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The WWE Lumberjack Match Fits Ambrose vs. Rollins Rivalry

The idea by the WWE to place Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a lumberjack match is both brilliant and curious at the same time. Its brilliance lies in the fact the company is willing to take a punishing match of the past and allow its two best workers beat the hell out of each other with the aid of others. The curiosity lies in the questions of which WWE superstars will be around the ring and which ones will surprise us by administering punishment.

A Lumberjack match is a standard match with the exception that the ring is surrounded by a group of wrestlers not directly involved in it. These wrestlers, known collectively as lumberjacks — female wrestlers serving in this manner are sometimes called lumberjills — are there to prevent the wrestlers in the match from fleeing the ring. The groups of lumberjacks are typically split up into groups of faces and heels who occupy opposing sides around the ring. Usually, the “opposing” lumberjacks (that is, face lumberjacks if the wrestler is a heel, and vice versa) swarm the wrestlers if they leave the ring and force them back in it.

Occasional interference from the lumberjacks is not uncommon, nor is an all-out brawl on the outside involving most of the lumberjacks. Early lumberjack matches even featured the lumberjacks wearing stereotypical lumberjack clothing in keeping with the lumberjack theme, though this is generally no longer done. A common theme is for the lumberjacks to consist entirely of heel wrestlers to stack the odds against the face competitor.

Variations of this match include the “Canadian” Lumberjack match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps, the “Extreme” Lumberjack match, competed under Extreme Rules, and TNA’s “Fan’s Revenge” Lumberjack match, during which fans equipped with straps act as lumberjacks and are encouraged to whip wrestlers.

Because of its potential brutality and the idea the two wrestlers finally have a chance to beat the hell out of each other, it could be the best match of the night.

Matches like these take me back to the old NWA and AWA, where lumberjack matches were a staple of arena matches. Here are four wrestlers who excelled at this match from years gone by.

JOS LEDUC
With a lumberjack gimmick, he debuted in Stampede Wrestling with his kayfabe brother, Paul LeDuc. The pair later won several titles in Montreal, where they feuded with the Rougeau wrestling family, and Florida, where they held the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. After an injury ended Paul’s career, LeDuc competed as a singles wrestler and involved in a heated feud with Dusty Rhodes. LeDuc then moved to Tennessee, where he had a rivalry with Jerry Lawler over the NWA Mid-America Southern Tag Team Championship.

LeDuc spent many years traveling between Florida and Tennessee, and he won belts in both locations as a singles wrestler and as a tag team competitor. He also spent time on wrestling tours of Japan and New Zealand.

MAD DOG VACHON
Maurice Vachon was a Canadian professional wrestler, best known by his ring name “Mad Dog” Vachon. He was the brother of wrestlers Paul and Vivian Vachon, and the uncle of wrestler Luna Vachon.

Vachon started his career as an amateur wrestler, participating in the 1948 Summer Olympics and winning a gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games. He made the switch to professional wrestling and spent time in various promotions in the United States while occasionally teaming with his brother Paul. In Portland, Oregon, he received the name “Mad Dog” Vachon.

In the early 1960s, Vachon became a main eventer in the American Wrestling Association. He was one of the promotion’s all-time great heels, known for his wild style and intense interviews. He was a five-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion. Starting in the ’70s, Vachon became a fan favorite, particularly in his home province of Quebec. After a stint in the World Wrestling Federation, Vachon retired from the business in 1986.

The following year, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, resulting in the amputation of one of his legs. Vachon was highly influential, especially in Canada, and was inducted into numerous professional wrestling Halls of Fame.

HARLEY RACE
There were few in wrestling who were as rough and tough as Harley Race. And few wrestlers who could excel at any type of gimmick match
During his career as a wrestler, he worked for all of the major wrestling promotions, including the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

He held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship 8 times, and was the first NWA United States Heavyweight Champion, which is now known as the WWE United States Championship. Race is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

DUSTY RHODES
Yet another wrestler who adapted to most wrestling programs and was instrumental in developing some of the best gimmick matches in the NWA in Jim Crockett Promotions for the better part of the 1980s.

Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and during his time in Jim Crockett Promotions (the forerunner of WCW), he was a former United States Champion, and multi-time Television, World Tag Team, and Six-Man Tag Team Champion. He has also won many regional championships during his wrestling career.

He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

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