The corner of the Internet occupied by Independent Wrestling exploded this week when it was reported that Montreal-based independent wrestler El Generico had signed with the WWE. What the “dirt sheets” (i.e. the wrestling news and rumour web-sites) are currently reporting is that, “El Generico has not signed a WWE contract, but there is a verbal deal in place. WWE protocol is to not actually offer written contracts until the prospective wrestler has passed all drug tests and medical tests.”
So, is it true? As a Montreal wrestling insider and a guy who once upon a time booked El Generico, I might be expected to know the truth. But I don’t… and if I did know the truth, I wouldn’t tell you. In fact, if I knew the truth, I would tell you that I knew nothing, because that’s the kind of business wrestling is and I am a bit old school about kay-fabe (i.e. not telling the fans what is really going on.)
What I do know to be true is that El Generico will be in Montreal this Sunday, wrestling for local wrestling promotion BATTLEWAR at Les Foufounes Électriques. And this may very well be the very last time that Montreal fans of El Generico will be able to see him wrestling as an independent wrestler. And if it is true that El Generico is about to be signed to a WWE deal, the cozy confines of Foufs will definitely be the closest that Montreal wrestling fans will be able to get to him for a long, long time.
The irony for those who know El Generico’s secret origin is that he was created to be a one match joke – a jobber to be stretched, beaten and discarded, but the wrestling fans who were there the night he debuted refused to let that happen. And today, the “joke” – whether he signs with the WWE or not – is an international wrestling superstar. But it all started in a dive of a pool bar, in the Greek neighbourhood of Chomedey, Laval in a wrestling federation that was sneeringly referred to as “le fed Canadian Tire” by the traditional Québec wrestling federations of the day. The pool bar was Le Skratch, the federation was the International Wrestling Syndicate, the event was Scarred For Life, the day was July 14th, 2002.
At its heart, wrestling is all about the “Tinkerbell” moment, that moment in Peter Pan when Tinkerbell lies dead and the outraged audience shouts and claps and cheers; desperate to change the outcome. The best wrestling crowds are the ones who are united in their belief that if they believe hard enough; if they clap hard enough; if they shout hard enough – they can change the outcome. The IWS crowd was such a crowd, or at least it became such a crowd on July 14th, 2002.
Because El Generico was “created” by the fans, virtually every IWS fan has a creation myth, an origin story for him. This is mine.
I am El Generico’s Father
The Secret Origin of the Generic Luchadore
“Inquissima haec bellorum condicio est: prospera omnes sibi indicant, aduersa uni imputantur”
“This is an unfair thing about war wrestling: victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone”
–Tacitus, Agricola 27:1
I started going to IWS shows in late 2001. Immediately, I started writing about the shows for the wrestling web-site slashwrestling.com run by Christopher Robin Zimmerman, which eventually morphed into the message board The W. At the time, I was still trying to find my voice and what I ended up writing about the IWS were ridiculously long move by move descriptions of the shows, made even more ridiculous by my inability to get basic facts right: like which official reffed what match or whether the DJ was a girl – or a guy with long hair – or which Hardcore Ninja was which. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), the wrestlers and the IWS owner, PCP Crazy F’N Manny, seemed to like what I wrote. Eventually, in January 2003, this would lead to Manny giving me a spot on the IWS booking committee and a job as the IWS publicist.
The main reason that Manny decided to hire me was because of an argument that I got into with one of his wrestlers: Anthony Tonin aka TNT. At the time, TNT was using a technical heel gimmick – claiming that he was the best technical wrestler in Québec. I love technical heels, and at the time TNT had as much right to that gimmick as anyone, since he had spent time wrestling for Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association when it was still a WWF development territory. But I couldn’t support TNT’s version of the gimmick, because TNT refused to act like a technical heel in the ring. Specifically, he refused to stretch people and he especially refused to stretch rookies, which to me was inexcusable. Being put in the ring with a rookie and not stretching him is almost immoral by my standards.
A couple of weeks after writing a scathing online attack on TNT’s (in)abilities, the IWS put on an outdoor show during the Montreal Fringe Festival. After the show, I introduced myself to TNT and we had a very good-natured argument about his ability in the ring and his gimmick. Under the circumstances, he was very gracious to me, confirming my suspicion that he was too nice for his gimmick.
TNT objected to my demands for him to stretch people on two grounds: first, he explained that he had trained or helped train most of the kids that he faced, so he didn’t want to hurt them. I countered that I wasn’t asking him to hurt them, just to make it look like he was hurting them. TNT’s second point was more pertinent, he worried that stretching his opponent – humiliating them – would kill their heat and end their careers before they even started. I argued that the opposite was true – that the bigger a dick that TNT was, the bigger a face – a hero – his opponent could be; that a rookie would get more cheers by landing one offensive move in a squash than by fighting TNT in an even-steven match. We agreed to disagree on that point.
Little did I know that this argument would lead to the creation of El Generico.
“Cactus Jack, Norman tried to be an angel out there, but you wouldn’t let him, because you were not the devil. People can talk about your bumps all they want, but until you learn to be the devil in the ring, you will never be fully all that you can.”
While I was busy quoting Terry Funk’s advice for Mick Foley to TNT, Manny was listening. After all the fans dispersed and the IWS ring was packed back in the truck, Manny and TNT talked. They agreed that at the next IWS show, TNT would take a rookie into the ring and stretch the crap out of him in an elongated squash. How they picked their victim is more legend than truth, to be honest.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
–The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance
According to one story, he was a red-headed Mexican who washed dishes in the kitchen of the pool bar Le Skratch where the IWS did their monthly shows. According to a more embroidered story, he was a native of Tijuana who trained in lucha libre in his hometown, until he was banished in disgrace after dropping one of his fellow students on their head with an illegal brain-buster. The wrestler who became El Generico fled north, searching for a place with greater compassion – and harder heads – where he could wrestle as he pleased. Somehow, this search brought him to Laval.
