Two proud Canadians will battle it out this weekend for the right to be called the new NWA Canadian champion at the NWA 50th Anniversary show.

The only similarity between the combatants is their desire to best represent their NWA-affiliated organization at the historic show by winning the belt.

It will be the first big match for E.Z. Ryder from the Winnipeg-based Canadian Wrestling Federation.

Ryder has held some big titles in Manitoba, but never competed very far outside of the Prairies and northern Ontario.

He knows that he’s “going in blind” and admitted “the butterflies are there.”

“I concern myself with my abilities, what I can do,” said Ryder, who at 34 has been wrestling eight years.

In comparison, the vet Mr. Gillis from the Vancouver-based Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling has wrestled in Mexico and Puerto Rico and a few locales in the U.S.

As the reigning ECCW champ, Mr. Gillis (real name Greg Gillies) is looking forward to the NWA show. He’s the only one of the three to have done any real advance scouting.

He discovered a little about E.Z. Ryder (real name Curtis Rothenberger).

“I’ve called a couple of contacts that have wrestled him,” said Gillis. “Basically they say he’s a little under my caliber. I guess that will be for me to see, for me to find out.”

On Saturday, one of the two will walk out of Cherry Hill, New Jersey with the NWA Canadian title. But what next? In a country as large as Canada, with the three NWA promotions as spread out as ECCW, CWF and the Sarnia, Ontario-based Maple Leaf are, how does one represent the whole country? Especially when flying down to the U.S. is often cheaper than flying cross-country.

“I’m going to try to tour with it and represent it to the best of my abilities,” said Gillis. “I’ll take on any challengers, anywhere, anyplace.

Any promoter who wants to bring me in, I’ll bring the title. I’ll put it on the line.”

Ryder echoed the comments of his opponent.

“I have no intention of being a closet champ,” he said. “[I will] defend it as often and proudly as one could … it’s one helluva an honor.”

There was actually some intrigue as to who would be in the match to begin with. Originally, it was scheduled to be a three-way dance between the champs of the three Canadian NWA promotions. Mike Roselli was supposed to represent ECCW, but was replaced by Mr. Gillis. Then Slater Jeffries, the Maple Leaf North American champ, bailed out and Roselli tried to buy his way back into the match. The NWA banned both for their underhanded planning.

NWA president Howard Brody was disappointed that the three-way was not going to go down.

“It would have been very unique,” he said.

As a celebration of its rejuvenation, the NWA has also commissioned the NWA Canadian tag team belts, which were won by Mike Roselli and Randy Tyler at an ECCW show this past weekend, and the NWA Canadian lightheavyweight title, to be determined at an upcoming Maple Leaf Wrestling show.

E.Z. Ryder should therefore be considered the most likely champ to keep the balance of the NWA promotions in Canada. Plus, the CWF is billing the NWA champion on their upcoming October 29th show. However, he was the most realistic of the two when talking to Slam Wrestling.

“I can always sit back and say I was at the 50th anniversary show,” he concluded.