Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Lost Art of the Abdominal Stretch

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Here at the Gateway, often living in the past as we do, we long for the day when some of the more simpler holds were actual effective finishing holds. I'm talking about, for example, a standing vertical suplex used as finisher. Indeed, Harley Race defeated Dory Funk, Jr. for the NWA world championship with a simple suplex.

My favorite all time pro wrestling hold is the abdominal stretch. It was perfected in the 1960s by the legendary George Becker, who won many matches with it, especially on television. When he locked it in during his main event arena matches, you knew victory was at hand - - until a dastardly heel made the save and cheated us of that victory celebration with "the stretch."

When Johnny Weaver came to the Mid-Atlantic area in the early 1960s, George Becker took him under his wing and one of the things Becker taught Weaver was the proper way to apply the abdominal stretch.

As Becker would demonstrate with great success over the years, the most effective way to apply the hold was to hook the toe his behind the calf or ankle of his opponent.

Weaver learned this well, as demonstrated in the photos below from a match with Jumbo Tsuruta in Japan.

Notice Weaver's left toe tucked securely behind the ankle of Tsuruta's leg, allowing Weaver to apply maximum torque in applying the hold.

Next time you see someone apply the abdominal stretch during a match on Monday Night Raw or at your local independent show in your hometown, remind yourself that if they had just hooked the toe, they likely could have gained a submission victory.

Hey. You do know that the abdominal stretch is real thing, right? Ahhh, the good ol' days.

(Photos are from Johnny Weaver's personal scrapbook.)