Indie Watch: Sheldon Jean

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Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at all of the amazing talent working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers, some are indie prospects hitting their peaks, while others are names to be on the watch for! This edition looks at an emerging star in the Northern Ontario and Quebec indie scene of Canada, 23-year old Sheldon Jean.

He’s only 23 years old, but he’s already off to a start that many his age took years to accomplish. He begun training three years ago at the infamous Can-Am Wrestling School in Windsor, Ontario, where the likes of Rhyno, KUSHIDA, Bobby Roode, Rosemary, Moose and Eric Young have come out from to become champions. A year after his debut, he was offered a three month Young Boy excursion with Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, where he tagged beside former Bullet Club member Cody Hall in the NOAH Global Tag League. Now he’s back in his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where he’s starting to make waves with the likes of Ottawa’s Capital City Championship Combat (C4) and Montreal’s International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS). Sheldon Jean is making the most of his opportunities and looks to be the next breakout indie star from the Great White North.

Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! First things first, cause it’s always fun to find out people’s first introduction to pro wrestling. Do you remember what it was that first got you excited about pro wrestling as a kid?

Sheldon Jean: It’s weird, I kind of had two introductions to pro wrestling. I have an older brother so when he was 9, I was 4 years old and I would always watch with him for years. Then suddenly it stopped and I restarted watching on my own when I was about 10 . I’d say I got “excited “ when I started being able to comprehend what’s happening at 10 years old. I’m very atmosphere driven, the atmosphere has always been what gets me excited.

All of us who become fans at a young age dream of being a superhero in the WWE or whatever we gravitated to as a kid. Do you remember who the first guys you saw that made you think “this is it, this is what I want to do”?

Truthfully, I have loved wrestling since I was 5 years old, I’ve been consistently watching for about 13 years now. With that being said, the thought of becoming a wrestler didn’t enter my mind until 2014. The four guys I give credit to are the three members of the Shield and Triple H. What the Shield was doing at the time on television really made me appreciate the art of wrestling and how cool it could be. I mention Triple H because, I briefly came across his “Thy Kingdom Come” documentary on Netflix and the second it was finished I knew I had to become a wrestler.

You took an interesting route to get to wrestling, in that you had to kind of use university as an option to get to the school you wanted. How did that all go about?

After looking up “how to become a wrestler” on Google, I concluded that I would try to attend the Can-Am Wrestling School (in Windsor, Ontario) because it was credible and closest to home (Ottawa). I really had no idea how financially I would move 8 hours away from home and train to be a wrestler. So I convinced my mom that if she financially helped my move to Windsor, I would also attend the university. I ended going to 6 classes before I stopped attending and just trained full time. At the same time, I began using my school loans to help fund my training and living situation and worked at a local Tim Hortons. By the time I graduated from wrestling school, I coincidentally dropped out of school no more than a week later (wasn’t coincidentally at all, haha) .

What was it like working with Can-Am? They’ve trained some absolute legends of the industry over the past few decades, from Rhino to Bobby Roode to KUSHIDA to Moose.

Walking into the dojo, I genuinely didn’t know how prestigious the school was. Google said that “it was a top 10 wrestling school in the world”, so I went there. Upon arriving, I learned very quickly that it was a top notch training grounds. My first 6 months I was trained by Tyson Dux. The next year and a half, John E. Bravo and Scott D’Amore really took a huge part in my training. Constantly attacking the basics and match psychology, it really instilled a perfectionist mentality for me. Watching legends come in and out of the dojo really motivated me to try and become a reputable name of my own in this business.

You spent your first year working for BCW and the Detroit indies, but then at the end of last year you were chosen to do a young boy excursion to Pro Wrestling NOAH. How did that come about?

I heard that NOAH and IMPACT Wrestling were having a open try out to the public. Once I decided to try out, I began training as hard as I could for the day. I ended up not being selected which really took a toll on me. No more than a week later, Scott called me into his office and told me the president of NOAH and Marufuji were impressed with me and wanted me to come train and tour over there for 3 months.

