How and why a financial counsellor bought a professional wrestling ring

Max Mitchell founded Boom Wrestling to capitalize on a "misunderstood industry."

professional wrestling

Credit: Skye Portman

Max Mitchell founded Boom Wrestling to capitalize on a “misunderstood industry”

To understand why a Vancouver-based financial counsellor bought a 16-foot professional wrestling ring from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and is now storing it at the Commercial Drive Legion, you have to go back to 2014. That’s when Max Mitchell discovered wrestling.

“I wasn’t super into it as a kid, I sort of stumbled upon it and just became obsessed with it,” recounts Mitchell. “There’s nothing else like it—the way it presents itself as objective truth, even when everyone knows it’s not. It exists in this strange space between fact and fiction.”

But Mitchell found that it was hard to get others in his life interested in it. “There’s this strange stigma attached to it,” he says, something that he attributes to WWE and its Attitude Era of the ‘90s. “The audience doesn’t realize that they’re in on the joke. The first impression is, You can’t trick me, this must be for stupid people.”

Getting his friends interested in wrestling became one of Mitchell’s goals, a “white whale” project. So the long-time veteran producer of shows at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Gallery decided to throw a wrestling competition that doubled as both his 40th birthday celebration and a competition to give his newly born daughter a middle name. Seriously.

pro wrestling ringSkye Portman

After that show went off without a hitch—and produced the middle name Harriet—Mitchell felt like he had to keep the momentum going: “I was pretty adamant I wouldn’t do another one. Of course the day after the show I was like, Okay, how could I do this? What would have to happen for it to become something different?”

Eventually, Mitchell came to the realization that he “had to do this. If I don’t, I’ll spend the rest of my life thinking what would have happened if I did.”

So it was that he bought a (not cheap) pro-size wrestling ring from a facility in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and is currently waiting for its arrival. Once it’s here, Mitchell has gotten approval to store it at the Commercial Drive Legion in Vancouver, which will also host nine Boom Pro Wrestling shows over the next several months, including a September 17 show appropriately dubbed “We Bought a Wrestling Ring.”

The financial case for buying a wrestling ring

In the video above, Mitchell himself admits that he bit off more than he could chew. But while the accredited financial counsellor (yeah, there are a lot of hats being worn here) admits that the venture is a bit of a swing, it was also within the means of the ownership group (he has five partners), and has some legitimate upside.

“As a financial counsellor, I help people understand what they need to do with their money in order to feel like they have enough,” he says. “It’s about having the financial freedom to pursue opportunities that you want to pursue. Some people want to go on a European vacation, or start a non-profit. And some people want to be financially free enough to start a wrestling promotion.”

So far, things are going pretty well. Boom is well on the way to selling all of the 175 tickets to its inaugural show, even at a decently high entry point of $30 per ticket, plus service charges.

“We’d love to get that down, but in order to do a show safely and in order to do it in a way that builds trust with the audience as well as performers, there are some additional costs that have to be accounted for,” he says. “We were adamant about having $4 beers available—we could have done a $20 ticket and have $10 beers, but we don’t want to bait and switch like that.”

pro wrestling ringSkye Portman

As for the shows themselves, Mitchell thinks that Boom will separate itself through its storytelling. “Other wrestling companies in Vancouver, they do a good job at what they do,” he says, explaining that Boom will feature an entire season crafting out a story.

“But one thing nobody seems to focus on is telling stories. We really care about the audience caring about who wins and who loses—not just putting on an acrobatic exhibition. We want people to come in, know who they like, be upset when they lose, cheer when they win, and hopefully care enough to come back.”

When asked again if he’s at all worried about the monetary gamble he’s taking here, Mitchell doesn’t pull punches. “Is there financial risk? Absolutely. Is it high risk? Absolutely,” he says. “We’re in a place where we feel it’s okay to take that risk. If it blows up, at least we’ll have great story that we tried.”

Full disclosure: Mitchell’s wife is an editor of our sister publication, Vancouver magazine.