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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Interview with Team Canada
August 25, 2004 -- by Alan Wojcik -- http://www.alanwokcik.com


PETEY WILLIAMS, BOBBY RUDE (SOMETIMES SPELLED ROODE), "HOTSHOT" JOHNNY DEVINE AND "SHOWTIME" ERIC YOUNG are collectively known in TNA Wrestling as TEAM CANADA. In recent months they have become one of the top heel factions in wrestling. This interview (unfortunately minus team brain trust Scott D'amore) was conducted as the foursome downed several cold frosty beverages after the August 5th taping of TNA Wrestling Impact!

Alan Wojcik: Where did each of you grow up and who were some of your favorite wrestlers to watch or emulate?

Bobby Rude: I grew up in Peterborough, Ontario. I started watching around 7 or 8 years old and my favorites were Ric Flair, Curt Hennig and Bret Hart.

Eric Young: I am from Florence, Ontario. It's a small village in the southwestern part of the province. Growing up my favorites were "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Ric Flair, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Shawn Michaels, who is one of the reasons why I am a wrestler.

Johnny Devine: I grew all over Canada. I was born in British Columbia, grew up in northern Manitoba, my family moved to Winnipeg when I was 12 and I left to attend college in the States. I moved back to Winnipeg and joined the army. They stationed me in Calgary. I was there for over ten years. I grew up watching Stampede Wrestling so I got to watch the Hart brothers, the British Bulldogs and Bad News Allen. When I lived in Winnipeg I got a great mix of talent from the AWA and NWA. I got lots of Four Horseman stuff and I loved the road warriors as a kid.

Petey Williams: I born and raised and probably will die in Windsor, Ontario. I began watching when I was six. I was a fan of everyone including Chris Benoit, Bret and Owen Hart, the Bulldogs, Johnny Devine, Scott D'amore. I am sorry I am still pissed they are breaking up Bobby and I as a team. Give me a moment to regain my composure.

AW: All four of you have unique training backgrounds. I will start with Bobby and work my way around back to Petey so enjoy the beers, sorry frosty beverages. Bobby how did you come to be trained by WWE star Val Venis and Glamour Boy Shane?

Bobby: Val and I met at the local gym in Peterborough and he also worked at a bar with me. He had moved to town from Marcum. We remained friends even when he moved to work in Puerto Rico. When he came home he bought a ring and put it up in his parent's yard. Along with Gorgeous George who was the Maestro in WCW, Val used to let us work out there and he showed me how to bump plus some of the other basics which I caught onto quickly. When he left the country to work in Japan and Puerto Rico I met Shane Sewell who also bounced at the same bar I worked in. He knew a guy with a ring and over four weekends he trained me for my first match. The best thing to happen in my career was meeting Val and Shane who I talk to even to this day. Both of them will watch me on TV or ask for my tapes to give me notes. To this day my training continues and I owe those guys a lot.

AW: Eric how did you come to be trained by Waldo Von Erich and your memories of the experience?

Eric: A week after I graduated high school I moved to a place that was run by Waldo Von Erich. He is world famous and still co-holds the record with Bruno Sammartino for the longest match ever in Madison Square Garden history; they wrestled for ninety-three minutes. It wasn't as tough as I thought it was going to be. We did lots of running and cardio work. I was a rugby player before wrestling so I lost lots of weight in the training. I lived at the gym for six months then I moved into a two bedroom apartment with 3 other students. I don't regret training there and it gave me a good respect for the business thanks to Waldo who is an old school guy. Two and half months after I began training I had my first match in Benton Harbor, Michigan on October 19, 1998. That's the only date I can remember all the rest are a blur due to all the shots I have taken to the head (laughs.) I am only 24 and I have been wrestling for almost seven years. I became the head trainer at the school after only four months since I had ten matches to my name.

AW: (Johnny is wearing a Family Guy t-shirt) Ok baby Stewie, How did you come to be trained by the legendary Hart Family?

Johnny: (Baby Stewie impression) Ah ha victory is mine!! There is a short version to this story. I mentioned going to college in the United States. I left Minnesota to join the American Marine Corp who had the best line of BS going for them. I got sucked in by it but they wouldn't take me due to my Canadian citizenship even though it has happened in the past. I returned to Canada to join the military and got stationed in Calgary. Before I went into the military I tried to become a wrestler through a guy called Tony Candello who Don Callis can tell you thousands of stories about. Tony told me at five foot nine I was too short for wrestling yet Tony is five foot two. Around the end of my military contract the WWE came to Calgary for the Canadian Stampede In Your House PPV that was the show Hart Foundation took on the Road Warriors, Steve Austin, Goldust and Ken Shamrock. After the show I got backstage and I met Bruce Hart who was running the family Dungeon. I trained with Bruce for a couple of months before I had my first match in October of 1997 in British Columbia. Over the last seven years I trained with Bad News Allen, Davey Boy Smith and others.

