March 12, 2005
Grenier toes the party line
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Interviews with younger WWE stars sometimes can be a bit like NHL labour talks -- they don't seem to go anywhere. It's not that the wrestlers are bad subjects or lack personality. The problem is the interviews tend to be so predictable I could write them up before they even happen and still be right on the money.
Sylvain Grenier, for example, told the Sun this week he is excited to be part of Wrestlemania and is also looking forward to coming to Calgary for the Raw taping in May.
Kind words but ultimately it's the same fluffy sound bite any other wrestler would offer in the same situation.
Of course, Grenier is hardly going to say Wrestlemania will be a let-down or that Calgary will simply blend in with the other 100 cities he'll visit this year. But his comments still have an all-too-familiar sense of wash, rinse, repeat.
As the interviewer, I accept partial blame -- throwing out softball questions will rarely result in hard-hitting answers.
But after doing business with WWE for years, I know the conversation must remain firmly in the territory of harmless banter.
Delve too far into the subjects of steroids, sex or lawsuits and the voice of God (aka WWE media relations) will come booming over the phone to end the interview and rescue the wrestler from a politically awkward situation.
So, with great caution, I attempted to ease Grenier out of his comfort zone and into more controversial territory. It wasn't a success.
I ask about the locker- room reaction to the current situation with Matt Hardy.
Hardy was pulled from Monday's Raw for fear of a backstage altercation after it was reported his longtime girlfriend, Lita, had been having an affair with married wrestler Edge.
"I didn't hear much about it," Grenier said.
"If you start to get personal with everybody, it just takes a lot of energy and I need my energy for the ring."
How about commenting on his former tag-team partner, Rene Dupree, being attacked for real by Bob Holly last November?
"Sometimes, you learn the hard way. Everybody heard about that story but, like I said, I don't really get involved in personal problems."
Grenier even toes the company line when talking about the Montreal betrayal of Bret Hart in 1997.
"From a fan's point of view, it was really disappointing but when you know why it happened, you understand. If Vince McMahon tells you to do something, you just do it."
It seems, in the immortal words of The Rock, Grenier is smart enough to know his role and shut his mouth.
As a newcomer, he can't make the same criticisms a veteran could utter.
By keeping things tame and mostly in character, Grenier is simply taking the safest route to still eat lunch at WWE HQ tomorrow.
Once we get back to his comfort zone (in this case, talking about his road to success), Grenier is all chat.
"I auditioned for the first Tough Enough in 2001 and WWE called me again for the second Tough Enough," he said.
"They really liked me but, because I was Canadian, the visa thing didn't work out. So I went down to Florida and trained. After a couple of months, I had a try out and finally got my first contract with WWE."
Then Grenier volunteered some comments about how cold and cut-throat the business can be.
"Friendship is hard to find here because anybody will move you out of the way in a second to get a better spot. We all want the same job."
Not to wrap the interview on a negative note, he quickly slips back into shilling mode, listing his Wrestlemania XIX appearance as a highlight of his career.
"That was something really special," he said.