This weekend, Monster Jam Tour will invade the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario for a pair of shows – a nighttime show on Saturday January 13th, and an afternoon show on Sunday January 14th. The line-up promises to produce a solid show with a star-studded line-up, including Ryan Anderson in Son-uva Digger, and Randy Brown driving Grave Digger.
Over the past seven years, the Monster trucks have produced some of the best shows on Canadian soil, wowing fans from the start of the show to the end of the show. Here is a look back at some of those highlights from year’s past.
A Pair of Grave Diggers – 2011
Coming near the end of the show, it was time for Charlie Pauken to head out with Grave Digger. To start the run, Pauken drove straight out of his parked spot, over the first small jump. He then went after the bus stack where he soared over, making an incredible save. After saving it and despite the truck not being too damaged, Pauken drove off the track through the tunnel, leaving the arena. Everybody thought it was over for Team Grave Digger, though that wasn’t to be.Instead, the fans got a big surprise that afternoon.
Seconds later, two Grave Digger trucks came flying out of the tunnel with Pauken leading the other truck. At the end of the run, it was discovered that driving the second Grave Digger truck was team driver Randy Brown. To qualify for the World Finals in Las Vegas in March, each driver needs to have a certain amount of points in comparison to his rivals. Pauken was already set to go as defending champion after taking the Freestyle championship last year with Monster Mutt. Three-time champion and series veteran Dennis Anderson is set t0 be qualified and was running the Tampa show on the same weekend. Brown was the only driver yet qualified into World Finals as part of the Digger team and was set to run Minneapolis, however with the roof caving on that arena, the show was canceled. As a team, the call was made to help out Brown with qualifying.
Jim Koehler Takes Freestyle By Storm – 2012
Before the show began, Jim Koehler told the crowd the following words, “Anytime you go to any Monster Jam show, its awesome competition. I’m here to rock this show and take those trophies home.”
By the end of the show, every fan in the Rogers Centre knew the meaning of those words. From top to bottom, the freestyles that the drivers delivered had the fans on their feet screaming. Every driver was hitting every opstacle, delivering high jumps and doing donuts. In the end, it was those that went above and beyond that would come out at the top of the leaderboard. Jim Koehler did just that as he soared to new heights and incredibly saved his Avenger truck after everybody thought the run was over.
“All of these Monster Jam trucks did a stellar job,” Koehler said after he won. “The whole Team Scream rocked out, Mohawk Warrior – my hats off to Tom. I was biting every nail I had on my finger; he rocked out man.”
2015: McQueen and Meents Impress Once Again
The 2015 edition showcased a pair of the big stars in the sport, with each of them scoring a freestyle victory across the weekend.
Cam McQueen took center stage behind the wheel of Northern Nightmare on Saturday night, putting in an impressive freestyle with solid air across the entire floor of the arena. He was flying across the obstacles, doing donuts – anything that he could do possible on the floor. He would then park the truck on top of one of the big obstacles to signal the end.
McQueen tried to come back and win a second straight victory on the Sunday, but came up short after breaking a front suspension piece on one of the biggest jumps on the floor. Instead, it was Meents that’d take the victory with a thrilling freestyle, including a stellar save at the end as a topper, that was worthy of 41 points from the judges.
2016: Freestyle Galore
When you are in attendance for a Freestyle show and you get to see one freestyle which stands out in your mind, it gives you a special feeling. Though for fans at the 2016 Sunday show, they got four stellar freestyles in the second half of the show which left discussions being had about who really deserved the crown. Allow me to explain.
Schmidt managed to get the entire stadium chanting and calling his name through the run, as he pushed the mutt as far as he could through the run. From a couple cyclones, to the biggest air of the night thus far and a great save in the midst of the run, it was one of those memorable Toronto runs. He would be awarded for his efforts, scoring 36 regulation points and three bonus points for a score of 39.
Looking to win freestyle for the second night in a row, Anderson came out of the gate real strong with some solid air. As he went through the run, he was able to carry the momentum and get solid air time, but never hit that spectacular level that he is known for due to a transmission issues with the truck. Still, he was able to put on a display for the fans, bicycling the truck across the stadium floor on two separate occasions during the run. He was awarded for his effort by the judges, scoring 37 regulation points and three bonus points for a score of 40.
