Wrestling organizations have produced many shows in Toledo over the years. From shows downtown run before World War II, to major companies hosting matches at the old Sports Arena, wrestling has made a major impact on local sports entertainment.
The newest major wrestling organization, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), will cause a collision when they host an event at the Huntington Center. We recently spoke with one of AEW’s superstars, Wardlow, ahead of his appearance in Toledo on Oct. 14.
Getting In The Ring
All Elite Wrestling is a recently-devised organization that got its start in 2019 thanks to the help of wrestling royalty Cody Rhodes, son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes, and the Jackson brothers Matt and Nick, known professionally as The Young Guns. Those wrestlers left the Ring of Honor wrestling promotion and worked with entrepreneur Tony Khan and a handful of professionals from other organizations to create and develop the new All Elite Wrestling promotion.
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While many have heard of their major competitor World Wrestling Entertainment, or the WWE, AEW is looking to be the first organization to take them on in primetime television in over 20 years. AEW has three weekly shows (and various pay-per-view events) to show off their stars: Dynamite, Rampage and the one filming at the Huntington Center, Collision.
Fan support year after year has caused the organization to grow in popularity; people come out in droves thanks to stars like Darby Allin, MJF, Wardlow, Hikaru Shida and The Outcasts, among others. Though there are many rising stars in the AEW stable, fans of other wrestling promotions might recognize some of the other performers that may be coming to the Huntington Center in October (no matches have been announced as of press time). Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, Christian Cage, Samoa Joe and other well-known veteran superstars now call AEW home.
Throwdown in Toledo
The company has been growing in recent years and Toledo is going to be lucky to host an AEW show right at a high point in its popularity. This will be the first event AEW has run in Toledo, but the city has hosted a great number of wrestling shows and performers in the past. One of those performers is Wardlow, former and future AEW World Heavyweight Champion, who is originally from the Cleveland area. He said he “has never been to Toledo, but (is) looking forward to it!”
Wardlow also commented on why shows in places like Toledo are so important: these shows are “an opportunity to give people a show that don’t normally see us. We do a lot of shows through the year in bigger cities, so it’s important to put on a memorable show in these smaller cities.”
The Toledo Sports Arena was host to many great independent and professional matches, including WWF and WCW non-broadcasted wrestling events known as house shows. WWE has also had a great showing here, with a Main Event program last year and a house show at Huntington Center in April of this year.
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Fans at shows like these “are always extra passionate because we don’t come through as often,” Wardlow said.
Going back even further, there are records of wrestling events happening in Toledo at the turn of the last century. The Empire Theater was an event space on North St. Clair Street in Downtown Toledo in the 1900s that would host weekly wrestling shows. Independent promotions such as Universal All-Pro Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling and New Edge Pro Wrestling have run events in various places around the city.
It’s not hard to find wrestling in Northwest Ohio if you’re a fan, but a real spectacle will be on display when AEW comes to the Huntington Center.
“It’s fun,” Wardlow said. It’s new, fresh and it’s had every form of entertainment you could possibly imagine. It’s truly one of the most unique entertainment experiences in existence.”
AEW: Collision. 7:30 pm. Saturday, Oct. 14. Tickets available at huntingtoncentertoledo.com/events