Former WWE talent Grenier opens pro wrestling academy
BY SCOTT FISHMAN
Miami Herald Writer
Through hard work and determination, Sylvain Grenier skyrocketed through the ranks of World Wrestling Entertainment to become a four-time tag team champion with La Resistance.
Now the French Canadian is looking to use the experiences and fundamentals he attained in his career to teach others at his new pro wrestling academy at Pro Gym Serge Moreau in Montreal.
Grenier, 32, says he plans on putting more emphasis on character development than other wrestling schools.
''When I came back to Montreal, I wanted to help all those smaller promotions that are here,'' said Grenier. ``When I became part of TOW (Top of the World wrestling) with my associate, we wanted to create the biggest promotion in Quebec. That is what we did by getting the best of all those little promotions, creating a big event every three or four months.
``It was a combined win-win situation where we got the best talent from everywhere. The other step is to use the promotion to create stars from this academy, and for that, we have to go back to the basics.''
Working with WWE Hall of Famers Dory Funk Jr., Rocky Johnson and friend Pat Patterson, Grenier can teach what he has learned as an up-and-comer in Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE's former developmental territory. His school opened up less than a month ago and has a growing list of full-time students.
''I want to help them out,'' Grenier said. ``I still have connections and phone numbers of all the bookers. We can send DVDs.''
The performer looks forward to reuniting with former La Resistance partner Rob Conway. The two are accepting bookings, so they can travel together and relive old times.
``Rob has always been a blast to work with. He had an interview recently and said the most fun he had in WWE was with [me] and traveling. We had such a pleasant time. Rob is so good, and I learned so much from him. We just get along so well. He just has this style, and I had my style. We just melded well together.''
Teaming with fellow La Resistance member René Duprée, Grenier made his in-ring WWE pay-per-view debut at Judgment Day in 2003 against Andrew Test Martin and Scott Steiner. The two youngsters scored the win over the veterans.
With the recent passing of Martin, Grenier reminisced to that first big milestone and working with the superstar during his WWE tenure.
''Steiner and Test were big guys to work with and big shoes to fill, but they were very generous to us,'' Grenier said. ``They gave us a chance, even though we were green and so new. In this business, where there are those who don't want to pass the torch, Test was always nice to me. We became good friends and had a lot of friends in common. When I was living in Tampa, we hung out a lot. He was a good guy. It was a sad story.
``Sometimes you have a monster inside you and don't feel good. That is why you have to get help, when you don't feel good. Whether you are a wrestler or pro golfer, when you don't feel right, you should get help. There is always help around. It touched me when he passed. That is life, and you have to go on your way and look back and don't regret anything.
``Andrew was a good friend. I'm sad for his family and his other friends.''
Being a year apart in age to Test, Grenier took a look at how he has dealt with life as a pro wrestler on the road.
''We all have different lifestyles,'' said Grenier. ``I really respect myself for staying on the right path all those times. This is true even when it has cost me socially in the form of friendship. I like to have fun. I'm a social guy, but I have my limits.
``I think sometimes I think people have trouble dealing with that, which is when they need to get help in dealing with it. Life is way better sober.''
In 2005, WWE split La Resistance. Given the company's track record when it comes to tag teams, the split was inevitable.
''It's always been a battle with the tag team division,'' Grenier said. ``They always try to put one together, but when they do, it only lasts for so long. I think tag team wrestling is an art that I wish they could bring back a little bit more.
``It's hard because there are a lot of guys who want to be world champion by themselves and don't want to share the spotlight.
``I'm a four-time world tag team champion and proud of that. How many people can say that? I only realized that because I was a tag team. So it was a Blessing to me. I wish they could give more to tag team wrestling because it's something different than singles. It's an art getting lost.''
His singles career in the company didn't last long. Before his release in 2007, Grenier was paired with current Divas champ Maryse Ouellet. Grenier is impressed with the progress she has made.
''She trained so hard in OVW,'' he said. ``She always had the gift where she was very comfortable and outgoing, even if her language was not perfect in English. She learned really quick how to use her other forces, body language and facial expressions, and was very good at it.
``She trained very hard and is really an athletic woman. It's no surprise to see her on top of the diva competition.
``At the end, we were put together as a little tryout for a new character. I wish they would have given us a chance because I think we had something going. It was something that was different than we have ever seen in WWE.
``It's a business, and sometimes you have to make decisions. Sometimes they are great. Sometimes they are bad, but you have to live with it. I wish her the best of luck and for her to keep doing what she is doing because she is doing phenomenal for a really new girl.''
Aside from the wrestling school, Grenier continues to perform regularly for a number of independent promotions and does French commentary for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's iMPACT!
Earlier this month, he made his first appearance for Ring of Honor when the company did a show in Montreal. Grenier teamed with the American Wolves against Kevin Steen, El Generico and Bryan Danielson.
''I think I'm more of an old school guy who likes storyline, characters, things that mean something,'' he said. ``I think Ring of Honor has a great production, but they need to go back to the old school because all those spots don't mean anything, if you don't have a storyline, and I think they're just killing themselves out there, and they're not drawing more.
``If I compare TNA and WWE to them, when they come in, there is more extravaganza in the show. Even if it was only in front of 300 or 400 people, they can do this, because they have the production with the stage and the lighting.
``They are well organized, but I think they just need to have more input on writing and storylines to give those fans surprises and unexpected things. It was just match one, match two, match three. That is the only thing. I think they have the potential to become as big as TNA because now they have television and great exposure.
``I don't think I'm perfect, but I come from the biggest school in the world with WWE; so they have the right way to teach. I think they should follow in their footsteps a little bit.''
Grenier isn't sure if ROH is the right fit for him.
''I'm sure, because of the way they do things, I don't think I'm pretty much their style right now,'' he said. ``All those spots and meaningless big bumps, it's not my type. I like storylines, and I like to have fun. I like to feel the ring, feel the crowd and not go 100 miles per hour. It's a different mindset.
``I think they are in the right place to grow and get better. I know they just changed booker. I think they are going to the right path.''
• For information on Sylvain Grenier's pro wrestling academy, visit sylvaingrenier.com. To book Grenier, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-SLY-9559 (1-877-759-9559).