NCW founder set for final match
By ERIC BENNER -- For SLAM! Wrestling
Phil Belanger to retire this weekend in Joliette
Phil Belanger vs Frank Blues. -- courtesy NCW
This weekend, in Joliette, Quebec, Northern Championship Wrestling,
off a succession of big shows, will be putting on another. This time,
though, it's not a big event because it's an annual extravaganza with a
name. No, the June 10 event at Marcel-Bonin Arena is important for
altogether different reasons. It's the end of an era. A very important
in NCW wrestling, since it encompasses their entire existence, from day
-- the wrestling career of Phil Belanger.
Belanger isn't just another wrestler on the card. His involvement has
critical in the progression of NCW. That's largely because in 1986, at
Therese Martin High School in Joliette, with the help of some of his
students, Belanger founded NCW.
"We were a group of students who just wanted to put on a wrestling
recalled Belanger in a recent discussion with SLAM! Wrestling. "I just
up in charge of organizing the whole thing."
It wasn't easy, breaking into the wrestling business the hard way, by
starting an organization. "I started by buying a wrestling ring. I
know anything at the time, so I got taken into paying three times its
After that, I created Lanaudiere Wrestling, which would later become
Belanger's original goal was just to have fun with some friends. "No one
thought we were going to make it into the WWF or anything, but we
realize it might be possible to recreate International Wrestling," which
a popular Quebec federation a few years previously.
NCW has never been a beacon of riches and fame, but fortunately,
has a day-job. "I'm an educator with a school board," he revealed. "My
job is dealing with the education of students with behavioural
Regardless, NCW has become a local sensation in many regions of Quebec,
including Montreal, where the shows run frequently at what is now known
unofficially as 'NCW Center.'
Belanger recalled some of his fourteen-year career for SLAM! readers.
was definitely my favourite opponent. I just had so many matches
many of my best matches -- with him. I also had some memorable bouts
Iceman." Belanger will indeed be facing Iceman in his last match this
weekend in Joliette.
"My work and my family, they're such a big part of my life, I don't have
time to wrestle anymore except occasionally. I don't have time to learn
skills or improve on old ones, and the quality of wrestling is so good
NCW right now, I just think it's time to leave."
Belanger is glad that his last match will be this weekend in Joliette.
"That's where I started I was born, where I grew up, and where I started
wrestling career, so that's where I want to end it."
Perhaps it's for the best. "Sometimes I ask myself why I founded the
federation, it seems like such a large undertaking for an
activity, which is what it was."
Phil Belanger. -- courtesy NCW
Running a wrestling federation -- big or small -- is certainly not the
of tasks. In fact, running a smaller fed can cause even bigger
since the talent can't be satisfied simply by wage. "It was very
to coordinate a group of volunteer wrestlers, and it was downright
impossible to make everybody happy. Some guys only wanted to wrestle in
title fights, and others wanted to hand-pick their opponents."
Needless to say, it was a relief to him when he later on divested
some of that responsibility. "The day I sold the wrestling ring to the
of wrestlers, it was like a 400-pound weight had been lifted from
my shoulders. I started to sleep again."
His efforts have earned him a lifetime of memories. "I remember one
Black Bear was the Inter-City champion. He was slated to drop the title
Jack the Lumberjack, and he wasn't too fond of that idea. So in a match
shortly before that one, against Frank Blues -- who he apparently didn't
losing to, he let himself lose simply by keeping his shoulder to the mat
when he was supposed to lift them after two. The ref didn't know what
going on. When he later confronted Jack, he simply told him that he had
thought the count was at two, not three. To appease Jack, I had to get
mad at Black Bear in front of him."
Even after he had stepped down from his previous all-encompassing role,
Belanger continued to wrestle in Northern Championship Wrestling, but
passed and now duty calls elsewhere.
"Despite everything, my only regret is simply that I can no longer
regularly. Nothing more."
Fans near Joliette can witness Phil Belanger's last match -- unlike some
folks, he probably means it -- at Marcel Bonin Arena, Saturday June 10,
PM. Tickets are $8, and the card features, among other likely
strong matches, Dream Killer vs. Piranah and of course, Phil Belanger