Part 2 in our series looking at 150 Canadian names in pro wrestling, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Part 2 of the Canada 150, an alphabetical listing of Canadians’ impact on pro wrestling from the 1920’s to today.
“BULLDOG” BOB BROWN
Former Manitoba police officer “Bulldog” Bob Brown turned to professional wrestling in the late 1950’s, becoming one of Western Canada’s biggest stars. While he found great success in his home country with ASW in Vancouver and Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, he also found success south of the border in the United States, regularly working with Verne Gagne‘s AWA as well as many NWA territories (primarily NWA Central States). In his latter years, he became a prominent Western Canada promoter, working with CNWA in Calgary and WFWA in Winnipeg, where he is credited as being the first man to book Chris Jericho and Lance Storm.
Leo Burke is a member of the influential Cormier family of the Maritimes, getting his start in 1966 in NWA Central States – his first championship title came in 1968 when he beat fellow Canadian (and prior entrant) “Bulldog” Bob Brown for the NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship. He spent much of the 1970’s bouncing around various NWA territories as well as being a staunch regular with his brother Jean-Louis Cormier‘s Eastern Sports Association (ESA) promotion. In 1977, he moved to Calgary to join Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling, where he would become the company’s top star for years, retiring as an 8x Stampede North American Champion and 6x Stampede International Tag Team Champion. Near the end of his career, he made the jump to Puerto Rico’s WWC, where he also collected one reign as the WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion. He is considered by many Canadian wrestlers as one of the top Canadian grapplers of all time.
Before there was George “The Animal” Steele, there was Quebec’s own distressed brute – the legendary Brute Bernard. Discovered in the early 50’s in Montreal by Gino Brito‘s father, Jack Britton, it didn’t take long for Brute Bernard’s unique appearance and unorthodox style to catch the notice of bigger promotions – his tag team with fellow Canadian Skull Murphy became star attractions throughout the NWA and a young WWWF in the 1960’s. He collected thirteen titles in the NWA territories and in the late 70’s, he also became a big star in the emerging NJPW. When Matt Bloom (aka Albert) wrestled in NJPW as Giant Bernard, his name was a tribute to Brute Bernard’s popularity in Japan.
St. Mary’s, Ontario was where Traci Brooks began her life, but she ended up being one of Impact Wrestling‘s most beloved Knockouts for over a decade. She trained with legendary Canadian trainers Ron Hutchinson and Scott D’Amore, appearing for both men’s promotions, Apocalypse Wrestling Federation (AWF) and BCW respectfully, in her formative years. In 2003, she debuted with TNA as Ms. Brooks, becoming of TNA’s stand-out Knockouts until her retirement in 2015. During that time she managed such Impact stars as Bobby Roode and The Main Event Mafia and despite having some high profile matches, never collected Knockouts Championship gold. She is married to wrestler Frankie Kazarian.
GEORGE “BABYFACE” CANNON
Montreal’s George Cannon began wrestling in the early 1950’s, in Canada, Japan and various NWA territories, before switching to managing in the 1970’s (he was most notably the manager for the Fabulous Kangaroos). In the late 70’s, he moved to Windsor, Ontario and produced the long remembered Superstars of Wrestling television show, that used wrestlers from nearby Detroit’s Big Time Wrestling (run by The Sheik) and other Canadian promotions. A well respected mind of the business, in the early 1980’s, he became a partner with Vince McMahon Jr. in the fledgling WWF, but unfortunately had to pull out due to health issues. Cannon sadly passed away in 1994 following a battle with cancer.
Originally born in France, Carpentier emigrated to Canada after the second world war and became one of Canada’s greatest wrestling stars of the 1950’s and 1960’s. In June of 1957, Carpentier defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz in a highly controversial match – Thesz was injured in the match and couldn’t continue. While some NWA territories accepted the title change, many more did not. This led to one of the first major cracks in the territories and was a partial factor in the AWA seceding. A frequent tag team partner of Bobo Brazil in the 1960’s, Carpentier would work for most major promotions throughout his near 30 year career. After his wrestling days ended, he would work commentary for the French language versions of WWF Superstars.
One of two Canadians who “totally reek of awesomeness”, Christian is one of the WWE’s most decorated stars of all time: 2x World Champion, 4x Intercontinental Champion, and a 9x Tag Team Champion amongst others. His tag team work alongside Edge during the Attitude Era, in rivalries with The Dudley Boyz and/or Hardy Boyz, are considered landmarks in pro wrestling history for tag team revitalization in the WWE. He briefly left WWE in the mid-2000’s with a three year stint in TNA, where he collected two reigns as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Injuries led to his retirement from the ring in recent years, but he continues to work for the WWE on WWE Network specials.
