TORONTO – After debuting in Toronto at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in October 2022, AEW returned to the same venue for a Dynamite and Rampage live three-hour double-header on March 20. With a marquee main event featuring “The Rated R Superstar” Adam Copeland facing off against his former ‘brother’ turned bitter rival, Christian Cage, it is no wonder that AEW’s Toronto homecoming attracted a sold-out crowd. Add in an AEW Continental Championship affair between Eddie Kingston and newly acquired Kazuchika Okada, these two PPV-worthy matches had fans hyped to see hard-hitting action from bell to bell.

Before Dynamite went live, fans were treated to some taped ROH matches, two of which featured some Canadian standouts. Ontario independent wrestling scene enthusiasts would be familiar with Nikita, as she faced off against Anna Jay in a losing affair. Evil Uno is always a welcomed talent in Toronto, where he got a solid reaction in a victory over London Lightning.

Once it became time for Dynamite, it also became Boss Time… Oh wait, I’m sorry. CEO Time? Moné Time? Anyhoo, out came Mercedes Moné to a very partisan Toronto crowd in her favor. She cut another promo adding a bit more to her debut speech, where she took the time to dig at Willow Nightingale, the woman who injured her ankle last summer. Turned out, she’d need Willow on her side in this instance, as the spooky duo of Skye Blue and Julia Hart came out to confront her. Statlander and Willow were there to make the save, but when the lights went out again, it looked as if Nightingale looked to pull a fast one on Moné with a chair shot to the back… But alas, twas not meant to be.

The new and improved AEW Dynamite set in Toronto at Coca-Cola Coliseum on March 20, 2024. Photo by Amos C. Mina.

Right after this, it was already time for Kingston-Okada, the first of two mega title matches on this evening’s Dynamite. The pre-show hype video packages showed Okada exiting a badass and probably insanely expensive red Ferrari. Seeing that car outside in the tunnel parking lot myself, I assumed it had to have been for either Moné or Okada, it soon proved to be the latter. The “Rainmaker” came out for his championship contest in a wicked silver attire with a blast of Okada Bucks falling on the entrance ramp. During the match, the crowd was extremely energetic, cheering loudly for both competitors as they engaged in a heated duel, chanting “Let’s go Eddie!” and “Okada!” alternately. Fans eager to see the Rainmaker emerge victorious were delighted when he defeated Kingston to claim the Continental Championship, just two weeks into his AEW debut. Following the match, it was Okada who was treated to a pleasant surprise as “The Bastard” PAC made his return to send the new champ a message with a staredown.

The “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada makes his glorious entrance at AEW Dynamite in Toronto on March 20, 2024. Photo by Amos C. Mina.

Tasked to follow the “Mad King” and the Rainmaker, it was “Lionheart” Chris Jericho against FTW Champion Hook in a proving ground match of sorts. Unfortunately, this match fell kind of flat and it wasn’t anything too engaging for the crowd. The fans got behind Hook, but I think it was more so because they absolutely loathed Jericho. Surprised to see the Canadian Y2J get a negative response, but I’m just going to assume it’s because of the allegations associated with him in recent months.

A great talent to put on following this stinker, as the Billy GOAT himself Will Ospreay came down for an in-ring interview with Tony Schiavone. Toronto went nuts for the “Aerial Assassin” as he was all smiles prancing around to the ring. Far from the same bloke we saw at Forbidden Door last year, as he rubbed a Canadian flag up his fanny and even blew his nose with it. Be that as it may, Ospreay is no forgetful lad as he admitted in his last Toronto visit, he was a very naughty boy. Needless to say, Toronto took the apology fairly quickly as they cheered on Ospreay throughout the promo, where he dissed “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson and challenged Katsuyori Shibata to a match on next week’s Dynamite.

The “Aerial Assasin” Will Ospreay hypes the crowd up at AEW Dynamite in Toronto on March 20, 2024. Photo by Amos C. Mina.

After this, it was time for some women’s tag team action, as “Timeless” Toni Storm and Mariah May faced off against Thunder Rosa and Deonna Purrazzo. Surprisingly, it seemed like Thunder Rosa was the most over-woman featured in this match. Toni did have her adoring fans too, but I think fans just missed seeing Thunder Rosa around as a regular on the main show again. Just as it looked like the heels were going to win, “La Mera Mera” showed lightning-quick skills and rolled up Storm for the three-count. Deonna didn’t look too pleased with the victory though as she scoffed at Rosa after tagging herself into the match against the Virtuosa’s wishes. They teased it well, it sure looked like Deonna was going to snap, but she didn’t. That would mark the second teased female heel turn for the evening, after Willow’s earlier.

