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Local wrestling promoter aims to build family-focused entertainment

Community ProfileLocal wrestling promoter aims to build family-focused entertainment

Mike Shea has become one of the most respected wrestling promoters in Brant County by creating fun and entertaining events through his Independent Pro Wrestling (IPW) promotions.  

Shea, who has been heavily involved in wrestling locally and across Ontario for close to 25 years, decided to create his own wrestling organization in 2002. However, one of the challenges Shea faced was handling the unsavory perception of wrestling.

A wrestler and a fan at an event at Aberfoyle. Mike Shea has managed many events throughout the years across Ontario with a focus on building strong connections with fans and audiences. Photo courtesy Mike Shea/Independent Pro Wrestling.

“When it came to the business itself [most] people thought that…independent wrestling was backyard wrestling, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth…you have guys that have trained [and] put their time in and learned the craft,” noted Shea.

“Social media [has] helped tremendously [in showing] there’s no blood, there are no half-naked ladies in our matches…we’re a family company,” said Shea, who has also involved his children through the years in the operations of his promotions.

One prime example of how Shea has been continually building a family-first environment was when he and his team went all out for a huge wrestling fan in the crowd at a recent event in Petrolia, Ontario.

“[We] brought [the kid] in the ring for pictures, and a couple of other wrestlers popped in, and the referee and they did a whole thing…[like the fan] pinning one of the wrestlers with the referee on the count,” said Shea.

One of the biggest aims for Mike Shea and his Independent Pro Wrestling is to continue creating events that focus on family-oriented entertainment. Here a fan poses with a few wrestlers and a referee. Photo courtesy Mike Shea/Independent Pro Wrestling.

Shea noted, “We got an email talking about how the kid loved it…It put a smile on his face [and] he couldn’t stop talking about it and showing the videos and pictures to his family and friends. That’s what we strive to do. And that’s why we offer…when we come out.”

However, Shea has also been successful because of the time he has spent scouting out wrestling talent.

“I go to shows…[to] get an idea of who’s doing what out there and what kind of characters they have. But then I also like to meet [the wrestlers.] I look at wrestlers, and gauge them by having a conversation…my son and daughter will talk to them too…[these wrestlers] have no idea how many times they get booked because of my children’s recommendation,” he said.

Mike Shea is pictured here with his daughter and son at the Canada Day event in Brantford in 2018. Shea has involved his children throughout the years in various facets of his organization’s operations. Photo courtesy Mike Shea/Independent Pro Wrestling.

Along with running IPW, Shea has also been active in doing a podcast and hosting a show on Rogers TV in order to get the word out.

Shea discussed the projects, “We have a podcast that talks about what happened in the week of wrestling…it’s called ‘Pro Wrestling Viewpoint.’ And on Saturdays at 10 pm, we have our show on Rogers TV called ‘Independent Pro Wrestling,’ which airs across South Ontario in places like Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Brantford, Tillsonburg, Delhi, and London.”

Mike Shea (right) with his Ring Announcer at an event in Petrolia this past summer. Shea is holding up a personalized figurine that was presented to him. Shea has been operating Independent Pro Wrestling for over two decades and has been one of the more successful promoters in Ontario. Photo courtesy Mike Shea/Independent Pro Wrestling.

However, the Rogers program has given Shea an opportunity to interact with wrestling fans and promote wrestling to the local community.

“We seem to have a good following…I’ve had a couple of people call asking when we’re going to have tickets next. We also are getting emails and messages to our Facebook page asking when we [will be doing our next event],” said Shea.

Mike Shea is pictured with all the wrestlers from the Canada Cup tournament at Brantford’s Canada day. These types of events get audiences closer to wrestling action. Photo courtesy Jane Gilmour Photography.
Mike Shea is pictured here with Patrick Scott Chase Murphy who is the former IPW GRAND Champion. Shea has been successful in recruiting talent like Murphy for his wrestling events. Photo courtesy Jane Gilmour Photography.

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