Mad Dog Vachon has a belief that you shouldn’t drink anything while you are eating. No water, pop or alcohol.
Butcher Vachon has stopped smoking cigars, but he still carries one around in his pocket — and it makes a good tip for an enthusiastic, slightly star-struck waiter in downtown Toronto.
Ah, the things you learn while sitting down for dinner with two of Canada’s most famous citizens.
Mad Dog and the Butcher were in town in early June filming parts for the next six episodes of John Dolin’s Wrestling With The Past series for the Comedy Network. Following the success of last year’s Wrestling With The Past episode on Mad Dog Vachon, Dolin has half-hour shows planned for Butcher Vachon, The Love Brothers, Gene Kiniski, Whipper Watson, Killer Kowalski and animals in wrestling, including bears and alligators. The first airs this Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. ET.
Dolin invited this reporter along in early June to see some of the shows being filmed at a curling rink in East York, and then to a late-night dinner with the Vachons in their downtown Toronto hotel.
The shoot at the curling rink was interesting to watch, especially having seen the final version in an advance tape from The Comedy Network. The Vachons were jovial and accommodating for Dolin, and seemed to be having fun talking in front of the camera again.
But the dinner was an unforgettable experience.
For the record, Mad Dog had corned beef hash with eggs over easy, multigrain bread and potatoes — without drinking during the meal. Butcher had a salad, a chicken wrap with fries, then having finished that, ordered another chicken wrap.
But it wasn’t the meals that were especially memorable: it was the stories.
Hearing first-hand how the Vachons got into promoting in Montreal, using their friendships with the likes of Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau to convince the powers that be at The Montreal Forum and in the government to grant them a promoting license — despite the protests of longtime promoter Johnny Rougeau.
Or watching the brothers get their stories mixed up, debating who was right as to when Mad Dog first used a coffin in a promotional interview.
Or them finishing each other’s stories, interrupting each other constantly with good-natured laughs and excited re-tellings of tales that they had to have told hundreds of times in their lives.
Or talking about the Internet, and how it has changed wrestling. Mad Dog still fondly remembering his visit to CANOE for a live chat last year, amazed at the variety of questions from an international audience.
Then there are their eating habits. Both Vachons are shadows of their former selves at the table these days. Butcher, as previously mentioned, is off cigars, and the fries were a rare indulgence. Mad Dog has lost 25 pounds on his current diet. Neither of them had any alcohol either. It’s a long way from having to feed the metabolic body engines with the food necessary to wrestle on a daily basis.
After the meal, it was impossible not to ask for a photo. My dinner with Mad Dog and the Butcher was over, but the memories will last a lifetime.