Another from the well of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Steve Corino made his mark in the original ECW, becoming ECW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000 after defeating Jerry Lynn. Instead of moving on to the WWE after ECW’s demise, “The King of Old School” made his way around the indie scene, most notably with Ring of Honor, where he captured ROH Tag Team gold with Jimmy Jacobs. He also claimed the AIW Championship. Now retired from the ring, Corino is now a trainer at the WWE Performance Center.
“THE BEAST” YVON CORMIER
Brother of Canadian wrestling legend Leo Burke, The Beast was also part of the esteemed Maritimes wrestling family the Cormiers. Burke moved to the US to begin his career in 1963, but soon returned to Canada where he joined Stampede Wrestling, often feuding with Stu Hart himself. A popular draw in the NWA territories (particularly NWA Western States), as well as Japan (he wrestled Giant Baba in front of a crowd of 45,000 people), The Beast was one of wrestling’s earliest wildmen.
A popular Canadian indie wrestler trained by Eric Young, Crazzy Steve debuted in the Ontario indies in 2003 at just 19 years old. He gained national prominence when he joined TNA in 2014 as part of Knux‘s Menagerie stable. His first few years with TNA where hot and cold, but in 2016, he became leader of the trio tandem The Decay, alongside Abyss and Rosemary, and became the hottest he’s ever been. They soon captured TNA World Tag Team gold, en route to feuding with the Hardy brothers during the summer of the Final Deletion. Steve recently left Impact Wrestling and was recently seen attending the latest round of WWE tryouts.
Another Winnipeg native, Don Callis began in Winnipeg’s WFWA promotion in 1989 where he was a mainstay for years. He joined the WWF at the beginning of the Attitude Era in 1997 as The Jackyl, the cult like leader of the Truth Commission. When that angle dried up, he introduced a new stable, the Oddities, but was quickly moved on to initially manage the Acolytes (APA) before being fired in 1999. He soon resurfaced in ECW as Cyrus The Virus, an authority figure and commentator. When ECW folded and WCW absorbed, he returned to the indies, competing regularly for BCW in Windsor, Ontario. He joined TNA briefly in 2003, but by 2004, retired from active wrestling. In January of this year, he returned to the wrestling world by becoming the new colour commentator for NJPW English commentary, alongside ROH’s Kevin Kelly.
A 20+ year veteran of the industry, Scott D’Amore is considered one of the best trainers in North America at the Can-Am School in Windsor, Ontario – he’s worked with the likes of Bobby Roode, Eric Young, KUSHIDA, Moose, Gail Kim, Sienna, Rosemary, Petey Williams and many, many more over over the years. Initially an enhancement talent in both the WWF and WCW, he formed Border City Wrestling in his hometown in 1993, and was a regular with TNA from 2003 to 2010, working on-camera and on creative. He’s best remembered for his stint as the coach of the Team Canada stable (which featured BCW grads Roode, Young, Williams, A1 and Johnny Devine). Last year, D’Amore returned to Impact Wrestling as its Vice President Of International Relations, helping secure their partnership with Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Continuing from the Canadian wrestling hot bed of Winnipeg, Allison Danger got into professional wrestling through her real life brother, Steve Corino, in 2000. She became a staple on the indie circuit, and in 2004, joined Ring of Honor. She was the manager of The Prophecy, featuring Christopher Daniels. She remained closely tied to Daniels through his ROH career, leaving the company in 2007 when Daniels headed to TNA. But perhaps Danger’s biggest contribution to the wrestling world has been her behind the scenes work. In 2005, she helped Dave Prazak form SHIMMER Womens Athletes, one of the first major women’s promotions in the US, and a company she still helps run. Sadly, due to a stroke, she had to retire from in-ring competition in 2013, but she remains a vital figure in women’s professional wrestling.
A nearly 20 year veteran of various indies, he’s best known for his work with Impact Wrestling in 2009 and his storyline with ODB. But beyond that, he’s been one of Canada’s hardest working veterans, and the 35 year old from Port Bruce, Ontario just took part in a WWE tryout a few weeks back.
Winnipeg’s Johnny Devine was stationed by the Canadian military in Calgary where he met Bret Hart and decided to become a pro wrestler. Trained at the Hart Dungeon, he soon became a part of the revived Stampede Wrestling in 1999. He also spent time in Windsor, Ontario with BCW, and was eventually part of the Team Canada unit, lead by Scott D’Amore that also featured Bobby Roode and Eric Young, that debuted in TNA in 2004. In January of 2008, he pinned Jay Lethal to become a TNA X-Division Champion. He parted ways with TNA by the end of the year and went on to become a commentator on the Fight Network. After a small hiatus, Devine returned to the indie circuit a few years back, and is now also a trainer at BCW’s illustrious Can-Am Wrestling School, alongside Scott D’Amore.