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Wrestle Fans
Wrestling conjures up a very specific image. You can almost see the referee hurling himself onto the canvas smashing his hand down repeatedly, 'Wooooonaaaa Tooooooaaaa Threeeeaaa You're OUT!
 
Consenting adults at play.
Players, Wrestling and Ju-Jitsu
[1913]

Still the one thing about wrestling was, the good guys are going to win in the end.

Great stuff. I remember as a child watching the likes of Big-Daddy and Giant Haystacks battling it out in the squared circle. An overexcited commentary ensuring my boyish interest never wavered. Those were the innocent days before satellite television brought in a whole wave of American invaders.

Before that point an American wrestler was a rarity. There were few rules in British wrestling but it was obvious there were fewer in the US by the antics of the few Americans that would come over and trounce our UK heroes.

Still the one thing about wrestling was, the good guys are going to win in the end.

It was many years later that I saw American wrestling via satellite. Hulk Hogan would be tearing at his vest pumping up his mighty pythons and screaming at the Hulk-o-maniacs to give him the energy to comeback from another impossible beating. Wild staring eyes bulging from his head as his opponent beats relentlessly down on his head.

Fantastic.

So what has this all got to do with cigarette cards. Well to be honest with you, not a great deal, although it does have a bit more in common with the bubble gum card issues which deal specifically with US wrestling.

Really what more can an inquiring mind ask for.

I am going to change tack, all this excitement has come about because of a chance glance at #25 of a set I have not seen for awhile. It read, The Japanese Cross buttock.

The set itself is really well illustrated, Players, Wrestling and Ju-Jitsu [1913]. Other manufacturers covered this theme but this is the set you are most likely to come across.

Of all the sport themes covered wrestling was probably the least exposed to cigarette cards. The cards themselves are really well illustrated, two men, one in red trunks and the other in blue illustrate the various throws and hold against a pale blue background. The detail of shadow gives the cards an extra appeal. Going back to the days of watching the wrestling on TV I always remember the commentator shrieking with excitement whenever a half-nelson was applied.

Quite what this entailed was beyond me but obviously it was something of a standard. No fewer than five of the twenty-five cards in the series demonstrate variations on the theme. Card five describes the neck twist, half nelson and heave combined, which strikes rather adventurous for the fifth card in the series which I suspect would have been to much for childish humor to stand if the commentator had announced that a half-nelson with buttock had just been seen in the squared circle.

There are five cards which deal specifically with Ju-Jitsu. These are in fact the last five cards of the series It was from this selection that the cross buttock was seen. The previous twenty deal with wrestling holds and throws. It is interesting to note just how different competition wrestling is to 'showbiz' wrestling, afterall the likelihood of Hulk Hogan winning a gold medal for wrestling at the Olympics would be limited (but it would be great fun watching him try).

The first five cards of the series is dedicated to the Greco-Roman style. Card 3 describes the Creel Hold which is explained in the text; '...generally used to twist your opponent round and round, thus making him giddy, then throwing him bodily to the ground...' Sound familiar fight fans?

The next series of cards deals with the Catch as Catch Can Style (I am not sure how recognized this is.) Card 7 is The Halch. Described as a favorite amongst many wrestlers; '...throw your hands around opponent's head, and stooping well forward, pull smartly, and over he comes to the ground.' Hmmm.

Cards 13 to 17 deal with Cumberland and Westmorland Style wrestling. Card 14, 'The Hank' described as a most successful counter to the back-heel. 'As soon as you have been back-heeled, turn that side to your opponent in a flash; lift your foot, twine your leg around his, and pull him over backwards, falling on him with all your weight.'

Cards 18, 19, 20 deal with the Devon and Cornwall style. Such things as The Heave appear on these cards.

Well perhaps it is not all that different afterall, if Players had continued the series perhaps it would have mentioned something about ripping your yellow vest off and shaking your head from side to side whilst imploring your Hulk-o-maniacs to give you the strength to crush the evil within the ring. It would probably be called the 'Hulch' or something.

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Saturday, 17th May 2008