CALGARY – We were an hour outside of Saskatoon, and I was enjoying the cool breeze blowing through Johnny Handsome’s driver’s side window when a grasshopper met its tragic demise … on my face.
“Ow that hurt!” I yelled, wiping bug guts off of my face as my three companions laughed at my pain. Apocalypse wasn’t laughing later when one splattered on his Harry Potter book, but still got a chuckle when some sort of beetle splattered on my forehead.
“I don’t have air conditioning, it’s too damn hot to not have the windows down,” Handsome replied when we submitted a formal complaint. If we wanted to stay cool, we had to suffer. He wasn’t impressed however when we stopped in Oyen and he viewed the plague of dead locusts that had been visited upon his hood.
“I’m trying to catch one with my hand,” Juggernaut joked from the passenger seat, followed immediately by a splat sound and Juggs yelling “Ow that hurt!”
“It seems you just have to call them,” quipped Apocalypse.
The road trip back was much less hurried, and thus we departed at noon after attacking stacks of pancakes and eggs at Denny’s. Again with the abundance of nutrition for breakfast. It was a time when we all could reflect on the week that was.
After watching 51 matches I can honestly say that I witnessed some of the best wrestling I have ever seen. Although my favorite match of the week was Sunday’s finale of Wavell Starr vs. Jerry Lynn, each and every match was well done and the crowd was into them. In terms of the best series of matches between two guys, Johnny Handsome & Apocalypse outdid themselves with four fantastic matches.
“Not bad for two guys who have never wrestled each other before,” said Apocalypse. Handsome was often a victim of Apoc’s Shining Wizard, a jumping kick to the head of your opponent who is on one knee.
“It’s a cool little move and Apocalypse does it just perfectly, it didn’t hurt a bit,” said Handsome.
“That’s not what you said that one time,” Said Apoc.
“Oh yeah, except for the four times he kicked me right in the head!!!”
Everyone agreed that the Most Valuable Player award for the week went to referee George Smiley. Wearing a dress shirt and bow tie, he was often nearly as soaked in sweat as the wrestlers and refereed all but two matches in the blazing sun.
“The guy is not only the MVP of this tour, but all tours I have ever been on,” said Juggernaut in a rare moment of genuine praise.
Apocalypse worked with a lot of rookies and often had good matches with them. To do so was a good feeling. “It was cool to be able to help young guys out and boost their confidence. Sometimes when you are young you can feel like you suck, I do that still sometimes, so to be able to help them have good matches feels great.” The four-year vet’s favourite match of the tour was his second bout with Sabu.
“The image I will always carry from this trip is of Sabu flying through the air with a moonsault. I looked up and he is floating above me with a gimped arm, and the stars are in the background. That was pretty cool.”
“I had stars in my eyes too, but it was at 4:00 in the afternoon and I had stars in my eyes because I just received a shining wizard,” said Handsome, who wanted to hijack a Tim Horton‚s semi-truck we passed on the highway. Johnny also listed his match with Sabu as a favourite, but also really enjoyed his matches with car partners Apocalypse and Juggernaut. The big man Juggernaut wouldn’t give me an answer.
“I don’t pick favourite matches, I like hitting everybody equally.”
All three guys relished the opportunity.
“It’s a trip that most guys will never ever see,” Said Juggernaut. “I‚d do it again, but next time I am going to hit people harder.”
“I’d do it again any time to go out and learn from the caliber of guys we had,” added Apocalypse. “To be given the chance that Don and Crash put together for the guys is great.”
That may be a possibility. Crash Crimson plans on taking some time to decide whether the carnival tour is something he wants to explore again.
“I’m not going to say for sure whether or not we will be back again next year. I want to take some time, talk to Don Callis again and weigh things out. In the future it’s a possibility, and I wouldn’t mind branching out into larger carnivals, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, etc.”
“I could do this all summer,” said Callis. “Rotate the bigger name talent like Jerry Lynn and Sabu with some other guys so they can still work other dates and just take it on tour.”
“I think we proved this week that we have the equipment, ability and the talent to pull this off,” finished Crash.
It was a memorable trip for all involved, but especially for me. There was plenty of joking around and mischief going on as well while people prepared for their matches. For thirty minutes before each show, POW would play rock music and hype the show to draw fans. On Friday, I was sitting talking when over the sound system I hear Crash Crimson go into hype mode. “Folks, International Superstar Jerry Lynn is going to be here, we have the Carnival Champion Wavell Starr, and we have Jason Clevett as well.” That caught my attention pretty quickly. I waited for people to start booing at my name, but instead I think I heard one guy cheer. Thanks for the boost.
For Jerry Lynn, the trip proved memorable for the fact that he was recognized as a celebrity, just not himself.
“I was in a bar and a kid walks up to me and says ‘Hey, aren’t you (Nickleback lead singer) Chad Kroeger?'” chuckled Lynn, whose curly hair and goatee do give him a vague resemblance if you are really drunk. “The guy had heard that Chad had been there a couple of nights before, I said, ‘No, that was me also.'”
If anyone had ever told me I would get the opportunity to shake the hand of Sabu and have a brief conversation with him, I would have thought them mad. Although Sabu scared the hell out of me all week, I did finally get a chance to speak to the Hardcore Legend on Sunday afternoon. Not that anything important was said, but dude, I talked to Sabu! I also had beer with Lynn and Callis. As Don said repeatedly all week, it was TREMENDOUS!!! These are things that a lot of people would love to be able to do and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do so. It wasn‚t just the wrestlers who got an education; I learned so much this week I can’t even begin to describe it because it’s not describable. I have loved professional wrestling for as long as I can remember, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I gained so much more respect for wrestling, and the people who go out there and do this for our entertainment. It truly was a dream trip.
Here’s hoping I can relive it next year.
- Aug. 13, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary Day 7: The Long Journey Home
- Aug. 11, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary Day 6: Wavell Dethroned
- Aug. 10, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary Day 5: The End Draws Near
- Aug. 9, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary Day 4: From Legends to Rookies
- Aug. 8, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary Day 3: Apocalypse marks out
- Aug. 7, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary: Day 2, 2003: Hitman a hit
- Aug. 6, 2003: Jason’s Saskatoon Diary: Day 1, 2003: Road Rules
Jason Clevett wishes to thank the POW crew, especially Crash Crimson and Don Callis for their willingness to allow such access to the shows. Also thanks to Juggernaut for setting up the trip, and Johnny Handsome and Apocalypse for being such good company.