By Kevin Eck
Wrestling fans are aware that ROH World Champion PCO has lived two lives -- the first when he was a mere mortal in the sport, and the second beginning after he was resurrected by D.Destro and became The French-Canadian Frankenstein.
What fans may not be aware of is that PCO actually had another life and career path before he pursued pro wrestling. As a youth, the Montreal native was a talented hockey player who dreamed of playing in the NHL.
That dream was derailed when PCO lost sight in his right eye due to a pellet gun accident. He went on to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but never got the opportunity to don an NHL sweater and compete on the ice in a sold-out arena.
Earlier this week (Jan. 6), however, PCO did get to appear before 21,000 hockey fans at Montreal’s Bell Centre, where has was given a hometown hero’s welcome. PCO was an honored guest of the Montreal Canadiens for their game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Having grown up rooting for the Canadiens, it was quite a thrill for PCO.
“I started skating and playing hockey at 3 years old,” PCO said. “I grew up in a big hockey community and my dad was a huge Canadiens fan, so I grew up watching the Habs winning four Stanley Cups in a row as a young child, with goalie Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, the Big 3 of Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, and many more.
“Then in 1993, which was the last time we won the Cup, I was a wrestling champion as well that same year and became friends with a lot of the players, like Stephane Richer, Normand Baron and Patrick Poulain, and was playing summer league with a lot of them.”
With the ROH World Title belt draped over his shoulder and D.Destro by his side, PCO was interviewed in front of the crowd during a break in the action.
“I said, ‘I am finally back to Montreal as the World Heavyweight Champion!’ and that ‘it was only the beginning of the PCO Monster Mania,’” PCO said. “I got a great ovation and a PCO chant. They were hockey fans, not wrestling fans, so to get honored by the greatest dynasty in professional sports, with 24 championships -- they are like the Yankees or the Patriots. So to be getting a PCO chant in a hockey environment, it’s so huge!”
PCO also was shown on the video board during the “Flex Cam” segment.
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) January 7, 2020
PCO, who brought his 11-year-old daughter London with him, said he is grateful to the Canadiens not only for the VIP treatment they gave him, but also for the exposure both he and ROH have received as a result of his appearance.
“During the period breaks, I was circled around by the fans while I was with D.Destro. We took hundreds of photos,” PCO said. “Between period 1 and 2, we went to the media room where I met with journalists and collected business cards.
“It was the birth of PCO Monster Mania on Jan. 6, 2020. The following day, my live interview was posted on NHL.com, which is super immense, millions of fans going there. It was mega-exposure, and the Canadiens as well have posted on their social media platforms. It gave world wide recognition and it was very rewarding.”
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 7, 2020
PCO couldn’t stay until the end of the game, however, because London had school the next day.
The experience has given PCO a chance to reflect on his hockey-playing days. It will probably surprise wrestling fans, but PCO said he was not a goon.
“I could drop the gloves if required, but I wasn’t a goon; I was a talented player,” he said. “I played right wing or center. Taking the faceoff was something that I was extremely good at. My weapon was my shot. A very heavy slap shot and precise. I was often placed on the defense for power play purposes, for guys on my team to set me up on one-timer to score five against four.
“At one point, I was doing wrestling and hockey. I got invited by Boston College and also by coach Al Sims to the training camp of the Fort Wayne Komets in the International Hockey League in 1988. I turned them down and went to wrestle for Grand Prix Wrestling in the Maritimes in Eastern Canada full time.”
— PCO MONSTER MANIA (@PCOisNotHuman) January 7, 2020
PCO said there are similarities between hockey and pro wrestling.
“Playing hockey means that you have to be a hell of an athlete and have tremendous skills. It takes discipline, hard work and dedication to become good at it,” he said. “Hockey and wrestling are very similar: the locker room, team spirit, everyone having a role. And it’s also highly competitive."