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  March 29, 2000



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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.


Cuban Assassin
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 his adversaries.

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 was right.

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 and Biff 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.

More on the Cuban Assassin

More on Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling


Reese Currie is from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and can be emailed at drcurrie@hotmail.com.


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