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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Canadian Wrestlers Rule!
December 16, 2005 by Matt Kopp


This article is in no way comparing the different races of wrestlers that have competed throughout the history of professional wrestling. No one race is superior to another, just like no one person is superior to another. I am writing this article to praise some of the best Canadian wrestlers that have come through the world of wrestling. Although I am a proud American, 5 out of my top ten wrestlers are Canadian, and some of the best wrestlers in the world have come from Canada. I am simply paying my respects to all our favorite wrestlers north of the border. So without further ado, let's start the list of the greatest Canadian wrestlers.

Bret Hart- You can't have a list of great Canadian wrestlers without mentioning Bret Hart. Born and raised into the greatest wrestling family on the earth, Bret Hart was destined for success from the day he could walk. Bret was the middle child of the 12 Hart children of Helen and Stu Hart. He watched growing wrestlers train in his father's wrestling ring in the basement of his house, correctly named, "The Dungeon". Ironically enough, Bret was not trained by his father, as many a person would believe, but by Mr. Hito and Mr.Sakurada, the Tag Team Champions of Stu Hart's wrestling promotion at the time. To them, Bret says that he owes to them all of the wrestling ability he gained, his amazing record of never once hurting anyone he wrestled, and his future moniker, "The Excellence of Execution". Bret burst onto the scene in the WWF, as one half of one of the greatest tag teams I've ever had the pleasure of watching, The Hart Foundation. This tag team was very unusual. Unlike most tag teams, where both members of the team were almost the exact same size and weight, Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart were very spaced out in size. Still, the gimmick worked, and Bret and Jim"The Anvil" Neidhart held the WWF Tag Team Titles twice. As talented as the two men were, it was obvious that Bret was the much more talented of the two. As he always used to say, "The Anvil will get the job done on the mic, and The Hitman gets the job done in the ring." Well he got the job done, always. After Jim Neidhart was fired from the WWF, Bret began a singles career that would take him to the peak of superstardom for a very long time.

He first captured the Intercontinental Title from Curt Henning at Summerslam 1991, and held it for 5 months before losing it to The Mountie. He then recaptured the Intercontinental Title yet again, defeating Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania VIII. He lost that belt at the pay-per-view that he had won his first IC title at, Summerslam. Then, in October of that year, the Bret Hart era began when he defeated Ric Flair for the WWF Title in a live event in Saskatchewan. This gave him the right to say that he was one of the few men that have ever won a Triple Crown. He had a good long title reign, lasting from October all the way to April, where his red-hot title reign was stopped dead by the 600 pound Polynesian monster, Yokozuna. For his first step on getting his title back, Bret won the first official King of the Ring in 1993, but in the process ignited a feud with Jerry Lawler, who attacked Bret as he was being crowned, and stole the crown, giving him the moniker, "The King". ( Note that he had used this gimmick before in AWA, but this was the way of explaining it in the WWF storylines.)

At the Royal Rumble 1994, Bret Hart became the first man to be both a Royal Rumble and a King of the Ring Winner. He was also the first man ever to win a Triple Crown, Royal Rumble, and Ring of the Ring at the same time. In the 3 years after winning the WWF Title from Yokozuna at Wrestlemania X, he developed my 2 top favorite feuds in the history of the WWF, with both Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. During these feuds, he captured the WWF Title 3 more times. Even the way he left the WWF left an impact on the world, as he showed the world a different side of Good old Mr. McMahon. After jumping ship to WCW, he captured the WCW United States Title 4 times, and the World Title twice, thus making him a 7-Time World Champion. Bret Hart was an amazing wrestler, he delivered us some of the greatest matches in the history of the WWF. Look at some of the highest regarded matches in the history of the WWF, and chances are that one of the names of the wrestlers in the match was Bret Hart. Whether it was Bret vs. HBK at Wrestlemania 12, or Bret vs. Owen at both Summerslam 1994 and Wrestlemania X, or Bret vs. Mr. Perfect at Summerslam 1991, or Bret vs. Austin at Wrestlemania XIII. I could continue listing his great matches, but I think there is no need to elaborate on the obvious. He's has set so many records in this business. The 1st man to win both a Royal Rumble and Ring of the Ring, a Triple Crown winner, the second man to capture the WWF Title 3, 4 and 5 times, and the deliver of some of the greatest wrestling moments in history. I think the only man who could match Bret in great matches, wrestling ability, charisma, and memorable moments is his American counterpart in Shawn Michaels. The truly was the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, Bret, THE HITMAN, HART!

Chris Benoit: Chris Benoit can be described in a multitude of words. Amazing, inspiring, determined, athletic, tough, ragged, aggressive. The Rabid Wolverine is one of the most natural wrestlers to walk through the WWF/E, and my favorite wrestler of all-time. Chris Benoit exemplifies what a great champion should be. Chris Benoit has a strong respect for the sport of wrestling, and for his fellow wrestlers. Chris Benoit doesn't expect to be given what he wants, he works his ass off to get what he desires. One thing I like the most about Chris Benoit, is that he never goes out to the ring and complains about losing a title or match, he does something about it. Honestly, when does Benoit even use the microphone" In the 5 years that he's been in the WWF/E, he's probably had less time combined on the mic then Triple H had in the 5 months when Benoit was World Heavyweight Champion on RAW.

Chris Benoit is one of the best wrestlers in the ring of all time. I'll never forget his Owen Hart tribute match with Bret Hart on Nitro 1999. Chris is a mat specialist, and can control you on the ground very easily. Anyone with two working eyes can see that. But Chris is special in that he can perform excellently in all aspects of ringwork. Chris Benoit can perform amazing, high flying stunts, such as the Diving Headbutt, which he uses dedicated to the Dynamite Kid, who inspired him to wrestle. Chris is a tactical master, and although he doesn't speak much, he prefers to allow his actions to speak louder than his words, and I'm sure that they are more painful. The thing that I love the best about Chris is that his is what he says he is, 4 Real. Kurt Angle, the man who won 2 Olympic Gold Medals in Freestyle Wrestling, has been quoted saying that in real life, Benoit is a challenge to wrestle. Benoit is the real deal. He's been an Intercontinental Champion, one half of the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions, a World Tag Team Champion, A Royal Rumble Winner, a WCW Television Champion, a WCW Tag Team Champion, a United States Champion in both WCW and WWE, and a World Champion in both WCW and WWE.

Chris Benoit was trained by the best, has gone toe-to-toe with the best, has beaten the best, and has put over the best. It's safe to say that Chris Benoit is as close to the best as you can get. He's got a drive inside him that is rarely found within a lot of the superstars in the WWE. He is driven for his intense passion for the sport of wrestling that almost nobody can relate to. " Wrestling is my mistress, it's my passion." Chris Benoit has said many times that he feels his life would not be complete without the sport of wrestling. The very sport and the passion that burns within Chris Benoit has been etched into his very person. That truthfully, that is what I love most about Chris. I would like to deliver a resounding THANK YOU to my favorite wrestler.

Chris Jericho: Since his debut in 1999, the World Wrestling Federation was never the same AGGAAAAIIIINNN!!!!!!!!! They fixed the Y2K problem, but they got a Y2J problem. He inspired a whole planet of Jerichoholics to get their asses out of their chairs and make some NOISE! And for all of you who don't like him, will you please just SHUT THE HELL UP! I am talking about the Lionheart, The King of The World, Mongoose McQueen, The Allaytolah of Rock and Rolla, yes that's right folks, Y2J himself, CHRIS JERICHO!!!!!!!! ( If I missed any gimmicks, please tell me). Chris Jericho's entrance into the WWF was unique in itself, as he took the fear of the Y2K virus and wired it into his gimmick. A "Countdown to the New Millennium" clock would mysteriously appear each week on episodes of RAW, with no explanation. Finally, on an August edition of RAW, the clock finally ran out, and a man named Chris Jericho stepped down the entrance ramp. This man is the total package. He is probably one of the greatest men ever to hold a microphone in the WWF/E and speak into it. In other words, he rivals The Rock as the most charismatic man in the history of the WWF/E. Not only that folks, but he's also an amazing competitor in the ring! Yes, and he's only one of three people who can say that they've won a Grand Slam ( Winning the WWE Championship, European Championship, World Tag Team Championship, and Intercontinental Championship). Quite possibly his greatest achievement to date, was winning the Undisputed Championship in December 2001, by beating the Rock and Stone Cold in the same night. There is truly one, Chris Jericho! YEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Gene Kiniski: Gene Kiniski is one of the original Canadian legends. Unfortunately, I no almost nothing about him, except that he was trained by Dory Funk Sr, wrestled in AWA and NWA among greats like Verne Gagne and Lou Thesz, and held the NWA Title from 1966-1969. As little as I know about him, I had to mention him. Thank you, Eugene Kiniski.

Hart Foundation: The Hart foundation was one of the most interesting and unique tag teams in history. Usually, amongst tag teams, both wrestlers are of about the same height and weight. However, there was a very noticeable size difference between the two, making the gimmick a little risky to pull off. However, the gimmick worked out. One interesting aspect of the Hart Foundation was that they wore all pink. A heel tag team wearing pink" Doesn't really sound like a match, but as they say, sometimes opposites attract, and The Hart Foundation was actually ordered to wear nothing else but pink. The Hart Foundation was one of the first tag teams that used their partners as a weapon. For example, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart would grab Bret and hit a reverse powerslam right on top of their opponent, a move rarely used by tag teams. The Hart Foundation was one of the great tag teams of their and our times, and they definitely opened a couple of new doors in the tag team industry as far as what could be done in the ring.

