I don’t know at what age I was truly introduced to the wild and crazy world of professional wrestling, but I know it was with my grandfather. Making several walks over the hill to the Amherst Stadium to see Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling, I can recall him kicking his feet and throwing punches, cheering on his favourites as he’d sit in his chair at a live show or in front of the tv. I don’t remember any particular matches, but I remember the wrestlers that I believed fought for the side of the righteous. Or the ones that scared the hell out of me, giving me nightmares.
I had my favourites in Leo Burke and the Great Malumba. Burke was the consummate professional and was always the good guy “babyface” to me. He was technical and deliberate in his approach, but if you got him ticked off, then a brawl and a beating would be in your near future. The Great Malumba was an imposing figure who was always quicker than I expected him to be. I thought he was particularly tough because he always wrestled in bare feet. I remember seeing Malumba at the horse races in Moncton one night and was shocked to see that he was wearing shoes! My grandmother had to remind me not to point and stare in amazement of what, I took to be, a god amongst men.
There were a couple that struck me with terror and could cause me to quiver with fear. Just two men could do this like no others could. First and foremost: the Cuban Assassin! His wild hair, giant beard, and what I thought was an inability to speak coherently, made me cower and cringe running to my dad. I always thought he was insane and you truly never knew what he would do to me or anyone else. Maybe he’d finally snap one day and use that foreign object he always hid in his boot! Running through the crowd to get me because I booed him. The other was Killer Karl Krupp. His goose stepping, his monocle, his lack of hair, and the ever-present danger of “THE CLAW!!” would have me saying my prayers believing he was the boogeyman incarnate.
There are many names and faces I can remember; like “Big” Stephen Petitpas, “Sweet” Daddy Siki, The Beast, “Stompin’” Paul Peller, Bulldog Bob Brown, and Rip Rogers are just a few. I don’t recall any specific matches, but just the level of emotion invoked by these men was unforgettable. Luckily a lot of footage has been shared on YouTube so I can relive the greatness that is maritime independent wrestling!
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I was thrilled to learn that Atlantic Grand Prix was starting to tour again. This time my friends and I would make the weekly Monday night pilgrimage to the Cocagne Arena to cheer on faces both old and new. Getting to see the beginnings of guys like Renee Dupree (AGP owner Emile Dupree’s son) and “Kowboy” Mike Hughes were some highlights. My favourite in these days was Joe E Legend. His mic work was always solid and I can’t recall ever seeing him put on a bad match. We would always wait to say his catchphrase along with him: “Heroes come and heroes go but legends are forever!”
That brings me to the independent wrestling scene of today. I don’t remember there being quite so many different organizations in existence back then but I’m sure there were. Some I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live thanks to the internet via various streaming services. Some of these include; Kaizen Pro Wrestling, Innovative Hybrid Wrestling (IHW), Red Rock Wrestling, North Pro Wrestling, and Ultimate Championship Wrestling (UCW). They feature some favourites of mine like the East Coast Predator Titus, Channing Decker, Chantal, Marcus Burke, Dylan Davis, Marko Estrada, Troy Merrick, and Lil Blay with Security!
I’m asking you: take the time to check the action these hard-working men and women are putting in. See them live or even follow them through the posts they make on various social media outlets. They don’t only put on great shows but are active in our communities supporting various events from special Olympians to cat rescue shelters. Long live the Maritime independent wrestling scene! Making memories for the young and the young at heart for years and years to come!