When the bell rang to mark the end of the fight, Genevieve Goulet had no idea that she had just won the longest and most important match of her wrestling career. Better known as Precious Lucy, Lucy Fer, or more recently as Lufisto, nick-named “The First Lady of Hardcore”, Goulet has wrestled all over the world, winning titles, matches and fans in Japan, Mexico and all over North America... but not in Ontario.
In order to compete against the very best, both to learn and to prove herself, Lufisto frequently wrestles against men. In 2002, she was scheduled for just such a match when she was informed that the Ontario Athletic Commission had a rule on the books strictly forbidding inter-gender matches. Rather than meekly submitting, Lufisto decided to fight, complaining to the Ontario Human Rights Commission that the OAC’s rules violated her rights.
When the phone bell rang on Sunday, February 26th, 2006, it was the bell ringing victory for Lufisto in her match against the OAC. The OHRC had ruled in her favour. In wrestling terminology, a bout lasting thirty minutes or more is considered an “Iron-Man” match; a sixty minute contest is called “going Broadway”. One has to ask: What do you call a fight that lasts four years?
“Too extreme for Upper Canada! Banned in Ontario! Here to help Eddy strip, the First Lady of Hardcore... Precious Lucy!” - "Iron" Mike Patterson
The first time that I saw Lufisto (or Precious Lucy as she was known then) was in the summer 2002 at a show put on by the Internet Wrestling Syndicate (now known as the International Wrestling Syndicate.) A grudge match for the IWS title was scheduled between former tag partners Sexxxy Eddy and the Arsenal. As the team “Sexxx and Violence”, the two men had terrorized the IWS. In fact, it was in a tag match (with special stipulations) that Eddy had won the IWS title, pinning then champion PCP Crazy F’N Manny with a big assist from the Arsenal.
The team collapsed during the Extreme Dream tournament to crown the first IWS tag team champions. The Arsenal saw the tournament as his chance to win gold. Eddy saw the tournament as a way to put off defending his IWS title. When the team was eliminated from the tournament, the Arsenal snapped, attacked Eddy and stole Eddy’s belt. This set up the grudge match for the IWS title.
Eddy’s gimmick is part porn star, part stripper. He starts every match by having a woman, usually pulled from the crowd, help him tear his clothing off. On this occasion, Lucy, an attractive five foot, three inch blonde, was announced as a celebrity “stripper” for Eddy, but before she could help Eddy tear off his pants, the Arsenal hit the ring with a kendo stick to ambush both Eddy and Lucy. After his initial advantage wore off, the Arsenal ended up losing the match as Lucy pitched in to help Eddy win.
In short, Lucy cost the Arsenal his chance to win the IWS title.
The bloodiest feud in the history of the IWS, and some say in Quebec wrestling, had just begun.
“Ring 'n Ears were gimmick events we would put on twice a year featuring ALL gimmick matches along with hardcore rock and grunge bands. The rule of 'promotional thumb' was the crazier the better, and the fans we drew reflected that perfectly.” - Chris Drury
Ring ‘n Ears was run by Billy Blood and F from the band Bad Blood. Each event they promoted they would hire a new organization to bring in matches. The first couple events were handled by Renegade Wrestling Alliance. Next they used Apocalypse Wrestling Federation owned by Ron Hutchison. Next they used Chris Drury. - “Bloody” Bill Skullion
“We were getting massive heat and expectancy from people who were jacked about us bringing a 'hardcore chick' in to work with the other guys in that match.” - Chris Drury.
Early in 2002, promoter Chris Drury was planning his Spring Ring ‘n Ears event and he needed a main-event match for Bloody Bill Skullion, an Ontario hardcore wrestling icon, undefeated at Ring ‘n Ears. A decision was made to approach Precious Lucy. Since this would be the first time that Lucy wrestled for Drury’s promotion, in order to draw the fans interested in hardcore wrestling, Chris Drury made a fateful decision. He would sell Precious Lucy to the fans by making a promise.
“Precious Lucy is the first and only woman wrestler ever to participate in the Tournament of the Icons. You have to understand that I usually have no interest in watching women wrestle. Wrestling isn’t supposed to be a fashion contest or a beauty pageant. But Lucy is different. She hits as hard as a man and when you knock her down, she’ll get back up and spit in your eye, ready for more. You have to respect that. Plus, she can kick my ass.” - Joseph FitzMorris
The next step in the Arsenal/Precious Lucy feud was The Tournament of the Icons in Deux Montagnes. Lucy beat up the host of the event, Joseph FitzMorris, who had “lost” her entry form, and she forced him to enter her in a second round bout of the tournament, turning a match between TNT and the Arsenal into a three-way dance. Lucy ended up getting double-teamed and, bleeding profusely, was pinned by the Arsenal who stole the win vulture style from TNT.
