RIP: Michel Corbeil
August 31, 2012
I wrote the following for my "Storm Front" article for "Fighting Spirit" Magazine, back in December, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
While this is generally a festive time for everyone, it is not a festive time for me, as I sit here and write this article. To tell you the truth I almost passed completely on contributing this month because of a family tragedy. Four days before getting my "approaching deadline" email from Fighting Spirit editor Brian, my Step-Dad Mike Corbeil passed away. His death was a complete surprise and hit everyone incredibly hard. My mom asked me to write his eulogy and I had just sat down at the computer to start, when I got the email from Brian. There was no way I could possibly focus on anything else right now, let alone sit down and write something about wrestling, so I was going to tell Brian, not this month.
I put the email out of my mind and I starting thinking about Mike and what a big part of my life he was and I realized he wasn't just a big part of my personal life, he was a big part of my wrestling career as well. One of my very first conversations with Mike was about wrestling and if not for his support I may never have gotten into wrestling in the first place. So if you were a fan of mine through out my career or even just a fan of my writing now, you owe him a small debt of gratitude. I thought it would be nice to share with you some of my fondest wrestling memories of one of the finest men I've ever met, my Step-Dad, Michel Corbeil.
I suppose I need to offer a bit of background before going any further. My parents divorced when I was 17, and about a year later my Mom started dating Mike. My first interaction with Mike was a party I held at his house, February 5th 1988. I remember the date because it was the night Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Title to Andre the Giant on WWF's Main Event. Mike had a 10 foot projection television so despite not knowing him very well, I had to watch this show on his TV, and found the courage to ask my Mom's new boy friend if I could host a wrestling party at his house to watch the Main Event. Mike was always up for a party and would do almost anything for anyone, so he said yes, and I had all my high school buddies over to his house to witness Hulk Hogan lose the WWF Title, to the infamous twin referees screw job, on a 10 foot TV. As a die-hard wrestling fan that put Mike in my good books for life.
Fast forward almost 2 years and my Mom and Mike are not married but living together as a couple. I'm in University and completely unhappy with my academic career, and actually considering a career in pro wrestling. Upon hearing of my interest in a wrestling career Mike grabbed the bull by the horns and started doing research. He contacted the Hart Brother's Pro-Wrestling Camp in Calgary, The WCW Power Plant in Atlanta, as well as actually getting, then WWF President, Jack Tunney on the phone in Toronto to discuss how one goes about starting a pro-wrestling career.
On his initial conversation with Mr. Tunney, Mike was informed that WWE got all their wrestlers from amateur wrestling (ah the kayfabe era). I couldn't believe Mike actually got Tunney on the phone and told him he had been lied to and WWE got almost none of their talent from amateur wrestling. Mike not wanting this lie to go uncalled, called Mr. Tunney back and was eventually told straight up by good old Jack that he did not want to bother talking to my Step-Dad any further and would appreciate if he not call again and then hung up on him. Not a very good first impression of the wrestling business but at least WCW and the Harts were professional and pleasant over the phone.
I knew I wanted to give this a try but was worried I might not be able to afford to; I was a University student with student loans piling up and post divorce my Mom was doing okay but not sitting on an abundance of extra cash. In one of the hardest thing's I've ever had to do, I actually went to my Step-Dad and asked him if when push came to shove and I needed it would he help me financially, starting out. Mike didn't bat an eye and told me both he and my Mom were behind me and if this was what I really wanted to do, he had my back. I never did need his help, at least not financially, but at that moment he made my wrestling career possible and became someone I would never let down.
While his financial support was never needed his moral support was always present. Despite not really liking wrestling, he drove to Dungannon, VA on March 7th 1994, to witness the Thrillseekers debut in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. My Mom and Mike attended several ECW shows in Buffalo, NY as well as Florida, where they had a winter home, including one on January 27th, 2000 where they had to drive me to the hospital in St. Petersburg, FL after an ill-fated match with Tommy Dreamer where I needed to get 6 staples put into the back my head (my fault not his). They attended WWE events regularly as well, driving as far as Toronto (3hrs) and Montreal (6hrs). The Montreal trip was to attend the No Way Out PPV event where William Regal and I defeated Kane and Rob Van Dam to retain the WWE World tag Team Titles. It was the biggest match of my career that they saw live and thanks to a few pulled strings on my part; they saw the event from ringside and have the commemorative chairs to prove it.
There was one other contribution Mike made to the wrestling business and my career, and that was the upside down US Flag logo we used as the Un-Americans. When the office first told us of the gimmick they said they wanted a logo or symbol for us, and after a week of brain storming it was my Step-Dad who suggested the upside down flag as the international symbol of distress. It's a boating thing and Mike was always big into boats. I pitched the idea to Stephanie, she liked the idea, and as they say the rest is history.
These stories only scratch the surface of what a huge part of my life and career Michel Corbeil played. He was such a loyal and generous man, he came to my wedding, was a loving and caring grandfather to my kids, and made my Mom extremely happy for 24 years. He was not my father but I could not respect nor love him more even if he were. While he left us far too soon, he lived his life to the fullest. It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years, and Michel Corbeil lived so much life in his 68 years; may he rest in peace.
Check out "Storm Front" & "Storm Warning" my two eBooks for the Kindle. Available at Amazon.com.
If you don't have a Kindle there are free apps for PC, Mac, iPad, iPod, Android, you name it.
Click the Book cover to buy at Amazon.com.
Lance Storm on facebook!