Owen Hart: Owen Hart was the youngest of all the Hart children, and like his brother Bret, was destined for success. However, the passion for wrestling did not burn as brightly inside him as it did for his brothers. He believed that by amateur wrestling, he was living his father's dream, not his own. He did not want to step into the glowing spotlight that had already drawn in his brothers, and wanted to live a normal life as a high school elementary school teacher. However, as his sister Alison said, " He was just too good at wrestling, he did not choose it, it chose him." Through wrestling he met Martha Patterson at age 16. The attraction was unusual but inconceivably strong. Martha was an attractive, refined girl with high moral standards, and Owen was a handsome teenage wrestler who grew up in a rough environment, being the son of a famous wrestling promoter. The two would soon marry in 1989.

At about that time, oldest brother Bret was steadily making a name for himself in Vincent McMahon Jr.'s wrestling company called the WWF. Owen followed his brother into the WWF in 1991, teaming up with Jim Neidhart to create a "New Hart Foundation", or so to speak. However, this push went flat, as did his second tag team with Koko B. Ware. Vince decided to turn Owen heel, and work against his brother Bret. The feud began at Survivor Series 1993, When Bret, Owen, Kieth and Bruce Hart took on Shawn Michaels and his Knights. Owen performed excellently in the match, eliminating all three knights. However, as Bret was walking back to his corner on the ring apron, Owen was whipped into the ropes, knocking Bret off and into the guard rail. As Bruce and Keith ran down to help Bret, and Owen turned around to see what had happened, Shawn Michaels rolled up Owen and eliminated him from the match. An infuriated Owen kicked the bottom rope repetitively, shouting at Bruce and Keith, " What are you doing"!". After the match was over, Owen came back to the ring and yanked Bret off the top rope, and shoved him into the ropes. The heel turn had officially begun.

Owen was driven by jealousy, trying to fight his way out of his older brother's towering shadow, a task that seemed impossible. At the Royal Rumble, Owen assaulted Bret's injured knee after losing a tag match with him to the Quebecers. Owen then had to watch as Bret won the Royal Rumble along with Lex Luger. At Wrestlemania X, Owen scored a huge upset victory over Bret in the opening match, but was once again outshined again by his older brother as Bret won the WWF Title in the main event from Yokozuna. Owen lost an amazing steel cage match against his brother Bret at Summerslam 1994, and at Survivor Series 1994, he helped Bob Backlund defeat Bret in the first ever Submission Match for the WWF Title. Bret had the Sharpshooter cinched in on Bob, and Owen, no doubt sensing danger, ran in and floored his dearest brother with a Bulldog. When Bret went to the ropes to yell at Owen, he got caught from behind by a Crossface Chicken Wing. Owen then tricked his mother into throwing in the towel to give Bob Backlund the win and the title.

His family feud died out, and after two years of tag team action, Owen got back into the singles division after the reformation of The Hart Foundation, and winning the WWF Intercontinental Title. At Summerslam 1997, Owen Hart was facing a rapidly rising star named Stone Cold Steve Austin, who would go on to revolutionize the WWF as we knew it. However, the match, which was going smoothly, soon turned into a scene of panic, when Owen accidentally broke Stone Cold's neck after miss-hitting a piledriver. Owen still did the job, and Austin was declared the Intercontinental Champion, but Owen was defiantly shaken by the events that took place on that night. At Survivor Series 1997, Owen had to watch his brother Bret get stabbed in the back by Vince McMahon in the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Owen's entire view of the WWF changed after that night, and he quickly tried to get out of his contract.

Now I am going to address the most tragic topic of Owen Hart's career. I must say on a personal note that the thing that saddens me the most about the entire Owen Hart saga is that he will not be remembered best for his amazing in-ring ability, or his charisma, his striking good looks, or his personality. The thing that will remain in the heads off all wrestling fans the most about Owen Hart's undeserving, unnecessary, shocking and tragic death. I am not going to go into depth about the topic of Owen's death, because every time I do I always get the same result. A deep feeling of depression and a bitter taste in my mouth. Especially now that we have recently lost another great man well before his prime. Owen Hart was a truly great man, and he is surely missed. Thank you Owen, I bow my head to you in your memory.

