During this time at AWA, Zenk worked on many of the same cards and Pro Wrestling USA TV shows as Ric Martel. Martel was settling into a sustained period as AWA Heavyweight Champion and a friendship developed that was later to take Martel and Zenk to Canada (IWA), then to Japan and finally the WWF as the Can-Am Connection. Physical comparison was inevitable. 

"The one point most of the AWA fans have noted is Zenk's physical similarities to current World champion Rick Martel. "The first time someone said that to me I thought to myself, I don't look like Rick Martel, not at all. But ...we do both have the same haircut, we both keep ourselves in good shape, and we both smile a lot. I guess we both have a lot to smile about. I'll tell ya, if I had the World champion belt around my waist, I'd be smiling in my sleep." 


AWA Heavyweight Champ Ric Martel and Dino Bravo with Ken Resnick

In the early 1980s, it was usual for wrestlers to move between territories, generally on a 3-month rotation. This increased the variety of talent working a promoter's card and allowed young workers opportunities to deepen their experience and explore opportunities in different promotions. Zenk's work with AWA had taken him regularly to Canada during 1984 - 5 (see results Manitoba, Canada). In the summer of 1985, following an appearance on the first ever pro wrestling broadcast on ESPN,  Zenk headed back to Canada for a three month tour with Frank Valois' Montreal promotion, Canadian Wrestling Alliance.

Heyman reported "One of the many men who have been following the career of this young fan favorite is Montreal promoter Frank Valois, who recently signed Zenk to wrestle in the beautiful Canadian city starting in late June [1985]. "In Tom Zenk I see one of the finest youngsters in wrestling today," Valois noted, "and we have some great young wrestlers here in Montreal, such as The Rougeau Brothers, Rocky Della Serra and Gino Brito Junior." 

Tom admits that he was at first hesitant about signing to appear in Montreal.

"My immediate goal in the AWA is to break into the top ten contenders list, and I thought I'd ruin any chance of that by going to Montreal."But when Tom learned from promoter Valois that the Canadian Wrestling Alliance (the governing body in Montreal) is affiliated with AWA, he agreed to change his home base. "Rick Martel defends his belt up there all the time," Tom said, "and the Road Warriors have defended their belts there several times, so I'll be able to get my title shot when I'm ready!"

One title for which Tom hopes to contend is the prestigious Canadian-International Heavyweight Championship, which as of press time, is still being held up due to the brutal series of matches which took place between champion King Tonga and former champion Dino Bravo. "I've met Dino Bravo at a few of the Pro Wrestling USA TV tapings, " Tom said, "and he told me that maybe we could get together for some work-outs when I came to Montreal!"  (Heyman, Wrestling Scene, 1985). 

On September 9, 1985 at the end of the Montreal tour, Zenk appeared at the Winnipeg Arena teaming with Hennig against The Long Riders (Bill and Scott Irwin) in an Appreciation Night for promoter Wally Karbo - click for program. A few weeks later, he was back in Minneapolis. Montreal had turned out to be an ill-paid tour (about $300 Canadian per week) and Zenk was happy to be back in the better paid Gagne promotion.



Larry Zbyszko and 'Crippler 'Ray Stevens piledrive Zenk to the concrete


After the attack, Wally Karbo joins interviewer Ken 

Resnick, Hennig (left)  and Greg Gagne (center right)

Greg Gagne - "If they want to step in the ring with Curt and myself, we'll take them on ...right now!!"

"...a light concussion and two compressed vertebrae.."
For Zenk, it  was time to leave 'Gagne town'  if he was going to progress beyond preliminaries.  During a meeting with 'Black'Jack Lanza  (left) and Greg Gagne. Greg reassured Zenk that there would always be work for him at AWA.  At the same time, he noticed Lanza 'giving the finger' to Gagne from behind his briefcase. Zenk took the hint.  On Curt Hennig's recommendation he went to work for Don Owen in Pacific North West. He quickly found himself with nightly bookings and a mega-push from Owen.
    When Hennig next appeared on Pro-Wrestling USA,  Zenk was already on his way to becoming PNW heavyweight champion.  Hennig's new tag partner was the incoming Scott Hall (right). Meanwhile Gagne was trying yet another angle.