In 1986, Martel returned to the WWF with his then tag team partner, the American Tom Zenk, as the Can-Am Connection. The Can-Am Connection had been formed by Martel in the Montreal International Wrestling Association in 1986. Tom Zenk was the boyfriend of Martel's sister-in-law, and had been introduced to Martel in the AWA by Curt Hennig.
The team made their WWF in-ring debut on October 23, 1986 against the team of Steve Lombardi (later the Brooklyn Brawler) and Moondog Spot which they won. The Can Am Connection contested a series of matches with former tag-team champions The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine), the team of Kamala and Sika, and the team of Magnificent Muraco and "Ace" Cowboy Bob Orton, whom they would face and defeat at WrestleMania III. The Can Am Connection's last feud would be against The Islanders, a feud that began on WWF Superstars of Wrestling in the summer of 1987. In this match, the Islanders turned heel by revealing their association with manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
Shortly after this match Tom Zenk left the WWF due to a pay dispute, wrestling their last match together on July 9, 1987 against the Islanders. To this day Tom Zenk and Rick Martel have differing opinions on the matter of why Tom Zenk left the WWF, all but eliminating the chance of a Can-Am Connection reunion.
When Zenk left Martel initially carried on the feud with the Islanders on his own but was soon paired up with Tito Santana to tackle the Polynesian duo, spinning the ill-fated Can-Am Connection off to Strike Force who went on to win the WWF World Tag Team Championship.