He helped to revolutionize the sport of professional wrestling in the 1950’s and 1960’s with his highflying acrobatic style. Combining his aerial techniques with solid mat skills, he became a championship across North America several times over.
Real Name: Edouard Carpentier
Stats: 6′ 1″ 230 lbs.
By Steve Slagle
Edouard Carpentier was often called “The Flying Frenchman”, and for good reason. At a time in the history of the sport when wrestlers usually locked up in stationary, unmoving holds, Carptentier was making the most of his nickname by incorporating impressive high-flying maneuvers to his repertoire of traditional mat wrestling. Although high spots like the Flying Dropkick or the Spinning Back Drop may not do much to impress the contemporary wrestling fan, there was a time when these types of moves where considered to be on the cutting edge. Carpentier helped sharpen that “edge”, and built a huge following throughout the various provinces of Canada, and in several terrorities throughout America. Much like fellow high-flying trailblazer Antonino “Argentina” Rocca, Carpentier built his reputation on thrilling crowds with spectacular aerial moves in addition to his solid mat work. In doing so, he helped to change and expand the face of wrestling in North America, and influenced a whole generation of wrestlers in the process.
He began his career in the mid-1950’s, and quickly established himself as one of the “new generation” of TV wrestling stars. His amateur skills translated well to the pro rings, but it was Carpentier’s ingenuity and originality inside the squared circle that helped to set “The Flying Frenchman” apart from the other wrestlers. His unique talents soon translated into championships for Carpentier, and he amassed quite a resume…
A prime draw for the Montreal IWA promotion (a member of the AWA) he defeated Killer Kowalski in 1957 for the IWA World title, and held the title for 3 years before losing to “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in 1960. All total, Carpentier won the IWA World title 5 times between 1957-1967, defeating legends like Kowalski, Rogers, and The Sheik for the IWA gold. The same year he won the IWA World title, Carpentier made more history on June 14, 1957 in Chicago when Carpentier defeated then-NWA World Champion Lou Thesz by DQ. When Thesz could not continue the match because of his injured back, he was disqualified. But since a title cannot change on a DQ, the NWA continued to recognize Thesz as World champion. Carpentier, on the other hand, was recognized in Los Angeles and throughout much of the West Coast by the WWA as the World Champion. Fred Blassie eventually defeated him in 1961, ending Carpentier’s 4-year WWA title reign. Two year’s later, Carpentier regained the WWA World title, but was again defeated by the villainous Blassie. In 1974, Carpentier defeated West Coast legend John Tolos to win the NWA Americas Heavyweight championship. While Americas champion, he engaged in an intense feud with rookie sensation Greg Valentine, son of Carpentier’s former rival, Johnny Valentine. The young “Hammer” proved he was a force to be reckoned with, as he defeated the Frenchman for the Americas title. However, the experienced Carpentier (who, it turned, out was nearing retirement when he defeated Valentine) regained the title a month later, on March 14, 1975 in Los Angeles. Carpentier won numerous other championships during his career as well, essentially becoming a champion of some form in every region where he wrestled.
Always known for being in top physical condition, Carpentier was one of wrestling’s elite throughout the late 1950’s and the decade of the 1960’s. His popularity and reputation preceded him, and Carpentier proved himself to be one of wrestling’s top draws. His combination of technical skill and creativity inside the ring launched Eduard Carpentier to the top level of his profession. But once there, “The Flying Frenchman” found no shortage of wrestling villains waiting to make their reputations at the expense of Carpentier’s.
The polite Frenchman engaged in long-lasting, intense feuds with the likes “Killer” Kowalski, Lou Thesz, Abdullah the Butcher, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Johnny & Greg Valentine, The Sheik, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, John Tolos, and many other true legends of the squared circle. Although his opponents were often among the most vicious and dastardly wrestlers in the business, Carpentier was always known as a man who stuck to the rules…and still came out on top.
However, as the 1970’s rolled in, Carpentier’s run as one of wrestling’s top men began to wind down, and he slipped a few notched down “the ladder”. Despite his career ending quietly, the profound impact he made as World Champion of three separate federations cannot be questioned. During his prime, which lasted well over a decade, Edouard Carpentier was truly among the elite performers in the business and helped to shape wrestling into what it is today. It is for these reasons that we are proud to induct the inventive and talented trailblazer, “The Flying Frenchman” Edouard Carpentier, into his rightful spot within The Ring Chronicle’s Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame….