Friday, July 1, 2011
Canada Day - Celebrating Canada's greatest wrestlers
Thus Canada's influence on professional wrestling.
The "Great White North" has always been a hotbed for wrestling, going back to the territorial days. Great American stars such as Lou Thez would regularly tour through Canada, defending the NWA Championship in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens and paving the way for many other great world champions to tour Canada.
Each territory in the world had it's own stars and unique following. Canada's territories were no different. "Whipper" Billy Watson became a cult icon in Toronto. Emile Dupree ran roughshod all over the Maritimes. The Rougeau's became cult icons in Montreal, and more talent was produced in Stampede Wrestling from Calgary than most promotions running anywhere in the world.
The list of wrestlers from Canada during the territory days are impressive. Ivan Koloff, Killer Kowalski, Gene Kiniski, "Mad Dog" Vachon, Paul "Butcher" Vachon, "Whipper" Billy Watson, Abdullah the Butcher and Stu Hart were not only great wrestlers for their day, but also influential to the generations that have followed.
Years later when the territorial system broke down, many Canadian wrestlers ended up in the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE). Rick Martel, Jacque and Raymond Rougeau, Dino Bravo, and Bret and Owen Hart ruled the ring during the 80's and 90's. Much different from their fore fathers, the regional experiences they gained helped them adapt to the bigger stage and also made them even more well known in their original territories.
Bret Hart in particular, made Canada wrestling a focal point and to this may be the most well known wrestler ever from Canada as well as being the top star in the WWF for much of the 1990's. Bret Hart is so popular in Canada that autograph signings and appearances regularly sell out
The popularity of Bret Hart and his stable the, "Hart Foundation" inspired a new crop of Canadian talent during the tale end of the 1990's, leading well into the new millennium. Stars such as Chris Jericho, Edge, Christian, Lance Storm, Val Venis, Vampiro, and others helped tremendously to build Canada into a serious wrestling hotbed.
To this day, more Canadian stars have entered the scene. The latest Hart family members of David Hart Smith, Natalya (Neidhart) and family friend Tyson Kidd have all been slowly carving their way into the WWE, just like their family before them. Santino Marella of Ontario has become one of the most popular wrestlers from Canada, as he plays the role of a comedic character from Italy. TNA has had it's fair share of Canadian stars as well, as Robert Roode and Eric Young have both been huge focal points for the company and are both seen as future superstars.
No one can ever accuse Canada of not producing the goods when it comes to this unique business. Let's all celebrate our Canadian wrestling heroes on this monumental occasion.
Canadian World Champions
Ivan Koloff - WWWF World Heavyweight Champion
"Whipper" Billy Watson - NWA World Heavyweight Champion
Gene Kiniski - AWA World Heavyweight Champion and NWA World Heavyweight Champion
"Mad Dog" Vachon - AWA World Heavyweight Champion
Edouard Carpentier - NWA World Heavyweight Champion
Stan Stasiak - WWWF World Heavyweight Champon
Bret "the Hitman" Hart - WWE Champion and WCW Champion
Chris Jericho - WWE, WCW and World Heavyweight Champion (WWE)
Christian - NWA World Heavyweight Champion and World Heavyweight Champion (WWE)