I really didn’t believe it was happening until I was on the plane going to Japan…

Who were your teachers in the NOAH Dojo?

Pretty much every person on the roster came in at some point to help train us (the young boys) . Yoshinari Ogawa was mainly the veteran that helped us out. (Editor’s Note: Ogwa is a 3x All Japan Junior Heavyweight Champion, 3x GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and GHC Heavyweight Champion)

You got a chance to do some cool stuff with NOAH stars. You got to face the likes of former NOAH/GHC Champion Katsuhiko Nakajuma, current stars like Kenou and HI69, tag team legend and 7x NOAH tag champ Minoru Tanaka. What was it like working with such international stars?

Unreal. No words can describe the level of wrestling I was thrown in the mix of. My 21st match of my entire career was for Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan. I still can’t comprehend that. Working with all those champions/legends was the biggest wake up call of my life. Watching their matches up close and personal every night changed my entire perspective on wrestling. The biggest thing I learned from all those guys is that their are so many different ways to be great at this and it’s attainable the more you try to learn.

Working matches against them or with them taught me to be patient to a degree I never thought I could.

You also tagged with former Bullet Club member Cody Hall. How was it working with Cody?

Working with Cody was a blast, majority of my matches included him. It was cool being able to work with him and getting an international stars perspective on working matches in that part of the world. He helped me out through everything there. We still stay in contact, a good friend of mine.

Obviously he’s the son of a true legend of the sport, Scott Hall, who is notoriously proud of his son’s journey. Did you ever meet Scott when he was over visiting?

Unfortunately no! I think I just missed him after I departed. Just gonna put this out there. If you would of told 10 year old me I would one day be tagging with Scott Hall’s son in Japan …I would of lost my mind, haha!

Sheldon Jean (left), with Cody Hall in NOAH (Photo: instagram.com/isheldonjean)

So now you’re back home and you’ve been working with C4, which is fast becoming one of Canada’s top indie companies. How has it been returning to your old stomping grounds as a pro wrestler now?

Weird. The idea of wrestling a match here in Ottawa and then sleeping in my own bed is still foreign to me. C4 is unreal, an amazing atmosphere, really had no idea my hometown was such a popular city for wrestling. Everyone here always kind of knew me as a basketball player, a very different approach now coming back as a wrestler.

And you’re working a lot with Michael Von Payton, who’s a Canadian indie veteran for two decades, and a long time C4 guy. How’s that been?
Good, MVP is fun to work with. He is very hated by the fans so working with him as a heel is a cake walk, lol.

Now a little more north, you’ve been working with Oshawa’s Pro Wrestling Elite (PWE) and Montreal’s International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS). How does the Quebec scene differ from the Ontario?

Honestly, I heard a lot of negative comments about the Quebec independent scene, but I completely disagree. A lot of talented workers and unique styles in Quebec. In my opinion there is no difference between the two asides from the audience, all depends on who you’re working with. The audience in in Quebec is a little more hostile

IWS has pushed you hard out of the gate, you’ve just been main eventing with their champ Frank Milano. How fun is it chasing the gold?

I really appreciate IWS, I think there is a mutual respect between us. Chasing gold is very fun and normal for me. I see it as a reflection of my entire purpose in this business chasing the highest level of the sport. Also pretty cool that guys like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayne used to consistently work there as well.

Photo: Shannon Callahan

So what’s next for you in 2019? You’ve trained at a world class school in Can-Am, done a young boy excursion with NOAH, now got your feet wet in the Ontario indies this year. Any US indies or other Canadian indies you’re talking to or booked for?

I’m very aware and fortunate that I’ve received so many opportunities that some people don’t ever get at 23 years old . Therefore I try not to dwell on what’s next.

I wrestle consistently for a handful of promotions in each of the two provinces. So I stay pretty busy. I’m in contact with a couple of promotions in the US, but hesitant to pull the trigger due to a lot of Canadian talent getting flagged/banned at the border. My main goal right now is to continue to impress everywhere I go and inevitably get to the level I seek to be at. “Cream always rises to the top” .

Catch Up on Previous Indie Watch Articles!

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