After finding a decent level of fame in the wrestling world as one half of The Quebecers, and later as Jean-Pierre Lafitte, Pierre Carl Oullett entered a phase of somewhat obscurity. Turning up frequently in various promotions without ever hitting the heights of his WWE run, Oullett’s wrestling career was stored in the basement as he approached middle age.
In 2017, armed with admirable enthusiasm, Oullett dusted himself off for one last run and the current result is PCO. An independent hero throughout 2018, PCO’s stunning body of work led to interest from various promotions and it was Ring of Honor that got his much-desired signature. Here he speaks to Chris Walker about his lengthy career and the motivation behind his unbelievable renaissance.
Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a year
It’s taken until you’ve reached middle age to gain this level popularity. What is it about the PCO character that is different from other versions of yourself?
With age comes experience and I’m now at a point in my life where I’m wise enough to realize what I need to do to achieve success, and more importantly, to be happy. I listen to people more these days when there was a time when I would only listen to myself. I’ve been wrestling since I was 16 years old so I’ve been around this crazy world long enough to make my own mistakes and see the mistakes made by others. Back in the day, I would react a lot more different to how I’d handle things now, but to do that takes time and I think that’s a big reason why I’m enjoying wrestling today. I’ve listened so much more in the last 18 months than what I have in the 30 years before. When I made the decision to go all the way with the PCO character, I had to put everything into it. I started to eat right, live right, look after my body so I could give myself the best possible chance of realizing my dream of becoming a world champion in one of the big companies. I enrolled in gymnastics class to get as flexible as possible and now I’m doing moonsaults and backflips easier than I could ever manage. If this is going to be my last run then I had to give it everything from the start.
Your first notable run in wrestling occurred in the early 90s as one half of the Quebecers with Jacques Rougeau. You achieved notable pushes and won the WWE tag title straps several times. Talk me through that run.
You’re going to be surprised at this, but I didn’t like the way our characters were booked back then. Myself and Jacques were hard guys that loved to work that way and against guys like The Steiner Brothers and Mabel, it shouldn’t have been a problem to work stiff matches that fans would’ve loved. When I first heard that we were going to be a team and I looked at us together, I thought the WWE was going to perhaps book us strong like a Demolition type team or The Hart Foundation. You had Jacques who was a brilliant wrestler and I was next to him as this big strong guy, but when you look at our matches, we were portrayed the way almost every other heel was being portrayed and that made it hard to stand out. If Jeff Jarrett and Shawn Michaels are doing this routine every week trying to get noticed then that’s making our work even harder as those guys are a lot further up the card. I wanted strong feuds with other good teams, but we’d always be winning by count out or DQ and that hurt us in the long term. Even winning the tag belts against The Steiners was done under Quebec Rules so even that took away some of the magic from our victory. It was great to work alongside Jacques as he was someone from the Montreal scene, along with Ricky Martel and Pat Patterson, who I admired a lot, but our run with the belts could’ve meant a lot more if we were booked a little stronger.
You were eventually booked strong during your underrated feud with Bret Hart in 1995. Although this push was short-lived, Bret was a fan of your work. Were there any other plans for any other high profile rivalries?
There was a time when Vince McMahon and the management were going to go all the way with me and put the world title on me in Canada. After The Quebecers split up, me and Jacques worked some matches in Montreal that done brilliant business for the WWE with sold out stadiums. Vince was doing okay with the Canadian loop of Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto and it was discussed that I’d win the belt from Bob Backlund in one of those cities to a big reception and then drop the belt to either Diesel or Bret back in America a few weeks later. I was essentially going to be a caretaker champion for a short period. In the end, for reasons I don’t know, Vince went off the idea and went in a different direction. The news made me sore as it was always my dream to be a world champion.
Do you think the decision not to award you the title may have come from your backstage feud with The Kliq? It’s been well-documented that you weren’t very popular with the backstage faction.
