It’s Bastille Day, So Let’s Look At France’s Contributions To Pro Wrestling

Bastille Day is the commemoration of July 14, 1790, when the people of Paris stormed the titular armory/political prison and made clear their revolutionary demands of liberty, equality, and fraternity.  It is a dignified day, full of tradition.  It will also probably be featured in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Unity.  So hey, let’s gawk at some French wrestlers!

Sylvester Lefort

Quick, guess which one of these guys is French

I figured we’d start with some of the new breed.  Lefort is currently hanging out on NXT as a wrestler/manager.  He started out managing Scott Dawson (the bozo you see on the left), which only made sense in the “Hey, I guess both of these guys are heels” sense.  He’s now paired up with Marcus Louis, another Frenchman, forming the effortlessly-named team of The Legionnaires.  Interestingly enough, I feel like Lefort represents WWE’s progression in national stereotypes.  Gone are the days of beret-wearing and baguette-carrying… Lefort is more of the “guy at the discotheque who searches for unattended drinks” trope.  Either that, or one of the guys from Taken at the creepy auction.

Edouard Carpentier

My apologies for the 1957-quality screengrab, by the way.  In stark contrast to guys like Lefort, Edouard Carpentier is as old-school as it gets.  A lifelong babyface character, many people forget that Carpentier was one of the earliest high-flying wrestlers.  He wasn’t exactly Dynamite Kid, mind you, but he was certainly an innovator in a time where most people stuck to the mat.  Also forgotten is the fact that he was a French resistance soldier during World War II.  NWA World Heavyweight Champion, freedom fighter, color commentator… The Flying Frenchman did it all.  Sadly, he passed away in 2010.

La Resistance

Rene Dupree, Sylvain Grenier, and Rob Conway.  In a time when rah-rah Toby Keith patriotism was sort of the status quo, these guys could always be counted on to get booed out of the building.  EVERYONE hated them, myself included.  I was 14 years old when these guys showed up, and they were the worst.  I distinctly remember watching the episode of Raw where the Dudley Boyz plucked Rob Conway out of the crowd, only for it to be revealed that Conway was a French sympathizer.  My tiny little teenage brain fell out of my skull.  Hindsight being 20/20, that’s exactly the kind of reaction they must’ve been hoping for.  Side note: Conway is now enjoying his second reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion.  As a member of the Satoshi Kojima Champion 4 Life club, it’s a bit of a bummer.

Frenchy Martin

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if Zeb Colter was French?  Sure you have, don’t be silly.  Frenchy was about as close as you’ll ever get to that, right down to the adorably xenophobic handwritten signs (“USA IS NOT OK”).  He was really only French Canadian, but I’m going to count him anyway.  Martin did some wrestling, but is mostly remembered as a manager for people like Dino Bravo in the late 80’s.  He’s been retired since 1990, but he still pops up at indy wrestling shows around Canada and the United States as a special guest.

Fifi the French Maid

I’ll the address the two elephants in the room here.  First: Not really French.  Not by a long shot.

Second of all… I have a tough confession to make.  Almost all of my knowledge of WCW is the crappy revisionist history spoon-fed to us by Vince McMahon.  I was a WWF kid growing up, so I’ve had to go back and teach myself all the cool stuff about WCW and the NWA because I’m not content with “HEY LOOK AT THE SHOCKMASTER HOW DUMB WAS THAT.”  Needless to say, a lot has fallen through the cracks.  So when Brandon said “Make sure you cover Fifi the French Maid for your Bastille Day thing,” I was expecting a member of the GLOW roster or something.  But no, this was Ric Flair’s eye candy of choice circa 1993.  And if you’re an avid watcher of Celebrity Wife Swap (really, who isn’t), you’ll know that she and Ric are actually dating now.  Life imitates art!

The Poubelle Twins

If you were to reach into my brain and pull out something at random, you’d probably come up with “French maid twins who also work for a lucha libre promotion” within your first five tries, so I’m more than happy to write about these two.  The Poubelle Twins are Bibi and Fifi – burlesque models, luchadoras, and people who are probably more interesting than the Bellas.  Heck, where’s Celebrity Twin Swap when you need it?  Speaking of reality TV, the Poubelles say on Twitter that Bibi was recently in an episode of “Sex Sent Me to the ER” on TLC.  That particular program is also something you could feasibly find inside my brain.

Andre the Giant

Of course I had to save him for last.  From Grenoble, weighing 520 pounds and standing at seven-foot-four, Andre Roussimoff might be wrestling’s most enduring Frenchman.  He’s a former WWF Champion, he’s Fezzik from The Princess Bride, he’s the subject of a thousand drinking stories from wrestling locker rooms.  After his legendary WWF run, he spent some time in All Japan Pro Wrestling before passing away due to heart failure in 1993.  As one of the biggest (literally) crossover stars that wrestling ever gave the world, Andre the Giant truly has a posse.