Impact Wrestling could, and should, be Canada’s biggest wrestling promotion.
This might seem like a strange thing to say, as WWE hosted Survivor Series 2016, SummerSlam 2019, and two NXT TakeOver specials in Toronto. In recent years WWE has held house shows and recent television tapings in every province sharing a border with the United States.
Impact Wrestling was founded in Nashville, Tennessee and still has its headquarters there today, they have more often than not run shows out of Orlando, Florida. On its face, nothing about the former Total Nonstop Action leads you to believe they are a Canada-focused company, but slowly, the company has become more Canadian as time has gone on.
In 2003, a year into the company’s existence Scott D’Amore was hired as a road agent, he then formed one of the companies top heel acts with Team Canada in 2004. Out of Team Canada comes Eric Young, Petey Williams, and Robert Roode. Petey Williams would go on to become a multiple-time X-Division Champion, and would revolutionize the high flying style of wrestling with his debut of a flipping piledriver called “The Canadian Destroyer”. Petey Williams changed wrestling forever. Roode and Young could be considered two of the biggest stars the promotion has produced, each former world and tag team champions in the company. Eric Young is still an incredibly important part of Impact Wrestling.
In 2005, Christian Cage joined the company and went on perhaps the best run of his career, remaining undefeated for over a year and a half, becoming a multiple-time world champion and one of the top heels in North America. Around the same time Impact started their women’s division, and on October 14, 2007 Gail Kim became the first Knockouts Champion at Bound For Glory. Kim would go on to become a seven-time champion and one of the most prolific wrestlers in Canadian history.
Fellow Canadians Angelina Love, Taryn Terrell, Chelsea Green, Allie, and Rosemary have all held the championship since.
In early 2017, Anthem Sports and Entertainment purchased an 85% majority share of Impact Wrestling. Anthem is Canadian-owned and based in Toronto, Ontario. Since then there has been a significant uptick in Canadian events. Impact Wrestling ran 92 shows in Ontario from October 14, 2017 to October 27, 2019 including Bound For Glory 2017 and Slammiversary 2018. During that same observed time between October 2017 – October 2019, WWE ran 50 events throughout Canada. Impact Wrestling ran almost double the events WWE did. Obviously, the pandemic has seriously impacted (No pun intended) any plans for future tapings. Impact almost certainly would have run Toronto consistently, and perhaps had plans to expand to other provinces.
In 2019, Ethan Page and Josh Alexander began teaming together on Impact as The North, they became one of the company’s most accomplished tag teams, holding the record for the longest Impact Tag Team Championship reign at 308 days. Despite Ethan Page signing with AEW earlier this year, you can still find events from his Hamilton, Ontario-based promotion Alpha-1 Wrestling on Impact Plus, which I highly recommend checking out. If Impact is the largest Canadian promotion, Alpha-1 is a credible contender for the second.
Canadians on the current Impact Wrestling roster: Kenny Omega from Winnipeg, Manitoba is the World Champion. Josh Alexander from Bolton, Ontario is the X-Division Champion. Scott D’Amore from Windsor, Ontario is an executive vice-president and an on-screen authority figure. Eric Young from Florence, Ontario and Deaner from Port Bruce, Ontario are a part of the stable in possession of the tag team championships, Violent By Design. Gail Kim from Toronto, Ontario is in the Impact Hall of Fame and is a respected backstage producer. Crazzy Steve from Montreal, Quebec, and Rosemary from Winnipeg, Manitoba are a part of the DECAY, one of Impact’s longest-running acts. Petey Williams from Windsor, Ontario is still active and hitting the Canadian Destroyer on the generation of wrestlers he inspired. NJPW star El Phantasmo from Vancouver, British Columbia has appeared at multiple shows recently. Don Callis from Winnipeg Manitoba was executive vice-president from 2017 – 2021 and still appears regularly as the manager of the world champion Kenny Omega.
So I say this to Impact Wrestling: now is the time to run a tour of Canada. There has always been a healthy market for wrestling in Canada, and a general lack of interest from most major American wrestling promotions to run in Canada.
Run Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, and Vancouver. Whether it’s all of them once a year, or one each year, you will see a return on the investment, both in terms of revenue and popularity. No company has made a considerable play for the north since the World Wrestling Federation had the Hart Foundation in 1997. WWE currently holds the Canadian market because there is no company actively engaging it on that level.
Anthem Sports and Entertainment has the money to make a play for a potential wrestling territory of 37,000,000+ people. Anthem could also become the company that owns Canada’s top MMA promotion with their recent purchase of Invicta FC by applying a similar strategy. With both AEW and WWE currently running out of Florida, the south-eastern United States marketplace is full enough as it is. Now that COVID restrictions are beginning to lift, why not go for an entire country? Go north while AEW and WWE want to tour the south.