Recently unearthed film recordings of Franz Gottenschmidt, a barrel-chested New York wrestler who enjoyed a burst of popularity at the turn of the 20th century, shows him literally telegraphing every single move.
The videotape depicts Gottenschmidt in the heat of battle with rival George Grotz, sitting at a telegraphy table and tapping out the Morse code message: “dot-dot-dot dot-dash-dot-dot dot-dash dash-dash,” which translates to “slam.”
Moments later, Gottenschmidt attempts to deliver a bodyslam to Grotz, who manages to avoid the maneuver because he, like everyone in the audience, totally saw it coming.
The three-hour match continues in this fashion, with Gottenschmidt telegraphing every move in his arsenal, which only includes variations of the leg scissors, arm bar, and headlock.
Although the film is severely degraded by the passage of more than a century, it is an important document of the early history of professional wrestling. The commentators, for instance, can be heard saying “History is being made tonight” — a phrase never again uttered by professional wrestling commentators.