French catch never fails to surprise. These matches do so in so many cool ways. On the surface, there’s the obvious: the action is sublime. Genuinely, some of the smoothest and quickest chain wrestling I’ve ever seen. Everything flows with that kind of sensible, pro wrestling logic that tugs at the heartstrings of the kind of nerds who’ll go out of their way for this stuff. It’s so energetic and dynamic, that it not only holds up almost seventy years later, but it comes all the way back around and almost feels cutting edge all over again.
There’s about a million different cool techniques in here to catch the eye: the Greco Roman headscissors from El Gayo, those package-style release powerbombs from Corn, and all the holds and escapes in between. It’s what this stuff has become known for if you’ve seen GIFs online and it’s stunning to see play out every single time.
But the biggest surprise from this match for me is the narrative.
For most of this, we get a very sporting affair. It gets established fairly on though that Corn probably has El Gayo’s number. Corn always remains in control, has an answer for everything thrown his way, and seems much harder to counter and escape once he does grab a hold. This doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for El Gayo, they shake hands multiple times, but then the cracks start to show. At one point, Corn bumps El Gayo into the ropes which tweaks the latter’s back. El Gayo pays him back in kind with a hammerlock backbreaker, and it’s a terse little receipt in what had been fairly clean and competitive to this point.
It takes a little while longer for those cracks to widen further. El Gayo grows more aggressive towards the end of the first fall, and it’s enough to get Corn to start busting out his own big moves–a series of big powerbombs lead to him claiming the first fall.
The second fall is even chippier between the two. El Gayo is the early aggressor, even sending Corn into the corner with I can only describe as an armdrag-esque throw with his foot. Imagine an early example of the kind of foot-led arm drags that Kaito Nagano uses in Dragongate these days. Beyond that though, they just start throwing hands and it is as clean and meaty as all the grappling. Delightfully stiff shots that only escalate as the two get more frustrated with each other.
As with any great heel-leaning performance, it’s El Gayo who always instigates, but gets forced to eat shit when Corn decides to meet him head on. There’s a real leveling shot to the gut that nearly knocks El Gayo out all on its own and it’s no wonder that Corn is able to pick up the win by the end.
So much to love here, and a great blueprint of what I hope to see more of in this footage. The classic morality of pro wrestling combined with in-ring action that feels both classical and wildly ahead of its time.