Well I'm sure all the Gelgarin fans out there noticed that I kept mighty quiet during the epic battle between Thesz and the Sheik. This post is why. There is a lot of wiggle room surrounding the issue, but I strongly believe that I would not be totally out of place to assert that Sting is the most popular guy on the entire forum. (Guy as is wrestler, not guy as in Luther). He certainly has a great many fans, and almost uniquely of the main event wrestlers, the man has almost no detractors. Hell, even old school Gelgarin was pretty fond of The Stinger, although only once he donned the cool face paint. That being said, it seems I've ended up against some insurmountable odds. At this stage of the tournament, any active wrestler is going to receive a truckload of votes from people who don't know who their opponent is, and there are a serious handful of people on the forum who are likely to vote for Sting no matter what, and who I have no chance of convincing. My only hope is to sway enough of the wavering voters to create some early momentum, and push Thesz through by a narrow, but fair, margin. You see, the fact of the matter is that there is absolutely not reason, aside from being a blind Sting mark, why you should vote for Sting in this contest. I spent the last week coming up with possible criteria that people could vote based upon, and I can safely say that Thesz comes out ahead in every single one. Critical essays are supposed to outline their topics for discussion during the opening, but I think that ship's pretty much sailed, so I shall do so now. I this essay I intend to prove that, in relation to Sting, Lou Thesz was; A better legit wrestler. A better kayfabe wrestler. A better technical wrestler. A faster wrestler. A stronger wrestler. A smarter wrestler. A better conditioned wrestler. A more important wrestler. A more popular wrestler. In the interests of fairness, I must also concede the point that, in relation to Lou Thesz, The Icon Sting was; A better striker. (possibly, Ill go into this one later) A better high flyer. A better selector of ring attire. So, without further ado, let us begin our journey towards; Why Lou Thesz Goes Over Sting. Part 1: Lou Thesz was a better legit wrestler. A lot of people are going to say that it doesn't matter, which is a fair stance to take, although personally I think that they're wrong. Mark Henry used the gimmick of being the worlds strongest man, and has power lifting credentials to justify it. I don't think many people would dispute that as proof of his strength, and this is in a time period where kayfabe and real life and much less blurred that in Thesz's era. When Lou Thesz went to work in Mexico, promoters often asked him what him gimmick was (American workers at the time traditionally came to the ring in business suits or overalls) and he always responded that his gimmick was wrestling. Lou Thesz's gimmick was that he was the most talented legitimate wrester in the world, and he had the credentials to prove it. Aside from shoot fight victories over guys like Gotch and Inoki (the later in 14 seconds for those who are interested) you simply have the consider the environments that Thesz fought in. During his ten years and the number one guy in America, Thesz regularly wrestled outside of his own area of influence, going up against local heroes with biased judges who would award any fall against him, and the only way for him to come out on top he would have to physically incapacitate his opponent via a snapped arm or similar. Furthermore, one of the downsides of a rigidly upheld kayfabe was that it opened the door to every shooter in the industry (And as the top guy, Lou had a pretty big target on his back). In those days it was very common to see guys going into business for themselves in the middle of matches trying to change the outcome by force. Thesz was a master of defending against these kinds of assaults, and never succumbed to a shoot attack. Nobody in the industry could match Thesz is a legitimate contest. He was untouchable. 2) Lou Thesz was a better kayfabe wrestler. Sting's done a lot with his career. Sting held the NWA championship for 216 days (although only 188 of those days were when the title mattered, the rest were TNA). That's a phenomenal feet, and something that only seventeen wrestlers in the world can claim to have surpassed. Unfortunately for Sting, one of those wrestlers is Lou Thesz, who held the NWA championship when it was the biggest title in the world, and held it for a combined 3,749 days. That's over seventeen times longer than Sting. In addition, during his title reign, Thesz defended the belt far more frequently. But what does a title matter? Well, it singles that you are the best wrestler in the world, but I think I can see where people are going with this. Somebody's going to claim that Thesz may have defeated every single notable wrester from his time period, but that doesn't matter because none of them are household names any more. Here is a list of people Lou Thesz has defeated. Harley Race. Terry Funk. Dory Funk (I think. It was a Funk, and wasn't Terry) Bruno Sammartino. Rikidozan. Antonio Inoki. Every big name American between 1940 and 1960. I've tried to keep the list brief, and limit it to people everybody is going to know. If I wanted to rattle off old school legends that he's defeated then I could, but I'm assuming that anybody well versed enough in their wrestling history to know about guys like Gagne and Zabisco doesn't need me telling them that Thesz was bigger than them. Sting has a lot of high profile victories as well, I'm not going to deny that, but there's a major difference that has to be considered.Sting also had a lot of high profile losses. Lou Thesz didn't. Lou Thesz once went 800+ matches without sustaining a loss (fuck you Goldberg!) So yes, Lou Thesz won more matches, he won more often, and to be frank, he usually won more decisively. He held major championships for longer and defended them more often. Lou Thesz was a stronger kayfabe wrestler. 