Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon is inducted into the Quebec Sports Hall Of Fame [November 9th, 2009]
“I worked my entire career to be hated and still the fans love me. I must’ve done something wrong!”
Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon was a professional wrestler for nearly four and a half decades. His legendary contributions to pro wrestling would forever change the face of the sport, as he was an innovator of modern mannerisms. While several pro wrestlers would speak to interviewers about their opponents, Mad Dog was the first to look directly into the cameras, a technique used to strike fear into onlookers of horror movies. Over 50 years later, wrestlers today still use this motion.
“Mad Dog” attained the nickname after a match in 1962, while waiting for an opponent to hit the ring in Portland, Oregon. Vachon was losing his temper, as his opponents slow arrival to the ring was taking away from the time they’d been given to wrestle their match. When the wrestler finally got to the ring, he tossed him to the outside out of frustration, along with a referee and a baton-wielding officer. After the incident, promoter Don Owen reportedly shouted at him, “You looked like a mad dog out there!” The name stuck, and “Mad Dog” Vachon was a keepsake for years to come.
Though several great, legendary athletes were inducted into the 2009 Quebec Sports Hall Of Fame class, the star of the evening was the pro wrestling veteran, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon. Other inductees were asking for his autograph and posing for pictures with him. One in particular thanked him for the years of entertainment, and another was quoted in saying “congratulations on your entire career”. Though Vachon’s contributions in pro wrestling were the highlight, his career as an amateur wrestler were also honored, as he was also known for competing at the 1948 Olympic Games and finishing 7th in amateur wrestling. His signature win was defeating an Indian wrestler in 22 seconds!
Last November, the man affectionately known as “Mad Dog” passed away, leaving behind a great professional wrestling legacy. Though wrestling fans of today may not be familiar with his signature tactics, lunatic demeanor, and incredible wrestling ability, fans of Vachon and those who feared him will forever remember the glory of Mad Dog. He wasn’t a wrestler that the ladies dreamed of, but rather an athlete that grown men had nightmares about.
He hung around a lot with the jocks from school, like his stepbrother Duane Nelson and Paul Mitchell. They watched football and pro wrestling on television (Prince would imitate the local announcer interviewing characters like Mad Dog Vachon and the Crusher), played an electric football game, or shot baskets at nearby Bryant Junior High School.
When he wasn’t at his dad’s, communing with the organ or piano, Prince was likely to be at the Mitchells’ a couple blocks away. He’d arrive at 7 AM., go to school with his buddies, and then go to practice—and sometimes stay at the Mitchells’ till bedtime.
At one point, the guys went through a phase when they used to tickle and tease their moms. You know, it was a sign of warmth and love and fun. However, there was no mom in Prince’s life, so he used to tickle Mrs. Mitchell.
“A lot of people felt sorry for him,” said Paul Mitchell. “He would get on people’s nerves sometimes. I think it was just his frustration lashing out at people. I think he was trying to be cute and get attention. He didn’t get it at home. We kind of helped him. I think at times he had to feel left out because he just didn’t have anyone. But he never talked about the family problems, even to Duane.”
-Paul Mitchell, Prince Inside the Purple Reign by Jon Bream
One of the most violent and unpredictable wrestlers to have graced the squared circle was the maniacal Luna Vachon. Wrestling with a fierce, brutal style, Vachon was the niece of Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, who revolutionized wrestling by intimidating audiences, speaking directly into the camera when addressing his opponents. Luna certainly carried on that legacy, as she was never concerned with being the prettiest girl on the show- only the best, and perhaps the meanest. Her most notable rivalries were against Federation favorite Alundra Blayze, and later against the wildly popular Sable, who competed against Vachon in a Evening Gown Match at Unforgiven in 1998.
Although Vachon gathered several championship reigns in her career, she never captured the WWF Women’s Championship, which she so yearned for. In August of 2010, Vachon passed away at the age of 48. Even more tragically, all of her pro wrestling memorabilia, which could and should be displayed in pro wrestling museums and a potential future Hall Of Fame, perished in a fire a few months before her death.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten. It saddens me to remember someone so special that made so many people cringe with her brutal in-your-face grimace and complete disregard for her opponents’ well being and looks.