February 13, 2004
CPW makes inroads into Québec
By YVES LEROUX -- SLAM! Wrestling
Last weekend was a big one for the fledgling Canadian Professional Wrestling promotion. Like a teenager reaching adulthood, they promoted away from their Gatineau/Hull base for their first time, with shows in Thetford Mines, Québec on Friday and St-Jérome on Sunday.
At first glance, it may not represent a whole lot to the average wrestling fan, but it was the first wrestling card in St-Jérome in over 10 years by any promotion. St-Jérome is a town about 30 minutes north of Montréal with a population of 60,000. Ten years is a long time for the once-wrestling crazy town. The CPW usually have one show in Gatineau/Hull every two weeks.
So to remain realistic, the CPW staff had prepared 400 chairs in Académie Lafontaine, a local college. But about 10 minutes before the show, it became obvious more would be required. Out came another 150 chairs, with the final tally being 540 paid fans. What made this feat all the more successful is that it was a Sunday afternoon show. It was so successful that everything is in motion for a return date. "The St-Jérome promoter already started talking about the next show, and we weren't finished this one yet!" laughed J.J. Crooke, one of the promoters. The attendance in Thetford Mines was somewhat comparable to the St-Jérome show.
Gino Brito, the CPW chief organizer, along with Crooke and Daniel "Wild Dangerous" Gervais have taken a slow approach to expanding their borders but with these two shows being such big hits, the future is bright.
"We really want to expand ... but very gradually and not make the common mistake of doing it too fast, only to fall flat," said Crooke. The goal is to be the elite wrestling federation in Québec.
Another big part of their successful recipe is the fact they use local wrestling stars for their shows, such as veteran mat star Jake Matthews, who?s been wrestling on the Québec indie scene for over 16 years. Matthews is from St-Jérome and was easily the favorite last Sunday, along Pierre Carl Ouellet of WWF and WCW fame. Marc "the Grizzly", one of the most recognizable names on the Quebec indie scene, was on one of the main events for the Thetford Mines show.
Having Brito as your main organizer is most certainly an ace in the CPW?s hand. He brings a huge load of experience, in both the organization and the promotional side of the business. J.J. Crooke told SLAM! wrestling that they have given themselves three years to achieve their goal of offering a regular return show in many towns around the province. They will sometimes call upon veteran wrestling stars to make a special appearances, such as Abdullah the Butcher and Richard "the Magnifique" Charland. But they are also counting on their own talent, along with the new breed coming out of their wrestling school. "What makes us a little different is that we have a few more heavyweights than other organizations," Crooke said.
During the St-Jérome show, the combination of excellent big screen video along with a diversity of matches, it?s easy to understand why most fans left happy after the show. One match that was particularly noticeable had Kevin Martel against Kevin Steen. Kevin Martel is Rick Martel?s (of WWF and AWA fame) nephew and Kevin Steen is the 19-year-old rising star who probably is the most likely to make it to the big leagues in the next few years of all the Québec wrestlers. This particular match involved high flying moves along with absolutely no misses from either wrestler. They sold each other with uncanny perfection and left the crowd in awe. A WWE road agent was spotted in the crowd during the show.
"I have a great time wrestling for the CPW," Steen said after the show.
That good time feeling for the wrestlers is just as important as a good time for the fans, stressed Gervais. "We want the wrestlers working for us to have a great time doing so," he said.
Where will these breakthroughs lead for the CPW? Even they aren?t sure. But one thing is a fact: They are having a great time getting there.
The next CPW show is February 21, 2004 in Hull at the CPW Arena.
Yves Leroux has been contributing to SLAM Wrestling since 2000 and grew up watching Lutte Internationale/Grand Prix Wrestling. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.