© 2013 Rob. All rights reserved.

Rick Martel


Acrylic, oil and paint marker on 24″ x 24″ wood

If you grew up in the northern United States in the early 1980’s, Rick Martel is what you thought of as what a wrestling champion should be. Born in 1956 as Richard Vigneault in Quebec City, he grew up as a skilled amateur wrestler and easily transformed those skills when he debuted as a professional at the age of sixteen. He went on to compete in Canada, New Zealand and Puerto Rico before making headroads in the National Wrestling Alliance’s Portland territory. In 1980 he debuted with the World Wrestling Federation, forming a tag team with Tony Garea with whom he would win the WWF Tag Team Championship later that year when they defeated The Wild Samoans. They lost the title the following year to The Moondogs, and shortly regained them. They lost the title again that year to Mr Fuji and Mr Saito. Rick left the WWF in 1982.

Rick Martel then signed with the American Wrestling Association, quickly making a name for himself before defeating Jumbo Tsuruta to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1984. He held the title for nearly two years, taking all comers including NWA World Champion Ric Flair, Jimmy Garvin, and Nick Bockwinkel. He lost the title to Stan Hansen in 1985.

He returned to the WWF in 1986, forming the Can-Am Connection with Tom Zenk. The duo split shortly after WrestleMania III, where they were the opening match. In 1987 he formed Strike Force with Tito Santana, defeating Bret Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart to win the WWF World Tag Team Title, which they held for five months before losing it to Demolition. At WrestleMania V he turned on Santana, and began a long run as the villainous and narcissistic Rick ‘The Model’ Martel. The Model had a notable feud with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts as well as with Tatanka. He left the WWF in 1997 for a brief run with World Championship Wrestling, before retiring from the sport.

About the piece: I felt the need to change up my color scheme with this piece, and Martel’s Model persona gave me the opportunity to do so. I laid down some swatches of pink, purple, tan, white, brown and blue house paint for the background to create some energy, with some of it extending into the figure. I then partially painted in the figure, leaving some of it incomplete and letting the background integrate itself into the whole composition. I then finished off with some frenetic paint marker scribbles to give it that extra zing!

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