REAL NAME: René Goguen
BORN: December 15, 1983 in Moncton, New Brunswick
6’4″, 260 pounds
AKA: René Dupre, René E. Dupre, René Rougeau
The teachers and students at Louis-J.-Robichaud High School in Shediac, New Brunswick have a bonifide celebrity in their midst. He’s René Goguen, a local 17-year-old who just happens to be the son of well-known Shediac businessman Emile Goguen.
You say you’ve never heard of René or his father? Well, René, under the guise René Dupre, is about to enter his fourth summer as a pro wrestler and his father, Emile Dupre, has been promoting wrestling out in the Maritimes since 1962.
René admits that it has been interesting dealing with the teachers at the school. “I guess some of them could be a little intimidated by the fact that I’m a pro wrestler,” he told SLAM! Wrestling after another day at school. “It’s not everyday that you have a student that’s 6-foot-4, 260 and bodyslams people for a living. They treat me like any other student. I don’t think that I should be treated any differently just because I do this. For me, it’s just like any other sport.”
His friends don’t really treat him differently either, never really showing signs of jealously because of his stature. “A lot of them would change places with me in a second. They love wrestling. I wouldn’t say jealousy, but I don’t have one friend who hasn’t begged me for him to be my manager.”
René Dupre has come a long way in the four years, from raw rookie to almost being one of the veterans in the young Grand Prix locker room. “I wouldn’t call myself a veteran yet, but I’ve been there and it seems like everyone I’ve known has left.” This summer will be no different, with young wrestlers from Manitoba and Ontario joining youngsters from the Maritimes to fight across the territory in traditional Grand Prix hotbeds like Berwick, Yarmouth, O’Leary and Cocagne.
Frank Parker was a referee for Grand Prix when René first started, and said that the young son of the promoter grew up in a hurry. “He was a pain in the ass the first year he was in the business, at least until he learned how to act. Once he learned how to act, he was fine. He shows respect to the older guys who have been around and he took advice from guys. The best thing he ever did was wrestle Joe Legend one night. He learned more in that one match than he had the whole time that summer.”
From the age of three, René used to go to the matches with his father. He grew up with wrestling, and with wrestlers all around him. Deciding to be a wrestler wasn’t a surprise to him or his father, but it still required some courage to ask his dad about it. “I remember the first time that I asked him, I said, ‘Do you think I would ever be able to be a wrestler?’ And he saw that I was trying hard in the gym, I was working out almost every day, and I really wanted it. He taught me how to do a bodyslam in the garage and that was the first time that we actually got together on the whole wrestling thing. He was supportive. He trained me when I was 13 going on 14, and at 14 I had my first professional match in Woodstock, New Brunswick.”
Wild Man Austin was his opponent in that first match, and it was a nerve-wracking night. “To be honest with you, that was probably the time that I was the most nervous in my life. I mean, there were about 300 people there — it wasn’t a jam-packed crowd, but it was still a crowd. I didn’t know what to expect but when I got in there, I knew this is what I wanted to be.”
He’s learned from many different opponents since that first match. “Throughout the years, we’ve had guys like The Cuban Assassin, Leo Burke, The Beast, guys who are veterans of the sport who can really show you around the ring. They’ve been there, they’ve done it. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with people like that who really know the whole psychology, the whole aspect of professional wrestling.”
He went out as René Rougeau the first two summers, and has never been anything but a babyface. The name was “catchy” according to René, and bore no relation to the wrestling Rougeaus from Montreal. When his popularity began to rise, particularly among the young girls in the crowd, the change to René Dupre was made.
For René, there’s nothing like wrestling in front of a hometown crowd, before friends and family who are hooting and hollaring for him. “Every time that I go in front of a hometown crowd, it’s pretty much exciting to feel that those people are behind you and they are supporting you 100%. Just being in the ring is a highlight enough. It’s an honour to be able to call yourself a professional wrestler. And when you are working for a company like Grand Prix Wrestling, you are wrestling seven days a week, unlike other promotions where you just wrestle once or twice a month. So it’s an honour for me to be in professional wrestling.”
He has dreams of going on tour with other companies, and making it big one day with the WWF. But finishing high school comes first, then perhaps college, where he wants to study personal health, personal training and nutrition. “I love bodybuilding and I love working out. I love nutrition and helping people work out.”
Dupre will be wrestling on occasion when Grand Prix starts up again May 3, going full-time when school ends. (Last summer the promotion virtually shut down because René had to go to summer school.)
As for the dreams of making it big in wrestling, he’s pretty realistic. “Hopefully someday I’ll have my shot and I’ll impress the right people and I’ll have my time to shine. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, oh well. I’ll go with the flow.”