The reality of the resurrection of Pierre Carl Ouellet (aka “PCO”) from the pop culture grave as a bloody, bruised and electricity-absorbing Frankenstein’s monster has all but strangled fiction. “2018 has been my best year ever, because I’ve brought myself back to life as Frankenstein,” says the hulking, now 50-year-old mohawked grappler. “I began changing everything about myself at 35, and now I’ve got the gimmick I was meant to have. And thanks to my conditioning, I will feel like I’m 35 forever. I’m telling you the truth when I say I once had no idea who or what Frankenstein was before I took on this gimmick, but now I embody Frankenstein. I have found the perfect wrestling gimmick for me, and there’s no going back. This is a story of transformation.”
Fans who recall PCO as Jacques “The Mountie” Rougeau’s tag team partner on the WWE tag title-winning Quebecers in the mid-1990s or as Jean-Pierre LaFitte, the wrestling pirate who had a series of great matches with Bret Hart in 1995, would be shocked by the wrestler’s new gimmick. So, for that matter, is PCO, since part of the Frankenstein gimmick involves filming himself being shot full of electricity by Destro, his manager and trainer. Or being ordered to curl railroad ties while Destro throws darts into his chest. Or having Destro cut into his chest to allegedly install a car battery that will give him unlimited energy. Or letting Destro hammer away at his throat with a steel bar. Or, as in his recent “Halloween special,” robbing a convenience store and then driving off in a hearse.
“For years I was a very good wrestler, a very tough wrestler,” PCO says. “I lifted heavy weights and I trained like a bodybuilder or a powerlifter. And I did some pretty athletic moves for a big man, like the senton bomb, at a time [the late 1980s and early 1990s] when you weren’t seeing that very often.”
However, for PCO, being athletic and tough wasn’t enough. Specifically, he lacked a gimmick that really worked with his character. All that changed, though, after he heard rumors of a fitness guru named Destro. “Destro was a man who was living in the same neighborhood that I was,” is all PCO says when I ask about the origins of the slender, trenchcoat-wearing svengali in his videos, noting that he isn’t someone I was familiar with during my career as a fitness writer. “I’d heard from friends that this was a man who had lost 150 or 200 pounds, and that he knew everything there was to know about diet, nutrition, as well as the old ways of training — the strongman training. I knew I had to seek this man out and learn from him.”
Destro also introduced PCO to the character of the Frankenstein’s monster. “I’d never seen the movie or read the book,” PCO says of the gimmick he adopted in 2016 and used thereafter in bloody brawls with indie stars such as Austria’s Walter. “I’d never had my own gimmick, either. I was either myself, Pierre Carl, or they said, ‘Dress up and wrestle as a pirate.’ That’s why, right now, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in — professionally and physically. I have this gimmick that’s an extension of me, a gimmick that was just waiting for me to take it on.”
Since leaving WCW in 2000, where he briefly reigned as Hardcore Champion, PCO hasn’t lacked for work, sticking around for extended stretches in TNA and various high-profile indie federations before temporarily calling it quits in 2011. “My lack of main-event success back then comes down to not having the gimmick,” he says. “Everyone knew PCO can work a good match because he’s a good hand in the ring. So I’d get hired and would appear in a lot of matches. But without this new gimmick, I wasn’t as exciting as I could be. I wasn’t reaching my potential. And without Destro’s guidance, I wasn’t physically prepared for wrestling the way I’d be prepared five years later in 2016, after I’d returned to the ring as the ‘French Frankenstein.’”
Is PCO “working me” about Destro and these unorthodox lifestyle changes? Is this all part of his born-again monster gimmick? Probably, but it’s at least halfway plausible. “Destro taught me how to eat, which is eating thousands of calories not of animal flesh, but of animals products — the eggs and milk, not the meat. Why not eat the renewable parts of the animals, the things meant for the young that keep you young? And Destro would have me doing thousands of isometric holds, air squats, the shock treatments. All of this has increased my endurance, which is what truly matters at my age.”
Part of that longevity is also due to living his gimmick of part beast-turned-man, part old-time strongman. He does a lot of grip work as well, crushing potatoes and picking up weights using a pinched grip, an oft-neglected form of exercise. In particular, he uses a fat-grip and oversized dumbbells, curls weights using a head brace to strengthen his neck and has Destro train his abs by dropping heavy metal balls on his stomach.
Yet Destro, who shrieks into the camera and drools some kind of black liquid when he talks, strikes me as more of a madman than a mad scientist (or accredited trainer). “That madness is all part of it,” PCO says. “He’s my manager in character, when I’m the monster and he controls me. And he’s my manager in real life, when he supervises my diet throughout the day. I call him several times per day, asking about when I should eat sugars and when I should eat fats. He does the same with my unique PCO workouts, making sure it’s constant variation, never the same thing, all of these old, forgotten methods. I tape a lot of the workouts, make videos of them, because this type of training was a way of promoting wrestlers in the old days. A strongman would come out and bend steel and the crowd would be impressed, because this type of thing they understand better than lifting a barbell with some weights on it. And for me, I’m doing the lifts you see on the video, not lifting these gimmick fake weights. So if I struggle with a rep or don’t get it… well, at least you can watch that and see my struggle.”
Destro’s eccentric self-presentation recalls the great weird-heel managers of yore, from the Undertaker’s cackling mortician overseer Paul Bearer (played by Percy Pringle, himself a mortician) and “Playboy” Gary Hart, who specialized in exerting mind control over a stable of otherwise-uncontrollable villains. “There aren’t too many managers that you see like that on TV anymore, that’s true,” says PCO. “But Destro is critical to my Frankenstein gimmick, and if I can get a chance to go to Ring of Honor or WWE — WWE even auditioned me again in 2008, so I’m on the radar — then I need to go there with Destro so I ensure I’m at my absolute best. The stories I can tell will be much better than before because I’ve learned so much from making my own promos and videos on YouTube. I’ve learned to draw the Frankenstein character out of myself and how to live my gimmick.”
Like Austin Aries, Kenny King, Cody Rhodes and other wrestlers outside the WWE, PCO manages his own bookings and business affairs. As a result, he can pick and choose his dates with various promotions, such as an upcoming match for Major League Wrestling against Brody King on November 8th in Chicago. I ask PCO if this, too, has helped him extend his career, being able to determine when and under what circumstances to have a high-quality match. “I’m always in working shape at any moment,” he says. “I could handle a faster-paced schedule, more dates, and I want to work as much I can right now. Frankenstein has risen from the dead and this is his prime time. I have electricity surging within my veins… PCO is not human!”
His opponents, mere mortals that they are, should consider themselves on notice.