Wrestling might be fake, but at least it’s honest. Honest in its commitment to entertaining fans, honest in its celebration of violence, and honest even in its trickery. In a time of fake news, fake restaurants, and fake jizz secreted during fake orgasms, there’s something profound about surrendering to the unapologetic artifice of amateur wrestling.
This was all on proud display as 100 or so fans packed into a crowded gym in Pointe St-Charles, a tough but slowly gentrifying neighbourhood in Montreal’s southwest, to watch the amateur wrestlers of the Wrestling Titan Atlas (WTA) and Inter-Championship Wrestling (ICW) leagues settle old grudges and create new ones.
The event was hosted by the WTA, which was founded in 1994 by Michel Toucher, a wrestler who wanted to give the children of the Sud Ouest who couldn’t afford hockey equipment or professional wrestling tickets the chance to stay out of trouble and learn how to wrestle. The first ever WTA match was held in the basement of St-Charles Church in the Point, after Toucher struck a deal with a local priest, and fights are now housed in the much larger Centre Saint-Charles.
Beyond Pointe Saint Charles, amateur wrestling remains a vibrant community within Quebec, with more than ten leagues that split up the island of Montreal and other regions by territory. It’s a tradition that goes back to the 1930s in Quebec and once rivalled the Canadiens ticket sales at the Montreal Forum. By the 80s, wrestling had reached its cultural apex in Quebec, with legends like Dino Bravo and Mad Dog Vachon graduating to the WWF and André the Giant co-founding Lutte International to satisfy overwhelming local appetite for pile drivers and DDTs.