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Catch Wrestler's Perspective on the 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion

Catch Wrestler's Perspective on the 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion

Jake Shannon
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I just returned back from Vegas where I got married (Elvis was there to give away the bride and sing a few songs!) and attended the 41st Annual Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion held at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

Over 400 people attended the reunion and awards banquet. The reunion really re-affirmed my optimism for the future of Catch Wrestling. We had a booth at the Nostalgia Fair and we met a ton of people interested in our vision for Catch Wrestling. Here are a few of the highlights from a Catch Wrestling perspective:

Catch Wrestler's Highlight #1)

Mil Mascaras and Fray Tormenta (The real Nacho Libre)
Mil Mascaras and Fray Tormenta (The real Nacho Libre)

The thunderous applause when Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer said that a lot of the problems with today's promotions could be solved by "going back to a shoot, or at least half shoot format" while presenting honoree Mil Mascaras. He was reminiscing about how he and Mil always had the best matches and it was because neither "gave each other anything in the ring".

For those who don't know about Mil Mascaras, the character was created by a Mexican film producer when recruited a young Aaron Rodriguez (a contender for the Mexican Olympic judo team at the time) to become the cinematic heir to El Santo. His film career has spanned 17 movies and 24 years. He has been actively wrestling for over 40 years and still wrestles today despite the fact he is well over sixty years old.

Catch Wrestler's Highlight #2)

The Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to former carnival wrestler Eddie Sharkey. Eddie began wrestling at Chief Little Wolf's Athletic Show when a professional boxing career didn't pan out.

Catch Wrestler's Highlight #3)

Another man with legitimate "shooter" qualifications, Verne Gagne, was given the Lou Thesz Award (a relatively new award. Past recipients include Antonio Inoki and Jack Brisco). Unfortunately, Mr. Gagne was unable to attend due to a serious heart ailment. The award was given to him by Larry Hennig (Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig's father) and it turned into a bit of a roast. Nonetheless, it was nice to see Mr. Gagne honored given his strong competitive wrestling background.

Catch Wrestler's Highlight #4)

The Cauliflower Alley Club's Martial Artist award was presented by both the legendary "Judo" Gene LeBell and myself. Prior honorees include Benny Urquidez, Mimi Lessos, Gokor Chivichyan, and Juan Hernandez. I opened the presentation by sharing Pro-Wrestling's catch wrestling roots and commended the Cauliflower Alley Club's tradition of respecting shooters like past CAC President Lou Thesz and current President Red Bastien (who really made me feel like I was somebody when he and his wife Carol took me out to a steak dinner last year when they were in town. For those who don't know, Red Bastien worked the carnival At Shows and was taught hook wrestling, along with a young Billy Wicks, by Henry Kohlen, a Martin "Farmer" Burns student). I introduced Gene LeBell as a great representative of Professional Wrestling's "shooter" tradition.

Catch Wrestler's Perspective on the 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion

Before I passed the mic to Gene, I shared the story that when I told a mutual friend that I would be presenting this award along with Gene, my friend suggested that we do the gimmick where Gene puts me to sleep in front of everyone. To which I replied, "Oh, so you've heard Gene's jokes too!?" It took a second but the crowd then erupted in laughter. Actually Gene is quite hilarious and had my mother (who attended this year), my wife, myself, and everyone else at our table laughing all through dinner.

Gene then called up the 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club Martial Arts honoree, Mike Martelle. Hailing from Montreal, Mike has participated in over 90 matches around the world, having wrestled for Queen's University, 1996-1999 and he was the 2001 Kingston Grappling Champion, the 2004 Montreal Jiu-Jitsu Champion, a 7-time Canadian Heavyweight Champion, a World Pankration Team Champion with Team Canada (2000-2002), a Silver Medalist at the 2000 USAFPA Pan American Games (San Diego, CA), a Bronze Medalist at the 2000 IFPA World Championships (Lamia, Greece), a Silver Medalist at the SAW: Global Tournament 2004 (Tokyo, Japan), and a Gold Medalist with the Crown Fighting Championship 2005 (Baja, Mexico).

Jake Shannon and 2006 CAC Martial Artisit Honoree Mike Martelle
Jake Shannon and 2006 CAC Martial Artisit Honoree Mike Martelle

I talked with Mike quite a bit and I was very impressed. Congratulations again to a very deserving Mike Martelle for receiving 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club Martial Artist Award!

(Special thanks to Karl Lauer for all his amazing efforts!)

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