The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Dec. 28, 2021

René Duprée on His WWE Debut At 19 Years Old, La Résistance, The Ruthless Aggression Era

René Duprée on His WWE Debut At 19 Years Old, La Résistance, The Ruthless Aggression Era

René Duprée (@RealReneDupree) is a professional wrestler known for his time in WWE as part of the tag team La Résistance with Sylvain Grenier. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about signing with WWE at 18 years old and making his debut at 19, becoming the youngest WWE tag team champion ever, how he was able to get so muscular at such a young age, his legendary father Emil Duprée, his new podcast called "Cafe De René" and much more!


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Before we get into everything I just want to say congrats on the new podcast.

“Thanks. Well I had a lot of downtime and this guy from the UK interviewed me for his podcast. He asked me if I was interested in doing one too? Well I can’t travel anywhere and I’ve got the time, so why not? It’s actually quite fun and it keeps me updated on wrestling. Otherwise I would have no clue, I don’t watch it on tv anymore.”

I find it fascinating that so many former wrestlers just don’t watch it anymore.

“I think you just get sick of it and burned out when you are there. When you are in that system it’s like 24/7. You are technically an independent contractor, but you are at their beck and call 24/7. Now I am with Pro Wrestling NOAH and they are feuding with New Japan, if it wasn’t for these lockdowns I would be out there in Japan right now.”

Who do you look at on the New Japan roster and be like “I need to have a match with this person.”

“I wrestled ¾ of the roster already. I was in All Japan already and wrestled all the guys before. But the guys I haven’t wrestled are Okada, Tamahashi, Naito. I haven’t worked Ospreay yet, but I know exactly what I would do with him. I compare him to a Paul London, put it that way.”

You are obviously not with WWE anymore. Would you say that it has gotten better or worse since Vince has gotten older?

“Do you watch the product? [laughs] If I’m not a fan of something, I can’t fake it and I can’t pretend. I get asked all the time if I would go back? Firstly, would they have me back, because I have been so outspoken. But also, I can’t watch the show. I know the process that goes into it, and it’s not what I was brought into, it’s more Hollywood now.”

At what point were you ok with being so outspoken about all this stuff?

“Honestly it was when my friends started dying. That was when I lost it. When I left initially, I was being professional and just wanted to do something else. It actually happened when my friend Lance Cade died at age 29 of an overdose. I just snapped. But I’m glad that guys dying has decreased and it has gotten better. At one point guys would drop down every other month, especially when I was there, which was from 2002 to 2007.”    

When you look at that time, far too many people passed away too soon. What do you think it was?

“Drugs. Opioids. We are talking opiates. Right now unless you are living under a rock, North America has a serious opioid addiction problem. It’s out of control. Then you put yourself where your job is being bashed over the head with chairs, and you had no time off. At that time, you were scared to lose your spot. I can remember a fellow Canadian named Andrew Martin [Test], when he broke his neck, they fired him. So what kind of message does that send to the rest of the locker room? You can’t even show you are in pain, because they think that you might get injured. Here’s the thing, all it takes is 7 to 10 days of consistent opioid use and you are hooked. If you’ve got a torn knee, you’re still working, and you take that stuff for 60 days, you’re hooked.”

Is this something that you’ve struggled with?

“Oh yeah. The first time I got introduced to it was my first month in the United States. It was when I got sent to developmental, which was in Cincinnati. This was HWA, Heartland Wrestling Association. We did a match and I did a dive, I hit myself on the corner ring post. I broke all 4 of my front teeth, chipped in half and it was brutal, I’ve had them replaced 3 times. I went to the dentist and he gave me a bottle of Vicodin. That’s how a lot of people get started, by doctors getting prescribed an opioid.”

How did you kick it?

“I asked for help, and they provided it. So I got help and 2 weeks after I left, Chris Benoit killed his family. The writing was on the wall, I needed to take a vacation and get away from this place.” 

What was the reason for asking for your release?

“It was Benoit. I went to the rehabilitation center for 4 months, and when I got out I felt great. But then, it was the biggest catastrophe in wrestling history. So I’m like ok, people, places and things. If you are in a toxic environment, then you’ve got to change it.”  

