Int'l Wrestling - Montreal #14 Page #2
But it was as a manager that Creatchman found his true calling. Perfectly fluent in both languages, the diminutive "Brain" quickly got the crowd's blood boiling with his fiery delivery and raspy voice. His first major success was in guiding Abdullah The Butcher through "All-Star Wrestling" rings. As the 1970's were in full swing, he drew even bigger crowds with The Sheik.
It was with these two superstars in particular that Creatchman's value wasmost apparent. Both wrestlers were not only portrayed as savage monsters, but they were also supposed to be foreigners who weren't able to speak English or French. Of course this added to their mystique since you could only get a few garbled Arabic-sounding words out of The Sheik while Abdullah never uttered a single grunt! It was entirely up to Creatchman to propel the storylines across for these men, and he never failed to deliver.
As time went on, Creatchman became an institution unto himself in Quebec. People who barely acknowledged pro wrestling's existence still knew who he was. He had a hilariously entertaining "feud" with Montreal radio personality Ted Tevan which saw the longtime sports radio talk show host fly into hysterics anytime Creatchman's name was even mentioned! Yet as good a performer as he was in English, he was twice as good in fFench. He'd rant on and on in a deliberately stylized working class French Canadian accent that was guaranteed to cause a ruckus with the fans. His promos were classics, starting with the slow build-up which gradually turned into a flaming rant and ended with a reminder that everyone had better show up to this week's card - or else. Most times the interviewer never had to utter a word during all of this as he just held up the microphone while Eddy did his thing like clockwork.
I've been watching wrestling for about thirty years and I've seen all the great talkers and performers from just about every territory and era. Beyond a shadow of of a doubt and without any hesitation whatsoever, in my opinion, Eddy "The Brain" was easily the greatest and most entertaining wrestling manager of all time. A true professional in every sense of the word.
Another notorious character from the All-Star era was Tony Angelo. A veteran tough guy in the old WWWF, Tony was a native Quebecer who used a mafioso gimmick when he turned to managing. Donning a fedora and sunglasses, Angelo was the spitting image of infamous American mob boss Sam Giancana, who had ties to Frank Sinatra and feuded viciously with both John and Robert Kennedy.
This persona might be dated now but it was really hot during the 60's and the 70's when Montreal's own Cotroni crime family was regularly making headlines throughout the province.
Over in the rival "Grand Prix Wrestling" group during the early 70's was the colourful "Sir" Oliver Humperdink, manager of the wildly successful Hollywood Blonds (Gerry Brown & Dale "Buddy" Roberts). Sort of a cross between Captain Lou Albano and a fey Grand Wizard, Humpy was really just along for the ride because the Blonds could draw serious heat all on their own. Joining him on the circuit was future promoter Frank Valois, who got into the managing act by bringing in a huge bald monstrosity named "The Mongolian Bull" (who was actually a Belgian wrestler by the name of Jean Breston).
But by this time, both Grand Prix and All-Star were dying of wounds inflicted upon each other in the titanic promotional war which took place decades before WWF vs. WCW. This led to a historic pair of inter-promotional cards held at the Montreal Forum on February 12th and March 11th of 1974, headlinedby Don Leo Jonathan vs. Jacques Rougeau Sr. However, the only one allowed to appear on both promotions' TV shows was Creatchman himself, who once again played the catalyst during this all-too-brief "invasion". It proved to be too little too late as Grand Prix split apart and All-Star was soon to follow. After that, most of the local talent scattered with Eddy "The Brain" winding up in Detroit.
When that jack-of-all-trades George Cannon started up his "Superstars Of Wrestling" group in 1976, the first manager to make a splash was a fellow by the name of "Supermouth" Dave Drason, who was a fixture on the Ontario indy scene for years. When the promotion established itself in Montreal, former referee Rene Morgan became "Bob" Morgan, manager of the colourful masked tag team of El Santos #1 & #2, two of the bigger stars during Cannon's tenure.
Morgan may have been an ex-referee like Creatchman but that's where the similarity ended. A short, portly man, Morgan could barely speak English which was a major problem because Cannon's show had no French outlet. His main gimmick was the illegal use of his cane to interfere in matches until Mad Dog Vachon showed up one afternoon and broke it over his head. On those special occasions when The Sheik appeared on "Superstars", Creatchman was with him, by now sporting a new perm hair-do! When Cannon stopped promoting here in late 1978, local fans had to make do with watching out-of-town grappling programs.
