365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
With 365 days to pull matches from, what am I looking for in the selection process? Variety. I’ll be getting into this more in a recap of January matches, but the more places I can pull different matches from, the better. Just look at the final few selections from January. We went from a celebrated title match on a major pay-per-view to an early match featuring one of the most influential tag teams of the modern era in front of a rabid crowd to a one-time-only dream match. And now, we have today’s entry, a retro look at the British wrestling scene pitting Steve Grey against Zoltan Boscik from 1979.
If variety is the spice of life, then we’ve got a well-seasoned stew going.
Why this match? While still in the planning stages of the project, I reached out to some friends of mine — some fans, some active wrestlers — for recommendations on matches and individual talents I should seek out. “The more random, the better,” I said. One of the people I asked for suggestions from was Jason Kincaid. He suggested a handful of names, including Boscik.
Why this guy, I asked?
“The draw Boscik has on me is the beautiful combination of: innovative grappling (escapes that I’ve never seen before), having the body and face of someone’s mean-ass dad that you’re nervous around, and shitty (foreign) heel attitude; complete with perfectly exaggerated facial expressions and body language. I feel like anyone who’s a fan of Lord Steven Regal will get the appeal of Zoltan Boscik.”
You can watch the match here:
If you’ve never watched older British wrestling, the style is very different from the wrestling you see elsewhere. Wrestlers face off in rounds, usually lasting three minutes or five. They’re working three-minute rounds here. The first wrestler to pick up two falls wins, with fall victories possible by pin, submission, knockout (failing to answer a 10 count) or disqualification. Wrestlers received two warnings (known as public warnings) for illegal tactics before getting DQ’d, and a disqualification typically ended the match automatically. There are also certain tactics that are common elsewhere in wrestling that are not allowed–namely, not being allowed to hit a grounded opponent.
This match is the opener in a tournament to crown the new British Welterweight Champion. The tournament took its time to play out, starting here and not ending until late June.
Grey is the current British Lightweight Champion, a title he’s held since April of 1978. Boscik’s background reads like something from a movie: he was born in Hungary, fled to England during the Communist uprising in the 1950s, and established himself as a fixture on the British mat scene.
The video starts off at the beginning of the third of nine three-minute rounds, with no score in the match. The first man to score two falls advances in the tournament. Grey is the definite crowd favorite. That positions Boscik as the heel, a role he played often on the British circuit and one he plays to near-perfection here. Boscik breaks the rules a few times — and picks up two public warnings in the process.
When Zoltan is on offense, he’s nasty. There’s a nifty counter in round four where Grey has him in a hammerlock. Zoltan goes for the ropes, delivers a backwards kick to Grey’s knee, and another back kick to the head to turn the tide. Meanwhile, Boscik is doing a ton to make Grey look impressive. He flings himself into multiple bumps with reckless abdnon. He milks counts to engage with his opponent. He begs off, only to bushwhack Grey when his guard drops. It only adds to the crowd support for Grey and their antipathy towards Boscik, which intensifies when the Hungarian goes for an Octopus hold twice, using the ropes to set up the move each time. The fans scream bloody murder each time, and boo lustily when the second attempt at the hold forces a Grey submission, evening the match at one fall apiece.
With the score of the match tied, Zoltan turns up the intensity, hammering Grey down to the mat, withdrawing so the referee can make the 10 count, and then moving in and walloping Grey immediately once he comes up off the canvas. It’s an effective, relentless approach and one that I would recommend for any heelish wrestler to consider should they find themselves booked in a Last Man Standing match.
The action carries into the seventh round, where Grey gets a second wind and ends it with a flurry of offense in 35 seconds, finishing off Zoltan with a backdrop and a pin.
–It’s off-putting to see the referee making the counts on pinfalls without actually hitting the mat. However, on the standing 10 counts, I could listen to that deep brogue accent of his all day.
–Some interesting insight from the subdued commentator, who is clearly backing Grey and knocks Boscik as a “part-time wrestler” who’s also running a pub at this point when he isn’t in the ring.
–The warnings system really helps to emphasize cheating and extra-curricular shenanigans by the heels.
Final Rating: 6.3
Given the date of the match, you might expect a slower, even plodding tempo. The rounds system allows these two to keep up a brisk pace and on occasion when one man is stringing together a combination on offensive maneuvers the end result holds its own against the majority of today’s fast-paced, super-athletic style, even if the moves being used would be considered basic by modern standards. And what is done here looks good. And at less than 12 minutes, I would recommend this match as an introduction to the format of European rounds if you are unfamiliar with this style.
Taking a look back at January, then, kicking off February with an international hoss fight.
One month down in the 365 Wrestling project! What do you think so far? Let me know by reaching out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.