By ODAIN NURSE – For SLAM! Wrestling
Michelle Starr is no stranger to travel. He’s fought in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Korea and the fact that he’s just returned home from an extensive tour in the United Kingdom hasn’t kept him grounded at all. He’s only getting started.
“I had a great time and look forward to going back to the UK,” Starr said in a recent interview with SLAM! Wrestling.
Starr, whose real name is Mark Vellios, is a B.C. native and a member of SLAM’s Canadian Hall of Fame, but is best known for his gay gimmick alongside Loverboy Johnny Canuck in ECCW as the Glamour Order of Discipline, or G.O.D. He is proof positive that the alternative lifestyle can go a long way, especially overseas. When asked how his gimmick went over in the UK, Starr quipped, “I use the queer gimmick all over the place and everywhere I go. That is Michelle Starr. That is what Michelle Starr is known for. Why try to fix something when it’s not broken? I was told to tone it down a bit as in England the crowds are mostly families. But it got huge reactions. I am also very colourful which helps with presentation.”
What set the UK apart from all the other countries Starr has visited was a profound moment for him. “My first impression of the UK was that I was finally overseas in the country that I could speak the language,” Starr said. “Actually, I was amazed at the beauty of England. All the buildings are built of brick or stone. You can really tell that there is a lot of history there. It is very old. It’s like you’ve gone back in time.” His opinion on England’s restaurants however was a different story. “It was very poor. I guess a waitress in the UK doesn’t get tipped so they don’t try very hard to be pleasant…but I did tip them.”
Customer service aside, what really mattered to Starr was the reactions/opinions of the new wrestling audience that he performed in front of night in and night out.
“I’ve been to Japan on different tours for IWA Japan. In Japan the fans sit back more and only pop for impressive things and appreciate good action. My gimmick got over well in Japan and I was a babyface there. Very strange to do the queer gimmick and be a babyface, but the fans loved me in Japan. In Korea, it was more of the traditional good vs. evil. I was the evil foreign wrestler fighting their Korean heroes. Crowds were really good in Korea. They really got into the matches and were really behind the Korean wrestlers, especially Lee Wang Pyo. England was like wrestling in North America 10 years ago. They pop for the matches; they get behind their babyface’s and are real easy to work with the basics. They also appreciate you a lot. Some fans will take trains and buses and follow you from town to town. Crowds in England were good I thought for not having television.”
His most memorable time overseas was his visit to Scotland’s Bravehart’s Monument. “Myself, Tatanka, Makabe (of New Japan) and Robbie Stewart went see the ‘William Wallace Sword’ and got an aerial view of Sterling, Scotland.” Starr wasn’t a big fan of flying and mostly kept to the ground while traveling from show to show. He did find things to do with his time however. “Some of the car or bus rides are very long but time passed fast as Joe and I did a good job ribbing poor Tatanka. Tatanka took it well and has a great sense of humour. We also had a lot of good times with Robbie Stewart, Joe Gomez (of WCW fame), Joe Legend, Avalanche PN News, Earthquake and others. Joe Gomez and I tore up downtown Birkenhead and closed down a few pubs.”
If it wasn’t evident enough, Starr had a lot of fun in the UK. “I had a great time. It is good to see that wrestling is still alive and doing good business in the UK. It was good to meet English wrestlers like Skull Murphy, Drew McDonald, Robbie Stewart (Chic Cullen) and all the young talent over there.” Brian Dixon and his daughter Leticia whom gave Starr the chance to go to England was at the top of his list of thank yous.
For now, Starr is back at his home in British Columbia, nursing an ankle injury and continuing to work for ECCW. He’s currently working with his mentor ‘Dirty’ Dan Denton and his newest project “BC Bodyslams” that will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 16th. He also keeps busy running ECCW’s House of Pain Wrestling School, which is located at the #211-20701 Langley By-Pass in Langley, B.C. “If you want to be a pro wrestler, call 604-514-3489. You can also email us at [email protected] or on the web at www.ECCW.com. We have a lot of students and young wrestlers that are going to be the future of the business. Give us a try.”
While that would be a big plate for most, The Gorgeous One has a keen eye on his future as well.
“The year 2002 will see me return to Mexico and most likely the UK. I may even return to Japan this year for a new office. Also, this year will see my company ECCW tour all over B.C., Oregon and Washington State. I look forward to seeing fans I haven’t met before and maybe a few I have. Remember to keep supporting Indy wrestling and ECCW.”
- Feb. 2, 2015: Michelle Starr says his in-ring goodbye
- Apr. 18, 2012: Starr, Webster, Kertsen, Lauer honored at CAC Baloney Blowout
- June 23, 2003: Della Serra, Starr resume feud
- May 30, 1999: Michelle Starr: California’s loss was B.C.’s gain