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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Gerry Morrow


REAL NAME: Gerard Etifier
BORN: September 10, 1949 in Martinique, French West Indies
6'0", 240 pounds
AKA/NICKNAMES: Gerry Morrow, 'The Lightning', Comrade Gerry Morrow, Champagne Gerry Morrow

Gerry Morrow Gerry Morrow. -- courtesy Stampede Wrestling
Gerry Morrow followed his brother Eddie into wrestling. But what you probably didn't know is that Gerry hardly knew his brother when making that decision.

Eddie is 12 years older than Gerry, and there were nine kids in the Etifier family. Paris, France was Eddie's home, while Gerry grew up in Martinique. When he turned 18, Gerry hooked up with his brother to become a pro wrestler too -- against their mother's wishes.

"When he used to go to work in Paris, I used to go with him. I started to know about wrestling," Morrow explained recently to SLAM! Wrestling in his heavy French accent. "When I was in Paris, they used to have a wrestling school. My mom used to urge my brother to quit wrestling because it was too dangerous."

When their mother passed away, Gerry got some different advice from his father. "My Dad says 'Your mom used to stop you from what you wanted to do. So now she's passed away and you can go.'"

Having put in time in the wrestling school in Paris, Gerry went to Japan to learn in a dojo. He stayed in Japan until May 1975. Gerry Morrow became known as a quick wrestler, who wrestled technically.

In 1975, Gerry went to Montreal with his brother to Grand Prix Wrestling for a tag team tournament. His brother had been to the promotion before, but Gerry had already met many of the top Montreal stars like Mad Dog Vachon in Japan.

His brother continued to teach him on the road. "I always grew up to have respect for your elders. Because of all of his time in the wrestling business ... I always have respect for him. He always helped me lots -- what to do, what not to do."

From Montreal, Gerry & Eddie ventured out to Calgary Stampede Wrestling, where they dominated the promotion for a while, holding the tag titles on three occasions and Eddie holding the North American title.

A trip to the Vancouver promotion followed with Eddie, Gama Singh and Mike Sharpe. Then, after a trip to Germany, Gerry Morrow decided to settle down in Calgary.

"I used to like Calgary because you used to work almost every night, and I met lots of good people there," he said. From Calgary, he went back and forth to Japan, and worked South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, Puerto Rico. Along the way, Morrow picked up many different languages including English, Japanese and German, to go with his native French tongue.

'Champagne' Gerry was almost always a bad guy in his career in Stampede, and loved it. "It was very hard for me [to do interviews] with my broken English," he said. "As a bad guy, you can say whatever you want! As a good guy, you have to clarify whatever you say, and be nice and stick with it."

He met success in Stampede's tag division in 1978 as a partner with former CFLer George Welles. "He was a good guy, a good tag team partner," Gerry said, adding that he hasn't spoken to Welles in years.

When asked about his favourite match, Morrow takes a long time to decide. "The British Bulldogs, after they came back from the WWF, they come into Stampede and myself and Cuban Assassin worked against them. That was very good, I've never forgotten those ones."

Ah yes, the Cuban Assassin. As a partner to Gerry, they won the Stampede tag belts twice, and the WWC Caribbean tag titles as well. Gerry was even dubbed 'Comrade' Gerry Morrow for a while.

In an earlier interview with SLAM! Wrestling, the Cuban Assassin said that his best partner was Gerry Morrow. "I'm from Cuba. He's from Martinique, 60-70 miles away. He speaks French, but he speaks Spanish and he speaks Japanese, and he speaks broken English like me."

Gerry Morrow Gerry Morrow against The Cuban Assassin. -- courtesy Stampede Wrestling
Over the years, Gerry Morrow has gotten the chance to see many up-and-comers on the Stampede circuit. Names like Keichi Yamada (now Jushin Thunder Liger), Hiro Hase, Owen Hart and Brian Pillman went on to bigger things. He said that he always enjoyed helping "green guys."

One of those youngsters was a real student of the game, and soaked up any advice that Gerry had to offer. Chris Benoit's success didn't come as a surprise to Morrow. "He's so quiet. He's always the same. I knew that he would be doing good. I would always watch his matches." In the ring, he enjoyed wrestling Benoit.

"I used to help Chris Benoit a lot, Johnny Smith, Phil Lafleur. You know those two guys in the WWF, I know them as Jay and Adam [aka Christian and Edge]. I used to work with them in Winnipeg." He also helped out Chris Jericho and Lance Storm too. "They're doing excellent. I'm glad for them."

Gerry Morrow, who has been a Canadian citizen since 1983, last wrestled a couple of years ago for Tim Flowers' ICW promotion in B.C. "I don't really miss it I watch WCW and the WWF -- so much flying, sexuality, swearing there. It's discouraging me." He also can't believe the money that is in the sport now. "They don't even do half of the work I used to do!"

He lives in Calgary with his second wife and two dogs -- a Rottweiler and a Border Terrier Collie. From a previous marriage, he has triplet daughters who just turned 20.

Recently, after 20 years, he returned to Martinique with his wife. It was a difficult time. "Oh man, it was sad to see. The ocean, they have lots of hurricanes there and the hurricanes took half of the town that I'm from."

His brother Eddie lives in Australia working at a hotel, and apparently still looks great. "He's still working out. He sent me a picture from there -- holy smokes, I couldn't believe it! The guy is 63 years old and he still looks good!"

-- By GREG OLIVER, SLAM! Wrestling