(Originally posted on NWA GOLD on November 12th, 2020.)
Although originating in British Columbia, these NWA Canadian Tag Team championships are not to be confused with the Vancouver version of the same title that ran in All-Star Wrestling from 1962- 1985. The lineage of these titles really begins in 1998 in Dave Republic’s Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW, now Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling), and the origin of the physical version of the titles depicted here starts in 2005.
After joining the NWA in 1997, ECCW crowned some very short-lived champions in 1998 when “Brains, Brawn and Class” defeated both west coast wrestling staples Michelle Starr and Johnny Canuck and well-known Canadian team Karachi Vice in a three-way dance. When the inaugural champs were stripped the following May for refusal to defend, no one would expect it turn out to be a trend for the title: Toxic Insanity would hold the belts for two months in 1999 (minus a two-day reign by Dan Danton and Spyder) before being stripped themselves, and subsequent champions Crusher Carlsen and the aforementioned Starr would meet the same fate after just four months.
Following this stumbling start, the title would sit inactive for three years until moving to the Ernie Todd’s Canadian Wrestling Federation (CWF) in 2003. A five-team Battle Royale crowned Killer Cox and Brian Jewel in Winnipeg, Manitoba… and that would appear to be that, as the pair were stripped of the titles three months later.
In 2005, however, they found new life and a new design. With the CWF in control of the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship and ECCW featuring the NWA Canadian Junior Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship fell under the banner of new Quebec promotion NWA Quebec. Although all NWA Canadian championships were originally intended to move between the three promotions, internal friction between Republic and Todd prevented that from happening, and so NWA Quebec promoter Rodney Kellman set to work in making some new titles to feature in his company.
Recognizing that pro wrestling championship titles in Quebec needed to step up their quality, Kellman wanted a pair of championships that were above the rest. Assisted by Rico Mann of Reggie Parks for the artwork, he originally envisioned them as twin Canadian versions to the NWA United States Tag Team championships: a similar shape and style, but perhaps nickel-plated instead of gold over a red strap. Ultimately, though, he decided to base them on the 1980s version of the NWA World Tag Team championships famously worn by Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.
The new titles were made from the same classic shape, but with the outline of Canada on the main plate, similar to the US Tag Team titles of that era. Kellman, who had also commissioned the main plate of the NWA British Commonwealth Championship in a style that showed the Union Jack flag behind outlines of the world continents, then placed the Canadian flag inside the outline of the country. Finally the NWA font was added, and the ribbons (which have red grooves, and were originally intended to have rubies) contain traditional Canadian maple leaves in place of American-style stars. As a little “Easter egg”, precisely ten maple leaves were placed on the ribbons as a nod to Canada‘s ten provinces.
The first set of side plates are convex at the top and bottom and concave at the sides, giving it a distinctive look not seen widely. They depict the Canadian Coat of Arms with fine detail: a crowned lion upon a royal helmet, a lion and a unicorn facing one another across the crest, and the Union Jack and three fleurs-de-lis to denote Canada’s shared English and French heritage. The NWA font sits atop of it.
The second set of plates, which bows outwards at the sides, feature twin wrestlers behind a central maple leaf. There’s a story there: the first champions to be crowned, Koko and Razz Mansour (aka The Twin Terrors), look strikingly similar to the faces on the side plates, and many people have assumed Kellman putting their likenesses on the belts. He has dispelled this rumour, citing the fact it was a coincidence and that he had no idea Rico Mann was going use a twin design to depict tag team wrestling on the side plates.
The aforementioned Twin Terrors kicked off the new era of the titles by winning a tournament in Montreal in March of 2005. Since that time the titles have been defended in Quebec, Vermont (!) and Ontario by the likes of Aftershock, Trauma Unit, Team Tight and The Bone Collectors.
The life breathed into the titles by NWA Quebec elevated some Canadian wrestlers. Stephen Sullivan of the tag team Kickin’ N’ Stompin’, who defended them frequently in Quebec and the Maritimes and who is featured in one of the photos here, contacted NWA GOLD recently to say how much he missed his time with these belts and how he felt they had given credibility to him and his tag partner, Ivan Sullivan, during their 18-month reign as champions. Although NWA Quebec ceased membership in the National Wrestling Alliance on 2007, the titles continue to bring exposure to some great talent from their home at Dru Onyx’s Torture Chamber Pro Wrestling in Montreal, where they are defended as the promotion’s titles by current champions, The Night Train Express.
Timeless in their styling and visually “popping” to the eye, the NWA Canadian Tag Team titles remain a handsome piece of National Wrestling Alliance history.
- Tim Wood, NWA GOLD
(Special thanks to Dru Onyx and Torture Chamber Pro Wrestling Dojo for their time and assistance in compiling this bio, and to Stephen Sullivan for his comments and photo.)