3) Lou Thesz was a better technical wrestler This monstrosity is already getting pretty long, so save me some grief and don't make me argue this. Lou Thesz invented half the holds in his arsenal. He was a master of submissions and takedowns. Nobody in the industry had a better understanding of leverage and weight dynamics. Lou Thesz was a better technical wrestler than Sting. 4) Lou Thesz was a faster wrestler. Lets be clear here, Im not talking about nailing spinning back kicks or hitting a 540 corkscrew shooting star press off the top rope. Thesz never needed that stuff to be entertaining. What Im talking about is attack speed. Theszs offence is best compared to a freight train. Once he gets going he doesnt stop, and he doesnt slow down. When Sting executes a backdrop there's a pause of a few seconds whilst the icon gets back to his feat. When Thesz executed his famous Greco-Roman backdrop he would be on his opponents within the blink of an eye. Thesz was capable of working a match as a pace that would make his opponents virtually pass out. Buddy Rogers once famously had to be carried from the ring, after Thesz went full speed for sixty minutes. Now Buddy Rogers was lazy and shit, but it doesnt change the fact that he was a conditioned athlete, and Theszs ability to physically incapacitate him without shooting in any way, speaks volumes. To further back up my point, allow me to present out first piece of video evidence, Lou Thesz against Tom Rice. I think this footage is one of the earliest documented usages of what I will call the Cradle Shock, but the second fall isnt what Im looking to demonstrate. All you really need to see is Thesz absolutely demolishing Rice in the opening minute. Notice a) how phenomenal his dropkicks are, and b) how he just attacks and attacks until his opponent has the good sense to stay down. No extended selling. No pausing the shout woo or play to the crowd. Lou Thesz would attack and attack until Sting couldnt go any more. [youtube]I12lMXnQ8EA[/youtube] 5)Lou Thesz was a stronger wrestler. Strength is a bit of a misleading term on account of it being inexorably tied to leverage. Fortunately for me, Thesz was a master of both. He was able to toss the 340lb Mormon Giant Don Leo Jonathon around like a rag doll. This is the same Mormon Giant who once ripped the ring post off of the side of the ring and used it to batter Andre the Giant to a pulp. DLJ was huge, and Thesz was able to lift him clean off his feet and dump him on the back of his head for the three. Sting has never been famed for his strength, relying on quickness and athleticism whenever his was faced with an opponent bigger and stronger than him. The problem for Sting comes from the fact that, in general, when he faced an opponent with a size or power advantage, that opponent paid for it in speed and technique. As weve already seen, Thesz gives nothing up in speed, and many, many times Stings superior in technique. As a result, the Icon is left with very few advantages. Some of which I will take a moment to talk about now. 6)Sting was a batter striker. Or was he? Sting throws a lot of punches. Lou Thesz didnt. Lou Thesz wrestled under rules that would have disqualified him had he used his fists like the Stinger. In fairness I should point out that Lou Thesz, when working as a heel, was a master of the lighting fast open hand slap, but even so, it seems logical to draw the conclusion that Sting was a batter close quarters fighter than Thesz. Unfortunately for Sting, I happen to know a little something about Lou Thesz that not many people know. Its fairly well documented that Lou Thesz was in the US army. He was enlisted to fight against the Germans I believe, although my history sucks. Anyway, during his time in uniform, Lou Thesz was picked out of the ranks, and tasked with teaching close quarters combat for the US army. If that doesnt make you qualified, I dont know what does. Lou Thesz may give something up to Sting when it comes to throwing a right hook, but his CQC ability more than makes up for it. 7) Sting will have a crowd advantage. Who Cares? Sting is really, really cool. This fight is in WCW, Stings backyard. Sting has been a face for the majority of his career. The fans are going to cheer for Sting. Lou Thesz doesnt care. Thesz toured extensively with the NWA championship. He spent most of his career going into hostile territories and facing local heroes. Hes been booed plenty of times, and each time it happened his solution has been the same. Give his opponent a ringing open handed slap out of the corner, then repeatedly backdrop them until they give in. The crowd is going to have no effect on Lou Thesz. What is going to have an effect is the fact that Sting has a compulsion to showboat. Sting will waste time taunting to the crowd, and as weve already established, you cant ever afford to offer Lou Thesz an opening. In his first match against Antonio Inoki, the younger man put his weight on the wrong leg for a moment, and ten seconds later Lou Thesz had back dropped him and picked up the victory. The cheering crowd isnt going to phase Thesz, but it might hand him an opening to win the match. On the topic of Thesz winning the match, let us continue out countdown (or up, as the case may be) of the advantages Lou Thesz has going into this match. 8) Lou Thesz was a smarter wrestler. This is possibly the only area of my essay where my intention is more to bash Sting than to promote Thesz. All through his career, Sting made mistakes constantly. He frequently went to the well with the Stinger Splash one too many times, and ended up flat on his back because of it. Kurt Angle aside nobody in wrestling had a lower success rate with his finisher than Sting had with the Scorpion Death Lock. Sting had a terrible sense of self preservation, allowing people to constantly jump him from behind, and he had horrendous ring awareness, which is possibly why he didnt notice that Luger was cheating to win all of those tag matches. Sting was not, in any respect, a smart wrestler. Conversely, Lou Thesz is about as smart as they come. Nobody ever got into the head of Lou Thesz, no amount of mind games or makeup is going to faze him. People tried all kinds of sneaky things to take advantage of Thesz, yet he still almost never lost a match. Lou Thesz was a machine inside the squared circle, and certainly has a mental advantage over Sting. 