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Golden Age of Montreal Wrestling, Vol. 2 Review

So much about professional wrestling these days focuses on nostalgia. It seems like it is only “back in the day” when regions provided styles, heightened fan participation and larger-than-life wrestlers. It seems scary that 20 years from now, we may not have that same sense, or even the same industry.

Things change over the years, and the tail end of The Golden Age of Quebec Wrestling II provide some mainstream references: Rick Martel, King Tonga, Sherri Martel, the Road Warriors and the Rougeaus are names that are “NAMES” to those who follow the sport.

As part of the rich history of Montreal and its notable promotions (Lutte Internationale, IWS and even back to the days of Eddie Quinn) those names are on par with guys from the 1950’s like Argentina Rocca, Killer Kowalski and into the 1960’s with the Vachons, the 1970’s with Jean Ferre (google him, mon ami!) and the likes of Gino Brito and Dino Bravo.

This is a region where the heels were heels and the babyfaces got beat up and bloodied at times, and a place where the biggest names in the business stopped and battled, often with home-town favorites, but definitely at the highest levels.

Sure, there’s something about the 1950’s era that is quaint and methodical and which would elicit the ‘it doesn’t hold up’ comments by those who have no clue about the artform or the evolution of the industry.

Wrestling, my friends, should not be the same today as it was five years ago.

Even if that’s not the nature of that beast these days…. But why digress?

Montreal always seems to have a slightly different take on things. I saw that watching the Habs/Bolts play the other day (no, not the drubbing but the first game) and heard some riffs by Metallica and other metal bands, and not the typical stuff. I realized I needed to tie that into this review, because there’s a definitive aggressiveness to the Montreal promotions.

The best example is seeing the “Mormon Giant”, Don Leo Jonathan come out for a promo, talking softly and distinctly about a previous bout with The Sheik, and then ramping it up to talk about making him bleed. This, a few seconds after talking about having two referees for the match (one for The Sheik, the other for The Sheik’s manager).

I guess we’re supposed to overlook the threats and rulebreaking of Jonathan?

But that’s a classic promo spouted unlike anything these days. Unfortunately we don’t get that match, but the glimpse is well worth it.

One match previous to this is a mind-boggling battle between Killer Kowalski and Argentina Rocca. Mind boggling because these are two Bruno Sammartino references I hear often, and often for exactly the opposite reasons. Kowalski was the master of making long matches unlike any other he fought. Rocca …. Well, not so much and definitely not so much.

Rocca is the grandfather of the “get your spot in” work effort of the modern era, and definitely in the branch of professional wrestling that includes Ric Flair and his fanboy fans sense that a great match is one where the spots have to be done. Damn the redundancy, sense of realism and believability.

But back to Montreal, and back to an era where heels are heelish, in a word “dastardly” and in the greater sense of professional wrestling, the inherent need for BAD GUYS is never lost in Quebec. From Eddy Creatchman’s goons to Frenchy Martin to classic heels of all shapes and sizes (and especially the big guys), there’s a sampling here of cheating, jealous attacks (in and out of the ring), gloating, threats and foreign objects.

All the fun stuff enjoyed by “rudo” fans through the ages.

By the way, there’s something truly magical with a heel by the name of Gilles “The Fish” Poisson. Think about the multi-cultural resonation and triplicate meaning of the word fish, which was often used interchangeably with “jobber”. Now, if someone can point out that Gilles is has an icthyological origin…

There are several true Tag Team matches, another blast from the far reaches of “wrasslin” history, including the blind referee stuff, the double-teaming, the hot tags and the cheerleading from the apron.

This stuff is so old, it’s new!

But hey, can we call them midgets? Can I comment on Pancho Boy, who seems named for his paunch, not his ethnicity? Is Sky Low Low just really that awesome and is Tiger Jackson his more than awesome understudy.

Oh yeah, these are the same guys that wrote Mad Dogs, Midgets and Screw Jobs (Pat Laprade and Bertrand Hebert, ECW Press) so if they can call them Midgets, so can I?

(You can get this DVD from www.highspots.com).

One more thing this DVD reminds me of is the Golden Age of tape trading, which itself is 20 years from its peak. I remember the days of getting VCR Tapes (google it!), and watching wrestling being announced in foreign languages, at times in black & white, often with fuzzy screens and jumps, but still being riveted to the action and always trying to figure out the words (ironic, when one took six years of French in High School and still has a hard time).

What I really love about The Golden Age of Quebec Wrestling II is getting into the nostalgia on multiple levels. Sure, there’s stuff I’ve never seen before, but the heyday of professional wrestling in any region is something worth seeking out, and something new fans may just appreciate.

Watching the Rougeau family (Jr, Sr, Raymond) is a tribute to the craft of professional wrestling that is fading fast. Here’s a family that was excellent in the ring, but may get much of a look in the WWE these days, and without the battles against the villainy of Abdullah the Butcher and Tarzan Tyler and Richard Charland, what does a vanilla babyface do to get the fans into the action?

That’s actually a good question for many fans and wrestlers to consider.

Golden Age of Montreal Wrestling, Vol. 2 Review

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Joe Babinsack

Joe Babinsack can be reached at [email protected] Thanks to Eric for giving me a platform to talk about my passions, and look for reviews (like Vintage Quebec wrestling) coming soon.

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