Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin shared his thoughts on wrestling in Canada and working a match against Chris Benoit in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on the May 31, 2001 edition of WWE SmackDown. Austin went on to discuss his relationship with Benoit.

According to Austin, he always enjoyed working in Canada, as the people and crowds were “great”. With that said, Austin did not enjoy crossing the border into ‘The Great White North’.

“I always dug Canada. Like I said, it’s a great wrestling place. The biggest problem was crossing over the border and Canada is very strict at the border and they should be. And they go through everything. They makes sure that the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed. And when the boys start coming through, due to the fact that a lot of times back in the 80s, early 80s, probably 70s, guys were carrying a lot of stuff over there. There were always stories of The Iron Sheik and how he’d have weed on him or something like that with him and he’d put it in someone else’s bag. The precedent had already been set. A lot of times, guys came through and they’d be carrying some stuff. There was this, that, and the other. You can probably guess what it might have been.

“But that was one of the biggest pains in the ass about going to Canada because you knew you’d get pulled over and you’re going to sit in a room for an hour, two, or three. They were going to go through all of your stuff and shake everything out. And 99 times out of 100, they didn’t have s–t, but every here and there, someone would have something. That’s why they always kept checking the boys when they came into the country, so great on Customs part – they did a very thorough job. But when you’re one of the guys and you’re just passing through there, and you’ve got nothing in your bag, and you get pulled over, that’s a pain in the ass because you’re always on a schedule, trying to hit the gym, you’re trying to hit a tanning bed, you’re trying for something to eat. You might check into your hotel room. It might be one of those deals where you go straight to the building and you’ve got a long road trip after that. But that was always a pain in the ass when you had to go pass through Customs on the way there.” Austin added, “coming and going across the border was a pain in the ass. Getting the directions in French was not fun. The crowds were always great.”

During the podcast, Austin recalled working a great match with Benoit on SmackDown in Edmonton. Apparently, Austin told Benoit to disregard the go-home cue and he would take the heat for it, as ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ was left underwhelmed by the match the two had the night prior on RAW.

“I had a great match with Chris Benoit in Edmonton one night and I believe it was on the SmackDown show.” Austin continued, “and we had worked the previous night on RAW and they only gave us a certain amount of minutes and I wasn’t very happy with that match because we didn’t have enough time to build a proper story. I’ll never forget when we rolled into Edmonton that night. It was SmackDown and we were going to work together again. And I told Chris before we went out there, I said, ‘dude,’ I said, ‘I don’t care how much time they give us – we’re going to go home when it’s time to go home. And it’s all on me. I’ll take the heat, so if they give us the go home cue, disregard it.’ And we really ripped it up that night.”

In that match with Benoit, Austin took 10 punishing German suplexes in a row. Austin revealed that the spot was Austin’s idea. While ‘The Global Icon And National Treasure’ indicated that he was not in any pain from the suplexes in light of his neck surgery, Benoit targeting Austin’s perceived injured neck made sense for the story of the match.

“I said, ‘hey man, we’re going to go as long as we need to go’ and it was Chris’s hometown, I believe. I think it was Edmonton. We had worked the night before. [We] didn’t have the match I wanted to have because I knew how much Chris could go and I respected him. And so, I said, ‘hey man, I don’t see you making a traditional comeback on me. I see this being something where you just grab me from behind and let’s go 10 German suplexes, 10 in a row, because I just don’t see a regular comeback. I see 10 German suplexes and here comes Vince [McMahon] coming down and I barely escape with the belt.’ And Chris thought about that for a minute and he goes, ‘I like that.’ And so, that’s what we went out and did. So it wasn’t in the moment. It was something that I called, I planned, I ran across Chris, and he dug it. And we did it.” Austin added, “I called the suplexes and I wasn’t in any pain. And the pain in referring to is because I was returning from my neck fusion and I’d figured all the bumps that I had taken leading up to that match that I would be fine taking those bumps. And it would be a great ploy, a great strategy, for Chris to use to focus on my weakness, or perceived weakness, which could be construed as my neck because of the fusion, because of the surgery. And I was working heel at the time, so he’s giving it back to me and then some. So it made sense for that in his comeback.”

Austin claimed that one of the highest complements he ever received during his storied pro wrestling career was from Benoit after that SmackDown match telling Austin that Austin got him over that night. Austin revealed that the Chris Benoit he knew was a great worker and a cool guy.

“I’ll never forget after that match, I’ve said it on the podcast before, it was one of the highest complements I’d ever been paid by an opponent.” Austin remembered, “we always shake hands after the matches. And, man, that was Chris’s hometown, man. And we got off the headbutt off the top turnbuckle, me throwing the belt up, him getting a little bit of color from that accidentally. It was a real solid match. And he goes, ‘man, thanks.’ He goes, ‘you really got me over’ and he got it. He knew what I was trying to do and it was my job to do was to get him over. He was already over to a degree, but I got him more over than he was after the match than he was before the match, and he recognized that. And he told me that and I’ll never forget that complement. And I wish things hadn’t gone the way they had for Chris as far as down the road, but, man, the Chris Benoit that I knew was a badass worker, great dude, cool as hell, and so I remember that match vividly. Out of all the things I’ve forgotten, I remember that match.”

