Retro Review: Gorgeous George vs. Cyclone Anaya
Pro-wrestling has a long and rich history. The 1950s have been referred to as “Wrestling’s Golden Age” due to the rise of television and the changing nature of the business. In today’s Retro Review we’ll be looking at a match from that era as “Gorgeous” George takes on Cyclone Anaya in a best of the three falls match from 1950. I think this match was televised as part of Wrestling from Marigold which was broadcasted out of the Chicago area.
Gorgeous George was the prototype for modern wrestling in the United States. His gimmick, that of a conceited and vain playboy, paved the trail for workers such as Goldust, Ric Flair, and Randy Savage among others. Being accompanied to the ring by his faithful man-servant Jefferies, crowds would relentlessly boo George before the bell had even rung. This crowd reaction was so strong that George would on occasion command 50% of the paid gate. He was more than just a character however as he had a legitimate wrestling background and was very crisp in the ring.
Cyclone Anaya had a background as a professional boxer before he moved into professional wrestling. He toured the United States in the 1940’s, winning several titles along the way. Due to his athleticism and natural good looks, he was an instant babyface.
Even before the match starts, George is working to get under the skin of the crowd. Jeffries would spray the ring with fine perfume, while George would throw out golden bobby pins to the “peasants” in attendance. George would adorn himself is lavish robes and would make a production of removing them prior to his introduction.
Bell ring – 5 minutes
The first thing that stands out in watching a match that’s over 70 years old is the pacing is vastly different from modern day fare. This isn’t better or worse, just a different style. Submission holds often double for pin-fall attempts as the ref is checking for both verbal submission, and whether or not a man’s shoulders are down. Often during a submission the competitor will slap the mat furiously. Now that would be a sign of submission, but here it’s just a sign that the man is fighting through the hold.
One thing I really enjoyed about this match is the old timey commentary. It’s a single man commentator and his quips are definitely of the era. In referring to Cyclone, “he’s harder than a mother-in-laws heart!” Gorgeous George’s luscious hair is credited to a “$7.50 haircut” and I honestly don’t know if this a compliment or an insult.
5 minutes – 10 minutes
Do you like hammerlocks? Boy are you in for a treat then as George locks on a pair of them for over two minutes! Cyclone counters with a leg lock for over 100 seconds. No “boring” chants from this crowd however as they are drawn in by each man’s efforts to escape. George has a great spot where he tries to escape a hold, only to end up running in place like a cartoon.
10 minutes – 15 minutes
It’s here that George proves what a great heel he was. During one sequence, Cyclone is getting pinned and George stretches back to put his foot on the rope. He does this ten times. Each time the crowd’s fury rises as they plead with the ref to do something. George is a maestro, and the crowd is his orchestra. It’s masterful heel work that would make MJF blush out of professional jealousy.
15 minutes – 20 minutes
It’s interesting to see the commentator use different names for moves than what we’re familiar with today. He calls an “Irish whip” at one point which doesn’t result in Cyclone running across the ring. Instead, it’s a simple arm drag. During this period Cyclone goes for multiple pin attempts. George counters with a plethora of fouls (most relating to Cyclone’s hands coming too close to George’s hair).
25 minutes – 30 minutes
The commentator continues to call moves names that I don’t recognize. A monkey flip is referred to as a “monkey rip”. Round 1 ends when George land a pair of “twisting rips” which looks like a headlock takeover. I’m not sure if this was George’s finisher as he need two to get the pinfall.
One nice thing that I really appreciated is the ring announcer comes in and informs the crowd that George wins fall 1 at a time of 24 minutes and 56 seconds. While I don’t see modern productions bringing this element back, for the purpose of taking stats it was great to have an official time.
Bell Ring - 5:02
Cyclone shows off his boxing background as he lands six strikes (a plethora for the time). The commentator states, “All this kid needs is a prehensile tail and he can work his way around the world!”. Okay then. In regards to George, “He’s flaccid between falls!” Phrasing!
Cyclone scores the pin-fall with his finisher, the Cobra Twist, a neck twist takedown that George sells like his neck has been snapped.
Bell Ring - 2:12
As good as Cyclone was in Round 2, he isn’t able to mount any momentum in this final round. Both men tumble outside the ring and the ref quickly counts to 20, resulting in a double count out. No chants of bullshit, or demands for refunds. The announcer calls it a draw, thanks the audience for coming out, and they politely get up to leave. It felt like I was watching a crowd from another planet.
Result: Draw via Double Count Out
Offense scores as follows: strikes = 1pt, strikedowns = 3pts, grapples = 4pts, dives = 5 pts, submissions = 1 pt/5second, finisher = 10 pts.
George would continue to have a successful career. One of his more memorable moments came in 1959 as he lost to Whipper Billy Watson in front of 20,000 spectators in Toronto. On the line was George’s famous golden hair which was completely shaved due to the match’s stipulation. George wrestled up to 1962 when poor health due his ongoing alcoholism led to his retirement. George died in 1963 due to ongoing health issues.
After retirement in 1960 (due to injury) Cyclone Anaya opened a chain of restaurants in Texas. The chain was successful and Cyclone Anaya’s Tex-Mex Cantina is still serving customers today in Austin and Houston. He died in 1999 at the age of 81 years old.