Wow, Bockwinkel was AWA Heavyweight Champion when he was in his 50s.
Age is an amazing factor when considering the overall quality of Bock's work. Verne didn't give Nick his first run as AWA World Champion until he was age 40. From then on he would main event with the belt for the better part of the next eight years. When viewed in that context, most of the footage that has survived his run is extremely high end relative to what most of the talent his age was capable of doing. A credible argument could be made that Bockwinkel at this stage was at par with (if not better than) Ric Flair at the same age (early to mid 90s).
I remember watching Bockwinkel wrestle many times during the 80s on Houston Wrestling. Verne would send Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan to work for Paul Boesch many times. Never would I have known Nick was 50 years old. He was a magnificent worker.
This was from All Japan. The format was 2 out of 3 falls, as United National Champion Jumbo Tsuruta (age 29, 7 years experience) defends against Dick Murdoch (age 34, 15 years experience). DM was a second generation star who was renowned among his peers as a natural. A good glimpse of Captain Red Neck as he works across the challenge of a language barrier with one of the best ever. RIP
This was 2 out of 3 falls for the WWWA Tag Titles. Champions, the Jumping Bomb Angels were comprised of Noriyo Tateno (age 21, 4 years experience) & Itsuki Yamazaki (age 22, 5 years experience). They defend against The Crush Girls, who were comprised of Chigusa Nagayo (age 21, 5 years experience) & Lioness Asuka (age 22, 6 years experience). Note how well these ladies work relative to the talent on today's scene (both male and female) who are of the same age and/or experience. For the most part, the difference is night to day. Proof that women's wrestling could be technically high end while drawing tremendous amounts of money.
A match in honor of all time great Karl Gotch. This is rare footage from the JWA (Japanese Wrestling Association). Michiaki Yoshimura, nicknamed the Fireball Kid, age 34 with seven years experience, is seen playing the role of native face. Karl is seen at age 36 with 5 years under his belt. A fairly lengthy look at the strong sport style Karl emphasized, shades of the famed Snake Pit. KG would go on to achieve legendary status in Japan as the 'God of Wrestling', training a long line of headliners and steady hands that would form the nucleus of puroresu for decades to come. Look for a crisp German Suplex just over 7 minutes in, aptly named in tribute to Gotch himself. RIP
This was from Chicago at a taping for the old DuMont Television Wrestling Show. Verne is seen in his mid 20s with only a few years experience as a pro. Much like Jumbo Tsuruta and Kurt Angle, VG was 'excellent' at an almost immediate stage due to his standout amateur skill set. Rare surviving footage of a fairly young Red Bastien. A good viewing of both. RIP