There’s been a surprising amount of excitement surrounding WWE as of late, especially ever since former wrestler Triple H took over as head of creative after Vince McMahon’s sudden removal from the CEO position.
I was swept up by all this excitement and got tickets for Monday Night Raw from Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on August 22nd, 2022. The following essay is a report of my Raw experience, with pictures from the event. With all that out of the way, let’s talk Raw in Toronto, shall we?
With fans being let into the arena to find their seats, I decided to get my food for the night, which was largely just two slices of pizza, plus some refreshments.
My seat for the evening was right next to the stage, which did give me a good view of the ring.
You know Toronto fans were ready for a three-hour night of wrestling when even the audio disclaimer about the event code of conduct gets a massive cheer.
Prior to Monday Night Raw, there’s a taping of two matches for Main Event, essentially a show where lower card wrestlers get a chance to hone their skills in the ring. Both matches got a hot crowd behind it, which was honestly nice to see.
Match 1 was the team of Nikki ASH & Doudrop defeating the team of Tamina and Dana Brooke. Fans were into this match for a bit.
Match 2 saw Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander winning against T-Bar and Shelton Benjamin. it should be noted that Shelton got a huge reaction from us Toronto fans, as we cheered his offense and whenever he’d get tagged in.
8:00pm – Showtime
After a really loud pyro display (TV does not do justice to how loud the pyro is at a wrestling show), things got started on a wild note with hated rivals Seth Rollins and Riddle brawling backstage before the fight spilled into the crowd! Lots of “let them fight” chants as referees and security would separate Rollins and Riddle for the time being.
Then it came time for a second set of pyrotechnics (still very loud) as the show seemed to now truly begin in earnest. And what a way to kick it off with the arrival of none other than Trish Stratus. The live fans came unglued for Trish’s appearance, showing that she was still quite beloved in her hometown of Toronto.
At this point, Trish was interrupted by the trio of Bayley, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky. Where the live Raw feed on TV went to commercial, there was some extra stuff for us live fans with Trish and Bayley playing to the crowd. The latter is very much hated here in Toronto, so it was fun booing her when she tried to get cheers.
This led us to the first match of the evening, a Semifinal match for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships between Alexa & Asuka vs. Kai & Sky. The match itself was a fun way to kick off the in-ring action, with all four women in the ring being capable of giving us a quality match.
The team of Kai and Sky got the win after a very wild finish that had the fans clamoring with excitement. It was a really nice sprint to the finish and it was nice seeing the women get a lot of focus on the show.
Later on in the evening, we saw Bayley fight local girl Aliyah in a great, short match where the former tried to mock Trish Stratus, perhaps hinting at a future match between the two.
It’s no secret that WWE’s women’s division has been rejuvenated in recent weeks, and the women’s matches I saw on Raw was evidence of that.
Next up was Dolph Ziggler against Finn Balor. Another solid TV match between two wrestlers who can put on great matches on a whim. This was one of them.
In terms of fan reactions, both Dolph and Finn got great reactions, and the match that they had justifiably deserved it.
We got a promo from The Alpha Academy, where Chad Gable issued an open challenge after partaking in some local sports team heat by taking aim at the Toronto Maple Leafs and star player Auston Matthews. This challenge was answered by Canada’s very own Kevin Owens, who got one of the loudest reactions of the evening, aside from hometown hero Edge and a certain other someone I’ll get to later.
As for the match itself, it was a good showcase for both Owens and Gable, who’s probably one of the more underrated talents in WWE right now. He plays his role so perfectly as a dorky, obnoxious heel and can go in the ring.
KO got the win and was cheered very loudly for it. An attempted post-match beatdown by the Alpha Academy had fans chanting “Sami” in the hopes of KO’s friend Sami Zayn making the save. However, Owens didn’t really need the help as he fended off Gable and Otis by himself. Stunners for the both of them and even more cheers.
Up next was the star-studded face duo of AJ Styles and WWE U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley versus The Miz and his ally, Tommaso Ciampa. The heels got a good amount of boos from the crowd, while AJ and Lashley were met with loud pops – especially in the case of the U.S.Champion. Lots of “Bobby” chants from the fans.
At the very end, both AJ and Miz were accosted by two different guys dressed in black. First, AJ was grabbed by an unknown figure, then Miz was abducted by a riot cop who was revealed to be Dexter Lumis (a wrestler whose gimmick is basically “serial killer who’s also a good guy, sort of”.) Lumis’s reveal got a big reaction from the fans.
The old adage of “anything can happen in WWE” never rang more true than it did when Raw resumed at this point of the evening.
Without warning, the chords of “Rebel Heart” hit, which meant the return of a certain someone to WWE. Our hopes were unexpectedly answered when Johnny Gargano made his entrance to a massive reaction from the Toronto faithful. And by “massive”, I mean “fans getting out of their seats to see Johnny entering the arena” massive.
For context: Johnny took a break from wrestling several months ago when his WWE contract expired to be with his pregnant wife Candace. There were a lot of people assuming he’d be going to AEW in the future, but turns out a WWE homecoming was in the cards for Johnny Wrestling.
Keep in mind that Johnny’s appearance was not at all advertised prior to Monday’s Raw and several wrestling reporters had no idea he’d even be in attendance for the show, so this was truly a legitimate surprise for everyone.
Now it was time for our main event: Edge fighting Damian Priest in what ended up being an excellent main event for Raw.
Naturally, Edge got a big ovation from the Toronto fans, who were ready to see their hero compete in Toronto for the first time in many, many years. Last time he was in Toronto for a WWE show was at SummerSlam 2019, when he hadn’t officially returned to the ring yet.
This main event was an excellent near-20 minute encounter that had fans on the edge (heh) of their seats. From slams through announcer tables, Canadian Destroyers, and steel chairs, this match had everything needed to provide an entertaining finish to the night on Raw.
Edge picked up the win, and let me tell you, the reaction he got when the 1-2-3 was counted, it was like the Leafs had just won the Stanley Cup. A great way to send the fans home happy.
At 11:00pm, Raw ended with a chair-wielding Beth Phoenix keeping Judgement Day at bay, but it wasn’t the end of the night for the live fans in Toronto. Once the ring was cleared, Edge got on the microphone and addressed us, thanking the fans here for cheering tonight and enjoying the show. Interestingly, he mentioned that this would be his last run and he was going to possibly retire next year here when WWE returned to Toronto for a televised event.
And that was basically it for the night.
I really did enjoy my time watching Raw live. The show was three-and-a-half hours (including Main Event matches), but it felt like a breeze to watch through. The fans I was sat next to also enjoyed the show and it was fun talking wrestling with them as the action unfolded right before our very eyes.
In terms of fan reactions, here’s the top 5 of wrestlers who got the best reactions from Toronto (all very close, mind you):
- Kevin Owens
- Johnny Gargano
- Trish Stratus
- Bobby Lashley
Speaking of the Toronto fans, it was hot all night and there was lot of excitement to go aronud. It has been three years since the last live televised WWE event in Toronto (though there have been a few house shows here since then), and you could tell that Toronto was more than happy to see WWE’s flagship show
Overall, I’d recommend going to see Raw now whenever it comes to your neck of the woods. The show feels revitalized now and there’s a sense of “anything can happen” that didn’t exist until recently. Between a renewed energy within WWE and AEW continuing to excite fans on Wednesdays and Fridays, it’s truly a wonderful time to be a wrestling fan now.
Marc Quill is the editor of RingCrashers, GateCrashers’ home for all your All Elite Wrestling and indie wrestling needs. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general on @MarcQuill on Twitter.