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Forbidden Door brings world of pro wrestling together with Canadian roots

Tony Khan is bringing the world of professional wrestling together
Tony Khan, President of All Elite Wrestling greets the crowd before the Dynamite/Rampage card in Toronto, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Tony Khan is bringing the world of professional wrestling together, and Canada has been an important part of that coalition.

Khan was in Toronto last week for the Collision tech conference to speak about how his All Elite Wrestling promotion has been disrupting an industry dominated by World Wrestling Entertainment for the past 20 years. His strategy has been to focus on international markets, starting with his first show outside the United States at Toronto’s Coca-Cola Coliseum in 2022.

“Canada is such a great market for us and I take a lot of pride in some of our biggest live events, being there” said Khan, noting that AEW hosted the biggest-ever wrestling event at England’s Wembley Stadium last summer when over 81,000 fans attended All In.

“Vancouver, we debuted in that market this year and we’ve had great shows in so many places across Canada.”

AEW will continue its global marketing strategy this weekend at Forbidden Door, when stars from New Japan Wrestling, its sister promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom and Mexico’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre will face each other at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.

The card will feature several Canadians as Winnipeg’s Chris Jericho and tag team partner Big Bill join Jeff Cobb in a trios match against Samoa Joe, Hook and Katsuyori Shibata. Luther, from Calgary, will accompany “Timeless” Tony Storm as she defends her AEW Women’s World Championship against Mina Shirakawa.

Toronto’s Renee Paquette and RJ City of Richmond Hill, Ont., will be two of the pre-show hosts.

Last year’s Forbidden Door in front of a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena was critically acclaimed and Khan said he was excited to continue to bring together different wrestling promotions from around the world.

“We’ve had a great partnership with New Japan. Pro Wrestling and this year we’ll introduce wrestlers from CMLL,” said Khan. “They’ll be starring in Forbidden Door, in important parts of the show, and have more championships and wrestlers participating from all over the world.”

One name that Khan won’t be adding to his coalition any time soon is Scott D’Amore of Windsor, Ont.

D’Amore had been the president of TNA Wrestling, a rival promotion owned by the Toronto-based Anthem Entertainment and Sports, until his contract was terminated on Feb. 7. Online speculation had D’Amore joining Khan’s creative team in some capacity, but the AEW owner said he hadn’t heard those rumours.

“I liked Scott a lot and rarely ever talked to him about anything like that,” said Khan. “But I always had good experiences with him. I think he’s a great guy.”

D’Amore did not respond to an interview request made through Border City Wrestling, his Windsor-based promotion. TNA Wrestling as well as Anthem Entertainment and Sports also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press