A new Breed of pro wrestling with Sheffield at its heart

It started with daydreaming on long car journeys but is blossoming into one of the most promising new projects in British professional wrestling.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 14 March, 2019, 10:01
The scene from the debut show of Breed Pro Wrestling in February

And it has Made In Sheffield stamped all over it.

Breed Pro Wrestling is the newest name on the thriving British scene, with the organisation set to hold its second ever show at Sheffield City Hall on Sunday.

The poster for the latest Breed Pro Wrestling show

The brainchild of four wrestling-mad supermarket workers, Breed hopes to be the training ground for the next generation of performers and also establish Sheffield as a new centre for the unique brand of athletic entertainment.

"Me and my pals used to travel the country to watch independent shows in Wolverhampton, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Dublin," owner Mitch Smith said.

"There was never anything going off in Sheffield other than travelling shows that came once every three months or so.

"I always felt like there was room for something in Sheffield.

Breed champion TK Cooper (centre) with fellow wrestlers Chuck Mambo (left) and Spike Trivet (right)

"We were driving home from a show in Wolverhampton and I just said let's do something in Sheffield, let's get something going.

"We put our money together and set up show one, in February.

"We booked it on the day of my brother's birthday so we thought if no one showed up, at least we'd have a decent party for him."

It was a pretty successful party - and business venture - with 300 of the potential 350 tickets sold for the show at Abbeydale Picture House.

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp with the Breed championship

The current boom in British professional wrestling has come through the success of shows targeted at true afficionados who grew up with the more adult orientated era of global giants WWE in the late 90s.

Glitz and glamour has given way grit and a real DIY feel. And it has produced an incredible talent pool within which WWE spotted potential and created their own UK-based brand.

When it comes to DIY, it does not get much more so than Breed.

Alongside Mitch, 31, is former wrestler Mark Newton plus Tom Hinksman and Samuel McKinstrie who run their own production company.

The Breed championship belt in the Peace Gardens, complete with the city's coat of arms

The main jobs of all four remains working at Sainsburys on Archer Road.

"The bosses wouldn't be happy but we spend a lot of time talking about wrestling and planning shows when we should be filling shelves," Mitch, from Shiregreen, said.

"Across the four of us are varied skillsets.

"Tom and Samule run the production company so they can do all the video and production stuff we can spread on YouTube and social media.

"Mark used to be a wrestler but packed in because he wasn't getting anywhere. He gives us the knowledge of the stuff on the other side of the curtain.

"And I'm the salesman, knocking on doors, pushing the marketing side of things.

"We've all got different skills and that works."

In salesman terms, Mitch is not doing a bad job.

He brought on board the ever-enthusiastic Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid for the company's first show and got the endorsement of Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp.

And when he speaks about the project he has an almost giddy excitement.

It is such passion that drives the world of professional wrestling, particularly at the low key independent level where wrestlers and promoters can onlhy dream of making their fortune.

For Mitch himself, there was a considerable gamble when he crafted Breed.

"I was a store manager for the Sainsburys convenience stores so I've managed a lot of the city centre shops," he said.

"But they had a restructure. I took some redundancy but keep a colleague job, a redployment payment.

"It was the redeployment payment that paid for this - Sainsburys set me up."

Armed with contacts made across merchandising tables at wrestling shows, the quartet began booking their first show, making reality some of the fantasy storylines they had written during those in-car conversations.

Pulling everything together was far from simple but by the end of that first show, they could reflect on a job well done.

"The week building up to it, I had about two hours sleep a night, just worrying about things going wrong," Mitch said.

"Nothing went wrong other than the projector blew up two hours before the show started.

"We'd lined up all these videos and booked Abbeydale Picture House with the cinema screen in mind.

"We couldn't put any of those promos on.

"But the plus side was that the wrestlers knocked it out of the park and it was a really solid show."

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Though there are nerves about Sunday's follow up and how ticket sales will go, Mitch and his partners - all from Woodseats - have received enough encouragement to plot a future for their company.

"Every promotion, unless there's a massive bank balance behind it, is one bad show away from closing its doors," Mitch said.

"The money we put in was all or nothing.

"If people keep coming out and supporting us then we can go on forever.

"The first show sold pretty well and we're hoping it'll be the same for this one.

"Then we'll just see how it goes, whether we should drop down in size of venue or move up.

"I'd like to keep doing what we're doing and maybe do one big show a year. Get some buzz going.

"You don't want to run before you can walk.

"But I'd love for us to become established and help bring through the next generation of talent - hopefully from Sheffield.

"With WWE starting their own brand over here, there is a real pathway now that wasn't there when I was watching The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin as a teenager.

"We can be part of that pathway to the top and it's why we're mainly booking younger talent - 18 to 25-year-old wrestlers who have a bright future.

"The name Breed, it was inspired by a Nirvana song, but it was also about letting people know what we want to be and that is the breeding ground for new talent."

What will remain core to Breed's philosophy is that it is a Sheffield company which celebrates the Steel City.

"Part of the marketing strategy was to tap into Sheffield and make Sheffield a big part of this," former Firth Park School pupil Mitch said.

"We wanted to get wrestling into Sheffield so we wanted to make Sheffield a big part of the wrestling.

"The city's coat of arms is on the title belt. We got the Mayor involved, we got Billy Sharp pictured with the belt.

"It was all about getting Sheffield people into it and that will never change."

‘I THINK MAGID REALLY WOULD HAVE LIKED TO WRESTLE’

When the men behind Breed Pro Wrestling approached Lord Mayor Magid Magid for help getting word out about their debut show, little did they know how much he would become involved.

Excited by the project, Magid threw himself in feet first, and even played a key role in the in-ring action.

"They Mayor has been unbelievable for us," owner Mitch Smith said.

"We have a wrestler called Spike Trivet working with us and he is a very outspoken right wing Tory so we knew him and Magid would butt heads.

"Magid was always going to present the title belt to the winner of the tournament on our first show and Spike was not happy about that.

"He had plenty to say in the run up to the show.

"The Mayor was supporting Lucky Kid and ended up distracting Spike to allow Lucky Kid to win and reach the final.

"I think he really would have liked to wrestle." 

With the Mayor set to stand down from his duties later this year, he may well be back in a Breed ring in the near future.

BREED LOOKING TO STEP UP GAME FURTHER WITH FIRST CITY HALL SHOW

If Breed's first show last month was about establishing the organisation, their follow up in the grand surrounds of the City Hall's Memorial Hall is intent on advancing the story.

New Zealand ace TK Cooper was crowned the first ever Breed champion and will make his first defence of the title against Lucky Kid, the man who he beat in the tournament final with the help of mates Spike Trivet and Chuck Mambo.

"TK is in a heel (or bad guy) faction called Escape the Midcard," owner Mitch Smith said.

"The three of them have a YouTube channel, joking about being stuck as midcard wrestlers.

"We've turned it on its head at Breed and given it a more sinister edge. They know as long as they have the title they won't be stuck in the midcard so they'll do anything it takes to keep it.

"Lucky Kid is the one who get scammed on the first show so he's the right man to challenge for the title on Sunday."

One of the major attractions of Sunday's show is the presence on the card of Ilja Dragunov, widely regarded as one of the best wrestlers in Europe.

It will provide one of the last opportunities to see Dragunov on a small scale after he recently signed with global giant WWE to be part of their new NXTUK brand.

"We're very lucky to have Dragunov because this is one of his last few independent shows," Mitch said.

"He is going to face Chris Ridgeway, an exciting up and comer who uses a MMA style so it should be a great match."

The fact Sunday is St Patrick's Day has not been missed and Breed will bring in ten Irish wrestlers for the occasion.

Tickets for Sunday's show, which begins at 5.30pm are available now, priced £15 to £19, from www.tickettailor.com.