EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, April 30, 1998
Quebec brimming with talent
Oops, how rude of me. I forgot to introduce you. Iceman and Kevin Martel are two of the best pieces of evidence for my case when I say that new generations of wrestlers are getting more and more talented. And they make their home in Quebec, wrestling in the indy leagues.
Iceman is a guy I've had my eye on for quite some time. As one of the most explosive talents to come out of the local NCW organization, he earned the heavyweight championship belt.
With a combination of solid, technical mat wrestling and some of the more inventive and innovative high-flying moves I've seen, Iceman thrills the crowds from bell to bell.
There's a lot more to Iceman than wrestling, though, as seems to be the case in the Big Two today. His distinctive face-paint (an icicle on each side of his face with the word 'iceman' written inside) sets him immediately apart from his peers, and his tights are some of the coolest I've seen on an indy wrestler.
His in-ring persona is great, to boot. He's the energetic babyface type, running to the ring and then circling it before entering, then taking a pose on one knee and spitting water (it's not ice, but it looks cool) up in the air. You can't help but cheer for him.
While he's raising the roof on the Indy scene here in Montreal, Iceman's eyes point to the future. "I'd like to see myself in the WWF in the next five years," he answered me, adding a pang of honesty and realism: "but if I don't make it, I realize it'll be time to look for something else."
How long has he been into wrestling? "Since I was five, I always watched the shows and went to them live," he says. "I love the way wrestling has evolved," he told me, adding that "this is what I grew up on, I can't help but like it."
That explains a lot, if you think about it. How many times have you read an interview with a former wrestler or even an active but aging one, only to read that they have absolutely no interest in the state of wrestling today, that they never watch, and that they don't really like the direction that wrestling is taking?
That's understandable, of course, considering the era they grew up in and the kind of wrestling they probably grew accustomed to. It isn't bad, that's not what I'm saying. It's unfortunate, though, that so many of our cherished legends frown upon what has happened to the house they each had a part in building.
No such sentiments can be found in Iceman, though. Kevin Martel, either.
Of course, while they agree that wrestling is good, that's about where it ends for these two future superstars.
"I think that I'm headed toward a career in the WCW cruiserweight division," Martel says. "I had a short stint there, last year, and I'm hoping to return." That would be a great career move for Martel, as there's no better place for new no-name luchadores and lightweights to show their stuff without having to be famous to get in.
But then, Kevin Martel isn't exactly a no-name, either. "It's tough," he says, on the subject of working with the name Martel. "Of course, there are the expectations, and the standards, and the comparisons. I could never compare to my uncle, Rick."
Speaking frankly, no disrespect intended toward Uncle Rick, but Kevin kicks some serious ass (can I say that?). His high-flying maneuvers are not at all unlike those of Eddy Guerrero, and when he does them, he doesn't look like a luchadore. He looks more like a Randy Savage, whose top-rope maneuvers always seemed to connect and hurt. Some people still do a frog splash where seemingly no contact is made. As high as you might be able to jump, if you don't land on your target, it probably won't hurt much.
Kevin Martel doesn't have that problem, though, he's always on-target. And if my judgement means anything, then he's definitely headed for a career in the Big Two. He's got all of the usual star appeal: great wrestling ability, good charisma, and a proven name which will carry him a long way - and give him a chance to prove himself.
You can catch Kevin, but unfortunately not Iceman, at next week's International Wrestling 2000 show: L'Union fait la force II. Live, from the Pierre-Charbonneau Center on Friday, May 7, in the evening.
If you weren't at L'Union fait la force I, then trust me, it was a show to see. You can keep in mind that I don't usually like indy shows, but I'm glad I went to Jacques Rougeau's last show, and I'll definitely be at the next one.
Tickets are $20, $25 at ringside. At the Pierre-Charbonneau Center, there aren't any bad seats, only good ones and better ones, and it probably helps that the in-ring action will be great. For the whole card, check out our indies wrestling page, but the main event will be the Rougeau brothers taking on Ronnie Garvin and Abdullah the Butcher. I still can't get Abdullah's blood out of the shirt I wore to the last show. Also on the card will be King Kong Bundy taking on two three-hundred pound guys called The Prisoners, and that promises to be something. And of course, Kevin Martel will be there, as well as Carl Leduc, son of former great Paul Leduc, and speaking frankly, maybe the nicest guy I've ever met.
If you plan on going, and I highly advise that you do, send me an email and maybe we can chat there or something. One thing, though. Let's call it IW2K from now on, to save me the trouble of typing it out, okay? Besides, that would be a really cool acronym.
