Big Van Vader over Lou Thesz in the 3rd Round of the Wrestlezone Tournament I had to dig up Gelgarin's hard work on Lou Thesz in the Wrestlezone campaign HQ to help me guide my debate here. It was the last one in the Campaign HQ forum. I guess Thesz doesn't draw the way he did in the 50's... You're right. In Vader's case, there are several reasons. Before I outline them, I want to respond to your assertions that Thesz should go over everyone in the tourney. I was able to get past the blatant insults of the fans of international wrestling to whittle your magnum opus down to one main point - your idea seems to be that just because someone was the first, it must mean they are the best. Oddly enough, Les Paul is credited with inventing the electric guitar, but he's rarely in the discussion of all time great guitarists. Sure. Pound for pound, he was. But take this from someone who WAS a legit wrestler in high school and college - there's a reason legit wrestling comes in weight classes. Thesz was billed as weighing 225 lbs, which is borderline Cruiserweight by today's standards. Vader weighed in at 456 lbs, which is just a shade more than two Lou Thesz's weigh. To juxtapose this point, below are the international oympic men's weight classes for freestyle and greco-roman wrestling for ages 20+: 50 to 55 kg (110 to 121 lbs) 60 kg (132 lbs) 66 kg (145 lbs) 74 kg (163 lbs) 84 kg (185 lbs) 96 kg (211 lbs) 96 to 120 kg (211 to 264 lbs) The only weight class with a weight range wider than 26 lbs is the Heavyweight division, with a weight class range of 53 lbs. The weight difference between Thesz and Vader is 231 lbs. I realize that this tournament is based off of professional wrestling, but if Gelgarin is going to argue that we should consider voting for Thesz because of his credentials as a legitimate wrestler, I want to illustrate how that is irrelevant. Mind you, at the end of the prior paragraph, Gelgarin asserts that Thesz told Mexican promoters "my gimmick is wrestling." But that's fine - I actually have no issue with guys like Daniel Bryan or Steve Corino now-a-days who would rather display technique-based wrestling vs the pomp of "sports entertainment." But to further illustrate his point, Gelgarin states: In all fairness, Thesz wrestled at a time before nationally syndicated television, before pay per view, and before internet coverage of every event in professional wrestling. If Thesz won a match in St. Paul Minnesota, there's a very good chance it didn't reach the audience in Oklahoma City. And if Thesz nearly lost to an up-and-comer in Sacramento, that wouldn't be on the minds of fans a month later who were watching the same match in Cleveland. My point is that the old school guys traveled and wrestled some 300+ matches each year, no question. But they often worked the same match in different cities, because in those times, it was always a fresh match. You can't get away with that in modern times because people from all over the US and the World watch every televised show. That's why wrestlers work on moves and chemistry at house shows - I have NO CLUE how two guys worked a house show match in Austin, TX when I see then in Newark, NJ. So before you give the farm to Thesz for being a great kayfabe wrestler and his 3,000+ day title reign, realize that he did not have to deal with the challenges that the instant media we have today poses. There was FAR less of a need to keep matched, product, and champions 'fresh' back then as there is today. Vader overcame that challenge and has been dominant in the 90's and 00's in America, Germany, and Japan. Here's a list of people Vader has defeated: Antonio Inoki (in his debut in Japan!) Shinya Hashimoto Riki Chōshū Otto Wanz (CWA World Champion - held Japanese and German World Titles simultaneously) El Canek (15-time UWA World Champion, first defeating Lou Thesz for the title) Tatsumi Fujinami The Great Muta Sting Nikita Koloff (retired Koloff) Ron Simmons Davey Boy Smith Dustin Rhodes Cactus Jack (in a Hardcore Texas Death Match) Ric Flair and Arn Anderson (in a handicap match) The Undertaker I feel I covered this in Part 1, but if Gelgarin feels I am mistaken, I'd welcome his clarification. Ok, all three points are conceded. But unlike some other of Thesz's opponents, Vader narrows the gap. Thesz strikes faster, but Vader strikes VERY fast and VERY hard. Ask anyone about his uppercuts in the corner. Thesz is undoubtedly brilliant, and I'll never take that away from him, but bear in mind that Vader was trained and managed by Harley Race, who is often considered one of the smarter people in the history of the business. Vader is not a stupid wrestler - he's very smart in his own right and there is no better way to display that than the fact that he's been successful and dominant as a World Champion on three continents, which is VERY hard to do. Vader's conditioning often comes into question for no reason other that his size, which is ridiculous. Am I claiming that Vader could go an hour with guys the way Thesz did? No. But bear in mind that when he won his first IWGP Title, Vader wrestled and beat 4 highly athletic Japanese wrestlers in one night, wrestling nearly 30 minutes. Vader, for a 450-pounder, is in exceptional shape. Finally, I'd like to point out that while Thesz may very well be faster, smarter, and better conditioned overall, Vader is bigger, stronger, and probably tougher. Ok, so if importance is a major criterion, then why not just have the tournament every year consist of George Hackenschmidt, Karl Gotch, Lou Thesz, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin. Just because someone was an influential trail blazer doesn't mean they reached the pinnacle or the peak, or that nobody has done it better. Listen, all, Thesz is phenominal, and in almost any other match I'd probably back him. But as great and influential and Thesz was, Vader represents an evolution of not just the American professional wrestler, but the International Professional Wrestler. He won the All-Japan Pro Triple Crown Title twice, the CWA World Heavyweight Title three times, the IWGP World Title three times, the UWA World Title once, and WCW World Title 3 times. LOTS of guys have been successful in one country. Very few were able to turn the trick in two countries - Andre, Inoki, Thesz, Muta, a few others. Vader was able to be a massive star in four countries (USA, Mexico, Germany, Japan) and on three continents. That's almost unheard of. Thesz has beaten some great classic foes, whereas Vader's list of wins reads like a who's who of international superstardom. Thesz may be Vader's toughest test in this tournament, and the shame of it is that more people would vote for guys like Michaels or Edge when Thesz is clearly better than both. But Vader presents a major match-up issue for Lou Thesz, and I fully expect that Big Van Vader would use a combination of his power, intensity, resourcefulness, and speed to overcome the challenge of a true wrestling legend like Thesz. And the final reason why Vader beats Lou Thesz... Round 3 will feature gimmick matches. Those are always a massive tournament wild card, but still, Thesz wrestled at a time when gimmick matches were either non-existant or kept to a minimum. I don't even know if Thesz has ever been in a steel cage before. Vader wrestled various types of matches all over the world, defeating Cactus Jack in a Texas Death Match, defeating Sting in a Strap Match. He's agile enough to get up a ladder, and probably moonsault you from it to boot. Vader's versatility will help him go over Thesz in almost any gimmick match you can think of.