Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

Oh Canada!

WRITER’S NOTE: This is a rare, self-indulgent exploration in fantasy booking. The most important “fantasy” element is that the tragic death of Owen Hart would never have occurred. So I don’t have to continually belabor that point throughout this piece, I ask you to accept going in that the following would all occur in an “alternate reality” in which Owen Hart is alive and well today, but most everything else in the pro wrestling landscape is identical to what we see on television each week.

TODAY’S ISSUE: My Team Canada

As a pro wrestling fan who appreciates hard-hitting action between the ropes and not “sportz entertainment” ga-ga, grapplers from the Great While North have often appealed to me a little more than their American counterparts. While there have been plenty of non-Canadian wrestlers whose work I’ve enjoyed, if I were forced into watching only one country’s contribution to the business for the rest of my days, I’d have to chose our neighbors to the north.

Boasting only two true Canadians while being as pro-Canada as a squad could be, the Hart Foundation was among my favorite factions of all time. The team consisted of two great technicians in Bret and Owen Hart, two powerhouses in Jim the Anvil Neidhart and British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, and the unpredictable loose cannon, the late Brian Pillman. SummerSlam 1997 featured the entire unit in marquee matches, and remains one of my favorite wrestling events ever. When the quintet went home to the Saddledome for Canadian Stampede and turned back the challenge of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and the mighty LOD, I was in hog heaven.

WCW featured a “Team Canada” that lasted for less than a year, before Vince McMahon bought the entire company. TNA’s version of Team Canada endured for much longer, having only disbanded in June of last year. I was sad to see them go, and felt they were quite an effective heel stable who could have used a kayfabe ouster of Coach Scott D’Amore as the flashpoint to restructure the team, turning some of them face to feud with the others who remained loyal to the Coach. This arc would have taken Orlando by storm.

Perhaps the recent storyline activity between Robert Roode, Eric Young, and Petey Williams will lead to a new birth for Team Canada in TNA. But until the next group of rampaging Canucks bands together, I’ll describe my dream team of Canadians, which unlike several other incarnations will only include wrestlers who are actually from Canada, for your reading pleasure.

MY CANADIAN DREAM TEAM

Bret Hart: For my money a great all-Canadian unit must begin and end with the Excellence of Execution, Bret the Hitman Hart. While his retirement would preclude him from donning the tights, he’d be the ideal manager, spokesman, inspirational leader, and evil mastermind behind my ideal stable. Bret would also be able to get physically involved at ringside from time to time, enraging and distracting opponents for the good of his team. I’ll bet he could stand on the apron for a special tag team match or two as well, for that extra special attraction.

Owen Hart: Since I’m fantasy booking anyway, I might as well go all out. By this point in his illustrious career, the King of Harts would be a former two-time World Heavyweight Champion and perennial contender. Portrayed as the senior active member of the team, he’d often be the focus of their efforts, and securing title opportunities for Owen would be first and foremost to the other members. With his charming ability to connect with the crowd and his unmatched in-ring skill, Owen would be the diamond of this version of Team Canada.

Chris Benoit: The Crippler would be the first man recruited by the Hart brothers. As perhaps the greatest wrestler to ever come out of Canada and certainly one of the best there’s ever been in pro wrestling history, Benoit would start out as a proud member of the unit, until differing philosophies and a lack of desire to play second fiddle to Owen would turn him face, creating a great enemy for the remaining stable and generating a plethora of outstanding matches along the way.

Christian Cage: The Instant Classic would be the Intercontinental/United States Champion-level member of the team, and might secure a tag team title or two with other members of the unit. Christian would provide the strongest promos of the bunch as the most outspoken, outrageous member. He’d also be the most likely teammate to attempt to usurp power from Hart brothers via a coup d’etat and form his own evil empire.

Lance Storm: The quiet man of the unit, this former WCW triple-champion and Team Canada leader might be the breakout star of the group. With his vast wrestling knowledge and skills and serious approach, the Hart Dungeon alumnus is a perfect fit for the group. On special occasions when this Team Canada was outraged by opposing forces, Storm would give Jake Roberts-esque promos. Picture a focused, intelligent, intense, surprisingly quiet, and scary interview which belies the common “let me tell you something!” pro wrestling promos. Nothing’s more intimidating than a man who should be hopping mad instead appearing calm, centered, and at peace with what he’s about to unleash.

Petey Williams: The Canadian Destroyer is the Cruiserweight or X Division contender of the group (depending upon which company this Team Canada works for). He’s the hotheaded gunslinger type who almost always sides with Cage, and is easily manipulated into following the would-be leader. Williams brings a dynamic style and truckload full of ability to the unit, and is an ideal partner for Storm or Cage in multiple tag team championship reigns. Look out, though. Williams is capable of defeating heavyweights in singles matches as well, and that might not bode well for Owen when the chips are down.

This Team Canada could also bring in some short-term members and temporary guests, like Chris Jericho (Thrill Seekers reunite!), Edge, Trish Stratus, TJ Wilson, or Hart family members Jim Neidhart, Teddy Hart, Harry Smith, and Nattie Neidhart. Any involvement from these folks would produce exciting moments for wrestling fans.

If I had the team on the WWE roster, I’d let them appear as renegades, on whichever brand they want. You’d never know where and when Team Canada might strike. They’d show up for revenge if anybody disrespected their home country, or just arrive unscheduled with championship challenges, bullying their way into main event matches almost at will. In TNA, they’d have a stranglehold on all three championships for months before any non-members could wrestle the titles away.

What a powerhouse stable Owen Hart, Christian Cage, Lance Storm, and Petey Williams and friends would have made. They’d be a destructive, dominant, red and white hurricane anywhere they went. Thanks for playing along.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they somehow manage to live in the same box.” – Unknown

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