I think I got more mail this week than any week since I started up here at Slam!. I think that that alone is a testament to the fact that Rick Rude will truly be missed. Here's some of it:
*I was a fan of Rick Rude when he first went to the WWF in the 1980s. I remember how he always got the crowd stirring, always had great matches, but most importantly, I remember how he always gave the people the best show on earth. He gave his all every match, every interview, whatever it was, he did his best to make sure everyone enjoyed it. I guess his death shcoked me a lot more than I thought it did. When you are a fan, you just assume that Rick Rude retired and that's it. You don't think he has an actual life, or family to go home to. You just turn on the television to catch the newest angle. We won't be able to hear Rude and his classic "cut the music" interviews. We'll never see another "Rude Awakening" unless we rent an old tape from a video store. We'll never be able to see the magic the Ravishing one had. All we have left are memories.*
James Innes, from email@example.com, writes:
*To me, Rick Rude brings up several images, rather like childhood memories. Perhaps becuase I was about 12 years old when he was in his stardom in theWWF. The hip swirling. The tights with his face on his buttocks. The moustache. The ryhming and constant insulting of the fans. The rude awaking vs The ROD awakening. Epic battles with the Ultimate Warrior. Bobby Heenan enthusiastically rubbing oil on Rude's pecs. The Warrior pulling Rude's pants down to stop him getting out of the cage. Rude "ladykilling" a woman into falling asleep on the ring canvas. Rude being rejected the following week due to "bad breath".
Some people would choose to include Rude's future appearances in DX & nWo. But the above images, and I mean images, vague flashbacks, fond memories of one of the classiest heels... those are what I remember.
The wrestlers that die... that you hear about not in mainstream media, but in places like this... reflect on mortality in all the people around the world. We say it's tragic when a public figure like a wrestler dies... but this is in reality reflecting on the hundreds of people that die everyday, it just goes to show, that wrestlers, like ourselves, are not immortal.
The best one can hope to do, is leave a mark on society so you can be remembered. Rick Rude will be remembered in my mind.*
*Great column on Rick Rude.
His passing leaves a great void in wrestling, because he was truly one of the great showmen.
I first saw the Ravishing One just a little before he left World Class to come to the NWA. To hear him come into the ring with Sade's "Smooth Operator" as his theme was just fantastic. When he first got to the NWA, he was still using that as his theme. Then the tag team with Manny Fernandez came into being. Rude took what looked like a very improbable pairing and made it a fantastic one. His interview skills really helped the team as well as manager Paul Jones. I loved the way Rude would say something and then say "tell 'em Bull." Then his eyes would roll to the sky as if to say "we are just too good!"
His stint in WWF was truly one of the highlights of the 80's. There are too many great moments to list here. If fans followed wrestling them, it's easy to think of them.
I recently told a friend that my videotape collection of wrestlers no longer with us is getting too long for my taste. I just wish we didn't have to add Ravishing Rick Rude to that list so soon.
Thanks for listening,*
Bill Cubitt, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
*Here in Calgary there are two things that I feel that time will be here soon for two great wrestlers. Like the death of Rick Rude, these too, will be shots heard round the wrestling world. The first I hope is another fifty years away but I am scared that it may be all too soon.
Davey Boy Smith lies in a Calgary hospital with an ailment that the doctors are confused with and we all hope that Davey can fight off this disease. A year ago I was talking with Diana Hart at our downtown Eaton's store. It was just before Christmas and Diana and Davey were going to be there to help wrap Christmas presents. Davey unfortunately was unable to be there. He came down with a strange coloring in his leg and he was at a hospital for test. Diana was nervous that no one knew what was wrong with Davey. Years earlier the Hart clan lost a young fellow to the flesh eating disease and there was fear that Davey too was feeling the same symptoms. Ironically that boys father was with Davey that day as he went through these tests.
A year has gone by and now after one fight there comes another for Davey. After being slammed on a hidden trap door Davey's chest is feeling tremendous pain. Another major fight for the Bulldog to overcome. Davey's sister and I believe his mother just died earlier from cancer.
I remember when Lyle Alzado died due to steroid abuse and my heart quickly turned to Davey. I have no evidence but it would come as no surprise that Davey used steroids to beef up as a young wrestler and to overcome many pains to get back into the ring. What if these drugs were catching up to Davey.
All these things and I feel for the Bulldog, someone that I have admired for the last twenty years as his power and acrobatic skills are rarely seen in the young lions of today. I pray that this time in the hospital will just be another setback and nothing more. Lets all hope that Davey Boy Smith can live a long and healthy life.
Which leads me to part two. A man in Calgary who is the living legend in every sense of the word. Stu Hart is a giant of a man who is turning 84 his next birthday. I have been extremely lucky to have sat on his back porch and showed him my scrapbook and allowed Stu to tell me tall tales of hundreds of wrestlers whom he has known.
As Stampede Wrestling starts up again, I was at the first night back in the old Pavilion. As we watched the next generation of wrestlers the crowd stood as one to applaud Stu and Helen Hart. In a quiet moment between falls a lady from the top row yelled for all of us to hear "We love you Stu". She is quite right. Calgary wrestling fans love Stu Hart. Someday he will leave us and in the same way that Rick Rude and others have left, they will leave lots of memories. For some of us we can tell other wrestling fans that we knew them, for a brief time. We sat on their porch or watched their body slams and we love them. They are wrestlers, fathers and brothers and loved by all of us.*
Thanks for the great letters, guys. I got several hundred of these, each long, thought out, and heart-felt, and to the few of you who wrote to ask me where my head was to even compare the death of Rick Rude to what happened last week in Eastern Europe and Colorado, I'll let these people speak for themselves.
Have a great week, thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing, see you all in seven. Later.
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