At what point in WWE did the excitement die down and you thought ‘Oh, this isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.’

“It’s like anything else, it just becomes Groundhog Day. All you care about is when your cheque will come in, but that’s not a reason to do anything. When you don’t care about the job, it’s time to do something else.”

We are both the same age. I remember watching you debut at 19. When I was 19 I didn’t look as jacked as you did. When did you start working out?

“I started lifting weights at 11. I knew what I wanted to do. My father was very frugal, so he wouldn’t buy the food I needed. So I got a part time job pumping gas in the Canadian winters. I would skip school to lift weights, I had no life. My inspirations were British Bulldog, Macho Man, Ultimate Warrior… I knew Vince liked bodybuilders, so that’s what I did.”

Do you have any residual injuries from when you get out of bed?

[Laughs] I’ve got like 1 brain cell left! Memory loss, I’ve had a lot of concussions. I’ve had my teeth knocked out 3 times and my nose broken 4 times. There’s dents in my head too, but as far as body wise my shoulder is screwed up from Goldberg, he’s a dick. But you don’t want to show them you are weak.”

Did you have words with Goldberg after that?

“No, not really. I think he has one speed, I think he is so OCD that I think he was apologetic, but he was so concentrated on his character.”

I interviewed Spike Dudley a while ago and I asked him about that bump he took from La Resistance and he just shrugged it off. Who’s idea was it?

“Bubba [Ray Dudley]. Anything involving the Dudley Boyz, it was all Bubba. Nobody likes him, I just have the balls to say it. I guarantee nobody is like ‘Yeah I get to work Bubba tonight.”

Are you saying that as a person or a performer?

“Either. Try working professionally with him. Try that sh*t with me now, I’m not a kid anymore. From a professional standpoint, he would yell stuff in the ring. I’m like ‘Dude, what the f*ck are you doing?’ I don’t rank him that high as a quality wrestler, I just don’t. I don’t rank The Dudley Boyz, their schtick was entertaining, but as far as great wrestlers, no.”

Is this D-Von too?

“No D-Von is a better wrestler than Bubba.”

What is it about being in the ring with The Rock or Austin that was so great?

“Just the energy from being in the ring and from the crowd. When the music hit, you would literally hear the wave from the crowd. It’s like going to a Metallica concert and they hit Enter Sandman. When I hit The French Tickler, that was when the crowd reacted.”

So for somebody who has not seen any of your matches since WWE, who are you now and what is your character now?

“I just go by Renee Dupree all over the world. The latest stuff I did was for Pro Wrestling NOAH. I usually travel through Europe but can’t due to the pandemic right now. They’ve just shut the Japanese borders due to the new cases.”

What’s the character now?

“There is no character, I just wrestle, that’s it.”

I feel like you are walking this thin line where when you are talking about certain subjects, people will just think that you are jaded.

“No, I just tell the truth. If it wasn’t for their exposure, you wouldn’t be talking to me and I wouldn’t be able to do all I have done in wrestling, and that was 17 years ago. But at the same time, am I bitter? Well I was re-signed in 2011, but I felt like I was lied to. I couldn’t get into the United States, because I didn’t have the proper paperwork. I was told one thing, when I went and got it fixed and tried to contact them again, there was no answer, and that was 10 years ago.”

If you could change anything about that time, would you?

“I wish I would have been a little bit older before I got on the road. That lifestyle under the age of anyone under 21 is too much.”

So what happens when all the boys go out and you can’t drink?

“Well I didn’t want to go out drinking anyway. I one time that I did decide to drink, I was in my room alone in the UK. I nearly missed my flight the next day and got a whole lot of heat. So I decided I’m not going to do that again.” 

Do you think about life after wrestling?

“Well I got into real estate. My family owns 19 buildings and I own 2, it’s a comfortable income. My dad told me ‘It’s not how much money you make, it’s about how much money you save and invest.’”

I end every interview with gratitude. What are you grateful for right now?

“My mom and dad, that they are still alive and support me. I’m grateful for my wife for always supporting me and for the internet so I can always stay relevant.”