Roddy Piper: Roddy Piper was my favorite star of the 80's. One of the best mic workers around, and great in the squared circle, Roddy Piper was one of the true stars of wrestling. Since his debut in the WWF in 1984, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was an icon for future generations of wrestlers. In my opinion the most charismatic wrestler of the 80's, Piper would host an interview segment called "Piper's Pit", which was a lot of great angles took place. On one particularly good edition of Piper's Pit, Piper cracked a coconut over Jimmy Snuka's head, igniting a feud with him, and on another, the heel turn of Andre the Giant was made official when he ripped Hulk Hogan's shirt and cross off and challenged him to a match at Wrestlemania III. Piper could be the biggest babyface in the business, or be the most hated heel. He had the uncanny ability to have the crowd in the palm of his hand, and as of 2005, is where he belongs, that being in the WWE Hall of Fame. As the Hotrod once quoted, " You ain't seen nothing yet!!"

Stu Hart: If you are looking for a man who has contributed his life to the sport of wrestling, if you are looking for a man who produced some of the finest wrestlers on this earth, if you are looking for a man who is in no certain terms, a wrestling god, look no further than Stu Hart. Stu Hart has trained some of the greatest men ever to step into a wrestling ring. Including Superstar Billy Graham, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, and his own children, with the exception of Bret. Stu Hart was the creator of the ladder match, and gave so much to the WWF, and wrestling in general. His life basically revolved around wrestling, and he is one of the great contributors to this sport. Tragically, Stu Hart passed away in 2003, but he lived a long life at 88 years at his time of passing, and I believe we will see him in the WWE Hall of Fame. Thank you Stu, for everything.

There are so many Canadian wrestlers who have contributed to this sport. These are just some of the great Canadian wrestlers who walk this planet we call home. Look for my follow up pieces on some of the greatest wrestling giants, midgets, Americans, Japanese, Australian, Mexican, Latin, Polynesian, and basically all the different kinds of great wrestlers throughout the world, with the exception of Britain, as Joe Poulton has already written a very entertaining article on British wrestlers, which will tell you all you need to know about the great Brits of wrestling. And that's the end of my article, eh!

Matt Kopp would like to thank Kirsty Quested in aiding him in this article. Her epic pieces on Owen and Bret Hart helped supply m,e with a lot of the factual info I needed to complete this article. I admit to using at least 2 lines from her article and paraphrasing them into mine, so I would like to give her my sincerest thanks for writing her articles and give her the credit where credit is due. Thank you very much, Kirsty Quested."

by Matt Kopp..


John Edwards wrote:
Nice job. As a proud Canadian I thank you for respecting our country and it's wrestling heritage. You mention all the major names, you're favourite wrestlers I assume, but there are others who need mentioning. Whipper Billy Watson - the greatest Toronto wrestler in history. He's a former world champion and an icon in Canada's biggest city. He also founded the Easter Seals Skate for Kids which has raised millions for disabled youngsters. Others include: Edge, Christian, Abdullah the Butcher, Vampiro, Lance Storm, Steve Corino (technichally Canadian), Killer Kowalslki, Rick Martel, The Rogeaus, The Vachons (Luna, Maddog, The Butcher), Emile Dupre and Scott D' Amore (more promoters than wrestlers), Andrew Martin, Trish Stratus, Tiger Jeet Singh (Born in India, but is another Toronto icon), Iron Mike Sharpe, Waldo Von Erich, Joe.E. Legend as well as many others.
Augustus wrote:
Great job! Perfect! Wonderful! But your just missing a couple people. --- 1. Bobby Roode of TNA --- 2.Christian Cage of TNA --- 3. Edge of WWE --- Great job.
Jesse Lee wrote:
While my second favorite wrestler is Chris Benoit and the rest of the top ten are filled with Canadians, my interest in this column was struck out at the end of the Jericho comment. It makes me think of John Edwards during the 2004 Presidential election.
Kevin Roberts wrote:
Good column Matt. Is Elix Skipper of TNA from Canada" I think he's a good wrestler even though I'm loyal to the WWE. Petey Williams is another one that I like, with that sick finisher with the cool name "Super-Canadian Destroyer." Did not know Abdullah was from Canada, he's one of my old school favorites. Whatever happened to Vampiro" He was one my favorites in WCW. (F.Y.I. he was also an NHL prospect before wrestling).
Brad Dykens wrote:
Elix Skipper is not Canadian. He was put in WCW's Team Canada (by Vince Russo) because he played in the Canadian Football League..
Steve Feds wrote:
Candian wrestlers max out my list of favorite Wrestlers the ones at the top of my list are Benoit, Jericho and Edge though there are many more thank you for finally showing your appreciation for us Canadians your neighbours to the north
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