As many of you know, I decided to hop on a train and go where many Canadians dare not go - Quebec! Specifically, to see my good buddy Llakor and to take in the spectacle that is a Montreal WWE Crowd, while watching WWE's No Way Out at the same time. Llakor also promised to show me some of the Montreal indy scene Saturday night, and take me to a few places where I could buy cheap DVD's. Indy Wrestling, WWE Wrestling, and CHEAP DVD'S - it gets no better than this!
I should first start by telling you about the weekend, and through this tale you will will see that which so blew Llakor and myself away - that which every indy wrestler you've heard of (or never heard of) dream about every single day. "The Dream", of course, is to work for World Wrestling Entertainment; The Show, The Top, The Majors, THE Wrestling Federation. This very rarely happens for almost all indy wrestlers, but what Llakor and I saw was not only rare, it was truly special.
FRIDAY: Upon my arrival in Montreal and subsequent arrival at Chez Llakor, The Weekend Of Fun began with, as Llakor already mentioned, a kick-ass hot chicken sandwich. My mouth waters thinking about that tasty sauce which smothered the chicken as we speak. Truly a meal fit for a Grizzly. If you're ever at Llakor's place, make him make you one, because they're right damn tasty. I felt truly spoiled, but felt better upon presenting to Llakor the Oshawa Generals sweatshirt which I brought for him. Truth be told, I actually bought the sweatshirt for myself and it didn't fit, but it's the thought that counts.
SATURDAY: It's DVD shopping tahm! Llakor said we're going to a few cheap DVD places. Apparently, "a few" is French for "every single DVD place in Montreal", because that's where we went. And we walked. A lot. A WHOLE lot. LOTS - no, BIG LOTS of walking. I did more WALKING than all wrestlers whom CRZ has pointed out that they are WALKING have done, times two. CRAZY walking. You see, Llakor has the uncanny ability to walk ungodly distances without getting the least bit tired. However, it was worth it because I picked up a few DVD's - if memory serves, I got "Road House", which features an excellent appearance by Terry Funk and some OUTSTANDING cover songs by The Jeff Healy Band. In case you're wondering, yes, Jeff Healy really is blind, and yes, he really rocks on the guitar, and yes, they're Canadian. I also picked up a SummerSlam DVD - I forget the year, but it contains the AWESOME Test/Shane McMahon match, which was more than enough reason to pick up that bad boy. I also picked up ECW's "Best Of Cactus Jack". It was NOT cheap - $35 smackeroos, I believe, but it contains MUST-SEE stuff, especially if you've read Mick's books. It's really great to see much of what Mick outlines in his books, and it really adds a lot to the book now that I have seen exactly what he was talking about. You will not believe how amazing some of the promos are, either - Cactus was truly a master. I also purchased two Holly Cole Trio CD's - CD's which I believe I left at Llakor's house. How dumb of me.
We spent the afternoon watching "Gods and Generals" at The Forum. Yes, THE FORUM IS NOW AN AMC MOVIE THEATRE. I was legitimately and truly stunned upon seeing this, even though as a die-hard Leaf fan, it is my job to hate Les Habitants. Hate or no hate, however, The Forum is a true shrine of hockey, and it saddened me to see it come to such a state. They HAD kept some of the original seating and a statue of Maurice "Rocket" Richard in the lobby area, though - that was good to see. Still, a truly shocking and saddening sight. Now, I say we spent the afternoon watching that movie, because we truly did - just over 4 hours (there was a 20 minute intermission) of movie watching. The movie was a bit slow at times (some dude actually fell asleep and his snores echoed throughout the half-empty theatre - pretty funny stuff), but still, it was a fascinating recollection of the life of "Stonewall" Jackson, the recession of Virginia from the Union, and the true beginnings of the Civil War. There is a particularly moving bit when two Irish brigades are forced to face off against each other, and was exceptionally well done. If you've seen "Gettysburg" (and if you haven't, go see it), then you'll get right into "Gods and Generals". At any rate, this brought us to...
SATURDAY NIGHT: It's Indy wrasslin' tahm!! We went to see a "NCW" show, which took place, you guessed it, in a gym. However, their setup was outstanding - a ramp, an entrance with the big red light on it like ECW's had, and a music system which had music cued up for every wrestler at just the right times. The show was very WWE-like in its presentation - there were several segments, and 90% of the promos were in French, so I didn't understand much. The wrestling action was good at worst, and excellent at best. It was the epitome of everything you hear about - here are these guys busting their butts in front of less than 100 people to put on the best show they can, and they are getting paid next to nothing if they were being paid at all. Extremely entertaining stuff. With the occasional "F-bomb" being dropped aside, if I had kids, I would take them to see that show.
After the show, every wrestler helped with the dismantling of the ring (which was quite sizable - if memory serves, it was slightly bigger that a WCW ring, but not as big as a WWE ring) and the general clean-up. It was then that I got to meet a couple of the wrestlers, and they were all super-nice people who really cared about what they were doing. The one guy we did talk to for an extended period of time (and his name escapes me at this moment - I'm sure Llakor will fill me in) had all kinds of great ideas and absolutely loved to talk about wrestling. We could've sat down for hours and he'd have talked our ear off. It was terrific to see - guys doing the show because they loved it, and no other reason. I also learned that the reason Quebec's indy scene is so much bigger than the Ontario indy scene is because whoever runs the show in Ontario requires a purchasing of a "license", which costs $75. That's a lot of money for an indy worker. From what we were told, if you're able to do two shows a year, you pretty much make your money back, but because of some bizarre restrictions, promotions are only allowed to hold a show once a month, while in Quebec, you can run as many shows as you want. Apparently, Ontario is still infested with a lot of "old school" type managers who are trying to keep it that way. And this is a damn shame, because if I knew that I could watch a show of the quality of the one NCW put on on a regular basis, I would definitely make a point to go.
