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Hardcore Montreal wrestling syndicate slams past 25 years


In June of 1999, three men stepped onto the matt and the slamming began.

SeXXY Eddy, Manny Elefthriou and Nic Paterson formed the International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) that day with little knowledge that, 25 years later, it would grow into one of Canada's most successful independent professional wrestling organizations.

"We were just a couple of guys that wanted to do some stupid tricks, some stupid stunts and have some fun," said Eddy. "Then we said, 'hey! People want to watch us kind of hurt ourselves too. Let's try that and see where it goes.' Who would have thought this would take up literally half of my life."

SeXXXy Eddy is one of the founding members of the IWS that is celebrating its 25th anniversary on March 2, 2024. (Daniel J. Rowe, CTV News)

Three shows later, The Green Phantom stepped onto the matt.

"It wasn't supposed to happen. Someone cancelled [and] I was very new in my training, so it's kind of a blur," said the Phantom. "I was super nervous. I didn't really do a lot of things right."

Twenty-five years later, the IWS is hosting "Unsanctioned" at the Olympia in Montreal, with over two dozen young and old wrestlers stepping into the ring ready to slam each other, drop elbows from the top rope, or throw each other through tables.

"I can't describe the changes that have undergone within the IWS in 25 years," said the Phantom. "First it was a pipe dream, not even a dream. We didn't even know what we were doing, we just wanted to have some fun. Over the years, we've evolved into the most professional organization in Canada broadcast on pay-per-view, every one of our shows across the world."


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IWS Canadian champion Matt Viviani started training at the IWS dojo run by Andrew "Shayne Hawke" Stott in Montreal North in 2017. Since entering the IWS ring, he's travelled across the US and overseas.

"The IWS dojo is the best place to train, honestly, in all of Canada I would say," said Viviani. "The IWS and their dojo have made the wrestling scene in Montreal and even the world very healthy."

Matt Viviani has travelled the world wrestling and credits his success with the IWS dojo that opened in Montreal North in 2016. (Daniel J. Rowe, CTV News)

"The Cobra" Katrina Creed is the IWS Women's Champion and started wrestling just under two years ago.

"I got into, I think like most people, as a kid," she said. "I was always really into wrestling and I always fantasized on an off throughout my life about being a wrestler."

She said wrestling has become an essential part of Montreal's entertainment world.

"They add so much richness to it in terms of the Montreal scene, but the wrestline scene in general," said Creed. "IWS is know, even in Japan for example, for a lot of their hardcore stuff and even in the states. They have a rich history when it comes to that... As an independent, they have a rich history that's known all over the place and they're quite famous extensively for that."

'The Cobra' Katrina Creed always fantasized about wrestling as a child, and is now the IWS Women's Champion after joining the IWS just under two years ago. (Daniel J. Rowe, CTV News)

The fans in Montreal are as much a part of the IWS's success as the ones performing in the ring.

"Whenever I come through that curtain, the Montreal faithful, the hardcore soldiers, it warms my heart every time, I can feel the energy they give me," said the Phantom.

"It's exhillerating, frightening and full of adrenaline," said Tyler Nox, who will make his debut on Saturday night.

"Your first wrestling match where you come out and the fans are chanting your name, you are hooked for life!" said Andy "The Animal" Belanger. "Montreal wrestling fans are insane. It's as big as hockey here. They go crazy."

Part comic artist-part wrestler, Andy "The Animal" Belanger said Montreal wrestling fans are 'insane,' and that once in the ring, he was hooked. (Daniel J. Rowe, CTV News)

Montreal's imprint on the wrestling world is immense.

"There's so many wrestling stars around the world in the present day that are from Montreal and because of places like IWS, there will be more in the future for sure," said the Phantom.

Kevin Owen, Sami Zayn, Dino Bravo and others have all made names for themselves at the highest levels in the industry.

A place, like the IWS, to hone talent is essential.

"Montreal's always been a hotbed for professional wrestling dating back 50-60 years," said Viviani. "To have the IWS here to bring up fresh talent, waves and waves of up-and-coming talent to the scene is great." 

"The Sweetest Pea" Kristara and "The Brightest Light in the Room" Dani Leo avoid using stereotypical gimmicks in their wrestling personas so that girls can look up to them and be inspired. (Daniel J. Rowe/CTV News) Top Stories

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