The Flying Frenchman
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Real name: Edouard Wiercowicz
A gymnast -- the master of backflips off the top turnbuckle and summersaults onto prone wrestlers. Combined an excellent physique with awesome agility. His acrobatic style never went over with traditionalists in the business, but it was a huge attraction for fans.
Originally from France, Carpentier came to Montreal in 1956 when he was in his early 30s at the invitation of Yvon Robert to wrestle for Eddie Quinn and never left. Says that Quinn's reponse on seeing him for the first time was "Who's this f---ing midget?" Quickly became Quinn's biggest star.
About a year after coming to North America, Carpentier defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA title in Chicago on June 14, 1957. Although he was initially recognized as the new champion, problems between Quinn and the NWA led to the victory being nullified, leaving Thesz as champion. The match was later used to justify several new world titles. Carpentier would come in as the "real" champion -- the man who beat Thesz -- and drop his title to some local star. He did this in Boston with Killer Kowalski (May 1958), in Omaha with Verne Gagne (August 1958), and in Los Angeles with Fred Blassie (June 1961). Thesz defeated Carpentier by DQ in a rematch in Montreal on July 24, 1957, and the two wrestled to a draw in Chicago on August 16, 1957.
Twice recognized as the WWA world champion in Los Angeles, although he never won the title in the ring and was only champion long enough to drop the belt. Continued to have great matches into the 1970s with the Grand Prix promotion in Montreal, including the continuation of a long-standing feud with another veteran Canadian wrestler, Killer Kowalski.
Jackie Wiecz was a wrestler in Montreal in the 1970s billed as Carpentier's nephew. They looked so much alike, though, that I always assumed it was his son, but apparently they really were uncle/nephew. Carpentier was billed in the 1950s as both the cousin and nephew of boxer Georges Carpentier, but there is no relation. Edouard also wrestled as Eddy Wiechoski in Europe in the early 1950s.
Wrestled occasionally in Montreal into the mid-1980s, and performed in the WWF old-timers battle royal in November 1987. Did French-language commentary for the WWF from 1986 into the 1990s and continued to train wrestlers through the 90s.
The Thesz-Carpentier title match in Chicago June 14th saw Thesz battling valiantly to win quickly from the Frenchman, finally mustering enough wily ring generalship to take the first fall with a flying body press at 17:22. But, in winning the first fall Thesz had extended himself to the very limit. Carpentier saw his advantage, and as the crowd screamed in near hysteria, he smothered Thesz in the second fall with dynamic aerial maneuvers --
pinning the champion in center ring in a record 3:39 with a powerful reverse body press. In the third fall, it was all Carpentier. In a brilliant offensive -- ebbing Thesz' strength with a relentless, vicious onslaught. Finally, unable to defend himself, Thesz reeled from corner to corner in an effort to stave off inevitable defeat. At 4:42 referee Ed Whelan
signaled the end of the match, disqualifying Thesz and raising Carpentier's hand in victory."
(From WRESTLING AS YOU LIKE IT, June 1957)
- 4-time International champion (Montreal), 1957-67
- World champion (Omaha, Boston), 1958
- 2-time WWA World champion (Los Angeles), 1961, 63
- WWA World tag champion (Los Angeles), with Bob Ellis, 1964
- 4-time Grand Prix champion (Montreal), 1971-73
- Grand Prix tag champion (Montreal), with Bruno Sammartino, 1973
- NWA Americas champion (Los Angeles), 1974-75
- Internatinal tag champion (Montreal), 1978
- Canadian International champion (Montreal), 1980