Pierre Carl Ouelett rolled the dice last year. He made a huge splash against indie wrestling darling WALTER on WrestleMania weekend in New Orleans. The two had a brutal match in the main event of the sold-out, cult hit Joey Janela’s Spring Break.
For Ouelett, known best now as PCO, it was probably his most visible match in around two decades. The WWF and WCW veteran wrestled sparingly from 2011 to 2016 and had not been with a major promotion since 2007. He was not on the radar of most wrestling fans until Janela announced him as part of his WrestleMania week show, which was promoted by Game Changer Wrestling.
WALTER vs. PCO ended up being a banger. It was the talk of the indie wrestling community, cutting through the noise of a loaded weekend filled with WWE, NXT, Ring of Honor and more. How could PCO, now 50 years old, perform at such a high level — taking risks that men half his age would not even consider?
And then? Nothing happened.
The match went down in the beginning of April 2018 and PCO didn’t get many calls afterward. His May was stagnant. Then, all at once, a deluge. The French Canadian wrestler was booked up throughout June and July.
At that point, he knew. With his 51st birthday coming up in a few months, it was now or never for PCO if he wanted to get back into wrestling again full time.
“It totally changed everything,” PCO said told Cageside Seats of the WALTER match. “From there, I made sure that my total focus was going to be on pro wrestling. There was no other reason for me to have any other job on top of wrestling. Other guys have two or three jobs. They work and they wrestle.
“I had faith in myself, I believed in myself. I quit everything else. I was willing to lose my house or any other thing. I gambled everything basically on this. Everything that I had, I gambled on this journey, this goal, this dream.”
The gamble has paid off. PCO was one of the hottest acts on the indie circuit for the rest of the year, mostly due to his unpredictability, frightening risks and unique social media videos. In December, Ring of Honor signed PCO to an exclusive contract. He’s now part of the Villain Enterprises stable with Marty Scurll and other recent acquisition Brody King. Those three take on the Kingdom for ROH’s six-man title Saturday night at Bound by Honor in Lakeland, Fla.
PCO said that his ROH contract is the best one he’s ever signed for three reasons: the money, the opportunity and the schedule that allows him to spend more time with his daughter in Quebec.
“I knew this could be big,” PCO said. “So for me opportunity wise and you take those three things, when i combine everything together this is the best for me. My best contract ever.”
PCO signing with ROH was one of the first salvos in a wrestling arms race in the United States. WWE is still top dog with an incredible amount of talent on all their brands. But All Elite Wrestling, led by Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks and capital from the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars ownership, is set to become a real player, signing the likes of Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega, both of whom were reportedly offered big money by WWE. ROH, which lost the Bucks and Cody on Jan. 1, recently signed top prospect Bandido, Mexican star Rush, WWE veteran PJ Black with more set to come.
“It’s crazy,” PCO said. “[ROH is] really signing great guys, great talent. I’m very, very pleased with that. I really have high hopes for Ring of Honor. I think they’re in the race for becoming the No. 1 company. There should be some other moves that will be done this year. We’ll see. All the companies are adjusting to one another. But I think the future is really bright for them.”
This bull market represents a sea change from just a few years ago when WWE had an enormous market share of the top talent. Now, there seems to be many options, including a revamped Impact and New Japan Pro Wrestling, which will need to rejuvenate its North American expansion plans with the losses of Omega, Cody and the Young Bucks.
For someone who was in the thick of it 20 years ago, PCO believes 2019 could be the beginning of an era not too different than when WCW went head to head with WWF.
“I mean, it feels like it’s the same as the Monday Night Wars,” PCO said. “It feels like that. It’s great for everyone, its great for supporters, for fans. Everybody is doing more than they would do, because everyone is trying to get attention, everyone is trying to get noticed. Everybody is working harder and trying to be more creative. And the companies as well are trying to be more creative, they’re trying to find more great talent. They’re trying to be more aware of what’s going on on the indies, what’s going on in Japan, what’s going on everywhere else. And trying to find the guys with the best potential and try to get them signed so the other company doesn’t sign them. In the meantime, it creates more jobs for the wrestlers. It makes the company work harder. Everyone works harder.
“To me, probably some promoters probably don’t feel like that, but it’s a win-win-win situation. The companies are winning, the wrestlers are winning and the fans are winning. To me, it’s the greatest time ever in pro wrestling. Don’t ask me why it became like that. In 2018, people were saying, ‘OK, the indies are exploding.’ It was a lot of sellouts and it was a lot of great talent, a lot of great promotions. Now, with so many companies competing, it’s absolutely insane. It’s great. It’s a great time. It’s a booming time.”
And here PCO is, somehow, right in the thick of it — 26 years after he first debuted in WWF as one of The Quebecers. In many ways, despite being far removed from his athletic prime, PCO believes he’s the best wrestler he has ever been. This, he said, was the era that Pierre Carl Ouellett was supposed to be in all along.
“I think I did hit my peak recently,” PCO said “I feel for different reasons, in different aspects I’m a better wrestler now. It’s rare to hear that, but that’s the truth for me. That’s how I feel. Why I feel that is probably because I’m the right time as far as the years. I think I was maybe ideas wise, I might have been a little bit ahead of my time. The ideas that I had back then, when I was giving out ideas or I came up with scenarios or whatever, I got looked at like it was weird the way I was thinking. I kind of knew this had to be pro wrestling, I don’t know why they don’t get what I’m trying to tell them. It’s part of it now. I was born in the wrong years. It’s just bizarre — it’s weird. I feel this is really the generation I fit in. The perfect fit for PCO, the perfect time. Everything is there right now.”