AW: Petey if I read my notes right you were trained by your Team Canada manager Scott D'amore.

Petey: Scott's school is in Windsor so it was easy to end up in. Joe Legend was there at the time so I learned from him as well as Scott. The training was easy to catch on. Sorry still pissed I will loosen up later I promise.

AW: Bobby you were the first Canadian wrestler in the ECWA Super 8 tournament. What are some of your memories of being asked in the spring of 2002 to participate in that prestigious event?

Bobby: Kevin Kelly was helping Jim Ketner book the event. I had done some WWE dark matches and Kevin showed Jim some of my matches. On December 31, 2001 I got the call offering me the slot in the tournament. Of course I said yes. Ironically I was the first international superstar to be in the tournament. It was run well. I had read about it in magazines talking about Christopher Daniels and Scoot Andrews being part of previous years. I never thought it would be but the match with Amazing Red was cool. It was a great learning experience and got me some media attention.

AW: One of the many promotions you have worked for in your short career Petey is Combat Zone Wrestling. Could you give your thoughts on the promotion as well as John Zandig?

Petey: I had begun working for IWA-Mid South with Ian Rotten and Smart Mark Video. Through working there I met Alex Shelley who got me into CZW. My debut to the fans was working Teddy Hart and Jack Evans which was booked weird. I went back for the Best of the Best tournament. Something bothered me about CZW. Everyone is over as a baby, they cheer for you and your moves. But when you are a heel you have a job to do in not slapping hands and trying to piss them off. John loves the guys are over but he needs some straight up heel/face matches to add drama to the event. Teddy is super over like Hulk Hogan style. CZW is good since I got to work in the ECW Arena which I marked out for big time. I am hopefully on their September event.

AW: Petey and Johnny you were part of the original Team Canada with Teddy Hart and Jack Evans. What led to you becoming part of TNA Wrestling?

Petey: I got brought in due to my relationship with Scott D'amore. I am one of his favorite students but unlike Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin I am Canadian so I fit into the team.

Johnny: I got my spot due to Don Callis who at that time was part of the promotion. I am one of his top guys in his company which is called No Holds Barred. Scott and Don are tight so I went to work for Scott's promotion (Border City Wrestling) where I worked Petey and Jerry Lynn in December of 2003. Scott liked me enough that I was asked to be on the team.

AW: This unit that sits here tonight came about after Teddy and Jack left the promotion. Some people think it was due to the White Trash Café fight with CM Punk but maybe either of you and shed some light on the reshuffling of Team Canada.

Johnny: From what I know the CM Punk/Teddy incident had nothing to do with the change. From what I know about Jack was TNA wasn't happy with his work. Jack is a great worker but the Mexicans couldn't keep up with Jack. The promotion felt a change was needed. Teddy had some Japan bookings that he wasn't going to give up to be part of the World X Cup shows. Lots of guy's aspirations are to work in Japan but which booking do you choose TNA or Japan. It was hard on him but that's the way it goes.

Petey: I had fun working with them but I think as heels this version of Team Canada is better. Teddy and Jack do some crazy incredible things in the ring and the crowd loved it. Teddy was so over as a babyface and we had trouble being heels. Now all of the fans hate us and that's the way we want it.

AW: Eric you had done some matches on Xplosion and on PPV before joining the team. How did TNA approach you and what was your reaction?

Eric: I wasn't upset about being left off the original team but that's the way things go. I had done a dark match and two PPV matches. I was booked for more but I got pinched at the border and that got me in hot water with the TNA office. I may not be established in America but in Canada I was voted the best wrestler of Ontario by the fans three years in a row. I am glad to be here now and I love the gimmick. It's great to work with these three guys and Scott each week. I am having the time of my life.

AW: Bobby, how did you come to be part of the team for the World X Cup?

Bobby: At the time I was doing dark matches for WWE when Scott called me out of the blue. I was all for it and Scott got it booked. He brought me up to Jeff in a meeting and that's how it happened. I thought it was going to be three weeks and that was it, not what it has become. I am thankful for everything that has happened and things will only get better.

AW: During the World X Cup each of you were in unique matches. Eric you were in a ladder match against Team NWA's Jerry Lynn, Team Mexico's Mr. Aguila and Team Japan's Ishikara. How do you prepare for a ladder match?

