WWE Hidden Gems – 1972

Heading into 1972 we have four Hidden Gems in this collection. We start with a tag match starring Karl Gotch, who helped popularize submission style wrestling in Japan. The we get a demonstration of moves from Danny Hodge, Harley Race and others, followed by WWF Champion Pedro Morales defending the gold against honorable Mr Fuji! We close out the year with a tag match starring the Texas Outlaws against Ernie Ladd and Art Thomas. All in all this looks to be a great year of matches, so let’s go to the ring.

1. Karl Gotch & Rene Goulet v. The Rugged Russians

The Rugged Russians were two masked guys played by Pedro Godoy & Juan Seabastian, not exactly Russian names so I question their heritage! This is a tag team championship match as Rene and Karl are your reigning champions. Rene & Karl go after the manager of the Russians and steal his hat while chasing him from the ring. We have a very high angle, corner of the ring camera, which looks odd. The match starts and Russian 1 pounds on Rene who shoves him back, some nice counter wrestling and Rene gets the advantage. Rene with an armdrag into the armbar, 1 fights free and sends him to the ropes. Rene comes back with a shoulderblock and back to the armbar. Rene into the ropes, leaps over 1 and pops 2 before going back to the armbar. 1 pulls hair but the referee catches him, and Rene maintains the armbar. We get a classic criss cross ending with 1 being armdragged twice and back to the armbar. 2 gets in and armbar to a tag to Gotch with the full nelson, every time 2 reverses it Gotch reverses back. Gotch transitions to a side headlock then back to the armbar. Just realized there is once again no commentary on this, seems like the WWE would’ve just put the talking heads in a studio and done commentary but whatever. The armbar is hold for a very long time, 1 keeps trying to come in and the ref keeps catching him as Rene back in, Rene holds 2 so Gotch can hit him, 1 charges in and Rene spins around so 1 hits 2. More goofy spots as the miscommunication continues and they collide again, Rene back to the armbar. 2 rakes the eyes and rams Rene into the turnbuckle then out of the ring. 1 slams Rene on the apron, but Karl quickly attacks 1 and helps Rene up. Rene on the apron and 2 hammers away on him sending him back to the floor. Rene goes under the ring and comes in the opposite side, nailing 2 and snapmares him over. A scoop and slam followed by armdrag and another slam, as Gotch tagged in. Gotch unloads on 2 and slams him for a near fall, 1 tagged in and he’s reluctant to go at Gotch. He gets caught in the corner and Gotch nails him then tosses him across the ring, repeat in the opposite corner and 1 is begging off. Gotch takes out both Russians with some wild Kung-Fu action and the crowd is eating it up. The Russians head to safety on the floor and discuss strategy, as 2 tagged in and begs off in the corner. Gotch hits and unloads in the corner with stomach shots but gets kicked and a 1 back in. Gotch shot in and eats a boot, then 1 covers and gets a pin fall on Gotch! The first fall goes the Russians surprisingly! Fall two starts and 1 goes for the leg but Gotch kicks him off. Gotch fights off 1 but 2 comes in and distracts him, allowing 1 to choke him. Gotch breaks free and hammers 1, then starts to work the shoulder. Snapmare sends 1 down and Gotch sends him to the floor. 2 charges in and a headbutt sends him out too. Back in and 1 rams Gotch into the turnbuckle and works the midsection but misses a big elbowdrop and Gotch kicks him in the face. Abdominal stretch applied and 1 submits, tying the match at 1 fall apiece. Fall three begins and the Russians are in the corner trying to figure out what happened. 1 and Gotch start fall three and Gotch powered to his corner where Rene tagged in. Rene locks on the abdominal stretch and 2 breaks it quickly. Rene with a jackknife cover and 2 breaks that, 1 gets Rene in the corner and clobbers him. Gotch argues with the ref and both Russian hammer Rene. The ref tries to break it up and gets tossed, drawing the disqualification. Gotch and Rene chase the Russians from the ring.

