The ninth part in our 10-part series looking at 150 Canadian names in pro wrestling, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Part 9 of the Canada 150, an alphabetical listing of Canadians’ impact on pro wrestling from the 1920’s to today.
Guelph, Ontario’s KC Spinelli always knew she wanted to be a pro wrestler and in 2009, she began her dream. She started out on the West Coast as a regular performer with Vancouver’s ECCW, and in 2011 won the ECCW Women’s Championship and held it for an astounding 512 days. With her championship win, she springboarded into the American indie scene, debuting with SHIMMER that same year. She formed a tag team called Danger Zone with fellow Canadian Courtney Rush (now Rosemary in GFW) and terrorized the indies, and by 2015 she began working with Smash Wrestling in Canada as well. Last year she debuted with Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), AAA in Mexico, Global Force Wrestling and Alpha-1 in Canada.
New Brunswick’s Don Jardine made his wrestling debut in 1955 at the age of 15. In 1959, he began with Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto, appearing as “Babyface” Don Jardine, a protegee of Whipper Billy Watson. In 1964, at the age of 24, he had an NWA World Heavyweight title match on television, against champion Lou Thesz. In 1967, he moved to Texas to work for Big Time Wrestling (Fritz Von Erich‘s promotion that later became WCCW) where he became his most famous gimmick, The Spoiler. He would work for multiple promotions throughout his career – he headlined Madison Square Garden with the WWWF in a match against WWWF Champion Pedro Morales and faced NWA World Champions Jack Brisco and Harley Race as well. In the early 80’s, he was part of the original Legion of Doom stable, that featured the Road Warriors, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and King Kong Bundy. Jardine was also a trainer, with perhaps his most famous student being The Undertaker – his top rope walk move became one of Undertaker’s signature moves (“Old School”).
“The Canadian Rebel” StarBuck may not exactly be a very well known name to most of us in North America, but he’s actually created quite a legacy in Europe. Born in Timmins, Ontario, he moved to Calgary for art school in 1992, but instead decided to become a professional wrestler. Trained by Lance Storm, he made his debut in 1994. But two years later, he moved to Finland (his parents were Finnish). Professional wrestling wasn’t much of a thing in Finland at the time, so StarBuck became a pioneer in the country. He set up Finland’s first promotion, Valhalla Pro Wrestling, and has been a major promoter in Scandinavia since, as well as wrestling all over Europe and Japan himself.
Quebec’s Stan Stasiak debuted in 1958 and for years was a journeyman throughout the territories. In 1971, he joined the WWWF and in 1973 became the man who defeated Pedro Morales for the WWWF World title after Morales’ three year run. Stasiak was working as a heel and became the transitional champion set to face a returning Bruno Sammartino. Stasiak remained with the WWWF until 1979, when he left for Pacific Northwest of the NWA and began teaming with Roddy Piper. He also worked in the AWA, facing Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World title. He retired in 1984. His son, Shawn Stasiak, was a wrestler for the WWF (where he was known as Meat, as the male valet for Pretty Mean Sisters) and in WCW with the stable the Natural Born Thrillers.
Another wrestler from the Winnipeg area, Sarah Stock debuted in 2002, primarily with Canadian independents, including ECCW, as well as with the Wild Samoans’ promotion, World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) in Pennsylvania. In 2003, she moved to Mexico and began wrestling under a mask as Dark Angel, first with AAA, then to CMLL, where she spent over a decade performing. She began working in Japan in 2005, culminating in a run with Stardom in 2012. She also had runs with SHIMMER and TNA in the US, the latter of which as Sarita, who teamed with NXT’s Thea Trinidad (as Rosita) in the Mexican America faction. She retired in 2015 as one of the world’s top female performers, taking a position as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center. When PC Women’s Head Trainer Sara Del Rey was promoted to the main roster as a producer last year, Stock took over the position.
Originally from Sarnia, Ontario, Lance Storm moved to Calgary to train in the Hart Dungeon in 1990. He worked Canadian indies early on, often with training partner Chris Jericho, as well as in Japan with Wrestling Association “R” (WAR). In 1994, he moved to Smokey Mountain Wrestling, where he and Jericho were paired up as The Thrillseekers. In 1997, he joined ECW and formed a heel team with Chris Candido. When Candido and Storm broke up, he joined with Justin Credible as the Impact Players. During his ECW run, he collected three ECW World Tag Team titles. In 2000, he made the jump to WCW, where he was pushed heavily as a patriotic Canadian heel, winning the WCW US title, WCW Cruiserweight title and the WCW Hardcore title (renaming them all to the Canadian Heavyweight title, 100kg and Under title, and the Saskatchewan Hardcore Invitational Title – SHIT). When WCW was purchased by WWE in 2001, Storm was one of the few kept on, becoming the first WCW wrestler to “invade” the WWE, interfering in a match between Saturn and Steve Blackman, when he stormed the ring and superkicked Saturn. He remained with the WWE for four years, forming another anti-American gimmick with Christian as the UnAmericans. He retired in 2004 as a 4x WWE World Tag Team Champion and Intercontinental Champion, taking a trainer position with the WWE at their developmental in Ohio Valley Wrestling. A year later, he left the WWE to open his own school in Calgary, which he still runs and operates.
The most famous Canadian women’s wrestler of all time – and arguably one of the most popular Canadian wrestlers of all time – Toronto’s Trish Stratus started her training in 2000 with Ron Hutchison. She debuted in the WWF shortly after, beginning as a valet for the new team of Test and Albert (T & A). She would go on to a stellar 6-year career in the WWE, winning a record seven (7) Women’s titles, while creating a legendary rivalry with Lita that many rank as the greatest women’s rivalry of all time. She retired in 2006 to start a family but still occasionally makes small cameos with the WWE.
