For the first time in eight years, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be stopping in Quebec City to host one of its non-televised shows. This is a little bonus for fans of Capitale-Nationale, where the professional wrestling community is thriving.
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On Sunday, WWE’s big circus comes to town with the “Sunday Stunner,” two days after the episode of SmackDown, which is taped in Montreal. The popular company will be adding a little French touch to its product, which should please the 5,000 ticket holders for the event at the Videotron Centre.
“Ticket sales are going well. The Diamond is always packed when there are independent galas, the NSPW rolls there. They are also good wrestling “fans”. You know the product and you are hungry. They always had to go to Montreal or Laval to watch shows and that’s where it ends up in their backyard,” said Kevin Raphaël, one of the fight’s hosts at TVA Sports.
Raphaël and his five-year-old pal Pat Laprade will open the gala in the ring with a segment in French. It is a rare occasion that pleases the two men.
“Kevin and I are really looking forward to it. We see that a little better internationally. […] If it’s in English, they use their own staff. To better engage with the crowd, they sometimes use foreign language commentators to open non-televised shows,” explained Laprade, a true historian of the discipline.
The fight is often compared to a play where the actors exchange punches instead of replying. But they are also used to speaking into the microphone and evoking the strongest emotions in amateurs. Kevin Raphaël’s parents didn’t understand Quebec culture when they arrived in the province, but they got used to it thanks to the struggle.
“I’ve wrestled since I was little,” he said. The first thing my parents saw when they arrived in Canada was wrestling. To be able to be part of this gala, to be able to open the show with the “fans” of Quebec, is still something special.
Raphaël is used to the scene and should be just as comfortable in a ring. Whoever plays the “nasty commentator” alongside Laprade will sweep the crowd away.
“If I don’t get boos, I’ll make sure I get some,” he announced, laughing.
In addition to this unprecedented outreach to Quebec fans, the two fanatics will host an episode of their podcast at 4:30 p.m. in the entrance of the Videotron Center. NSPW wrestler Marko Estrada will be there, but other surprises as well.
A new era in WWE
They say there’s no better time to be a wrestling fan. The product is broad, the galas are numerous, and great changes are taking place in WWE. The Vince McMahon era is finally over, he announced his retirement after being embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal.
Triple H is at the helm and has begun modernizing the company’s approach just weeks after the handover.
“Triple H will bring him his vision, which is different than Vince McMahon’s but, above all, more connected to the reality of the ‘fans’ of WWE 2022,” said Pat Laprade. Triple H is closer to its product, closer to what its audience wants to see. He is more aware of the criticism that WWE may have had over the years.”
Paul Levesque, his real name, has proven over the years to be an ally of the women’s division and WWE farm club NXT, which he ran for many years. When wrestlers were promoted to the main roster, they weren’t given the right tools to be successful.
“I often make the comparison, but when you bring in the National League [LNH] If you’re a 50-goal scorer in the American League and you’re playing two minutes on the fourth line, there’s a chance he won’t score 50 in the NHL,” Laprade said.