In the 1940’s, you could go up to the average fan sitting at ringside, ask them if they knew what exactly you were talking about and they would probably have no clue how to respond when you mention highflying in professional wrestling. A author can only write about what he or she knows and the same goes hand in hand with someone interested in the art of professional wrestling. The style of “highflying” in wrestling was something that no one had ever seen or heard of before. At this time, the people who watched the traditional wrestling spectacle were beginning to get a bit restless from what they were viewing.
Some of the events that took place went on over 5 hours and a spectator can only be entertained for so long. A more acrobatic style of wrestling is what made the eyes of the people who were watching stop focusing on their watches and start focusing on what was happening in the ring.
Antonino Rocca and Edouard Carpentier were two men who can be credited as the innovators of this unconventional style of professional wrestling that offered more of an acrobatic flair. Antonino before starting his grappling career was a soccer and rugby player out of Argentina. He then was injured while playing and couldn't return to the sport he loved so dearly which in turn made him want to give wrestling a try. In 1942, Mr. Rocca flew onto the scene of professional wrestling and incorporated some of the proficiency that you would see many soccer players use while on the field, which is what made him so famous in the ring. Executing headstand headscissor takedown's, cross arm bars, along with victory rolls and dropkicks...Rocca had them, he had the people feasting their eyes on every single thing he was doing. Eight years later, you can say the same goes for “Flying Frenchmen” Edouard Carpentier who had a degree in physical education and was very well acquainted in gymnastics.
In 1948 at the World Olympics, Edouard on behalf of France represented the men’s gymnastics team in London, England. Some time after, he went on to become a stunt devil for Lino Ventura who was one of the most sought after actors in theater. Lino eventually introduced Ed to the world of professional wrestling and in 1950 he made his debut. Sporting somersault sentons, backflips and cartwheels galore, no one at the time could mirror anything that he was doing. Carpentier and Rocca were both very hot commodities and you can give most of the credit to the unique styles of wrestling that they brought to the squared circle. Trailblazers, pioneers, innovators. These two men have led generations of professional wrestlers who only took it to the next level. Highflying in professional wrestling continues to evolve every year and can only grow further en route into the future.
By Austin Porche of Pipebomb Radio
As unique content strictly for the Professional Wrestling Historical Society