Whether you love AEW or are not a fan, there is no denying that Tony Khan’s promotion has made a lot of history in just four years. Over the next two weeks, the promotion will debut in Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Calgary. These shows mark the first major non-WWE shows in decades. Here is a look at how All Elite Wrestling is – and could – make history.

The Elite (Matt & Nick Jackson & Adam Page) vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds & John Silver) at AEW Dynamite at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru

New Promotion in “WWE Territory”

Since Stampede Wrestling’s 1980s incarnation wrapped up, no other company has had a major arena show in Western Canada. The closest would be 1995s Stu Hart tribute show at the now-demolished Stampede Corral, which featured WWF talent like Bret and Owen Hart. There have been instances of independent promotions teaming with hockey teams to run matches, but this will be the first time any of the four arenas have had a full show that is not from the WWE.

New TV Locations

Western Canada is often overlooked by major promotions. Calgary and Edmonton have only hosted one PPV each, in 1997 and 2004. Saskatoon and Regina have never had a live wrestling broadcast.  Saskatoon’s Sasktel Centre is historical as the site of Bret Hart’s first WWF Title win over Ric Flair in 1992, that was the last tapings held there. The Collision taping in Calgary does have competition, as WWE’s Smackdown is also broadcasting from the Saddledome in August. At this point Smackdown is outselling Collision, but with the international visitors in town for the Calgary Stampede, expect a healthy walk up and last-minute ticket sales.

An Iconic Debut?

There are many names that tied closely to the history of WCW that had runs in WWF or even Stampede Wrestling. Legends like Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes and Lex Luger all appeared for WWF in western Canada at some point. One name has never wrestled or even appeared here – Sting. Unless fans travelled to see WCW, TNA, his two WWE matches, or AEW they have never seen him live. AEW has an opportunity, likely the last one, to knock “see Sting live” off fans bucket lists.

Sting at EW Dynamite at the FirstOntario ONTRACT Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru,

Remembering Owen

The Owen Hart Foundation has done a lot of amazing work. Dr. Martha Hart has taken a tragedy and turned it into a positive for thousands of people through scholarships, low-income housing support, foreign aid, food drives, and more. The July 15 Collision broadcast will be the first time Calgary fans can celebrate and remember Owen Hart at a wrestling show.

The late Owen Hart with the North American heavyweight championship and the PWI Rookie of the Year plaque for 1987. Photo courtesy James McDermott.

Canadian Talent

AEW’s debut in Winnipeg on March 15th featured a magical main event with Winnipeg born stars Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega facing off in a trio’s match. Omega is scheduled to face Wheeler Yuta on Wednesday’s Dynamite, and fellow Winnipeger Don Callis will likely be lurking. So far there hasn’t been any announcements if fans will get to sing “Judas” with Chris Jericho, who trained in Calgary, or see Christian, who has long been a Canadian favourite. Other Canadians that could potentially debut out west include Ethan Page, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Taya Valkyrie, Angelo Parker, Matt Menard, and The Bunny. Less likely to appear? Vancouver’s Kyle O’Reilly, who has been out with an injury, Shawn Spears, and Calgarian Dr. Luther.

Chris Jericho at AEW Dynamite Grand Slam, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY. Photo by George Tahinos, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com

Fresh and Recognizable Faces

With AEW airing on TSN, fans have become invested in the shows and talent. While many of the promotion’s stars have appeared here in WWE like Jon Moxley, FTR, and Bryan Danielson, others have been popular bookings for independent promotions. Samoa Joe, The Young Bucks, Brian Cage, Trent Beretta, and Jay Lethal all have appeared on independent wrestling cards in Alberta and Saskatchewan and drawn fans to those shows. Add in possible appearances by Darby Allin, MJF, Adam Cole, the Acclaimed, Britt Baker, and more and there is a lot to be excited for as a wrestling fan.

A Fresh and Hungry Audience

Western Canadian fans have long gotten the short end of the stick for shows. For years Calgary and Edmonton had to be satisfied with an annual TV taping, with Saskatoon and Regina getting a house show once every year or two. We watch as markets like Chicago, New York, and Toronto get show after show. Yet Canadians are some of most passionate and vocal fans. People still talk about the incredible atmosphere at Canadian Stampede in 1997. There are many questions that will be answered. How will fans react to CM Punk? Will bad guys like Jericho and Christian get a heroes’ welcome? Expect a raucous response coming across on TV.

Ring of Honor’s Debut

A lot of hardcore fans looking for an alternative over the last 20 years turned to watching VHS tapes, DVD’s and later pay-per-views and TV from Ring of Honor. Many ROH talents were booked for local independent promotions and were the only way for fans to see those talents without getting on a plane. While it’s no longer the same promotion, Calgary and Regina will both get to chant those 3 letters during the ROH tapings before and after Collision.

No matter what happens at the shows, the next two weeks are already set to go down in history, and fans memories, as something unique and special. Hopefully AEW delivers, the fans deliver, and AEW can bring more shows… and maybe even a pay-per-view, here in the future.

TOP PHOTO; Tony Khan at AEW Dynamite at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram:@stevetsn