1. Rene Goulet & Karl Gotch over the Rugged Russians 2 falls to 1 **

Intriguing to see a Gotch match, but wasn’t a great match. Lots of stalling and a cheap ending. Was pretty much all Gotch and Rene, but the Russians still got a fall in there which seemed odd.

Next we get a demonstration of various holds as Gordon Solie and others talk about the moves. We see Iron Sheik with hair, Bob Roop, Tony Charles, Dan Hodge, Harley Race and Chavo Guerrero Sr.

2. Pedro Morales v. Mr Fuji

This is a non-title match, as the crowd pops for the champion. Pedro signs autographs before the match starts, while the ref warns Fuji about his tactics. The bell rings and lockup, Fuji with a wristlock and Pedro jumps over Fuji and kicks him. That was unique and kind of cool to see. Lockup and Fuji misses the chop, Pedro nails him and shoots him, as Fuji comes back he hits a chop. Fuji catches Pedro and chops him in the ropes, but Pedro fires back sending Fuji to the floor. Fuji slow to get back in and catches the champion with a shot to the throat and tosses Pedro over the top to the floor. Fuji quickly follows and slams Pedro on the concrete floor and rolls back in. Pedro makes it to the apron and Fuji nails him, then slams Pedro’s head into the turnbuckle repeatedly. The ref pulls Fuji back and Pedro gets in, Pedro rakes the eyes and sends Fuji up and over the top rope, what a brutal landing for Fuji. Pedro charges out after him and slams Fuji head into the wooden steps and then slams him down. Pedro gets back in and Fuji slowly comes back in. Fuji rakes the eyes, but Pedro slams Fuji down, Fuji chops Pedro and sends him in the ropes. Pedro comes back and gets chopped then slammed. Fuji to the top rope but gets caught and slammed down. Pedro rolls Fuji up for the win.

2. Pedro Morales pinned Mr Fuji **3/4

A good fast paced match for a quick TV match. Lots of crazy bumps for the early seventies, both men got slammed hard outside, and a clean finish. No complaints about this match, nice work from both men.

3. Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch v. Ernie Ladd & Sailor Art Thomas

We close 1972 with a huge tag team match with no sound at all, looks to be old 8mm film. Very blotchy and zoomed way to close. Joined in progress with Ladd and Murdoch tied up, blind tag to Dusty who goes after Ladd. Ladd sees him and avoids it, as it feels like the video is sped up. This is the oddest thing I’ve seen as no sound and weird slow then fast video is difficult to watch. Thomas reminds me of an older version of Ron Simmons, with the physique and disappearing hairline. Thomas gets a bearhug on Dusty who pokes the eyes to break. This match is an AWA main event from Chicago, and is possibly the oldest Dusty footage around. Lots of punching between Ladd and Murdoch, as Ladd challenges Dusty to get in. The camera work is brutally bad, like Kevin Dunn bad, as it zooms in and out, staggers and misses a lot. Thomas has a bearhug on Murdoch and that ends the first fall. Lots more bearhugs before the Outlaws do some double teaming on Thomas for the second fall. Really not much to say other then the bearhugs in that fall. Third fall as Thomas pounds on Murdoch then brings in Ladd who this a big boot and Dusty comes in and gets slammed down. Heel Dusty is just bizarre to see, as Murdoch eats the post. Double team slows down Ladd and Ladd fires back. Ladd and Thomas get in an argument and Ladd tags him in and then attacks Thomas. The Outlaws take the opportunity to destroy Thomas and score the win.

3. Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch over Ernie Ladd & Art Thomas **1/2

If you can get past the camera work and lack of audio it was a pretty good match. Very odd to watch heel Dusty cower and hide, but really cool. These Hidden Gems just keep getting better as we head to 1973.

MATCH RECAP

1. Rene Goulet & Karl Gotch over the Rugged Russians 2 falls to 1 **

2. Pedro Morales pinned Mr Fuji **3/4

3. Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch over Ernie Ladd & Art Thomas **1/2

Three interesting matches cover 1972, as we run the gamut of styles. From the impressive martial arts and submissions of Gotch to the power of Pedro and the tag team style of the Outlaws. A great mix to highlight the year as we continue on.

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