Monday, June 7, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Grand Prix still thrills
I am a huge wrestling fan and I have been for as long as I can remember. Granted, I am only 23, but I do remember the way wrestling used to be -- none of those phoney interviews or those ridiculous gimmicks, just some good old fashioned boys coming out and beating each others brains in to the delight of 1,000 or less fans. Now those guys knew how to entertain. I grew up with the Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling and watching fan favorites Leo Burke and the Great Mulumba battle the evil likes of Bulldog Bob Brown and Rotten Ron Starr. Now that was some real wrestling.
I can still remember standing outside the York Arena which is just a small rink with no real seats just benches. I can remember getting excited and going in to see the mtaches. I would rush in pulling my dads arm practically off. We would rush to the best seats we could find, usually right behind the players' bench (of course I would never stay there). And then the ring announcer would say that we were about to begin. Unlike today there was no music blasting through the arena and no light or smoke shows, just announcing of the name and out they would come.
I would sit there and boo the bad guy as he worked the crowd and then out would come the good guy and I would jump and run down to try and touch his hand and of course they would. That is what being a star is all about -- those guys loved doing this, unlike the new age wrestlers who are to invloved with themselves and making sure all the attractive girls see their bulging muscles. They knew how to entertain the fans and afterwards always had time to talk to the fans, good guys and bad guys had no problem in doing this.
The most memorable moments for me were:
1) Cuban Assassin vs the Beast in a steel chain match, ending with the Beast tapping all four corners, but not before each had lost a few pints of blood.
2) Meeting and talking with the famous Tom Billington aka The Dynamite Kid
3) Seeing Leo Burke beat up super villain, the late, great Killer Karl Krupp.
There were many good times but those are my three favourite moments. My favorite stars from those days were Bobby Bass, Cuban Assassin and of course everybody's favorite, Leo Burke.
Just a few short days ago, the Grand Prix circuit started up again and came here once again. Only this time, it went to the larger arena and had 1,500 fans. It was just like the old days though I was all excited waiting to get in, and the doors opened and me and my friends dragged my father through the crowd and got perfect seats right beside the wrestlers entrance.
The first match saw two newcomers to the scene in Rene Rougeau battling Wild Man Austin. These two kids put on an excellent match with Rougeau winning by DQ.
The next match was one of my favourites with an old favourite. Bobby Bass beat up a new kid named Cowboy Mike Hughes. Bass has lost a few steps in the ring but he still has the microphone skills which he proved when he yelled at promoter Emile Dupre, showing off the fact that his ring valet was something he would never get. (Note, I have hung out with his valet for a longtime and hence was a favorite fan with the other males in attendance.)
Then came the break which saw the wrestlers come out and give autographs to the fans. When was the last time we saw WWF stars come out to the crowd to sign autographs?
After a short break the action started again with two legends going at it the old way with The Beast against Butcher Vachon, a great match for us old school fans with the Beast getting the victory.
And then came the Main Event. The Cuban Assassin vs Chi Chi Cruz. Cruz tried to get the fans going but we were not going to cheer against the Assassin. He was up to his old tricks, hitting Cruz with a foreign object a few times, hitting him with a chair and dishing out a sweet low blow to end it. And then came the memorable end of the card run in with Rougeau and Austin coming out again and battling it out.
The card was over and I strolled out back with the Valet girl and got all the necessary autographs and chatted with some of my old favourites and then with Joe E Legend for about a half hour about wrestling, and where it is today. And we also chatted about thwe Owen Hart tragedy. But alas it was time for Mr. Legend to head to the hotel to get some shut eye before heading to Nova Scotia for the next show. So I said my goodbyes and I can't wait to see it again.
Grand Prix may not have all the sex and violence of the big guys, but the wrestling is better and the wrestlers are much nicer. If WWF and Grand Prix were the same night Grand Prix would get my vote.
Brad McLaughlin is from Fredericton, New Brunswick and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.