365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
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 Zoltan 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.”
Fair enough, so we can all check out this match between Boscik and Steve Grey from January 31, 1979.
I’ve uploaded this match to my YouTube channel and embedded it below:
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 usually ends the match, not just the fall. 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. Grey is the definite crowd favorite. That positions Boscik as the heel, a regular role 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. Boscik 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 puts in work to make his opponent look good. He flings himself into multiple bumps with reckless abandon. He milks counts to engage with his foe. 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 wrestler to consider should they find themselves the heel in a Last Man Standing match.
The differences in style and presentation add flavor. It’s off-putting to see the referee making verbal 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. Meanwhile, the warnings system emphasizes any and every underhanded tactic that is employed.
Final Rating: 6.0
Given that this match is nearly 35 years old, 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. 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.
Kicking off February with a battle between two joshi monsters.
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