March 15, 2016

Earl Caddock vs Joe Stecher (1920): Oldest Pro Wrestling on Film

Newsreel footage from the second Earl Caddock-Joe Stecher match for the professional wrestling world title, January 30th 1920. The match took place at the second Madison Square Garden in New York City. Stecher pinned Caddock in 2:05:00 using a wristlock and his finishing hold, the body scissors.

This is perhaps the earliest professional wrestling match of which film survives. While some have argued that this style was simply a more traditional way of “working” (performing) than what would soon follow, others have claimed that Caddock-Stecher was the last great “shoot” (real) match for a world title.

While it is impossible to determine when professional wrestling became purely performance, even at this point in its history many match outcomes were predetermined. In the coming months, “Toots” Mondt and Billy Sandow would reshape the sport into a style of performance virtually identical to what we know today.

Beyond The Bell © 2016