A term which many wrestling fans may not have heard of is something called “The Canada Effect“. With AEW debuting in Canada on October 12th, 2022 with their maiden show AEW Dynamite, the talk of the All Elite Wrestling stars being shocked by the largely unpredictable Canadian crowd have begun to creep into discussion.
With the AEW stars making their way to Toronto on Wednesday night, let’s take a look at the supposed “Canada Effect” and see the impact it has on first-timers wrestling up north when on the road from the United States wrestling scene.
The Canada Effect
The Canada Effect is a supposed affectation on pro-wrestlers when going from the United States to wrestle over the norther border into Canada. The idea is that Canadian crowds differ so much from their American counterparts that they will react differently the various superstars – booing some that are all-time good guys and cheering some of the most dastardly heels in the business.
Both countries have a long and storied tradition of wrestling that is too long to go into in this article, but be assured that the 100+ years of incredible matches and moments have not been forgotten by wrestling fans from those countries.
One of the top Canadian stars in AEW waged his opinion on the phenomenon during a recent phone interview promoting the companies first foray into Canada. He called the debut show “huge, from a personal standpoint and from a company standpoint, for us to break this new ground in a new country,”, before moving on to discuss the Canada Effect with the interview.
Christian Cage, a former World Heavyweight Champion in WWE, is one of the top Canadian stars in AEW alongside his fellow countryman Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho. He has experienced wrestling all over the globe, with his homeland and the United States being his stomping ground in the ring.
When speaking about The Canada Effect, Cage not only confirmed it’s existence but declared it to be “great”.
“It very much is a thing and I think it’s great,” said Cage, who said his non-Canadian colleagues will have to experience it for themselves. “It gives a different look, a different vibe, especially for the viewer, if you’re watching it on TV. I know it’s a different vibe when you’re there in person. It’s very real.”
“I do believe in Canada Effect. The audience, they just go in and they do their thing, and I think it’s a great atmosphere.”
Many wrestlers have felt the wrath, or unexpected love, from the crowds from Canada over the years. The most famous example of the effect came at Wrestlemania X8, when Hulk Hogan took on The Rock in a dream legend vs icon match.
Hulk Hogan was one of the biggest bad guys in wrestling coming into the match. He had tried (and failed) to put WWE out of business in the 1990s as the top star in their rival promotion, WCW. He was also the head of one of the most villainous stables in wrestling history, the New World Order (or NWO).
He was one of the most hated men in WWE in 2002 for those reasons and was up against one of the most famous and charismatic wrestlers of all time in The Rock. While he acted more cocky and insulted the wrestlers more than anyone, he was so fun to watch that fans could not help but love him.
However, The Canada Effect was in full force in Toronto at Wrestlemania X8. Canadian fans who had grown up on Hulk Hogan in the AWA and then the WWF could not wait to see their hero back in Canada for the first time in years. They gave him a standing ovation immediately and cheered him like he was prime-Bret Hart. They also booed The Rock from the word go, yelling out abuse as soon as he got the upper hand over The Hulkster.
Luckily, the two men were supreme wrestlers in the ring and managed to flip the script on the fly. Hogan, who was expected to be booed out of the arena, immediately began to play the crowd whilst The Rock quickly took on the role of the villain and used all his trickery and cheating skills to try and beat his opponent.
The match was one of the loudest in history and is considered one of the best of all time, just because of how much the crowd were into the match. The two WWE legends played The Canada Effect off so well that by the end of the match, they had the crowd cheering for both men and were even happy seeing The People’s Champion pinning The Immortal One inside the ring for the victory.
Other wrestlers did not take the unexpected crowd so well. Bayley infamously suffered boos from the crowd in 2017, shockingly as she cut a promo explaining how she recently suffered a separated shoulder injury during one of her matches.
She was always one of the most beloved women’s wrestlers in the company, so the reaction was a complete shock. It was one of the most awkward segments in WWE history and Bayley still has yet to forget how Canada treated her on that fateful day.
Another shocking change of heart from the crowd came at Summerslam 2004. During the event which was held in Toronto, hometown hero Edge defended his Intercontinental Championship in a triple-threat match against another Canadian – Chris Jericho – and “The Animal Batista”.
Being from Toronto, the WWE expected Edge to have one of the biggest pops of the night. The crowd was expected to love him and they planned the match accordingly. However, once he made his entrance he was inexplicably booed out of the building, with a reaction that was visibly shocking to all involved in the match. It seems the fans simply preferred to see Jericho and Batista pick up the win, so they were upset when it was Edge who retained his championship in one of the most shocking instances of The Canada Effect.
Whether we will see an instance of the effect at AEW Dynamite is unknown, but we can always expect a fantastic crowd in Canada that always let the company know if they like or dislike something going on in the ring – and loudly.
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