WWF takes over Montreal
By ERIC BENNER -- For SLAM! Wrestling
The fans clamor around the limo for Ken Shamrock and The New Age Outlaws. Photo by Eric Benner.
The scene was set. The WWF would begin their spectacle in the Montreal
Molson Centre at 7:30 pm, but the fans were coming out of the woodwork as
early as noon. At St-Charles Park in Dorval, Quebec, the crews were
present by ten. Setting up the tents for the raffle, the auction, and
the free food. Inflating the rides for the kids. Cleaning up the
baseball field where the CFCF-12 Hot Dogs would play against a local
team, well, a local team supplemented by, among others, Jacques Rougeau,
Pierre Oulette, Jesse James, and Billy Gunn. And of course, making sure
that everything was perfect in the executive tent - the three director's
chairs for picture-taking, the tables, chairs, and working markers for
autographs, the cooler full of bottled water and various other
beverages, even the flow of air so that the mammoths wouldn't get too
The people started to arrive at about eleven. You could tell what they
were here for, if nothing else than by their garb. People adorned their
chests and backs with pictures of Steve Austin, catch phrases, crotch
chops, and men from the Dark Side. They surrounded the baseball field,
looking for superstars, they lined up for the raffle and for the food,
and they got in line for the autographs and pictures.
Jacques Rougeau arrived just before noon. He spent some time chatting
with the fans, mostly the kids, then he did a promo for CFCF-12 for the
event. People started to chant "Rougeau, Rougeau!" He promised a tag
team victory that night.
The people who arrived in the first of two limousines would have
something to say about that. The limos had some difficulty maneuvering
through the very enthusiastic crowd, and it took about twenty minutes to
get them from the car to the tent, five metres away.
From the second limo came two men I initially didn't recognize - it
turned out to be Val Venis (with a ponytail and in street clothes), and
the very-hyped but seldom seen Toronto-born Edge. I don't think anyone
else recognized them, either, but they would, eventually. The first limo
caused much more hysteria, as from its depths emerged the World's Most
Dangerous Man and the New Age Outlaws.
Ken Shamrock was wearing a tank top and a pair of shorts - and his
muscles were very, very evident - and the New Age Outlaws were geared up
in a casual version of their ring attire. There were lots of shouts as
they made their way to the tent and crotch chops were everywhere.
Shamrock, Edge, and Venis would sign autographs and the New Age Outlaws
sat on the outer two of the three chairs, so that the kids could sit in
the middle and get their picture taken.
Considering the fact that their plane had landed less than an hour
before, and that they'd be wrestling later that night, the wrestlers
were great, especially with the kids. Of course, to a certain extent,
they tried to stay in character, with the Outlaws trying to get the
crowd going with the various now-famous chants of DX, Edge
trying to stay fairly quiet, and Val Venis impressing the ladies. Ken
Shamrock, whose no-nonsense ring persona doesn't really have much of a
gimmick that can be seen outside of the ring, had only one real chance
to get psyched, and that's when Owen Hart, his opponent at the last
pay-per-view as well as that night, crawled under the tent and surprised
the fans. Even in his home-country, he was welcomed with the chants that
were made famous originally by Shawn Michaels and eventually by Jason
Sensation - "Nugget, Nugget!"
The New Age Outlaws harass a TV reporter. Photo by Eric Benner.
Other wrestlers who would arrive later include Jacques' Quebecers
partner, Pierre Oulette as well as Scorpio.
The Road Dog was especially nice. He was respectful, calling older men
"sir". When asked what Shawn Michaels'
chances were of returning to DX, his response was "He doesn't fit. His
shoe size is too small." Of course, he couldn't go twenty minutes
without saying it to somebody, so he got the crowd riled up by demanding
they "give two words to Joanne Rougeau," the organizer of the event.
Everyone helped him shout "Suck it!"
When the Outlaws were asked about Billy's 'brother,' Bart Gunn, they
both had something to say. Billy Gunn claimed he was "in jail," and
Jesse James said he was "knocking some tough guy out." The Outlaws also
confirmed that they'd love to have the Outsiders back in the WWF and
that they've spoken to Hall and Nash, who apparently indeed want to be
back. Billy Gunn only had one rule about having your picture taken with
him, which he made crystal clear: "It costs money to sit on my lap."