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 Vince Carter #15
 

With Hollywood power players descending on Toronto for the city’s annual film festival, one documentary of local interest has been “The Carter Effect”, chronicling Vince Carter‘s impact more than a decade ago on the Raptors franchise and basketball in Canada.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri attended the premiere Saturday, and during a Q&A alongside the film’s producers, offered a somewhat unclear statement. “Vince Carter will be home in Toronto,” Ujiri said, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.

Carter signed with the Sacramento Kings as a free agent in July. There’s been speculation for a few years now that the Raptors could have an interest in bringing the onetime face of the franchise back, but it hasn’t happened – even though Carter could have filled a Toronto roster need this summer.

Turning 41 in January, time is running out on the playing career of the man once known as “Air Canada”, who since carved out a niche as an effective role player after his superstar days ended.

It’s quite possible, however, that Ujiri was also hinting at the chances of the Raptors organization one day retiring Carter’s number. While some Toronto fans still hold the circumstances around his controversial 2004 trade against him, there’s little doubt about Carter’s impact on the NBA in Canada.

Though his peak playing performance with the Raptors only lasted from 1999 to 2001, the Floridian was also responsible for capturing the hearts and minds of a generation of young Canadian basketball enthusiasts. Toronto NBA products such as Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Wiggins have all pointed to Carter’s presence during their childhoods as some level of inspiration.

The Raptors have retired no player numbers in their 22-year history. Carter wore No. 15 with the team from 1998-2004.

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Wayne Simmonds has experienced racism in the NHL first-hand in the past, and according to the Philadelphia Flyers forward, it’s still an issue in the league.

“I don’t want to say it’s completely gone – racism in the game – because I believe it’s not,” Simmonds told Joey Vendetta of Sportsnet 590 on Wednesday. “I’ve had situations arise where I’ve had things said to me or done to me, but I think for myself it’s kind of a motivator.”

Simmonds grew up in Toronto, and played junior in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but having played his entire pro career in the United States with the Los Angeles Kings and Flyers, he’s noticed a difference between the two countries.

“Growing up in Canada, I think it was a little bit different. Obviously hockey is life in Canada. So you grow up as a young black kid and everyone is playing hockey around you, so it’s easy to get into,” Simmonds said.

“But I think it’s just easier in Canada. I think the States is kind of, as it’s going now – I don’t want to say it’s segregated, but I think you feel it a little bit more. You feel it a little bit more in the States, whereas in Canada it’s – especially in Toronto, it’s a melting pot. You’ve got every single culture. You’ve got everything here under the sun. It’s like a rainbow. You just don’t feel it as much when you’re growing up in Canada. And I moved to the States I started to notice it a little bit more, but I’m always around good people so it doesn’t have an effect on me.”

Simmonds generally let’s his play do the talking, and lately, his performance has spoken volumes, setting a career high in goals last season with 32.

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It’s been over a month since Bill Foley was awarded an NHL franchise, and it’s going to be a while until the Las Vegas team’s name and logo is revealed.

The number of options has been reduced from 18 to four, the owner said, and the goal is to have it all settled prior to the start of the 2016-17 season.

“We’re making progress,” Foley told Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’re in a pretty good position now and we’re meeting next week with the NHL and Adidas to look at logos and designs. We’ll have a little more clarity in the next 30 days.”

Some variation of “Knights” remains in play, but Foley admitted there’s a conflict with that exact name.

“The London Knights (OHL) own the name in Canada and to acquire the name from London is not economically feasible,” Foley said. “In the U.S., ‘Knights’ are fine. But we can’t use it in Canada.”

The four names will also be kept a secret until the official unveiling.

“We want to make it a special event for everyone,” Foley said. “I know everyone is anxious about the name. But we want to get it right.”

dwyane-wade-dumps-jordan-brand-for-li-ning-0Dwyane Wade was the first one to line up for “O Canada” prior to Game 4, and the Miami Heat star made sure to issue a formal apology for shooting during the Canadian anthem the game prior.

‘No disrespect at all from me,” Wade said. ”I apologize for Canada thinking I would disrespect them as a country. So today, I just adjusted how I normally get ready for a game and got in the line first.

”I have so much respect for the Toronto Raptors, obviously, and I have respect for the country of Canada,” Wade added. ”So I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

Wade was caught on video prior to Game 3 on Saturday shooting warmup shots after the Canadian anthem started. He said he didn’t mean any disrespect, but was finishing his routine, which wraps up on a made shot.

“If anyone thinks I was being disrespectful, they don’t know who Dwyane Wade is,” he said Saturday.

