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Sold-out ‘Homecoming’ wrestling show draws fans from across Brantford

Local NewsSold-out ‘Homecoming’ wrestling show draws fans from across Brantford

Independent Pro Wrestling (IPW) has been entertaining fans throughout Brant County and Ontario since 2006, and their Homecoming show on May 4th continued their tradition of providing family-friendly fun.

Boosting seven matches during the evening including the IPW Grand Championship main event between Tomer Shalom and Jon Jon Tavious, Mike Shea, the IPW president and wrestling promoter, made sure to give the close to 200 fans their money’s worth.

“You take a guy like Tomer who’s…been with me for shows since 2015. He’s tremendous…and Jon Jon who’s the champ. That guy resonates ‘star.’ When he comes out that crowd goes hot from beginning to end. And Tomer at the end was one of the things that kept them on fire,” Shea explained. “They’re true pros…the way they conduct themselves, the way they act, their presence, [and] the way they interact with the fans.”

Wrestling star Tomer Shalon (left) has been fighting with Independent Pro Wrestling (IPW) for close to a decade. Here he is battling against the reigning IPW Grand Championship Jon Jon Tavious (right). Tavious defended his title after a grueling match. Photo courtesy Adam Beazley.

This show was a sort of Homecoming, as IPW has begun a partnership with the Polish Hall, where many of the future promotions will be held.

“The highlight was coming here and selling out the Polish Hall. This was our first time here and this is the first event that we’ve done on our own since 2014. Everyone at the Hall was absolutely tremendous,” stated Shea, “It’s been such a long time since we ran our own event and handled everything. I liked the intimate feel of the Hall…[and] the fans were loving it from beginning to end. We had a great crowd and it was a great show.”

One of the most appealing aspects of the IPW is how it puts fans first. Fan favourite, Daddy Davis takes a few moments before the start of his match to sit and chat with fans at the Homecoming event. Photo courtesy Allie Ferguson.

Al Ruddick, who is one of the most well-known wrestling fans in Canada, as well as an ardent supporter of local wrestling, was in attendance in a Randy ‘The Macho Man’ Savage outfit, and talked a bit about the strong crowd.

“The IPW puts on a fantastic show and tonight was no different, but you don’t normally get crowds like that. They were off the wall,” Ruddick recalled. “Wrestling here in Branford seems to be getting bigger which is great [and] that’s what we saw from the crowd on Saturday. There was a lot of people there; and a lot of fans.”

Shea presented the IPW Openweight Championship belt to Cayden Felix who won the title from Tyler Tirva. Photo courtesy Brian Trota.

Adam Beazley, who was a photographer at the event, and has been a long-time wrestling fan with some experience as a local promoter, praised IPW’s approach.

“What I like about what the IPW has been doing is that they keep things simple. They’re very old school in that you know when each wrestler comes out of the entranceway, who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy…even if you come to an IPW show and you may not be familiar with the wrestlers or their characters, you’ll still understand who’s good and who’s bad news,” said Beazley.

Nevertheless, one of the biggest elements to the success of IPW has been the focus on delivering well-executed shows; Shea has even involved his two children in the business.

“My kids have been around the business for a long time. My son is 15 and my daughter is 19 now; she was at her first show when she was two months old,” Shea explained. “She’s learning more business-wise [and] she worked the doors [at this event] keeping things under control [and] my son worked merch for a couple of the wrestlers as well.”

In-ring action between Daddy Davis and Arjun Singh. Photo courtesy Allie Ferguson.

However, Shea maintained the importance of local support, especially from businesses that sponsored the event.

I’m a Brant County resident. I live in Paris [and] most of the team lives here too; this is our home. So, getting local sponsors is important and helps us cover the expenses. We had a few good sponsors for the show and [who] helped us tremendously including A Super Deal Pizza, who provided pizza; Smashing Pixels, Premier Professional Accountants…and Dixieland Grill,” Shea noted. “Many people don’t realize, even with a full house, you need sponsors to make it work. So, getting more sponsors on board is one of the things we’ll be working on for the September show.”

IPW’s Homecoming show was a huge success. Close to 200 fans packed the Polish Hall in Brantford. Mike Shea, who’s the president of the promotion, noted he and the IPW are looking forward to having many more shows there. Photo courtesy Independent Pro Wrestling.

Shea and his IPW team will pick up where they left off, with an event at the Canada Day Festival on July 1st in Brantford and their ‘Uprising’ show on September 21, 2024.

“I love the interaction [and] the intimate crowd, especially at the Polish Hall,” Shea noted. “Don’t get me wrong, I would love to sell huge arenas…but you still got to have that connection….and many of bigger shows like the WWE, have no contact between the fans and the wrestlers,” stated Shea. “During the intermission [at Homecoming], there were wrestlers doing autographs, selling their merchandise and taking pictures with fans. That’s what wrestling is all about.”

From left to right: Tomer Shalom, Aiden Rayne, and Tyler Tirva all mastefully worked the crowd at Homecoming. Photos courtesy Brian Trota.

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