Historically speaking, the International Wrestling years (1980-87) were definitely the golden era for managers in Quebec wrestling. Creatchman was here, of course, and he was joined in the early days by "Lord" Alfred Hayes, a most unlikely candidate for a mouthpiece in Montreal. Fresh off a stint in Verne Gagne's AWA, Hayes had close ties with both Frank Valois and Andre The Giant, who were two of the principal owners of Varoussac Promotions, as well as Edouard Carpentier. His Lordship also had the added asset of being fluent in French. Combining this with his hilarious upper class British inflections made Hayes an instant hit with the fans. His main man at that time was the great mat technician Billy Robinson who played the heel here for the only time in his career.
When Hayes eventually moved on to an announcing role with the WWF during their big expansion drive, Tarzan "The Boot" Tyler was brought in as a replacement. He had just retired following a stint in Denis Lauzon's short-lived "Professionels De La Lutte De Quebec" outlaw promotion based out of Trois-Rivieres in the summer of 1983. Although it was his first official stab at managing, Tyler briefly flirted with the notion during the dying days of Grand Prix where he handled the speaking duties for the Cuban Assassins tag team. Good on the mic, particularly in French, Tyler was also able to take a lot of bumps despite his age.
What was even more vital in having Tyler around was his ability to take some of the pressure off Eddy Creatchman. "The Brain" was getting up there inyears by this point and it really was too much to ask of him to carry the entire load like he did back in the 70's. Eddy had his usual gang of thugs and monsters while Tyler scored big by managing King Tonga in a classic feud with Dino Bravo. Some nice storyline tension was tweaked from time to time as the two heel managers crossed swords once in a while in their epic quest to rule the Quebec scene.
But tragedy struck on December 24th, 1985 when Tyler, Pierre "Mad Dog" Lefebvre and referee Adrien Desbois were killed in a horrific car crash near Chicoutimi. Aside from this terrible event being a devastating blow to the morale of the company and its wrestlers, their deaths left a huge hole in the promotion from which it never really recovered. What made matters worse was that the WWF would void their co-promotional deal with International Wrestling less than a month later and quickly begin to raid what top talent was left. Once again it was up to Eddy "The Brain" to keep the storylines floating. With Tyler gone, Creatchman was soon taking bumps in the ring that a man of his age and health shouldn't have been attempting. He'd suffered from diabetes for years, much like Jos Leduc. He desperately needed help.
That help arrived in the form of Eddy's son, "Pretty Boy" Floyd Creatchman. Floyd had dabbled in wrestling as far back as George Cannon's show. He also had a stint at managing in The Sheik's Detroit promotion in the late 70's and even faced off against his dad on a few occasions, but had dropped out of sight for years. Now he was back and may actually have been the first guy to dump the manager's moniker in favour of being labeled a "sports agent". This could have been an intriguing premise but he strangely never went anywhere with it.
Floyd was a decent performer with the microphone but he paled in comparison to his father. He had a higher-pitched nasally whine of a voice and couldn't ad lib or flow as well as "The Brain", but he served his purpose by allowing his dad much needed time off. His greatest moment came on June 30th, 1986 when his protege The Great Samu (a poor man's King Tonga) defeated an ailing Dino Bravo for the International title at the Paul Sauve Centre. Bravo had just come off an emergency appendectomy which forced him to cancel an appearance with Rick Martel at that year's Crockett Cup tag team tournament down in the Carolinas. Samu held the belt only a shade over four months as he dropped it on November 3rd to "Dr.D" David Shultz, kicking off International's last ditch effort to survive by forming a talent exchange with Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council.
One of Floyd's memorable feuds in the last months of International was when Abdullah The Butcher turned on his dad and joined up with manager Deepak Singh, who was an old buddy of Abby's and a peripheral figure on the Montreal scene since the 1950's. Watching Singh stumble his way through promos at top speed like a raving lunatic made for some truly awful television. Floyd imported the wild Bruiser Brody from Puerto Rico to give local fans a taste of their long-running bloodbaths. The closest the younger Creatchman ever got to managing a singles champion after The Great Samu was through his brief association with "Sadistic" Steve Strong (Steve DiSalvo), a man long on potential but short on accomplishments.
By the end of June 1987, International Wrestling was dead. Like all similar territories, it was a sad thing to slowly watch it perish during that final year and a half. Perhaps we Quebec fans had been spoiled by all the major league talent who had regularly performed in our rings, or maybe we were just experienced enough to tell the difference between the big stars who were gone and the minor players who were left. In any case, the decline in talent was all too apparent. But we still have the memories (and videotapes) of many great managerial performers like Eddy Creatchman and Alfred Hayes who justifiably are held in equal esteem with their in-ring counterparts in the eyes of both the fans and of history.
NEXT MONTH :
The men behind the microphone.
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