Eric: Take lots of Tylenol (laughs.) Actually ladder matches are one of my favorite to be in. I have been about eight and one I was in with "Danger Boy" Derek Wild got a huge write up in Pro Wrestling Illustrated. The writer called it the best ladder match ever. We had put our hearts and souls into it. The fact I got to do it on TNA with those three guys was an honor. I was excited to be in there but I wouldn't have changed a thing. The fans loved it and it put me on the map in TNA.

AW: Petey, you went where few men have gone and that's above the ring by being in the Ultimate X match with Team Mexico's Hector Garza and Team NWA's "the Future" Chris Sabin. How does someone prepare for a match involving high wires?

Petey: You don't get to prepare as well as you can. I went to the building in the day before to climb up and get a feel for it. It's like stepping into a ring for the first time all over again since you aren't used to the wiring and climbing the mounting to the wires. I watched the previous Ultimate X matches to see what could be done up there. Working with Hector and Sabin was great and it was my favorite match in TNA. Things were on the line that night no pun intended. The internet didn't expect it to be great since we hadn't worked together before we passed the fan's expectations.

AW: Bobby and Petey during the event you teamed up against the former NWA World tag team champions XXX.

Johnny: My first thought was how hard can I punch Skipper and Daniels so I don't have to work with them, apparently not hard enough (laughs).

AW: I knew it was going to be a good match. I knew Elix from WCW and Daniels from working with Ketner and some indy dates. I hope it lived up to expectations but it was lots of fun.

AW: Being that you guys work for TNA Wrestling people might think since you are PPV and national TV via fox Sports Net you guys are set in the cash department. If you can talk about it what's it like to work as an indy wrestler in Canada and the United States.

Johnny: Let me field this question guys. I want people to understand I gave up everything to work for TNA. When I got out of the military I was set I had a truck, car, a condo and was doing well financially. Over the last seven years I gave it all up for indy wrestling. When I moved to Nashville to work for TNA I gave up the rest. We don't make lots of money but I love this job and I wouldn't change a thing. Anybody that thinks being in wrestling will lead to them being a millionaire you damn well better be seven feet tall and have the athletic skills charisma to match if you don't you won't make it.

Eric: As far as the money, even as a kid I never wanted to do this for the money and I still don't do it for the money. The fact that I get paid to do what I want is beyond me. I have friends that race on the motor cross circuit that spend thousands on their bikes and other expenses. I get paid to do what I love and that a rare thing. The fact that I am part of TNA makes me proud. There are around 30,000 indy wrestlers that would kill their best friend to be where I am right now. Whatever the pay me or make me do I don't care. There are around thirty guys on each WWE TV show and thirty guys working for TNA and I am one of them. I couldn't be happier in life.

Petey: I am just happy to be working for TNA. I've had it easy compared to the other guys. I got to TNA because of Scott. Bobby has six years, Eric has seven years, Johnny has seven and half years and I have been only working for two and half years. I feel like I got the easy way in.

Bobby: Working on the indies means you better love wrestling. You have to put your losses aside focus on your craft. Each time you get to wrestle it's a way to learn something new and get something on tape to send to an office. Unless you're established there is nothing to make money wise. I get to do what I have wanted to do my whole life.

AW: During the six sides of steel match the NWA World Tag Team champions the Naturals (Chase Stevens an Andy Douglas) and America's Most Wanted many say you stuck your noses where they didn't belong and attacked "Wildcat" Chris Harris as he went to re-enter the cage. Why did you interfere in the match?

Petey: They're filthy Americans and we hate those guys.

Johnny: The fact of the matter is Team Canada deserves to hold every title in TNA. We are the most talented and heels the company has ever seen.

Petey: Please note that is Johnny Devine not any of the other Team Canada members.

Johnny: Petey Williams has no testicles and he is our team captain.

Eric: I agree with Johnny. If you take any four wrestlers and put them against us they will not measure up talent wise. We have everything you want in this group we can compete with anyone here in TNA or around the world. Team Canada is the top of the heap and I will put money on the line to back it up.

Bobby: We are the best wrestling faction around. We are hated Canadians and AMW was going for titles we should have been holding all along. When they lost the belts we should have been number one contenders. Someday Team Canada will have the tag team title gold mark my words.

AW: Last night Bobby and Petey you were part of a match with AMW, a match the probably was brought on by the actions of Mr. D'amore, a country whipping match.

Petey: I still have bruises and so does Bobby. We thought it was going to be a Saskatoon Strap Match not a country whipping match. We lost because our strap broke and in Saskatoon our straps never brake.

Bobby: Last night got the short end of the rope. We won that match hands down and thanks to the referee being out of position several times AMW got lucky and if TNA will reunite Petey and I we will beat AMW. They will not want to wrestle us again.

