The country that lies north of the United States is home to not only vast forests and crystal clear lakes but also acts as a breeding ground for some of the greatest wrestlers. Canada is the birthplace of many wrestling greats past, present, and future. These wrestlers are predominantly mat technicians specializing in submission holds. Let’s examine this Canadian tradition in today’s world of professional wrestling.
Owen Hart now sadly tops the list of past Canadian wrestling stars. Hart died last month in a freak accident at the pay-per-view in Kansas City, Missouri. Owen was a great performer. He combined mat techniques with the high-risk manuevers usually associated with smaller wrestlers. Trained by his father in the basement of his home, Owen came to the WWF in the mid-eighties as the Blue Blazer. Hart was a second generation wrestler and had to compete with his older brother for fans and air time. Owen was a former tag team champion(with his brother-in-law, The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith) many times over as well as Intercontinental champion. While Owen is no longer with us, his ring presence is still fresh in the minds of fans.
He is “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” This man is the incomparable Bret “Hitman” Hart. Bret, Owen’s older brother, has been on top of the wrestling world since the mid-eighties. His ring intelligence and experience is like that of no other. He chooses a less risky ring approach than his brother and prefers to systematically take apart his opponent. Every move performed has the purpose of either wearing his opponent down or setting him up for the Sharpshooter, the finishing move that is a submission hold. This Hart is purely a mat technician and submission wrestler. He uses his brain to defeat an opponent with strategy instead of pure brawn. Bret Hart has held titles in both the WWF and WCW. In the WWF, he was a five time World Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and Tag Team Champion(with his brother-in-law Jim “Anvil” Niedhardt forming the Hart Foundation). In WCW, he has held the TV title and US Championship title.
Another current Canadian star is the “Crippler” Chris Benoit. From Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the same hometown as the Hart, Benoit was trained by Stu Hart in his basement known as the “Dungeon.” This is the same place as both of the Harts as well as almost all of the Canadians in the sport today. Chris is a excellent mat technician who like the “Hitman” systematically takes apart his opponent to set up for either the diving headbutt or the Crippler Crossface. He is called by many a wolverine because he has so many attacks and is not afraid to fight a man two or three time his size. Benoit was a member of the elite “Four Horsemen,” Tag Team Champions(with both Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn,) as well as a TV champion and US title holder in WCW.
Chris Jericho is the son of a hockey great and was also trained in the “Dungeon” by Stu Hart. He is primarily a high risk wrestler but uses a submission hold, the LionTamer, as his finishing manuever. Jericho is known in the WCW for his antics and whiny personality when it comes to his losses ans other wrestlers. Jericho wrestles in the Cruiserweight division of the WCW, a category composed of primarily Mexican wrestlers. Jericho has served as Cruiserweight champ many times as well as Television champ for a period of time.
The mysterious Edge, a member of the Brood, is by far one of the most talented newcomers to the WWF. Edge is capable of feats that seem impossible for a man of his size. He is a high flyer despite being almost 6 feet 8 inches tall. Edge says little or nothing to the commentators because he prefers to do his talking in the ring. Edge has no titles as of yet, but I am sure he will very soon. He and the Brood are currently involved in a feud with the Hardy Boyz which may eventually move them up into contention for the Tag belts or Edge for an Intercontinental title shot. What the future holds for this new phenom no one knows? However, fans can expect great things from Edge in the future.
Canada has a great impact on professional wrestling in the last two decades. The Canadians have given heroes and villains; champions and future champs. The Canadian tradition is strong today and will continue to be strong in the future.