TORONTO — It’s not often you see a Grey Cup ring used as a weapon. Or a surefire Canadian Football Hall of Famer at ringside capturing the antics of a buddy on his cell phone.

But both happened on Saturday night. The scene was the East End United Church on Toronto’s famed Danforth Avenue, for a Greektown Wrestling show.

The scene was a wrestling ring instead of a football field for two former Toronto Argonauts.

In his first-ever singles bout, A.J. Ouellette, who just signed as a free agent with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, faced Trent Gibson. The fan favorite running back has been coming to Greektown Wrestling shows for a while now, but only had his first match in August 2023 — during an Argos bye week — teaming with Jock Samson and Channing Decker to beat Sonny Kiss, Gibson and Brent Banks.

So the feud with the loud-mouthed Gibson has been going for a while.

Before the bout, Ouellette paced behind the curtain, his Thor mjolnir hammer in hand; then, with his name announced, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound mass of beefy energy burst through, leaping up and down, pumping himself up. He fist-bumped some young fans at ringside and his buddy — the just-retired running back Andrew Harris, the CFL leader in career yards from scrimmage by a Canadian. Dressed in jeans shorts and a T-shirt, wearing running shoes and not wrestling boots, the heavily-tatted up Ouellette was raring to go.

The match itself was fairly standard, back and forth, boosted by the rabid crowd, with Ouellette winning, ducking Gibson’s attempt to hit him with the pilfered Grey Cup ring and use of a cricket bat, and with help from special referee Brent Banks.

It’s clear that Ouellette loves wrestling.

Before the show, he praised “the energy” that the Greektown fans, packed into the church gymnasium, bring. “You don’t have to force anything, the crowd, as soon as you walk out the tunnel, it’s an atmosphere that you want to be a part of,” Ouellette said.

In football, “whenever you make a big play, the crowd’s behind you. The crowd here, they’re gonna tell you if you’re doing well, or if you’re doing bad, right? So you want to hear them cheer. That’s how you relate.”

A.J. Ouellette signs autographs on March 9, 2024, at Greektown Wrestling in Toronto. Photo by Greg Oliver

A.J. Ouellette signs autographs on March 9, 2024, at Greektown Wrestling in Toronto. Photo by Greg Oliver

Having just switched allegiances from the hometown Argos to the Riders, Ouellette was hoping the crowd didn’t see it as a heel turn.

“I’m gonna say 90% of them have been amazing; true diehard fans of the CFL, and of players. I couldn’t ask for better support from them. I’m excited to see what the outcome is today when I come out. I don’t know if I’m gonna get booed if I’m gonna get some cheers,” admitted Ouellette — who was universally cheered, though it helped that Gibson was not liked.

Post-match, ring announcer Steve Argintaru quizzed Ouellette about his bout. Still full of adrenaline, but not gassed, Ouellette shouted out love to the fans — who chanted “A-J! A-J!” and the traditional “A-R-R-R-G-O-O-S” — and to a few (now former) teammates who came out to watch, including Harris and Braydon Noll.

Argintaru: He threw everything at you. He took your ring. He tried to use his paddle, but you still managed to overcome. How did you do it?

Ouellette: I mean, years of playing Hamilton, cheaters, right? … I approached Trent the same way. You’re going to expect something that shouldn’t be allowed, but we overcome, we get a W.

A.J. Ouellette speaks to the crowd on March 9, 2024, at Greektown Wrestling in Toronto. Photo by Greg Oliver

A.J. Ouellette speaks to the crowd on March 9, 2024, at Greektown Wrestling in Toronto. Photo by Greg Oliver

After wishing him well next season — the Riders come to Toronto in Week 12, August 22 — Argintaru handed the microphone over to Ouellette, who spoke from the heart:

I had a seven-hour drive to get up here from Ohio. In that seven hours, I was planning on writing an amazing speech to kind of go off on, but every time I started thinking about my time in Toronto, thinking about the fans, I was crying. And driving with tears in your eyes is not very good. So I just stopped there …

So I’m gonna wing this right here. And I basically just wanted to thank Greektown, I want to thank all the Argos fans. I got up here five years ago, not knowing what to expect, a boy at the time pretty much, thinking that football was over for me. I slowly got a foot on the field. You guys welcomed me with open arms, showed me love. ….

I got a lot of heat for signing with Sask. And, and not thanking Toronto for the time that I had. Knowing all along, I was coming to Greektown and I was gonna be able to do it in front of the fans, in front of Toronto. So I want to thank you for the last five years, giving me hope, supporting me when I was down, adverse in a lot of things. So I love you all.

Harris, with his black hood up and trying to stay out of spectators’ way, filmed Ouellette in action. He was also waiting for his friend outside the dressing room, where caught up with the CFL legend, with four Grey Cup wins.

“I’m here to support him. AJ’s got tons of charisma and he fits the character. Honestly, man, he crushed it tonight. It was awesome to watch him,” Harris said. “I used to watch wrestling a long time ago, and now that’s I’m a little older, maybe not so much, but I support my buddies and friends in whatever they do. He’s an absolute beauty.”

Ouellette didn’t rule out wrestling down the road … maybe in Saskatchewan

“Actually, the equipment staff and the offensive coordinator out there are huge when it comes to wrestling. That was about the only thing I talked to him about when I went out to sign the contract,” said Ouellette. “So I’ve been talking to [promoter Channing] Decker here and we’ll see if we can get something going out there.”


  • Channing Decker def. Sami Callihan in a hardcore match to become the #1 contender for the Greektown Wrestling championship (currently held by Mike Santana)
  • AJ Ouellette def. Trent Gibson
  • Miley & Puf def. Isaiah Broner & Joseline Navarro
  • Greektown Cup champion Bill Collier def. Sam “Hardway” Holloway
  • Karou won a 4-way match over Salsa King, Brent Banks and AEW’s Dirty Bulk Bronson
  • Katie Arquette def. Gabby Forza
  • The Backseat Boyz (JP & Tommy Grayson) def. Nacci Mafia
  • Space Monkey def. “Maserati” Wes Barkley
  • Rodney Matthews def. Damian Chambers

TOP PHOTO: Andrew Harris and A.J. Ouellette backstage after Ouellette’s bout on March 9, 2024, at Greektown Wrestling in Toronto. Photo by Greg Oliver