The Canadian indies are easily one of the most underrated and overlooked territories in the world when it comes to wrestling. Despite a lifelong legacy of creating some of the most technical and entertaining stars as Bret “Hitman” Hart, Chris Jericho, Gail Kim, Roddy Piper, Abdullah the Butcher, Stu Hart, Owen Hart, Kevin Owens, Kyle O’Reilly, Lance Storm, Chris Benoit, Sami Zayn, Rosemary, Taya Valkyrie, Chelsea Green, El Phantasmo, Mike “Speedball” Bailey, PCO – okay, you get the idea – Canada’s independents are much like Canadian film and television. They never get noticed until they break out in the United States or Britain. But those that know the Canadian indies, the fans and wrestlers who go to shows for promotions like Smash Wrestling, Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW), International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) or Alpha-1, it’s a community. There’s a reason that Canadian wrestling fans cheer for ANY wrestler that comes from Canada, while elsewhere it’s more geocentric to city (or at least, state). One of Toronto’s top promotions is the group Superkick’d. And today they were the bearers of some terrible and tragic news that rocked the Southwest Ontario (and Canadian) indie wrestling scene. Their announcer Johnny Gayle was positively identified today as the victim of a shooting in Toronto, Ontario today after police had responded to the murder of a man who had been shot while driving his vehicle. He was only 29 years old.
It's with a heavy heart that our great friend Johnny Gayle has passed away.
Words can not express how much you mean to us and everyone that has ever had the privilege of being in your presence.
Our deepest condolences to Gayle family.
We love you and we will always miss you! pic.twitter.com/S2uckgi2Y7
— Superkick'd (@Superkickd) December 13, 2018
Canoe SLAM reported on it quickly, stating that:
Toronto Police say officers responded to Islington Ave. and St. Andrews Blvd. — near Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School just north of Dixon Rd. — around 6 p.m. after a car hopped the curb and smashed into a tree.
‘Officers located a man in the car who appeared to be suffering from gunshot wounds,’ Homicide Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne said Thursday.”
Former Superkick’d co-owner and indie wrestler Ashley Sixx was quick to hit Instagram and post a eulogy for his fallen friend.
View this post on Instagram
Just got the unfortunate news about Jonny Gayle’s passing. Jonny was one of the most fun people to be around, his hilarious over the top commentary had me on the floor laughing uncontrollably every time . He would get so excited that he would literally transform into attitude era Jim Ross and we would all have to hit our mute buttons as to not hear us bursting out in laughter. #TheFranchise <3
Aside from announcing for Superkick’d, Johnny Gayle was also worked in Canadian sports television, where he was a backstage producer for TSN and SportsNet and occasionally guested on SportsNet’s wrestling talk show, After Math.
The Toronto Police are asking for help in finding his killer. If you have Twitter and live in the area, PLEASE click this link and retweet.
Toronto Police request anyone travelling on Islington Ave between Hwy401 & Dixon Rd 6pm on Wed Dec12/2018 to contact Det/Sgt Terry Browne if they have dash-cam footage. Police would also like to speak with anyone who had contact with murder victim Jonathan Gayle-West on this date pic.twitter.com/T7rkp1HTxN
— Homicide Squad (@TPSHomicide) December 13, 2018
The Ontario indie scene, workmates and fans were quick to post their condolences.
A tough day for the @Sportsnet family. We lost our old friend Johnny Gayle aka Johnny G. Every time I saw him I was met with a smile and a “Hey Reidsy!” He loved working in tv. Did an outstanding Dwane Casey impression, loved being on the tube talkin wrasslin’ #RIP
— Ken Reid (@SNKenReid) December 13, 2018
We are saddened by the tragic death of a TSN team member last night – Jon Gayle.
Jon worked with Jay & Dan, BarDown, TSN 1050 and in the newsroom. Jon was very well-liked by those who worked with him. He will be missed.
Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/osnfiRq62j
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 13, 2018
We lost one of the kindest and most amazing person I have ever met.
He was always happy and brought light to any room he entered
You would always say I was as cool as a cucumber but the truth is nobody will ever be as cool as you!
Rest easy Johnny I love you! pic.twitter.com/F5qsduTURr
— Half Baked Kid (@Thehalfbakedkid) December 14, 2018
To my friend Jonny. You will be dearly missed. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/c9PJADwLW6
— Jackie Redmond (@Jackie_Redmond) December 13, 2018