Celebrated longtime wrestling expert, historian, book author and much more—Bertrand Hebert—outdid himself this past CAC/Vegas with his seminar on the wonderful Montreal wrestling scene (which spotlit the important Vachon Grand Prix, Rougeau La Lutte groups, and their territorial rivalry there in the early to mid seventies), from its earliest inception to current indie promoters and shows. He and his book-writing tag teammate, Patric Laprade, are perhaps the top experts on wrestling history in Quebec and beyond the province. Paired with the seminar on Pacific Northwest Wrestling MC’d by CAC boardmember Ron Hutchison, these were amongst our best seminars ever, SRO packed, and we were blessed to have them occur this year. Glory-days territorial magic and wrestling history overall is a precious commodity for many of us, and few treat it with as much love and respect as Bertrand.
If all he did in Vegas for CAC this year wasn’t enough, Bertrand also presented “Alexis/Alexia Smirnoff” with his CAC award.
Bertrand’s seminar, Mad Dogs, Midgets & Screw Jobs: The Untold Story of How Montreal Shaped The World of Wrestling, which is also the name of the must-read book he wrote with Patric, had many highspots, like recounting some of Andre Rousimoff’s history and how he went to work for Montreal’s Grand Prix (the Vachons, Carpentier, and his old Paris pal, Frank Valois). They also talk about his first Japan tour as Monster Rousimoff, where he caught the attention of Karl Gotch and other legends there. Bertrand and his seminar guests, like Michel (Le Justice) Dubois, better known later as Alexis Smirnoff, discussed how Andre ended up in Montreal after starting his wrestling career in France. And how then Montreal Grand Prix global stars—Killer Kowalski, Don Leo Jonathan, Tarzan (Le Boot) Tyler, the Leducs, obviously Mad Dog & Butcher Vachon, and others—helped Andre get over. Bertrand said those legends helped finesse Andre’s existing routine, while allowing him to make the best use of his available skills and time-tested nuance to become, and be, “that giant.” The crowd at the lecture/discussion was at full attention when Bertrand discussed his history with Vince McMahon, Sr. and how Andre was eventually booked globally to become the biggest touring attraction ever.
But Bertrand’s seminar didn’t stop there. He talked about one of the greatest territorial wars this side of Sheik/Dick the Bruiser, which was going on at the same time down in Detroit. Without giving away everything in his book, Bertrand and crew discussed wrestling history prior to the ‘70s period, as well as beyond it. He covered everything the Rougeau family did with their own promotional crew of stars and special attractions like Abdullah the Butcher, moved on to the WWF-supported group, and up to Montreal’s most recent independent groups and stars. It was a masterful treatise in Montreal and beyond, pro wrestling history with plenty of unknown facts about the ups and downs in Vachon/Rougeau relationships. Of particular interest was Dino Bravo’s promotional work after Grand Prix folded and ultimate demise. Bertrand even talked about how important and influential Vivian Vachon was to women’s wrestling overall.
In my regular column for the new CAC Ear newsletter, I wanted to salute relatively new wrestling book authors who have books that are new to me, like Brennon Martin’s Teeny (about the legendary Miss Christine Jarrett) and Pro Wrestling in the Pacific Northwest by Steven Verrier. I also gave Crowbar Press author/publisher Scott Teal a plug, as well, since he had several new wrestling history books at his vendor table. But I stupidly failed to salute Bertrand and his book-writing partner Patric Laprade. Pat and Bertrand haven’t missed a CAC/Vegas since 2012, although Pat missed this year because he was doing French commentary for WWE’s RAW and SmackDown.
Bertrand worked tirelessly for three days at his vendor table in the CAC’s large nostalgia/meeting room. Journalists like yours truly were clicking away when Pat Patterson came over to meet with Bertrand and help him sell Accepted, Pat’s autobiography they wrote together. Bertrand and Patric also collaborated on Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story and are expected to release an Andre the Giant biography in 2020. Bertrand also has classic, but extremely rare, Montreal TV wrestling on DVD.
Merci, Bertrand Hebert!