Memories of The Cuban Assassin
ByREESE CURRIE -- For SLAM! Wrestling
From the first day I watched Atlantic Grand Prix wrestling on television as
a child, my favorite wrestler was the Cuban Assassin. He was wrestling at
its finest. He could sell moves like no other. He could absorb a horrific
amount of punishment and keep going. And he could really mount an
impressive assault as well. In Grand Prix, the Cuban Assassin was virtually
impossible to pin.
The Cuban Assassin. Photo courtesy Stampede Wrestling.
The Cuban was able to maintain his heel persona with hardly any speech.
Usually his tag team partner did the oratory, but the Cuban's facial
expression was priceless during interviews. Sometimes while the talking was
going on, the camera would focus on the Cuban, his mouth in that wide open
smile, his wild eyes glittering with the thought of inflicting punishment on
When I started watching, he was one half of the North American tag team
champions with Goldie Rogers. Over the next few years, the Cuban's tag team
partners were better matches for him in terms of skill. The Cuban and "No
Class" Bobby Bass
were great champions, and the action got even better when
they were joined in their exploits by Dr. D. David Von Schultz. Though it
wasn't a long-term thing, the combination of Dr. D and the Cuban Assassin
was a fantastic tag team.
The Cuban Assassin was great because he never stopped improving as a
wrestler. He was always picking up new, devastating offensive moves, but he
never used moves that were inappropriate or unrealistic for a man of his
size. When I saw Jake Roberts bring the DDT into the WWF, I wondered how
long it would be before the Cuban Assassin saw it and had added it to his
repetoire. The very next Saturday, I watched as the Cuban Assassin dropped
the DDT on an unsuspecting opponent.
The Cuban Assassin had great pride in his craft and always put out a massive
effort, no matter how big the crowd was. This brings me to the main
"memory" I have to share -- the last time I saw the Cuban Assassin live and in
person. I was working in an office with an old childhood friend when we
learned that a wrestling show featuring our old favourites was coming to a
very small town near our city. We decided to take a walk down memory lane
and attend the show. (My first question when he brought the show up to me
was, "Will the Cuban Assassin be there?")
We were two of the three adults who showed. There were only two rows filled
with kids, and the front row was strangely empty. We learned why as the
kids turned around the front row chairs so they could bang them on the floor
during the matches. As Bobby Heenan might say, "That'll give you Excedrin
headache number nine." We had to shout at each other to talk on our way
home from the matches, the noise had been that bad.
Another thing that robbed the matches of their prestige was the fact my
payment was taken by Big Stephen Petitpas himself. (I handed the money
up... way up...) It's been said that Stu Hart
never let the wrestlers do
such things as sell tickets because it robs the show of its mystique. He
Now, I don't know if you've ever seen a WWF or WCW card live in a really
small venue, but I have seen both. Many of the wrestlers, with some notable
exceptions (especially Ted Dibiase) would look at a small crowd and decide
to sleepwalk through their matches.
I could understand why most of them would want to preserve themselves for
the bigger crowds, and I could only imagine what the wrestlers would think
coming out and seeing this pathetic crowd of about 30 kids, two young
businessmen, and the other adult who was pretty much a kid himself. I
braced myself for a real sleepwalk, but as it turned out, everyone was
giving it a fairly decent effort.
The best moment for me came when the Cuban Assassin and another old timer,
Paul Peller I think, faced Stephen Petitpas and a younger wrestler.
Suddenly the show caught on fire; we were back in the '80s as Cuban and
Petitpas locked up. Both men were casting weary glances out at the two of
us as they went through their moves. It wasn't long before the Cuban
reached into his pockets to bring out.... a Bic pen. I had expected a set
of brass knuckles. I thought the Bic was a particularly weak foreign object
until I saw it viciously poked into Petitpas' throat, at which point I had
to confess the pen's potential for violence. (I'd heard the pen is mightier
than the sword, and in the Cuban's hands, one had to wonder.)
Finally, the Cuban apparently decided that the two of us were far too
comfortable out in our ringside seats, so he threw Petitpas out of the ring.
The fans scattered as Petitpas was led swiftly to the recently vacated seat
next to mine. The Cuban took aim at the chair as I too decided that moving
might be in order. As I retreated, the Cuban drove Petitpas' face into the
chair with a convincing "whack!" It seemed like most of the chairs in our
section were moved out of place as the Cuban selected another chair for a
repeat performance. Whack! Cuban stalked back into the ring as Petitpas
slumped over the chair, holding onto it like he'd been in a shipwreck and it
was a piece of buoyant wreckage. I turned to my buddy who had a huge grin
on his face. Now this was like old times.
Of course, the match degenerated from there and went to a no-contest with
all four wrestlers fighting in the ring. It was my favorite match of the
night because it had my favorite wrestler in it. I couldn't believe he was
still that good after all those years.
Ten or twelve years earlier I remember being a kid standing with my brother,
looking at the ring being dismantled following a fantastic match that had
featured the Cuban and "Dr. D" David Von Schultz against Petitpas and Leo Burke
. The Cuban had taken a bump off the top rope to the middle of the
ring, and as they exposed how little padding there was, I commented to my
brother who I could sense standing next to me, "How does the Cuban do those
moves without getting hurt?" Well, when I turned around, it wasn't my
brother I'd been speaking to, it was the Cuban Assassin! I just about
jumped out of my skin, and my brother pulled me back out of the way so Cuban
and Dr. D could pass. Dr. D touched his hat brim and gave us a polite
greeting as he went by.
I later followed the Cuban in Stampede Wrestling, where he tagged with his
greatest partner of all, Gerry Morrow. Those two seemed to communicate
telepathically, they were so good together. I rooted for them as hard as I
could, and sure enough, they got the tag team gold. It was hard to decide
who to cheer for when they had a run against Chris Benoit
Wellington, two other favorites, but I figured I'd go with tradition and
laugh like always as the Cuban brutalized them.
One time, the Cuban Assassin played soccer with our high school team in a
highly hyped event. I didn't go to watch this, however, because I would
have been disappointed seeing Cuban in any venue in which he didn't have a
pocket full of hardware to grind against his opponent's forehead.
Angel Acevedo is an inimitable (and indomitable!) performer. His approach
to the Cuban Assassin character has been consistent for decades. Some of
today's wrestlers do heel/face turns on a weekly basis and wonder why nobody
cares about them. When the Cuban came out, you knew what to expect: the
"real" dirtiest player in the game, giving 100% every time. To my
knowledge, the Cuban never lost his heat with the crowd. Other wrestlers
would come and go, and if they were bad enough, they'd have the Cuban in
their gang. In every single heel gang he was a part of, the Cuban Assassin
was the MVP.
Reese Currie is from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and can be emailed at email@example.com.