It was at this show that our strange journey of watching history in the making truly began. During the show, a performer known as "Sly" came out and cut a promo. He was dressed in faded jeans and a white "wifebeater" undershirt. He got the crowd riled up for about 5 minutes until the guy he was feuding with tore out of the back and chased him all the way around the gym and to the back. I remember thinking to myself that the guy had a good look - of all the guys I saw that night, "Sly" seemed to me to being the closest to what WWE is after, look-wise. I don't remember if I mentioned this to Llakor or not - but it's true, it's true.
SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY: Sunday consisted of chatting with a few ITVR members, predicting outcomes of the show, and watching some of the excellent DVD's I'd purchased. It was also the day that I was once again stunned by Llakor's cooking ability when he presented me with what he called a "Egg In A Hat". This is a piece of toast with the middle cut out and a poached egg in the middle. However, you have to see this to appreciate it. The egg wasn't just in the middle of the toast - it was PART OF IT. Llakor had removed a piece of bread and FUSED this egg to the toast, using a technique that I will not attempt to comprehend here. All I know is that it was insanely cool, and tasted great.
Finally, the time for the show arrived, and my personal observation of a Montreal WWE Crowd (and the No Way Out PPV) began. I won't go on TOO much about the crowd, other than to say a) They were extremely enthusiastic, b) they'll attempt to chant EVERYTHING, and c) are to be commended for the creation of the current "TWO!" craze. As you probably have seen, the yelling of "TWO!" by the crowd has started to be picked up all over cities in America, but it was there, in Montreal, where it originated some time ago. I also learned something else - you don't just tell "TWO!" after the kickout - you have to wait until the ref puts his hand up to signal "TWO!" to the timekeeper. And let me tell you, the crowd was in PERFECT unison to the ref's hand gesture. If you didn't know better, you'd think the ref had just made the sound of some 18,000 people all by himself - it was THAT synchronized. So, if you're going to a WWE event, pass the word along to time it right - it's the proper thing to do, and it's a helluva lot more fun. In short, if you get a chance to see a WWE event in Montreal, go. You won't be sorry.
The time for the main event came, and we witnessed what WWE called "Montreal Screwjob II". It was during the time when he saw the ref, who was in McMahon's pocket, walk up the ramp with The Rock and Vince, when Llakor EXPLODED. "THAT'S RENE DUPRE!!!" he shouted to everybody who would listen. Unfortunately, Llakor, being the Guardian Of Useless Knowledge that he is, was the only person who had even a shred of idea who the hell Rene Dupre was. He explained to me in extremely excited tones on the way out that Rene Dupre was the son of a big promoter in the Maritimes who had had ties to the WWF way back when (he can explain it MUCH better than I can). I thought this was very cool, and a really nice touch on the part of Vince to bring Rene in. However, it was the next morning when everything changed.
MONDAY: As I was getting ready to head home, Llakor informed me that it turns out that the ref was NOT, in fact, Rene Dupre. The way he said it reminded me of the way "The Torch" was informed that Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) was NOT Mel Torme in that classic bit of film "Top Secret!". So, I asked who it was, and the answer stunned me. "It was SLY."
"SLY", of course, was Sylvain Grenier, the ref that you now all know. But, in a very interesting Twist Of Fate, we had seen Grenier not 24 hours before No Way Out, in an old gym with less than 100 people, entertaining as best he could. It is obvious to me now that he didn't wrestle that night because of what he had in store at No Way Out, which makes perfect sense. Would you risk injury less than 24 hours before you made your debut in WWE not by wrestling, but by playing a VITAL part in what was being called "The Greatest Rematch Of All Time"? I sure wouldn't.
I cannot convey to you the strange and wonderful feeling I got from the realization of what we had witnessed. From cutting a promo in a dungy local gym, to sharing the ring with three of the greatest names in sports entertainment HISTORY in the blink of a damn eye. It made me wonder just how small the wrestling world really is, and it also made me realize why these indy guys do what they do, in the matter that they do it. You absolutely never know when your opportunity may come by. Hell, it may never come by, and chances are that it won't....but you never know. The idea that some of the guys we talked to, who were super-nice, had great attitudes, and absolutely loved wrestling, may get their shot in WWE was heart-warming beyond explanation. It was a real-life Brian Kendrick storyline, in a way - one minute, "Sly" was a local worker - the next, his name is spoken in tandem with the biggest of the big. Hell, he even got promo time on SmackDown! that week!!! "The Dream" had come true, and Llakor and I saw it happen.
It is for this reason that I would encourage you to go out and support your local indy scene. I have no idea what will be in store for you when you do, but chances are high that you will be entertained. And there is a chance - perhaps a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless - that you will watch "The Dream" come true for yourselves. Believe me, it'll be worth it if you do.
Oh, and if you're in Montreal, stop by Llakor's and tell him I sent you. He's a great host, and has MAD cookin' skillz.
(edited by BrewGuy on 25.3.03 1633)
It's official - The WWE logo turned upside down becomes the Mattitude symbol.
OK... what did everyone think of my Critical Analysis column that I submitted? Good, bad? What do you agree with, what do you disagree with?
(takes a few deep breaths and prepares myself for a tidal wave of negative backlash)...