June 24, 2007
I canít believe I am doing this again, but the wrestling world has lost yet another of its own. As all of you should know by now Sensational Sherri Martel passed away last week at the age of 49. I mentioned her death in a column last week but since I didnít know her at all I didnít writing a long tribute commentary. To be honest Iím not even sure that Sherri and I had ever met. Well as it seems to be almost the norm now, in our business, no one dies alone; we have lost yet another, but a week after Sherriís death.
Shane Bower, better known as Beef Wellington (or Biff Wellington) to Stampede wrestling fans, passed away some time late last week of a possible heart attack. He was found dead in his home Saturday morning (June 23rd) at the age of 42. There are not many details available at this time but I guess the only detail that matters, is that another former co-worker and friend is dead at a very young age.
Beef and I werenít close friends; I was the up and coming rookie in Calgary when he was the established veteran, but I did have occasion to work with him several times and being fellow Calgary boys I feel like I knew him far more than I actually did. Beef broke into wrestling in Calgary in the mid 1980ís and became a Star for Stampede Wrestling. He was one of the first guys I saw wrestling in Stampede when I first started watching the product on TV. He was one of the featured stars at that time along with Chris Benoit and Owen Hart.
I believe his name; Beef Wellington was intended as a rib and given to him by Bruce Hart. Bruce was booking Stampede Wrestling at that time and often amused himself by giving wrestlers joke names. Beef was so talented though he actually got the name over, which I believe led to the slight switch to Biff Wellington, in hopes to further rib, and likely hold down the more talented worker. Some of Bruceís more colourful rib names include, manager Dixon Cox (say it fast) and the infamous tag team of Ben Dune and Phil McCracken.
In addition to his success in Stampede Wrestling, Beef worked several tours for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and also worked WCWís Clash of Champions XIX where he tagged with Chris Benoit to face Brian Pillman and Jushin Liger. Beef and I first crossed paths, in 1992, when he started up a small promotion in Calgary called Canadian Rocky Mountain Wrestling. Beef called me out of the blue and offered me a job and I worked for CRMW off and on, between other gigs, for 2 or 3 years.
I never got to work with Beef in a 1 on 1 match up, but we wrestled in several tag team matches and always had a lot of fun together. Beef was a very athletic and physical worker so we were very good in the ring together. There were only a handful of what I would call truly talented workers in Calgary at the time so getting to work with Beef was always a bonus. If any of you checked out the Real West show from 1993 that I posted a link to, a few months ago, there was footage of a tag match we had together on it. The video isnít available anymore unfortunately.
I have three matches with Beef and I on DVD and plan to watch them again, this week, as a means by which to remember him. Beef was a very talented man and although I hadnít seen him in over 10 years, I considered him a friend and am very saddened by his early death; my deepest condolences to his family.