The Arsenal had his victory and his revenge, but he and Lucy were just getting started.
“There was this clause in the act that oversees professional wrestling, stating that a man and woman may not come into contact in the ring.” - Lufisto
“Due to OAC regulations, and as a result of a complaint to the Commission’s Office and attention, ‘Precious Lucy’ WILL NOT be permitted to perform in a mixed match setting at this coming Saturday’s (March 16th) RING ‘n’ EARS show.” - Gerry O’Neill (from his article)
“Some rival promoter in Toronto decided to file a complaint with the Ontario Athletic Commission.” - Lufisto
“They called and stooged us out to the Athletics Commission over using Lucy in an inter-gender match.” - Chris Drury
“Apparently beating up a midget is perfectly okay, as long as it’s a guy, but you’re not allowed to compete against a trained woman who can defend herself.” - “Bloody” Bill Skullion
“I was fucking pissed.” - Chris Drury
Wrestling being both a business filled with secrets, and a culture predicated to keeping those secrets, no one feels comfortable going on the record, but documents filed with the OAC indicates that it was Ron Hutchison, promoter for the now defunct Apocalypse Wrestling Federation, who made the complaint.
Almost immediately, the OAC informed Chris Drury that there was a rule on the books forbidding a man and a woman to make contact in a wrestling or boxing ring. In other words, Drury’s main event was ruined.
“This match is an IWS title match and it is our main event. Our champion, from the Ancient Green Hills of Two Mountains, the Green Phantom... and his challenger, from Cochrane, Ontario, the Arsenal. Since our regular referee has just been injured, we need a referee for our main event. Now normally, I would be delighted to make myself the special guest referee, but I have a close personal friend who is even more eager to do it. Ladies and Gentlemen, the First Lady of Hardcore, Precious Lucy!” - Sexxxy Eddy
During the Summer of 2003, the IWS was invited to perform an outdoor show on the Main (St-Laurent Boulevard), as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival, putting our ring in the middle of the street. In the main event, the Arsenal had another opportunity to win the coveted IWS title, this time from the Green Phantom who had beaten Sexxxy Eddy for the IWS title the month after the Arsenal failed to beat Eddy for the title.
The special guest referee Precious Lucy called the match down the middle, but the Arsenal allowed himself to be distracted by the presence of his rival, leading to his defeat by the IWS champion, the Green Phantom. Once again, Precious Lucy’s presence had cost the Arsenal the IWS title.
The Arsenal at the time was also the IWS web-master and within hours, he hijacked the IWS web-site to publicly challenge Precious Lucy to a one-on-one match. Lucy accepted almost as quickly. IWS fans, anticipating a bloodbath, became giddy with excitement.
“WWF Smackdown recently emanated from, Ottawa, Ontario. Where the WWF experienced no objections from the OAC, when they promoted an inter-gender match between Mighty Molly and the Hurricane, when [we] approached the OAC to question this inconsistency in their policy, they were conveniently unavailable for comment.” - Gerry O’Neill (from his article)
“The other promotion (that made the complaint) was doing a gimmick where the promoter’s partner was having a series of matches against women.” - “Bloody” Bill Skullion
“I sent a shit-load of pictures in of that other promotion running inter-gender matches, to try and back up our defence to let Lucy come in.” - Chris Drury
“Fucking Hypocrisy.” - “Notorius T.I.D.” Chris Tidwell
“It was only when the Commissioner threatened to pull my bond and license and suspend me from promoting that I knew we had lost.” - Chris Drury
Chris Drury fought for his main event, but when the OAC threatened to pull his license, he was forced to give in and inform Lucy that he was not allowed to bring her to Ontario. While, in theory, Precious Lucy could wrestle in Ontario against other women, the lack of qualified talent to wrestle against her had led directly to her gimmick of wrestling hardcore matches against men. Making a virtue out of necessity and leading directly to her popularity. The ruling essentially banned Lucy from Ontario.
"Arsenal n'est pas credible comme lutteur. Il n'est pas un gros bonhomme avec du shape." - From the French wrestling web-site info-lutte.com
"He kicks like a mule, he punches harder than men twice his size and he has a mean streak the size of the Grand Canyon. God damn grinning gargoyle." - Sexxxy Eddy
"Hailing from Cochrane, Ontario, he is your Montreal Death Match Champion and the Sickest Son of a Bitch to walk the streets of Chomedey, Laval. He is the One Man War, the Arsenal!" - "Iron" Mike Patterson
To understand the Lucy/Arsenal feud properly, you have to understand the Arsenal.
