Writing at the time Liz Hunter wondered -  "The sudden appeal of Martel is somewhat surprising because he is no newcomer to wrestling."  Hunter attributed Martel's new appeal  to rejuvenation through association with the exuberant Tom Zenk.
 

Zenk, a mere baby by wrestling standards, is only getting better. Martel renewed by his partner's exuberance, is on the top of his game. "I don't think I've ever seen Rick look better", said former partner Tony Garea. "His drop-kicks, his execution is just perfect. I remember when we were a team, we were pretty tough to beat and Rick just couldn't wait to get into the ring every night. I think he looks at Zenk like a teacher looks at his star pupil and it excites him to think about what they can accomplish together. Rick and Tom can go very far (Liz Hunter, PWI, June 1987).
 

 
 

At Wrestlemania III,  Tom and Rick  "entered the ring  to a thunderous ovation" and left it with their reputations "solidified... as the up-and-coming tag team in the WWF".  Having achieved ring credibility and fan popularity the Can-Am Connection was by mid 1987 booked to win the WWF world tag team belts from the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart).

Suddenly, on July 10 1987, Zenk pulled the pin on Martel's ambitions.

Martel's career barely recovered, despite WWF's drafting  Tito Santana to replace Zenk and Can-Am's reinvention as Strike Force. According to Zenk "the Strike Force took up where we left off, and won the tag belts". But as Martel, Zenk and the Jackyl all acknowledge, the team of  Martel-Santana "didn't have the magic that the Martel-Zenk team had and their run on top was brief".

Martel saw out his time in WWF as "The Model" - a camp and entertaining but invariably jobbing ring villain. As Bobby Heenan cruelly but perceptively remarked - without Zenk " I guess Martel's just the CAN now!"

After several years in Winnipeg independents (where he wrestled solo and tag, with and against 'The Jackyl' Don Callis), Martel returned to WCW in mid 1997, holding the WCW TV title for a brief spell before incurring the injuries that have now apparently led to his retirement.*
 

 
 
 
MARTEL - CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
 
 
 
If the break up of the Can-Am Connection was a low point in Martel's career, the high point was undoubtedly his reign as AWA World Heavyweight Champion from May 13, 1984 - December 29, 1985. Canadian Slam Wrestling notes of Rick Martel (real name Richard Vigneault),
 

He was a strange choice in some ways to be AWA heavyweight of the world. That crown should have been Hogan's. Hogan had feuded extensively with then-champ Nick Bockwinkel and was poised to win the title before he jumped to the WWF. Instead, the title passed from Bockwinkel to Jumbo Tsuruta and then from Tsuruta to Rick Martel on May 13, 1984. Martel was a veteran by that point in his career, yet not that old. He knew his way around in the ring but didn't have that magic star-power that sets superstars apart from the rank and file. He was a clean-cut Canadian boy from Quebec who had paid his dues and made it to the top through hard work and perseverance.

Martel comes from a wrestling family. His brother, Mad Dog Martel, was instrumental in getting Rick into the business. Martel explained his start in a 1996 on-line interview with AOL: "I got my start in Nova Scotia. There was a wrestler that got injured one night and they needed a replacement for him within 24 hours. So, my brother called me up and told me to get on a plane from Quebec to Nova Scotia and he told me I was starting as a professional wrestler. I was only 17 years old." He was quick to gain success. Martel won the British Empire/Commonwealth title in New Zealand on three occasions from 1977-1980. He's held the WWF tag team titles on three occasions --twice with partner Tony Garea and once with Tito Santana as Strike Force. Martel would also have likely won the titles with partner Tom Zenk as the Can-Am Connection if Zenk hadn't bailed out on him.
 

1