BEST OF BULLDOG
Dildos, Dude Love and The Dream
My Crazy Toronto Wrestling Weekend
Originally published August 12, 2019
As you may be aware, SummerSlam came to Toronto this past weekend and with it, a slew of wrestling-related shows and events. I took in a few days of the madness and interestingly, my weekend had very little to do with SummerSlam (beyond watching it from the comfort of my own home).
Here is a day-by-day diary of the madness that ensued...
Thursday, August 8th
I wanted to start things off in an "interesting" way... so I made my way inside a church in downtown Toronto to take in an event from Greektown Wrestling and IWS.
While the event had less than 100 patrons and the venue was sweltering hot inside, I definitely got a healthy dose of interesting watching the show.
In the opening match, the trio of Freddie Mercurio (yes, a Freddie Mercury impersonator), The Green Phantom and the super-sized Puf triumphed in a six-person (one female) tag team match - a fun if overbooked opening match to the show.
The infamous Space Monkey, whom we interviewed a few years ago, lost in a valiant effort to Benjamin Tull. A fatal four-way match featuring Speedball Mike Bailey and others was quite well-done, with the action frequently spilling outside the ring and into the audience. And Joey Ryan defeated Allysin Kay in a match that featured -- you guessed it -- a dildo.
The final match that I stuck around for (the building was just too damned sweaty to stay beyond a couple of hours) featured the aging stripper Sexxxy Eddie against Donald Trump supporter Jock Samson. The very unpredictable finish featured Samson remove Eddie's G-String, which caused Joey Ryan to run into the ring and ensure no one saw Eddie completely in the buff.
Ultimately, I didn't stay to watch Rhino and RJ City in the main even, but it was exactly the right way to kick off my weekend. An ECW-ish vibe with a lots of sweaty fun
Friday, August 9th
Hanging out with former Manager Of The Year (and co-host of our Wrestling Merchandise and Memories podcast) Stu Stone, we headed uptown to take in Smash Wrestling's Super Showdown VIII.
A bigger venue and more professional than the previous night, Smash is one of the best-known Toronto indy promotions and one that is making some serious noise in the community.
To me, the highlight of the show was seeing NXT UK Champion Walter teaming up with Daisuke Sekimoto against the team of Brent Banks and Tarik.
There was also a match straight out of the book of Russo - a "What's In The Box?" match in which four presents were placed on poles and five competitors battled it out. One competitor named Psycho Mike won a desk lamp that would apparently grant him three wishes.
Saturday, August 10th
The Big Rybowski and I had a long day of wrestling-related adventures ahead of us -- almost 12 hours worth, if you factor in travel time.
First, we hit up the SummerSlam Super Store that was being held concurrently with the meet and greet at The Metro Toronto Convention Centre. As you can expect, there was a ton of merchandise for sale, much of it overpriced and things you could probably find on wwe.com at any given time.
To be fair, there was no shortage of Canada-specific and SummerSlam-specific merch on sale. For example, you had shirts with Brock Lesnar suplexing Toronto's CN Tower and one with some of WWE's most prominent Canadian stars (Bret Hart, Bobby Roode, Edge, Christian, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Trish Stratus and Natalya). There were also championship belts with plates available celebrating the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors and SummerSlam hockey pucks with The Toronto Maple Leafs and WWE logos. There was also the requisite Hart Foundation merchandise, including a Chalkline jacket and pink and black exercise pants.
At the end of the day I didn't buy anything there.... but it was fun to look around, for sure.
From there, we walked over to The Rec Room (a Dave & Buster's style restaurant) where Mick Foley was performing a one-man show. Before The Hardcore Legend took the stage, a band called The WrestleManiacs (with band members dressed up as Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hollywood Hogan) playing popular WWE entrance themes. It was a fun way to engage the crowd before the main show began.
Following an introduction by one-time WWF performer Jason Sensation (the guy who did the Owen Hart part of The Nation parody), Foley was welcomed on stage to a warm ovation. For well over an hour, The Hardcore Legend talked about his incredible career, going over a lot of the material that was covered in some of his books.
He also took this opportunity to reflect on the life of Harley Race and remembered how tough and intimidating he was in real life. While Foley (dressed in a Dude Love t-shirt and plaid Santa Claus pullover) admitted he didn't prepare for this show as much as he had some in the past, he did have a lot of tremendous stories to share with the Toronto crowd.
From there, we made the short walk to the Scotiabank Arena in time to catch NXT TakeOver: Toronto. Rybowski managed to score us incredible seats, where we mere feet away from the main entrance stage. This gave us a tremendous view of the wrestler entrances (Velveteen Dream's Mountie/Raptors hybrid was tremendous), as well as being right there for the The Street Profits' victory celebration and Killian Dain running out to ringside (hitting his head on a piece of the set on the way!). Great seats can make all the difference, as was the case with this show.
Of course, the in-ring action was the star here, as it was honestly one of the best live events I've ever attended, with great action pretty much from top to bottom.
I had two favorite matches on the night: the Triple Threat featuring Velveteen Dream, Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, and the main event 2 out of 3 falls match between Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. Two things of note about the main event:
WWE staff handed us Johnny Gargano emojis to hold before the show began (we also snagged some Street Profits solo cups), virtually guaranteeing our smiling faces would be on camera that night.
As soon as we entered the arena, we could see the weapon-filled cage hidden underneath a black tarp (I may or may not have Tweeted it out as a spoiler).
Gargano and Cole was, in a word, tremendous and easily one of my favorite NXT matches ever.
Sunday, August 11th
I was more than happy to watch SummerSlam from the comfort of my own home and not in person.
For one thing... tickets were sold out from virtually the moment they went on sale. For another, tickets on the resale market were way too expensive. I wanted to spend money on TakeOver instead and honestly I feel made the better bet. And third, after three straight days watching four wrestling-shows, it was time for a break.
For my thoughts on SummerSlam, please check out the Canadian BullBLOG. What a week!