His real name is Derek Arsenault. His family lives in Cochrane, Ontario, but are descended from a very old Acadian family from New Brunswick. In fact, I am a distant cousin to the Arsenal. (My maternal Grandmother's maiden name was Arsenault.) Our joint Acadian genetic heritage left us both short, both hairy and both as stubborn as badgers.
There are some Quebec wrestling fans who refuse to respect any wrestler under 6 feet tall or under 200 pounds. For these fans, the Arsenal is the poster boy for everything that they claim is wrong with Quebec independant wrestling.
The other side of the coin are the fans who recognize the Arsenal's martial arts training which make his strikes very convincing and who appreciate the Arsenal's utter determination to win no matter what the costs. They also appreciate that while the Arsenal specializes in matches where a variety of foreign objects are used ranging from kendo sticks to tables to light tubes to chairs to thumb-tacks to barbed wire to even more outré material, what makes the Arsenal stand out in these matches is that the moves that he uses are delivered with crisp precision. In fact, the Arsenal's proudest moment is the move that he is most famous for: giving El Generico a Death Valley Driver off the upper balcony of the Medley to the floor... and through five tables. What he is proud of is not that the move was off the upper balcony; not that he and El Generico went through five tables; not that many critics hailed it as one of the top ten bumps of 2003; not even that he won the match as a result. What makes the Arsenal proud is that he delivered the move... perfectly.
The key to understanding the Arsenal's character is his smile. Normally, wrestling is very clear-cut, the good guys smile and the bad guys frown. The Arsenal has almost always been a villain in the IWS and yet throughout his matches he smiles. This seeming paradox is explained by the fact that the Arsenal always grins the most when he is about to do something devastatingly vicious to his opponent. It's a death's head grin not unlike that of Batman's arch-foe the Joker. "I hurt people for a living," the Arsenal's grin seems to say, "And God do I enjoy my job!"
"Lucy was to team up with Notorious T.I.D. ... Their opponents were to be 'Bloody' Bill Skullion... [and] Phil Latio, who did an extremely hardcore homo gimmick." - Chris Drury
"It was supposed to be me and Skullion against Lucy and Latio." - "Notorious T.I.D." Chris Tidwell
"The match was my idea. It was going to be me and Tidwell against Lucy... and a midget." - "Bloody" Bill Skullion
"His name is Otto Bahn. He's not a midget." - Lufisto
"I said, he's a midget!" - "Bloody" Bill Skullion
"I don't remember at all. Was I even going to be in this match?" - Phil Latio
"We added Latio later to make it an inter-gender-bender match." - "Bloody" Bill Skullion
Four years later, it is not surprising that memories vary as to the details of a match that never took place. It is somewhat startling (and funny) that no one who was going to be in the match will admit that they were going to be Lucy's partner. What everyone agrees on is that the match was scheduled to be a Tables match, where all the members of a team need to be put through a table for the opposing team to win.
They also all agree that any match involving Bill Skullion was inevitably going to be "Bloody".
"This ain't ballet." - Jim Ross, WWF play-by-play announcer.
"Ric Flair is wearing a Crimson Mask!" - Gordon Solie, NWA play-byplay announcer
"We had two pics we were using for promotion that Lucy had sent, one 'regular' pose, and one pose with her showing colour... the shock value was really exciting." - Chris Drury
"Showing Colour", "Juicing" and "Crimson Mask" are wrestling slang for the wrestlers bleeding. It is one of the strange traditions of wrestling that tend to bring it into disrepute to outsiders. And it should be said that there are a certain number of fans, referred to as "blood marks", whose appetite for blood leaves even other wrestling fans uncomfortable.
On the other hand, wrestling is deep down a story-telling art, linking the dynamic of sport to the narrative structure of drama. The first step of any story-telling art is to suspend the disbelief of their audience. No one goes to see Romeo and Juliet expecting to see the actor playing Romeo to drink real poison, go into convulsions and die on the stage. On the other hand, they do have an expectation for that actor to make Romeo's death look convincing. In the same way, there are times when to make a match more convincing it is necessary for a wrestler to fake an injury. And there are times when the best fake injury is a real injury; the most convincing blood is neither ketchup nor make-up but real blood. Wrestlers, in other words, are frequently method actors.
In wrestling narrative, the best stories are "blood feuds" that involve a building hatred between two opponents who are equally matched in the ring but as different from one another as light and day. The polite reserved Rick Steamboat against the flamboyant egoist Randy Savage; the conceited and cowardly Tully Blanchard against the handsome but humble Magnum T.A.; the working class Dusty Rhodes against the aristocratic Ric Flair. When the tensions between two rivals build week after week, month after month, inevitably it must lead to some final show down, what is called a "blow-off" match, presumably referring to the fact that the pressure around the match will "blow-off" like a badly secured pressure cooker's lid heading for orbit.
