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The Territory That Could Have Been pt.1
by Marty Goldstein on 2001-06-18

In 1996 there were zero fulltime wrestling promotions and only 10 or so spots shows a year in the Maritimes. Some very good workers in the area and indeed, all of Canada had no where to go, and neither did the fans. Also, times were changing in the public expectation. The revival of a competitive wrestling environment in the Maritimes, indeed the existence of the upstart RAW promotion that has for the moment beaten Grand Prix into submission, is direct result of an invitation for outsiders to tour the dormant territory in 1996. Told here for the first time, at the center of the story are a number of Winnipeggers, including current RAW star and former Dupree mainstay Chi Chi Cruz. The story of the territory that could have been includes a number of well-known characters and some WWF superstars.

The proposed tour was sought after by a PR company in Fredericton. One of the principals was a former Winnipegger who 2 years earlier had attended Winnipegs' first hardcore-style shows (in 1994 this referred to logical, emotionally compelling booking and solid work which leads to the people believing). She contacted the former event coordinator and co-booker and insisted that the style and performers of that crew would revitalize the market.

Kerry Brown, who was a Maritime and Quebec legend under a different name, Rick Valentine, was viewed a major draw. Suicide Stan Saxon had risen to a level which despite knee trouble made him the best heel and best interview around in 1994 and was a brilliant booker. Bruiser Bastein had been elevated from going nowhere in WFWA to a well rounded and athletic performer on the "theatresport" shows. Gene Swan was a likeable veteran native Canadian who bled buckets. And the booker and leader of that crew was Chi Chi Cruz.

Not all were available or interested in an 18 day tour stretching to Campbellton and lasting past Nov. 20. Starting with the producer, who held the creative copyright on the well-regarded shows and was reluctant to get involved, but he knew the demand for wrestling was there and the fact he was sought out to do "his" production was a major coup. But Cruz had to be replaced on top.

To fill the holes out of Winnipeg, Caveman Broda, who was last in the Maritimes in 1987 on an opposition tour against Dupree, (coincidentally Cruz' first tour in wrestling), was willing to handle the ring and work Bobby Collins. Still, half a crew was needed. The creative team told the backers in Fredericton that the preconditions included money in the bank, producing the shows in the same format as those from the Junkyard Club, the shows would continue the storylines of "Rough House 'Rasslin", and that talent would be secured to fill out the crew. The idea was to book the Winnipeg guys against...who?

To be continued...

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