Probably, but although they had Vince McMahon’s ear, I still think I was okay with Vince because he gave the Jean Pierre Lafitte character a lot of support and allowed me to work with Bret Hart on a regular basis. Today in 2019 it’s very easy to blame the likes of Diesel and Shawn Michaels for whatever happened back then, but I could’ve handled the situation a lot better too. The main issue for me is that these guys were playing around with the livelihoods of so many people and they didn’t care about what financial pressures people were under. The amount of wrestlers they kept down or got fired just so they could keep the money and spotlight on themselves was something that I thought needed to be spoken up about. My biggest falling out with them came when I refused to do a job for Diesel when we were working in Montreal. I’d been told the plan was to go back there at some point for another match and I don’t believe it made sense for me to lose clean. This made them all go a little bit crazy and soon after I was gone from the WWE. Vince still held me in some regard because he came to me with other ideas, but it wasn’t a nice place to work and I got my release a little bit later.
Soon after, your career stuttered as you became something of a journeyman turning up in various promotions. What are your memories of this phase of your career?
Good and bad if I’m being honest. I spent some time in WCW, but it was Kevin Nash doing the booking so I didn’t like my chances there. I went onto ECW in its final days when people were not getting paid so the atmosphere there wasn’t the best, but it was great to work alongside some good names there like Justin Credible. They never missed a single payment to me so I feel grateful for the time I had there. TNA was more interested in me as a TV person for their show in Canada, but I still felt like I could offer them something. They disagreed so I wrestled for a while in Europe. I still had hopes of going back to WWE at one point and had a few dark matches around 2007 and 2008, but my phone never rang after that.
It was around 2011 that you stated your intention to retire from wrestling. As we know, this was short-lived and here you are today as PCO. What was the motivation behind your comeback around 18 months ago?
Even though I was retired, the love for wrestling and to fulfill my dream of being one of the very best never went away from me. The wrestling world has changed so much since I was younger and it’s not only WWE or WCW where you can have fun and make a living. Have you seen the amount of wrestling that exists today and the number of young wrestlers that are working hard around the world trying to put on good matches every night? My name value from my WWE days helped me get work, but I wanted to take my new approach and make it work with this generation of wrestlers. I was a guy who refused to lose to the WWE champion years ago and now I’m helping to put over some of the newest guys in the business. That’s how much I’ve matured and I’m enjoying every single day and treating each day like it could be my last.
Your match with Walter for GCW last year was one of the most dramatic of 2018, and it certainly confirmed you as one of the best stars on the independent scene. You later signed a deal with Ring of Honor and have since debuted there. What stood out about that promotion considering you were very much in demand?
Several things jumped out at me. First, they have a locker room full of the best wrestlers in the world who go out there every single night and never give less than 100% to the fans. Secondly, they made a big fuss of me and convinced me that my future there was going to be a memorable one. When you’ve spent the bulk of your whole career trying desperately to convince people that you have what it takes and they’re unsure, it becomes frustrating. Ring of Honor made it clear from our very first conversation that they wanted me, that they had big plans for me, and that they were fully behind PCO. I’ve only been here a very short time as it was December when I signed, but I’m happy so far, and please keep watching our shows because they’re only going to get better.
You recently turned 51 and you’re position in wrestling has never looked stronger. At an age where most wrestlers are retired or winding down, how much longer can PCO go on?
I get asked this question quite a lot. I’m not a wrestler who has abused his body and in the last couple of years, I’ve tried to look after myself as much as possible because this is all I want to do now. If we’re being realistic then I think seven years is probably the most I can go on for but I don’t want to look that far ahead. At this very moment, working with Ring of Honor, everything is perfect for me and I just want to take each day as it comes and enjoy every single moment. My goal was to always be the world champion and if that can happen here in Ring of Honor then what a story that would be for me. The response I’ve had so far since coming to this great company has been really special and I hope that I can give them the best version of PCO for a long time.
See PCO compete on Sunday, February 10 (7pm ET) at ROH Bound By Honor: Miami, streaming LIVE for HonorClub members at ROHHonorClub.com and the ROH App on all Apple and Android devices, and Roku! Visit ROHTickets.com to be there LIVE and ROHWrestling.com for more information.
Source: Read Full Article