Van Horn wanted to take home the double down trophy, and came out of the box on a solid note. However, he never hit the height that was found by Schmidt, or got the fans as excited as Anderson was able to with the bicycles. Notably, though, he did have some solid air, popped a great wheelie and had a solid save along the way. He was awarded 36 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 37.
McQueen would be the last truck to go out, putting together a solid performance with solid air across the entire floor off of each of the obstacles. While there were trucks that avoided some, he made sure to hit each of the obstacles on the floor and launch off each with solid momentum. He then finished off the run with the first ever Toronto backflip during freestyle competition. The judges would score him 35 regulation points and a single bonus point for a score of 36.
As a result with 40 points, it’d be Ryan Anderson and Son-UVA Digger picking up the victory. Following the donut competition win earlier in the show, that marked his fifth victory in Ontario’s capital.
The victory wouldn’t last long, though, for Anderson. When he was given a chance to speak in the microphone, the trophy would quickly change hands.
“Cam put on a helluva run and deserves the trophy,” Anderson said. “So I’m going to give it to him and keep this trophy in Canada.”
With Anderson handing over the trophy to Cam McQueen and Northern Nightmare, it unofficially marks McQueen’s fourth victory in Toronto after winning a pair of freestyles and racing once in previous appearances.
2017: Three-Way Tie in Freestyle
What happens when the freestyles are all so epic together? You get a three-way tie that needs to be broken, and that’s what happened in last year’s Saturday show.
After some solid runs from the first couple of guys to hit the floor, it was time for the lady to show them how it was done. Starting off the run with the highest air the fans had seen all night, Becky McDonough in El Toro Loco kept the momentum and air coming throughout the run with jump and jump. She attacked every obstacle fully without a single hang-up. With a small save near the end of her run, she was awarded for her efforts with a perfect score of 40.
Carl Van Horn in Grave Digger knows what it takes to win in Toronto, and came out strong with three big air moments, as well as cyclone. He then put together the first completed black flip of the night, though found himself on his lid with 45 seconds remaining due to coming off a jump sideways. The judges awarded him 40 points, matching McDonough’s score. However, due to McDonough filling the clock while Van Horn did not, McDonough was given the tie-breaker by the “special judge”.
Looking to double down after winning racing, Ryan Anderson in Son-uva Digger came out of the box flying. He put together three bicycle moves and two big saves, before going for the back flip. He’d complete the rotation on the flip, but the truck bounced and then rolled over as the time ran out. The judges awarded him for his efforts, giving him 40 points as well.
The special judge was then given the tie-breaking decision, and awarded the win to Becky McDonough and El Toro Loco. It marks her first victory in Toronto, and first of the season. There was no explanation given by the special judge for their choice in scoring the outcome, however this writer has to believe it comes down to when the judges first filled their scores.
Following McDonough’s run, each of the five judges gave her 10 points, along with the fans. Therefore, if you drop a pair of the judges’ scores, that gets you 30 from judges plus 10 from the fans for 40. Now following Anderson’s run, two judges put up 9s while the other three gave him 10, and the fans gave him 10. After the reveal of the scores and the boos from the fans, the second judge who originally showed 9 changed it to a 10. Therefore if you drop the remaining 9 and one of the 10s, you get 30, plus 10 from the fans for 40. However, since it was originally “39” should the second 9 remained, McDonough would’ve had the edge if the score wasn’t changed. So therefore, it appears as though the special judge went with the original intended scores before fan influence.
Whether or not McDonough was the rightful winner that night has yet to be determined as fans did debate it for days to come. However, one thing was certain – the fans got their money’s worth that night.
Without a doubt, the 2018 show will probably be another to be added in the highlight reel book so make sure you’re in attendance.
Ticket prices start at $15, with Pit Party Passes are available for purchase for $10. Tickets and Pit Passes are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, and at (855) 985-5000.
The Pit Party will be held from 2:30pm on Saturday, January 13 and 11:30am on Sunday, January 14. The pre-show pit party gives fans the chance to see the massive Monster Jam trucks up close, meet drivers, take pictures and get autographs. To access the Pit Party, event ticket and Pit Party Pass must be presented upon entry.