April 07, 2013

Wrist Shots & Wrist Locks: Hockey's Ties With Professional Wrestling

Wrestlemania 29 takes place on Sunday, April 7th.

It's been a long time since I really watched pro wrestling. I'll still watch the odd match here and there, as I truly admire what these athletes are capable of doing, even if it is choreographed.

Wrestling has a long history in Canada, as many people know. That means wrestling and hockey are bound to have a few relationships. Here's what I have come up with:

Hockey Gets The Edge, too - Edge, a Canadian named Adam Copeland, has been a NHL.com celebrity blogger and is frequently seen at NHL games. Edge, pictured, will defend his heavyweight championship on Sunday. At 6'5" and 250lbs, I only have one question - can he skate?

Just Fabulous - Denis Gauthier's uncle is Jacques Rougeau, best know as one of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and later was known as The Mountie.

Jacques Rougeau's uncle Jean "Johnny" Rougeau, a famous wrestler in Quebec, ran the QMJHL's Laval team in the early 1970s (including when Mike Bossy was there), and later served as league president. The Jean Rougeau Trophy is given in his memory to the QMJHL's leading scorer each season.

More All In The Family - Former Leaf Denis Dupere is a cousin of the famous Vachon Family - Mad Dog, The Butcher and Vivian.

Hart Trophy - Bret "Hitman" Hart was a founding owner of the WHL Calgary Hitmen.

Body checks to body slams - Peter Taglianetti failed in a $20,000 charity attempt to body slam Yokozuna.
Baby Faced Assassins - Ted Irvine's son is none other than Chris Jericho.

Not Quite As Mean - Mean Gene Okerlund's son Todd played for the New York Islanders. Rumor has it he was not a good interview, but I bet he was a natural interviewer!

Unsportsmanlike Conduct - The WWF briefly dressed a fellow named Bill Irwin in hockey gear and called the character "The Goon." As Vince McMahon said "He makes Claude Lemieux look like a Sunday school teacher."

Around the same time former WCW wrestler Scott D'Amore and a fellow named Dave Clark formed a hockey related tag team called Gross Misconduct on the Canadian indy circuit.
Bear Hug - 1959 playoff hero Marcel Bonin wrestled circus bears one summer.

Skulls & Crosschecks - A terrible ankle injury ended the career of Boston Bruins prospect Walter Nurnberg. He later found employment in the squared circle as Skull Von Stoheim.

Sharpshooter - Hockey Hall of Famer and Canada's Athlete of the Half Century in 1950 Lionel Conacher, pictured, excelled at at many sports including wrestling. He was known in both sports as "The Big Train."

Not Quite As Sharp - Then there was Jean Pusie, who was more of a wrestler turned hockey player/clown on ice.

Happy Days - Toronto Maple Leaf Happy Day defeated teammate and fellow future Hockey Hall of Famer Red Horner in a special match at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1932.

The Globe and Mail reported "It was expected that this would be a farcical bout, but the athletes crossed the guessers and made it an honest-to-goodness struggle, with nearly all the modern tactics on display."

The Toronto Star reported "This act was a knockout and the fans got a great kick out of it. ... The hockey players showed the fans a lot of new holds and contortions and displayed surprising speed and agility on the mat."

Lionel Conacher offered to wrestle both men at the same time in a match that, as far as I know, never happened, likely because this match drew Leafs owner Conn Smythe's ire. Although he probably didn't mind the extra gate receipts that night.

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