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Maple Leaf Wrestling was the unofficial name in the 1970s and 1980s of the professional wrestling promotion run by Frank Tunney in Torontomarker.


Queensbury Athletic Club

The promotion, initially known as the Queensbury Athletic Club, traces its roots back to 1930, when it was launched by Jack Corcoran, who had previously promoted boxing in Toronto under the Queensbury name. Initially, Corcoran was involved in a promotional war with rival promoter Ivan Mickailoff, but after Corcoran allied himself with the new Maple Leaf Gardensmarker in 1931, he took control of professional wrestling in Toronto. The Gardens would remain the main venue for the promotion for more than 60 years.

The Tunneys take over

Corcoran stepped down in 1939 and handed wrestling operations over to his assistants, John Tunney and Frank Tunney. John died just a few months later, and the promotion was then run by Frank. Through most of the 1940s and 1950s, Frank Tunney's biggest star was local hero Whipper Billy Watson, who became a two-time world champion. Starting in 1969, the shows were headlined by The Sheik for more than eight years.

Aligning with Jim Crockett Promotions

In 1978, Tunney began working with promoter Jim Crockett, Jr., who ran Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the Carolinas. The two would become partners in the Toronto promotion, along with George Scott, a key executive with Crockett who had been a preliminary wrestler for Tunney from 1950-1956.

Aligning with the World Wrestling Federation

Following Frank's death in 1983, the business was run by John's son Jack Tunney and Frank's son, Eddie Tunney. They soon abandoned Crockett and joined forces with Vince McMahon's expanding World Wrestling Federation in July 1984, with Jack serving as a figurehead on-air president from 1984-1995 and as the president of Titan Sports Canada.

Continued usage of the Maple Leaf Wrestling name

Following the WWF takeover in 1984, the name Maple Leaf Wrestling continued to be used for the federation's Canadian TV program (a staple of Hamiltonmarker station CHCH-TVmarker for many years), which the WWF took over production of after the Tunneys split from the NWA. TV tapings for the show were held in Brantfordmarker and other cities in southern Ontariomarker for the next two years, until the WWF ceased the tapings in 1986 and decided to simply use the Maple Leaf Wrestling name for the Canadian airings of WWF Superstars of Wrestling (with some Canadian footage, such as updates by on-air announcer and former wrestler Billy Red Lyons, and special matches taped at Maple Leaf Gardens, added in). These tapings were actually the precursor to the WWF's Wrestling Challenge show, which became the "B" show to WWF Superstars Of Wrestling, the "A" show. Gorilla Monson and Jesse Ventura were the hosts for the Canadian tapings (with Ventura doing his famous "The Body Shop" segment), and when those tapings morphed into Challenge in 1986, Ventura was moved to the "A" show, Superstars, which had been renamed from WWF Championship Wrestling, and joined their announcers, Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino, to form a three-man team. Sammartino eventually left that team, making it just McMahon and Ventura. Bobby Heenan replaced Ventura as the Canadian tapings became WWF Wrestling Challenge.

The end of the Tunneys' involvement

In 1995, McMahon chose to run the shows in Toronto without any involvement from the Tunneys. The final show at the Gardens was held on September 17, 1995.

Some featured performers


Title Notes Last Champion(s)
NWA British Empire Heavyweight Championship (1941-1967) Whipper Billy Watson
NWA Canadian Open Tag Team Championship (1952-1961) Ilio DiPaolo & Billy Red Lyons
NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (1962-1977) The Sheik
NWA International Tag Team Championship (1961-1977) The Crusaders
NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship (1978-1984) Angelo Mosca Jr.
NWA Canadian Television Championship (1982-1984) Brian Adidas

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