Champaign Gerry Morrow: Teacher to Calgary Greats
Originally Posted July 12, 2000
Don Callis has inspired many of my commentaries, usually they are amusing stories about how much of a pain in the @$$ he is. This week he inspired me with his weekly column, which was about a mutual friend of ours, Gerry Morrow.
I get a lot of mail from people asking me ďWhy are Canadian workers so talented?Ē I usually credit Calgary and the training provided by the Hart Family. As much truth as there is in that statement, after reading Callisís article, I canít help but think Iíve over looked an even bigger factor, Champaign Gerry Morrow. Who? You probably ask. Most Americans wonít know whom Iím talking about, but believe me Calgary and Japanese fans sure will. Gerry Morrow is one of the best and most talented workers Iíve ever had the pleasure of being in the ring with. He has taught me more in this business than any other individual, and I suspect heís done the same for many others.
Gerry was a perennial heel in Stu Hartís Stampede Wrestling. If youíve ever worked in Stampede, chances are youíve worked with Gerry Morrow. As a heel for Stampede he worked with all the Harts, Dynamite, Davey, Johnny, Benoit, Jericho, and myself. A lot of really talented workers and I believe he is a lot of the reason why. I know for a fact he was a huge influence on Jericho and me, and that Benoit was one of his favourites. In addition to being the hardest worker I have ever met, (keep in mind I know Rob Van Dam) Gerry is a master in ring psychology. Gerry is an incredible heel, who knows how to run a match. Ring psychology and having a match make sense, is what in my opinion separates great workers from good wrestlers. A lot of great workers have come out of Calgary. When you have a smart graduating class, chances are you have a great teacher. As great as the Hart training is, no one ever comes out of camp a great worker. One becomes a great worker by working with great workers and learning from them.
What makes Gerry Morrow so good? More than anything his work ethic and love for this business. Iíve never seen Gerry do anything selfish in the ring. Whether you were the top baby face in the company or as green as grass, he bumped his @$$ of to get you and the match over, and he always accomplished both. He taught me and many others how to break a match down into itís most basic elements, and build it from the ground up, something that is becoming a lost art, and something I will always be grateful for. Ask any one of the boys whoíve come out of Calgary, Iíll bet, they all put over Champaign Gerry Morrow.
Gerry is probably best known by fans for being almost impossible to understand during promos. Itís not that he is a bad talker, itís just English isnít his first language. His first language is French, his second Japanese, and English is his third. Iíve seen him converse fluently in both French and Japanese and his English, quite honestly, just takes time to adjust to his accent. If we had to converse in my third language, we would be in much more dire straights believe me. Other than counting to ten, ordering a Big Mac, and saying enough to get myself slapped, Iíd be pretty much out of luck. I bring this up because, I think, itís the key to why he is a good teacher. When you first work with Gerry he lays out the majority of the match ahead of time. I think he does this to avoid having to call the whole match in there and risk you miss understanding him. When you lay matches out with Gerry you really learn how logical and basic a match can be, then when you wrestle that same match you realize how great and easy it can be as well. Once Gerry and I got to work together enough I could understand him perfectly and he started just calling the match out there, but it was in those beginning matches that he showed me the light.
I remember the year I trained Justin Credible (1992) we were working in Calgary and in what I think was Justinís second match he was booked to wrestle Gerry. Justin was scared to death, because in addition to being the best worker I know; Gerry is also probably the toughest. I knew Justin could have a great match with Gerry so I told Gerry that I had trained Justin and that he was pretty good. Gerry pinned Justin clean in the middle of the ring, and at the same time, made him look like a million dollars. They had a great match, which Justin still talks about today. Wow, another great worker trained in Calgary who learned from Gerry Morrow.
In addition to being a great worker and teacher, Gerry was also a lot of fun. I spent countless hours on the road with Gerry in my first few years in the business, and could tell Gerry Morrow stories from now till Christmas. I will leave you with just one. We were doing a 10-day loop in Manitoba; Gerry and I were working on top. Gerry was calling the matches in the ring and for the first 4-5 nights we were starting the matches with me working his arm. (All spots would lead back into an arm drag or arm bar of some kind) The next night as Gerry headed through the curtain, I asked him, what I thought to be, a rhetorical question, ďWorking the arm again Gerry?Ē To my surprise he said ďNo, the head.Ē and through the curtain he went. After our first spot I take Gerry down to the mat in a headlock, and am startled by a weird feeling on my chest. I look down and see Gerry Morrow biting and chewing on my nipple. This is, in addition to being disturbing, quite painful. All through the match as I take Gerry down, he starts biting. After the match, in the back, Gerry is laughing hysterically at me. After that night it was back to the arm, thank goodness.
The last night of the trip, before heading to the ring, Gerry calls out to me, ďTonight we work the head!Ē As Gerry heads to the ring, with a smirk on his face, I head for my bag looking for some heat rub to coat my chest. After our first spot I take Gerry down by the head, he reaches up and grabs my nipple in his teeth, and starts screaming and spitting from the horrible taste in his mouth. Now, the match becomes a battle between the ref and I to keep from laughing out loud in the ring. After the match Gerry was again laughing, ďYou got me!Ē
Gerry has taught me how to work, and more importantly, how to have fun while working. If you want to know why everyone from Calgary.......Alberta, Canada, are such good workers, Itís because we were all lucky enough to know and work, Champaign Gerry Morrow. Thank you Gerry.
Till next week,