Swerve Strickland then came out for an open challenge, only for it to be answered by… The Butcher? Seriously? On Dynamite? No offense dude, but this is hypothetically the best guy to answer a big callout? Regardless, Swerve made quick work of The Butcher and showed that Toronto is certainly his house, as fans in the Six were bopping and jiving to his theme song a la Prince Nana. Post-match, Strickland made it clear he wanted another shot at AEW World Champion Samoa Joe, where the Samoan Submission Machine came out to a loud reaction and addressed Swerve. It wasn’t just Joe who came out to interrupt though, as public enemy number one Don Callis came out too, and this man generated some next-level heat. I don’t know how well it caught on the television feed, but you could not hear a single word coming out of Callis’ mouth. Can you name a single person who likes Callis? Not including his Don Callis Family cronies. I think he’s just internationally hated. Great on him though, he plays the weasel, cowardly manager figure very well.

Only one match remained, Cope-Cage III in an I Quit match with the TNT Title on the line. The atmosphere for this match was insane. Two Canadian legends slugging it out in a highly-anticipated main event live in front of a raucous Toronto crowd. Copeland was the first to make his way out, and he was serenaded by the fans singing along to his “Metallingus” theme song. The Rated R Superstar made it seem like he would never wrestle in Toronto again after teasing a final goodbye in the Six and facing Sheamus in his farewell WWE match at Smackdown back in August. Several months later, here he is once again to do battle with a familiar face. The dastardly Christian Cage did not receive a similar hero’s welcome, but I don’t think he cared all that much.

Best friends turned bitter rivals, Adam Copeland and Christian Cage take in the crowd before their I Quit match at AEW Dynamite in Toronto on March 20, 2024. Photo by Amos C. Mina.

Right off the bat, the fellas fought their battle amongst the crowd at Coca-Cola Coliseum. They made their way to the penalty box, where Copeland took off a fan’s Boston Bruins jersey and made Cage wear it. Not far from the Bruins fan, there was a fan wearing blue and white Maple Leafs colors. What do you think Cope did? He wore the jersey of course, and now with two dueling hockey boys… Copeland and Cage slugged it out in classic hockey brawl fashion to a roar from the crowd. The fans were super pumped up as they chanted “TLC” when Copeland brought out tables and ladders, obviously referring to the match synonymous with the former E&C duo. Cage showed he could piss off a crowd even incapacitated, as when referee Bryce Remsburg asked him if he’d quit, he said “I’m not a quitter like Toronto”. Man, CC is tailor-made to be a bad guy. It got a little funny for a moment when the live feed on the entrance ramp screen went out as Cage and Copeland did battle away from crowd view. The fans chanted “Can’t see s***” and this message clearly made it to the right tech personnel, as the live feed was back up not long after. Dynamite went off the air quickly after Copeland received his confetti celebration and it was onto live Rampage.

A three-hour show is sure to burn out anybody, I can’t imagine sitting through a Wrestlemania, but I guess that’s why it runs two nights now instead of one. During Rampage, some of the crowd dispersed and headed home, but for the folks that did stay… You could tell that they were just about ready to call it a night. Don Callis did get them going again surprisingly, as they chanted “F*** you Callis!” during the Takeshita-Romero match. Hats off to Takeshita and Romero too, those lads went all out and had me fooled during the Kneeling Sit Out Piledriver into Pop-Up Blue Thunder Bomb spot.

I stuck around to see the main event as I am a huge fan of all four women involved. And as expected, the match delivered and then some. The crowd may have been dead up to this point, but once these women got the ball rolling, the fans were back up and into the match. The two table spots, right at the beginning between Kris and Julia and Willow’s DVD to Skye Blue on double tables got justified “Holy s***” chants. As the match progressed and the four battered girls were laid out in the ring, the fans gave them their flowers and chanted “This is awesome!” There was a Code Blue spot on the announce table that didn’t even break when Willow took the impact, and shoutout to Skye Blue, she’s made the transition from bubbly to lunatic effortlessly. The girls even got tacks involved as Blue and Statlander each dumped a set of tacks in the ring, where Kris got her back covered after Blue gave her a nasty Powerbomb. The match ended when the ominous Julia Hart submitted Kris Statlander to get her team the victory and send the crowd home happy. AEW President Tony Khan would come out not long after and tell the fans he loves Toronto, thinks they’re one of the “best Wrestling cities”, and he’ll see them soon for another Dynamite, Rampage, Collision, and after a very long dramatic pause… PAY-PER-VIEW! Much to the fans’ delight.

The evil witch Julia Hart threatens to use the spike in her street fight on AEW Rampage in Toronto on March 20, 2024. Photo by Amos C. Mina.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable night of professional wrestling courtesy of AEW. The Toronto fans made the most of the small venue to make it feel like a huge stadium. It’s always a blast to see a wrestling show stacked from top to bottom, and for the most part, I think they more than delivered and then some.


Steve Argintaru’s AEW Toronto Mar. 20, 2024 photo gallery

Dynamite: A Canadian Homecoming

Rampage: A good night for a street fight

TOP PHOTO: New TNT champion Adam Copeland after his I Quit Match against Christian Cage at AEW Dynamite on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter/Instagram: @stevetsn