For over a century, Canada has held a special place in professional wrestling lore. From Dan McLeod defeating the great American wrestler Frank Gotch in 1899, to the founding of Stampede Wrestling by the legendary Stu Hart in Calgary in 1948, to the all-time greats still running the ropes today, Canadians have long cemented their place in professional wrestling history.
As Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have brought professional wrestling into the mainstream over the last thirty years, Canadian wrestlers have enjoyed even more exposure to a larger north-American audience. Over this time, several Canadian wrestlers have risen to prominence, including three of the greatest wrestlers from Canada.
Honorable Mention: Owen Hart:
The youngest of the storied Hart family, Owen Hart followed in all of his brothers’ footsteps by training in family patriarch Stu Hart’s fabled Hart Family Dungeon in Calgary, Alberta. By all accounts, Owen was among the most well-liked wrestlers backstage. And was thought to have the potential to one day be a greater wrestler. More than his iconic brother Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
Owen Hart was scheduled to win the WWE (then WWF) Intercontinental Championship on May 23, 1999, at the Over the Edge PPV in Kansas City, Missouri. Tragically, Owen’s career and life were cut short when he fell to his death from the Kemper Arena rafters while preparing for a stunt to be completed during the entrance to his match.
#1- Bret “The Hitman” Hart:
Bret “The Hitman” Hart is, quite simply, “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” While this bold claim may be arguably when considering the entirety of professional wrestling history, few can argue his place among the greatest Canadian wrestlers. Bret Hart was raised in the business of professional wrestling, having grown up in. Around father Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling Association.
In an era which saw more lengthy title reigns than previous entries in our list. Bret Hart won seventeen championships between WCW and WWE (then WWF), including seven combined world championships. Hart is perhaps most remembered for his role in the “Montreal Screwjob” in November of 1997. At the annual “Survivor Series” pay-per-view, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon prematurely ended. The main event between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and awarded Hart’s championship to Michaels.
Sadly, Bret “The Hitman” Hart was forced to retire after a concussion he suffered in the ring caused a stroke. Hart never returned to the WWE until his Hall of Fame induction in 2006.
#2- Chris Jericho:
The only active wrestler our list, Chris Jericho continues to entertain WWE fans the world over as a part of the Monday Night Raw brand. Unique from most Canadian wrestlers of his time. Jericho was NOT inspired to become a wrestler by legendary Canadian wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart, but rather by the Hitman’s younger more flashy brother Owen. After becoming a star in Canada, Jericho made a name for himself internationally in Japan and Mexico wrestling as “The Lion-heart” Chris Jericho and became a household name domestically through his work in ECW, WCW, and WWE.
In 2001, Chris Jericho became the first-ever WWE Undisputed Champion, defeating both Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock in the same night to earn the distinction. He would go on to win over twenty-five titles in WWE alone. Thus, becoming a Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion along the way.
An all-around showman, Chris Jericho has also found great success as the frontman for the rock band Fozzy. Also, has begun to gain exposure as an American television personality. Still touring with WWE at the age of 46, Jericho continues to reinvent himself. It is consistently among the top draws on WWE television.
Before earning his Hall of Fame singles accolades, Adam Copeland (better known as Edge) enjoyed great success as a tag-team competitor. He won the WWE Tag-Team Championship fourteen times, half of those with his kayfabe “brother” Christian. Eventually transitioning into singles competition, Edge would go on to win eleven World Championships, a King of the Ring, a “Money in the Bank”, and a “Royal Rumble” match.
Unfortunately, a neck injury forced him to retire in 2011. One week after successfully retaining his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania XXVII. He would go on to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one year later. As one of the most decorated WWE superstars of all time, having won thirty-one championships throughout his WWE career.
Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Edge, and Owen Hart are just three of the long list of the great Canadian wrestlers. Their contributions to the sport have been and will continue to be the stuff of legends.
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