You could call it business as usual — another summer tour of Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling and a Dupre son grappling in the ring.
But this time it’s promoter Emile Goguen’s (a.k.a. Emile Dupre) son Jeff getting a bit of the limelight.
The East Coast’s biggest circuit will kick off August 3 in Nova Scotia, and Emile will see his 25-year-old son Jeff compete during the five week run.
Jeff, who wrestles under the ‘Dupre’ moniker brother René used in the WWE, said he isn’t intimidated by Grand Prix’s seven nights a week grind, and looks forward to working again with peers like Chad Dick (formerly of WWE’s Smackdown!) and Cuban Assassin #2 (Richie Acevedo, son of the original Cuban Assassin).
“Even the WWE doesn’t have seven nights a week,” Jeff said, pointing out that the hectic pace is part of what makes the Grand Prix tours so special.
Having worked in the last tour earlier this summer, Jeff realizes that it’s a hard schedule to maintain, having matches everyday, training, and still managing to keep up some semblance of a personal life.
Still, there can’t be many surprises left for Jeff, who prior to his in-ring Grand Prix employment, followed his father’s promotion for years working in non-wrestling roles, including putting up the ring, selling merchandise, and whatever else was required of him.
“We’ve been hanging around the wrestling scene our whole lives,” Jeff said.
At around 14 or 15 years of age, his training began as he joined René to drop in on Emile’s sessions with other would-be wrestlers. It helped it was in their backyard.
Jeff’s first wrestling match came against Eddie Watts in Grand Prix in 2003. Jeff went over, but more important than that, he said, the match taught him to have more confidence in what he could deliver.
Jeff said the Dupre name is one that those in the industry remember, and added people expect him to be as good or better than his father and brother. But the family name and pressure it comes with drive him to excel not overshadow or hold him back.
Now, close to 300 matches into his career, the lean and muscular 6-foot-1, 240-pounder said he’s come a long ways from where he started. “I’m not the same wrestler I was the first day I walked in there. I’m a lot more comfortable with what I’m doing.”
Brother René agreed. René, who made up one-half of the former WWE Raw Tag Team Champions La Resistance, (and later won the Smackdown! tag belts with Kenzo Suzuki), said Jeff has progressed very far and has now come into his own in the ring.
Jeff called his style an “old-school” one, and noted his influences include Ric Flair, Curt Hennig, Terry Funk, and Leo Burke.
Emile said old-school mat wrestling is what he’s been teaching for years and is currently in short supply. He suggested more traditional wrestlers would be a welcome contrast in the business. “I don’t know if I’m right but I think I’m right,” said the veteran of more than 50 years in the business.
Jeff has his sights set on getting into the WWE, with TNA a distant second choice.
“I’ve always thought about the WWE and (if) that hope is lost, then I’ll think about TNA,” he said. “But never say never — TNA is gaining momentum and could be the second WCW. You never know in this industry.”
Getting to the WWE wasn’t originally Jeff’s goal until after René got signed. While visiting his brother a couple of years ago, Jeff decided to take a look at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), the WWE’s developmental territory. He trained there for two weeks, and returned there last year for a month.
He said OVW guys want to get booked for Grand Prix to practice in front of big crowds, and pointed out his dad’s promotion has proven to be a training ground for future stars, the most recent being Edge, Christian Cage, Don Callis, and Kurrgan, all of whom at some point signed with WWE.
Included in his training down south was Jeff’s chance to tag with René during a WWE dark match.
“It’s something I always dreamed of doing,” he said of tagging with his brother, as they wrestled as two brothers from France.
René admitted the match was far from a mat classic and Jeff conceded the same.
“You can always be better. But with the experience I had at the time, I thought I did pretty good,” Jeff said.
René, however, added they have tagged since then for Grand Prix, and those matches revealed the brothers developed a good chemistry in the ring. René hoped the two could keep working together in the future.
“Why not have second generation brothers tag-team? There’s money to be had there,” René said, pointing out the success of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers during their heyday.
“He has wrestling in his blood — he’s lived around it his whole life, just like me,” René said, believing Jeff has a chance to make it to the WWE.
But he added that he’s repeatedly reminded his brother that he has to work for everything he desires. “Nothing comes for free.”
Emile also felt Jeff is capable of joining the WWE, but stressed that given there are so many wrestlers vying for a position there, it’s difficult to get someone’s attention over the din.
Being in the business for so many years has given Emile the ability to pick out wrestlers who would stand out and Jeff, he said, is one of them, the proof being his strong merchandise sales and ability to induce crowd reaction.
“He gets over. And that’s the bottom line in this business.”