The NBA spoke with the Heat to make sure no pregame routine interfered with any anthems, and Wade said he made it a priority to be ready for the anthems in Game 4.

 

Former WWE Intercontinental and tag team champion Jacques Rougeau spoke to the Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling Podcast recently. You can see highlights below, and the full interview at this link.

His time as The Mountie:

“To be honest with you I had the greatest moments as The Mountie in my career. I was working guys like Macho Man, I remember a match with him in England against him with Elizabeth, I had matches with Undertaker, matches with Sid Vicious of course matches with Big Boss Man just so many fantastic memories. There is nothing I didn’t do as The Mountie. I remember simple matches with Tito Santana as The Mountie or Koko B. Ware. I had so much fun with that character and I honestly made people believe that I thought I was The Mountie. That I was so convinced that they started believing. It is amazing because when you build a character and I always tell this at my school that how are you going to get people to believe in your character if you don’t believe it. I had a brother-in-law who was a real Royal Canadian Mounted Police who gave me some tricks and some moves that they used when they arrest a guy so all those moves that I used in the ring were actually legit.”

The infamous Summer Slam 1991 Jailhouse match vs. The Big Boss Man:

“It is one of the greatest matches that I’ve ever had in my career. Ray Traylor who was the Big Boss Man who unfortunately left us was the kindest person. I had never seen Big Boss Man talk bad to anyone in the dressing room or show lack of respect. He was another Owen Hart. So working with a guy like that for a year to a year and a half around the world was a night off every night and it was such a pleasure because he would take care of my body, take care of me and I would take care of him. It was a great time in my career.”

Not being able to use The Mountie name in Canada:

“I was doing such a great job of making The Mounties look bad in Canada that they suspended me on TV and I wasn’t allowed to be used on TV anymore. So the only way I was allowed to wrestle was if I took off the sleeves, the shirt and kept the black pants and they would announce me as Jacques Rougeau. Everyone knew me as Jacques Rougeau anyway so that was fun. I think they (The Mounties) took it all a little too serious. Like in movies and everywhere else there is always dirty Cops or bad Cops but they don’t ban the movie because the Cop is crooked. But I think that my character was becoming so strong that eventually they decided and voted on it and sent a letter to Vince saying that I wasn’t allowed to wrestle on TV in Canada anymore. Eventually and after that they let that character go because it wasn’t helping me at all so I took a year off and came back a year and a half later with Carl Ouellet as The Quebecers ith the same suit and our music was “We’re not the Mounties”. So I think Vince wanted to get back at them in a way.”

The impact The Mounite had on Jacques and how today it is fondly remembered:

“The Mountie was great. I’ll never forget winning the Intercontinental Title against Bret Hart and losing it to Rowdy Roddy Piper. I had three different dolls made and sold in Toys R Us’s around the world as The Mountie and when I give conferences in schools now against intimidation. The first thing I do is because they don’t know me because they are too young and they have only heard of me but I do so many personal appearances and am on TV that when I come in and start talking to kids and I take my belt out and my dolls out they start to say “hey this guy was important”. All of that was done because of the Mountie character. “

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week sparked outrage – OK, more outrage than usual – when he suggested that the U.S. ban all Muslims from entering the country, including Muslim Americans that are, like, vacationing overseas.

“What I’m doing is I’m calling very simply for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States — and here’s a key — until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” he reiterated this week.

Nazem Kadri, the Toronto Maple Leafs center and a practicing Muslim, has figured out what’s going on with Trump … and he thinks the real estate magnate is delusional.

Sean FitzGerald of the Toronto Star caught up with Kadri about Trump’s comments, and Kadri said:

“I think he’s hurting his own campaign, to be honest,” Kadri said. “I mean, I think he’s pretty delusional. But his opinion’s his opinion.”

“It’s unfortunate that this is what it’s come to,” Kadri said. “But I mean, that being said, I’m lucky to live in a country like Canada, where people of political stature don’t say those kinds of things to make people feel out of place.”

(Kudos, by the way, to Sean FitzGerald for wading into political waters in a hockey locker room, and specifically asking about a Republican candidate in a sport whose athletes generally lean right. At least fiscally.)

All of this just underscores how important diversity is in hockey, and particularly in the NHL.

Kadri was born to Lebanese parents in Ontario. Growing up, he didn’t have any Muslim or Middle Eastern role models in the NHL, and understands the role he plays in being one. Now you have Kadri, and you have Nail Yakupov (a Muslim, though not devout), and you have at least some representation.

Which is important, as Naveed Bahadur, a social worker who helps run a ball hockey league in Toronto, told Al Jazeera when that network did a story on Kadri in 2014:

“Unlike other communities, they don’t realize sport is important for children’s development. It keeps their brains active, develops teamwork  and these things are very important.”

All it takes is one player that makes a kid feel included to get that kid involved. Especially when that player also isn’t afraid to stand up for that heritage against  a demagogue like Donald Trump.