A more prosaic version of the story suggests that he was a young wrestler working the smaller Québec indy feds who picked either the worst possible moment or the best possible moment to pester Manny for an opportunity. Like all the best wrestling legends, all of the stories are true and none of them are.
The day of the show, Manny – perhaps feeling guilty about throwing the kid to the wolf – decided to send him out under a hood (i.e. wearing a mask.) One of the IWS wrestlers, Damien ran a table during the shows selling bootleg Japanese wrestling tapes and authentic Mexican wrestling masks. Manny took an Octagon mask off Damien’s table and gave it to the rookie to wear in the match.
According to IWS lore, in broken English, the young red-headed Mexican protested that he would be wearing someone else’s mask – a huge violation of the sacred traditions of Lucha Libre. Manny pointed out that he was only going to wear it for one match; that Octagon would probably never even hear about it; that it was to protect him from being branded a jobber; and did he want spend the rest of his life washing dishes?
In the back, Manny and his DJ, Tony Falcone, chose the most generic Mexican music possible. (The Bouncing Souls only came later.) One of the IWS wrestlers, Dylan Joffre aka Kid Kamikaze, gave the rookie his training pants from the wrestling school run by WWE veteran Jacques Rougeau Junior. One of the valets used a magic marker to cover the rookie in temporary tattoos, all in an effort to make him look like the most generic luchador possible – the epitome of the one night joke jobber.
Which is how Brian the Guppie, the IWS ring announcer, came to announce the IWS debut of Tijuana native, El Generico, the Generic Luchadore.
Much to TNT’s annoyance, El Generico tried to rally the crowd to his side from the outset by shouting “Olé!” and the IWS crowd gave a good-natured “Olé!” back. This back and forth banter between El Generico and the crowd continued during the opening minute, until TNT lost it and murdered El Generico with a vicious Stan Hansen lariat and then stepped on his neck, screaming at him “Olé! NOW, you son-of-a-bitch!” Well, the IWS crowd didn’t like that much. Who was TNT to be stealing their fun? TNT eventually broke off choking El Generico to put him into a surfboard variant which left one hand free, so that TNT could pull back on El Generico’s arms with one hand and swat the back of his head with the other.
It was at this point that the IWS crowd had an epiphany – a moment of clarity. It was at this point that the crowd switched from chanting “Olé!” to echo El Generico because it was fun to do and started chanting “OLÉ!” on their own because – well, for lots of reasons. Because they wanted to support El Generico; because they hated TNT; because they suddenly realized that everyone else in Le Skratch was chanting; because they suddenly believed that if they kept chanting El Generico could win.
It was a “Tinker-Bell” moment.
So they chanted – no WE chanted, and the harder TNT stretched El Generico, the harder we chanted; the more brutal TNT was, the harder we chanted; the more TNT hated it, the harder we chanted, until TNT was reduced to strangling El Generico with a scissors hold so that he could cut off the “Olé!” from his opponent while cutting off the crowd’s “OLÉ!” by keeping his hands over his ears.
Finally, in frustration, TNT grabbed a chair and pillmanized El Generico’s neck, silencing us… but only briefly. As TNT stood outside the ring, he was forced to shout at IWS referee Ruffneck over a massive “OLÉ!” chant. TNT insisted that Ruffneck count him out, giving the victory to the seemingly-crippled El Generico. TNT tried to grab the mike to shift the blame for what he had done to El Generico’s neck to us, but the chanting only grew louder and TNT eventually gave up and went to the back. Our chanting only stopped when El Generico was carried to the back himself.
In the back, Manny looked down at the bruised luchadore and said, “You do realize, now you’re stuck with the mask?”
As the dust cleared, a few things were clear. We did not know who El Generico was, but we wanted him back. That night, the IWS fans chose the man that they would cheer for more; cheer for louder; cheer for over and above anyone else. That night, we turned El Generico from a joke to a fixture. That night, we created El Generico. That night, we earned the right to say…
I am El Generico’s Father.
The International Wrestling Syndicate held its last show October 9th, 2010 when Manny decided to call it quits. In 2012, the wrestlers of the IWS started a new promotion called BATTLEWAR.
El Generico will be wrestling in Montreal (perhaps for the last time as an independent wrestler) for BATTLEWAR this Sunday, January 13th in Les Foufounes Électriques, 87 Sainte-Catherine Street East. Doors open at 7PM, show starts at 8PM, tickets are $15 at the door. The Generic Luchador is scheduled to face “The Kentucky Gentleman” Chuck Taylor, an American wrestler that has feuded with El Generico across multiple wrestling promotions.
I highly recommend that you come see the show.
Also scheduled for the show:
Tag Team Street Fight: 3.0 vs. Le Tabarnak de Team!
Singles Action: Dirty Buxx Belmar vs. Superstar Shayne Hawke!
First Time Ever: The Rock N’ Roid Express vs. Chikara superstars, The Throwbacks!
Grudge Match: Giant Tiger vs. The Swamp Monster!
This is article is a bit of experiment for Sound on Sight. We are thinking of starting a wrestling section with a weekly wrestling podcast and doing reviews of Raw, Smackdown and the monthly pay-per-views. Would that be something that you would be interested in seeing us do? If we did do a wrestling section, we would be looking for writers and podcasters. Contact Michael Ryan, [email protected] if you are interested.