When asked if he'd be seen at Monster Gym later that day (he had a gym
T-shirt), he claimed he "doesn't work out." It would be pretty hard to
justify that when you see him in person; he's built.
I had a chance to get a few words with Owen, Edge, and Val Venis.
I think the fans will be happy to know that all three athletes are
locked up in contracts for a long time (Owen, three years; Edge, five;
Venis, five), and are bound to receive increased exposure in the future.
When asked who they liked to work with, they all offered one name in
common: Jeff Jarrett. When Owen Hart was asked to comment about his
recent experiences in the WWF and his plans for the future, he had this
"I had always liked wrestling my brother, Bret. He's a great wrestler.
Shawn Michaels, too, I've always had a good match with. As much as I
didn't like DX, they have decent people to work with Hunter Hearst
Helmsley and some of those guys. Ken Shamrock, as much as we have a big
rivalry, he's a top talent and a good wrestler to fight against. I have
about three years left on my contract, and yeah, I guess I'll renew. I
would like to abbreviate my workload, because I'd like to take care of
my family a little more than I have in the past few years."
Owen on working Canadian dates as a heel wrestler:
"I love coming to Canada. Most of the time, no matter what I do, I
still get cheered and it's nice to come to Canada. I still wrestle the
same style and break the rules and do what I've always done, but I get
cheered for it. You can't dictate to the crowd. They can cheer for
whoever they want. There is always a silent minority who will cheer for
the opposite side just to get attention, it seems. They're entitled,
they bought a ticket, they can cheer for whoever they want."
Val Venis, who's been wrestling since he got out of high school, had
this to say about starting out: "I started professional wrestling the
summer after I graduated high school in the country of England. I did
England, Ireland, Scotland, the whole United Kingdom." He had nothing
but good things to say about his stint, so far, in the WWF, and had
these wise words to say when asked about the athletes in the WWF: "I
like working with Jeff Jarrett, Brian Christopher; every single one of
them is great. Damn good athletes. They wouldn't be there if they
Edge and Venis try to smile. Photo by Eric Benner.
One of the most interesting aspects of Edge, to this reporter,. is his
persona as a jaded youth who spent time on the mean streets of Toronto.
When asked about his character, more specifically how much of the Edge
character was his own idea, he answered: "I have input, which is good.
We collaborated. If you don't feel comfortable with what you're doing,
then it's not going to work. It's like that with everyone."
All in all, everyone had a great time, and the wrestlers were truly
good sports about it.
Making my way from the airport park to the arena for that night's
festivities, I noticed that the shirts were everywhere - nWo Hollywood
on Sherbrooke street, nWo Wolfpac on St-Catherine street, Austin 3:16
and SCU on De Maisonneuve, WHO'S NEXT on Rene Levesques, and S*CK IT on
Stanley. The city was being taken over by wrestling fans.
I can remember, a few short years back, when the WWF would arrive in
town with a house show main event of Hulk Hogan against the Undertaker
or the Ultimate Warrior, and they could barely draw five or six thousand
fans to the majestic Montreal Forum. Only a short while later, in the
new Molson Centre, wrestling is so popular that a twenty-two thousand
seat arena in a small market is not only packed, but sold out way in
advance. Tickets for the November 8th house show went on sale during the
show, and less than half of the tickets were left the morning after (if
you think the 8th is a typo, you are mistaken - the WWF will be putting
on shows in Montreal and Ottawa in the same day).
The show, itself, was great, especially by house show standards. The
show matched the Toronto version from the day before very closely, and
that show has already been covered at SLAM! Wrestling. The only minor
changes to this show were that instead of fighting Pierre, Edge made the
save when Tiger Ali Singh attacked the referee of his match after his
pin, and the Quebecers were added to the Outlaws/Nation match, which was
a triple threat match (same result). Other notables: Jason Sensation did
an incredible job with the crowd, Owen Hart got the most heel heat and
not a single cheer (except from this reporter), Undertaker received less
noise recognition than I've ever seen at a live venue, and
degeneration-X proved as popular as Steve Austin at this event.
(For the match report, CLICK HERE
The whole day was great, for the kids and for the adults, and the show
and pre-show festivities are a testament to the incredible job that
Titan Sports is doing in the wrestling business today.