Petey: As I said I am sad we are being broken up and I wanted to go out on a winning note.

AW: Petey this past June 4-5th you were one of the competitors in the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup. How did you come to be part of it and please give some of your memories of that weekend?

Petey: Once again my good friend Alex Shelley got me hooked up. I was working with CZW and TNA and (NWA Florida's) Ron Niemi saw some tapes and selected me for the event. Ron said he got everyone he asked for without having to make any substitutions. I didn't know Jeff I think Bobby did. Everyone in NWA Florida had good stories about Jeff. I was happy to help raise money to fight cancer. In two years hat event is now known world wide.

AW: On September 4th you will be going back to work for NWA Florida. This time you will take on "the master of the backbreaker" Roderick Strong.

Petey: I hate working that guy. He knows I hate it too. He's going to try and chop the sh#$ out of my chest. I hope he reads this because I want a nice technical match. Actually I am looking forward to it. I had fun thanks to the Canadian support given to me at the Peterson by the NWA Florida fans.

AW: TNA celebrated its second year in business by adding the TV show you competed on today TNA Impact! What's it like to be on TV and would you want to work for any other promotions?

Eric: It's kind of surreal to be on TV and be one of the few that gets to be on TV on a regular basis. I have wanted to do this all my life and it maybe cheesy it's a dream come true. This promotion can only get bigger and better.

Johnny: I was bitter as all get out when ECW folded because I was on my way to work for them. For me TNA is the only place to be. I have a chance as an individual to excel beyond any certain level because that other company has ceiling for guys my size unless you a Chris Benoit and he's the man. I am so happy to be here and so appreciative of everything that has happened to me.

Petey: I think this is my home. The X Division is perfect for me and Johnny. I don't think we would fit in the other group due to our size.

Bobby: TNA has given me the chance to be a wrestling star. I have been under contract for a little while now and I look forward to working here long term. It's a great locker room almost like a family. I don't want to work anywhere else.

AW: Who would be your dream opponent and why?

Eric: My dream opponent would be Shawn Michaels. Like I said 50% of the reason I am a wrestler is because of him. He's not much bigger than me but he is hands down for your dollar the best on the mic and in the ring. Even after a broken back he is better than 80% of their roster.

Johnny: I have three if you will allow me to explain them out. I think Michaels and I would be great but I select Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. I think Eddie and I would be great due to our similar size. Eddie is one of the best on the planet. Chris and I would have a pure straight out Dungeon style match that would have to be at least thirty minutes long. My last pick would be Jerry Lynn. I think he is a fantastic person and wrestler and I am hoping to wrestle him in his retirement match. I want to work him more than anyone.

Bobby: I have two. One is Triple H who I think is the best wrestler around. The other would be Ric Flair since I got into wrestling from watching him.

Petey: My dream opponent would have been Road Dogg (BJ James) I loved him in the WWE but I got to wrestle him working for TNA. Another would be The Rock because he is entertaining to the fans. I love the wrestling aspect but if you can entertain without wrestling you are good at your job.

AW: What do you hope the future holds for you as an individual and as a member of Team Canada?

Petey: I think the direction we began going in yesterday with us going into respective divisions; Bobby going into heavyweight matches, me going into X division and Johnny and Eric tagging will be fun. I am looking forward to working with guys like AJ Styles, Chris Sabin and guys that I can work in feuds not one shots. This is the right direction for each of us.

Eric: You can only hope for individual longevity. I am hoping to wrestle until I am 55. Hopefully my body holds out amazingly I have never been seriously injured despite some of the dumb stuff I have done in my career. I hope we get legit shots at the titles soon. I have more to offer then the fans have seen to this point in TNA.

Bobby: I hope to be hated by the fans but respected by my peers for my work. I want to be the NWA world heavyweight champion.

Johnny: What it comes down to is this. What I see and want for Team Canada is what each of them have said to this point. I want continued success for us in the coming years. I see us being a dominant faction for years in the vein of the Four Horseman ruling wrestling and holding all the titles. We are the most talented workers out there and it will be proven over the coming months. As the great man said Team Canada will rule owning all the titles and if the fans and TNA Wrestling doesn't like it learn to love it because we are the best thing going today.

Thanks to Team Canada for their time and Brad Bernstein of TNA Talent Relations. Be sure to log onto www.TNAWrestling.com , www.NWAFLorida.com, www.CZWrestling.com and www.bordercitywrestling.com www.iwamidsouthwrestling.com

by Alan Wojcik --- For More Interviews, go to http://www.alanwokcik.com..


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