The NWA Canadian Television Heavyweight Championship
Although perhaps best known for his on-camera role as President of the World Wrestling Federation between 1984 and 1995, Jack Tunney was born into a family that had been promoting in Toronto Canada since before 1940. His uncle, Frank Tunney, had even served as NWA President between 1960 and 1961, and his Maple Leaf Wrestling promotion remained a National Wrestling Alliance territory until it withdrew in 1984 to join up with the WWF. Maple Leaf offered several championships during its long existence… including the short-lived NWA Canadian Television Championship that lasted between June of 1982 and June of 1984. As the name would suggest, the title was defended on Maple Leaf Wrestling television and usually under 15-minute time limit rules.
Jay Youngblood was the inaugural champion, defeating The Destroyer in the finals of a one-night, eight-man tournament in June of 1982. Private Jim Nelson, who would later in the AWA be better known as Boris Zukhov, would take the title for the first time in October of that year. He’d lose it a couple of months later to Canadian wrestler Terry Kay, who himself would be better known in his career elsewhere as Bobby Kay and who was the youngest of four brothers to enter into the pro wrestling business. Nelson would regain the title three months later but leave the territory in March of 1983.
With the title vacant a couple of months, Mike Rotundo would rise as the next champion, defeating Nelson’s tag team partner Don Kernodle in a tournament final in August. Kernodle would take the strap two months later and hold it eight months before losing it to Brian Adidas in June of 1983. Adidas, also known as Brian Adias, would find his greatest fame in World Class Championship Wrestling with the Von Erich – but would also be the last NWA Canadian Television champion. By July of 1984, Maple Leaf Wrestling had withdrawn from the Alliance and joined up with the World Wrestling Federation.
While all the title changes in the short history of the National Wrestling Alliance Canadian Television Championship transpired in Toronto, it’s interesting to note that only one wrestler (Kay) was Canadian. If you’re sure you saw Montreal-born Joe (Jos) LeDuc with it at one point, you’re right: he used the championship during a run in the Carolinas as the NWA Television championship, where it was also touched by others for a time. Perhaps even more interesting, though, is the fact that the 1980s wasn’t the last time we’d see the physical title.
Ron Hutchison, Toronto wrestler, promoter, and trainer of Edge, Christian Cage, Trish Stratus and others, ran the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2009 to 2012. The Canadian Television Championship belt served as the AWF Heavyweight championship and was held for a time in 1999 by Missy Hyatt, as shown in this promotional poster.
[SOURCES: Pro-Wrestling Title Histories (https://www.wrestling-titles.com/canada/on/nwa/can-tv.html), title history; Maple Leaf Wrestling (www.mapleleafwrestling.com); Maple Leaf Wrestling Archives Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/mapleleafwrestling); “From Nando To The Sheik: Tales From Toronto Wrestling”, Andrew Calvert with Roger Baker, ISBN: 9798650146063; Cagematch Internet Wrestling Database (www.cagematch.net), match history.]
[PHOTOS:  Mike Rotundo with the NWA Canadian Television Championship at Maple Gardens, 1983,  Don Kernodle and Leo Burke, and  NWA Canadian Television champions collage courtesy of Maple Leaf Wrestling Archives Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/mapleleafwrestling); used with permission.  Missy Hyatt promotional poster with the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation / NWA Canadian Television Championship by Ron Hutchison; used with permission.]
[SPECIAL THANKS to Andrew Calvert (Twitter: @mapleleafwrest1), Barry Hatchet (Twitter: @BarryHatchet) and Ron Hutchison (Twitter: @RonHutchison1) for their kind assistance.]
- Tim Wood, NWA GOLD