Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Headliner says 2008 Grand Prix Wrestling Tour a success

by Kirk Starratt/The Advertiser

Article online since October 8th 2008, 11:09

Grand Prix Wrestling headliners Jeff Dupre (left), the GPW heavyweight champion, and former WWE superstar Rene Dupre, with their father, legendary promoter Emile Dupre (right), consider their 2008 tour a success.

They’ve wrapped up their live shows for another season, but the headliner of the 2008 Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling (GPW) tour says he, the rest of the roster and the promoter all consider it a success.

GPW heavyweight champion Jeff Dupre says the promotion, celebrating its 52nd anniversary and still operated by his father, legendary promoter Emile Dupre, delivered top-notch professional wrestling action to fans across the Maritime provinces and Eastern Quebec. Although it has been nearly two decades since the promotion had regular weekly TV coverage on ATV, it still boasts a loyal following.

“Once again, Grand Prix Wrestling offered one of the best wrestling programs in Canada and the world,” Jeff Dupre says, pointing out they hope to tour again in the late spring and summer of 2009. “We’re trying to deliver good, home-grown family entertainment.”

He says the entire roster is thankful to fans in the Valley for continuing to turn out and support shows held at the Berwick Arena. The wrestlers enjoy performing in Berwick and two live shows were held there during the 2008 season. The 27-year-old Dupre, hailing from Parlee Beach, New Brunswick, successfully defended his championship at each of the Berwick shows.

Jeff’s younger brother, 25-year-old Rene, headlined part of the tour as well, including the first Berwick show. Rene, a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar who performed as part of all three WWE brands - Raw, Smackdown! and ECW - is recognized as the youngest champion in WWE history, having co-held the world tag-team championship at age 18. He spent several months prior to the tour performing in Japan, where he appeared regularly on TV.

The stars came out in 2008

Although he didn’t make it to Berwick as was first planned due to scheduling difficulties, former WWE superstar Robert “Kurrgan” Maillet, a.k.a. the 7’1”, 350-pound Acadian Giant, performed as part of the tour in some venues in New Brunswick and Quebec. Maillet, now a bona fide movie star, made a huge impact in the controversial 2007 Hollywood blockbuster 300 as Uber Immortal.

Women wrestling stars “The Fabulous” She Nay Nay from Jamaica and Erin Angel from Manchester, England were huge draws on the tour, as was former Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) wrestling star Alistair “A1” Ralphs.

“Wildman” Butcher Vachon, a legendary GPW star from the ATV era, and the second-generation Cuban Assassin helped keep fans entertained.

Other stars appearing on the shows included The Rebel, guest referee during the first show in Berwick and a competitor in the over-the-top-rope battle royal as part of the second. The Wrestling Spider-Man, trained by the legendary Big Stephen Pettipas, competed and was victorious in the battle royal. “The Pirate of the Caribbean” Phil Atlas and the masked French Mystique, a.k.a. Alexander North, played integral roles as well.

They visited some venues they hadn’t been to in several years, including Parrsboro, and were pleasantly surprised by the crowds, giving the wrestlers a renewed sense of confidence.

Although they’re better known to the world as the Dupres, their actual family name is Goguen. Paula Goguen served as secretary for the tour and Ron Goguen, legendary referee for the promotion during the ATV era, managed the ring crew.

Jeff Dupre says the promotion is thankful to the Valley’s own referee Kenny Flint, announcer “Captain” Kirk and the staff and volunteers at the Berwick Arena for helping to make this year’s shows a success. He says the promotion is grateful as well to local media for continuing support and for video coverage.

No comments: