Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Past performances define legend of Grand Prix Wrestling

by Kirk Starratt/The Advertiser

Article online since March 26th 2009

Grand Prix Wrestling heavyweight champion Jeff Dupre, left, says the promotion is still reaping the benefits of stellar performers of the past, such as the legendary Dynamite Kid, one half of the British Bulldogs with the late Davey Boy Smith.

Looking forward to a fresh year and a new start, one headliner of Grand Prix Wrestling can’t help but reflect on some of the top performances of the past that have helped to define the legend of the 52-year-old Maritime squared circle dynasty.

Grand Prix Wrestling heavyweight champion Jeff Dupre says the summer of 1989 was particularly hot on the local wrestling circuit. Just a boy at the time, he recalls the likes of seven-time National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hall-of-famer “King” Harley Race, former world heavyweight champion The Original Spoiler, former WWE Superstar “Maniac” Frenchy Martin and former WWE World Tag Team Champion Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington); all came for tours of the Maritimes. Dynamite Kid was the partner of the late Davey Boy Smith in the legendary British Bulldogs and was a veteran of Wrestlemania II, III and IV.

One night stands out

One night that stands out in Dupre’s mind was a taping for the weekly ATV broadcast in Montague, PEI that featured Dynamite Kid defending his title against a man Dupre describes as a Grand Prix legend, “Bad Boy” Eddie Watts.

Dynamite Kid was the newly-crowned International Heavyweight Champion, defeating “Rotten” Ron Starr for the title in a “loser leaves the Maritimes” match.

The arena was jam-packed, as the popular Kid was drawing huge crowds, fueled by exposure on the weekly TV show. The event drew one of the largest gates of the season.

After the introductions by ring announcer Joe Selig, Watts gave an impressive showing, but soon wound up on the short end of the stick following a series of clotheslines, side suplexes and snap suplexes.

Watts regained his composure temporarily and tried a high-risk move from the top rope. Kid caught him with a shot to the midsection before he could execute the move and Watts was crotched on the top turnbuckle. Kid climbed up to join him and pulled off a beautiful superplex to finish Watts off.

Kid grabbed a microphone from the announcer’s table where Gair Maxwell and the late, great “Bulldog” Bob Brown were offering commentary. Kid said, if there were any more challengers in the dressing room, come to the ring. When nobody responded, Brown jumped up from the table and whacked Kid on the back of the head with a chair.

Brown returned to the table to resume his announcing duties, but wasn’t expecting Kid to make such a quick recovery. Kid returned the chair shot and chased Brown back to the dressing room.

Dupre recalls, along with Leo Burke, a member of the legendary Cormier family of New Brunswick and one of the longest reigning champions in Grand Prix Wrestling history; Brown was a long-time program manager of the ATV show and they put together some stellar events. For about 10 years, Grand Prix Wrestling ran two shows nearly every day when legendary promoter Emile Dupre, Jeff’s father, had the show on the road.

Dupre recalls Watts has performed as part of the WWE on a number of occasions, and he himself had the opportunity to wrestle Watts in a main event as part of Grand Prix’s 50th anniversary tour in 2006.

Watts once wrestled under a mask as part of the Super Bees tag team with Pierre Carl Ouellette, best remembered for teaming with the legendary Jacques Rougeau as the Quebecers in the WWE and the Amazing French Canadians in World Championship Wrestling. They were World Tag Team Champions on multiple occasions.

Dupre said both Watts and Kid were trying to establish themselves as the top name in the territory in 1989.

Still reaping the benefits

“We’re still reaping the benefits of what has been done in the past,” the second-generation star said, pointing out the most recent season of Grand Prix Wrestling was deemed a success and featured some of the top names currently not under contract to the big wrestling companies in the United States.

This included his brother, former WWE Superstar Rene Dupre, the youngest titleholder in WWE history. He was a co-holder of the WWE World Tag Team Championship at age 18 and went on to hold the title on a number of occasions. Jeff said his younger brother recently completed a tour of Japan, featured regularly on TV.

Former WWE Superstar Kurrgan, a.k.a. the Acadian Giant, made appearances on the 2008 tour. The 7’1”, 350-pound giant was part of the Human Oddities in the WWE. One of his teammates in the Oddities, Luna Vachon, is also a veteran of the Grand Prix Wrestling ATV era. Dupre said Kurrgan, a.k.a. Robert Maillet, is currently working on another movie. He appeared in the 2007 Hollywood blockbuster 300.

Some of the other stars featured as part of the 2008 tour included former TNA Wrestling star A1, Phil Atlas, Spiderman and women stars Erin Angel of Manchester, England and “The Fabulous” She Nay Nay.

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