v. Wild Bill Longson

Bill is a three time NWA champion in the forties and is credited with creating the piledriver. This match is for the NWA World Title and the video is very bright and washed out. The bell rings and we get the lockup and into the ropes with a clean break. Another lockup and Bill pulls Thesz down by his hair with a side chinlock. The ref catches the hair pulling and breaks the hold. Thesz takes down Bill and applies a head scissors, Bill rolls Thesz backwards for a pin attempt but Lou powers him back down. Bill applies a leglock and works over the quad but Lou easily powers out. A side headlock takeover takes down the challenger, as Thesz uses his power to control Bill. A top wristlock sends both men to the ropes and we get a break. The ropes are so loose and jiggly it amusing to watch them, as Bill pulls Thesz down via the hair and gets a near fall. Bill rakes Lou’s face across the ropes but Lou comes off the ropes with Thesz Press for the first fall at around nine minutes. Fall two underway and Longson goes back to the arm he was working on in fall one, but both men in the ropes. Thesz goes for a leglock but Bill makes the ropes and breaks the hold. Bill grabs the leg and twists the ankle of Thesz, but Thesz catches Bill’s leg and rolls back into a submission of his own. Bill breaks free and applies a leg lock, with a little help from the ropes, which the ref doesn’t see. The ref finally catches Bill using the ropes and the hold has to be broken. Into the ropes and a side headlock takes down the champion, as we get the five minute announcement. Lou powers out and sends Bill to the outside, Lou dropkicks Bill off the apron and does it again as the crowd is going wild. Lou lands awkwardly and Bill quickly back in and piledrives the champ. A second piledriver gives Bill Longson the second fall at six minutes. The third fall begins and Bill goes right after the neck of Thesz, but Thesz backdrops him. Thesz with three big dropkicks and Thesz scores the quick third fall in two minutes.

2. Lou Thesz over Bill Longson two falls to one ***

A really good match as both men were impressive. Those piledrivers were brutal to match as they were almost a package piledriver. Once again, nothing like what we see now, as lots of submissions and wear down style maneuvers, but was enjoyable.

3. Rito Romero v. Danny Savich

Rito is a Mexican legend known for the creation of the surfboard move and is a twelve time tag champion. Danny Savich is the former tag partner of Duke Keomuka and former tag champion as well. This is another two out of three falls match, and the picture quality is impressive again. The ref goes over the rules before the bell rings and we start with Danny getting a side headlock and a few cheap shots in. Danny back to the side headlock and in the ropes, Danny unloads with multiple shots as the ref tries to pull him back. Rito makes a charge for him and Danny bails to the apron, back in the ring and they lock up with Rito getting a shot in finally. Rito cranks on a side headlock and drags Danny around the ring. The ref breaks the hold after Rito punches Danny, this allows Danny to use a body scissors to take down Rito, Danny then fish hooks the man. Rito rolls through and clobbers Danny with multiple shots to the chest and midsection. Both men slow to get up and Danny hides in the corner, Rito advances and the ref distracts Danny allowing Rito to forearm the man. Danny yanks out the leg of Rito works the knee, but has a leg out of the ring for leverage. A fan comes over and points it out to the ref, the hold is broken and Danny goes after the lady in the crowd. Thus allows Rito to nail Danny sending him crashing to the floor. Back in the ring and Rito unloads on him with forearms and tackles. Rito misses a flying mare and gets nailed hard, allowing Danny to get the first fall. The second fall begins and Rito drops down, telling Danny to grab him, Rito rolls backward and annoys the man. Danny quickly with a wristlock and chokes the man while the ref is on the wrong side of them. Rito fires back with a right breaking the hold. Danny goes back to the wristlock and pulls his hair, driving Rito into the turnbuckle. A series of chops from Danny sends Rito across the ring, where he comes back with forearms to the chest. Rito mounts the ropes and drives the fist into the top of Danny’s head repeatedly. Both men exchange forearms and Danny tosses Rito to the outside, and as Rito tries to get in Danny smashes his faces into the turnbuckle. Rito slow to get back in and Danny continues to hammer the man before tossing him out again. Rito makes it back in and is getting destroyed, Danny slams Rito in the corner and the ref forces a break. Rito comes back angry and smashes Danny before tossing him out, Danny eats the turnbuckle now. Rito snapmares Danny into the ring and follows with a dropkick to the back. Another dropkick followed by a rollup gets Rito the fall, as we are heading into the third fall. Both men tie up in the corner and Danny sends him out of the corner. Danny gets into an argument with another fan, and then applies a hammerlock on Rito and stands on the hand which causes a break. Rito counters a wristlock into a full nelson and smashes Danny’s face into the turnbuckle multiple times. Rito drives a forearm across the back of the neck sending Danny into the turnbuckle again, then bulldogs him into the middle turnbuckle across the ring. Danny is staggered as Rito pops him and sends him crashing to the floor, Danny makes the apron and Rito dropkicks him into the crowd. The ref tells Rito to let him back in as Danny makes it slowly to the apron, and Rito again dropkicks him off again. The ref blocks Rito to allow Danny back in the ring and Rito forearms arm, Danny falls back out of the ring with his left foot tangled in the ropes. Danny gets some help getting unstuck and slowly makes his way into the ring. Danny begs off and Rito falls for it, allowing Danny to attack and send Rito out now. Now it’s Danny not allowing Rito back in the ring as both men are fired up in the final fall. Rito makes it back in and unloads on Danny with forearms to the face. Danny gets stuck in the ropes and the ref has to get him undone, this allows Danny to gets a series of shots in but Rito knocks him down again and comes off the ropes with a double stomp to the back. Both men are just slugging it out, Danny chokes Rito on the ropes and ties his head up. The fans are irate as Danny keeps choking Rito and the ref has had enough and disqualifies Danny.

3. Rito Romero over Danny Savich 2 falls to 1 ***1/2

A really good match that was very fast paced and exciting. The crowd was heavily into it as well, and that made it even better. Kind of a cheap ending though but the crowd bought into it and that’s all you need.

MATCH RECAP

1. Killer Kowalski over Duke Keomuka and Mr Moto by disqualification *1/2

2. Lou Thesz over Bill Longson two falls to one ***

3. Rito Romero over Danny Savich 2 falls to 1 ***1/2

Overall two really good matches from the fifties. The Kowalski match wasn’t great, but this was early in his career. The other two matches were great though and a really fun way to end the fifties era as we move into the sixties next. Great stuff from the Network and I wouldn’t mind some more old school Lou Thesz matches.

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