March 22, 2010
WWE Hall of Fame one more honour for Mad Dog
By PATRIC LAPRADE - SLAM! Wrestling
Mad Dog Vachon is adding one more honour to his impressive collection this Sunday, with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Already a member of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the internet-based Canadian and Quebec Wrestling Hall of Fames, Maurice Vachon was also given the Cauliflower Alley Club's top award, the Iron Mike Award, and in November of last year, was inducted in the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame.
At the ceremony at Phoenix's Dodge Theater, Vachon and fellow inductee, the late Stu Hart, will become the seventh and eighth Canadians in the WWE's Hall of Fame -- following Killer Kowalski, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart and Rocky Johnson.
"Itís a great honour and a great pleasure to be inducted in such a Hall of Fame," the 80-year-old Vachon told SLAM Wrestling from his home in Nebraska.
Or, as his brother, Paul "The Butcher" Vachon, put it: "It was about time. Iím very glad for him."
By now, almost everyone knows Mad Dog's story.
After going to the Olympics in í48 and after winning a gold medal at the British Empire Games in 1950, he turned pro, getting his start in Montreal. Since there was only one profitable wrestling office in Montreal at the time, run by Eddie Quinn, if you werenít on top, the money wasnít that good. So Vachon decided that if he wanted to make a living out of wrestling, he needed to go someplace else. He did work for a lot of promotions, including Canadaís North Bay territory run by Larry Kasaboski and Calgaryís Stampede Wrestling, run by Stu Hart.
"They sent a camera crew at my place, as they did an interview with me about a DVD of Stu Hart," revealed Vachon regarding the patriarch of the Hart family.
In the 1960s, Vachon started working for Verne Gagneís AWA, where he was a huge star, winning the AWA World title five times as well as winning the tag team titles with his brother Paul.
In the '70s, the two brothers, with Edouard Carpentier, Yvon Robert Jr. and a few other partners started Grand-Prix Wrestling, an opposition to Johnny Rougeauís All-Star Wrestling. Itís during this time period that Vachon and Killer Kowalski drew the biggest crowd in the history of Montreal, 29,127 fans, in 1973. The feud between the Vachon brothers and the Leduc brothers held many attendance records throughout the province of Quebec.
In 1984 and 1985, like many AWA stars, Maurice wrestled for the WWF, but he was at the end of his career and besides a few matches where he teamed with Hulk Hogan, didnít do much there.
"I always had a good relation with Vince [McMahon] Jr." said Maurice.
In 1986, after a career of more than 30 years, he called it quits, wrestling his last match in October, ironically teaming with one of his biggest foes, Jos Leduc.
Soon after, he had a major accident, being hit by a car while during his jogging early in the morning in Iowa City. His leg was amputated because of it. In the 1990s, on two different occasions, that wooden leg was exploited by the WWE, once with Diesel (Kevin Nash) and another time with Jerry "The King" Lawler.
"I was well paid for it," recalled Vachon, laughing about it.
The only other Quebecer inducted so far in the WWE Hall of Fame and someone who just like Maurice, had to leave his hometown to make a living with wrestling, Pat Patterson, will be inducting Mad Dog.
But for Maurice itís not just about the honor and the prestige. He never went in the wrestling business just for himself. Heís well known to have helped a lot of wrestlers getting a break and heís all about getting together with his peers. "Iím looking forward to seeing old friends as well as old foes!" concluded Maurice.
Patric Laprade has been involved on the Quebec indy scene for eight years, mainly as an announcer and writer. He is currently in the process of writing a book on the history of Quebec wrestling -- www.quebechof.com -- and he's running a French blog on wrestling and MMA -- www.attitudeqc.com -- as well. He can be reached at email@example.com or on his Facebook page.