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RICHARD CHARLAND: THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

For the most part, the pecking order within professional wrestling has always been clearly defined, even to the casual viewer. The main eventers are the guys who win most of the time, and the jobbers are the guys who lose almost all of the time. As you can see, it's very easy to keep track of who's who. However, there is a third tier to this simple classification: that being the mid-card wrestler. He's the fellow that starts out as a preliminary loser but slowly works his way up to the point where he actually starts winning a few matches. After that, he's usually paired with a veteran grappler as a winning tag team in order to show fans he can hang with the established guys, and this also lays the groundwork for his elevation to the main events. At least, that's how it's supposed to work. Unfortunately, not every wrestler who shows

excellent potential and patience winds up headlining the big arenas, and it's often not through any particular fault of his own. International Wrestling's Richard Charland was a classic example of this syndrome in play.

Discovered by Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon, who was impressed by his skills in judo and amateur wrestling, Charland was offered a spot to start out in the Grand Prix Wrestling promotion. Initially trained by Luigi Marcera, Omer Marchessault and Edouard Carpentier, young Richard made his pro debut in 1972 at the tender age of sixteen, defeating Pat Girard Jr. Like most young beginners of that era, Charland's physique and appearance wouldn't have given "Superstar" Billy Graham any sleepless nights. He was a stocky kid with a typically bad 1970's hair-do. If you've ever seen any early pictures of Ric Flair before he discovered Clairol and the weight room, you'll have a good idea of what Charland looked like. Recently, I was fortunate enough to view one of his early Grand Prix matches in which he was paired with Gigi The Greek to go against a young Sailor White and The UFO (who was really Bob Della Serra under the mask). Even though he was still quite green, you could clearly tell that this young Charland, in terms of pure skill, was already miles ahead of other preliminary wrestlers who had been around much longer.   More...

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