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THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC: DINO BRAVO vs. RICK MARTEL

In the province of Quebec it has often been said that the three things which are most important in the minds of its inhabitants are religion, politics and hockey. In fact, much of the time, you can hardly tell the difference between the three with regard to how often they overlap with each other and how deeply passionate Quebecers feel about them. In many respects, professional wrestling should be included as a fourth entry on that list. 

Certainly, its history in Quebec dates back just as far as hockey's, and during the 1940's and 1950's, Yvon Robert was just as popular here as was the NHL's legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard. "The Lion Of Quebec," as Robert became known, was even approached at one time to run for mayor of Montreal. 

Around the same period, the Catholic Church complained frequently that the regular Wednesday night wrestling cards televised from the Montreal Forum were drawing parishioners away from the houses of worship. Although much has changed both socially and politically in the province since that era, the old passions have remained the same.

1980 was definitely a watershed year in Quebec on all of these fronts. The social dominance of the church was in full decline while all Canadians were gearing up for what would be the first of two referendums on whether or not the province of Quebec would separate to become its own country. Upheaval also ruled the local sports front as the Quebec Nordiques were one of four teams from the defunct World Hockey Association to join the NHL, sparking an instant rivalry with the venerable Montreal Canadians. To put it bluntly, confrontation was the order of the day. 

Although it happened rather quietly amid all of the other noteworthy occurrences, major league wrestling returned to the province that same year as Frank Valois, Andre The Giant and Gino Brito formed what would later be known as International Wrestling. The first babyface star to emerge from the new company was Montreal native Dino Bravo, yet he was hardly a stranger to local mat fans.   More...

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