May 12, 2004
Rougeau's old formula works with newcomers
By YVES LEROUX -- SLAM! Wrestling
JOLIETTE, Que. -- Why change an old formula when it keeps attracting the biggest crowds of any indie wrestling cards in Québec?
The last Saturday, Lutte 2000 show stuck to its old formula with a show in Joliette, a town 45 minutes east of Montréal that is also just minutes from Jacques Rougeau's native St-Sulpice. A crowd of 1,200 was hoped and expected, but more than 1,800 showed up, with the beginning being delayed for the many late arrivals.
One of the big differences from most of Lutte 2000 shows is that there was just one special guest in the card, all the others were students from Rougeau's wrestling school. And those students have improved enough to the point of being able to present an entertaining show without needing the numerous big names Rougeau imported for his early shows.
With Patrice Brisson as master of ceremony -- who usually wrestles as Crush, but was on the shelf with a back injury -- the show got under way after a 10-minute delay.
The opener saw two of Rougeau's youngest student, the eight-year-old Bonecrusher and Bad Dog. These two really won the crowd over with nearly no missed spots, excellent facial expressions, great rope maneuvers, and after a fast-paced match, Bonecrusher won it with a failed frog splash from Bad Dog and Bonecrusher rolling him for the pin.
The second match had J.J. Rougeau battling against Il Fascisto (Santino). Although J.J. keeps improving his wrestling skills with continued veteran-like assurance, it was Santino's heel tactics that got the crowd roaring against him. After coming in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform, to taunt the crowd (Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadians in the playoffs) and taking his sweet time to get ready, and even walking away pretending to be leaving the match only to come back at the nine count. Both wrestlers demonstrated great agility and a continued promising future. J.J. got the win, after a long-fought match with a reverse 540 degrees back flip from the top rope. Quite impressive indeed.
The next match was a triple threat, triple tag team affair involving mostly Rougeau's newer students. First, the Destructors had Steel, Mike Skills and Lucky Will, who came to the ring with his box of Lucky Charms. They were up against the Unpredictables, consisting of Uncle Paul, Damian and Mutant X, and finally the Habitants, with Johnny North, Jimmy Dirt and Justin Sain. Although the beginning of the match was somewhat sloppy, it really picked up near the end with simultaneous action in and out of the ring, and loads of comedy which even had all of them piling up for the win, all the while Lucky Will was going back for some cereals and much needed strength.
After a short 15-minute break the next match, arguably one of the best matches of the evening, pitted the Jacques Rougeau wrestling school champion The Scorpion Kid against Zack Wylder. Scorpion Kid continues to show steady improvement since his last match and last night was no different. Zack Wylder has also been a great addition to Jacques' stable of good young wrestlers and he worked the crowd against him with veteran-like experience. The match was non-stop action with many high flying moves from both men, inside and outside the ring. Johnny North was in Wylder's corner for "moral support" and also the occasional interference while the referee was busy with Wylder. Zack Wylder showed his improvements with loads of power moves while the Scorpion Kid continues to impress with his high flying moves. After what seemed like a fair win by Zack Wylder, the referee reversed the decision because of Johnny North's interference and gave the belt to the Scorpion Kid and thus the new champion.
The next match had one of the funniest wrestlers in Rougeau's stable, TNT, all dressed in Canadian red, firing up the crowd with his pro Federal comments and even succeeding in getting the biggest heel reaction of the night against Ronnie Kruger. The match was very good with TNT constantly getting onto the crowd's nerves with his antics. But in the end, the crowd was rewarded with a Ronnie Kruger win with the help of a beautifully executed airplane spin.
The semi-final had veterans Eric Black Stallion Mastrocola against Handsome J.F. Now this match was probably the best match of the evening with high flying moves and power moves, fast execution and great mike work from both wrestlers. Eric Mastrocola has lost much weight and looks to be in incredible shape and it really shows with his speed in the ring. Mastrocola won the match after a hard fought battle. Rumour has it they are both lined up for a dark match for the next Raw show in Montreal.
The grand finale of the evening had Jacques Rougeau against his eternal nemesis King Kong Bundy. Of course Bundy got the crowd going nuts with his "USA number one, Canada sucks" chants. That all stopped when Jacques made his entrance to a thunderous pop, easily the biggest of the evening. Although it was a rather short match, it had everything a fan could hope for, high flying from Jacques, Bundy's corner crush, and many power moves. King Kong Bundy hasn't lost his evil grin, often taunting the crowd, while having Jacques in a head lock. Rougeau won the match after Bundy missed a corner slam and Jacques rolled him for the pin.
The lack of American stars didn't seem to bother most fans interviewed after the show by SLAM! Wrestling; they were truly happy with the show all the students put on. And with ongoing improvement, the future is bright. All the students, without exceptions, have greatly improved to the point of being able to put on a show on their own.
Hopefully, Lutte 2000 can continue the excellent apprenticeship of their students and build on it. There are many shows in the planning stage for the next few months throughout the province, as much as eight before the year's end.
Yves Leroux has been a contributor for SLAM since 2000 and is based in Montreal. He also owns a construction company and can be found at: firstname.lastname@example.org.