Bret and Owen Hart, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and Chris Jericho are just a few of the Canadian wrestlers who have made their marks on the world's biggest stages and turned into celebrities that have transcended the wrestling community.
The Great White North has a rich history of producing professional wrestlers and Canadian Wrestling Elite (CWE) hopes to continue that tradition.
On July 4, the CWE is kicking off the Ontario leg of its Cruel Summer Tour by bringing its talent to Bradford West Gwillimbury before heading to Sudbury, Elliot Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.
Along with its own roster of wrestlers, the CWE will have WWE alumni Chris “The Masterpiece” Masters at each of its Ontario events.
A live touring professional wrestling organization based out of Winnipeg, CWE has been in operation for a little over 14 years and the Cruel Summer Tour is an annual event with Bradford being the newest addition to the tour.
“The other four stops on the Ontario tour are our regular stops since live events opened back up,” said Danny Warren, general manager of CWE, who wrestles under the name “Hotshot” Danny Duggan.
“Looking to expand and get further across the country, specifically further east, we decided we’d start adding some new markets to see what the response would be like and that’s why we’re giving Bradford a try.”
Landing on Bradford as the fifth stop of the Ontario tour was an easy decision given the connection Warren and CWE have to the area.
“It was really simple, we have a wrestler who used to live out here and perform out here in Winnipeg by the name of ‘Red Hot’ Ryan Wood, and in recent years he relocated to Bradford,” says Warren. “He purchased the Bradford Sports Dome, and he was looking for some entertainment and events in his facility, and we were looking for a new market. It all came together very easily thanks to our ties.”
Prior to the pandemic CWE was touring Vancouver through Toronto and doing 30-day-plus tours across the country and rapidly expanding with tours larger than even the WWE was putting on at the time. Building the tours back up is now the goal and that starts with expanding to communities like Bradford.
“We want to bring eyes to Canadian wrestling and Canadian wrestlers,” Warren explained. “There was once upon a time when Canadian wrestling was highly esteemed and produced some of the best wrestlers the world had to offer and it still does, but it’s been kind of forgotten about.
"We’re proudly waving the Canadian flag and saying, ‘we’re still here, and still the best at what we do.’ We’re also presenting a traditional style of wrestling that’s been kind of lost in today’s market. One that people grew up on and hold fond memories of, we want to keep traditional professional wrestling alive," said Warren.
Giving a platform to Canadian wrestlers is among the key pillars for CWE, especially with so few options out there for those who want to get into professional wrestling.
“We want to give them the opportunity to go on the road and grind their teeth because you only get very good at this by putting more reps in, getting in front of more crowds, and having more matches,” says Warren.
“In today’s wrestling landscape, unless you’re already working for another major organization, there aren’t a lot of places to wrestle. A lot of regional organizations offer one event a month, we’re putting our guys on the road 10 to 15 times a month," he explained.
Not only does CWE aim to get Canadian wrestlers on the canvas in front of local crowds, but they want to show the younger generations in these communities that this is something they can achieve, too.
“We pride ourselves on having connections to legends of the past who we bring on the road with us not only to wrestle, but to teach our guys,” says Warren. “But having them also helps bring attention to both our events and Canadian wrestling in general. We want to continue to prove and show people that Canadians can’t only do this at a professional level, but can be among the best at it.”
Warren isn’t just excited to get the wrestlers in front of the Bradford crowd, he’s excited to be bringing an event like this to a community that hasn’t seen anything like it in person.
“They’re not going to find a night of entertainment like this with any other genre,” he says. “Whether you’re a professional wrestling fan, skeptical about it all, or even have negative feelings about professional wrestling, I always encourage and challenge people to come out and see it for themselves up close and personal for the first time.
"Almost always we have people leaving (as) CWE fans. You might not like what you see on television, but when you see the action up close and personal and see the personalities and get the opportunity to interact with them, it really develops the connection and changes opinions of professional wrestling," said Warren.
The Cruel Summer Tour event at the Bradford Sports Dome (2971 10 Sideroad) is set for Tuesday, July 4 with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the first match starting at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at cwetickets.com.