MISE À DAY
“If I were a wrestler today, I would do anything to enter a competition like Lutte Académie”: one could reproach the incomparable Jacques Rougeau for preaching for his parish, but the contest that ended Sunday at Club Soda will serve as a springboard for several homegrown talents into the exclusive world of professional wrestling.
Wrestling Academy has featured 42 Canadian contenders in a series of knockout galas over the past few weeks, with a view to unearthing the country's four greatest hidden talents.
At At stake: a $5,000 scholarship for each winner, of course, but above all a free 12-week stay in one of the most renowned wrestling schools in the United States, The Nightmare Factory.
What's more, two fallen finalists will have the chance to shine alongside the four chosen in two All Elite Wrestling (AEW) galas in Toronto, on October 12 and 13, in front of a crowd of ten thousand. of spectators.
“It's a platform for a Canadian to go to the United States and be successful,” noted Rougeau, who was practically born in the ring. I have competitors from Halifax, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton. This is the first time [in wrestling history] that all of Canada has worked together.”
On the eve of the grand finale of this project in which he believes he has invested “1,500 hours” with his wife, Nathalie Thibaudeau, Rougeau also underlined that the product offered to spectators as part of the Lutte Académie is suitable for groups of all ages.
“You won't see chair knocking, table knocking, middle fingers, half-dressed women. It's really based on high aerobatics, acrobatics, humor, charisma. It is accessible to children aged four and over.”
A helping hand from QT Marshall
Even though he didn't know him personally, AEW wrestler and manager of The Nightmare Factory, Michael “QT Marshall” Cuellari , did not hesitate to offer his support to Rougeau and his project.
Beyond talent, the 37-year-old athlete is above all looking for “good people” who want to learn to develop within your academy.
“The industry is no longer as it was,” he said on the phone. We want to find the best people and transform them mentally and physically in 12 weeks to allow them to reach a professional level and stay there.
The school based in the Atlanta area, in Georgia, is therefore intimately linked to AEW, but also to World Wrestling Entertainment, since it is co-directed by the popular Cody Rhodes. That doesn't mean a stay at the Factory guarantees a place on the world stage, though.
“The last thing you want to do is regret opening a door for someone,” he said. I am not responsible for recruiting [in the AEW]. It takes a very special individual for me to do that.”
It's up to the winners of Lutte Académie to prove to him that they have what it takes.
De la high flying at Club Soda
In front of a frenzied crowd of 400 people, four wrestlers were crowned at the end of the Lutte Académie final on Sunday at Club Soda.
The emblematic performance hall on rue Saint-Laurent has been transformed into a wrestling amphitheater for one evening to host the acrobatics and tricks of the best amateur wrestlers in the country. The athletes who most impressed guest judge QT Marshall received an invitation to the prestigious American wrestling school The Nightmare Factory.
The first duel of the final pitted Ontario's Cici Galavis against Quebec's Jessika Black. The latter was also the subject of a report in the “Journal” last June, since she leads a double life with her profession of secondary school teacher.
Even if Galavis has gained the upper hand over her rival by multiplying the low blows, it was Black who obtained the first winning ticket of the evening.
“Chere in life, you will have to learn that cheating will not allow you to get an edge”, launched QT Marshall, professional wrestler in All Elite Wrestling, before announcing his decision by videoconference, on a giant screen.
The ladies then gave way to the entertaining and heterogeneous trio of Mathis Myre, Jeremy Prophet and KL Shock.
It was ultimately Montreal's Prophet who defeated his Ontario opponents with a spectacular top-rope maneuver. His athleticism and charisma convinced QT Marshall to give him a spot at The Nightmare Factory.
Finally, an Ontario-flavored tag team match pitting Matt Black and Jessie V against “Moondog” Dylan Davis and Dale Kilburn provided some of the funniest moments of the evening. Black and Davis managed to charm the judge, who struggled to deliver his verdict as he was blown away by the performance of the four wrestlers.
The founder of Lutte Académie, Jacques Rougeau, confirmed the holding of a second edition in 2023 as a conclusion to the gala, expressing at the same time its wish that the project be televised.