There’s a large city in the middle of nowhere in the central province of Canada, Manitoba. Manitoba is a vast flat landscape bridging Eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes) with Western Canada (Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia), with a population of only 1.3 million people. Toronto has more people living in it. Yet Winnipeg, Manitoba, the province’s capital, is where 700,000 of them live, nearly 70% of the population. But it’s a big city surrounded by nothingness, lost without identity from not quite being Western Canada but not quite fitting in with the East either. They’ve added their celebrities to the world, like director/comedian David Steinberg, game show legend Monty Hall, actress Anna Paquin, musicians like The Guess Who and Chantal Kreviazuk, and heroes like Terry Fox.
But there seems to be something in the water that breeds great wrestlers as well. Because there’s a huge flux of Winnipeg born or raised wrestlers that are influencing the game right now. So mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be wrestlers. Unless you’re in Winnipeg. Then definitely do.
Perhaps the most famous Winnipeg wrestler on the planet – in part to his famous retort to a fan who told him to go back to Toronto (because no one really paid much notice he was from Winnipeg before that). One of the successful and decorated wrestlers of the past 20 years, one of the most titled men in WWE history, the first Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, unifying the WWE and WCW World titles. Chris Jericho is a first ballot Hall of Famer and in many ways the Godfather of the Winnipeg wrestling web (although he would say it was “Bulldog” Bob Brown).
Although he now calls Windsor, Ontario home, former TNA X-Division Champion Johnny Devine is originally from Winnipeg and trained with the Harts in Western Canada. He’s now using that knowledge to train alongside Scott D’Amore at one of Canada’s most prestigious wrestling schools, Can-Am Wrestling School.
A strong creative mind over the past two decades, Don Callis began as an indie wrestler in his hometown Winnipeg for years before heading to the WWF at the start of the Attitude Era as The Jackal, then on to ECW as Cyrus the Virus, and then to TNA in the early 2000s, before retiring in 2004. He returned to the business this year, taking over as new colour commentator for NJPW’s English broadcast team, alongside former ROH and WWF announcer, Kevin Kelly.
Most of her success in wrestling came in Mexico with CMLL as Dark Angel, but she had some North American success both in Shimmer and TNA as Sarita. She retired in 2015 to became a trainer at the WWE Performance Center where she’s recently taken over as the Head Women’s Trainer from Sara Del Rey (following Del Rey’s promotion to main roster producer/agent). Her work with Del Rey has been instrumental in building the groundwork for the women coming through NXT for the past few years.
Born in Winnipeg, she moved to Windsor, Ontario after University to train with fellow Winnipegger Johnny Devine at Scott D’Amore’s Can-Am Wrestling School. She then went on to become a huge indie star as Courtney Rush, working with Shimmer, SHINE, Smash Wrestling, and more. But her work as the Demon Assassin Rosemary put her on the map, becoming one of Impact Wrestling’s most popular Knockouts.
She left to California to pursue her pro wrestling dreams – succeeding in droves – but she was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She’s come a long way from this young Canadian wrestler to competing in this coming Monday’s Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network.
She moved to the States before adulthood, but Winnipeg-born Allison Danger is an unheralded early pioneer of the Women’s Revolution. She was wrestling in Japan in the early 2000s before heading to Ring of Honor. She left ROH in 2007 to help co-run Shimmer, arguably the most influential women’s promotion in the United States.
The brother of Allison Danger, Steve Corino is a former ECW World Champion from the original ECW, and was a major part of ROH for much of the 2000s until retiring last year to move to Orlando and join the WWE Performance Center team as one of the trainers.
And finally, arguably the greatest wrestler alive today (or at least it would seem so according to Dave Meltzer, as Omega has been involved in every match 6 stars or higher this year), is also from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was a roving Canadian indie wrestler for years before a failed WWE developmental stint launched him back into the indie circuit with more piss and vinegar to unleash on the world. And we’ve been witness to the rebirth and emergence of a true wrestling savior, who has become an undoubted master of his craft with his last few years with NJPW, where he leads the most famous wrestling faction in the world, Bullet Club.