The crowd is chanting, lights are pulsing from red to green, the music is thumping so loud you can feel it inside of you. But mainly you feel the energy, the room is electric. If someone lit a match the whole place would go up like a rocket. The room fills with smoke, a blinding light, the hush of the crowd, the voice of an announcer, booming, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” and the place goes wild!!
Brothers and sisters, wrestling is alive and well in Montreal and its name is BATTLEWAR!
“This isn’t your Granddad’s wrestling, this isn’t wrestling in a school gym or a church basement,” claims James McGee, one half of the founding team of Battlewar. “There’s no other form of entertainment where people are such a part of the show. The audience can literally change the outcome of a performance.”
What McGee and his partner Michael Dupont have created is a throwback to the heyday of wrestling. With fighters named Giant Tiger, Leon Saver and Buxx Belmar (Buxx currently holds the BattleWar Championship belt), teams named The Tank Men, and TDT (Tabernac de Team – just a brilliant name) they are creating larger than life characters that are as flamboyant and exhilarating as any that have ever entered the square ring. But even through the blood and guts and body slams, it never loses its sense of humor.
McGee and Dupont have been friends since Grade 1, and wrestling fans longer. “My family loved wrestling,” says McGee, “As a kid, I found a local wrestling school. Then I just begged my mom to take me.”
His wrestling career spanned 11 years, touring Europe and the States, and though he will still jump in the ring on occasion, these days, he works mainly behind the scenes.
In 2012 Mcgee and Dupont approached the Montreal music mecca Foufounes Electriques with the idea of holding an event. “We asked for just one evening, to see how people would react,” says McGee. That event turned into Battlewar and over two years later the battle rages on. Battlewar now attracts wrestlers from all over Canada and the States, gladiators hoping for a chance to fight for the Battlewar Championship Belt. Wrestlers come with moves like “Razor Ramone” and the “Flying Asshole”!, moves that the audience scream out as the wrestlers perform them.
Darrin Drader has come to the city from Gatineau for Battlewar 21 in September. “I’m a huge wrestling fan, I have seen all the greats. I first seen Battlewar in Gatineau,” Drader says. He sits with his friend Matty. who claims to have never missed a show. On the other side of the ring sits Stephane and Steve. “We have our favorites,”says Stephane. “We follow them on Facebook, you get into the whole story!” There is a eclectic and loyal fanbase, old and young, male and female, they come for more than wrestling, they come to be entertained.
McGee works hard with wrestlers, coming up with characters and storylines. “I want people to look at wrestling as a great performance, it’s a show, entertainment!” exclaims McGee. However getting publicity is never easy, something McGee realizes. “I try to come out after the show and talk to the fans, to make sure they enjoyed it.” Many of the wrestlers also come out into the audience after their matches to meet and greet, shaking hands and taking photos.
There is nothing that is brand new with Battlewar; Dupont and McGee are not trying to reinvent the wheel. They are taking a sport that is as old as mankind, putting their own spin on it, polishing it up, and giving it back to the people. The good news is, it works. Battlewar is great fun.
Whether you’re a seasoned wrestling fan or just feel the need to do something a little different on a Sunday evening, there is so much action here you won’t see the time go by. Get down to Foufounes and check it out, its well worth the 15 dollars. Start practicing now “BAT-TLE-WAR, BAT-TLE-WAR, BAT-TLE-WAR….” (you should be screaming this last part until you are blue in the face)
The next Battlewar event takes place on October 19 at Foufones Electrique (87 St. Catherine E). 8 p.m. $15.