Wrestling / Lou Thesz

The greatest ever. Period.

Born Lajos Tiza in Banat, Michigan, Lou Thesz (1916-2002) was an American Professional Wrestler. He is best known for his six reigns as NWA World Heavyweight Champion and for inventing such moves as the Lou Thesz Press, later used by everyone from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to Mickie James, the STF, popularized by Masahiro Chono, who in turn came up with the STS variation used by John Cena, and the powerbomb, popularized by Sid Vicious, Big Van Vader, and Kevin Nash and used by too many wrestlers to start listing them here. He started his career in the 1930s and had his last match, against Chono, one of his students, in 1990. While he was primarily a singles wrestler, he also held the NWA (Vancouver) Pacific Coast Tag Team Title with the Outlaw (Dory Funk Sr.), and the NWA Southern (Tennessee) Tag Team Title with Jackie Fargo. He also competed for the Lucha Libre Internacional promotion in Mexico (governed by the UWA), for Jerry Lawler's CWA promotion in Memphis and won the Legends Battle Royal at a WWE house show at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, NJ on November 6, 1987. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"Lou Tropes Press"

  • Aborted Arc: His "disputed" NWA World Heavyweight Champion angle was put to an end when Montreal promoter Eddie Quinn left the NWA and the NWA president Sam Muchnick put an end to "the dispute", "assuring" everyone Édouard Carpentier had no claim to a victory over Thesz.
  • The Ace: Lou Thesz is technically the second NWA World Champion but is considered to be the first true "world" champion because he went around defeating the holders of rival belts to that claim and unifying them with his own.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: More so alternate regional equivalent, being one of the men to establish professional wrestling as we know it in the United States of America (or at least as it was known until 2001) the way Rikidozan did for Japan and El Santo did for Mexico.
  • The Apprentice: To Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Ad Santel, and George Tangos.
  • Arch-Enemy: "Whipper" Billy Watson, "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, Rikidozan.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Like most wrestlers in his era, Thesz was a legitimate amateur wrestler and had an incredible amount of core strength to back it up, but he was also a bit of a showman by the standards of his era. One anecdote details how he once beat the crap out of a fellow athlete who thought he was disgracing "legitimate" wrestling by using useless moves like dropkicks. So Thesz beat him up. With dropkicks.
  • Autobiography: Hooker.
  • Badass Boast: When he came out of semi-retirement in 1963 to fight Buddy Rogers for the World Heavyweight Championship, Rogers was supposedly having second thoughts about dropping the title to Thesz. Thesz made him this offer: "We could do this The Easy Way or the Hard Way." Rogers dropped the title.
  • Badass Grandpa/Ring Oldies: He wrestled in seven different decades, and had his last match at the age of 74.
  • Badass Teacher
    • Wrestlers he had a hand in training include Bruiser Brody, Dory Funk Jr., Nick Bockwinkel, Jumbo Tsuruta, Kiyoshi Tamura, Mark Fleming, Gene Lebell and Masahiro Chono.
    • Taught hand to hand combat defense to medics during World War II.
    • Also to non-pro wrestlers like Tony Cecchine; famous for his Lost Art of Hooking video series and other instructionals on catch wrestling, & Jim Arvanitis; the man who has been trying to repopularise the Greek martial art of Pankration since 1973 with his own form of it he calls Neo-Pankration.
  • Bald of Awesome: As he got older.
  • Captain Ersatz: Fire Pro Wrestling uses him and Rikidozan, unsurprisingly.
  • Carpet of Virility: Hair of manliness and maturity, or at least that was the look he was going for. He's one of the main reason the shiny skinned Adonis look of other sports took so long to catch on in pro wrestling.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Was famously very strong, particularly for his era. Besides his famous waist lock suplex, he was also known for various ways of dropping opponents over his knee for back breakers.
  • Combat Commentator: For the PAWA promotion during his periods of inactivity.
  • Combat Referee: In a match with Nick Bockwinkel (w/Bobby Heenan) and Bruiser Brody.
  • Cool Old Guy: He came out of retirement to win the UWA heavyweight championship in Mexico.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Anyone who was able to have an officially recognized victory for the title over Thesz would have done this.
  • Finishing Move: Thesz Press, STF
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Was one in Japan, and even agreed to put over Rikidozan to give the Japanese fans a hero to rally behind. He also ended up giving the JWA the NWA International Title, a semi-unsanctioned title Thesz defended overseas, and which is still part of the All Japan Triple Crown.
  • Living Legend: Come on. Just read his damn biography and tell me he wasn't.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: In the modern era when even lightweight wrestlers are often expected to look like they're cut from stone, the balding, slightly paunchy Thesz doesn't exactly cut an impressive figure. Anyone in the business will tell you that Thesz could tie them into human pretzels without breaking a sweat.
  • Red Baron: (in Japan): Tetsujin (Iron Man)
  • Serious Business: Thesz's full-time run, from the 1930s through the 1970s, was the era where Kayfabe was absolutely enforced and treated as something that should never be broken.
  • Ur-Example
    • The Power Bomb, belly-to-back waistlock suplex(the popular name "German Suplex" comes from the mistaken belief Karl Gotch invented it), the stepover toehold facelock (STF) and the Lou Thesz press, naturally, are all credited to him.
    • The first Universal Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion. The athletic commission awarded him this title belt based on his performance in a Lucha Libre Internacional match against Mil Máscaras that ended in a time limit draw.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rikidozan, Verne Gagne, Danny Hodge, Ed Lewis, Karl Gotch.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Karl Gotch. Thesz and he tended to badmouth each other and supposedly had a real brawl during a match, but they deep down respected each other and stayed in good terms until their deaths.