Throw Back Thursday – Juggernaut – Living the life of a wrestler
Sunday, October 31, 1999
By Kevin Parnell – Observer Reporter
Craig Renney grew up watching wrestling stars Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Hulk Hogan in his prime.
It was the World Wrestling Federation at its best, when wrestling was the focus and promoter Vince McMahon had not yet discovered that sex sells a whole lot better than guys in tights.
The 23 -year-old Renney, then living in the Kootenays , was hooked, along with thousands of other future wrestlers.
“There is nothing else I would even think about wanting to do,” Renney said a week before bringing his character Juggernaut back to Quesnel for another ECCW wrestling card. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Extremely Canadian Championship Wrestling is the Pacific Northwest wing of the once powerful NWA wrestling federation until it was bought by Ted Turner who turned it into the WCW, now the WWF’s main competitor.
The NWA is now an independent federation where young wrestlers learn the craft and where wrestlers act as referees and security guards alike.
Renney began wrestling about three years ago. Like anyone who is in the wrestling game, he wants to get to the top, to the WWF, WCW or ECW, the three federations that are currently seen on television.
“There’s not one person that gets into this business that doesn’t want to be there. That’s the dream of every person. To be on TV, on Monday Night Raw. We all want to be a professional wrestler.”
When Renney was first introduced to wrestling, it was a different ball game than it is today. Now the WWF’s focus is less and less on actual matches, and more and more on soap opera-like story lines that continue to push the bounds of what is acceptable.
“The way I see it is every once and a while Vince McMahon walks off the edge just to prove to everybody that he can,” Renney said. “I don’t think he’s hurting anybody. [as wrestlers] we get lots of flack from parents saying my kid did this because this wrestler did this. But I don’t think that’s right. Parents have to explain to kids what this is all about, what’s right and what’s wrong.”
In most towns, including the last time they were in Quesnel, wrestlers are pelted by pop cans and anything else the mostly teenage crowds can get their hands on.
“I don’t appreciate the people throwing things, it can be dangerous,” Renney said. “What if it misses me and it hits someone on the other side of the ring? If it’s just me, I don’t really care. I’m more worried about the fans. We don’t want to see other people hurt.”
Juggernaut is a perfect example of another difference in wrestling nowadays. it’s still good versus bad. But who’s god and who’s bad has changed.
“Juggernaur is definitely a good guy. I’m six foot five and 350 pounds and dressed in all black. In the old days, I wouldn’t get cheered. Nowadays it’s different. i call it the Steve Austin syndrome. It’s not for the worse or the better.”
For years there were rumours of drug use in wrestling and many federations are still plagued by those rumours.
Renney doesn’t deny the so-called darker side of wrestling.
“There is a darker side to everything,” he said. “we’re in the entertainment business and everyone knows what the entertainment business is like. The guys with the most success have the least vices. When it comes to the younger guys that really want to make it, we may go out to the bars, but you don’t see us drunk all the time. The most important thing is our careers. If we have to sacrifice a night at the bar because we have an early morning show the next morning, no problem.”