Toronto’s Sebastian Suave debuted in 2006, becoming a staple on the Ontario indie circuit for years, working with Great Canadian Wrestling (GCW) and Border City Wrestling (BCW) to name a few. In 2010, he worked a dark match for Ring of Honor and the following year worked in CHIKARA and CZW amongst others. A solid grappler with a diversified skill set, Suave became a promoter in 2011. He founded Smash Wrestling which has gone on to become Canada’s premier indie promotion, often dubbed “PWG North” due to the amount of US talent that comes through – it’s a regular stop for the likes of Joey Ryan and prior to their WWE signing, they were Canadian home for Johnny Gargano (who was the Champion for nearly a year) and Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno). It was also a developing ground for such Canadian talent as Rosemary, Allie and many others. Smash continues to gain steam and book some stellar international talent – it’s recently joined the Highspots Network (the on-demand home for PWG and CZW) and last week got a TV deal with The Fight Network to produce a weekly show.
THE SUPER SMASH BROTHERS
The Quebec tandem Super Smash Brothers – featuring Evil Uno and Stu Grayson – were initially put together during their time wrestling in Montreal in the mid-2000’s, where they were known as Player Uno and Player Dos initially. They slowly began to work more and more Canadian indies, as well as branching into the US. In 2007, they began working with CHIKARA, winning their tag team titles, Campeonatos de Parejas, from Delirious and Hallowicked. In 2009, they began to compete periodically with Ring of Honor, even upsetting the legendary pairing of Kevin Steen and El Generico. They joined PWG in 2011, and a year later, defeated The Young Bucks for the PWG World Tag Team titles. They continue to work indies across the US, as well as at home with Smash Wrestling, C4 and Alpha-1, and in Europe, with IPW:UK and Germany’s wXw.
SWEET DADDY SIKI
Originally born in Texas, Sweet Daddy Siki debuted in 1955 but emigrated to Canada in 1961 to set up his base of operations in Toronto (where he still resides). He made his debut with Maple Leaf Wrestling in 1962 and was one of the company’s top stars right through until the early 1980’s. He also had memorable runs with Stampede Wrestling throughout his career. He retired in the 1990’s and began training young wrestlers, often with Ron Hutchison. Two of his biggest students were Edge and Christian – he appeared on Smackdown the night of Edge’s retirement.
Le TABERNAK DE TEAM
Another formidable tag team from la belle province, Quebec, Tabernak de Team (or TDT) – featuring Mathieu St. Jacques and Thomas Dubois – have been on a steamroller run since they teamed up back in 2011. Originally working the Quebec independents, most notably Combat Revolution Wrestling, they began to work more nationally and internationally as they went on – they’ve since worked Ring of Honor, CHIKARA, CZW, and Beyond in the US and continue to be regulars in Canada with Smash, C4, Alpha-1 and others. Earlier this year at a Smash event, they had a stellar match-up against Progress tag team The London Riots that tore the house down. This young, physical duo has all the tools to be a huge success on the indie circuit or anywhere else they decide to work.
While the US has Frank Gotch and Europe has George Hackenschmidt, Canada’s grandfather of professional wrestling is Jack Taylor. Born in Bruce County, Ontario in 1887, he moved out west to Saskatchewan at the turn of the century. There he began professional wrestling, inspired by the likes of Frank Gotch as well as local wrestlers like Clarence Eklund. For a few years, Taylor even apprenticed under Martin “Farmer” Burns, Gotch’s trainer. For the first few decades of the 1900’s, Taylor was Canada’s undisputed wrestling superstar, facing World Champion Charles Cutler and many other top stars from around the world. In 1912, Jack Taylor began training Toots Mondt at Farmer Burns’ training camp, and Taylor was the childhood hero of Stu Hart (whom Mondt would in turn train later on). Jack Taylor was a tough competitor who refused to play by the rules of the governing bodies of the emerging territories – he was repeatedly denied World title shots because of his insistence of playing by his own rules – but there was no question he was considered one of the toughest competitors of his day. He retired in 1942, after nearly 40 years in the industry. He died in 1956 following a stroke, at the age of 69.
After a chance meeting with Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart in the mid-90’s, Andrew Martin was trained by both Hart and Leo Burke to become a wrestler. He made his debut in 1997 on the Canadian indie circuit, before joining the WWF in 1998 under the name Test. His first run with the WWF ran 6-years, where he was an Intercontinental, European, and 2x Hardcore Champion, plus a 2x World Tag Team champion with Booker T. He left the WWE in 2004, but returned nearly 2 years later as part of the revamped ECW under the WWE banner. After a year, he left the WWE again, following a suspension for failing the Wellness Policy. In 2007, he retired from wrestling. Sadly, any chance of a comeback were cut short, as he passed away in his sleep in 2009 at the age of 33. A remarkable big man with one of the deadliest “Big Boots” in the game, he was a wealth of untapped potential.
THE TOLOS BROTHERS
The Tolos brothers – John and Chris – from Hamilton, Ontario, debuted in the 1950’s as the Canadian Wrecking Crew, capturing the WWWF US Tag Team titles from Killer Kowalski and Gorilla Monsoon in 1963. They became tag team specialists, hard hitting and relentless, capturing tag team gold throughout the NWA territories in Canada, such as Stampede Wrestling, Maple Leaf Wrestling, and All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver. During the 1960’s, John Tolos would work as a singles wrestler in Los Angeles, where “The Golden Greek” would engage in a legendary feud against Freddie Blassie. During the early 90’s, John – now retired as an active wrestler – would briefly re-emerge in the WWF as a manager simply called Coach, managing Mr. Perfect and the Beverley Brothers.