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Lance Storm's ROH return anything but boring
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun


Lance Storm gets serious for a moment during a Ring of Honor show in Toronto in July 2008. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

If Lance Storm's 12-year-old daughter Rebecca had her way, he'd be competing on Dancing with the Stars.

As it is, he hasn't got much time on his hands to learn the Foxtrot, the Salsa or the Viennese Waltz. At age 40, he runs a successful wrestling school in Calgary and has stepped up his own training program to return to the ring for two matches, July 24 and 25 on Ring of Honor shows in Toronto.

"I think a wrestler could be good on Dancing with the Stars," says Storm. "As wrestlers, we've got to remember the choreographed moves and then do them. I can't imagine me anywhere close to winning it, though. The rhythm would be my downfall."

Storm is enjoying life as a wrestling school teacher and more importantly, husband and father. But he's also looking forward to wrestling again.

"It's a lot of work to get back into shape," he says. "Once Ring of Honor already had Bret Hart and Ric Flair to sign autographs, it seemed pointless to bring me in to sign. I was a little hesitant to wrestle, my last match was two years ago. I haven't had a match that I'm ashamed of and I plan on keeping it that way."

Storm, who played a prominent role years back in ECW, was an afterthought in WWE -- until one night when he got to step into the ring with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. WWE wanted to push Storm as being boring.

"When they first pitched the idea to me, I thought, 'This is the kiss of death.' But the way (WWE owner) Vince (McMahon) explained it to me, it would get the fans interacting. It was akin to the "You suck" and Kurt Angle. They would chant "boring" at me.

"That first segment with Steve, where he was yawning and sleeping in the ring, I'm not sure that was a good way to start it. Before, Steve had come up to me and said: 'They're going to strap the rocket to you," which is wrestlespeak for giving you a push.

"They're not going to put you in with their No. 1 star if they think it's going to fail.

"I'd get on the mike and go on in a long, boring promo about how it was slanderous (what the fans were chanting). And it always got a big pop when the guy (I was facing) interrupted me.

"It actually started working at house shows and then (WWE) gave up on it. And the next thing I knew, I was dancing with Goldust."

A highlight for Storm was stepping into the ring with ROH's Bryan Danielson in 2006, in Chicago. After the match, Storm was saluted by the fans, who in unison chanted: "You've still got it."

"It was a 30-minute match. I was so happy with it," says Storm. "To come back after a year off, it was so rewarding. We got away from the WWE pigeonholing where, if you were a midcarder, you got a six-minute match on TV. It was, 'You've got 20-30 minutes, do whatever you want. The crowd was great. Chicago is probably the best wrestling city in the U.S. Toronto and Montreal are right there in Canada."

While Storm doesn't carry grudges, he knows he could have played a bigger role in the big-time.

"Developmental guys have been brought up and pushed, some of them I don't think deserved to be ahead of me," he says. "But that's the WWE political environment. You have to be ready to stand up and fight for your spot. I don't want to have to whine and bitch.

"One year, at Survivor Series (with the "boring" gimmick and feud with Austin in full swing), the original plan was to make me a member of (Austin's) babyface team. I would step up and defend Steve. That was the payoff for the whole 'boring' angle. But it got bumped out.

"At Wrestlemania 20, they had a four-way match. The last spot went to Mark Jindrak and Garrison (Lance) Cade, instead of Val Venis and me. I was really PO'd. To me, you throw the bone to the veterans. Val and me were the bigger names and we were more experienced. We should have been given the Wrestlemania match and payday. But maybe it was as simple as Shawn Michaels used to train Cade and said (to Vince), 'just throw him into a match.'"

Storm was born in Sarnia, Ont., then moved to North Bay. He went to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., enrolled in the business program and fully intending to become an accountant. A top athlete, he was also on the men's volleyball team, but soured on the coach and began to think wrestling might be the place to be.

"I had watched wrestling, mainly Saturday Night's Main Event, but I'd never considered it was a career. From the first time it crossed my mind, it was probably less than six months before I enrolled in a wrestling school.

"I liked watching Bret Hart, Randy Savage and The Dynamite Kid. I never emulated any specific wrestler, but I looked at Brian Pillman. I was 6-foot, 220 lbs., and Brian was 5-11, maybe 6 foot, and 200 lbs. I saw similarities. I didn't try to be Brian Pillman 2. But he was the guy, the model. I could be a huge Hulk Hogan mark, but I was never going to be Hulk Hogan."

When asked who wrestling's real-life toughest man may be, Storm doesn't hesitate.

"Finlay. He's so amazingly talented. I love him to death. If you were going to war, he'd be the guy you'd want with you. I'm sure the Brock Lesnars of the world would win the fight, but I'd take Finlay. He's tough as nails."


Lance Storm at the apex of his Canadianess in WCW, at the New Blood Rising PPV in Vancouver, BC in 2000. Photo by Rik Fedyk
While he's got plenty of fondness for Canadian fans, Storm says for some reason, Maritimers have taken a special liking to him.

"For some reason, I'm probably most over with the fans in Halifax," says Storm, who's lived in and loved Calgary for much of the past 19 years. "Not to toot my own horn, but I was treated like a rock star there. It was Storm Country.

"When I'd get into the building, there'd be 7,000-10,000 people chanting, 'We want Lance Storm.'

"One time, it was Moncton or Halifax and I was booked as a heel. They chanted: 'We want Lance Storm,' and I had to yell, 'I'm trying to be a heel.' I broke character. They stopped and chanted: 'You suck' for a minute and then started cheering again.

"The thing that WWE still doesn't understand is that everyone from Canada is hometown. An analogy is Canada is like the world's biggest small town. If you make it big, the whole country embraces you."

And through that steely in-ring persona, is Storm that way in real life?

"A lot of guys have tried to get me to break character," says Storm. "But Norman Smiley (in WCW) had a knack for making me laugh. One time, there was a lumberjack match and Norman did something stupid and goofy. I had to turn my back to the camera, so I wouldn't laugh."

So how would Storm like his career to end, maybe with a match against Chris Jericho, his opponent in his first match?

"I've always said I'd love to have my first and last match against the same guy. But that's a tough one to get right now. Even if it was four years down the road, I'd prepare for it. I'd get ready."

RELATED LINKS

  • Lance Storm bio and story archive
  • Lance Storm's official website

    Tim Baines is the Sports Editor at the Ottawa Sun. This is an extended version of his weekly column that runs in the Sun papers. Email him at Tim.baines@sunmedia.ca.