When a wrestler hates his opponent enough to deliberately maim him that tells you something of the passion surrounding the match. When the bleeding man, in turn, chooses to struggle on despite his injury, it tells you even more.
Wrestling fans have a short-hand for describing especially bloody matches. They refer to the "Muta Scale". The Great Muta or Keiji Mutoh is a Japanese wrestler, generally considered one of the best wrestlers ever to step into the squared circle, despite, like baseball's Andre Dawson, battling chronically bad knees for most of his career. His name has passed into legend, however, thanks to a series of bloody matches that he had with Hiroshi Hase.
For the whole summer of 2002, the Arsenal and Precious Lucy circled each other. About the same size, they were equal physically with the Arsenal having an edge in experience. Both were known for hardcore matches; both were known for bleeding; both were known for taking an incredible amount of punishment to take down; both were known for going to extremes to win. The IWS fans, known as "Hardcore Soldiers" were expecting something special...
"[To replace Lucy] We had a 'Slaughterhouse Battle Royal' (tons of plunder, heavy juice hardcore battle royal) and a completely sick, 'take it out onto the street' main event with Skullion and Phil Latio." - Chris Drury
"I proceeded to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. This was the only route I could take if I wanted to fight the government." - Lufisto
While Chris Drury scrambled to replace his ruined main event, Lucy decided to begin a fight in a different arena and made a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission that her human rights and her ability to make a living as a wrestler were being unfairly restricted based purely on her gender. The OHRC encouraged Lucy in her complaint, agreeing with her that it was a violation of her rights. They did warn her however that the process of over-turning the rule might take some time. Lucy filled out the paper work and prepared to wait, little knowing that the fight would take close to four full years.
"I won that match. That was not a match about pin falls or submissions. It was a match about blood. And I out bled a woman! That has to count for something." - The Arsenal
"I pinned the Arsenal." - Lufisto
"The winner of this match, the First Lady of Hardcore, Precious Lucy!" - "Iron" Mike Patterson
Lucy beat the Arsenal. History records that she had a bit of help from Elsa Bangz. Pictures show that Lucy had a Crimson Mask and they show her latex wresling uniform covered in blood. What they don't necessarily show; what was obvious live - most of the blood on Lufisto wasn't hers. The Arsenal didn't just bleed, he gushed. He bled so much that Lucy had more of his blood on her than she shed herself. To this day he complains about the match because the blood on Lucy's latex, his blood on Lucy's latex, made her too slippery to properly apply wrestling moves. It offends his perfectionist streak that some of his moves were less than crisp as a result.
For those of us live it was a spectacle that we will probably never forget. The Arsenal grinning through a haze of red, looking like he was auditioning for the part of Mephistopheles. Lucy taking out all the frustrations of a summer of the Arsenal's taunting... and perhaps, taking out on the Arsenal her frustrations at being effectively banned in Ontario. And I remember most vividly the end as Lucy celebrated her victory and the Arsenal sat slumped, bloody and defeated, as broom-boy Enzo swept the great pools of blood from the ring to soak into le Skratch's floor.
"If you can't protect yourself, don't get into the ring." - Lufisto
It may seem like a strange form of equality, being free to be beaten up in a wrestling ring by men who usually are taller and heavier than you. Aren't women victimized enough by violence? Why would you want to invite it?
On the other hand, when Manon Rheaume played nets, the men that she played against didn't take anything off their slap-shots, nor would she have expected them to. Michelle Wie does not expect men to miss putts so that she can win tournaments in their place. When Ericka Schmutz plays murderball aka wheelchair rugby, she is not expecting the other male athletes to ram her chair any less hard.
And on the gripping hand, no one is forcing Lufisto to wrestle other men. She does it because she is good enough to want to face the best competition in the world. Sometimes, especially in Japan and Mexico, that means other women. But sometimes the only way to get better is to challenge yourself, to get into the ring against a better, stronger opponent and to try and find a way to survive, maybe even to win. That means that Lufisto gets into the ring against men. And when they knock her down, she gets back up and spits in their eyes.
In the confines of a wrestling ring, to show respect for Lufisto, to give her the respect that she demands and deserves is to hold nothing back - to punch her like a man, to throw her like a man, to twist her in submissions holds like a man. It is in this context that men that we normally consider villains become heroes of a sort. Men like the Arsenal, men like Shane Matthews - once famously disqualified during an inter-gender match for being too violent, men perhaps like "Bloody" Bill Skullion, "Notorious T.I.D." Chris Tidwell, Phil Latio, Otto Bahn.
It may be a strange form of respect. It may be a strange form of equality. But it is a real one.