DHS twins lay down gauntlet

Matthew and Joseph Guichard at Wrestlemania Axxess event.
Matthew and Joseph Guichard at Wrestlemania Axxess event.

Destrehan principal answers the call, WWE style

Inspired by the events of Wrestlemania weekend in New Orleans, twin brothers and Destrehan High School seniors Matthew and Joseph Guichard decided to lay down the gauntlet and issue a challenge to quite the high-profile opponent — DHS Principal Stephen Weber.

Days later, Weber made one thing clear — if you issue the challenge, you better be ready to have it answered.

The good natured, fun back and forth between Weber and the twins started when the brothers and Special Olympians were volunteering at Wrestlemania Axxess, a fan festival leading up to the WWE’s biggest annual event, which took place in the Superdome on April 8. Axxess took place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where the twins worked a booth in which fans could “cut promos” and trash-talk opponents on video.

When DHS teacher Brad Landeche showed up with his son and took part in the smack talk setting, the twins got an idea.

“They were egging (Landeche) on to call out Mr. Weber, saying ‘Oh, you have to do this … ‘they’re good at that,” said the twins’ mother Laurie Guichard, who was volunteering with them that day. “So they all smack talked (Weber) and Brad gave him the video.”

It could have ended there, but all the challenge did was awaken the alter ego no one knew Weber had — not even Weber himself.

“My resource officer is a fan of wrestling and he says, ‘hey, maybe you should respond,’” Weber said. “So I figured okay, we’ll do it on morning announcements.”

On a day the senior class was meeting in the school auditorium for the annual senior picnic, everyone watched the morning announcements together and watched the Guichards fateful challenge.

As their challenge video faded out, another faded in: “Spider Weber,” standing next to a life-sized cut out of wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper gave the twins their answer, cutting his own interview in his wrestling persona.

“I brought a little script and we kind of incorporated what I knew about wrestling into it,” said Weber, who says he is not a wrestling fan but thought it would provide for a fun moment. “It wasn’t very difficult to act like a wrestler. You just yell at the screen and challenge people.”

But though he isn’t a fan, Weber didn’t seem all that uncomfortable in his role. The truth is, he has some familiarity with the concept dating back to his collegiate days at LSU, where some of his close friends were die hard wrestling fans.

“One would keep aggravating me and tell me he was pulling a ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper on me,” Weber said. “He could rattle off everything. I used to think, ‘This dude’s lost his mind.’ They’d get carried away with it. But I do know (Piper), because that was his favorite.”

The twins didn’t back down.

Matthew recently had surgery on his foot and was bound to a wheelchair, but he wasn’t about to stay there.

“I told him, ‘You better get out of that wheelchair and start running,’ and he stood up out of that wheelchair and I thought he was gonna come at the TV screen,” said Weber, who concealed himself behind a locker to see their reaction.

The videos received a great reaction, partially due to some fine performances but also due to the popularity of the Guichards at the school. It also received a strong viewership outside of the school, as reaction videos of the twins viewing the dual challenges has been shared often on social media.

“I thought it was hysterical,” Laurie said. “I thought it was so great that a principal would do that. He didn’t just laugh it off and say, ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ I think everyone’s been tickled to death by it all.”

It was another memorable experience for Matthew and Joseph, who each have Down Syndrome but have yet to let that become an obstacle for living life to the fullest.

“Those two have probably been on more adventures than most of our students,” Weber said. “They’ve overcome a number of challenges and they’ve been an integral part of our school. They’ve done more in their lives than so many other people will do in theirs. They’re very well-liked and their personalities are very conducive to a positive school climate.”

The two have rappelled down the side of the Benson Tower to raise money for the Special Olympics. They’ve been on the Destrehan High swim team and are trainers on the football team. They’re accomplished Special Olympic athletes and are avid volunteers.

“They’re amazing,” Laurie said. “I know every mother would say that about their children. But I can’t even tell you how touched I am by these children. They do as much as they can to try and get every ounce of enjoyment out of every second of every day. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful to see.”

As for the legend of “Spider Weber,” Weber doesn’t see a repeat appearance anytime soon.

“I think that was a one-time appearance of the Spider Weber,” he said. “I think that guy’s kind of a flash in the pan.”

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