9) Lou Thesz was better conditioned wrestler. Again, Id hope that there isnt too much need to go into depth with this one. Aside from the fact that Thesz wrestled more often than Sting, his matched also went on much, much longer. Every NWA title match was contested under two out of three falls rules, meaning that right from the offset Theszs matches were scheduled to go longer. In fact, Thesz frequently competed in matches that lasted sixty minutes. These days if two performers go more than twenty minutes its considered to be proof of conditioning, yet Thesz was going three times longer than that on a regular basis. Thesz had better cardio, endurance, and resilience. Lou Thesz is the kind of wrestler for who the term iron man was originally coined, and there is no question that hes in a better physical condition that the Icon. 10) Lou Thesz was a more important wrestler. I really want to cap this off at three thousand words, so youll forgive me if I try to be brief. Take Sting away from professional wrestling and what you get is professional wrestling without Sting. Once against let me make sure that Im not misunderstood. Sting was tremendous at his job, and during his career he was very important to WCW, but he will not leave the same kind of legacy as someone like Thesz. Thesz shaped so many aspects of pro wrestling. He united all the fractured world championships and transformed wrestling from a local to a national sport. He, more than anybody else (although I know some George Tragos fans disagree with me here) was responsible for bringing wrestling into the public eye, and becoming its first ever international superstar. Lou himself might not like me saying this, but Thesz was the businesss Hulk Hogan before the business had Hulk Hogan. Thesz was the most important (possible sans Ed Lewis) in ring pioneer ever. I know Wikipedia lists a handful of throws he invented, but it doesnt acknowledge exactly how much of what we call professional wrestling came from the boots of Lou Thesz. Minor mannerisms like refusing to give a clean break out of the corner, whipping to the ropes out of a headlock, or getting in a cheap shot when rising to your feet, these foundations of what pseudo-intellectuals call ring psychology were popularized by Thesz. Lou Thesz is responsible for the growth of Wrestling in Japan. It wasnt until he traveled there and put Dozan over that the sport exploded into the phenomenon that it is today. As I said earlier, remove Sting from the industry and what you get is an industry without Sting. Well its the same for Lou Thesz, in that if you take Lou Thesz out of history, then what you get is an industry without Sting or anyone else for that matter. Professional wrestling needed somebody like Thesz to transfer it from being a sport to being a work. A charismatic monster like Hogan or Sammartino couldnt have done it. They needed the best in the world. When Thesz began profession wrestling was a collection of ragtag promotions of varying degrees of legitimacy. Thesz conquered them all, brought professional wrestling together, and paved the way for the superstars of the next generation to come. You take that legitimate lynchpin away from the industry, and it all falls apart. There are maybe three guys in the industrys history who you can say that about, one if Hulk Hogan, one is Thesz, and one got jobbed out to Bob Backland in the first round of this thing. None of them however can have the claim made about them with the same level of conviction as Thesz however. He was flat out essential not just to making the industry what it is today, but in there being an industry in the first place, and in terms of importunateness, Sting simply doesnt present a challenge. 11) Lou Thesz was a more popular wrestler Let me say right now, in my eyes, this is the most ridicules reason I can think of to sway your voting. That being said, its the most obvious loophole that those looking to vote for Sting by any means necessary are likely to take, so I figured Id better cover it. First, let me qualify. Lou Thesz wrestled before the national television era. He didnt have a weekly TV show to get him over. He was dependent almost entirely on local promotion, and on the word of mouth. And with that huge disadvantage, he still managed to become a bigger sensation than Sting. To put things in simple perspective, if you took Sting off of Nitro for six months, it had a very limited effect on ratings because Sting was simply one of many starts. If you put Lou Thesz onto a card where previously no Lou Thesz had been, you could expect an additional 20-30,000 paying customers. Thesz drew in the old school sense of the word. Sting is popular wherever he goes, but hes not an international legend like Thesz. When Thesz used to guest referee matches in Japan they used to give him a five minute standing ovation just for showing up, and this was years before he and Dozan had ever locked up. When Thesz and Dozan did lock up for the first time in Japan, it drew an 87.0 television rating. At the end of the day though, it is unfair to guage a wrestlers popularity across such a generation gulf (and this is one of the many reasons why you shouldnt vote based on popularity). The only way to judge the popularity of a wrestler is against his peers. Lou Thesz outshone every other name in the industry for generations. He was the biggest and the best. Sting not so much. Now Ive talked longer than anybody could possibly desire to read, so Ill wrap up quickly. Lou Thesz should win this match against Sting. Were going to have to battle every step of the way to make sure he doesnt get swamped out by the popular vote, but he should win. And the reason he should win, at the end of the day, is because hes Lou Thesz. A true wrestling god.