There was an interesting tidbit in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter: From August 7 to 9, in the lead up to SummerSlam weekend, WWE will be holding tryouts for Canadian wrestlers in Mississauga, a suburb just west of Toronto. SummerSlam and all the associated WWE events, encompassing NXT: Takeover Toronto II, Raw, and Smackdown Live are taking place in Toronto from August 10 to13, so all the major WWE decision-makers, trainers and scouts will be in town.
The tryouts will take place at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, an arena in Mississauga with a capacity of 7,000. WWE has previously held NXT live events in the venue, so they are clearly sparing no expense in finding a location for the tryouts. The Observer also notes that this may be the first time tryouts are happening in Canada, as natives of the Great White North are typically invited to the tryouts WWE regularly has in their Performance Centre in Orlando, Florida.
Most intriguingly, the Observer goes on to say that there is talk of establishing an NXT Canada brand and that Anthony Carelli, better known to fans as Santino Marella, could be involved. Several years ago Carelli started up Battle Arts Academy, a facility dedicated to training in both pro wrestling and martial arts. The facility is also in Mississauga, less than fifteen minutes from the Paramount Fine Foods Centre. Battle Arts has recently started its own promotion, Battle Arts Pro Wrestling, putting on their own shows featuring trainees. The most recent one also featured returns to the ring by Carelli and Aron Steven Haddad, who is the former Damien Sandow. In the past, the facility also hosted shows by local independent promotion Destiny Wrestling.
The notion of a Canadian version of NXT UK is unexpected but makes some sense. The country has a big independent scene, with promotions in all regions of the country. Many of these promotions are very well covered here at Pro Wrestling Post. As well, Ontario promotion Smash Wrestling is putting on a number of significant shows during this same three days. They are partnering with several international promotions for the shows, such as the UK’s Progress Wrestling, Germany’s wXw, and China’s OWE.
It will be interesting to see what talents are invited to the tryouts and get opportunities with WWE as a result. And it will be just as interesting to see what develops as far as an NXT Canada brand.