It’s been a long nine-year wait for fans of pro-wrestling, but this summer All Elite Wrestling will bring the first international-level event to the Saddledome since 2016, during the Calgary Stampede.
AEW is completing the Canadian leg of their live, non-televised House Rules series on July 15 in Calgary. The event promises pro-wrestling fans something different from tightly choreographed television events, with longer bouts and more immersive experiences.
Calgary is joined by Edmonton, Saskatoon, Hamilton, and Regina as part of the series.
“I think it’s tremendous, especially as a company, for AEW to be coming here to be associated with the Stampede,” said AEW pro-wrestler Matt Menard.
“It’s exciting for us as performers, knowing that the fan base here maybe is a little starved, especially coming through the pandemic. I think the energy in the building on the 15th of July is just gonna be spectacular. It’s gonna be electric.”
The Calgary Stampede said that they were thrilled to be working with AEW, a partnership for the series they said they had been working on for a while.
“They were very ecstatic to make this one of their first Canadian shows at the Calgary Stampede,” said Jason Coxford, Director for Corporate Communications with the Calgary Stampede.
He said that the Calgary Stampede has the lived-in history with wrestling, going back to the Stampede Wrestling days when performances were held at the Victoria Pavilion inside the Stampede’s agricultural building.
In grand Stampede Wrestling tradition, Menard started his own feud with the Stampede’s Harry the Horse.
“Harry the Horse and Daddy Magic Matt Menard, I think it’s gonna be on the bill at the Saddledome. The main event of the evening,” Menard said.
“Harry the Horse, you better watch your—I was going to curse there.”
Tickets for the event start at $36.75, and go on sale to the public starting Friday, March 17 at https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede-saddledome-shows/aew.
Deep respect for the history of the Stampede, and of pro-wrestling
AEW pro-wrestler Jon Moxley said that the AEW event in Calgary was one that the organization had desired to do for a long time, but had been delayed as a result of the pandemic.
“2020 brought a lot of challenges, and one of them was the long, long delay of getting into the great market of Canada, and finally being able to come in here and perform for these amazing fans all across the country of Canada—some of the most passionate fans in the world,” he said.
“We’re extra-extra-excited to finally break across that border for good and make a tear through Canada in the summer with all these events.”
Moxley said that all of the performers grew up as fans of the business of wrestling, with a deep respect for the traditions of pro-wrestling, but that they also wanted to make new traditions with the Canadian tour.
Among those traditions is celebrating Owen Hart through AEW’s Owen Hart Cup.
Hart, who was originally from Calgary, tragically died during an accident at a WWE match in 1999.
Dr. Martha Hart, Owen Hart’s wife, spoke at the announcement on Thursday stating that she was especially pleased to welcome AEW to Calgary in recognition of all the work they do for the Owen Hart Foundation.
“We wholly embrace them as the worthiest of contenders to receive the keys to our beautiful city,” she said.
“I for one, along with my entire Own Heart Foundation committee, will proudly be attending the July 15 AEW House Rules Show at the legendary Calgary Stampede, and you can bet I’ll be making sure nobody breaks those house rules.”
2023 Calgary Stampede shaping up to be something for everyone
Coxford said that the addition of AEW to an already growing lineup of events for this year’s Stampede was ensuring that it would be a year that had something for everyone.
“The Calgary Stampede has always been known as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and we’re ecstatic to have the opportunity to bring the level of talent of an Alabama, of an AEW,” Coxford said.
The Stampede announced last week that country supergroup Alabama would be playing the Stampede Big 4 Roadhouse on July 8. Other big-name artists performing this year include St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Donovan Woods, Wild Rivers, and Begonia.
“We were extremely lucky to return to a full Stampede offering last year and this year, we look forward to continuing that with really our iconic Western events,” Coxford said.
He said that the AEW event would not affect the Stampede’s ability to hold an indoor pow-wow at the Saddledome, and that dates were being finalized for that competition.
“We will have a full breadth of programming within the Saddledome, and there are a few more exciting announcements to come over the next few weeks,” he said.