Impact Fans Get Ready: Windsor, Ontario, Canada is Coming

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Photo: Impact Wrestling

Starting next week and leading up to Slammiversary XVI in Toronto, Ontario, the episodes of Impact Wrestling will be originating from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Impact fans may recall that Windsor has been featured on Impact before – after all, Impact Executive VP Scott D’Amore also runs Border City Wrestling (BCW) in Windsor and when the new format of including indie matches began last year, BCW was featured early on. Windsor got more prominently featured earlier this year for the Impact One Night Only: March Breakdown, in April.

Impact Fans Get Ready: Windsor, Ontario, Canada is Coming

Ok, so where the hell is Windsor, Ontario? Well, it’s Canada’s southernmost major city, in South West Ontario, directly across the river from Detroit, Michigan. The metropolitan population of Windsor is approximately 330,000 (according to 2016 census), but it’s within four hours driving distance from Toronto and Chicago, Illinois, and less than 20 minutes from Detroit.

WWE Hall of Famer Walter “Killer” Kowalski

It’s also the home of two WWE Hall of Famers. That may sound odd considering there are 110 individuals in the WWE Hall of Fame, but consider this: there are only seven (7) Canadian inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame – Killer Kowalski (Windsor, ON); Pat Patterson (Montreal, QC); Bret Hart (Calgary, AB); Stu Hart (Saskatoon, SK/Calgary, ON); Abdullah the Butcher (Windsor); Edge (Orangeville/Toronto, ON); Trish Stratus (Toronto, ON); “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (Saskatoon, SK); and “Soulman” Rocky Johnson (Halifax, NS). Technically, Windsor is the only full Canadian city with two Hall of Famers. Edge was born and raised in Orangeville and moved to Toronto to become a wrestler, while Stu Hart only ended in Calgary after being born and raised in Saskatoon (which is where his connection to Roddy Piper begins).

WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah The Butcher

George Cannon & The Sheik

George “Crybaby” Cannon

Born in Montreal, Quebec, George “Crybaby” Cannon was a journeyman wrestler for various NWA territories from the 1950s through 1970s. In 1970, he moved to Windsor, Ontario where he began to manage instead, taking over as manager for The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Don Kent). In the late 1970s and early 80s, Cannon promoted local events as well as ran a local wrestling program called Superstars of Wrestling. When Vince McMahon Jr. took over the WWF from his father in 1982, Cannon was soon brought to work beside Vince, but he only lasted a few years until health issues forced him out of the company. He continued to promote local shows until his untimely death in 1994.

Because it wasn’t affiliated with any promotion, it featured stars from around the world, although he worked closest with Detroit’s WWE Hall of Famer The Sheik, who ran Big Time Wrestling across the Detroit River in Michigan (the NWA affiliate in Detroit). The Sheik (real name Ed Farhat) frequently wrestled in Windsor, Ontario, even running some of his own Big Time Wrestling events in the Rose City of Ontario.

WWE Hall of Famer The Sheik

Border City Wrestling

Photo: BCW

Just before Cannon’s death in 1994, a new Windsor promotion was founded, called Border City Wrestling (BCW). Founded by Canadian wrestlers “The Canadian Destroyer” Doug Chevalier and Scott D’Amore, alongside Chuck Fader, BCW built a strong local network as one of Southwest Ontario (and Michigan)’s top indie promotions, bringing in stars from the WWF, WCW and ECW throughout it’s first decade, as well as integrating in top local and national indie talent. In 1998, The Rock made his only indie appearance with BCW, just after winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

Photo: BCW

BCW continues to promote shows in Windsor and Detroit to this day, now solely owned by Scott D’Amore, bringing in Impact Wrestling stars alongside top Canadian and Michigan indie talent, and the occasional WWE, ECW or past stars. In 2014, BCW was one of the first indies to bring over a huge NJPW contingent with East vs. West, that saw BCW stars compete against the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, EVIL, Karl Anderson, and Kazuchika Okada (who fought Chris Sabin). That event is actually available to stream on Impact’s Global Wrestling Network (GWN).

Photo: BCW

Can-Am Wrestling School

Rhyno (Photo: WWE.com), Bobby Roode/Gail Kim/Eric Young/Rosemary/Sienna (Photo: impactwrestling.com), Moose/Motor City Machineguns (Photo: rohwrestling.com), Tyson Dux

One of the reasons BCW has had such a wealth of stars has been due to it’s in-house performance facility, the Can-Am Wrestling School. Run by head coach Scott D’Amore, it’s produced some of the top talent in the world, including stars currently wrestling for WWE, NJPW, Impact Wrestling and beyond – Bobby Roode (WWE), Eric Young (WWE), Gail Kim (Impact), KUSHIDA (NJPW), Rosemary (Impact), Sienna (Impact), Joe Doering (All Japan), Rhyno (WWE), Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley, ROH), Moose (Impact), Petey Williams (Impact), Tyson Dux – the list goes on of wrestlers who had the formal training (or did some polishing) at Can-Am Wrestling School, which still operates in Windsor to this day. The former TNA stable Team Canada was essentially built with Can-Am graduates. One of the school’s assistant trainers, John E. Bravo, is also one of the senior officials with Impact Wrestling.

Scott D’Amore working with students at Can-Am (Photo: Jamie Greer)

BCW on Impact Wrestling

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Last fall when Scott D’Amore gained more of a role in the management side of Impact Wrestling following the departure of Jeff Jarrett, one of the noticeable changes was the addition of featured matches from other indie promotions around the world who featured Impact Wrestling stars, such as Pro Wrestling NOAH, AAA, The Crash Lucha Libre and DEFY Wrestling. Several times at the end of last year, BCW was host to some of these matches, appearing on multiple broadcasts of Impact Wrestling.

One Night Only: March Breakdown

Photo: BCW / Impact Wrestling

This past March, Windsor finally got it’s own Impact branded event, when Impact’s One Night Only: March Breakdown was filmed at St. Clair College (the home of BCW), featuring Impact stars like Austin Aries, Eli Drake, Allie, Kongo Kong, Alberto El Patron (in one of his final Impact matches), as well as a hoss fight between Moose and then All Japan Triple Crown Champion Joe Doering. The event was praised by many, but the crowd reaction struck a chord with many viewers and podcasts, who noted that the energy was more electric than the normal Orlando tapings. During the event, it was announced that Windsor was then getting it’s own set of Impact tapings. And the author may or may not have gotten into it a bit with Alberto at the end of the night…

Photo: Stuart Blemings Jr.

The Windsor Fans

Screenshot from ONO: March Breakdown (Impact Wrestling / GWN)

Windsor fans are a unique bunch in that they are a border city that shares as much with Detroit as it does Toronto – more so even. They’re close proximately to Detroit allows them access to major wrestling events such as the WWE, Ring of Honor, NJPW (when they tour with ROH), EVOLVE, and now Impact Wrestling, as well as be around Michigan indies like XICW, and other Ontario indies like Smash Wrestling.

Impact referee John E. Bravo has seen the Windsor fans for decades (Photo: Ray Turski)

“The Windsor fans are some of the most amazing wrestling fans in the world – they take pride in being a very important part of the show and genuinely enjoy the hard work that’s put in by everybody. Whether it’s BCW or impact, the show of support by the fans is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Impact ref John E. Bravo told us. “The reason BCW is successful is because they have supported us in being successful, the reason a major company like Impact wrestling wants to film TV in Windsor…is because they know the fan base is hungry for the product.”

Photo: BCW

On Facebook, a wrestling group began called the Windsor Wrestling Community (WWC). Only a few years old, it started as a group of twenty or thirty close friends who loved wrestling and has seen it’s membership grow to nearly 700 members, from the surrounding Windsor-Essex county area, to Michigan, to Ohio and Southern Ontario. Members are routinely seen at indie events from Michigan to Toronto, often being asked to attend events to help “cheerlead” the rest of the audiences. It’s become a family unit that simply loves professional wrestling and when put together in a room, become electric cannons of fun.

Members of the Windsor Wrestling Community prior to the doors opening for the tapings (Photo: Christina Katerina)

This Next Set Of Tapings

Photo: Michael Michalski

The beginning of the month, June 1 and 2, saw Windsor finally house its first set of Impact tapings and the crowd was once again hot for the entire duration. For much of the time, it was deafening in the audience – so much so, that we’re certain many Impact naysayers will probably claim that Impact “added audience noise”. As someone who was at both nights of tapings, I can assure you the loudness you hear was very, very real – I was deaf for a day after and lost my voice for two. The energy was electric and Windsor was hungry to show their passion for wrestling and respect to the hard work of the wrestlers performing. Several Impact wrestlers even took to Social Media to thank Windsor for its energy.

Windsor, Ontario has been a passionate wrestling hub for decades, producing Hall of Fame wrestlers and World Championship careers, and now being given the opportunity to have major TV tapings arrive through Impact Wrestling, it’s time the world got to see just how hungry for wrestling Windsorites can be.

Photo: Michael Michalski

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