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Wrestling With the North (2004)
By CANADIAN BULLDOG - For SLAM! Wrestling
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Starring: El Assasino, Crash Crimson, Chi Chi Cruz, Leatherface
Written by: Andrew Lee
Directed by: Andrew Lee

Those who have read Edge's autobiography know about the "winter death tours" by Winnipeg promoter Tony Condello. This is basically a documentary of said tours, and a group of (mostly) young wrestlers learning the business in sub-zero temperatures, travelling to native reservations across roads made of ice to get there.

Most of the wrestlers are rookies, although former Stampede mid-carder Kerry Brown is there, and he's one bitter S.O.B. these days. There's also someone in the Leatherface costume, though I'd be shocked if he was the same guy from FMW.

The show starts out innocently enough, with the wrestlers talking about why they're in the business and how this will give them a good start. They also mention (several times over) how guys like Edge, Christian, Rhyno, Test, Lance Storm and Chris Jericho started out on these tours, reasoning that if they got their start doing this, anyone can.

The tour does look brutal. The icy roads they drive over are tenuous at best, and they often end up in remote locations where the wrestlers sleep on gym mats and change in closets. The crowds are certainly enthusiastic, especially the children, as wrestling seems to be one of the only sources of outside entertainment. And Condello is quite a character, as guys like Edge and Jericho have alluded to before. You have to see this 60-something year-old guy deliver his "Stone Age Stunner" to believe it.

However, things kind of get repetitive from there -- some setbacks, injuries and cancelled shows -- but nothing out of the ordinary. Honestly, I could have watched the first 20 minutes and I wouldn't have missed much. What I still want to know is... why does Condello do this tour once a year? I understand that from a young wrestler's point of view, they have to get exposure somewhere, and there are fewer and fewer alternatives these days (another point that the documentary completely glossed over; I mean, it's a fact, somebody could just point out that "WWE is the only game in town" or whatever).

The ending was kind of bizarre as well: they talk about all the wrestlers and what they're doing now. They talk about the most polished wrestler of the group, a guy named Chi Chi Cruz. They say "Chi Chi got a tryout." That's great, but... with who? It was an interesting documentary, but definitely wasn't worth investing a full hour in.

RELATED LINKS:

  • Sep. 21, 2005: Canadian Bulldog's antics lead to book
  • Visit the Canadian BullBLOG